Among the many reasons to visit Skybound’s booth (#3735) at SDCC 2023 is the exclusive comics and merch for sale. And one of the hottest pieces of merch is rising star artist Bear Walker’s The Walking Dead skate deck, a 8.75″ × 30″, handcrafted thing of beauty that sets Negan’s beloved Lucille against a backdrop of walkers breaking into our reality. We caught up with Bear in San Diego and he gave us the lowdown on the inspiration behind this work of art…
When did you discover The Walking Dead?
I’m actually proud to say I was a Walking Dead graphic novel fan before the show premiered. 20 years ago, that’s when I started reading The Walking Dead. I had dabbled with comics before that, but The Walking Dead graphic novels got me hooked on comics in general. They were so innovative and so unlike any other book I’ve ever read, where anyone could die. Even the way that they handled the ending of the comic was so innovative. For me, as a creative, that’s always been inspiring. So to be able to work on a project that involves it is just kind of a full circle moment.
Do you have a favorite Walking Dead character?
That’s a good question… As far as the comics go, probably Carl. I loved his badass/asshole story arc. The show couldn’t really do it justice because people would get older. But seeing, in the comics, a ten-year-old murderous little shit… It was awesome. Then his and Negan’s connection because of that, almost a shared respect because he’s just a little badass — stowing away on that truck and then just mowing down ten of the Saviors when he pulls into their compound… That whole series of panels will always like live in my head.
Your art adorns state-of-the-art gear, but there’s a retro quality to it that’s timeless…
I grew up a surfer. And I helped build custom homes and cabinetry, woodworking. So I’ve always had a respect for old-school craftsmanship, and surfing has such like a rich tradition and heritage. I was drawn by that aspect as opposed to traditional skate culture. So when I started building these, I wanted them to have that really natural feel, that really traditional, old-school feel. But it’s more tied to surf culture then woodworking culture. They’re hand-carved and everything, but I went to school for graphic design and print technology, so I wanted it to have that vibe to it. But I also wanna try to integrate new technology and be as innovative as I can. Though I had to try to push boundaries with old-school craftsmanship as well.”
What’s next for you?[My company] came to power during the pandemic. So getting to see people open the boards and seeing their reaction to them in person is a really new experience. I really, really cherish any moment I get to see people enjoy them in person because we’re very much online-based and we grew during the pandemic.”
“I’m about to head to Japan for the Pokemon World Championships. We did another exclusive with them. So there’s gonna be a design that we made exclusively for the Championships in Japan. That’ll be in a few weeks.
What else are you excited about at Comic-Con?
I’m kind of a serial entrepreneur. Coming to this place, I see all the other cool shit that people are coming up with and I always feel very inspired when I leave here. That’s my favorite thing about these cons. I’m in lower Alabama and Florida. There aren’t a lot of people in the industry in my area. I’m trying to grow that culture there more. But this is the place where I truly come and talk to colleagues and brainstorm and connect and all that kind of stuff.
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