Ty Templeton always wanted to be one of the Beatles.
Disappointed all the jobs with the Fab Four were taken, he became a comic book artist instead. It’s a decision that landed him into the Canadian Comic Book Hall of Fame.
Not a bad second career choice for a 53-year old full-time dad.
Templeton, a Brampton-based artist who has drawn some of the major characters for Marvel and DC comics, appeared as a guest artist at the third annual Comic Con held at Humber College earlier this month.
Despite his deft hand at drawing super-heroes, Templeton still thinks about music first and plays every day of his life.
“It never occurred to me that this [comic work] was going to be my job,” he said. He always thought he was going to be a musician.
“I [still] think of myself as a musician when I first wake up,” he said.He plays “mostly pop music” and “the kind of stuff you used to hear in bars.” He once brought drums home to inspire one of his kids to become a drummer, but his wife said no more instruments after the ruckus. Templeton laughed hard.
“I’m forming a band out of my kids,” he said.
Templeton may be deflecting his dreams to his kids, but when he was younger, he had to make a decision.
“I had to stop being a musician because it [comic work] was taking up so much of my time,” he said.
Now well-renowned for his artwork, Templeton said he began his career in the comic industry “accidently.” He was invited to draw a comic book by someone at a party and the rest is history. He worked on two comics for a publisher in Toronto and was later offered a permanent job. After a couple years working in the industry, he was nominated for an Eisner Award, the comic book world equivalent to the Oscars.
“Arguably the best part is switching hats,” said Templeton. “I don’t have the same job like four days in a row.” The variety means he never feels he gets into a rut.
“I clearly can’t focus,” said Templeton.
Templeton comes from a family of entertainers.
His mother, Sylvia Murphy, was a CBC television and radio star and his father Charles was a cartoonist for the Globe and Mail in the 1930s and 1940s, taking on Hitler in his political cartoons. Charles later became a preacher and eventually a filmmaker after finding success as an author.
Nevertheless, the senior Templeton still believed Ty’s job wasn’t real. His father thought of comics as reading for children, Ty said.
On the other hand, Templeton’s wife Keiren Smith said she loves all his work. Her addition that they’ve been together “way too long” was followed by hysterical laughter that Templeton joined in on.
He is passionate about American Splendor, Harvey Pekar’s autobiographical comic book series on his life as a file clerk. He remembers thinking it was the most brilliant idea he’d ever come across.
Templeton, who personally knew Pekar, said the 2003 Paul Giamatti-starring film based on American Splendor captured Harvey incredibly well.
“The movie is touching,” he said. “It’s the only movie about comics that has made me cry.”
Templeton has worked on The Simpsons, Spider-Man, Superman and is currently working on an Evil Dead 2 comic series, which one of his children is ecstatic about. He also just finished the cover of a Jughead issue.
But when it comes down to choosing his favorite, it’s “Batman by far,” said Templeton. His tattoos are all of Batman. Batman is the essential embodiment of chaos versus order and he has a more human experience, he said.
Templeton said he wrote Batman for about 15 years and can’t help but feel like The Dark Knight.
“You can’t write Batman and not take some of that on you,” he said. The comic book genius has served his fair share of justice.
“I’ve broken up fights and stopped muggings,” he said.
Kevin Hickey, owner of Stadium Comics, partners with the Humber Students’ Federation to orchestrate the Humber College Comic Expo.
Hickey said Templeton is amazing, personable and described him as a great teacher who is the most knowledgeable person in the history of comics. Templeton is also often found at Stadium Comics for signings.
“As far as comic books go, he’s the man,” he said.
Templeton has been in the comic industry for 32 years and counting, and can’t wait to see what else the journey has in store for him.