The Comic Book Gazette

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Val Mayerik Interview (10.27)

We've got an interview with none other that Val Mayerik for you today! He's worked on a multitude of titles, among them Howard the Duck, Punisher, Chamber of Chills, Hulk, and more! Finally, click here and here to visit both of Val Mayerik's websites!

Comic Book Gazette: What is the first comic you remember reading, and how old were you?

Val Mayerik: My childhood comics reading experiences were quite some time ago so my memories are vague. However, I recall reading "Uncle Scrooge" comics at about age five or six. These were the Carl Barks stories, which of course were masterpieces.
 
CBG: How did you break into comics proffesionally?

VM: In 1972, while still in art school, a woman in my painting class overheard me talking about comics to another student and asked me if I'd heard of Dan Adkins, a comic artist and inker who was active in the business at that time. I said yes and she then told me that she lived in the same town as Dan, about 65 miles south of where I was attending art school. I drove down to see Dan the next day with a pile of my drawings. Dan looked at them and said I could work with him as an assistant  and coincidentally enough , P. Craig Russell was working with Dan at that time as well. A few months later Dan, Craig and I were on our way to Manhattan to the Marvel offices  where Dan introduced us to Stan Lee and Roy Thomas. Shortly thereafter I began getting regular work from Marvel and continued on with them for many more years.

CBG: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

VM: I've been out of touch with comics for quite sometime and am not familiar with most of the characters in comics these days. I would simply fall back on 2 conventional characters that I enjoyed working on: Conan and the Punisher. They are not super heroes (I hate super heroes) and they are both bad asses.

CBG: Do you buy any monthly comic series? If so, which titles are you buying?

VM: I very rarely buy any comics these days. Every once in a while a random book might catch my attention but I certainly don't follow any series.

CBG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

VM: My favorite title that I worked on was the "Young Master". It was developed by Larry Hama and myself and focused on the adventures of a young 16th century samurai. It was published by a small publisher back in the late 80's and is difficult to find. To date it has been my most creatively satisfying comic book work along with some short stories I wrote and illustrated for Heavy Metal magazine in the late 70's.

CBG: Are there any comic books you'd like to work on that you haven't gotten a chance to?

VM: Because I've been out of comics for so long I no longer have any such point of reference. I guess  I'd draw any character if I was paid enough.

CBG: How do you feel about the creator-rights disputes between Steve Gerber and Marvel comics over Howard the Duck, a character you co-created?

VM: Again, this was a long time ago and specific memories are vague. However I believe in retrospect it turned out to be a ground breaking case which established some important precedents that have allowed some comic book creators to share in movie and other licensing revenues.

CBG: How did you manage to get a part in the 1977 film, "The Demon Lover?"

VM: In 1975 I met Jerry Younkins, one of the producers and writers of Demon Lover, at a comics convention in Detroit. He was a fan of my work and we became friends. A year later he told me about his plans to shoot a horror film in Michigan. I had done some acting in college and had always wanted to be in a film so I just up and asked Jerry if I could be in it and to my surprise he said yes. The film has questionable value even by the standards of the shlock- nostalgia cinema genre, but I had a blast doing it.

CBG: Are you currently working on any upcoming comics?

VM: I am not working on any comics now and I am kept quite busy by other areas in the illustration field. I am not seeking comics work but if the right editor called with the right job... who knows.

CBG: What advice would you give someone trying to break into comics?

VM: The political, editorial, and business landscape of comics has changed immensely since I was active in the field.  Consequently, I have nothing to offer in terms of how to navigate the current scene, how to look for work etc. I will say this: learn to draw well. That is the one constant. Don't learn to draw only from comics and expand your art training as much as you can. Don't rely on an inker or computer coloring to compensate for weakness in your drawing. An artist who can draw well and who meets his deadlines will always have some work.

--Interview by Sergio Lopez

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Gene Colan Interview (10.14)

We've got a special interview for you with none other than comic book legend Gene Colan! He has penciled countless titles and covers, such as Captain America, Daredevil, Tomb of Dracula, Detective Comics, Howard the Duck, Iron Man, and Sub-Mariner, among countless others. Before we finish up the introductions and get on with the interview, we have a link for you: be sure to visit Gene Colan's official website, GeneColan.com!

Comic Book Gazette: What is the first comic you remember reading?

Gene Colan: There were several, not one. Dickie Dare was my favorite syndicated strip. I followed it every day. The New York Sun. Maggie and Jiggs. Li'l Abner. And for art, Prince Valiant (Harold Foster), and the biggest deal for me was Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates.

CBG: How did you break into comic books?
 
GC: I used to draw my own version of a comic book to entertain myself. I took myself up to DC when I was thirteen. They were wonderful and showed me what real original comic art looked like (not my little postage stamp panels). They told me I needed [to attend] art school. Aargh! But, I did it. I attended The Art Student's League and when I returned from the Air Force, I took myself up to Timely (Marvel) and Stan hired me on the spot.

CBG: What are the greatest influences on your work?

GC: Milton Caniff/Terry and the Pirates. And movies, movies, movies.

CBG: Who's your favorite comic book character, and why?
 
GC: I like Dracula because I like to draw moody things. And I have always loved Daredevil. I loved the challenge or figuring out how to portray how a blind man would perceive and handle certain situations and heroism.
 
CBG: Which title are you most proud of having worked on?
 
GC: Tomb of Dracula.

CBG: Is there any title you've always wanted to work on but never got the chance to?

GC: Not really.

CBG: How did you land the job of working on Daredevil for your classic run on the title?

GC: Just happened. Stan called and wanted me to do it. I think I was drawing Sub-Mariner at the time and I jumped at the chance to draw [Daredevil].

CBG: Now onto another classic title: Howard the Duck. You eventually became the regular penciler on the original Howard the Duck series. How'd you land the job?

GC: I asked for it. Steve Gerber's writing was a riot. I knew I could cartoon and I wanted to do it. My time with [Howard the Duck] was the most fun I've ever had drawing comics. Had it gone on with Steve writing it, I'd still be drawing it.

CBG: Is it true you once worked under the name Adam Austin? If so, what were the reasons behind using a false name?

GC: At the time, both Marvel and DC wanted me to work exclusively for them. I didn't want DC to know I was working for Marvel too, so I gave myself an alias. It didn't work! My composition and style were noticed immediately by everyone. Ha!

CBG: Do you still buy any comic books on a monthly basis? If so, which series' are you currently reading?

GC: I never read comic books. I bought some as a kid, but that's it.

CBG: Do you have any advice for anybody who wants to break into comics?

GC: Don't draw single pin ups and expect to get work. You must learn to read a script, interpret visually, and lay it down in panels. Get familiar with the characters that belong to each company and put them in a small three page story so the companies can see exactly what you can do.  Draw everything, keep reference files on everything. Work hard. Get work in any capacity at the company you want to work for and work your way up.
 
--Interview by Sergio Lopez. Special thanks to Gene Colan for the images.
 
 
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Arthur Suydam Interview (10.13)

We've sat down to interview Arthur Suydam. This is a man who needs no introduction, as you doubtless already know him from the countless fully painted covers he has done. He's most famous for his Marvel Zombies homage/parody covers, but he's done other work (zombie-related and otherwise) for Dynamite Entertainment, although he's done much work for other titles and companies. To learn more about Arthur Suydam, visit his site by clicking here. And, onward to the interview!

Comic Book Gazette: Did you read comics as a child?

Arthur Suydam: Yes. I began to read comics at the age of four. Especially at the age of five, when my parents used to bring them to me at the hospital, where I was waylaid for a year.

CBG: Has it always been your intention to work with comics?

AS: Yes, if possible. My dream job was to work for Warren Publications and for Marvel, [and to work on] Creepy, Eerie, The F.F., Avengers, and Spider-Man.

CBG: How did you break into comics professionally?

AS: When I was in tentth grade I went to see Jim Warren, who wanted to hire me on the spot.

CBG: How did you land the job of working on the Marvel Zombies covers?

AS: I set out a plan to do mainstream Marvel character paintings, [and] then show them to Marvel to demonstrate that my style can work on their characters, and that we [were] a good match.

CBG: How long does it take you to finish one of your Marvel Zombies painted covers?

AS: They are all different. I do very tight drawings and precise underpaintings in ink first, then I paint. Some [take] five days, some two weeks.

CBG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

AS: The age of illustrators, about 1915 to 1955. They are all my teachers, informally speaking. Especially Frank in the late 90's, when I put myself on a crash course on frankness.

CBG: Will you be working on any projects in the near future, zombie-related or otherwise, thet you can tell us about?

AS: Yes. I have a zombie project that I have been working on for about ten years that will be released in 2008 for Dynamic.

CBG: If you could work on any project you wanted, what would it be?

AS: Actually, I think I am as a good as a mainstream writer as I am an artist. I'd like to write for Marvel, maybe Thor.

CBG: Do you get to choose which Marvel cover you want to parody in your paintings, or does Marvel choose them for you?

AS: It's a collaborative effort. I have pool of choices that I pitch. Marvel is pretty good at approving them. Sometimes they pitch to me covers I am less familiar with. I research them and we take it from there. I like to ask Marvel and comic stores owners for their top ten list and begin the weeding process.

CBG: Do you have any advice for people wishing to break into comics?

AS: Sure. Here's the list: try to be "the best," not "the good-as-possible." Write and draw your own comic. Go in person to show it to editors. Don't see just one editor, see them all. Have a solid work ethic. Put in more time and practice, especially at studies and on the job. Ignore the celebrity trap. Remain forever a student. Work harder then anyone else to become the best.

--Interview by Sergio Lopez

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Scott Kolins Interview (10.08)

We sat down to day to interview comic artist Scott Kolins. You probably know him from his work on Thor: Blood Oath, Beyond!, Omega Flight, Marvel Team-Up, or perhaps Flash, Green Lantern, JLA, or Wonder Woman. After you read the interview, be sure to click here and see Scott Kolins' blog!

Comic Book Gazette: When did you start reading comics?

Scott Kolins: When I was about five. A magazine stand that had two issues of The Incredible Hulk stropped me dead in my tracks. I was mesmerized.

CBG: How did you break into comic books?

SK: Worked really hard through school and kept knocking on doors until someone gave me a job.

CBG: What are the greatest influences on your work?

SK: My so-called mid-western work ethic, great artists/creators (Kirby, Golden, Mignola, among the many), my friends, and my mortgage.

CBG: How long does it usually take you to finish a single page of comic art?

SK: A page a day is my usual pace unless it's a crazy Giffen armada scene or some Johns citywide devastation. That'll sometimes take an extra day.

CBG: Who's your all-time favorite comic book character, and why?

SK: It changes all the time, but a safe bet is The Incredible Hulk. He was the ultimate outcast character when I was a kid and I was kinda an outcast too.

CBG: Would you say your art style has evolved over time?

SK: Of course, otherwise I wouldn't be much of an artist. If you're doing the exact same thing you were doing five years ago, you're not invested as an artist. I'm not saying it has to be radically different -- but at [a] glance there should be some noticeable difference as time goes on.

CBG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

SK: I have to choose two -- though I have many favorites. Thor: Blood Oath and The Flash. Both were the most fun I've ever had so far.

CBG: Is there a title you would like to work on that you haven't had a chance to?

SK: There are many books I'd love to work on, like Alpha Flight, Green Lantern, Doctor Strange, Aquaman, Hulk, Wonder Woman, plus some of my own creation.

CBG: The recent Omega Flight mini-series has been one of my favorite titles. How did you land the job of penciling Omega Flight?

SK: I proposed [an] Alpha Flight series more than [a] year ago and when that didn't fly I asked if anything else was in the works for them. Mike Marts -- then-Omega editor -- liked my work and talked over the Omega Flight plans with me and asked me on board. I was thrilled.

CBG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists?

SK: Decide what you want to do in this business, talk with pros about it and with that knowledge, go for it -- knowing you'll have to probably really work harder than anything you can imagine to get it.

 

--Interview by Sergio Lopez

Howard the Duck Interview With Writer Ty Templeton (10.04)

Howard the Duck, a new four-issue mini-series from Marvel Comics, written by Ty Templeton, with pencils from Juan Bobillo and inks from Marcelo Sosa, came out yesterday (with a nifty Marvel Zombies variant cover by Juan Bobillo!). We sat down with writer Ty Templeton to talk about this new series (I'll try to refrain from the duck jokes. That would just flat out be fowl play!).

Comic Book Gazette: First of all, why did you decide to write this series?

Ty Templeton: Not even a tough call.  Howard the Duck is one of my all time favorite Marvel characters.  I was beaming with joy when I was asked to write the one-shot story in Civil War, and I secretly hoped there would be more Howard work down the line.

CBG: Did you get to choose your own artist or did Marvel come to you with an artist?

TT: Marvel chose our artists.  Juan and Marcelo had done work on She-Hulk (as had I recently) and I think they wanted an art team with comedy chops.

CBG: The art on chores on this book will be handled by Juan Bobillo (pencils) and Marcelo Sosa (inks). What are your feelings on the book's look?

TT: I think Juan has a nice comedy storytelling skill.  Some of the stuff in this book came back funnier than I wrote it, especially the stuff he does with the A.I.M. scientists and their giant headed pal.  The new look for Howard was a little surprising at first, but it really grew on me by the time the series was done (it's all written and drawn now).
 
CBG: Howard the Duck has been handled by many different people before. Do you feel like you're trying to bring something new to the table?

TT: I hope to do something a little new, but still recognizable at the same time.  I'm not here to wrench Howard into a new direction that old time fans wouldn't know, but I'm equally not here to just do a nostalgia riff on the original run either.  I hope we're telling a modern story with these characters we all know.  There's no Doctor Bong, Kidney Lady or Winda the Witch in the story (though they'd certainly be characters to use in the future), but we are still in Cleveland, and Bev's still struggling with her career, so the background is classic Howard.

The new story is about modern media (youtube, the internet, talk radio) and Modern Marvel (Post Civil War) so the beats and characters in the story are 21st Century. and we've got a little politics thrown in, as you'd expect with Howard, but it's more about Bush's America, than Jimmy Carter's obviously.
 
CBG: Who do you think this series is "aimed at?" Do you feel it's being written for a particular audience?

TT: Aimed at Marvel/Howard the Duck fans.  It's not especially violent or grim, so that's ruling out a lot of the X-Bat-Zombies crowd (although we had a nice Zombie variant cover for our first issue) but it does have guns and gals in it, just less extreme.  We're more about the snark, than the adult ratings.  Teenagers are the snarkiest of creatures, and I wouldn't want to rule them out of an audience.  It's definitely not aimed at young kids, though.  Howard clearly has a drinking problem in the first issue, and let's be honest, he has a human girlfriend, when he's not exactly human himself.  SHADES of SIN!

CBG: The book is out, so I guess we can talk about this: without spoiling too much, what is the basic premise of this mini?

TT: Basic premise:  Howard the Duck becomes the most talked about person in the country because of an amusing Youtube video that goes mad viral.  Within a week, he's Paris, Britney, Anna Nicole and OJ, all at once. 

Naturally, that makes life odd and dangerous for Howard.  And in the middle of all this, he gets involved in a secret plot to take over America, one radio station at a time.

CBG: Would you be willing to do more Howard minis or even an ongoing series down the line?

TT: That's up to the fans, really.  Buy this in droves and they'll let us do another one.  If it tanks, then obviously that's the end of that.  Personally, I'll write Howard stories until they prey his feathers from my cold dead hands.

CBG: You probably know about all the creators-rights disputes between Steve Gerber and Marvel, with the original series. What are your feelings on this issue?

TT: Hmmm....how to answer.  Obviously I believe that Marvel owns the character, legally, or I wouldn't be working on the series.  I certainly understand Steve Gerber's proprietary relationship with Howard, as he was clearly a very personal character for Steve to work on, and very much the thing that made Steve Gerber a well known name (I loved his Defenders and liked Omega, so obviously, Howard wasn't his only gig in the Seventies, but it was the one he was best known for.).

But Steve is currently writing Dr. Fate at DC, and he's written Avengers, Defenders and a host of other characters in his career that he didn't create, so it's a very grey question about what characters are fair game and which ones are not.  And to play completely fair, Val Mayerik is Howard's un-credited co-creator and never mentioned in this conversation about Howard's papa for some reason. 

In the long run, my decision to work on the series, with respects to how Steve Gerber was going to feel about it was this:  I'm a huge fan of Howard the Duck.  If Marvel was going to do a Howard series, and Steve Gerber WASN'T going to write it, then I wanted to be the guy that did it...partly because it would be great fun for me, and partly because I believed I would do the Duck with the right voice and attitude, so that it would be acceptable to Howard fans.   I'm sure there are other creators who could do a terrific version as well (Dan Slott leaps to mind), but I was confident I would create something the fans would recognize.

CBG: Obviously, Howard the Duck is a character that has a lot of "die-hard" fans who will accept only the Gerber series. Did you feel like you had to please these fans, or do you look at this as a "re-interpretation?"

TT: See above.

CBG: What are your personal opinions on some past Howard series?

TT: Most of them are wonderful.  Pretty well ALL of the Steve Gerber/Brunner/Colan stories are diamond perfect, and a lot of the Bill Mantlo ones hold up really well, even after all these years.  I've tended to like the Howard guest appearances by other writers in other series a little less than when Howard's on his own, primarily because I thought other creative teams were less accurate about the character and his motivations.  'Tho the Chris Bachalo version of Howard LOOKED really cool, if the story went a bit awry.

CBG: Did you ever see that movie? The 80's one that was a box-office bomb? If so, what'd you think of it?

TT: I am such a crazed Howard the Duck fan, I have actually owned a copy of that movie on video for decades, and I got a DVD copy of it a few years ago.  Do I love the movie?  Of course not, it's very flawed.  Do I like the movie?  Yes, parts of it.  I like Bev in it, she's pretty well matched to her part.  And Tim Robbins as the scientist has some moments.  It's Jeffery Jones as the transplanted space monster that has taken over the body of a human being, which steals the show for me.  In many ways, I like most of the movie, EXCEPT the Howard character.  He's got no bite, no growl, no sense of angry but intelligent youth, and the guy doing his voice has little or no comedic timing.

But I'm delighted the thing even exists, as flawed as it is.  It's like the Vampirella movie (with Roger Daltry as Dracula!!).  It's not perfect, but it's wonderfully bizarre that someone made it. You have to respect that level of unexpected movie.
 
CBG: Howard the Duck aside, do you have any other projects coming up?

TT: Quite a few.  I'm writing a number of issues of Marvel Age Avengers and Fantastic Four.  Great classic characters in done in one stories.  ALSO:  I'm drawing issues of EXTERMINATORS and AMERICAN SPLENDOR for Vertigo Comics. 

AND...I'm working on the revival of HOVERBOY!  Arguably the most famous TV/COMIC/MOVIE character of the 20th Century, to be completely and strangely forgotten in recent years.  If you (or your readers) go to the website www.hoverboy.com you'll find lots of material about the character and our revival of him at Mr. Comics (the company that did the award winning Planet of the Apes comic series last year).  INCLUDED at the website is a short film about the career of Hoverboy, (including footage of the entire staff of  Mr. Comics in the nude, essentially begging for a sale), clips of creators remembering Hoverboy (including X-Men's Yannick Paquette, Star Trek, the New Voyages' RON BOYD, and others) and a preview of the first NEW Hoverboy story in 20 years.  Lots of reprints of old Hoverboy comics and a few episodes of his Saturday TV show, all free to download. 

Free TV episodes!  Free Comics!  TV celebrities!  A comics company staff in the nude!!  What do we have to do to get your attention?

www.hoverboy.com

I promise, you'll have a ball, and laugh till you need to change you under-things.
 
--Interview by Sergio Lopez

Special "Happy Birthday" Joe Kubert Interview! (9.18)

Today is the legendary Joe Kubert's birthday! What better way to celebrate than with an interview? Joe Kubert is most famous as an artist on titles such as a Sgt. Rock and Hawkman, although he has also written and edited several comic books. He also founded the world famous "Joe Kubert's World of Cartooning," which teaches several aspects of drawing, such as super-heroes, villains, ect. Join us as we celebrate Joe Kubert's 81st birthday, and be sure to check out the Joe Kubert's World of Cartooning website, www.KubertsWorld.com!

Comic Book Gazette: What is the first comic you remember reading?

Joe Kubert: TARZAN, in the newspapers.

CBG: How did you break into comics professionally?

JK: By refusing to accept rejection, and by the help of professional cartoonists.

CBG: Who do you find is the biggest influence on your work?

JK: Every artist/cartoonist I admire.

CBG: Who is your favorite comic book character?

JK: I have many: SGT. ROCK, HAWKMAN, FLASH, SUPERMAN, etc.

CBG: Out of all the titles you've worked in, what has been your favorite to work on?

JK: My favorite has always been the one on which I'm currently working.

CBG: Is there a title you'd like to work on that you haven't had a chance to?

JK: No.

CBG: Do you buy any comic series' monthly? If so, which comics are you buying?

JK: I don't buy them. They are sent to me.

CBG: How long does it usually take you to finish one page of comic book art?

JK: It varies.

CBG: What led you to found the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art?

JK: I felt there was a need for it.

CBG: Do you have any advice on breaking into comics?

JK: Don't accept rejection and keep trying.

--Interview by Sergio Lopez

Jonathan Case Interview (9.17)

I first encountered Jonathan Case's work at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con, where I found a small-press book called Sea Freak. It was a comic book which was based on a play, and written and illustrated by Jonathan Case. The art style, writing, and premise were intriguing, so I contacted Jonathan Case and he agreed to this interview. But before we start, a link: be sure to visit Jonathan Case's official website at SeaFreak.com by clicking here. (Editor's note: The first image is the cover to the issue mentioned previously. The second image is interior artwork from that issue, and the final image is a Comic Book Gazette Exclusive: interior artwork from an upcoming Sea Freak page. Click on any of the artwork to enlarge).

Comic Book Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Jonathan Case: I read the funnies - Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side mostly. Mother approval kept the superhero stuff out of my hands, but it's not something I regret too much at this point.

CBG: How did you break into comic books?

JC: In college, I worked in theater and film - everything from low-rent special effects to acting and writing. Sea Freak was one of those projects, and through an overly involved series of events, I decided to develop it as a graphic novel. Early on, I met some really supportive people like Jesse Hamm and the Periscope Studio crew in Portland. I was showing samples around, and just started making friends. Before long I started coming around Periscope and working, or helping out on projects. When they moved up to the new space, I was invited on board.

CBG: What are the greatest influences on your work?

JC: A lot of theater and film, really. Movies from the late 50's through the early 70's - Bergman and Hitchcock. As a theater major, I absorbed some Beckett, Shakespeare and other things that you wouldn't necessarily relate to comics, but that really helped me find a voice. I love some of the early 20th century comics like Little Nemo and Krazy Kat, too. Rodin is who I think of most often when I'm drawing, but it's the sculptures... It seems weird, but it all ties together.

CBG: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

JC: Can I count Calvin, of the ever popular newspaper strip? I love him because he's fearlessly interested in weird things, full of ideas, and can hardly relate to people in normal ways. An artist!

CBG: Do you pick up any comics on a monthly basis? If so, what are you currently reading?

JC: I don't, but I'm always reading something new. I just finished Garage Band by Gipi, who's a recent favorite. I'm also reading book one of Poison the Cure by Jad Ziade and Alex Cahill.

CBG: For those not in the know, please explain the basic concept of Sea Freak.

JC: Sea Freak is the story of an atomic sea mutant in the 1960's whose poet soul is at odds with his need to eat teeny boppers. And that's not his only worry. He also has a chorus of three little crabs living on his body, and they want nothing to do with a change of diet. Still, he's adopted a human sense of justice from reading old Shakespeare plays, bottled and tossed into the sea by an unknown party. He decides to follow the bottles' trail, hoping to find a kindred spirit at the other end, and to at last be free of his monstery ways... It's only when he finds the trail's end that he realizes how far he has to go.

CBG: How did the idea for Sea Freak come about?

JC: In writing the play, I wanted to do something that merged the kitsch of beach blanket bingo/monster mania with something from the high art world. We actually performed it on the beach with an ocean-proof monster suit and the whole bit. It was a lot of fun, and people responded to it favorably enough that it seemed worth developing further.

CBG: Do you find that Sea Freak was changed in any significant way in the transition from play to comic?

JC: The only thing that was retained was the 1960's sea mutant who speaks in iambic pentameter for who-knows-what reason. The thing about the play was that it all took place in one setting, one period of time, all the things you're limited to (and favor) in theater. There aren't those limits with comics, but I've done my best to keep the story efficient.

CBG: How long did it take you to finish the entire first chapter of Sea Freak (from writing to the finished product)?

JC: I can't honestly give an exact amount of time. I worked on completing the full novel's script off and on over the course of a year before doing much on final pages. Some were done during that time as trial runs that made it into the 'cut', but most were done between April and May of this year, after writing and research were complete. Just drawing and inking a final page takes about 1 and a half to 2 days, on average.

CBG: Are there any plans to publish Sea Freak as a series?

JC: Right now the dream is to publish as a graphic novel. I like the format, and it seems to be more viable for this piece, since it has a finite narrative. We'll see. A lot can happen between now and next year, when I plan to finish.

 

--Interview by Sergio Lopez

Allen Bellman Interview (9.16)

Today we're interviewing Allen Bellman. Who is Allen Bellman, you ask? Well, that's understandable. Allen Bellman isn't working on any new comics -- in fact, he retired from comics a good many years ago! So who is he? Well, Allen Bellman is a Golden and Silver Age comic book legend who worked on such titles as Blonde Phantom Comics, Captain America, Human Torch, Kid Komics, Man Comics, Marvel Mystery Comics, Sub-Mariner Comics, Young Allies Comics, and many more! Even though he's retired, he is still doing commisions. To order a commission from Allen Bellman, or to learn more about him, please click here to visit his site, AllenBellman.com!

Comic Book Gazette: What was the first comic book you ever read?

Allen Bellman: The first comic book I read was Famous Funnies. This contained reprints from newspaper comic strips.

Comic Book Gazette: How did you get your first job in comics?

Allen Bellman: I was 18 years of age when I saw an ad in the New York Times looking for an artist to do backgrounds for Captain America. It was Columbus Day, 1942. I told my father I [would] answer the ad the following day as I thought they [might] be closed for the holiday. In reality, I was scared of rejection, but my Dad told me to go [then]. I went that day and got the job.

Comic Book Gazette: What are the greatest influences on your work?

Allen Bellman: Milton Caniff, of course. Terry and the Pirates was the comic strip every aspiring cartoonist looked at for inspiration.

Comic Book Gazette: Out of all the titles you have worked on, what is your favorite?

Allen Bellman: Well, I created a feature called "Let's Play Detective." The leading characters were Detective Mike Trapp and his partner, Pepper Burns. Why shouldn't I favor my own creation, though Captain America was a close second.

Comic Book Gazette: What was it like to work in comics during the Golden Age of Comics?

Allen Bellman: First, we didn't think of that period [as] being the Golden Age. I [could] just about see every person’s face I worked with in the Timely Bullpen. Syd Shores, Vince Alacia, Carl Burgos, Mike Sekowsky, Frank Giacoia, Sol Brodsky, I could go on and on. Everyone in the bullpen had a different personality. Some great and some not so great.

Comic Book Gazette: Would you say there's been a major change in comics, both in terms of content and the industry itself, since the Golden Age?

Allen Bellman: Yes indeed, there is a big change in today's comic books. The artwork is superb, but to me, so difficult to read. Every thing seems [so] dark that I call it dull. People have told me that they would prefer the touch of the 40's and 50's comic book style.

Comic Book Gazette: Is there a title you would have liked to work on that you never got a chance to?

Allen Bellman: Not really. There [was] no special title I would have preferred.

Comic Book Gazette: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

Allen Bellman: Out side of Lets Play Detective I would have to say Captain America. When I joined Timely, Syd Shores and Vince Alacia were doing Captain America. Joe Simon and Jack Kirby previously left Timely thus affording me the opportunity to do backgrounds for this feature. Shortly after I was given scripts which I penciled and inked.

Comic Book Gazette: Given the chance, would you like to work in comics again?

Allen Bellman: No -- doing what I am doing now helps fill the void: accepting commissions from the fans.

Comic Book Gazette: Do you have advice for anyone trying to break into comics?

Allen Bellman: The best advice I could give would be: first learn to draw well and then become a cartoonist. Copy, even trace. Yes, trace, because this is the way you learn. This advice was given to me by a superb artist, the late Elmer Tom Tomasch who went on to write books on anatomy. And when knocking on the doors of the comic book publishers don't let rejection get you down. Keep going back, and back again with new samples. Always smile at the editor and thank them for the opportunity they had given you to show your work, even when rejected. They will always remember your warmth in accepting their rejection. Go back and in time you could very well be accepted. In other words, never give up.

 

--Interview by Sergio Lopez. Special thanks to Allen Bellman for the images.

Tony Isabella Interview (8.22)

Today we’re interviewing comic book writer Tony Isabella. He’s written many titles, among them Hero for Hire, Power Man, Astonishing Tales, Captain America, Hawkman, and Black Lightning. He’s also written a couple of novels. And, he’s got an upcoming project at Heroic Publishing. And now, without further ado, we present our latest interview! (And after you read it, be sure to click here to read Tony’s Online Tips, his online comics column).

Comic Book Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Tony Isabella: Yes. I learned to read from comic books at the tender age of four and have read them throughout my life.

Comic Book Gazette: How did you break into comics?

Tony Isabella: I corresponded with editors and writers whose work I liked. I pitched plots and scripts. I probably would have broken in via that route before too much longer, but then Roy Thomas sped my way by offering me a job as an editorial assistant in Marvel's offices. That was the fall of 1972.

Comic Book Gazette: What are the biggest influences on your work?

Tony Isabella: Real life and my experiences living it in the world around us...not to mention my own finely-tuned sense of right and wrong. If we're talking about comics and writing in general, my influences would include Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Harlan Ellison, Lester Dent, Neil Simon, Ed McBain, Max Allan Collins, Dave Barry, and William Shakespeare.

Comic Book Gazette: How long does it take you to finish a comic book script?

Tony Isabella: Depends on the script. I've written some scripts overnight and labored for weeks on some others. I aim for four fully-finished pages per day.

Comic Book Gazette: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

Tony Isabella: Black Lightning. I created him without editorial input or interference, so he represents my ideas of what a super-hero should be. I intended him to be a role model from the get-go, but I also wanted him to be a character subject to the same occasional doubts and limitations as the rest of us. More than any other character, Jeff Pierce comes alive in my work. Nothing would please me more -- in my comics career, at least -- than to write new Black Lightning stories until the day I die.

Comic Book Gazette: Is there a title you would like to work on that you haven't had a chance to?

Tony Isabella: Several. The first two that came to mind when I read this oft-asked question this time around were COSMO THE MERRY MARTIAN, a short-lived Archie Comics title of the late 1950s, and, for that matter, ARCHIE and/or any of the many titles featuring Archie and the Riverdale High kids.

Format-wise, I'd love to write a weekly serial like those found in Britain's 2000 AD or the Japanese manga magazines. In fact, though I don't know what I'll do with them, I'm slowly developing a couple "manga" concepts.

Comic Book Gazette: How did you come up with the idea for the character Black Lightning?

Tony Isabella: I wanted to created an iconic super-hero with whom younger readers could identify with. Every kid knows schoolteachers, so I started with that as my first brick in the process of building my creation. Every other brick was a result of my defining who Jeff Pierce was, why he did what he did, and how I could use him to tell the stories I wanted to tell and to address the issues I wanted to address. His super-hero name and powers were pretty much the last bricks in the construction.

Comic Book Gazette: Black Lightning seems to be making somewhat of a comeback, with his joining the Justice League and all. What is your opinion on his recent appearances?

Tony Isabella: Some I've liked, some I've hated. I'm excited about Dwayne McDuffie writing Black Lightning in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, as Dwayne is one of the best writers in comics and someone who I know respects my character.

Comic Book Gazette: You've written Power Man, Black Lightning, and Black Goliath, all black super-heroes. What is your opinion on the representation of minorities in comic books?

Tony Isabella: Better than it was, could be much better.

Comic Book Gazette: Is there anything you can tell us about the project you're working on for Heroic Publishing?

Tony Isabella: Yes, but I won't. Publisher Dennis Mallonee has been very patient waiting for a script from me, a script which had to take a back seat to my day job, family, and some recent health problems. When the script is finished and approved, that's when I'll be able to talk about it.

Comic Book Gazette: Do you have advice for people trying to break into comics as a writer?

Tony Isabella: Write, write, write...and then submit your work to people who can pay you for it. Repeat as necessary.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Herb Trimpe Interview (8.16)

Today I’m interviewing comic book legend and Silver Age (and up) artist Herb Trimpe. He had a run on the Incredible Hulk, during which he co-created the mega-popular character Wolverine. He’s done more, but just read the interview to find out! And after that, click here to visit Herb Trimpe’s website!

Comic Book Gazette: When did you start reading comics?

Herb Trimpe: As a young kid, say, during my elementary school years, I was nuts about Disney comics, especially Donald Duck and his entourage of characters. I used to copy panels on large sheets of manila drawing paper, the stuff in which you could see the chunks of wood imbedded. I colored the pictures with Crayola crayons. Later, in junior high school (middle school), I had a couple of cousins with collections, one had all the premium stuff you could get plus a bunch of Big Little Books. The other cousin lived near the school and during lunch we would eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drink milk while reading the likes of Plastic Man, Superman, Wonder Woman, Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, and some Batman, which was too dark for me even then.

Comic Book Gazette:
How did you break into comics professionally?

Herb Trimpe: I came straight from the USAF and Vietnam. John Verpoorten, with whom I went to art school with, was production manager at Marvel, and he suggested I should come to the office and talk to Sol Brodsky. I brought some old art school samples and got some freelance work inking westerns. Six months or so later, I was offered a job on staff in the production department, and gradually picked up more freelance. Eventually Stan asked if I wanted to take over from Marie Severin on the Hulk, as she was moving on to something else. My answer was yes.

Comic Book Gazette: What are the biggest influences on your work?

Herb Trimpe: Prior to Marvel, Jack Davis was one of the coolest comic artists around. I loved EC comics, but upon arriving at Marvel, that semi-cartoon style, which I had gotten pretty good at, was out - thumbs down from Stan. From then on it was another Jack, the King himself, who became the guy I looked at for inspiration.

Comic Book Gazette: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

Herb Trimpe: I really loved the devious and humorous anti-hero, Plastic Man. Jack Cole, another Jack, looked like he was having a hell of a good time with it.

Comic Book Gazette: How long does it take you to finish a page of comic art?

Herb Trimpe: A couple of hours for pencils. Twenty minutes to a half hour for a layout from which I could probably ink from. We didn’t fool around in the ‘60s and ‘70s. If the deadline required, I could hack it out pretty fast, and it shows in a lot of places. Over one two-year period I was doing three books a month - The Defenders, Shogun Warriors, and Godzilla, I think. But this was very tight stuff - no cheating.

Comic Book Gazette: Is there a particular title you would like to work on that you haven't gotten a chance to?

Herb Trimpe: Although I loved Plastic Man, I always wanted to draw Superman - even today. The old-style Superman was terrific. Superman crying or dying? Give me a break. Again, working for EC would have been like dying and going to Heaven. All their adventure titles were fantastic - the sci-fi, the war stuff, the westerns, the horror comics - all great. Can you imagine being able to do titles like that today? We have such a narrow view now of what a comic book should be. I would have loved the chance to do a romance comic. The comic environment was varied and allowed the artist to stretch his or her abilities. I think creativity might be the word.

Comic Book Gazette: What does it feel like to work in comics?

Herb Trimpe: I mean, what does it feel like to work anywhere? You like the job or you don’t. You have fun, or you’re bored. It was a job - a fun as hell job, but a job. There was the paycheck, and there was my family, and lucky for me, I could take care of business, work at home while watching my kids grow up, and have a good time doing it.

Comic Book Gazette: When did you decide you wanted to work in comics?

Herb Trimpe: Real young, like ten or so. I was a big comic strip fan, and I used to come up with ideas for strips and color them in with the same Crayola crayons. I liked making up stories and bringing them to life. I could do everything a movie maker could do at a fraction of the cost.

Comic Book Gazette:
What has been your favorite title to work on?

Herb Trimpe: Probably the Hulk. We had a lot of fun with Old Green Skin. It was very free-wheeling in those days, a lot of creative and spontaneous input. Very exciting. Nothing like today from what I understand. Now, it’s all business and Hollywood.

Comic Book Gazette: Do you have advice for people trying to break into the field of comics as an artist?

Herb Trimpe: Keep drawing comics. Even if you don’t sell your work. Do complete stories, write them, letter them, and color them. Get a day job and keep drawing.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Stuart Moore Interview (8.15)

Today we’re interviewing writer Stuart Moore. He’s written everything from Lone (Dark Horse), Para (Penny-Farthing), Justice League Adventures (DC), Stargate Atlantis: Wraithfall (Avatar Press), to his more recent New Avengers/Transformers (Marvel), to many more. He’s also got a couple of novels under his belt. And without further ado, we present our latest interview…

Comic Book Gazette: When did you start reading comics?

Stuart Moore: I think my first comic was an issue of ACTION [COMICS] called "Son of the Annihilator." I was pretty young, and it had a creepy story in the back where Supergirl turned out to be a robot. I still have it, though it's about to disintegrate from rereading.

Note: Stuart Moore is talking about Action Comics #356, "Son of the Annihilator." I believe the back-up story he's reffering to is "The Girl of Straw." I managed to track down the cover, which is posted at right a little further down.

Comic Book Gazette: How did you break into the field of comics?

Stuart Moore: As a book editor, I published several comics-related titles at St. Martin's Press. When DC decided to expand the department that became Vertigo a few years later, I moved over to comics proper.

I've always written, but when I was younger I didn't have a lot of confidence in my abilities. And DC doesn't encourage their editors to write. But eventually I decided it was what I wanted to do.

Comic Book Gazette: What are the greatest influences on your work?

Stuart Moore: I have very eclectic tastes, and I like a lot of different genres. I'm particularly drawn to writers who work within a genre but completely transcend it, like Philip K. Dick or Charles Willeford or Joe Lansdale, or (in comics) Alan Moore's DC work. On television, Ronald Moore's Battlestar Galactica and Russell Davies's Doctor Who fit into that category too, and so do Joss Whedon's various shows. Robert Anton Wilson is a favorite writer; lately I've been devouring the works of Rick Moody. And I'm strangely drawn to Charles Bukowski. I've read almost all his prose.

Comic Book Gazette: How long does it usually take you to finish an entire comic book script?

Stuart Moore: No writer who knows what's good for him will answer that question honestly, for two reasons:

1. Every script is different. I've had projects that require weeks of research, and others that fly right by.

2. Once you give an answer, all your editors will expect every script to be written at least that fast.

Comic Book Gazette: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

Stuart Moore: Urrr...I could give the boring answer, Batman, for all the usual reasons. But you want something new, don't you? Don't you? Uh...I really like Man-Thing, and not for the usual humorous, phallocentric reasons. It's a challenge to craft stories around a creature who doesn't really think, and I love the old Steve Gerber stories where Man-Thing is basically a catalyst for other people's personal dramas. I've been thinking about this a bit lately, for reasons that will be explained eventually.

Comic Book Gazette: What does it feel like to work in comics?

Stuart Moore: It's alternately difficult, wonderful, frustrating, inspiring, suicidal, and transcendent. Office jobs in comics vary greatly depending on bosses, market conditions, and the agenda of the particular company. Freelancing, you're both more in control -- of your time, and of what jobs you take on -- and less, because you're at the mercy of everyone else's priorities and schedules.

Comic Book Gazette: How did you get the job of writing the New Avengers/Transformers mini-series?

Stuart Moore: I was about to pitch this project in 1986, when the first TRANSFORMERS movie hit and Marvel was publishing the comics, but somehow I fell through a time warp and ended up here. Bill Rosemann at Marvel stole my experimental time-engine, but then he took pity on me and hired me -- even going so far as to work out a deal with IDW to use the Transformers!

That's why Captain America is alive in the miniseries. How was I to know?

The real answer is boring. I knew both Bill and Chris Ryall at IDW, they thought of me because of my science-fiction background, and it all came together.

Comic Book Gazette: What has been your favorite comic to work on?

Stuart Moore: I can't really choose ... but WOLVERINE #41, with CP Smith, was a nice one. That's in the new trade paperback WOLVERINE: BLOOD AND SORROW. And my Tokyopop series EARTHLIGHT, with Chris Schons, has worked out better than I ever dreamed.

As editor: PREACHER and TRANSMETROPOLITAN were pretty special. And I don't mean that in the "special education" sense. I also have a very soft spot for Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's HELLBLAZER...that's when we all got to be friends.

Comic Book Gazette: Do you approach writing a novel any differently than a comic?

Stuart Moore: It's very different. Comics are all about compression; you never have as much room as you need. Novels have a lot of words. A LOT of words. You can push and pull scenes, use back-and-forth dialogue for pages on end, or digress for a long descriptive passage.

Also: with comics, my job is to inspire an artist to bring the story to life. With a novel, it's all me. I have found, though, that if you cultivate an evocative, clipped descriptive voice in panel descriptions, that actually translates very well to prose. The audience is different, but the trick in both cases is to paint pictures in the reader's mind with as few words as possible.

Novels are more work, too. Because they have a lot of words. Did I mention that?

Comic Book Gazette: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic book artists?

Stuart Moore: Artists: Study art and draw from life. Follow the various submission guidelines and do new work all the time. Decide who you're trying to work for and tailor your samples accordingly.

Writers: This is harder. Get published anywhere you can. Do collaborations with artist friends; it's very hard to get a big company to read a spec script, and they won't take a chance on an outline from an unknown quantity, but they might read an actual comic you've put together. (And proofread the damn lettering!)

This goes for both, but especially for the writers: Don't think of yourself as purely a comics creator. There are plenty of opportunities for both artists and writers in other fields, and this industry can be rough at times. You want to spread yourself around, and working in other areas teaches you things you'll never learn from drawing Man-Thing over and over.

Oops. Man-Thing again?

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Luna Brothers Interview (8.6)

Hey, everyone! Today we’ve got a double-sized interview lined up for you with not just one, but both of the Luna Brothers! No doubt you’re heard about their creator-owned titles, Girls and Ultra, or perhaps you saw the work they did in Spider-Woman: Origins, or maybe you’ve heard of their upcoming title, The Sword. Whatever the case, read on, and be sure to visit their site by clicking here!

Comic Book Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Jonathan: Absolutely. I started with Mad magazine. Every time I was in a book store or any store with a book section, I’d run to see if there were any Mad magazines available. Soon after, I found the Ninja Turtles. Then, I found The Uncanny X-Men (Inferno). The art blew me away -- it took me to another world -- and I was hooked. 

Joshua: I sort of just read what was around me. I had the attention span of a fly when I was a kid, so I didn’t really collect comics or commit myself to anything specific -- not for a few more years, at least. Though, whenever I was with my parents at the store, I do remember sneaking Archie comics into their shopping cart.

Comic Book Gazette: How did you break into comics professionally?

Joshua: We submitted a proposal for our series, Ultra, to Image comics in 2003, and they green lit it. We’ve been working professionally ever since.

Prior to that submission, we spent our childhoods drawing constantly, which eventually led us to art school. It’s been a rewarding feeling, watching our ‘hobby’ slowly morph into an actual career.
 
Comic Book Gazette: What are the biggest influences on your work?

Jonathan: Film, comics, animation, fantasy art and illustrations, life in general. I can be walking around in a store and hear a conversation that will inspire me.

Joshua: Yeah, we pretty much draw inspiration from everything. As storytellers, you sort of have to train your senses that way because there’s always a potential story hidden somewhere.

Comic Book Gazette: What is your favorite comic book character, and why?

Jonathan: Other than from our own work? (Our characters are like our babies, of course). Probably Spider-Woman. I really grew to love her working with Brian Bendis and Brian Reed.

Joshua: Calvin from ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’ Not sure if a comic strip character counts, but that strip really became a favorite of mine. Smart, funny, and well drawn -- it was great.
 
Comic Book Gazette: How did you land the job of working on Spider-Woman: Origins?

Jonathan: Bendis called me up one day and said, “I’m going to do a mini-series with Spider-Woman. Wanna draw it?” I had never talked to him before that. I was and am a big fan of his work -- Powers and Alias were some of the titles that got me back into comics after college. What happened was, Bendis put up a thread in his forum, saying, “I’m doing a new book and I need an artist that I’ve never thought of. Anyone have suggestions?” Someone suggested me. Supposedly, Tom Brevoort was already thinking of me before Bendis got to him.  

Comic Book Gazette: Do you prefer work-for-hire work, such as Spider-Woman: Origin, or independent work, such as your upcoming series, The Sword?

Jonathan: Well, our creator-owned books are so much fun. Having the freedom to tell any story we want, any way we want, and get it published is an absolute dream come true. But to work with people like Bendis, people I’ve reading before I stepped in the industry, that’s amazing as well.

Josh: There are pros and cons to both independent and work-for-hire work, and everyone’s situation is different, so I couldn’t really make a definite choice. Just as long as a project allows us to have fun, be creative, and eat, then we’re happy campers.

Comic Book Gazette: Speaking of The Sword, what can you tell us about it? What it's about, when it's coming out, etc?

Joshua: The Sword is a revenge story. Our protagonist, Dara Brighton, is a relatively ordinary college girl whose life becomes completely shattered by three powerful strangers, who she -- or anyone else, for that matter -- would have no chance in confronting. That changes when she discovers a unique sword.

We’ve always enjoyed stories that involved mystical objects or weapons that presented the wielder with both a gift and a curse because they really put a character’s humanity to the test.

The Sword will be in stores October 17, 2007.

Comic Book Gazette: How long does it take you to finish a comic script or a page of comic art?

Joshua: A script can take me anywhere from one to two weeks, give or take. Each script presents its own unique challenge.

Jonathan: I do a complete page a day. Pencils, inks, and colors. When I was doing Spider-Woman and Girls, I had to work faster than that to get two issues done in a month.
 
Comic Book Gazette: What's up with the proposed Ultra television series? Any news since it was reportedly dropped?

Joshua: As of now, nothing is happening with it. CBS still owns the TV [and] film rights, so it’s up to them, really.
 
Comic Book Gazette: Do you have any advice for people trying to break into comics?

Jonathan: Read, watch shows and films, and write or draw all the time. And don’t stop. Not stopping is the most difficult part. Stopping means you don’t love it enough. And if you don’t stop, you’ll make it eventually.

Josh: It’s probably not the answer most aspiring comic artists/writers want to hear, but there really are no shortcuts -- just lots and lots of hard work. Once you’ve broken in, it doesn’t really get easier, either -- deadlines, competition, stress, and all-nighters galore. It’s definitely tough, but incredibly rewarding if you’re into this line of work.

--Interview by Sergio B.

Timothy Truman Interview (7.23)

Today we’re interviewing Timothy Truman. You probably know him from his work on Grimjack (and if you don’t, read on)! To learn more about Timothy Truman visit his website by clicking here.

Comic Book Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Timothy Truman: Absolutely. My cousins always had comics around, and my dad bought me my first comic when I was six. Dad noticed that I was eyeing a copy of Our Fighting Forces, starring Gunner, Sarge and Pooch, in a drug store window as we were walking to my first day of school. I entered first grade without experiencing kindergarten and I was scared to death. When I got home that issue of Our Fighting Forces was waiting for me. Good old dad.

CBG: How did you break into comics professionally?

TT: I did a few short comics while I was at the Kubert School, then did a few more while I was illustrating for TSR Hobbies and SPI Games. I was on staff, doing Dungeons and Dragons stuff for TSR. One Sunday, some friends and I drove to Chicago to attend one of the Sunday cons they used to have there. I took my portfolio and showed it to First Comics. The next week, I got a call from Mike Gold, asking me to work up samples for a new backup feature called Grimjack which was going to be running in their Starslayer comic. I got the job, quit my job at TSR, and the rest is history.

CBG: What are the biggest influences on your work?

TT: Artistically, as far as American comics artists go, the work of Paul Gulacy, Jim Steranko, Jack Kirby, Joe Kubert, John Severin, Sam Glanzman, Barry Smith, Bernie Wrightson, Mike Kauluta, Wally Wood, Mort Drucker, Jack Davis, Tom Sutton, Franke Thorne... I could go on and on. The underground artists were just as big an influence: Spain Rodriguez, Rand Holmes, and Greg Irons, particularly. I was also into Frank Frazetta and Jeff Jones.
Story-wise, a lot of movie influences: old biker films, Hammer horror flicks, Sergio de Leone, Walter Hill, and folks like that. I learned a lot about pacing and character development from film. Don McGregor, Sam Glanzman, Doug Moench and Archie Goodwin were my favorite comics writers, along with the EC guys. I've learned so much working with Joe R. Lansdale and John Ostrander, too. As far as novelists, Robert E. Howard had the biggest impact on me. Samuel Delaney, Michael Moorcock, Fritz Lieber, Robert F. Jones, Stephen Becker, George R. R. Martin.
There are a lot of bizarre music influences in my work, too -- the lyrics of Paul Kantner and Grace Slick in Jefferson Airplane, John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, for example. I love the way they string words together.
It's all a big stew.

CBG: How long does it take you to finish a page of comic book art?

TT: Usually I do three pages of layouts a day, three pages of pencils a day from those. I ink one and a half pages a day, usually. At the peak of the Grimjack era, I was penciling and inking 5 pages a day, with Scout, 3 pages of pencils and inks, plus writing scripts. It looks it. Crazy times. I wish I could go back and do all that work over, but I'm glad that folks seem to like it. Still, the pace of those days started bad habits that took me years to overcome. I'm much slower and more careful now.

CBG: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

TT: For comic books, a tie: Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD by Jim Steranko, and Master of Kung Fu by Gulacy and Moench. Both were so adult and innovative, in both art and story. Reading Master of Kung Fu was like watching a good movie. Spain's Trashman undergrounds were also big favorites.

CBG: Why do you have seem to have so much interest in the Western genre of comics?

TT: Funny, but I usually hate Western comics and novels. However, I like good western movies -- not shoot'em ups, but the weirder, more adult stuff, like the spaghetti westerns, the Jimmy Stewart westerns, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Missouri Breaks, The Long Riders, Major Dundee, that sort of stuff. I always wanted to do a good western comic that would be as adult as some of those movies. I combined that desire with my love of history.
Also, people had always told me that there'd never be a western comic. Before that, they'd told me that there'd never be a successful science fiction comic. Or a comics with a non-white, Native American lead character. Or a comic that featured an ugly lead character who was past the age of 40. I knew that all these things had been done in movies and novels, so why not in American comics? So I took it as a challenge and in every case the challenge was worth it. Show me a door and I'll get around it. I've been that way since I was a kid -- sometimes in a very literal sense!

CBG: One of the titles you worked on, GrimJack, if not starting the "grim and gritty" trend in comics, certainly was one of the first. What is your opinion of the comic book market's apparent shift towards darker themes in recent years?

TT: Often, there are dark themes but little humor to offset them, and little research to make them believable. There are some great ones out there, but generally speaking, that's been my impression.
It's funny, but I'm getting less and less interested in doing or reading comics that feature gun violence. Swords are okay, but guns are starting to turn me off. I guess I'm getting old. The main reason, though, is probably because guns have been done to death. No pun intended.

CBG: Is there a title you'd like to have the chance to work on that you haven't had the chance to?

TT: Well, I never thought I'd get a chance to work on Conan, but there you go.
I've always had an interest in Dr. Strange. The Hulk. Prince Namor. Challengers of the Unknown. Adapting China Meiville's novel The Scar would be a big treat for me, I suppose. However, as far as drawing goes, after I get done with my current Grimjack: Manx Cat project, I'll probably be doing less comics drawing other than projects that I can spend lots of time on and do the type of drawing that I've always felt I could do. Other than Conan, I'm getting less and less interested in doing other people's characters or projects. It's usually self-defeating.

CBG: How did you land the job of writing the current Conan series for Darkhorse?

TT: I was finishing up Grimjack: Killer Instinct and saw an ad for P. Craig Russel's Conan miniseries. "Ah! So they're doing miniseries’ now," I said to myself. I had always been a major fan of Robert E. Howard's Conan. I realized I had some time coming up in my schedule, so I gave Scott Allie, who was then the editor, a call, to ask him about the possibility of my doing a miniseries. He was all for it. We got Joe R. Lansdale aboard as writer, and Conan and the Songs of the Dead was the result. In the middle of that project, they asked me to do two fast fill-in issues for the monthly title. And in the middle of that, they asked if I would consider taking over as the regular writer for the monthly book after Kurt Busiek accepted a contract at DC. Things just kept snowballing in a weird way.

CBG: Do you have any advice for people trying to break into comics?

TT: Not really. I'm a weird guy to ask. Things just always seemed to happen to me when I made phone calls or walked up to desks. Comics are supposed to be a hard field to get into. For some bizarre reason, though I'm maddeningly insecure about my own work, I've always managed to get these jobs and stay busy.
I guess the lesson there is to just go do it. As one of my best friends in high school used to say, "There's nothing to it but to do it." Advice #2: Meet deadlines. I'm slower than I used to be, but no one ever waits too long for me to deliver work. I tell editors, "My job is to make your job easy." They like that. They like that a lot.

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Timothy Truman for the images.

Fred Van Lente Interview (7/21)

Today we're interviewing comic book writer Fred Van Lente. You may know him as the creator of the new Scorpion, or perhaps the writer of ACTION PHILOSOPHERS, or the current and past writer of MARVEL ADVENTURES: FANTASTIC FOUR and SPIDER-MAN. Or perhaps you're reading the book that just came out which he wrote, SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP: MODOK'S 11. In any case, be sure to click here to visit his website!

Marvel Gazette: When did you start reading comics?

Fred Van Lente: Literally as early as I have memories. I think my first comic was an original copy of Jules Feiffer's book THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES my dad got for his birthday. I still have it -- I covered it in crayon drawings! Along with Feiffer's essay, there's Golden Age reprints of Superman, Batman, Hawkman, Green Lantern, et cetera -- plus a great early SPIRIT by Will Eisner (who Feiffer started his career working for, of course), so I guess that's a pretty good place to start, yeah?

MG: How did you break into comics?

FVL: I joined the comic book club at the college I attended, Syracuse University, where I met a lot of talented artists -- including Steve Ellis, who went on to do (and is doing) a lot of work for Marvel, DC, Image, et cetera. He and I co-created an indy comic called THE SILENCERS about a team of superpowered mob enforcers who become independent operators when the Mafia family they work for gets whacked. It caught the eye of editor Mark Paniccia, who invited me to pitch for the "new Scorpion" arc for AMAZING FANTASY, and I've been at Marvel ever since.

MG: What are the greatest influences on your work?

FVL: Jack Kirby and Grant Morrison for super hero stuff -- I like really dark, absurd writing, so I've always admired Kafka, Poe, Shirley Jackson ... I'm really enjoying the work of Serbian SF and fantasy author Zoran Zivkovic right now.

MG: What's been your favorite title to work on?

FVL: SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP: MODOK'S 11 has been the proudest work I've completed at Marvel so far, although the reaction to and success of my self-published ACTION PHILOSOPHERS, which I co-created with my S.U. bud, artist Ryan Dunlavey, has definitely been the most rewarding experience of my creative life so far.

MG: How long does it usually take you to finish a comic script?

FVL: At Marvel, my editors generally request a short page-by-page breakdown of each issue, which I would probably do shorthand on my own even if they didn't ask for it. That takes me a day or so to do. Then the script itself, 22 pages, generally takes two days of writing, then I take a day off, then look again at the script with fresh eyes, and rewrite over the course of a following day. So, roughly, four days per script. Although with that schedule I can work on multiple issues at the same time.

MG: Is there any project you would like to work on that you haven't had the chance to?

FVL: I write MARVEL ADVENTURES: FANTASTIC FOUR right now -- they're my favorite super hero characters, and it would be fun to write the main, 616 FF title.

MG: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

FVL: Dr. Doom. I like villains more. They're more goal-oriented and crafty, so I relate to them better. [Laughs]

MG: How did the idea for MODOK's 11 come about?

FVL: Like I said, I had broken into Marvel with a "super-crime" comic, THE SILENCERS, and since I knew Mark liked that, I thought I'd pitch him something similar, but different -- so I came with idea of pitching a heist comic. Turns out Mark wanted to do a series about villains, too, so we merrily merged ideas. It's a classic caper movie -- just with a giant floating head as its lead! [Laughs]

MG: You've written many of the Marvel Adventures titles, as well as other "kid-friendly" comics such as FANTASTIC FOUR AND POWER PACK. What is your opinion on all-ages titles as opposed to darker and grittier titles?

FVL: They have their place in the marketplace -- if anything, they're crucial. As you probably know, the statistics show well over half of readers lose interest in comics as they get older, and we as an industry need to replenish that attrition with fresh blood. It's great that heroes and titles age with their fans, but I'm not sure how appropriate titles regularly in the Diamond Top 10 are for kids. That's where Marvel Adventures and Johnny DC come in and fill that niche.

MG: Do you have any advice for people who want to break into the field of comics?

FVL: Yes: make your own comics! The industry has gotten competitive enough where people are not willing to take a risk on you unless they have an actual comic in their hands to see what you're made of. That's what I did, and though it took close to a decade to do it, it worked for me.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Marv Wolfman Interview (7/19)

Today we’re interviewing comics legend Marv Wolfman. He is a man who needs no introduction, as you probably know his name from the various comic books he’s written, such as Amazing Spider-Man, New Teen Titans, or the first company-wide crossover, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Or perhaps you know him as the creator of Blade. He doesn't just write comics, of course: he's written novels, children's books, movies, and much more. To learn more about Marv Wolfman, be sure to visit his website at MarvWolfman.com!

Marvel Gazette: When did you start reading comics?

Marv Wolfman: Back in the very early 50’s. I was watching Howdy Doody, a kid's show, and was too lazy to get up and change the channel, so the next thing on was the Adventures of Superman. At the end it said Superman was based on the copyrighted character appearing in Superman and Action Comics, and I went out after the show was over and bought my first comic. Never stopped.

MG: How did you break into comics?

MW: I published fanzines and sent them to various editors so they got to know me. Also, I wrote a spec Blackhawk script that Dick Giordano bought, and I was asked by Joe Orlando to submit stories to the DC monster comics.

MG: What have been the biggest influences on your work?

MW: Almost everything; TV, movies, books and other comics. In terms of comic book writers, probably John Broome and Stan Lee. In terms of out of comics writers, nearly everyone I've read.

MG: How long does it usually take you to finish a comic book script?

MW: Anywhere from 3 days to a week. I'm not nearly as fast as I used to be.

MG: What are your feelings in general over Crisis on Infinite Earths? Do you think it accomplished what you set out to do? Does it still stand on its own as "just" a comic book story?

MW: Crisis has become elevated to an almost legendary status these days with all the follow up Crisis comics coming out, and in fact with all event driven comics published regularly by both major companies. But back then its goal was simple: to make the DCU simple for Marvel readers to follow. To indicate that DC was changing and to do a really good story that would get people who didn't read DC to at least try a DC comic. In all those ways it succeeded. That Crisis is pretty much its own genre is something I hadn't expected when I came up with the idea.

MG: Long, company-wide, status quo-changing events certainly weren't as common back when Crisis was released as they are now. Did you have any difficulty in pitching the idea? Anything the editors made you throw out?

MW: Actually, company wide, status quo stories just weren't back then. Nobody had done them before we announced Crisis. Marvel rushed Secret Wars into print, but it was a toy crossover and it was announced long after we announced Crisis. DC needed something big and fortunately almost all the higher-ups realized this was a very viable idea. The big things they wouldn't let me do were A): Having all the heroes forget the Crisis ever happened (I never wanted any reference in comics to the Crisis again. Because they didn't let me do this, there has been confusion ever since) and B): To start all DC titles over with issue #1 on January, 1986, the month after Crisis ended (I thought that would be a perfect time for DC to start over and lure in all those people who hadn't tried [the] company before).

MG: What is your personal opinion on the aforementioned modern-day long, company-wide, status quo-changing events?

MW: I don't think the idea of doing such stories on a regular basis is a good one unless you have an idea that needs to be done. You don't do it because they sell. This has to be idea driven with a very specific purpose other than just sales.

MG: How did the idea for the character Black Cat come about?

MW: I was watching the Tex Avery cartoon, Bad Luck Blackie, about a cat that [brings] bad luck, and thought that would make a great villain. I originally designed Black Cat for Spider-Woman and though she had the same abilities, she would have looked different. She was very 1940’s with a slouched hat and a long dress. When I left Spider-Woman I moved Black Cat over to Spider-Man and made her more of an action character.

MG: How did you get the idea for the human/vampire hybrid Blade?

MW: Wish I knew. I was editing a horror book at Warren and was doing an all-vampire issue, but the actual concept of Blade just came to me in an instant. Everything, from who he was, to his look, to his origin. WHAM!

MG: What are your thoughts, looking back, about your run on The New Teen Titans?

MW: I was on it for 16 years and think I probably had 12 really good years on it.

MG: Do you have any advice for people trying to get work as a comic book writer?

MW: Learn to write. Learn to structure your stories. Learn to create interesting characters.

--Interview by Sergio B.

Joe Sinnott Interview (7/14)

After our one-day break due to technical difficulties, we’ve got a shiny new interview for you with none other than Joe Sinnott! He is a man who needs no introduction, having worked on the classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby run of Fantastic Four comics, as well as the Silver Surfer series with John Buscema. Other notable work includes the Defenders, the Avengers, Captain America, and The Mighty Thor. Click here to visit JoeSinnott.com!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comic books as a kid?

Joe Sinnott: Constantly. In 1938 I was 12 years old, the perfect age. I read Action Comics and a little later on Batman, Captain America, and Hawkman.

MG: How did you break into the field of comics?

JS: My instructor at The Cartoonists and Illustrators School, Tom Gill (Lone Ranger artist), made me his assistant in 1949. Through Tom I got my start with Stan Lee at Marvel ([then] Timely) in 1950.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

JS: The comic strips of Milton Caniff and Alex Raymond.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

JS: The Fantastic Four and Thor. I worked on both of these over a long period of time. I actually became somewhat attached to the characters.

MG: Are there any particular characters which you found difficult to ink or were your favorites to work on? I'm especially curious about your experience inking Mephisto and Silver Surfer, two of my favorite characters, both of which you were the first to ink.

JS: For some reason, I always found that Galactus took so long to ink, and was very difficult. He's the one character that I don't like to draw. Iron Man also, he's very time consuming.
As for my favorite characters, the Thing is my favorite. I also enjoy drawing The Mole Man, Thor and the Silver Surfer.
I loved working on Mephisto and the Silver Surfer. The Silver Surfer #3 is one of my favorite issues because of Mephisto.

MG: Do you prefer inking or penciling a story? Which do you find easier of the two?

JS: I prefer inking to penciling, but I get much more satisfaction from my own pencils. Sometimes inking can be harder than penciling depending on who you are working with.

MG: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

JS: The Thing has always been my favorite character. He has so many human frailties. The rest of the FF could change back but not poor Ben Grimm, he had to remain the Thing.

MG: How long does it usually take you to ink a page of comic art? How long for one of the Spider-Man newspaper strips?

JS: It would usually take me 8-9 hours to ink three Jack Kirby Fantastic Four pages. One Sunday Spider-Man strip takes me about 5-6 hours.

MG: Is there a particular project you would like to work on that you haven't had a chance to work on?

JS: I would like to do a recreation of Airboy with the Heap. That's something that I've always wanted to do.

MG: Do you have any advice for people who want to break into the field of comics?

JS: Yes, be prepared to do a lot of hard work and have some disappointments on occasion. Always work on your anatomy.

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Mark Sinnott for arranging this interview, and to Joe Sinnott and Joesinnott.com for the images.

Steve Rude Interview (6/9)

Today we've got an exclusive interview with Steve "The Dude" Rude lined up for you! You may know him as the creator of  Nexus and the Moth! Click here to visit Steve's site!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid? If so, what was the first comic you read?

Steve Rude: I mostly borrowed and [looked] at the comics that my friend “Hun” had bought. I would always hang around his house looking at them. He was really big on Spider-Man, just as Romita took over. I was never really exposed to Ditko.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

SR: I had to work very hard when I graduated from high school. I didn't know how I would even approach the talent level of my favorite people in the field, but I was determined to try and then try some more 'till something broke.

MG: How long, on average, does it take you to finish one page of comic art?

SR: It takes me a day to pencil a page, some a day and a half or even two.

MG: If you could work on any project you wanted in comics, what would it be?

SR: With the formation of Rude Dude, I believe everything is now in place for me.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

SR: Jack Kirby and illustrators John Gannam and Harry Anderson are my current biggest. Let's not forget Andrew Loomis or Alex Raymond.

MG: What is it like to work in the field of comics?

SR: I still love doing them, thank god, but I don't enjoy what of much the field is putting out. Too dark and ugly. It's just not for me.

MG: When did you decide that you wanted to be a comic book artist?

SR: About my senior year in high school, when most people have to make that decision for themselves.

MG: Do you have any words of advise for aspiring comic artists?

SR: Persevere. If you really want it: persevere.

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Steve Rude for the images.

Reilly Brown Interview (7/05)

Today we’re interviewing Reilly Brown. You may know him for his work on the 2005 Marvel Holiday Special or Cable/Deadpool for Marvel, or work for Oddgod Press. Besides penciling books, he’s also scripted a few things. Be sure to click here and visit Reilly’s website for more cool artwork and info on his work!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Reilly Brown: I started reading comics in middle school. It was right when the X-Men cartoon came out on Fox on Saturday mornings, and that just got me hooked!

MG: How did you break into comics proffesionally?

RB: At the Wizard World Philly comic convention in 2005 I just waited in Marvel's portfolio review line to talk to John Barber, and I guess he liked what he saw because a week later he called me up to see if I'd be available to draw the Holiday Special for that year. A few months late Nicole Boose got in touch with me to do a few fill-in issues for Cable & Deadpool and somehow that worked out pretty well, so they kept me around!

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

RB: Some of the biggest influences on my work are the comic artists that first attracted me to comics when I was younger, like Jim Lee, John Romita Jr., and John Byrne, and also a lot of Japanese artists like Masamune Shiro, Katsuhiro Otomo and Hiroaki Samura.

MG:
Is there a project you would like to work on that you haven't had a
chance to?

RB: I'd love to draw Dr. Doom sometime, and I'd also love to draw some of the original X-Men. Mainly I wish I had more time to work on my own projects, but I'm sure there will be more time for that eventually.

MG:
Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

RB: Cyclops is my favorite comic character. I feel like I can relate to his quiet introspective nature, and also I like the idea of a superhero who's so powerful he's afraid of using his own power. That just makes it seem all the more impressive when he finally unleashes it.

I also totally love drawing Deadpool.

MG: How long does it take you to finish a page of comic art?

RB: Longer than Nicole wants it too!

MG: What's it like to work in comics?

RB: It's great because it's something I've been working toward all my life. I love drawing, and to be able to do that for a living is incredibly rewarding. On the other hand the deadlines are insane, and it's easy to let them take over your life. It's a difficult balancing act.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

RB: Cable and Deadpool. Especially now that Deadpool's pretty much taken over the book and is teaming up with other characters. There's a lot of fun things coming up!

MG: Do you prefer scripting or penciling comics?

RB: I love doing both, but given the choice I'll always choose penciling. That's one thing I love about working with Fabian Nicieza, he frequently lets be go off and do what I want with the story for a few pages, and if I want to change something in the script he's usually pretty cool about it.

MG: Do you have any advice for people who want to break into comics?

RB: Comics is a small industry with only a few companies that actually pay enough money to live on, so it's incredibly competitive. There are three things that have to happen to get a job.

First of all, you need an editor who likes your work.

Second, there has to be a project that suits your style that doesn't already have an artist attached.

Third you have to be the first person who that editor thinks of!

Regardless of weather you're new or a seasoned veteran, that's how it works.

So, to achieve the first step you have to constantly improve your skills to stay competitive with all the other artists out there, while at the same time making connections with the people who could hire you.

There is no way to make the second thing happen nor to even know when it is happening. I've known artists who several editors were trying to find projects for, and still it was months before the right one came up, so be patient.

And the make the third thing line up for you just means that you have to be in the right place at the right time. That means never give up, and most importantly never stop networking! It doesn't matter how good you are, if they don't know who you are they can't hire you! So send in those portfolio samples and hit the conventions and shake some hands, but make sure people know who you are!

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Reilly Brown for the images.

Paolo Rivera Interview (6/3)

Today we’re interviewing Paolo Rivera. With his beautiful painted art style, you’ve probably seen his work on the Mythos line in Spider-Man: Mythos, Ghost Rider: Mythos, Hulk: Mythos, and X-Men: Mythose. Click here to visit his site!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Paolo Rivera: Yes, but not too many. I would usually pick up issues here or there, never following a particular title or storyline (nothing has changed). I was way more into toys and cartoons when I was a kid.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

PR: It was all thanks to Jim Krueger, who started giving me projects when I was still a teenager. By my senior year of college, he had introduced me to Marvel, which gave me a job almost on the spot.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

PR: With regard to comic book storytelling, I'd have to say David Mazzucchelli, with whom I studied at the Rhode Island School of Design. As far as painting goes, I look at most of the Golden Age illustrators, especially the Brandywine School, but also many of the magazine and pulp artists. Other than that, I look at anything that crosses my path and steal everything I can.

MG: Who is your favorite comic book character and why?

PR: I'm a big Silver Surfer fan. He's really, really shiny.

MG: How long does it take you to finish a page of comic art?

PR: It varies, so I usually say that I average about 6 pages per month. This month ... not so much.

MG: Is there a title you'd like to work on that you haven't had a chance to?

PR: I'd love to do a Wolverine book ... or maybe Silver Surfer. I'd actually like to pencil something at some point, but doubt I'll get the chance. I would definitely love to write as well as paint, but I may have to come up with my own "title" to get the chance.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

PR: The entire Mythos series has been a joy to work on. I like being able to switch characters for every project. The one-shot format keeps me fresh and interested.

MG: What does it feel like to work in comics?

PR: It's an absolute dream come true for me. It's what I've wanted to do for as long as I can remember (aside from actually being a superhero).

MG: What made you decide to go with a painted art style?

PR: I'm a big Alex Ross fan, so his work is really what got me into pursuing comics as a career. Also, I think being a painter made it easier to break in, since there aren't as many out there. That's probably going to change eventually, though.

MG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists?

PR: Most importantly, draw every single day. Once you're decent, utilize the internet: make a web-site, network with other creators, find jobs and collaborators.

 

-Interview by Sergio B.

Khoi Pham Interview (6/29)

Today we’re interviewing artist Khoi Pham. He’s done work on a wide variety of titles, such as X-Factor and the upcoming Marvel Comics Presents for Marvel, as well as some art for Image’s Wonderlost #1, and many more titles! To learn more about which titles Khoi Pham has worked on, or to see more of his awesome art which is featured throughout this interview, go to KhoiPham.com!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Khoi Pham: Yes, I did. At first just whatever the local pharmacy carried. Then, when I discovered comic book stores, I went crazy with all sorts of books. I used to love Badger and Alien Legion, in addition to the standard fare, of course.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

KP: I'm not sure. Well, I do know that I owe a whole lot to C.B. Cebulski and Chris Allo. I think C.B. noticed my early crappy samples years ago, and when I kept sticking around the convention circuit for years after, he probably felt bad and offered to introduce me to some folks at Marvel. *laughs*

Then Chris was (and still is) awesome for getting me actual work there.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

KP: I think I've drawn a little bit of something from everything and everyone, but my biggest influences, artistically at least, are [John Romita Jr.] (see above), Miller, Simonson, Adams, Windsor-Smith, Jim Lee, Mignola and Mazzuchelli (am I missing anyone?), and of the newer generations, Travis Charest, Leinil Yu, Coipel... Really too many to list.

MG: What's it feel like to work in comics?

KP: It's really neat. I love it. My other job is as a criminal defense attorney, so drawing comics is a nice contrast.

MG: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

KP: My favorite comic book character is the one I haven't drawn yet. *laughs*

Seriously, I'd have to say Spider-Man. Original, I know. I've always loved his banter with the bad guys. Still cracks me up.

MG: What titles are you working on now that you can tell us about?

KP: Well, I finished up my run on X-Factor, and I'm getting ready to start a run on a more mainstream title. I don't think I'm at liberty to tell, yet. I can tell you that I'll be in one of the new Marvel Comics Presents books coming out later this year -- it's a neat Taskmaster story written by Zachary Sherman.

MG: How long does it usually take you to finish a page of comic art?

KP: I can safely do two pencil pages a day, or one page with inks per day. Of course, that's if I didn't have a full-time job practicing law. So with the day job, it's on average five pages per week.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

KP: I like everything I work on equally. :)

MG: Is there a title you'd like to work on that you haven't had a chance to?

KP: Yes. All of the titles that I haven't worked on, yet. Seriously, I think it'd be cool to draw X-Men.

MG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists?

KP: Yes. Treat drawing comics as the job that it is. Do your research. Study up on anatomy, storytelling... Work on your speed. Go to conventions. Maintain an internet presence. Stay ahead of the competition. Be a professional.

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Khoi Pham for the images.

Jim Mahfood Interview (5/28)

Today we’re interviewing comic book creator Jim Mahfood, and we’re presenting this interview in its original unedited form! Besides having done work for Marvel such as Wha…huh? and Ultimate Spider-Man Super-Special, he’s also created several creator-owned comics, such as Grrl Scouts and his comic strip Stupid Comics. Be sure to look out for any upcoming Jim Mahfood comics!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as kid?

jim mahfood: yea, tons of comics as a kid. GI Joe, Spider-Man, Batman, and anything else i could get my hands on.

MG: How did you break into comics?

jm: being in the right place at the right time.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

jm: comic art, graffiti, film, animation, anime, fashion, girls, booze and drugs, friends, everything around me, really...

MG: Your style is very distinctive. Would you say it's always been that way or has it evolved over the years?

jm: i went out of my way to develop a distinct look around '95. since then it has been evolving and changing, hopefully improving the longer i make art.

MG: Do you prefer doing creator-owned work or work-for-hire, like you did for Marvel?

jm: creator-owned.

MG: How did you land the work-for-hire jobs at Marvel, such as the Wha...Huh? one-shot and the one page you did of Ultimate Civil War Spider-Ham (Featuring Wolverham!), among others?

jm: Bendis and a couple of cool editors i knew at marvel hooked me up with everything i've ever done there. thanks brian!

MG: Is there a project you would like to work on that you haven't had a chance to?

jm: i want to do a new Grrl Scouts project. and if i was offered anything Spider-Man-related, i would be excited.

MG: Who is your favorite comic book character and why?

jm: Spider-Man. he's the one i discovered first watching “The Electric Company" as a kid. visually, he's the coolest comic character ever.

MG: How long does it take you to finish a single page of comic art?

jm: usually two days or so, depends on the page and how much work is involved.

MG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists?

jm: go into medicine or saving the environment.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Morry Hollowell Interview (6/27)

Today we’re interviewing colorist Morry Hollowell. The projects which he is most well-known for are Marvel Knights: 4 and Civil War, both with artist Steve McNiven. Be sure to click here to visit Morry’s website!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Morry Hollowell: Frequently. My parents would pick them up for me before going camping or fishing. Batman was my favorite. So that's what I typically bought growing up. Anything with Batman in it. When I was old enough to go to comic stores on my own I started dabbling into the rest of Comicdom.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

MH: I tried getting into the industry whenever I could. The very first thing I did was attend the Joe Kubert School of Art. Education is key! During my first year I begged Mike Chen for a job. He eventually cracked and told me about a place that might be hiring. McNabb Studios. I went with a friend and that friend ended up getting the job after we both had our interview. But he later turned it down. So that left me next in line. I got lucky.

After I graduated the Joe Kubert School I ended up leaving McNabb Studios to be a Mac Technician. Monetary reasons. I still frequented conventions though and eventually ran into CrossGen in Chicago. They asked for a portfolio and a few weeks later they asked me if I'd move down to Florida. So I of course did. I stayed with CG until they let me go. Marvel hired me soon after though. Reuniting me with Steve McNiven.

MG: Could you describe to us the process in which you color a book?

MH: Well, I get my pages from Marvel after they've been penciled and inked through their FTP. I like to work in order so I'll open Page 1 in photoshop first. Then I flat it if I haven't already had it done by one of my flatters (Flats are a page with line art that has all the details filled with FLAT colors or grays for the purpose of separation). Once I can select all the main objects I can start to put together my color scheme. After I've layed down the colors I'll usually make everything a lil' dark. I like coloring in a painterly style so I usually mimic using acrylics by starting out dark and working my way up to the highlights. After I'm done painting I'll use Photoshop’s other tools to tweak a piece till it's to my liking. Then I'll create a final file and send it off to Marvel. Finally I start another page...

If that's not a detailed enough description I'm putting together a how-to for my site Mocolors.com in the near future.

MG: How far in advance do you get a comic to color?

MH: I usually have a month on normal projects.

MG: How long does it take you to color a complete comic book?

MH: A page a day typically. Sometimes I can do more. It really depends on the scene sometimes. If I have a recurring background I know what colors to use so it doesn't take as long. Double page spreads with armies on them take me forever...

MG: How did you get the job of coloring Civil War?

MH: Civil War? What's Civil War?... ;)

I'd been working with Steve on projects before Civil War so when Marvel wanted him on the project I'm sure they wanted to keep us together.

MG: Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

MH: If you'd like to sip a nice tall glass of Marvel comics you'll buy FF: The Last Story this August. :P

It's written by Stan Lee, penciled by John Romita Jr. and inked by Scott Hanna. What else do I need to say?!?!

MG: If you could work on any comic book project you wanted, what would it be?

MH: I'd want to work on Batman. Pencil & color the whole thing. Maybe even more. High hopes for a colorist huh?

After Batman I'd pick the Demon. He's my second favorite character. Then anything Marvel. I love the Marvel Universe.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

MH: That's a tough choice cause I like working on different stuff for different reasons. Like Civil War was real fun cause it had almost everybody show up at one point or another. But I'm not sure it would be my favorite. [Marvel Knights: 4] was cool cause I felt I made an artistic leap during it. I've been trying to do another ever since.

MG: Do you have any advice for people wishing to break into comics?

MH: If it's something you love. Don't ever give up. Be determined. Go to conventions. Get to know the industry and the people in it.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Tom Brevoort Interview (6/25)

Today we’re interviewing Tom Brevoort. He’s a long-time editor at Marvel Comics, and he’s edited just about every major Marvel character at one point or another (which one hasn’t he edited? Keep reading to find out)! Be sure to click here and read Tom Brevoort’s blog at Marvel.com!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Tom Brevoort: Yes, I started reading comics in 1973, with SUPERMAN #268.

MG: Tell us a bit about your adventures in collecting comics.

TB: I'm not too sure what to tell you. In those days, there really weren't any comic book shops, but the books could be found in stationary stores, 7-11’s, and grocery stores, so that's where I tended to pick them up. And that coupled with the fact that, at that age you're not independently mobile, meant that there’d be occasions when you'd miss an issue. You also didn't know what was going to be in a given issue until you saw it on the racks, which meant that the covers were a much more important part of the package in terms of attracting readers.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

TB: I started at Marvel as a college intern in the summer of 1989, and was hired on staff as an assistant editor in December of that same year.

MG: What exactly are your duties as editor?

TB: I oversee the production of a number of titles, hiring the creative teams, directing the broad strokes of the direction for the series, and making sure that the individual issues come out when they're supposed to.

MG: How involved are you with the creative direction of a title?

TB: I don't write the books, but just about every creative decision goes through me-- so if there's something a given creator wants to do, they have to convince me that it's the right thing to do.

MG: Did you always want to be an editor, or was there a point when you wanted to be a writer, artist, inker, ect.? It seems that most people usually think "I want to draw comics!" as opposed to more "behind-the-scenes" positions.

TB: When I started at Marvel, I was an illustration major, and so I figured on being an artist, or a writer/artist. But I found that I was good at being an editor-- better than I was as an artist. My art skills have atrophied substantially over the years, from disuse.

MG: How do you get hired to work as an editor on a title?

TB: You get hired as an editor by convincing the person in a position to hire you that you're the best person for the job. The individual titles are assigned to you by the Editor in Chief or the Publisher.

MG: Who is your favorite Marvel character, and why?

TB: My favorite Marvel character is the Thing, because he's about the most well-rounded character there is, effortlessly able to segue from comedy to pathos and make it all work.

MG: Is there any title you want to edit that you haven't had a chance to?

TB: At Marvel, I think I've edited almost everything at one point or another. DAREDEVIL, I haven't done DAREDEVIL.

MG: Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to break into comics?

TB: You need to have three things: talent, perseverance and luck. Without all three, it's not going to happen. And once you do get your first break, you need to continue to work like the devil in order to keep it. I've seen a number of guys get their foot in the door, suddenly get a big head and stop working so hard, and then become perplexed when all of the work for them dried up.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Brent Anderson Interview (6/24)

Today I got the chance to interview Brent Anderson. He is well-known for his work on the X-Men graphic novel GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS; RISING STARS; and KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE. But the work he is perhaps most famous for (and the work of which this reporter is the biggest fan of) is the independent comic ASTRO CITY. Be sure to click here and visit Brent Anderson’s website!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Brent Anderson: I started reading Stumbo the Giant, Hot Stuff the Little Devil and Dennis the Menace comics. These were the only ones my mother would allow me, since her experience with comics were the Wortham-bashed EC horror and crime comics of the 1950s. She figured there were better things for her first son to be reading than comic books. I later discovered Kona of Monster Isle, the Tower Comics characters and an Eisner Spirit reprint series. These (and a junior high school buddy) led me to Marvel and DC characters.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

BA: I initially drove (with three friends) to New York in an Auto Drive-Away car in the summer of 1976, after having two mailed-in submissions rejected the previous summer. My first professional work that year was for Marvel. I drew two black and white pin-up illos for Deadly Hands of Kung Fu and Doc Savage magazines.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

BA: Movies, television and Marvel Comics. I've always been a "cinematic" artist. Take a look at Somerset Holmes (1984-85) to see my exploration of cinema in comics. The list of artists influential to my work is far too long to include here. Let's just say I've been influenced in one way or another by any and every artist good enough to have been consistently published.

MG: How long does it take you to finish a page of comic art?

BA: If I avail myself of a full work week (approximately thirty-forty hours) I quota four pencilled and inked pages per week. I rarely get full weeks like this however, so it usually takes me a bit longer than six weeks to draw a 24-page Astro City issue, for example.

MG: How did you get the job of pencilling Astro City?

BA: Kurt approached me at a World Science Fiction and Fantasy convention held in San Francisco in 1994 with the idea of pencilling the first issue ("In Dreams" starring Samaritan) of a new series he was developing. He liked the four-page sample I'd drawn and asked if, when the initial six-issue series, (each issue drawn by a different artist) was completed I would be interested in drawing the next six-issue story arc ("Confession"). I said "Yes." Then he asked if I would be willing to be the regular penciller and draw ALL the issues of the initial set of issues, and I again said "Yes." (I was sooo hard to work with in those days)!

MG: How involved are you in plotting and character design on Astro City?

BA: As involved as I want to be. Generally, any character Alex Ross is requested to paint for the cover, Alex has first refusal in designing that character. Everything else is up to me. I've probably designed ninety percent of the characters in Astro City to date, and that means literally hundreds of characters.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

BA: I'm often asked this question, and the truthful answer is "none" or "all of them." I have enjoyed every title I've ever worked on.

MG: What is your favorite comic book character? Once again, it's whatever character I'm currently working on, whether it's Samaritan or the Platypus (I'm going to miss drawing that guy's ugly puss)! My favorite is whatever I'm currently drawing.

MG: Is there a title you'd like to work on that you haven't had a chance to?

BA: I've never worked on Spider-Man, so maybe he's the last of the so-called "major" characters I have yet to work on. Doing Spidey would be a hoot, since Spider-Man was one of the first super hero titles my mom approved of me reading.

MG: Do you have any advice for people wanting to break into comics?

BA: Draw well and draw often! Learn all you can about drawing and painting, then apply your skills toward learning story-telling, because clear storytelling is at the heart of good comics.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Terry Moore Interview (6/23)

Today we’re interviewing Terry Moore. He is most well-known for his Strangers in Paradise creator-owned comic book, which came to an end with issue #90 in this month. Terry Moore was also recently revealed to have been hired by Marvel to continue writing Spider-Man © Mary Jane after Sean McKeever left the book. Be sure to visit the official Stranger in Paradise website by clicking here!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Terry Moore: Yep. Started young, in grade school. Loved Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Dennis The Menace, Archie.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

TM: [Strangers in Paradise] was my first pro comic. I passed the xeroxes of issue #1 around to everybody and Antarctic Press offered to publish a 3-part mini-series, if I thought I could write and draw two more issues. I promised them I could. The rest is a blur.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

TM: Charles Schulz, R. Crumb, the magazine illustrators of the early 20th century, all the popular fiction writers and rock and roll bands since the 50's.

MG: How long, on average, does it take you to finish a script?

TM: A day or so. It's the rewriting that never stops.

MG: Which do you prefer to work on: creator-owned comics or work-for-hire comic books?

TM: Can't compare, really. Both are great and both have dues to pay.

MG: How did you land the job of writing Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane?

TM: I was outside the Marvel building, begging for quarters when Joe Quesada walked by and apologized for not having any change. He offered a book so I took it. He wanted me to write the X-Men, but I thought it might be dirty so I asked for a Spider-Man book instead.

MG: What are your thoughts on writing a Spider-Man title focusing on the "soap-opera" element?

TM: Love it. All I really care about is people and relationships. I mean, I like action and all that, but I tend to write about the personal stories. I love the Judith O'Brien books and [Sean] McKeever's work on the series.

MG: Do you prefer to write or illustrate a comic? Which do you find easier?

TM: It's easier to write than draw, but it makes my head hurt. The drawing takes so much time.

MG: Is there any title you want to work on that you have not had a chance to?

TM: All of them. After 14 years on one bike, I feel like a kid set free in toy store. I want to play with all the toys.

MG: Do you have any words of advice for people wanting to break into comics?

TM: You do best what you do most. Writing or drawing, spend an ungodly amount of time doing your thing, whether you're working pro or not. You don't get a job then become a writer/artist. You are the writer/artist, doing your thing, letting everybody know about it, and then the job is offered to you. Don't copy your heroes. The public isn't interested in the clones, they always want somebody new.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Tommy Lee Edwards Interview (6/22)

We sat down and interviewed artist Tommy Lee Edwards. He’s done work on Daredevil and Bullet Points. He’s also doing the art for the upcoming series written by Mark Millar: 1985 (for a sneak peek at an interior page for 1985, click here). Tommy Lee Edwards doesn’t limit himself to just comic books, however. Click here to go to his site, where you will find information on the work he’s done for advertising, books, magazines, and other goodies as well. Also, click here to read Tommy Lee Edwards’ blog.

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Tommy Lee Edwards: Yeah, all the time. I devoured the "Origins of Marvel Comics" book by Stan Lee over and over. It went everywhere with me, along with many of the Marvel Treasury things. You know- those huge newsprint suckers...?

Around 3rd or 4th grade, I got into GI Joe comics (and toys) when that launched. I was also into Spider-Man, X-Men, and lots of others. The 1980's were a great time to be reading. As I grew older and reached high school, I still read anything by Howard Chaykin or Walter Simonson. I regularly read X-Men, New Mutants, Daredevil, and The Shadow. I fell out of collecting when not much caught my interest in the early 1990's.

MG: How did you break into comics?

TLE: I was studying film and illustration at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California- and was getting small commercial jobs and a bit of comics stuff. I met Howard Chaykin when I was 19, and our friendship eventually led to my getting my first "mainstream" comics work with DC. We ended up sharing a studio with some other colleagues, and I started off with some work for Milestone, Valiant, Judge Dredd, Batman stuff, etc.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

TLE: Well, everyday life and family I guess. As far as direct inspiration- I'd say that all the comics I read, along with my early art education served as my early development. I took private art lessons all through junior high and high school, so I was lucky enough to know that I wanted to grow up and be a story-teller. Most of my artistic influences do come from "outside" comics, through films and commercial illustration. My favorite illustrators include a diverse list. Some of them would be (at one time or another) Bob Peak, Al Parker, Bernie Fuchs, Austin Briggs, Chaykin, Mignola, Harry Carmean, Dean Cornwell, Herbert Morton Stoops, Jorge Zaffino, Jordi Bernet, Alex Toth, Noel Sickles, etc, etc...

MG: Would you say your art style has evolved over the years?

TLE: Yes. I hope it keeps going that way. It helps that I get to work on so many different types of illustration- comics, storyboards, conceptual art, book covers, children's books, etc. On one desk, I've got an ink drawing in the works. On another there is a painting or charcoal drawing. I may be working on some colors in Photoshop. Keeps me fresh.

MG: How did you land the job of illustrating Bullet Points for Marvel?

TLE: After illustrating The Question for DC, I was approached by Marvel. I hadn't done much with them since Moon Knight several years ago. I mentioned my desire to do something more "high-profile," and my editor sent me the Bullet Points synopsis. I eventually signed on to illustrate five books a year for the next three years. Now on year two, I'm illustrating 1985 by Mark Millar.

MG: What is you favorite comic book character?

TLE: I really like the characters in Batman: Year One. I don't really have a character that I consider myself a devoted "fan." Certain characters have more potential than others to me, though- characters like Tarzan, Daredevil, the Shadow, and the Question.

MG: Is there a project you would like to do that you haven't had a chance to?

TLE: I'd love to tackle a really epic Daredevil vs. Batman story. Beyond that, I have a ton of my own comics ideas I'd like to do.

MG: How long does it take you to finish a page of comic art?

TLE: Hard to say due to my juggling a few jobs at once- but it usually takes about 10 weeks to pencil, ink, and color the average comic.

MG: What has been your favorite comic to work on?

TLE: The Question (written by Rick Veitch) was my favorite. A close second would be Zombie World: Winter's Dregs (written by Bob Fingerman).

MG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists?

TLE: Get educated and draw from life.

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Tommy Lee Edwards for the images.

Mark Evanier Interview (6/19)

Today we interviewed Mark Evanier. He's written projects such as Groo The Wanderer and Sergio Aragonés Massacres/Dectroys/Stomps Marvel/DC/Star Wars. He's also worked in television, having writtn shows such as Garfield and Friends, Sccoby Doo, Superman: The Animated series, and more. Be sure to visit Mark's site by clicking here.

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Mark Evanier: I sure did. I used to tell people that when I was born, the doctor spanked me and I dropped the comic book I'd been reading on the way out of the womb. There was never a time when I didn't have more comic books than anyone else I knew.

MG: How did you break into comics?

ME: I met some guy named Jack Kirby.

MG: How did you break into television?

ME: That's a much longer, more complicated story. Basically, I started writing gags for stand-up comedians... and then I met a fellow named Dennis Palumbo, who was an aspiring TV writer himself. At that time, new comedy writers tended to come in pairs so we decided to team up. We pursued the contacts we had and eventually connected with a big-time TV studio exec who liked our writing samples. Dennis and I were collaborators for a while until we parted amicably and by that time, we were both fairly well established.

MG: Do you find that writing for television differs from writing for comic books?

ME: Less so now then it did when I started but yes. For one thing, TV requires that you write dialogue human beings can speak and unless you're writing for animation, physical actions that humans can do, sets that can be built, etc.

MG: How did the idea for the "Sergio Aragonés Massacres/Destroys/Stomps...etc." comic books which you wrote come about?

ME: Hmm... I think someone at DC (Paul Levitz, I believe) suggested we do something to parody their characters and at about the same time, an editor over at Marvel (Marc McLaurin, I recall) had the same idea over in that building. It sounded like fun, which is the only real reason you need to do a comic book.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

ME: This is going to be a very partial list: Jack Kirby, Laurel & Hardy, The Marx Brothers, Stan Freberg, lots of Broadway shows, especially those involving George S. Kaufman, Warner Brothers cartoons, Jay Ward cartoons, early Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Mad Magazine, The Dick Van Dyke Show, every movie I ever saw, every book I ever read...

MG: How long does it usually take you to finish a comic script?

ME: However long I have. That's not an evasive answer. Usually, the time it takes is defined by when they need it. I've done whole issues in a day when it was necessary. At a more human rate, I prefer to not do it all at once... to do eight-ten pages one day, then come back to it a few days later and do another eight-ten.

MG: How long does it take you to finish a television script?

ME: That's kind of the same answer. I wrote the pilot for the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS cartoon show in one day because that's all I had. When I had staff jobs on TV shows, they'd often need a new script by tomorrow morning. That's when you discover that everything is funny at 4:00 AM.

MG: Would you say you prefer working in one medium (comics, television) more than the other?

ME: What I like best is the variety of doing more than one thing. One of the ways in which TV and comics differ from one another is a personal thing. Writing TV tends to involve, beyond the sheer act of writing a script, a lot of meetings and casting sessions and being on the set or in recording sessions and discussing the work over and over with other people. Writing comics usually comes down just to me being alone in a room with my computer. I like sitting here by myself writing but I also like being involved in production and the part where you help make the script happen.

MG: Do you have any advice for people wanting to break into comics or acting?

ME: Well, my advice to people who write comics is not to waste time trying to become a comic book writer. Become a writer who writes many things, one of which-- when you have the right opportunity-- is comics. I'm not sure the effort to break into comics these days is worth it. Beyond that, my best advice is to be prolific. If you want to write, write. The more you write, the better you'll get and the more work you'll have to show people who might engage you. If you want to act, get out there and act. There are plenty of local plays and acting workshops and places you can hone your craft. If you're any good at it, acting in bigger, paying things will follow. Maybe.

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Mark Evanier for the images.

Len Wein Interview (6/18)

Today we’re interviewing Len Wein. He’s written many titles, among them Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, and Fantastic Four. While at Marvel, he created the mega-popular character Wolverine, and he was also the Editor-In-Chief of Marvel for awhile. He’s also done work for DC, including the horror character Swanp Thing. More recently, he’s done work for Bongo Comics with the Simpsons.

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Len Wein: Absolutely. From the time I was seven years old. I notice you ask this of many of your interviewees, and I wonder how many did not read comics as a kid. How could you want to get into this business if you didn't grow up on and love comics as a medium?

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

LW: Marv Wolfman and I submitted some stories we'd written and drawn together to the late Joe Orlando at DC. He wasn't crazy about the art, but liked the writing and offered us each a chance to submit stories to the new House of Mystery book he was editing. He liked one of the ideas I'd submitted, asked me to write the script, and there I was, a professional comic book writer.

MG: About how long, on average, does it take you to finish a comic script?

LW: Anywhere from a day to a week or two, depending on the series. Most superhero scripts can be written in a day or two, the Simpsons scripts I do can take several weeks.

MG: How did the idea for the DC horror character Swamp Thing come about?

LW: That's one of the hardest questions for me to answer. The idea came to me full-blown on the subway one day as I was on my way to the DC offices to pitch some new House of Mystery ideas to Joe Orlando. I honestly don't know where the inspiration came from. I know the name name from the fact that I kept referring to the story itself as "that swamp thing I'm working on" and when I needed a title, the name stuck.

MG: How did the idea for the uber-popular character Wolverine, which you created, come about?

LW: The name itself was given to me by the Marvel Editor-in-chief Roy Thomas, who wanted to see how I would write a Canadian accent. (He was a big fan of the Caribbean accents I was then using in Brother Voodoo). I did a lot of research on wolverines, discovered that they were short, vicious animals with razor-sharp claws who were more than willing to take on creatures ten times their size. I went "that's my character" and it was.

MG: Many people fondly remember your run on Amazing Spider-Man. How did you
land the job?

LW: I honestly think it was because I was next in line for the job. My then-roommate Gerry Conway had been writing Marvel Team-Up and he and Roy offered that book to me when Gerry became the third regular writer on Amazing (after Stan Lee, and a short run by Roy). When Gerry left Marvel, I was the guy doing the other Spider-Man book, so I guess they figured I knew how to handle the character, and they offered me the job. I think I trampled several people to death rushing to accept the offer before they could change their minds.

MG: What was it like being Marvel Editor-In-Chief?

LW: You know the old Vaudeville routine with the guy who tries to keep a half-dozen plates spinning on the tips of sticks all at the same time? Multiply that by about a dozen, and you'll have some small idea of what the job felt like. I was responsible for fifty-plus books a month as E-i-C, and the job was killing me. It took Marvel several more years to admit that they needed more than one person editing their comics line, if the editors were going to survive.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

LW: As a writer, I guess I'd have to say it was writers like Ray Bradbury, Paddy Chayevsky, Sgt. Rock's Robert Kanigher and, most importantly, Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone. But when you get right down to it, life has been the greatest influence on my work, and that ought to be true of all writers.

MG: Who is your favorite comic book character, and why?

LW: The Batman, simply because there was always the chance you could grow up to be him. You weren't likely to be sent to earth in a rocket by your parents just before your homeworld exploded, or get bitten by a radioactive spider, or be belted by gamma rays or cosmic rays, but there was always the chance some psycho could gun down your parents and you could swear vengeance and...
Well, we all know the rest, don't we?

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

LW: At DC, the aforementioned Batman. At Marvel, probably the Incredible Hulk. Which means that my favorite story I've ever written (though probably not my best) was the Batman/Hulk crossover illustrated by the incredible Garcia-Lopez.

MG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic book writers, or people just wanting to generally break into comics?

LW: Seek help while there's still time.

--Interview by Sergio B.

Scott Koblish Interview (6/15)

Today we’re interviewing Scott Koblish, an inker and penciller of comic books. Some of his recent work includes the MC2 mini-series Last Hero Standing, Last Planet Standing, Avengers-Next, and the upcoming Fantastic Five mini-series. Be sure to check out Fantastic Five and the Weapon, an upcoming series featuring art and inks by Scott Koblish!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Scott Koblish: Of course! I was a real maniac for comics-- I used to read everything I could get my hands on-- except for horror stuff. I can appreciate horror as an adult, but I really couldn’t handle it as a child.

When I lived on Cape Cod, on Sundays I would go get the newspaper for my dad, and I had enough in change to buy a comic or two for myself. Those 80 page specials from DC came in really handy when I was strapped for coins and had to make a decision-- 2 comics or one 80 pager? I used to love Don Newton’s stuff in those 80 page Batman books.

They had comic books in three different stores in Cape Cod when I was growing up-- DC’s were at the newsstand near the post office, Marvel’s were at the Mayflower Shoppe and packs of three comics jammed together were at the Ben Franklin five and dime. The packs of three could be very frustrating, as you could see that one was a Fantastic Four and one was a Spider-Man Team-Up, but what was the one in the middle?! And if you already had one, was it worth it to buy the other two, when you might have the middle one? I think that’s how I first read the adventures of 3-D Man-- he was in a Marvel Premier in the middle. What a weird character that guy was-- one of the only characters to be drawn by Michael Golden, Jack Kirby and Gil Kane, and he only appeared like three times! I used to have a friend who would color background teddy bears in Marvel Comics in 3-D Man’s costume-- we all loved him!

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

SK: I went to the Kubert School and then The School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. After college, I was lucky enough to get a job as a Romita Raider, doing corrections on existing artwork in the Bullpen at Marvel Comics. We would go in and “raid” the artwork and leave without anyone knowing we were there, correcting all sorts of gaffes-- from Spider-Man’s webs being drawn all wrong to changed plot points, where someone wasn’t supposed to be in panel one. It was a great job and a real immersion type of learning experience. I got to see the boards and all of the artwork up close, and I learned how the editorial offices generally worked. There were some really great people there and I count a lot of them as valued friends to this day.

The Marvel offices are real pressure-cookers-- the stress of getting that much work in and out of the door in a tight timeframe can be tremendous, and everybody benefited from looking out for one another. It was a really tightly knit community of folks. It still is.

MG: How long does it take you to finish inking a full page of comic art?

SK: Oh, it depends-- a page can take anywhere from two hours to two days. Each one is different. If I’m penciling and inking myself, I usually take a day to do a page.

MG: Is there any project you want to work on that you haven't had a chance to?

SK: You know, the funny thing is, as an inker, I’m getting to the point where I’m given the chance to go through some characters a second or a third time and it’s even better the next time around! I worked on the Punisher a long time ago, with Punisher: Year One, and Punisher: War Journal, and I got to work on the Punisher again (inking over the great Leo Fernandez) a year or so ago and it was just fantastic to visit all these characters again-- I feel like I know what I’m doing a little bit better now and can really enjoy the stories and the characters more. I’ve been very lucky to have worked on nearly every character that Marvel has. I think now it’s just a matter of revisiting “old friends” with each new project. Fantastic Five feels like one of those projects – it’s just a great blast to ink Dr. Doom again – Ron Lim does a GREAT version of Dr. Doom, and I love the way he draws the Thing.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

SK: Well, I love the work of so many cartoonists; I was such a big Hal Foster fan in college that I used to reproduce daily strips he did line for line, and Jaime Hernandez was a real influence in how he used silhouette. I guess my teachers were formidable in shaping my worldview and approach to the work I do-- Sal Amendola, Will Eisner, Joe Kubert, Mike Chen, Harvey Kurtzman-- they were all fantastic teachers that gave me a necessary piece of the puzzle. Professionally, nobody was as important to me as John Romita Sr. He gave me my first shot. I’ve also tried to incorporate the influences of all of the artists I’ve had the pleasure of inking over-- they’ve all been great. I keep an eye on all of the inkers out there too-- I think Tom Palmer, Klaus Janson, Al Williamson, Tim Townshend, Joe Sinnott and Scott Williams have been really influential to me. All of those guys are fantastic.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on?

SK: I still have a lot of fondness for the run on Captain America-- Mark Waid and Ron Garney were really pulling out all the stops and I was really happy to be able to catch a ride on that one, since Cap is one of my all-time favorite characters.

I’ll tell you a funny story about that one-- I took a trip up to Canada while I was working on Cap and I had a copy of the book in the backseat of the car. When the immigration official asked what I did for a living I said I worked on Captain America-- and she said, “You’re Steve Rogers? You’re too young to be Steve Rogers!” I had to explain to her that Steve Rogers is to Captain America as Clark Kent is to Superman.

MG: How did you land the job of inking Last Hero Standing?

SK: Well, I had worked over Pat Olliffe on the Punisher Movie and Spider-Man 2 Movie Adaptations, and when it came time to do something else, I guess Pat was okay with using me to do finishes on a tight deadline. We had ten weeks to do Last Hero Standing, start to end, and I still can’t believe we accomplished it. Everybody was breaking down physically on that project; I think everyone had injuries or life-threatening problems during it. But it turned out to be a great book! And hey-- we knocked off Captain America before it became fashionable!

MG: After Last Hero Standing, how did you get the job of Last Planet Standing and Fantastic Five? Did you, having worked on previous MC2 titles, request the job, or were you approached by the editors?

SK: I think Molly Lazer was happy enough with how things went with Last Hero Standing, and since we had all survived that experience, we thought-- let’s do it again! When Tom and Pat were brainstorming the sequel, Last Blank Standing (because everyone knew we should call it Last Something Standing), I gave it some thought on my own and sent Pat a quick e-mail that said “Let’s do Galactus!,” which really cemented the idea, because Pat and Tom separately were thinking of doing the exact same thing. There’s a third idea for Last _______ Standing that I really want to do, but it all depends on what Pat does with his career next-- he’s sort of been sucked into DC via 52.

I think the addition of Ron Lim to the mix on these MC2 mini-series, first with Avengers-Next and now with the upcoming Fantastic Five, was a great choice. After all, Ron had done the first 12 issues of J2 and already knew the whole MC2 universe. Plus Tom and Ron work really well together-- both of them like to throw in a lot of action and plot twists, and boy does the F5 have a lot of action! Wait until you see the beat-downs The Thing and Dr. Doom hand out to one another.

MG: Are there any projects you're working on that you can tell us about?

SK: Of course! Well, besides F5, which comes out every two weeks starting July 11th, I was lucky enough to ink on the first two issues of Marvel Adventures: Iron Man over James Cordeiro. James is really talented at the tech/mech stuff and is just a perfect choice for that book. The first issue is out right now and the second is due on the stands at the end of June. I’m inking something else now that I can’t talk about yet, but I’ll be able to talk about in August.

The biggest thing I’ve been working on is a book from Platinum studios called the Weapon. I’m penciling and inking the whole thing, four issues, that come out monthly starting June 20th. It’s written by Fred Van Lente, who is just an excellent writer, and he gave me a really tight script with lots of great stuff to draw. The colors are fantastic; it’s all done by Paul Mounts, who did the color for Ultimates and does the Fantastic Four, and he’s just the bee’s knees. Paul is a top-notch artist and he really adds a level of depth and professionalism that I’m so lucky to have gotten. Fred describes the book better than I have any chance of, so I’ll use his great description of what’s going on in the book: “The Weapon is Tommy Zhou, a twenty-something martial arts enthusiast and amateur inventor from Honolulu, Hawaii. He's invented a method to produce solid objects from light particles-- the "coherent laser resonator system"-- and to give his presentation some extra juice at the Inventors' Expo he's attending to drum up seed capital for his company, he invents a superhero identity for himself: The Weapon. He even conjures up an origin story for himself, based on legends his immigrant grandfather told him about a long-lost order of monks that invented a martial art so powerful its practitioners could actually form whatever weapons they needed out of their very life force, or chi. So The Weapon wears coherent laser resonators in the form of bands on his wrists and they can generate any weapon he can think of-- or he can summon from the hundreds of wireforms of weapons pre-programmed into the bands.”

At any rate, it’s a book that has wall to wall action and you can see an online hosting of it at DrunkDuck.com/The Weapon as well as various behind the scenes dissections of how I handled the covers at Koblish.Blogspot.com. And, of course you can pick up a copy at your local comic outlet on the 20th.

MG: Do you have any words of advice for people wanting to break into comics?

SK: I don’t know if I have anything useful to say. The way that I got in is gone now. It can be a really difficult business to be in. I think it’s not enough to just love it anymore, I think you have to want to do something great with it - and it takes years to be able to reach that point in your work and professional relationships. It’s not a field for the faint of heart.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Todd Nauck Interview (6/13)

Today we sat down to interview artist Todd Nauck. He is well-known for his recent work on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and his WildGuard series from Image. Says artist Todd Nauck: “Readers can see more of my art, upcoming projects and WildGuard material at my official website: WildGuard.com or ComicSpace.com/ToddNauck.”

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Todd Nauck: I read a comic here and there as a kid. Pretty much at friends’ and relatives’ houses: Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Archie, etc. I only owned a Beetle Bailey comic and a Spidey Super Story comic from the Electric Company PBS show from the 70’s. But I was really into super-hero cartoons: Super Friends, Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends.

I started collecting comics and really getting into them in 8th grade. I started with Marvel’s Secret Wars. I quickly moved on to Uncanny X-Men. Within a year I was reading several Marvel titles and got into DC in High School.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

TN: I always have had a love for drawing and superheroes. I took my art to my first comic book convention in Dallas when I was 18 years old. I did not know what to bring or how to put together my portfolio professionally. My first critique was brutal! I had a lot to learn.

A year later, I enrolled at an Art School of Dallas to study commercial art and graphic design. They didn’t have an animation/cartooning program at that time. So, I used the things I learned and applied them to drawing comics.

As I learned more about how comic books were made, I began drawing comic book sample pages and sending them to comic companies to get work. I also was able to show them at conventions and the critiques became more positive.

In between submissions I would make homemade mini-comics (of my WildGuard characters) on a photocopier and send them to my pals back in art school.

A couple of them took my comics to a comic convention in Houston and showed them to artist, Dan Fraga. He liked them and brought them back to Extreme Studios and entered them into the Talent Search they were having. Three days later, I got a call telling me I was the winner and they had a mini-series for me to draw, Badrock and Company.

I packed up and moved to Southern California to work in-studio. That was in April 1994 and I’ve been working ever since!

MG: I recently picked up a couple of old Wizards. I was flipping through Wizard #26 (from 1993) and when I came to the "Amazing Art" section, I saw someone had sent in a Prophet Wizard cover. I read the name and it was none other than Todd Nauck. Was this your first published work? If so, when you saw it, did you ever imagine that in just a few years, you'd be doing actual comic art?

TN: My first published work was Marvel’s What The--?! #21 which was a year before that. I was still trying to break into the business. I had work in a couple of independent comics. Really small press stuff.

When I submitted that Prophet cover for the Wizard Amazing Art section, I was thrilled to see I was the Image Comics winner for that month. I received a gold foil Brigade #1. I also was the winner of HERO magazine’s Mad About the Madman contest. I won a signed Madman print.

It was exciting to see my work in print anywhere I could get it in those early days. I didn’t have the internet as a means of exposure like budding artists have nowadays. So any exposure for my art was thrilling!

MG: If you could do any project you wanted, what would it be?

TN: I’d love to do my creator owned Image comic WildGuard full time. But I also like working for Marvel and DC. I’d love to do a book for either company that features lots of their characters. I love drawing tons of characters.

MG: Plug time here: Besides Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, what other titles are you currently working on?

TN: I wrap up my run on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man with #23. I’m contributing some art to Teen Titans #50. Young Justice fans won’t want to miss that!

I’m still working on DC’s Teen Titans Go.

And I hope to get another WildGuard mini-series out as soon as I can.

MG: Are there any projects you can tell us about that you'll be doing in the future?

TN: Nothing I can talk about at the moment.

MG: Recently it was announced that after One More Day, the current creative teams on all of the Spidey titles would change (which has disappointed many people because the vast majority seem to like all of the creative teams for each title). Some have speculated that this means that the creators will rotate titles (with the exception of JMS) instead of getting new creative teams entirely. Can you settle this once and for all? Will we be seeing you on FNSM again?

TN: I can’t say anything about what will happen after One More Day.

MG: On average, how many pages do you finish a day?

TN: Depends on the style I’m drawing in. My mainstream superhero style, like for Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, I do a page to a page and a half each day.

But Teen Titans Go is in a more simplified animated style, so that’s 2-4 pages each day.

MG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic book artists?

TN: Draw as much as you can. Practice figure work and anatomy, perspective and backgrounds, storytelling and layout. Get your work out there. Post it online in one of many art communities. Take your storytelling samples to comic conventions and show them to as many editors as you can. Take their critiques and implement them.

And be sure to have fun and enjoy the process of drawing. That’s why we draw, right? Because we enjoy it. I believe if an artist has fun creating, the fan will enjoy reading/seeing it.

MG: What has been your favorite comic to draw (in terms of the comic itself, not the creative people involved)?

TN: Young Justice was a great series. I really liked that team book. My run on Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man has been a blast! The black costume is cool to draw.

But my all-time favorite would be WildGuard. It’s all my own characters in stories I have written. There’s something about bringing your own creations to the comic stand and find that people enjoy them too.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Erik Larsen Interview (6/12)

Today we’re interviewing Eric Larsen. Some of his more well-known projects include an early-nineties run an Amazing Spider-Man, and his creator-owned title, Savage Dragon. Be sure to visit SavageDragon.com, and pick up Savage Dragon, monthly from Image Comics! Plus, keep an eye peeled for more Image goodness by Eric Larsen!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Eric Larsen: Yes.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

EL: I drew comics unprofessionally since I was 9 and got my first comic book job at 19. I published a fanzine called Graphic Fantasy and a couple of people who bought my fanzine through the mail hired me to work for them.

MG: Many people remember your early-nineties run on The Amazing Spider-Man fondly. How did you land the job?

EL: I sent in samples blind to Amazing Spider-Man editor Jim Salicrup and he let me do a fill-in early on and like a fool I went to DC rather than pester Jim for more work. At DC, Mike Gold was championing my stuff and was actively trying to find me a gig. Mike was pushing to get me on the Teen Titans and that sounded like a great job but he couldn't make it happen. I did one issue of the Teen Titans and a couple issues of Teen Titans Spotlight and then landed the Doom Patrol. A couple years later, I'd left DC and did the Punisher and was just miserable. It was a good job-- the book was selling well and it was a plum assignment but it really wasn't my cup of tea. I left after five issues to do a Nova serial in Marvel Comics Presents and then that vanished on me. My story didn't fit in with what Fabian wanted to do on the New Warriors so my yarn was shelved. I ended up drawing an Excalibur serial for Marvel Comics Presents instead-- and Spider-Man editor Jim Salicrup saw my samples and offered me a fill-in issue. As it turned out, Todd McFarlane, who was a good pal, had recommended me for the gig.

MG: If you could work on any project you wanted in comics, what would it be?

EL: Savage Dragon.

MG: Do you prefer to work on a title with a pre-made cast of characters (such as Amazing Spider-Man) or a creator-owned title, where you get to start from scratch?

EL: I vastly prefer creator-owned work. It's vastly more satisfying on a creative level. That, and nobody can come along later and undo stories you've worked on.

MG: How long does it take you to finish a script? How long for a single page of comic art?

EL: Writing is a very organic process for me unless I'm writing for somebody else. When I'm writing for myself, I just sit down and draw with only a vague idea of where I'm going with it. So writing takes a while as I need to draw as I go. I'll often scribble notes and dialogue on the page. If I'm writing for another artist, I can hammer out a plot in a few hours and script ten pages a day after it's been drawn-- but on my own the story and art go hand-in-hand. As far as the drawing part goes-- I can do tight enough pencils that an inker can ink it in a couple hours. If I'm inking it-- I'll do far looser pencils-- more like under-drawing-- and I can bat out a page in a half hour. I've penciled as many as 30 pages a day for myself to ink. If I'm penciling for somebody else, I can generally do three to four pages a day.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

EL: Everything that has come before. I find inspiration everywhere. Jack Kirby is my biggest single influence but I love the work of Gil Kane, Frank Miller, Jerry Robinson, Alex Toth, Steve Ditko, Mort Meskin, Walt Simonson, Michael Golden and a hundred others. Herb Trimpe, John Byrne and Pete Costanza are influences as well. And even guys whose work I'm not as taken with generally have some lesson to teach.

MG: What projects are you working on now, or will be working on, that you can tell us about?

EL: Savage Dragon is an ongoing concern but I've actually been working on a ton of other projects on the side-- ALL for Image Comics. All of which, I'd rather not go into at much length because they're far enough in the future that it'll take the steam out of them. One is a new ongoing book that I'll be writing and penciling and there are others as well. Some will be ongoing-- others, just short stories.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on, in terms of the characters?

EL: Savage Dragon. But Spider-Man was a lot of fun, he has a decent rogues gallery and I got to draw most of the major bad guys-- but given the choice-- Savage Dragon is the one I'd prefer.

MG: Do you have any advice for people wanting to break into comics?

EL: Be creative. Learn how to do everything. If you're a writer-- draw a story or two to get a feel for what can and can't be drawn. If you're an artist-- try your hand at writing and learn to ink. Try coloring-- try lettering. Get a feel for things. Artists tend to get bogged down in the details and details are important-- but composition is vastly more important. Storytelling is king. You're trying to tell a story and if you have readers getting distracted by every little thing in a panel that isn't serving the story-- you're not doing your job. Job one is telling a story and telling it clearly.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Fred Hembeck Interview (6/11)

Today we sat down and interviewed Fred Hembeck. You probably remember him for the "Petey, the Adventures of Peter Parker Loooong Before He Became Spider-Man" short stories, or the "What if... Fred Hembeck Sold the Marvel Universe" issue, with his cartoony art style. Be sure to visit Hembeck.com for the latest info on Fred Hembeck, as well as some very informative articles!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Fred Hembeck: Oh, you bet! After testing the waters with a copy of Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost (a Casper spin-off), my dad brought home a full box of comics that a co-worker was getting rid of after his own son outgrew them. I was about six at the time, and I still haven't outgrown them! I began buying my very own comics off the stands in 1961, starting with the Superman Family of titles and the rest of the Silver Age DC biggies (in the intervening couple of years, my parents had bought mostly Dell and Harvey comics for me). I bought my first Marvel-- Fantastic Four #4-- in 1962, and immediately fell in love with Stan and Jack (and not too long after, Steve too)!! I've read and collected comics enthusiastically right on up until about ten years ago, when time constraints (and let's face it, lack of interest) saw me cut my reading down drastically. These days, I'm enjoying yet another re-reading of the those great old comics, only this time in the glitzy Marvel Masterworks format!

MG: How and when did you break into comics?

FH: In the summer of 1977, I tried unsuccessfully to peddle a portfolio of standard adventure comics art to the big companies. After being turned down several times, I went home, and to keep from getting too discouraged, began drawing constantly, even when writing letters to my ex-college house mates, who'd I'd been separated from only a few short months. That's how I came up with a caricature of myself. I also used Cartoon Fred in several missives I sent in to various comics letter columns, including one to Iron Man. The writer, Bill Mantlo, really liked what I'd sent in, but since I'd used color markers, they couldn't print it. But if I was willing to redraw it in black and white, they would--and even pay me for it!! Well, you bet I redrew it, and it turned up in 1978's Iron Man 112. I decided to use Cartoon Fred in some other strips, and sent them off to The Buyers Guide For Comics Fandom, a weekly, thick buy and sell newspaper that had the biggest circulation of any comics ‘zine in those days, and the success of my "Dateline: @!!#?" strip eventually opened up a whole lotta other doors! I never did go back to my original, straight art style...

MG: Your style of drawing is very cartoony. Has it changed over the years, or would you say it's always been this way?

FH: Well, it's evolved (and hopefully improved), but hasn't changes substantially since I tossed out all notions of becoming the next Neal Adams.

MG: Are you a fan of Stan Lee's? You did that very fanboy-ish story in the Spider-Man Meets Stan Lee comic that came out last year.

FH: Stan Lee probably had as big an impact on my life as anybody you'd never actually met during your formative years possibly could have! Like I said, I'm currently revisiting Stan's early Marvel works for the first time in decades, and I'm just amazed at how well they stand up! Stan Lee didn't entirely change the face of comics through some fluke, y'know-- he was able to suffuse his comics with a then-unique mixture of humor, emotion, pageantry, and melodrama that had readers coming eagerly back for more! I've had a few personal encounters with Stan in my latter-day career, and he's just a wonderful guy. Am I a fan of Stan Lee's? As long as I'm breathing, buddy, as long as I'm breathing...

MG: Another question about the Stan Lee back-up: were you approached about it by Marvel, or did they send out a memo or something, and you said you would do it?

FH: I'd worked with the editor, Tom Brevoort, several times in the past. As soon as I saw the project announced, I contacted Tom and said I GOTTA be part of this! That's not my usual M.O., but these were special circumstances! Luckily, Tom said he'd planned to contact me about it in any event, so it all worked out nicely for everyone.

MG: Can you tell us about any projects you might be doing in the near future?

FH: Um, I could, but since it hasn't been officially announced yet, reluctantly, I'm not gonna. Sorry. Contracts have been signed and work continues apace, though, so I suggest the curious just keep an eye out over at my website, Hembeck.com, for updates.

MG: What is your favorite Marvel character, and why?

FH: I've always dug the nobility of Captain America-- and that really nifty outfit! I was there when Marvel sprung a false Cap on us in the Human Torch episode in Strange Tales #110, and then a few months later when they defrosted the real thing in Avengers #4! Man, did I ever dig those stories! And you just couldn't top Jack Kirby drawing Cap on action! I still love the guy, and as far as I'm concerned, he ain't dead! No way, no how!

MG: If you could work on any project you wanted, what would it be?

FH: I loved doing several episodes of "Petey, the Adventures of Peter Parker Loooong Before He Became Spider-Man" because I got to combine my love for the early Lee/Ditko issues of Spider-Man with the deep affection I continue to hold for the Dennis the Menace, Little Lulu, and Little Archie comics of my youth (all of which could be found in that fateful box of books brought home by my dad), so I'd love the chance to revive that feature and maybe even go book-length. Unlikely to happen--but hey, you asked!

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

FH: Stan Lee for the general tone of my writing, Kirby and Ditko for the approach to storytelling, Little Lulu's John Stanley for breaking down humor effectively, and Al Wiseman (Dennis artist) for his slick attention to detail and expressive lettering style. Plus, classic TV sitcoms like "Sgt. Bilko", "Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Jack Benny Program" did an awful lot to help inform my own sense of humor.

MG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists?

FH: Keep plugging away. You never know how things'll turn out-- unless you give up, and then you're unlikely to be very happy with the ending, right?

 

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Fred Hembeck for the images.

Matt Fraction Interview (6/7)

Today, we're interviewing Matt Fraction. He writes PUNISHER: WAR JOURNAL, and the CASANOVA series from Image, as well as having written many other individual issues, such as the SESATIONAL SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #1. Be sure to pick up CASANOVA, written by Matt Fraction!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Matt Fraction: Yes, lots!
 
MG: How did you break into comics proffesionally?
 
MF: I started writing about comics on the Internet, and that got me my first work, writing short stories. The short stories led to a graphic novel, and that was what introduced me to a lot of editors. That was the start to both my independent and work-for-hire careers.
 
MG: How long, on average, does it take you to finish a script?

MF: Uuuuuusually about a week, maybe more with all the plotting and such. Sometimes quicker, and sometimes way, way slower. But in a perfect world, I could crank out a script soup to nuts in a week.

MG: If you could work on any project you wanted in comics, what would it be?

MF: There are two historical graphic novels I wish I had more time to write. One is about the presidential campaign of 1864 and how Abraham Lincoln managed it; the other is about a baseball team of American all-stars that barnstormed through Japan in 1934.
 
MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?
 
MF: Film, probably. I went to film school and a lot of my visual storytelling comes from studying and making film.

MG: What is it like to work in the field of comics?

MF: It's great. Exhausting and exhilarating and frustrating and wonderful. And it sure beats working for a living.

MG: When did you decide that you wanted to work in comics?

MF: Some time in the spring of 1997. I was in New York City and felt the lightbulb snap on.

MG: How do you get a job on a new comic? Do the editors approach you, or do you approach the editors with a pitch for a new idea?

MF: I've had both happen. It all depends, honestly.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on, in terms of the characters?

MF: CASANOVA. On sale now, from Image comics!

MG: Do you have any words of advise for people who want to work in comics?

MF: Write hard. Earn your chops. Write every single day, study other comics, study the industry, and think about everything you do.

 

-Interview by Sergio B.

Fabian Nicieza Interview (5/30)

Today we're interviewing comic book writer Fabian Nicieza! He co-created Deadpool and is currently writing him again in Cable/Deadpool. Some of his other numerous accomplishments are New Mutants, X-Men, X-Force, Thunderbolts, and New Thunderbolts, among others. So, without further ado, here is our interview!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Fabia Nicieza: Yes. And as a teen. And as an adult.

MG: How did you break into comics proffesionally?

FN: Got a job at Marvel. Slowly figured out what it takes to write and started selling stories to editors.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

FN: In comics? Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Roy Thomas and John Buscema. Barry Smith. Neal Adams. Dave Cockrum. Denny O'Neil. Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers. Jim Shooter. Archie Goodwin. Tom DeFaclo. Mark Gruenwald. The list goes on.

MG: What has been your favorite title to work on, in terms of the characters?

FN: Honestly, I tend to enjoy whatever title I am emotionally invested in at the time of the writing. So New Warriors or Nomad back when I was writing them, or Turok, or Gambit or Thunderbolts, all the way up to Cable & Deadpool now.

MG: You co-created fan-favorite character Deadpool with artist Rob Liefeld during your run on New Mutants. How did the idea for Deadpool come about? What's it like to write him again in Cable/Deadpool?

FN: Rob drew a tough guy costumed mercenary. Part Spider-Man, part Rambo. I made him a Merc With A Mouth.

MG: What's your favorite Marvel character, and why?

FN: Captain America. Because he's Captain America.

MG: Just curious: how long does it take to finish a script?

FN: Varies. Sometimes I can do an entire script in a day, sometimes it takes two or three weeks of niggling and picking it apart. Every title and every issue is different.
 
MG: What title or character would you like to write that you haven't gotten a chance to?

FN: Well, I've gotten a chance to write nearly every character for Marvel and DC that I'd wanted to since I was a kid, but if you are asking me about a run on a title, I'd say Captain America or Dr. Strange for Marvel and Superman, Nightwing, Hawkman or the Outsiders for DC.

MG: Do you have any words of advice for anyone wishing to break into comics?

FN: Breaking into comics is really hard. It's much easier to break into TV or film writing, then you'll get offered comic book work a few weeks later.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Ariel Olivetti Interview (5/22)

We sat down to have a talk with Punisher: War Journal artist, Ariel Olivetti. (Note that since Ariel Olivetti is from Argentina, the interview was conducted in Spanish and later translated). Enjoy the interview, along with loads of Ariel Olivetti art!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid? If so, what was the first comic you read?

Ariel Olivetti: Yes, I read Superman and Batman, but the main one was Nipur de Lagash (an Argentine comic).

MG: How does it feel to work on Punisher: War Journal, and as a comic professional in general?

AO: It‘s hard work, as I am both drawing and coloring each issue of Punisher: War Journal.
MG: When did you decide that you wanted to be a comic book artist?

AO: I always knew that I’d grow up to do something relating to art.

MG: Do you have any words of advise for aspiring comic artists?

AO: I recommend a thorough study of anatomy and perspective for everyone who wishes to draw comics.

MG: Is there a title on which you are working (or will be in the future) besides Punisher: War Journal?

AO: After Punisher: War Journal, I believe I’m going to be moved to a title in the X-Men family.

MG: What is your favorite Marvel character?

AO: I don’t have one specific character, but some of my favorites are Hulk, Thor, Venom, Punisher, and Wolverine.

MG: What have been some influences on your art style?

AO: The classics: Da Vinci, Miguel Angelo, and Rafael. Within the world of comics: Bizley, Corben, Segrelles, Moebius…and many more.

MG: If you could work on any title you wanted, what would it be?

AO: Hulk or Wolverine.

MG: On an average day, how many comic pages do you finish?

AO: About one a day, fully drawn and colored.

MG: How difficult is it to get work in comics in the US? Is it made any easier by the internet?

AO: The internet is indispensable to be able to work in comics while located in Argentina or San Diego, since the editorial offices are in New York.

 

--Interview by Kijuuki Karasu and Sergio B. Spanish translated by Robert Hoppins.

Mike Deodato, Jr. Interview (5/18)

Today we’re interviewing comic book artist Mike Deodato, Jr. He's worked on everything from Beauty and the Beast to The Mighty Thor, to the Amazing Spider-Man a few years ago, to his most recent work, Thunderbolts. His style has evolved over the years to its current photo-realistic style. He was also kind enough to send us some really awesome images, which you can see throughout the interview. We also threw in some of our favorite Mike Deodato sketches we found on the internet!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Mike Deodato, Jr: Yeah, pretty much. I think I was five when I started reading comics. My favorite was Superman back then.

MG: How did you break into comics?

MDJ: I did a lot of fanzines back in the eighties in Brazil until I got a phone call in 1991 from an Brazilian agency interested in representing Brazilian artists for the American comic book market. They wanted to know if would be interested in drawing a comic book called Santa Claws, for Malibu Comics. I agreed, and from that day I never stopped working for comics in the USA.

MG: You worked with Warren Ellis on The Mighty Thor. How does it feel to work with him again on Thunderbolts?

MDJ: He's an outstanding writer. I feel just lucky to work with such a talented people like himself, JMS, Bruce Jones, Matt Fraction, Charlie Huston, Bill Loebs and many others.

MG: How does it feel to work on comics while living in Brazil? I mean, is it hard getting comic work in the United States? The internet must make that easier, right?

MDJ: When I started it was much harder because I didn't have a computer or internet access. Nowadays it is much more easy.

MG: Will you be working on anything other than Thunderbolts for the foreseeable future?

MDJ: I'm working on a Wolverine project in my spare time, but I cannot reveal what it is for now.

MG: If you could work on any project you wanted, what would it be?

MDJ: Something not urban, not super-hero. A Conan-type story would be a dream come true. :)

MG: What has been your favorite title to draw, in terms of the characters and such?

MDJ: Thunderbolts, because it is the best story I've ever drawn. Warren is fantastic!

MG: About how many pages do you finish on an average day?

MDJ: Just one page a day, sometimes less than that. I'm not that fast.

MG: What are you working on now (or most recently)?

MDJ: Thunderbolts, some She-Hulk covers, and that Wolverine project I mentioned.

MG: Do you have any advice for aspiring comic artists?

MDJ: Studying the old masters is the best advice I can dispense. Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Will Eisner, Milton Caniff, Neal Adams and Frank Frazetta, among others, always have something you can learn from.

 

 

--Interview by Sergio B. Special thanks to Mike Deodato, Jr. for the photos and sketches.

Chris Eliopoulos Interview (4/29)

Today we're interviewing Chris Eliopoulos, who's penciled dozens of books, as well as having co-written and drawn the Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius one-shots and back-ups. Be sure to pick up the Franklin Richards one-shots, and click here to read Chris' Misery Loves Sherman strip for FREE!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Chris Eliopoulos: Not really. I read some of the Harvey comics—Richie Rich and Casper. My father worked for American Airlines, so we flew a lot and on the plane they would give out free comics from Harvey with the American Airlines logo on them. I would read those. I was more into comic strips. My uncle owned a remainder book company and on weekends I would sit in these giant book bins and read the Fawcett collections. That was heaven.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

CE: I was taking a night class with Gene Colan at the Fashion Institute of Technology where I went to school. He took us on a field trip to Marvel. Once I saw the dress code, I knew I needed to get an internship there for my final semester. I applied and was accepted and was hired right out of college working in the bullpen.

MG: How did the idea for the Franklin Richards short stories come about?

CE: I was asked to come up with some pitches for a Marvel property that I could do. I pitched Home Alone meets Super Heroes in the form of Franklin. My kids were just starting to explore their world and I wondered what that would be like if your world was filled with superheroes and fantastic technological devices.

MG: Cartoony, kid-friendly comics like Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius aren't too common these days. Did you have any trouble pitching the idea to Marvel?

CE: Tons. Initially I pitched it to Bill Jemas who didn’t even know who he was. Then I kept telling people about it for a year or two until Marvel started the Marvel Age line and I pitched C.B. Cebulski on the spot who, halfway through the pitch, was on the phone to David Gabriel saying that the line had a new book. No one knew what it was that I wanted to do, so they asked me to do a 5 issue limited series. Then, still unsure, they asked me to do 4 backup shorts for Power Pack to test the waters. All told it took over 2 years from pitch to print.

MG: What have been the greatest influences on your work?

CE: Charles Schulz, Berke Breathed, Walt Kelly, Bill Watterson, tons of comedians—I would love to do stand up. I love watching the craft of a comedian doing their thing. I just don’t think I have the guts to get up on stage. I love how comedians can filter a joke down. One of my favorite movies is Comedian with Jerry Sienfeld. I love watching him work the language of a joke, the timing and the performance. It’s so great to learn from.

MG: You've written and drawn comics, as well as having lettered a huge number of books. Which do you find easier of the three? Which do you enjoy the most?

CE: The easiest is lettering. I’ve done it so long, it’s second nature and I can shut my brain down, turn on an audio book or podcast and crank out the pages. I really enjoy writing and drawing the most. I get such a thrill out of the process. I love working on an idea and feeling it come together or not thinking about a strip and having it come to me. I also love the drawing part of it. Inking a page or strip is like dessert at the end of a meal—heaven. And then a minute after a page or strip is done, I hate it and want to do better the next time.

MG: If you could work on any project you wanted what would it be?

CE: I’m currently doing my own web strip that’s going into its third month. I’m discovering the characters personalities and really feel THEY are writing the material and I’m taking dictation. So, right now THIS is the project I want to work on. I have other ideas as well and I’m beginning to pitch some ideas to Marvel for me to do, but after working there for so long, I think I might really enjoy writing the Fantastic Four in some form.

MG: Why do you prefer (or seem to prefer) working on more cartoony strips (such as Franklin Richards and Misery Loves Sherman)?

CE: It’s what I grew up on. I love humor and cartoons. I HATE the real world. There is so much wrong with the world—killing, lying, cheating, tragedy and there are no happy endings. Everyone dies. So, I like to escape into a world where I control everything and it can be fun and goofy and the worst thing is no cherry on top of your sundae.

MG: I remember seeing a sort of crossover between your Desperate Times strip and Chris Giarusso's Bullpen Bits strip, where the Desperate Times characters guest-starred in the Bullpen Bits. How did that come about?

CE: Chris called me up and said he’d written a strip that crossed over with the DT characters and asked if I was okay with it and if I wanted to ink it. I said sure to both. Chris is an all-around great guy. Sometimes I get mistaken for him, but he’s much cooler than me.

MG: With a lot of your comics being very kid-friendly, what are your thoughts on the fact that comics are geared towards a more adult audience, and that less kids are reading comics?

CE: I think it’s limiting. The industry has boxed itself into a corner by aiming its products to a specific demographic. With books, there are all kinds of genres. If you go into a bookstore, there are aisles and aisles of different genres, but there is only one section for comic books, and that is aimed at adult males. Movies have different genres aimed at different ages and different genders. Consistently, all-ages movies do extremely well. Parents want to take their kids to movies that are suited to them and the ones that parents can enjoy, do even better. If we could do that in the comic book world, we could grab a whole new generation of comic book readers.

--Interview by Sergio B.

Kurt Busiek Interview (4/15)

Today we're interviewing Kurt Busiek, who has written a wide variety of titles for both Marvel, DC and other companies, including Superman, Untold Tales of Spider-Man, and his creator-owned title, Astro City, among many others. Be sure to pick up Superman, currently being written by Kurt Busiek!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Kurt Busiek: Not steadily, at least. My parents were big believers in the idea that comic books rotted the mind, so we kids weren't allowed to have comics, except for the stuff my parents bought that they approved of, which included POGO books, DENNIS THE MENACE and other such strip collections, and a batch of Tin Tin and Asterix albums they bought in multiple languages in hopes of getting us interested in learning languages. In my eldest sister's case, it worked, and she became a language major in college. Me, I liked the comics.

I did see your basic average American comic book comics at friends’ houses and barbershops and the like, but I didn't start reading comics regularly 'til 1974, when I picked up a copy of Daredevil #120 on a whim, and it turned out to be the first part of a continuity-heavy 4-parter, and I loved all the history and cross-connections with other series, and by the time I'd reached the end of the story I was pretty solidly hooked.

MG: How did you break into comics professionally?

KB: All through high school and college, I practiced making comics with a friend of mine-- Scott McCloud, who also wound up going into the field-- and in my last semester I wound up submitting a bunch of sample scripts to Dick Giordano at DC. Dick passed them out to the editors of the books they were written for, and a couple of them were liked enough to get me some chances, and one of them turned into a back-up story for Green Lantern #162.

Then I capitalized on that by sending a fill-in pitch to Denny O'Neil at Marvel, with a note saying I was already writing professionally for DC-- I didn't mention it was only 7 pages of work-- and Denny hired me to do some scripting. And things rolled slowly on from there.

MG: If you could write any project you wanted, what would it be?

KB: My usual answer is Astro City, since that was created to be just about everything I liked about superheroes, all at once. But people asking this generally mean, "What pre-existing property would you most like to work on?"

On that score, I dunno-- I've had the chance to work on a lot of different characters I like a lot, and I'm currently having a great time writing Superman. If I had to pick something I haven't written yet, I'd probably pick Flash, Green Lantern or Kamandi at DC, or Fantastic Four at Marvel.

MG: Have you ever had a story that you wanted to tell, but was shot down in the editorial process? If so, do you find that this happens often?

KB: Sure, I've had numerous stories I've pitched get shot down, starting with the time I pitched Julie Schwartz eighteen Superboy ideas and he rejected all of them. It happens a lot less often than it used to, though, partly because I'm a lot better at writing and pitching these days, and partly because I usually get to establish the tone on a series nowadays, rather than fitting into someone else's ideas. So things still get shot down-- I told one of my editors recently that I wanted to do a Kamandi project and he checked and came back with the news that the character's tied up with someone else-- but it usually involves characters or concepts that I didn't know were "off- limits."

MG: You've done everything from Superman to Mickey Mouse. What is your favorite genre of comics to write? What's your favorite genre as a reader?

KB: I like variety. I've done most of my writing in superhero stories, but I've had a blast writing heroic fantasy, science fiction, humor and more, and I'd never want to limit myself to just one thing. But more and more these days, I find myself leaning toward fantasy or one sort or another.

As for reading, I wouldn't want to limit myself there either-- I love books like Usagi Yojimbo and True Story Swear to God, and my all-time favorite comics are Terry and the Pirates and Steve Canyon. So who can choose?

MG: I loved your Untold Tales of Spider-Man series. Was the idea for the series yours or the editor's?

KB: I'm not even sure it was the editor's. The company had decided to do 99-cent "intro" books for each grouping of titles, and since so much of the regular Spider-Man titles were tangled up in ongoing continuity, someone made the decision that the 99-cent book should be set in the past. I don't know who that was, though.

The original idea was that it would be set during Spidey's college career, but nobody told me, so I wound up writing a pitch starting it off in the very early days, and they liked it enough to change their plans.

MG: What led you to sign a two-year exclusive with DC?

KB: They offered a very nice deal that would fill up my work schedule, and allowed me to work on Superman and Aquaman, and to work with artists I love working with, including Carlos Pacheco and Butch Guice. What's not to like?

MG: Are you a fan of Silver Age comics? You seem to write a lot of comics such as Unltold Tales of Spider-Man and Amazing Fantasy (Volume 1) #16-18 that tie into earlier continuity.

KB: I'm a fan of good comics from just about any era. I'm known for doing continuity-oriented projects set in the past, but a lot of those have come as assignments-- I didn't conceive Untold Tales or Amazing Fantasy or Legend of Wonder Woman, for instance. I didn't start reading comics regularly until the Bronze Age, but there's a lot to like about the Silver Age.

Then again, there's a lot to like about mid-Eighties First Comics, or Bill Everett comics of the 1950s, or newspaper strips like Leonard Starr'sOn Stage, or Walt Simonson's Orion... there's comics to be a fan of in any era.

MG: Do you prefer to write mainstream comics (DC and Marvel) or creator-owned titles?

KB: The short answer is "yes." I like playing with history, so having all that established history and the big, well-known characters is great. I also like creating the whole thing from the ground up. If I had to pick just one, I think I'd choose to do books I could create, but I'm glad I don't have to choose.

MG: Which comic company have you enjoyed working with the most, and for what reason?

KB: I'm very happy with DC right now -- I get to work with great artists and supportive editors on high-profile projects, which can't be sneezed at. On the other hand, I liked working at Marvel back when George and I were on Avengers, for the same reason. What makes a company good to work for isn't the company, so much, it's the people. Working with Tom Brevoort, Scott Allie or Matt Idelson is always great. Working with editors who drive you bananas is bad, regardless of the company.

For me, it's about the people.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Michael Oeming Interview (4/6)

Today we're interviewing Michael Avon Oeming, current writer of Omega Flight and artist on Powers. He's also worked on many mythological books, and is the co-writer on Red Sonja. Be sure to sign up for his e-mail-newsletter by clicking here! Also, click here to read a new page of his creator-owned book, Powers, daily for free! Be sure to pick up Omega Flight and Powers, on sale now, plus Spider-Man/Red Sonja, coming coon!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid? If so, how did you get into comics, and what was your first issue?

Michael Oeming: Yeah, but not until I was about twelve when I moved from New Jersey to Texas. I couldn't adjust to things so I locked myself in my room. One fine day (I clearly remember this), I went to a flea market and found some Spider-Man comics and that was it! Hooked!!!

MG: How did you break into comics proffesionally?

MO: I was 14 when I got my first inking gig at Innovation Comics. I just kept sending in my work and eventually, real work came of it. Some of my earliest pro work was at Marvel inking Force Works and Daredevil.

MG: I recently read the first issue of Omega Flight. It was very new-reader friendly in my opinion. Was this your intention when you wrote it? Is it a concious decision to write a book that way?

MO: Yeah, I wanted this to be the Alpha Flight book for non-Alpha Flight fans! The reader should be able to go into reading this blindly and still enjoy it. So far, it seems to be working.

MG: Do you prefer writing mainstream titles or independent titles more?

MO: I would say independent titles- as long as they are my own. Creator-owned comics like Powers, Cross Bronx and Mice Templar are really where my heart is. I love working for Marvel, but that has more to do with the people I work with then the material itself. I love coming up to Marvel, visiting the offices, hanging out with my editors and other writers. There's really a bit of a family vibe there that I love, and that's what keeps me around. The comics and characters are great, but its the heart of Marvel, the people working there, that keep me around!

MG: Do you enjoy writing more than penciling, or vice-versa?

MO: It depends. I'm an artist first, so I'd rather draw then write, especially now when I'm behind on my scripts!!!

MG: You've worked on a few Thor titles, as well as a Beta Ray Bill and an Ares book. Are you a fan of those mythological stories?

MO: Huge fan of mythology. I was into mythology before I was into comics. Clearly my works on Thor, Ares, Hammer of the Gods, and Mice Templar are all about that. I'm even slipping some of that into Omega Flight!

MG: As co-writer on Red Sonja, what exactly do you do? Are you involved in writing dialogue, or just plotting?

MO: I co-wrote the first arc with X-Men writer Mike Carey and the current arc with Brian Reed. I wrote the last few arcs myself, but I really enjoy working with other writers and we work together on each step of the proscess.

MG: You won an Eisner (arguably the Oscars of comics) for your work on Powers. What was that like?

MO: The worst experience ever! No, really, does it get better than that? And the fact that it was with Brian [Michael Bendis], one of my closest friends in the world, really made it special. I was just nominated for best writer/artist on the Cross Bronx for an Eagle Award, so I'm all giddy again. It's nice to be recognized for the hard work.

MG: Are you a fan of any of the titles you've worked on? If so, do you find it easier or harder to work on something you enjoy reading?

MO: Hmm, honestly the only thing I'm a fan of that I'm working on is the Spider-Man/Red Sonja Cross over. Writing Spidey is amazing... spectacular even. :) Really, it's a cliche, but it's true, it's a dream come true.

MG: If you got the chance to work on any project you wanted, what would it be?

MO: I want to adapt Neil Gaiman's American Gods into a 8 issue mini. I love that book.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Tom DeFalco Interview (3/26)

Today we're interviewing Tom DeFalco. Although he started out working for Archie comics, he is now one of the most well-known people in the industry, having written a variety of titles, such as various Spider-Man titles, Thor, and Spider-Girl. He was also Editor In Chief of Marvel for some of the 90's. Be sure to pick up Tom's current book, the Amazing Spider-Girl!

Marvel Gazette: You've done many books over the years. Which character's dialogue do you enjoy writing the most?

Tom DeFalco: I have loved every character that I've ever been privileged to write and that includes the bad guys. I would have to say that I currently enjoy writing May "Mayday" Parker, the daughter of Spider-Man. That's a good thing since I've been writing her for almost ten years now.

MG: Are you anything at all like the guy in those old Bullpen Bulletins comic strips?

TD: Nah, I'm much better looking!

MG: I've heard about the original Spider-Girl #61, which was supposed to indefinitely be the last issue. How done with it were you before you were told the title wasn't canceled?

TD: I wrote the plot and Ron Frenz completed the first few pages before we were told that Spider-Girl had been un-cancelled again and that we had to come up with a new story by the end of the week. (They called me on Tuesday and needed the new one by Friday).

MG: Also, can you give us a general plot outline of it?

TD: I could, but I won't because there's still a chance that it will be published someday.

MG: You were editor in chief of Marvel for awhile. What was that like?

TD: A lot like those old Bullpen Bulletins comic strips, but with significantly more yelling!

MG: How does it feel to have what is arguably the most loyal fanbase in comics with Spider-Girl?

TD: It feels wonderful. People who try Spider-Girl discover that they love her. I just wish more people would try her.

MG: What are the advantages to having worked with an artist like Ron Frenz for so long?

TD: The biggest advantage is that Ron is an idea factory and he does all the work. He comes up with plot ideas, suggests dialogue and draws the book. All I have to do is write the credits and take the bows!

MG: Whose dialogue is easier to write, May Parker's or Peter Parker's?

TD: After all the time I've spent with them, they're both just as easy-- and as difficult.

MG: Can you give us an idea of what's in store for May in the next few months?

TD: A lot of action and angst in the Merry Marvel Manner! Spider-Girl is one of the last comics where the heroes behave like real heroes and the villains behave like villains and the supporting cast have individual personalities, conflicts and stories. We're the kind of comic that makes you remember why you first fell in love with comics!

MG: I know it's a sore subject, but what are your feelings on the Clone Saga? Were you really wanting that much to get it over with?

TD: I think there were a lot of good stories told during the Clone Saga-- Amazing Spider-Man #400 for example-- but the whole thing ran on too long. Yes, by the end I really wanted it to be over!

MG: On your list of personal favorite super-heroes, where does Spider-Man rank? What about Spider-Girl?

TD: Spider-Man has always been my favorite super-hero because he enters every battle, thinking he's destined to lose, but he does it anyway. As for Spider-Girl, she has a lot more confidence than her dad ever had and I really love that in it.

TD: Do you play Minesweeper? (laughs)

MG: Nope. I don't have time to play games.  I have comics to write!

Thanks for being there!

Tom D.

 

--Interview by Sergio B.

Norman Felchle Interview (3/21)

Today we're interviewing Norman Felchle, who penciled several Spider-Man covers/interiors in the late 90's, as well as work for DC and Image on Batman, Superman, and a series of Spawn trading Cards. He's also served as Chairman of the Northern California Chapter of the National Cartoonist's Society. He is currently a concept artist for Electronic Arts. Click here to visit Norman Felchle's site!

Marvel Gazette: In the late 90's, you penciled an impressive number of Spider-Man issues (interiors and covers), including the interiors for Peter Parker: Spider-Man #96, which was part of the Gathering of the Five (one of Marvel's largest Spider-Man crossovers of 1998). How early on in your career was this, and how did you manage to get a chance to pencil such an important crossover?

Norman Felchle: It was about mid-way in my overall career, but it was at the end of my mainstream comic book career (for now at least)…

The Spider-Man work was only the second time I’d gotten a job through a blind mailing.

I had done a book called "The Night" for the Slave Labor offshoot “Amaze Ink.” I was pretty happy with the book and sent it to Ralph Macchio, the editor on Spider-Man, and he called me back to offer me a one shot titled “Spider-Man: Made Men.”

Peter Parker #96 came right after that, along with some covers and an unpublished back-up story.

I’d never met Ralph before and he’d never heard of me, so it meant a lot to me that I got that job based solely on my work and without the help of any “connections.”

The other time I got a job through a blind mailing was right out of school, when I sent samples to Dan Vado at Slave Labor.

I’d sent him samples of Marvel characters, which wasn’t really the style he was looking for… and my Xeroxes were pretty light and hard to see. He was about to toss my stuff in the trash, but Chuck Austen happened to be in the office and said he was looking for an assistant and it looked like I could do backgrounds… so he hired me.

The rest of my career was built on that one lucky moment... from Slave Labor to DC to Image then back to Slave labor and Marvel, and eventually to my current work in the video game industry.

MG: Are you a fan of the comics you've penciled, and if so, for how long? Did you read comics when you were a kid?

NF: When I was a kid I was a big fan of comics and Spider-Man was my favorite character, so it was kind of a dream come true to draw him professionally.

Unfortunately, as I worked in comics, the stress of the job made it difficult to remain a fan. It’s only now that I’ve gotten some distance from it that I’m back to being more of a fan again.

MG: What are you working on right now, as a concept artist for Electronic Arts?

NF: Right now I’m on a game called “My Sims.” It’s a cute Sims game for the Wii… and pretty far removed, stylistically, from superheroes.

But in my time at EA I’ve worked on a range of things from “American McGee’s Alice,” to a few James Bond games and “Godfather,” in addition to some other Sims work.

I’m still dabbling in comics though, and I’m finishing up a six page back-up story for an issue of "Robotica" by my friend Alex Sheikman.

MG: You penciled several other comics for DC and Image. Did they ask you to pencil their books, or did you submit your work to them?

NF: I started out as a penciler, working with Dan Vado on The Griffin, a creator owned project he first published at Slave Labor and then later took to DC.

It was my first job and the art was pretty rough, but Dan did a good job writing and people still remember the book fondly.

Eventually we got other work, both together and individually, as projects came up with editors we knew.

My Image work mostly came through Bill Kaplan, who was Archie Goodwin’s assistant editor on The Griffin.

When Bill went on to become editor in chief at Wildstorm, he gave me some work there.

MG: I noticed you also illustrated some Spawn trading cards. Were those the set that was released in the late 90's? Again, how did you get the chance to pencil them? Had you already worked for Image at the time?

NF: Yup, I think that was the set.

I’m not sure which editor the Spawn cards came through. Bill was my main contact at Wildstorm, but I also got work from Ted Adams and Chris Oprisco.

I also did a little work with Ted and Chris when they started up I.D.W… but we drifted apart before they went “Big Time.”

MG: I was reading Peter Parker: Spider-Man #96 the other day, which you penciled. It was really well done (certainly better than the regular penciler), with excellent use of shadows and light. Has your art style evolved, or is it similar to the way it was back then?

NF: I’ve learned a lot more about drawing since then and my style has evolved quite a bit. I’d like to think all the changes are for the better, but style is such a subjective thing. What one person sees as a leap forward, may be disappointing to another.

The character design work I did for American McGee’s Alice was really the big turning point for me stylistically.

On that project I came the closest to using my “real” style…that and the “Dark Carnival” piece I had in Spectrum #8.

MG: You've penciled some very diverse books. Is your style different if you were doing, say, Superman, as opposed to Batman or Resident Evil?

NF: Yeah, Batman was the most fun and I’m still pretty happy with the art I did on those books even though it was only my second professional job (the job was eventually published years later in Legends of the Dark Knight #'s 112 and #113 ). In fact, I think I did better work on that job than the next few books I worked on… mostly because Batman lent itself to a style with which I was more comfortable.

For Resident Evil I wanted to do it all twisted like Kelly Jones or something, but they (the Resident Evil people, not Wildstorm) wanted a more restrained look. So I kind of tightened up on it. In retrospect, I think I still could have gotten wilder and done a more interesting job, but I was a kind of nervous and erred on the side of caution. But, they liked it... so I guess it was ok.

In general, I’ve become a bit of a chameleon stylistically and it’s a subject my friends and I talk about. It seems there are artists who have “their style” and you go to them for that style… but not for anything else. Then there are artists, like me, who adapt to whatever the job calls for. Deep down I’d like to think I do have “my style” but that I’m still flexible enough to do whatever else I have to do.

MG: In the gallery on your site, you have several drawings of dinosaurs. Were those or any other dinosaur sketches ever used on a project, or do you simply like drawing dinosaurs?

NF: Those were sketches for a “Leap Frog” dinosaur book, but I'm also a big dinosaur fan. People who know me laugh and roll their eyes at how obsessed I am with dinosaurs.

That book was one of those situations where a dream come true went a little sour...then turned out kind of ok in the end. The job itself was a job from hell and I wasn’t happy with the final product (through no fault of the other artist I worked with). But, I think it’s very cool that there are little kids out in the world enjoying that book just like I enjoyed dinosaur books when I was their age.

I even gave my copy to my son… and he liked it ok… but he’s got much better dinosaur books, so I think mine’s somewhere in the back of his closet.

There’s also a dinosaur related story from the Peter Parker story I drew. Howard Mackie knew I liked dinosaurs so he went out of his way to be a nice guy and write one into the story. Unfortunately, some people picked on him for it, saying it didn’t fit in the story and stuff like that. So… if anyone thought the dinosaur-monster-thing out of nowhere was a mistake… blame me… not Howard.

MG: When you penciled comics as a guest-artist, were you involved in the plotting, or are guest-artists not involved in plotting?

NF: I haven't been involved in plotting as a guest artist, but I’m sure some artists have been. It just depends on the situation. If it’s a one-shot fill in, I’d figure it’s more likely the artist could have more input. But if it’s an issue in the middle of a story-line, the plotting’s probably all figured out already… but… bearing in mind what I just said about Howard adding the dino-monster, I suppose there’s always room for a change here and there.

MG: You got the chance to meet Charles Schulz before. What was that like?

NF: Years ago I found out Charles Schulz lived nearby (in Santa Rosa ) and was a member of the local chapter of the National Cartoonist’s Society. As soon as I could, I joined the NCS and figured I’d be hanging out with “Sparky” all the time, but unfortunately I never saw him at any meetings. Eventually I became the local chapter chairman and one of my duties was to set up a judging panel for a category of the Reuben Awards.

Mark Cohen, an art dealer and friend of Sparky’s, knew I’d been trying to meet

him. He arranged it so we’d do our judging up at Sparky’s studio and we got to spend the entire afternoon with him. It was great. Since we were working on judging the submissions, it wasn’t as awkward as another meeting may have been and we got to have lunch and talk about all kinds of stuff without feeling rushed.

It wasn’t too much later, he passed away and I found myself sitting at his memorial service, realizing how lucky I was that I got to tell him how much his stuff had meant to me.

Since then, I’ve also been lucky enough to get to know his wife Jean a little bit. She’s very nice and always there to help the NCS by letting us use the Schulz museum for our events.

 

-- Interview by Sergio B.

Chris Giarrusso Interview (3/18)

Hey, today we have an exclusive interview with Chris Giarrusso, who did the Bullpen Bits comic strips in the Bullpen Bulletins page for Marvel back in the late 90's (you can read some of them in the Funnies page). He's also done G-Man for Image, short strips of which appeared as back-ups, but a one-shot was later published. Lately he's done Mini Marvel back-ups that appear in several different titles. Please check out Chris's website, where you can read the Mini Marvels, G-Man strips, and buy cool stuff at his store!

Marvel Gazette: Did you read comics as a kid?

Chris Giarrusso: Yeah, I read a lot of newspaper comic strips, and I read a lot of Marvel and DC superhero comics.

MG: How did you get the brilliant idea of doing a comic strip with the heroes as kids?

CG: At the time, I had been doing "What If" style comic strips for Marvel. I thought "What if the heroes were kids?" and realized I could stick with that concept for the long-haul. It's not a brilliant idea so much as it is a gimmick that's been applied to many established cartoons or comics in the past, but I'm glad if folks like what I'm doing.

MG: Which project did you do first, G-Man or Mini Marvels?                                                         

CG: Mini Marvels was published before G-Man, but G-Man was created long before that.

 MG: The look of your Mini Marvels and G-Man is pretty consistent. Has your style evolved, or was it always that fun, cartoony style?

CG: My style has always been that cartoony style, but it has evolved a bit since I started.

MG: When you started out, were you looking to draw regular comic books or has your goal always been short strips (for the most part)?

CG: I didn't think I had a chance to draw regular comic books in my cartoony style, so initially I focused on strips, but I did always want to do comic books.  I like both.

MG: What has influenced your art style? Or has it always been all your own?

CG: Mostly my brother Dave influenced the way I draw. I was always trying to draw like my big brother, and aping his style is what got me where I am now.  Of course, Charles Schulz was a big influence on both of us.



MG: When you did the Perpetual Bits as an ad, did Marvel approach you with the idea or did the companies specifically ask you to illustrate them?

CG: The folks at perpetualcomics.com specifically asked me to create the Perpetual Bits ad.

MG: G-Man often seems to be in the shadow of his older brother. Did you draw upon that from your own life?

CG: Yeah, pretty much.

MG: Do your Mini Marvels strips come out regularly or are you more of a free-lancer for Marvel?

CG: The Mini Marvels strip has been a pretty regular bi-monthly back-up feature in the Marvel Adventures books.  I also drew a 4-page back-up in each issue of the Spider-Man/Power Pack 4-issue mini series with writer Marc Sumerak, and there may be some other Mini Marvels stuff popping up here and there.

MG: Do you enjoy just illustrating your own strips, or do you prefer to write the stories and illustrate?

CG: It's usually easier to just illustrate something somebody else wrote, but I enjoy it more when I both write and draw.

 

-- Interview by Sergio B.