comic book artist #23
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DESCRIPTIONFrom Hellboy and back, we cover the magic of Mike Mignola with an exhaustive interview (with the talk ranging from his early Marvel days to current design work on the upcoming Hellboy movie), a huge gallery section (featuring lots of never-before-seen art), and a comprehensive checklist, all behind a new Mignola cover spotlighting his greatest creation, Hellboy! On the flip, Jill Thompson (our glamorous "cover girl" on CBA's first ever photo cover!) takes us from Sandman to Scary Godmother with a career-spanning conversation, plus tons of art and even a portfolio of the artist-as-model with studies of Jill by Alex Ross, Steve Rude, P. Craig Russell, and more! In addition, we visit versatile inker Tom Palmer in his studio and also have a talk with the legendary science-fiction author Harlan Ellison on his various forays into comics!
FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE: THE ART OF MIGNOLA
INSIDE: HARLAN ELLISON • JOSÉ DELBO
$6.95In The US
Hellboy™&©2002 Mike Mignola
NUMBER 23 CELEBRATING THE LIVES & WORK OF THE GREAT CARTOONISTS, WRITERS & EDITORS DECEMBER 2002
C O N T E N T S
T H E M A G I C O F M I K E M I G N O L A
THE FRONT PAGE: STERANKO, CHABON, AND BURDEN & BOSWELL’S “FLEMING CARROT”!Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon to meet the supreme “escapist” artist, Steranko! ......................1
KHOURY’S CORNER: LADRONN’S LOST ADVENTURE
Our Man George, CBA’s new assistant editor, takes a look at the missing Silver Surfer story ..............................6
RIDING SHOTGUN: TOM SUTTON AND “THE FADEAWAY WALK”Don McGregor, comics writer extraordinaire, debuts his new column with a look at the late horror artist ..........8
FRED HEMBECK’S DATELINE @!!?*Hembeck think him funny; put Hulk in strip to talk ’bout Harlan Ellison story. Hulk smash puny artist! ............9
TO HELLBOY AND BACK! THE MIKE MIGNOLA SPECIAL
MIKE MIGNOLA INTERVIEW: FOR THE LOVE OF MIKE! IT’S THE MAGIC OF MIGNOLA
In-depth, career-spanning interview with the creator of Hellboy and one of the world’s greatest cartoonists ....10
HELLBOUND: THE MIKE MIGNOLA PORTFOLIOFourteen pages of magnificent Mignola artwork, including unpublished and rarely-seen work ..........................35
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: THE MIKE MIGNOLA COMIC ART CATALOGBrian T. Rivers shares his exhaustive checklist on the work of the brilliant artist of Hellboy ..............................48
SPECIAL BONUS INTERVIEWSHARLAN ELLISON INTERVIEW: HELL-RAISIN’ HARLAN’S COMIC BOOK WORK
The award-winning author on his forays into the four-color world of funny books ............................................63
JOSÉ DELBO INTERVIEW: THE AUTHENTIC ARTISTRY OF JOSÉ DELBO
The ubiquitous artist on his illustrative career in comics, from Argentina to Gold Key to DC and beyond..........78COMIC BOOK ARTIST™ is published 10 times a year by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. 919-833-8092. Jon B. Cooke, Editor. John Morrow, Publisher. Editorial Office: P.O. Box 204, West Kingston, RI 02892-0204 USA • 401-783-1669 • Fax: 401-783-1287. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT the editorial office. Single issues: $9 postpaid ($11 Canada, $12 elsewhere). Six-issue subscriptions: $36 US, $66 Canada, $72 elsewhere. All characters © their respective owners. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © their respective authors. ©2002 Jon B.Cooke/TwoMorrows. Cover acknowledgement: Hellboy™ & ©2002 Mike Mignola. First Printing. PRINTED IN CANADA.
Editor/DesignerJON B. COOKE
PublisherTWOMORROWSJOHN & PAM MORROW
Assistant EditorGEORGE KHOURY
Associate EditorsCHRIS KNOWLESDAVID A. ROACHCHRISTOPHER IRVING
Contributing EditorsROY THOMASJOHN MORROW
Cover ArtMIKE MIGNOLA
Cover ColorDAVE STEWART
Below: Mike Mignola’s cover artfor Hellboy: Almost Colossus #2
(July 1997). Courtesy of the artist.©2002 Mike Mignola.
Conducted by Jon B. CookeTranscribed by Steven Tice
As Ye Ed notes in the following interview (which took place on April23, 2002), Mike Mignola appears to be—stylistically, of course—theungodly spawn of Jack Kirby and Alex Toth, swiping from neither yetappropriating the best both comic book masters have to offer. Mike’sheavy use of blacks, extraordinary page design, and superb sense ofpacing—the Toth approach, if you will—coupled with the sheerexhuberence and manic action found in the King’s work, might be anapt description of the Mignola magic. He is, simply, one of the finestcomic book artists—and writers—working today. But no sorcerybrought the creator such acclaim; as you will find, it took numerousyears of hard labor, combined with a solid, inborn work ethic andsensible practicality. The talk was conducted by phone and was copy
edited by Mike.
How do you pro-nounce yourname?MikeMignola: Min-
yo-la.CBA: Is that
Italian?Mike: Yes. Swiss-Italian.CBA: Where did yougrow up?
Mike: In Oakland, California.CBA: Did you get an interest in art at a young age?Mike: I drew as far back as I can remember, and it’s pretty much allI ever did. I just drew, and eventually I drew and read, but that was it.No sports, no learning to drive a car, nothing. I just drew. [laughter]CBA: Do you have any brothers and sisters?Mike: I have two younger brothers.CBA: What kind of neighborhood was it? In Oakland, you said?Mike: It was in the Oakland hills. It was very nice, middle class, residential-house kind of neighborhood, which all burned down in thebig Oakland fire.CBA: Did you get to San Francisco much?Mike: No. Everything I needed was in Berkeley, so I never had anyreason to go to San Francisco. In high school, I spent a lot of time inBerkeley once my brothers and I discovered used bookstores andcomic book stores. So our weekends were spent haunting old recordstores and bookstores.CBA: How did you get there? Did your parents drop you off? Bus?Mike: We went on the bus.CBA: Were your brothers like-minded?Mike: Yeah, we had a strange relationship with this kind ofstuff. I think it started with comics, where we collected everything
Marvel put out. I don’t remember how we started, but everythingMarvel did, one of us would collect. My youngest brother boughtDaredevil, Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up; the middle brother collect-ed all the monster stuff, Captain America and Iron Man. Then I had
the big stuff; you know, Fantastic Four, Thor. The bigger, cosmickind of stuff. And that’s how we did it. I remember that Marvelwould put out some new book and there would just be a dis-cussion among us, like, who was going to collect that? Did itrelate to this? Was it in some way related to Spider-Man?Was it a horror kind of thing? [laughter] So I saw every-thing Marvel did. We didn’t see anything of DC, thoughmy youngest brother did get the Atlas/Seaboard stuff…CBA: Because it looked like Marvel?Mike: I don’t know why, but that was as much branching
out as we did. We didn’t stray into DC at all.CBA: Was that you dictating that, or was it a democratic
agreement?Mike: I think there was a brief period when we were all really intoit, and our decision was all by mutual consent. Nobody was assigneda book they didn’t want. I don’t think it was more than two or threeyears of pretty intense comic book buying and reading. I rememberaround that time when we discovered our first comic book store.Somebody told us about this place in downtown Oakland, and weventured down there. It was a really intense period that went upthrough… I think I was a senior in high school when I stopped reading the stuff. I was still buying for a while, but… I rememberlooking in my drawer and there were the last five or six issues of TheAvengers, and I hadn’t read them. I thought, “I’m buying out of habitat this point.” I remember Jim Starlin’s Warlock, and I was still buyingcomics after he’d finished, but that was the last thing that really hadme that excited about comics. There was Paul Gulacy’s Master ofKung Fu and Jim’s Warlock. When that was over, I kind of went,“Enhhh, I think I’m done.”CBA: What year were you born?Mike: I was born in 1960.CBA: Do you recall when you first got into comics, and what theywere? How young were you?
Hellboy on Earth: TheFor the love of Mike, CBA talks to the ingenious artist-writer
10 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 December 2002
Left inset: The logo for the Bureaufor Paranormal Research andDefense, the investigative organization of which Hellboy is a member. ©2002 Mike Mignola.
Below: Mike Mignola, theartist/writer, poses for a rare pic.Courtesy of the artist.
Mike: I remember my cousin having comics. We’d visit him inModesto, and I remember specific issues of the Fantastic Four. Theissue with the cocoon on the cover [#67]. I loved that comic. Iremember he had The Doom Patrol. I remember all those old Talesto Astonish with the Hulk and Sub-Mariner, and thatstuff being around. And at the time, I don’t think Iread any of that stuff, but I looked at and wasfascinated by this really great, alien thing—“alien” as in fantastic, as in this wonder-ful world. I don’t know if I was reallyallowed to look at them. I remembergoing with my cousin to a drug store,where he was buying Sgt. Fury orsomething by Kirby—maybeFantastic Four—and I was told,“There’s Richie Rich. That’s yourstuff.” [laughter] I remember mycousin’s comics always looked moreinteresting. I don’t remember howthings really started except I know whenwe were on car trips, my dad would stop atsome place where my brothers and I couldbuy comics, and that might be how it started.Again, I don’t know exactly what year that was, but Iremember my brother picking up the first issue of [Amazing]Spider-Man that had the Punisher [#129], so whatever year that was. Around that time, it was car trip stuff. Occasionally, my broth-ers and I would be sent on a bus up to see my aunt, and I rememberdevouring an issue of Savage Tales, reading Barry Smith Conan sto-ries, there was a Gil Kane Robert E. Howard thing, and then articlesabout the old Conan books, and just being fascinated by that wholething. I remember Conan being a big hook when I first started seri-ously collecting comics.CBA: It’s almost traditional for comic book artists to have startedwith the familiar. That is, they usually start out with Mickey Mouse,then go on to Superman, and if they’re of a certain age, they look atthe Marvels as—there’s that word again—“alien,” as somethingthat’s strange. But you obviously were introduced to them right off.Mike: Yeah. I knew nothing about Batman and Superman and thatkind of stuff.CBA: At all?Mike: Well, I mean, I knew the TV shows. I remember at onepoint—and I have no idea why, but it must have been because of theartist—I picked up an issue of the Justice League, and immediately Iwas lost, because there was more than one Batman in it, and therewas reference to some Earth-Two thing, and I went, “Nahhh, this istoo complicated, I can’t figure this out!” But we knew the Marveluniverse, because between my brothers and I, we collected every-thing! It was familiar and made sense. The DC stuff was so bizarre tous.CBA: That’s the first time I’ve heard that, usually it’s the other wayaround. So you never got into DC at all?Mike: No. I remember, at the drugstore, seeing the Michael KalutaShadows. I remember seeing Bernie Wrightson’s Swamp Thing, andthinking, “That looks really cool, but they’re DCs.CBA: [laughter] They had the wrong emblem on them?Mike: Yeah.CBA: You clued into the art aspect of comics right off?Mike: Yeah, definitely. Again, from the early days, seeing the ones
my cousin was reading, it was the art that attracted me.CBA: And was it specifically Kirby that started it for you?Mike: I don’t remember whether it was the way he drew, or what
he was drawing. He was long gone from Marvel when I first start-ed really collecting Marvel, but they were publishing all
those Fantastic Four reprints [Marvel’s GreatestComics], so before we discovered comic book
stores, I was picking up those. And I lovedthat stuff. Again, it was the cosmic ele-ment of the Fantastic Four, and thingslike that.CBA: With your brother collectingthe b-&-w monster magazines or theMarvel/Atlas reprints?Mike: Tomb of Dracula, Werewolfby Night, and stuff like that.CBA: So you didn’t buy the Kirbynon-super-hero reprints?Mike: Somewhere along the way,
Marvel reprinted the Kirby monster stuff.I love those comics.
CBA: You know, a lot of people look atyour work and say it’s the ungodly spawn of Alex
Toth and Jack Kirby. Did you have the influence ofToth at a young age?
Mike: I have no idea when I ever saw Alex’s stuff, but I certainlynever bought it. And I don’t even know if I own a Toth comic now.CBA: [Incredulous] Really?Mike: I never consciously looked atToth’s work. I think it’s a case of wan-dering down a similar path. I wentthrough a lot of phases where therewere different guys I wanted tobe, and Alex was never one ofthem, because I really didn’tknow who he was. I’d proba-bly see something in theWarren magazines, things likethat, but I never said, “Wow! Thisis the guy! I’m into this, I want tolearn how to do this!” I neverlooked at him for that, because I wasunfamiliar with him. I remember want-ing to be Mike Ploog, and I wanted tobe Frank Frazetta in high school,and then, when A Look Back cameout about Wrightson, I copied thatbook from front to back. Idesperately wanted tobe BernieWrightson. ButToth, never.
Magic of Mike Mignolaon his comics career & current work in Hollywood movies
December 2002 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 11
CBA: You were about 16 years old when A Look Back came out.Mike: I was 17, maybe 18, because I was out of high school, goingto a junior college in Modesto, and we had no money. I was living ina crappy little apartment and my roommate and I usually pooled ourmoney to buy art supplies and some food, and that month we wentwithout food, and we bought A Look Back book together.CBA: So you still got nourishment. [laughter] My brother and Ishared a collection, too. I would buy The Demon, he would buyKamandi; he would buy Spider-Man and I would buy Fantastic Four.When it came time, did you guys have the inevitable fight aboutwho owned what in the collection, or did you all have your owncaches?Mike: Oh, it was completely segregated. We all had our separatecabinets where our comics were kept. There was a certain amount ofreading each other’s stuff, but even that seemed very segregated.CBA: So there wasn’t open access, so to speak?Mike: You know, there must have been, because I am real familiarwith what they had. But we never pooled anything. It wasn’t, like,“Oh, we’ll just buy the comics and share them.” Anybody who hasbrothers knows it doesn’t work like that. [laughter]CBA: Well, that was a wise decision. Were you competitive
and collaborative?Mike: I don’t know that it was really competitive. It reallyseemed to work real well because we didn’t step on eachother’s toes. We worked out whose was whose. Evenwhen we were getting outside of comics, just readingbooks, we did the same thing. My middle brother
was into high fantasy—Lord of the Rings, thatkind of stuff—and horror. My youngestbrother was into Edgar Rice Burroughs andsome science-fiction. And I was intoMichael Moorcock and Robert E. Howard,
those kinds of guys. Also, Doc Savage. Atthat point, we really weren’t reading what the
other guy was reading. We kind of shared thatMarvel universe, but when we got into litera-ture, we all got going in our different directions.It was very weird. But, the nice thing about it is,we were exposed to a lot of stuff we didn’tactually read, so it worked out well.CBA: Were you drawing comics as a kid?Mike: Never. I always wanted to draw mon-sters. I did go through a super-hero phase, whenI was real young, wanting to draw that stuff, butI never really thought about drawing comics. Ijust wanted to draw monsters, especially when Igot into Robert E. Howard and MichaelMoorcock, that kind of fantasy stuff. The idea ofactually drawing comics wasn’t really in the fore-front of my mind. It wasn’t until I was in artschool when I started thinking about, “Well,okay, you want to draw monsters? Where the hellare you going to get a job drawing monsters?”Then it became, “Comics is where I would have togo.” By that time, I had stopped reading comics.I’d gotten some distance from them. So, by the timeI started looking at comics as a profession, it was likegoing back to something that had become a little bitmore alien. I didn’t think I could draw comics, drawwell enough, and to a certain extent, I was lazy. I’dnever tried drawing comic pages, and rather thanlearn, I just said, “Oh, I can’t do that, so I’ll be aninker.” Because I was doing illustration-type work, andI thought maybe, somewhere down the line, I can par-lay that into doing covers. By then, The Studio bookhad come out, and I was looking at Kaluta,Wrightson and those kind of guys, who had donecomics and then spring-boarded off into portfolios. Ithought, “Ahh, now, that sounds good.” I liked theidea of doing posters, portfolios, stuff like that. Andif I could just weasel my way into the comics busi-ness, and if I’m around long enough, maybe I can
veer off in these other directions.CBA: Were you exposed to H.P. Lovecraft when you were readingthe Robert E. Howard Weird Tales stuff?Mike: It was probably in reading articles about the old pulps when Idiscovered Lovecraft. I picked up some of the paperbacks somewherebetween high school and art school, when we were spending a lot oftime in Berkeley searching the used bookstores. That’s when I reallystarted buying up Lovecraft and the other pulp writers.CBA: Was the progression first Robert E. Howard, then Lin Carter,then H.P.L.?Mike: I don’t know that I was ever into Lin Carter, but the Howardstuff was my entrance into the whole Weird Tales/pulp magazinereprint stuff.CBA: Specifically Conan?Mike: Yeah, Conan was where it started because I had the comicbook connection. And, actually, that’s how I got into MichaelMoorcock, because there was those couple of issues of Conan wherehe met Elric [#14 & 15]. I remember thinking, “That’s pretty cool,”and then DAW Books was putting out the Elric paperbacks aroundthat time, and I grabbed those up, and that’s where I started my hugeMoorcock obsession that went through high school, and the Howardstuff led me into the other Weird Tales stuff.CBA: When I was about 16, I went through a big Moorcock obses-sion. As I look back at it, the appeal seems to be that not only wasthe material sophisticated but Moorcock also had this intense, enor-mous continuity, especially through the Eternal Champion incarna-tions. Was that an appeal for you?Mike: Yeah, that and the doomed hero. There are a lot of elementsin Hellboy where people say, “What about this? What about that?”And I say, “That’s because I read a lot of Michael Moorcock in highschool.” [laughter] There were so many things about the Moorcockstuff that were appealing. It was very exotic from a picture-makingstandpoint, there was just so much fantastic imagery.CBA: Did you appreciate that Behold the Man and Alien Heat weresophisticated, more adult than Howard’s work?Mike: Yeah, I remember that whole Dancers at the End of Timecycle of books, and of all the Moorcock material, those I do plan togo back and reread. That stuff I just loved. There’s bits of thatimagery still in the forefront of my brain, that I’m dealing with in myown work, or plan to deal with. It made a big impression.CBA: Starting with a pulp sensibility and then moving into moremature realms?Mike: Right. It’s taking the simplistic barbarian material—and again,the Howard stuff was very well done—and going to places I wouldn’tsay are more mature, but more sophisticated. The Lovecraft mythos iscertainly a much more complicated world than, say, Conan’s world.And while I was never an obsessive Lovecraft fan, there was imageryand a universe in the Lovecraft stuff that really appealed to me. Thesame with the Moorcock stuff.CBA: As purple as Lovecraft’s prose is, some of the imagery is sim-ply awesome, such as in “Call of Cthulhu,” with this huge, squid-headed creature, sitting on this giant throne. It’s just… astonishing.Mike: Yeah, what you got in Lovecraft, and actually with a lot ofthe fantasy guys, is this amazing glimpse of this world, this universe,that is so much bigger and so much more horrifying, you can’tdescribe it. With Conan, you walk into a room and there’s a guy withan elephant head. And you go, “Oh, that’s pretty cool.” But theLovecraft stuff, it’s a glimpse of this gigantic other thing, this otherworld, at which point then Lovecraft would immediately back offfrom. “Oh, if I described it, my readers would go insane.”CBA: Right. [laughter] “The indescribable horror.”Mike: That was very appealing to me, that… “What the hell isthat?”CBA: The nameless terror beyond time.Mike: Yeah, that kind of stuff, the thing crouching at the thresholdof our world. That was very appealing to me. And, obviously, I pickedup on that stuff in Hellboy.CBA: Obviously, you’re an art student who wanted to draw mon-sters. What kind of monsters?Mike: Around this same time, and I don’t know exactly where itcame from, but I developed this real interest in folklore, and I remem-ber reading lots and lots of books of lots and lots of different folklore
12 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 December 2002
Below: Mike Mignola’s rejectedfirst attempt at the cover for
Batman Black and White, VolumeTwo. (2002). Courtesy of the artist.
Art ©2002 Mike Mignola. Batman ©2002 DC Comics.
from all over the world, and saying, “Ooh, I’d like to draw that guy.Ooh, I’d like to draw this guy.” You know, this Tibetan blah-blah,whatever it was… any of those kinds creatures where you had thehead of one thing and body of something else. I just loved that kindof stuff. So there was this mental list of all these characters I wantedto draw one of these days. And, again, that’s where Hellboy camefrom. That’s why you have characters like Baba Yaga showing up,because from the moment I heard about this Russianwitch that flew around in a mortar and pestle, I said,“Wow! That’s good! I want to draw things like that.”CBA: So the more esoteric, the better?Mike: I don’t know if “esoteric” is theright word, but certainly the more unusual....Well, I loved Dracula, it wasn’t just that I wantedto draw the Universal Monsters; I wanted to readabout stuff I’d never heard of before.CBA: Were your brothers creative? Did theydraw?Mike: They drew a little, but they became writers. Iwould be the artist.CBA: You were frequenting Berkeley, which had the Berkeley Conin the Bay area, with San Francisco just next door. That city isrenowned as the birthplace of underground comix. Were youexposed to that alternative kind of material?Mike: I was aware of its existence, but it didn’t appeal to me at thetime. I was still a kid who was reading super-hero comics, so myinterest into conventions was what I was reading at the height of myMarvel period. So the underground stuff didn’t appeal to me. Iremember Star*Reach was a big deal. I was probably a senior in highschool when that happened, and I was really into that stuff. Butthat’s as close as I ever got to underground comix.CBA: Did you stay away from provocative material? It wasn’t nec-essarily appealing to you? As a kid, you could learn a lot (not that itwas all good) from the undergrounds and it could blow your mind.Mike: Yeah, and it has since, but it just never really appealed to methen.CBA: Did you have a very ordered sense of your universe at thetime? Was it very calculated that you would pursue this or that, orwere you very liberal, just grabbing stuff left and right, writing andart and illustration….Mike: I was all over the map. I went through this thing where Iwanted to be Frazetta. The great thing about it being the ’70s—and especially being in a place like Berkeley, having all theaccess to all the bookstores and things—there was so muchfantasy artwork coming out around that period. The BrianFroud/Alan Lee Faeries book came out, there was a lot ofreprints of old fantasy illustration, so I was eating thatstuff up. I wanted to be Arthur Rackham, I wanted tobe Brian Froud, I wanted to be Frank Frazetta. I wasexposed to a lot. So, in a way, much of that period wasjust trying to assimilate all these different things. I wasstruggling to find out who I wanted to be as an artist. Do Iwant to be this guy or do I want to be that guy? I think I set-tled on a combination of a lot of different guys.CBA: Star*Reach publisher Mike Friedrich was in Berkeley. Didyou seek him out?Mike: Not until much, much later, when I actually ended updoing some of the Michael Moorcock comics. I’m sure Imet him once I started working as a professional, butas a fan, I didn’t know him.CBA: When you got to art school, did you justignore comics?Mike: It was probably around my senior year ofhigh school when I lost interest in comics.CBA: What year did you graduate?Mike: I graduated high school in ’78.CBA: That was a pretty dry time forcomics anyway, right?Mike: I don’t remember specifics realwell, but I remember that real interest inStarlin’s Warlock. I don’t know that therewas anything that grabbed me like that
December 2002 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 13
Left: To give you an idea ofMignola’s technique, here’s ahalftone reproduction of Mike’scover art for this issue. Courtesy ofthe artist. ©2002 Mike Mignola.
that much better, or at least it’s got to be as good as thelast one.” So there’s an element of… I can’t just beltthis out, it’s got to be great, as good as I can make it.So, yeah, there’s certainly a lot of pressure, which isslowing me down a bit.CBA: What is the genesis of Hellboy?Mike: I did this issue of Batman: Legends of the DarkKnight for Archie Goodwin. Somebody said, “Youshould do one of these, you should write it yourself.” Isaid, “Ennhh, I’m not a writer, I can’t come up with astory, blah blah blah.” Well, I did come up with anidea, and pitched it to Archie, and he liked it. A friendof mine, who happens to be an editor, scripted it, and Iwas really happy with the result. It was a ghost storythat had Batman in it. I thought, “Well, I wouldn’t minddoing more stories like that. Do I come up with morestories like that and shoehorn Batman or Wolverine orsomebody like that into them, or do I create a characterspecifically to be in these kind of stories?” At that sametime, Image was going, I was in San Francisco, ArtAdams and I were talking about doing something likethis. So I said, “Okay, I’ll do something like this.” I hadcome up with this name “Hellboy” for some little char-acter I drew for a convention book. The name wasfunny. I liked drawing these kind of monster guys. Isaid, “Well, this is what I’ll do.” That was it. Again, itwas a case of really good, lucky timing that there werepeople who would actually do creator-owned stuff inthose days, you could keep the rights and that kind ofstuff. A bunch of us all started talking. Art Adams and Iwere going to do this thing. Image was discussed. Well,we were more comfortable with Dark Horse. FrankMiller was at Dark Horse. Somehow I met Frank. Imean, Arthur was the famous guy, so he knew more ofthese guys than I did. But this thing kind of happenedwhere a bunch of guys started talking, we were allgoing to do the same thing, and we went into DarkHorse en masse and said, “Do you want all our stuff?We want to do all these creator-owned books, and wewant to do them for you, and you can lump us underthis title.” And Dark Horse said, “Yeah, okay.” And Ihave to say, of all that group of guys—you had GeofDarrow, Dave Gibbons, Frank, John Byrne, Art Adams—all guys with track records except me. I really felt like,“I’m sneaking in among these guys.” I benefited fromthe whole Legend thing more than anybody else,because all these guys had solid reputations, big thingsthey were synonymous with, and I was just MikeMignola, artist of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, who didthat one Batman… I didn’t have that one signaturething that so many of the other guys had. So I was veryfortunate that Dark Horse didn’t ask what I was going to do. Well,they did say, “What are you gonna do?” I said, “Hellboy.” They said,“Fine.” It was very easy.CBA: Were you pragmatic about this? Did you look at Image andsee this incredible success that was going on, these guys suddenlybecoming millionaires in the direct market? Was that an influence?Mike: No. I was aware of that, and thought it would be nice. But Iknew it couldn’t happen to me. I mean, there was some discussion ofdoing a book at Image. I had heard through channels that they wouldhave published something I did, and do remember briefly trying tocome up with something really commercial to do. But I knew damnwell if I came up with something really commercial, nobody wouldbuy it, and I would have spent a year or whatever drawing somethingthat wasn’t really what I wanted to do, and the whole reason fordoing it, the money, would end up not materializing. Dave Gibbonsand I did an Aliens book, when we said, “Let’s just whore it up andmake some money.” Well, what ended up happening was that wedid this Aliens book—which I’m very proud of, I think we did a greatjob—but it never made a dime. So I had learned the lesson: Do notdo something just for the money. I thought, instead of trying to makeit something commercial, which I don’t really want to do, I will draw
the book I want to draw. I will probably only get a chance to do itonce, probably no one will buy it. But I’ll do it once, so that, at theend, when I’m laying on my deathbed, I can say, “At least I did itonce.” There’s always this deathbed thing with me. [laughter]CBA: See! The fatalism. [laughter]Mike: Yeah, there is a certainelement of that....CBA: But it’s being optimisticwithin the fatalism. [laughs]Mike: Yeah, it’s a magic com-bination. So that’s how it hap-pened. I didn’t set out to writeit. I thought, “I’ve got the kindof story I want to do.” That’swhy I went to John Byrne,because I had this sense thatJohn wouldn’t try to make it hisbook. We had a good workingrelationship in the past on a cou-ple of different things, and Ithought, “Well, this might work
December 2002 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 25
Above: MM cover art for Batman/Hellboy/Starman #1, written byJames Robinson. Hellboy ©2002Mike Mignola. Batman, Starman©2002 DC Comics.
Mike: Oh, yeah. It takes forever.CBA: It’s actually easier to over-render or overwrite.Mike: Yeah, if you’re only using a few lines, they’ve got to be inthe right place. I remember one particular artist coming to me onceand saying, “I’ve really been looking at your work because I’ve got todo my book really fast.” [laughter] I remember thinking, “Man, if youfigure out how to do what I do fast, please tell me, because I’d loveto know!” I spend nine-tenths of my time erasing.
CBA: In anutshell, canyou tell us,
who is Hellboy?Mike: Do you
mean is he myfather, or… [laughter]
…as a character?CBA: No, I just meant asa character.Mike: He started out tobe just an occult detectivewho happened to be,apparently, from Hell. Andit turned out as the thingwent on that he apparently
is the Beast of the Apocalypse, whojust happens to be a working stiff, an occult detective. It’s all verystrange, I never expected this thing to happen. This whole storysnowballed. This just started out to be a fun character to draw, he’dhave no past beyond a couple of pages at the beginning of the firstmini-series. Then, as happens sometimes when you’re writing stuff,characters start saying things, and you say, “Oh, I kind of like that, letme play up this and play up that,” and next thing you know, you’ve
got this snowball rolling downhill, picking up snow. And going, “It’snot supposed to be this, it’s not supposed to have all this baggage!It’s supposed to be just some goofy, red guy who fights monsters.”So now what I’m trying to do is stop the snowball from rolling andget rid of the snow. I’ve got to undo everything I’ve done in the firsteight years of doing this comic. “Okay, you’ve turned him into theBeast of the Apocalypse, you did this, you did that, now we want toget him out of that. Solve that problem or find a way to live with thatproblem.” That’s part of why I did this thing recently where Hellboyleaves the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense, it’s just partof this baggage that’s become attached to this character. I just want-ed to draw this guy… let him leave some of that behind, then let medeal with this Beast of the Apocalypse problem, and then hopefullyget him back to something manageable.CBA: Make him yours again?Mike: Yeah, ’cause he became this other thing that he wasnever intended to be. It was interesting. Again, it’s from read-ing Michael Moorcock in high school. Oh, it’s not enoughthat he’s just a guy… he’s gotta be the guy who’s responsiblefor the end of the world, blah blah blah.... Oh, crap!CBA: So he was just a cool character to draw in thebeginning, with the hand and the sawed-off horns?Mike: Yeah, it was just something that was fun to do.And then, as you spend all your time working on thisthing, you say, “Hey, you know what that hand is?” Andthe hand is this, and it’s that, and these stories grow.And it’s all really cool and it’s a lot of fun, and then yougo, “Oh, sh*t. I just made up 20 years worth of work.”I don’t want to work on the same story for 20 years! Imean, in an average shower, I can plot a year’s worthof story ideas.... [laughter] You know, it really doesn’ttake that long.
December 2002 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 27
Above: Pencil and inked page fromHellboy’s latest mini-series, thetwo-issue arc, The Third Wish(2002). Courtesy of the artist.Center inset: Kevin Nowlan (to be cover featured in CBA #25)designed the logo for Mike. Below:While Ye Ed was tracking downthis never-reprinted Mignola page,introducing readers to Hellboy in apromo mag called CelebrateDiversity, Mike asked us not to useit in toto as it will be appearingfullsize in a forthcoming Mignolaart book from Dark Horse.
©2002 Mike Mignola.
little work on the ruins of CastleDracula, because Francis wasn’thappy with the model. Therewere things that weren’t quiteright, so I was brought inbecause I lived around the cornerfrom Zoetrope. I came in to dosome studies of that castle andgo back to the model-makers justso Coppola could hand themsomething that said, “Make itmore like this.” So that was asimple kind of a job, but it wasinteresting. “Change this.” “No,
it would be too expensive tochange the model thatmuch.” So it was theseweird, fine-tuning kinds of
adjustments.CBA: You did pro-
Mike: No,That’s a huge job. I just
did little stuff. I did somedesign work. There was a
castle you see for like a mil-lisecond in a flashback.Somehow, there was a daywhere somebody some-where would fax me their
version of that castle, then Iwould do my version, and it just went back
and forth between us by fax. And, between the two of us, wedesigned that castle. Then, after that rough cut I saw with GeorgeLucas, there were conversations that evening about adding this sceneor adding that scene, and I sort of story-boarded those scenes.CBA: Obviously, you didn’t work at all with Steranko on his story-boarding?Mike: Nah, Jim was the early concept guy on that.CBA: Did you see that stuff?Mike: No, but I heard about it. It sounded pretty darned weird.[laughter]CBA: What did you think of the movie as it came out?Mike: I thought it was interesting. Again, of all the things I haveworked on, I find it impossible to really have an opinion, becauseeven on Dracula, where I was involved so little, I saw stuff that was-n’t on the screen. I saw scenes that were cut and I read the script, so Ihad preconceived notions of what certain things were going to be. Alot of times, I look at it and go, “Oh, it would’ve been better if theyhad done this, or it would have been better if they had used thatscene,” or “Why did they cut that scene?” CBA: You’re a bit too intimate.Mike: Yes.CBA: And how did Disney hear about you? Was Atlantis your nextfilm project?Mike: I did a little work on the Batman TV animated series.CBA: What, with [producer/designer] Bruce Timm?Mike: Yeah, but just in the first season. And then out of the blue, Igot this call from the Disney producer on Atlantis. I got the impres-sion that one of the directors was a big Hellboy fan.CBA: You never specifically found out?Mike: Well, I would hear, “Oh, we’re all big Mignola fans here.”Weeeelll… I don’t know if that’s true. I know that one director, possi-bly both of them, were big fans of Hellboy. So they wanted to do thisfilm, they had already come up with the idea of applying my style tothat film. So when I actually, physically went up to Disney, they had
already started to work along in this direction of applying my style,whatever the hell that is.CBA: They appropriated your style even before hiring you?Mike: Yes. When I got there, the characters were already designed.You’d look at one drawing that was the Disney version of these char-acters, and then the next one would be them translated into theMignola version.CBA: Did they capture you style?Mike: Pretty much. They went through work I’d done in the past,and tried to make some sense out of what I do. And me, I don’t evenknow what the hell I do. [laughter] There were Dracula pages andHellboy pages with diagrams all over them explaining how to dowhat I do and I didn’t even understand what they were talking aboutmost of the time. “Oh, that’s why I do that? Oh, that makes mesound like a genius.” [laughter] So that was very weird. That’s rightup there with the most surreal things, walking into Disney and seeingHellboy art on the walls. It was fun. Mostly I just sat back and said,“Yeah, that would be cool.” I didn’t do that much drawing onAtlantis. Mostly, I was there in a consulting capacity.CBA: What specifically was your title on that film?Mike: I was credited as one of the production designers.CBA: And how long ago was that?Mike: Five years ago?CBA: It takes a long time to make an animated film!Mike: Yeah, because when I was up there it was really early in thepreproduction phase.CBA: Did you have any input on the story?Mike: I did. I don’t know that they brought me in for that, but theysat me down, gave me the script. And at the next meeting, I said,“What about this, and what about that, and, hey, what if you hadthese…” We were talking about these ruins. “What if, at the climaxof this movie, these ruins turn out to be actually Atlantean flyingthings?” That was probably one of my biggest contributions, the idea
32 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 December 2002
Above: Mike’s back cover art for Dave Cooper’s Weasel #4.
Courtesy of the artist. ©2002 Mike Mignola.
Inset right:Mike Mignola tells usthis is a rare drawing done just forfun, though eventually used as the
cover for a rare book catalog.Courtesy of the artist. ©2002 Mike Mignola.
Above: Cover art to the first Hellboy comic book, Hellboy: Seed ofDestruction #1. Courtesy of the artist. Inset right: Self-portrait of Mike done for aWitchblade trading card. ©2002 Mike Mignola.
This page: 2002 Mignola commission drawing featuring the cast of The Avengers #1. Courtesy of the artist. Art ©2002 Mike Mignola. The Avengers, Loki ©2002 Marvel Characters, Inc.
48 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 December 2002
Researched and written by Brian T. Rivers
This incredible checklist of the art of Mike Mignola is the work of Brian T. Rivers, a meticulous and informedresearcher (and obvious lover of comics), who came tomy attention when Ye Ed met the gentleman at this year’sInternational Comic-Con: San Diego. What must be themost comprehensive listing of Mignola’s incredible bodyof work is only one of many compiled by Mr. Rivers, andCBA is proud to welcome Brian onboard as our OfficialCataloger/Checklist Dude, whose listings will be regularlyfeatured in this magazine. Ye Ed has slightly modifiedBTR’s original list (eliminating the complete names ofpublishers, for instance—simply listing “Marvel,” ratherthan “Marvel Comics, Inc.”—as well as deleting themonth’s names in favor of numerical designations (e.g.,March 1990 becomes 3/90), along with some otherminor alterations). Our thanks to Brian for sharing hisincredible work. Catalog ©2002 Brian T. Rivers.—Ye Ed.]
Abbreviation Key: MM: Mike Mignola*/*: Names separated by slash conotes penciler/inker respectivelyArtist: Usually denotes a painted illustrationibc: Inside back coverifc: Inside front coverpg.: Pagepp.: Printed pagesR: Reprintsre: In regards to
COMICSABE SAPIEN: DRUMS OF THE DEAD (Dark Horse)
(3/98) Book design: MM & Cary Grazzini; Story: Hellboy - ”Heads” Writer, pencils & inks: MM. 10 pp.; front & back covers: MM
ACTION COMICS (…WEEKLY #614) (DC)600 (5/88) Story: “The Dark Where Madness Lies”
Writer: John Byrne. Pencils & inks: MM. 8 pp.614 (8/23/88) Cover: MM/Ty Templeton (Green Lantern)ACTION COMICS ANNUAL (DC)2 (1989) Story: “Memories of Krypton’s Past”
Writer: George Pérez. Pencils: MM. Inks: George Pérez. 19 pp. (pp. 5, 6, 10, 11 (except panel two—color effect),17, 18, 24, 25, 27 (except panel three—color effect), 28(right-side panel), 31 (panel 8), 32, 33 (except panel 7), 37,38, 42, 43, 46 (middle tier), 48 (left-side panel)); Article:“How I Spent My Super-Summer Vacation” Writer: GeorgePérez. Two character sketches (The Cleric & Cellkeeper385): MM
6 (1994) Cover: MMTHE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN ANNUAL (DC)6 (1994) Cover: MMTHE ADVENTURES OF THE THING (Marvel)3 (6/92) Cover: Joe Quesada/MM ALIENS: SALVATION (Dark Horse)
(11/93) Writer: Dave Gibbons. Pencils: MM. Inks: Kevin Nowlan. 48 pp. (including title pg.); cover: MM
ALIENS: SALVATION AND SACRIFICE (Dark Horse)(3/01) (trade paperback) Front cover: MM; R: Aliens: Salvation
ALIENS VS. PREDATOR (Dark Horse)0 (7/90) Inside back cover (alternate cover): MM;
cover: MMALIEN WORLDS (Pacific)6 (2/84) Story: “Pride of the Fleet” Writer: Bruce Jones.
Pencils: Frank Brunner. Inks: MM. 19 pp.
ALPHA FLIGHT (Marvel)29 (12/85) Story: “Cut Bait & Run!” Writer: Bill Mantlo.
Pencils: MM. Inks: Gerry Talaoc. 22 pp.; cover: MM/Bob Wiacek
30 (1/86) Story: “Enter… Scramble!” Writer: Bill Mantlo.Pencils: MM. Inks: Gerry Talaoc. 23 pp.; cover: MM
31 (2/86) Story: “The Grateful Dead!” Writer: Bill Mantlo.Pencils: MM. Inks: Gerry Talaoc. 22 pp.; cover: MM
32 (3/86) Cover (including masthead illo of Vindicator): MM33 (4/86) Cover (including masthead illo of Aurora): MM34 (5/86) Cover (including masthead illo of Puck): MM35 (6/86) Cover (masthead illustration of Box only): MM36 (7/86) Cover: MM/Al Milgrom39 (10/86) Cover: MM/P. Craig Russell47 (6/87) Story: “You Can’t Tell the Forest from the Trees!”
Writer: Bill Mantlo. Pencils: Craig Brasfield, MM & Steve Purcell. Inks: Whilce Portacio & Terry Austin. 23 pp. (total # of story pp.; exact # of MM pp. unknown)
51 (10/87) Cover (masthead illo of Sasquatch only): MM52 (11/87) Cover (masthead illo of Box (new costume) only):
MM57 (4/88) Cover (masthead illo of Purple Girl only): MMAMAZING HIGH ADVENTURE (Marvel)2 (9/85) One-pg. pin-up: The American Civil War (pencils &
inks: MM)3 (10/86) Story: “Monkey See, Monkey Die!” Writer: Steve
Englehart. Pencils & inks: MM. 12 pp.THE AMAZING SCREW-ON HEAD (Dark Horse)1 (5/02) Writer, pencils & inks: MM. 31 pp.; Inside front,
front & back covers: MMTHE AMERICAN: LOST IN AMERICA (Dark Horse)3 (9/92) Cover: MMANGEL (Dark Horse)12 (10/00) Cover: MMANGEL: AUTUMNAL (Dark Horse)nn (12/01) (trade paperback) R: Cover of Angel #12 as one-
pg. pin-up (sans type)
Mike Mignola Comic Art CatalogBrian T. River’s exhaustive listing of just about all of the artist’s work
Devil in the Details
Conducted by Jon B. CookeTranscribed by Steven Tice
Harlan Ellison is one of the most celebrated—and award-winning—authors in contemporary literature, as well as in television andmotion pictures (not to mention TV criticism, asThe Glass Teat and The Other Glass Teat essaysremain Ye Ed’s favorite non-fiction works byHarlan); and he has been a vocal and enthusi-astic advocate for comics as entertainment,and as an art-form, since the 1950s. Whilestill in his teens, the writer had his firstcomic book story published by the legendaryEC Comics, in Weird Science-Fantasy. Heloyally continues to make occasional happyforays in the field, having, over the last 30years, scripted issues of The IncredibleHulk, Daredevil, Twilight Zone, TheAvengers and Batman, as well as havingoriginated and co-edited a series ofcomics anthologies based on his ownwork, Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor,published by Dark Horse. Harlan hasalso scribed articles on particularfavorite comics (in All in Color For aDime and Playboy, for instance), aswell as having contributed innumerableintroductions to many comic book collections (TheRocketeer, Anthology of Slow Death, Fish Police, etc.). He countsmany professionals in the field as long-time friends. Currently, thewriter is developing scripts for Doctor Fate and Tom Strong, and hecontinues to have passionate opinions regarding the contemporarycomics scene. The author was interviewed via telephone on Sept. 24,2002, and he approved the final transcript. Thanks to Chris Day andSusan Ellison for their assistance.
Comic Book Artist: Did you collect comics as a child?Harlan Ellison: Yes, I did. The first comic I ever got was World’sFair Comics from 1939. (I couldn’t have bought it, as I was only fiveyears old, so it must have been given to me.) I was staying in NorthCarolina at the time, though I’m from Ohio. My parents had to havetime-off from me at least two or three times a year (otherwise theywould have gone completely up the chimney), so they fired me off toa relative in Shelby, North Carolina (which is where, in later years, Ifound myself driving a dynamite truck… but that was when I was14). I remember that comic very clearly. There were sugar cane fieldsin Shelby, and there were black men (whom I had never seen in Ohio)cutting the cane with huge machetes. I was fascinated, and used tohang out with them. I liked them a lot. I thought they were just terrif-ic guys. They were always saying something interesting, and weresinging and they looked magical to me. One of the gentlemen askedif I had ever sucked on a sugar cane stalk, and I said no, I hadn’t. Sohe cut me one, and it was just wonderful. I was just sucking on thesugar cane, and remember very distinctly taking my comic, lyingdown in the tall grass, making a big angel—you know how you flat-ten the grass by moving your arms up and down like wings—well,there I was lying in the middle of the field, like something out of aKurosawa film, reading the 1939 World’s Fair Comics while drippingthe ambrosia of a sugar cane onto my face. That was my first memo-
ry of comics. Can’t do much better than that; no wonder it’s been alifelong love affair.CBA: Did you get into comics from then on?Harlan: Oh, absolutely. I’ve still got most of my comics in my col-lection from when I was a kid. And also, I’ve told this story a number
of times: it’s what brought Mart Nodell back into the fold. When Iwas a kid, as I said, every summer myparents would have to farm me outsomewhere just so they could recoverfrom the other eight months of existencewith me. My parents loved me, but I wasa handful. I was my generation’s BartSimpson. We lived in Ohio, thirty milesnortheast of Cleveland in a little towncalled Painesville, and my parents somehowgot conned into believing that this placecalled Bellevue was a summer camp; but itwas actually a big stone orphanage on theoutskirts of Cleveland where, in the summer-time, they sent the orphans off to “real”camp, and Bellevue was empty. So they hadto bring in kids to keep it going untilSeptember, I guess, or the end of summervacation. Here I was in this gulag, and Iremember very distinctly, it’s almost like some-thing out of Little Andy Rooney or LittleOrphan Annie, where I actually had to washdown stone steps with lye soap and ahorsehair brush. I swear, when I
tell people this, they say, “You’re making it up!”And I say, “Nooo, that’s exactly what hap-pened!”CBA: “It’s a hard-knock life… forus!” [laughs]Harlan: That’s exactly what itwas! It was a hard-knock life,and yet we were supposed tobe Summer campers! I mean, Ihad an older sister, a motherand a father and a home, buthere I was in… how shall Iput it delicately… It wasPerdition! And I wanted out.I was forever going over thewall. Literally, over the wall. LikeBurt Lancaster in Brute Force. Theyhad this huge stone wall, and I wouldscale it, one way or the other. I wouldget branches that had fallen and pick outthe ones that were hook-like, and I wouldtoss them up, they would stick to the toplike a claw, and I would crawl up. Of course,I was a very small kid. I was very, very, verysmall all my life, so every time I would runaway, they would catch me.
But one day, it was raining, I went out wheneverybody else was inside, and somehow I got over. Ithink I took a bunch of dirty towels I was supposedto be trundling in a tumbrel, a smaller version of
Hell-Raisin’ Harlan EllisonAn interview with the award-winning author on his comics work
Inset left: Harlan Ellison’s firstpublished work was a letter in Real Fact Comics #6 (Jan.-Feb.1947), when the author was ayoung teen. ©2002 DC Comics.
Below: Neal Adams contributedportraits of Frank Frazetta, himselfand Harlan Ellison (the latter seenhere) for the text piece “The StoryBehind the Story of Rock God,” inCreepy #32 (April 1970). ©2002the respective copyright holder.
December 2002 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 63
what they usedin the FrenchRevolution, and Itied them together
and got them soak-ing wet, so they hadadhering ability, and Ithrew the “towel-rope” over the walland it stuck. I managedto pull myself up, “rap-pelled” up the towelsand got the hell out; and
I ran like a sonovabitch. Iran and ran and ran. Now, you’ve got tounderstand. I am not in the middle ofTanzania or the Congo. I’m in the mid-
dle of Cleveland somewhere. But in1939—’40, there was a lot of
undeveloped land aroundthere. It was a differentcountry then. I walkedand walked andwalked. I walked fora whole day, and therain went away, andthen the sun driedmy clothes. I walked
and walked and walked.I ate berries, there were
wild berries everywhere. I was onthe street. I wasn’t in the woods, I was on the street. Then, as I
was walking, I came to a stretch of sidewalk beside a heavily woodedarea… and I saw it. It was lying on the sidewalk face-up: a copy ofeither All-American Comics or Green Lantern. It had obviously beendropped by someone fairly recently because it wasn’t damaged in anyway. It was in perfect, mint condition (it’d probably be worth $30,000today). By that time, I loved comics, and I had lots and lots of comics,so I picked it up, and read it while I walked. I read that comic maybefifty times during that long wander. I was walking for two days untilsomebody in a car stopped and picked me up and took me to mygrandmother’s house, which was in Cleveland Heights. That was mysecond really big memory of comics. Love affair!
I also read Supersnipe, All-StarComics, and Plastic Man. Those were allmy comics… Airboy… the comics that Iread. And that Green Lantern I found hadbeen drawn by Mart Nodell. So when Iwas the keynote speaker at the DiamondRetailer’s Convention a few years back, Itold that story, and Mart Nodellhappened to
be in the audience, and he was very touched by it. A couple of yearslater, I commissioned Randy Bowen, a very good friend of mine and amagnificent sculptor—this was a long time before anybody startedwith the busts and the statues of Golden Age figures—to make me aheroic Golden-Age Alan Scott Green Lantern statue, holding hislantern out in front of him. Only three copies were made. One ofthem was for Randy, one for me, and the third for Mart Nodell. Noneof the figures done since… by anybody… approaches by one one-millionth the absolute splendor and individuality of those three pieces.CBA: You were pretty eclectic in your comics reading, right? Youalso read the funny animal comic, Jingle Jangle?Harlan: Oh, yeah. From very early on, I fell in love with GeorgeCarlson’s work, little realizing that Carlson was one of the greatAmerican artists (who is sadly overlooked now). But I loved “JingleJangle Tales,” and loved “The Pie-faced Prince of Pretzelburg,” whichwere the two features Carlson did for Jingle Jangle. I also collectedGeorge Pal’s Puppetoons. I also collected Funny Animals, because ithad Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny in it. I was not big on crime comics,but I did collect Crime Does Not Pay, because I liked Charles Biro’sart. But then, since I had already been collecting Daredevil and theLittle Wiseguys, that was just sort of a natural stopover. The Spirit Iadored because I saw them in the original newspaper sections. Onesummer, my mother, sister and I went to Cedar Point, to the BreakersHotel. I remember just as clearly as I could. The Breakers Hotel wasone of the old-fashioned kind of resort hotels, like you saw in SomeLike It Hot. There was an enormous atrium off which the corridorswith the rooms extended. In the center, there was a newsstand. Therewere a lot of leather chairs, and it would lead out to another pair ofFrench doors that led out onto the beach, so you could go out toswim. There was even a little theme park right next door, the name ofwhich I can’t remember. On the newsstand, I would get whateverpaper it was, maybe it was the Cleveland News, and it had the Spiritsection. I would lie there in the middle of the floor, so the people hadto go around me, like that wonderful image of a kid lying there withhis head propped up on his hands with his elbows down. That wasone of the most golden moments of my youth.CBA: Do you retain the collection you had in childhood?Harlan: Yes, I have. A lot of it. You know, I’m 68 now, so oversixty years, a lot of stuff vanishes, people cop stuff, you know. Mymother never threw my comics out, which is why I have a completerun of Fawcett comics, which are now bagged, but the weren’tbagged for 40 years. Some of them are not in as good condition asthey were when I bought them, but I’ve got a complete run of virtu-ally every Fawcett comic, all the important ones. Whiz, Wow, Captain
Marvel, Captain Marvel, Jr., Mary Marvel, Marvel Family,Funny Animals, Spy Smasher, the Ibis minis-eries, Commando Yank. All of those, I’ve gotthem all, and they’re all in a vault hidden inthe house where no one can find them. I’vealso got almost all of the Quality comics, whichare particular favorites.
I’m still missing some issues, but the way Iget them now is a story: I’m pretty well playedout insofar as conventions are concerned. I mean,I’ve been going to conventions since 1950, ’51,and there’s no panel I have not sat on eleventimes. There’s no subject I have not talked about109 times. There’s no convention thing that Ihaven’t done dozens and dozens of times. So whenthey call me and want me to come, they say, “Oh,you’ll have a wonderful time!” I say, “No, I won’thave a wonderful time. You don’t understand. I’m 68and gotta travel to wherever the f*ck it is, and when Iget there, there’s the onus and the burden.” At thatpoint, people laugh and say, “Yeah, you really got ithard at the top,” but there is a concomitant weight, a
gravitas that is put on you as a minor celebrity. Trust me, I understandthat I am a very minor celebrity. But nonetheless, you get people whohave expectations of you, and they come up and say the damnedestthings. The worst ones are the people who come up and have a com-bination of a brown nose sycophancy that is melded to arrogance,trying to prove that you’re an asshole, where they’ll come up and say,
64 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 December 2002
Above: RecentMart Nodell draw-ing of his creation,the Golden AgeGreen Lantern.Art ©2002Mart Nodell.Green Lantern©2002 DCComics. Below:Ellison is a huge fan ofthe work of George Carlson, thecartoonist genius behind JingleJangle Comics. This splash page(repro’d from The SmithsonianBook of Comic-Book Comics (’81))originally appeared in #5 (Oct.’43). Inset right: In his devotion toCarlson’s work, Ellison wrote anarticle for All in Color for a Dime(1970), “Comic of the Absurd.”©2002 Richard A. Lupoff & DonThompson.
Conducted by Jon B. CookeTranscribed by Steven Tice
A native of Argentina, José Delbo has worked for just about everymajor comic book publisher over the last 35 years. After leaving asuccessful career as a comic book artist in South America, Joséarrived in America in 1965, starting out on the “ground floor” of theindustry, producing art for Charlton and then Gold Key, where hewas a prolific contributor. (This interview was originally intended forlast issue’s Gold Key retrospective, but room constraints in that issueforces us to print it here, along with our sincere apologies to theartist.) By the early ’70s, the artist worked for DC Comics and laterMarvel, also serving as an instructor at the Joe Kubert School of
Cartoon and Graphic Art. Today, Mr. Delbo resides inFlorida, actively involved in teaching art to children.
He was interviewed via phone on July 15, 2002, and José copy edited the transcript.
Comic Book Artist: Where are you origi-nally from, Jose?José Delbo: From Argentina. I was born in
1933. I’m an old man. [laughter]CBA: Not too old. And where inArgentina did you grow up?José: Buenos Aires, and I went to schoolthere.CBA: So you grew up in the city?José: I grew up in the city, yes.CBA: Were you exposed to comics at ayoung age?José: Well, I remember I always liked todraw. In school, the teacher was chasing me allthe time because I was drawing. I’m very bad in
mathematics and all that. When I was a little kid, Ialways liked to draw. One day, I saw an ad in a
magazine about a school teaching cartooning.I asked my parents to enroll me there, and
that was the beginning.As a kid, I used to read most of
the American comics (which hadbeen reprinted in Spanish) in dif-ferent Argentinian magazines. Iwas reading Batman, Superman,all those characters, includingTomahawk. Mostly Americancomics, and also some
Argentinian comics. One impor-tant Argentinian artist opened a school to
teach cartooning. His name was CarlosClemen. He was one of the pioneers of thecomic business in Argentina. He was a verygood artist, very fast. It’s funny: Al Williamsonwas influenced by Clemen. When Al was liv-ing in South America, he was buyingArgentinian magazines and so he was influ-
enced by Clemen, who was a verypopular guy in Argentina andsome South American countries.To start with, Clemen taught me
all about comics and I was very influenced by his approach. When Iwas sixteen, I was published in my first comic book, a short story. Thecomic book’s name was Suspenso. I did a short science-fiction story.CBA: Now, did you do everything, or just the penciling?José: In those days, I was doing everything.CBA: The lettering, too?José: No. I don’t remember who did the lettering. I penciled andinked. Maybe Clemen did the lettering. I don’t remember verywell, it was a long time ago.CBA: What was the subject matter of the Argentinian comics?José: Argentinian comics featured the type of adventure such asJungle Jim, that kind of thing. Characters going to Africa, fightinglions. There was also science-fiction. I remember Clemen created acharacter who was affected by an atom bomb explosion and becamea super-hero. Also, there were funny characters—not by him—but bysome of the other artists would do humorous characters like sailorsand gnomes.CBA: Did you do funny material?José: I did humorous stories here in the United States, but not inArgentina.CBA: Did your family support you to go to Clemen’s school?José: When I was a kid, yes. But later, not much. I’ve got anincredible story about that: I was studying to be a lawyer, and I hadto go for maybe another half-year or a year. Then I decided I wantedto be a cartoonist. I went to my father and said, “Pa, I want to be acartoonist.” He almost died of a heart attack. [laughter]CBA: He wanted a lawyer for a son, right?José: I tried to convince him I would be an unhappy lawyer and avery happy cartoonist. Finally, he accepted my decision. Then Ispent one year in Army, because, in those days in Argentina, whenyou were 20 years old, you had to go into military service. There wasa conscription.CBA: Was Juan Peron in power at the time?José: You’re right, Peron was President when I was a soldier in thearmy. I left the service a year before the coup d’etat [that oustedPeron].CBA: Did you enjoy doing comic book work from the start?José: Oh, yes! I loved it very much. After my first short story waspublished, I start working in the business. I did all kinds ofthings: stories about pilots and guys fighting gangs. It’s a funny thing:in those days we did comics in Argentina but the names of the char-acters were all American. I did a character who was a pilot whosename was Terry Atlas. I did another character who was a detectivecalled Tony Macket. All English or American names. It was funny.CBA: Did you enjoy the work of Milton Caniff, Hal Foster andAlex Raymond?José: Oh yes, of course. In Argentina, we used to say there weretwo great schools of comic strip art: Realistic and the more cartoony,represented by Raymond on the realistic end and Caniff on the morecartoony side. There were guys following Raymond and guys follow-ing Caniff. And after that, I started developing my own style, losingthe influence of my teacher. I was a great admirer of Foster. I startedfollowing Raymond a little bit. Then I discovered Caniff, with all hisblack-&-white work, and I liked that very much. I’m pretty sure thatit’s true in Europe, that they consider the two best American cartoon-ists to be Raymond and Caniff.CBA: No doubt.José: Hal Foster, of course, was another great cartoonist who Iadmire personally. Many of my friends also admire the work of Will
Delbo’s Authentic ArtistryThe ubiquitous artist discusses his varied, full life in comics
Below: Courtesy of Jose Delbo,here’s a caricature of the
artist/teacher by onetime student(and current Daredevil artist) Alex
Maleev (who will himself be covered in a forthcoming issue of
CBA!). ©2002 Alex Maleev.
78 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 December 2002
Eisner as much as I.CBA: Were you able to seeThe Spirit down in SouthAmerica?José: Oh, yes! On the wall ofmy studio, I’m looking at anEisner piece as I’m talking toyou. You know, every cartoonistwants to be a publisher. When Iwas a young fellow, after I wasin the army, I asked my fatherfor money, and I published foursmall magazines. One of thosemagazines reprinted pages ofThe Spirit which I bought fromWill’s syndicate representative inArgentina. The word balloonsare in Spanish. You know, theytranslated and lettered it inSpanish, of course.CBA: Now, when did youself-publish?José: During the political upheavals taking place over there at thetime, people just didn’t have time to read comics. The printer alsostarted delivering the books late because they had problems and thenwe decided to stop publishing. I don’t remember exactly when westarted, or when we finished, but it was some time in 1956, ’57, ’58,around that time.CBA: What was the name of the magazine?José: Bazooka. It featured war stories. Iwould draw some of the stories as well as buysyndicated material.CBA: “Bazooka”? That’s an American name.José: Very American. I also liked Westerns, ofcourse. I liked to draw cowboys. That magazine’sname was Far West.CBA: So you did about four issues apiece?José: Yes. And I also did one other title—which I don’tremember the name of—that was all detective stories.CBA: Did you enjoy publishing?José: Oh yes, because I was doing almost everything!From drawing to giving the printer the pages already laid outaccording to the position it would be in the printing machineto make it easier for them to fold and cut it.CBA: Pagination. What other artists did you work with inArgentina?José: In those days, Carlos Clemen did some of the work, a fewcovers....CBA: Were any of your fellow cartoonists able to come toAmerica?José: A friend of mine, Luis Dominguez, came to the States beforeme. We used to work together in some magazines. After that cameJosé Luis Garcia-Lopez.CBA: Garcia-Lopez is a fantastic artist!José: A great artist. I don’t know why he’s not as famous as someothers, but he is a great artist.CBA: Do you know him?José: Yes. Most of the guys who became famous went to Europe.CBA: To Barcelona in Spain?José: Yes, exactly. José Muñoz was one who became very popularin Europe. And in Italy, Ruben Sosa. We used to work together in amagazine that was published by a great writer, probably the bestwriter in Argentina, Hector Oesterheld. Are you familiar with HugoPratt?CBA: Of course!José: They did together several stories in Argentina. They did“Sergeant Kirk.” Pratt was doing the drawing, and Oesterheld waswriting, and he did a character called Ernie Pike. The character wasbased on the famous war correspondent, Ernie Pyle. That title wasrevolutionary because the stories took different points of view. In onestory, the hero would be Italian fighting for the Fascists, and otherswould star a German or Japanese or American or British or whoever.
This approach was differentbecause previously the storiestold were always telling thestory from the American orEnglish perspective.CBA: Less propaganda, andmore realistic?José: That’s right. I drew forOesterheld. I did The Battle ofCoral Sea. Then Hector tooksome guys in the business andgave a section of the book toeach one. The part I did wasfrom the point of view of theJapanese. I was going crazy trying to find reference forJapanese aircraft carriersbecause Oesterheld was intenton the stories being as authenticas possible. He didn’t want theartists faking anything.CBA: Like Harvey Kurtzman,
a pain in the ass. [laughter] Did you always think about coming toAmerica?José: I was always dreaming of coming to America.I always imagined coming to the United Statesto be a cartoonist. As Frank Sinatra would say,if I could make it in New York, I could makeit anywhere! So I was always think-ing about the U.S. I finally madeit in 1965.CBA: Were you making goodmoney in Argentina?José: I was making a goodliving, but the political situation made thingsvery difficult. Armyrevolts, incredible inflation, etc.
tremendouslybad situation in
Argentina with notranquility. Youwould never
know what wouldhappen tomorrow. I hadmy two kids and said tomy wife, “We cannotlive like this any more.Even if I can get agood enough work,this is not the place
to raise our chil-dren.” The comic
business started to slowdown, because people were
worrying about more importantthings than comics. Besides, the
people who were selling the books pre-ferred to sell the more expensive, prof-
itable magazines than the cheap comicbooks, because the profit margin was so
much better. So the retailer would just returnthe comics unopened. The whole thing started to
deteriorate, and was much different than when Istarted. Magazines started to close down, publishers
went away, things like that. I needed to make a bigdecision, and that’s why we decided to come to the
Inset left: Could this be yet anoth-er exquisite portrait of a comicbook artist at work by the talentphotographer Greg Preston? JoséDelbo in his Florida studio. ©2002the respective copyright holder.
Below: José Delbo drew about azillion issues of Wonder Woman inthe 1970s and into the ’80s,including this cover detail of WW#253 (Mar. ’79). Courtesy of theartist. ©2002 DC Comics.
December 2002 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 79
From Sandman to Scary GodmotherFrom Sandman to Scary Godmother
Under the Spell ofUnder the Spell of
NUMBER 23 CELEBRATING THE LIVES & WORK OF THE GREAT CARTOONISTS, WRITERS & EDITORS DECEMBER 2002
C O N T E N T S
J I L L T H O M P S O N : F R O M S A N D M A N T O T H E Q U E E N O F H A L L O W E ’ E N !
CBA COMMUNIQUES: LETTERS, MISSIVES, CORRESPONDENCE, NOTES, CARDS, AND MAIL BOMBS
A missive from the late John Buscema’s wife, Toth on his “lost” Enemy Ace story, and more! ........................2-B
MICHELLE’S MEANDERINGS: THE ADVENTURES OF G.I. JANE
You think Demi Moore was the first female counterpart of that “Real American Hero”? Think again!............4-B
CBA’S SPOOKY THOMPSON SPECIAL
JILL THOMPSON INTERVIEW: SCARY GODMOTHER AND THE JOY OF COMICS
Joe McCabe talks with the artist about her work, from Sandman to the undisputed Queen of Hallowe’en! ....6-B
THE MAGIC OF MIKE MIGNOLA: FROM HELLBOY AND BACK AGAIN!
For the love of Mike, CBA gives the artist the full treatment: Interview, portfolio and checklist! ................Flip us!
COMIC BOOK ARTIST™ is published 10 times a year by TwoMorrows, 1812 Park Drive, Raleigh, NC 27605, USA. 919-833-8092. Jon B. Cooke, Editor. John Morrow,Publisher. Editorial Office: P.O. Box 204, West Kingston, RI 02892-0204 USA • 401-783-1669 • Fax: 401-783-1287. Send subscription funds to TwoMorrows, NOT the editorial office. Single issues: $9 postpaid ($11 Canada, $12 elsewhere). Six-issue subscriptions: $36 US, $66 Canada, $72 elsewhere. All characters © their respectiveowners. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted. All editorial matter © their respective authors. ©2002 Jon B. Cooke/TwoMorrows. Cover acknowledgement:Photograph of Jill Thompson by Dan (Dano) Martin of Chicago, Illinois. First Printing. PRINTED IN CANADA.
Editor/DesignerJON B. COOKE
PublisherTWOMORROWSJOHN & PAM MORROW
Assistant EditorGEORGE KHOURY
Associate EditorsCHRIS KNOWLESDAVID A. ROACHCHRISTOPHER IRVING
Contributing EditorsROY THOMASJOHN MORROW
Cover PhotographyDAN MARTIN, Chicago, IL
Conducted and transcribed by Joe McCabe
Jill Thompson is one of the most vivacious and enthusiastic people inthe comics field, both an extraordinary talent and savvy professional.After a stint in the independent funny book world—as penciler onThe Elementals and Classics Illustrated, to name two—she rosethrough the ranks at DC Comics as artist on such disparate titles asWonder Woman and Sandman. The artist has since branched outinto creator-owned territory with her eminently kid-friendly andcharming Scary Godmother (the title character based, this editor isconvinced, on the writer/artist herself, if at least visually), publishedby Sirius Entertainment, as well taken a successful foray into chil-dren’s book illustration. Always a captivating presence at WizardWorld, Comic-Con International: San Diego, as well as the Pittsburghconvention (where this interview took place earlier this year), Jill is a
longtime Chicago resident where she lives with husband andcelebrated comics writer Brian (100 Bullets) Azzarello. She
copy edited the final transcript.
Comic Book Artist: Why comics?Jill Thompson: I don’t know.That’s a strange question because Iget asked that by people who arenot into comics a lot. I started read-ing comics and I never stopped. Itwasn’t something that I decided at
13 years old to pick up, it was some-thing that I had read from the time Icould read—comic strips, comic books.They spoke to me immediately as themedium I wanted to tell stories in. I like the
mixture of picturesand prose. Though I
love to read everythingand I was a voraciousreader when I was inschool, I never said,
“Okay, I’m going to sit down andwrite a novel.” Though I did write a lot of sto-ries, I tended to just do comics stories, aboutanything and everything, starting out, of course,with my variation on Snoopy, which was justcalled B Dog.CBA: Was that the first comic you created?
Jill: Hmmm, I guess it is. I was always drawingstuff, but that’s probably the first comic strip I wroteand drew and lettered and everything. When I was lit-tle I announced to the world (my family ) that I wasgoing draw Snoopy when I grew up. And my momgently pointed out to me—”Well, you can’t draw
Snoopy when you grow up, because you’ve already see him in thenewspaper. That means somebody else draws him.” I said, “Okay,”and I drew my own, which was the letter B, with a little dot on thefront and an ear on the back and a tail on the back. It was B Dog. Hehad a spot on his back too, so he looked like the letter B drawn witha Snoopy costume on it. And then I started drawing Archie comic rip-offs. I drew all the kids in the neighborhood as teenagers—I aged
them and myself as well. The story was based on my brotherSteven and this little girl, Elise, that lived down the street who
had a crush on him. She’d chase him around the blockshouting, “My lovable husband!” and try to tackle himand kiss him. At his age—around six—it was “Eww!Girl germs! Get away fromme! Me and Davey Johnsonhave to go put football hel-mets on our heads and run intothe tree and see who will fall overfirst!”—that kind of thing. But I figured whenSteven and Elise grew up, if we lived on thesame block, they would probably goout on dates like Archie andBetty. So I would always drawstories about us grown up,and it was pretty muchbased on that littlegirl Elise. It was hercomic, and everyoneelse was the co-star,and she was alwaystrying to “get” mybrother with hercrazy schemes.
The naturalprogression of mycomics interests goes likethis: Peanuts in the newspa-per—Peanuts pocket books—Archie comics—Marvelcomics—all other comics. Withsome of my biggest artistic influ-ences being the artists who workedfor Archie Comics, like Bob Bolling,who did Little Archie—which now I really see coming out in some ofmy stuff; but I never did before—and Dan DeCarlo. Those peoplewere big influences on me, especially DeCarlo. His work is so amaz-ing. It looks like it took no effort at all to draw it, like it just flowedout of the ink pen or something.CBA: I guess Little Archie found its way into your Little Endlesswork.Jill: You know, now that I think about it, the line quality of the brushthat I use and the way that they’re kind of cute but kind of regular-looking at the same time… that’s similar to the old Little Archie sto-ries. CBA: You like to draw things that are cute and cuddly? Jill: Not more than any other type of thing. If the cute fits, draw it.They’re adorable in a more comfortable way for me, and I know
Jill Thompson andFrom Sandman to Scary Godmother, a conversation with one
Below: Before Scary Godmothermade it into print, the artist
dressed up as her beloved charac-ter. Courtesy of Jill Thompson.
6-B COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 December 2002
some peoplewould neverbe able tolook atthem,becausethey’re not
into thatcutesy type of
thing, but I don’tthink they’re cutein the same way theCare Bears are
cute—saccharin-cute.And I’m doing more chil-
dren’s-book type stuff, butbecause my work is usually cov-
ered in monsters, it’s a kind of fine-line between cute and scary. CBA: It would seem to reach awider audience that way?
Jill: Yes. Well, just that kind of sensibility. Cute enough for the momsto like it, but off-kilter enough for me. The kind of monster stuff I liketo see. CBA: What kind is that?Jill: While I do like horror movies, I’m not into gore. I know there’s atime and a place for it which is fine, but I like things that are moreclassic; I like to collect skeleton stuff and skulls [showing skull ring andbig skull belt-buckle]. But they have to be—I don’t know, simpler, Iguess. Like Day of the Dead and that whole deal. But sometimes peo-
ple think all I like is skulls, so sometimes fanswill send me gifts—and I don’t necessarilyunderstand a lot of them—but things such asskulls with snakes coming out of theirmouths, or vampirey teeth ones with bloodand eyes dripping out of them. It’s very cool,the amazing sculpture and stuff, but that’snot going to go on my mantle, but the Dayof the Dead skeletons will, and the coolcarved skeleton from Thailand that I’ve gotthat’s four- or five-feet tall. He’s wonderful,but I don’t need the one that’s got the intes-tines hanging out of it. I love to go to theHaunted House and see that kind of stuff,but my scary-monster stuff that I draw isiconoclastic, because they’re kind of varia-tions on icons. CBA: The Scary Godmother and herfriends are good examples of that.Jill: Yeah, exactly. The spooky feel is there,but Scary Godmother isn’t going to disem-bowel anyone in an intricate two-pagespread. The closest I’ve gotten to grossright now is a children’s book I’m workingon called Magic Trixie which is kind of like“the Little Rascals if they were monsters,” this little group of monsterkids. And there’s a little Frankensteinish monster kid that’s all stitchedtogether; he carries everything in his belly because he’s got a zipperattached to his belly-button, which has this button on it, because he’sbeen stitched together by the scientist. And all of the other kids takeadvantage of him, by shoving things in his stomach. They’re like,“Hold this for me!” And he’s like… [sighs] Or they get mad becausethey’re running and he can’t keep up because his feet have fallen offand he’s got to lace them up to his ankles, and they’ll say, “Stitch, willyou tie those things in a double knot, please!?”CBA: So this is being published ?Jill: If I have anything to say about it. I hope it will. I love all thecharacters. They’re fun and enjoyable to draw. My agent is shoppingit around to book publishers as we speak, so maybe by the time thissees print, we’ll have an interested party.CBA: You went to the American Academy of Art. What was thatexperience like?Jill: It was a trade school, a commercial art school. The Chicago ArtInstitute was a fine arts program. We had fine arts at our school, butwe were prepared to get a job in advertising or illustration—free-lance work—but the Art Institute was more interested in teaching youabout art history and fine arts. I think the ratio of people that went tothe Art Institute versus the ratio of people that went to my schoolwho are actually working in the field they want to work in—it’s prob-ably a greater ratio at the American Academy of Art then it is at theArt Institute. And if you wanted to draw comics, no one cared aboutyou. They hated you at both schools. [laughs]
Chris Ware went to the Art Institute, and he said that whenpeople found out that he liked and wanted to illustrate comics, it was“Pooh, pooh, pooh. What are you doing in this school?” Guess what:Chris is more successful than any of the people that you have goingto your school. [laughs]CBA: Chris is winning all these awards, and other folk from hisschool are probably designing soup labels.
the Joy of Comicsof the most talented woman cartoonists in the comic book field
Above: The comic book creator asa tyke. Courtesy of Jill Thompson.
Inset left: Detail of the good witch and her god child, HannahMarie, from the first ScaryGodmother children’s book. ©2002 Jill Thompson.
December 2002 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 7-B
Jill: Well, those arethe people from my school,they’re designing the souplabels. [laughs] It’s allabout advertising andcomputers there now, Iguess. I like the Art Institute,
but I always thought, I needto go to the American Academy of Art for the technical stuff.If I want to learn about art history, I can go to the library, or Ican go to the Art Institute afterwards, because my school did-n’t have BFAs or anything like that. We had Associates
degrees, two- or three-year degrees, but at the Art Institute youcould get a Bachelors, go to school and become an historian or arestorer. There’s a lot of really cool stuff that comes from the ArtInstitute. I appreciate it now, but at the time I was in school, as ateenager, there was a big rivalry: artistés versus illustrators.
CBA: So, did your family approve of your becomingan artisté? Or an illustrator?Jill: My family was always supportive of mybecoming anything I wanted to be. I waslucky. I can’t ever remember an instanceof them trying to push me towardsanother career choice. You know, likesome parents who want their kid tobe a lawyer or doctor or whatever.Lots of students at my school werethere without the support of theirfamilies. And, by that I mean, theirfolks put up with it, but thought thestudents were wasting their time andwould have preferred their kids to bedoing something else. I guess you canchalk that up to the “starving artist”stereotype. Which, most of the time I guess,isn’t a stereotype. I just knew I wanted to drawcomics for a living and they wanted me to be suc-cessful doing what I wanted to do. My parents definitelyread more comics than the average parent.CBA: They liked comics, too?Jill: They liked my comics. I was always foisting the stories I made upon them to read. I was a one-woman publishing house, with a read-ership of three or four, depending on who was home. My dadworked downtown in Chicago and he would bring me new comicsevery Friday that he bought at the newsstand. He read some on theEL train home, but I don’t think he bought them for himself, really.Oh, wait! When I was really into Archie Comics, there were some
Marvel Comics in the bag every once in a while, so I guess he didget a few on occasion. I read those much later, because at the
time I thought those were “scary” comics. CBA: “Scary”? How so?Jill: Oh, I don’t know. They looked more
“realistic” and the guys were always screamingand in the midst of some battle. And there werethose Kirby energy bubbles all over. As a young girl,they fit into the House of Mystery or House of
Secrets category. I had read a couple of thosesomewhere and they were designed to becreepy, so I equated all comics that weren’tArchie-type comics as scary. Which isfunny, because I wish I had all of thosecreepy comics now.CBA: I’d like to switch gears for amoment and ask how working with a
major publisher like DC compares withworking with smaller, independent publishers?Jill: When I was just working for DC as a penciler, I wasyounger and I was really precious about what I was doing forthem, and I still am because I really care about the work that I
do. But when you do work-for-hire, it’s a completely different sit-uation than when you do your own work. But it’s all comic books,
and we should all be happy that there’s a great diversity of comicbooks. Yes, if there’s only one kind, if there was only mainstreamcomics.... The sales might not be the best right now in this industry,but in terms of subject matter and diversity in comics, it’s probablythe best I’ve ever seen it. Working for a larger publisher like DC obvi-ously pays better, but working for a smaller company might affordyou larger creative control. I like working for both at different timesfor different reasons. I’d rather have the control with the larger pay-check… [laughs] but I’m doing pretty well in both arenas.CBA: The first time I was exposed to your work was in WonderWoman. Was that your first professional gig?Jill: Well, “professional,” as in “I got paid to do it,” was in a comiccalled Just Imagine Comix and Stories. It was a small anthologycomic. Oh, man, that’s what I could have used in my Harveyspeech—“My first professional work was published in an anthology,therefore I am presenting the anthology award.” Geez! I presentedthe [Harvey] anthology award the other night, and right now is the
only time that I’m making the correlation! “My first work was inan anthology and this is a good way for people to be
exposed to the medium and get their workexposed.” Shoot.
I was in high school at the time, and Ihad met some people at a comic bookconvention and become friends withthem, and ended up working for thembecause they also had a retail busi-ness at conventions. I worked thetable, but most of the day, they letme take my sketchbook to Artist’sAlley and meet all the artists. Wewere at a convention in Michiganone time and they needed four morepages for an anthology comic they haddone, they were short. There was a
character that Tom Artis had createdcalled Banana Man, just as a laugh. He was
this super-hero with a giant banana on his headand bananas on his belt, just kind of a goof. They
came out with all these banana jokes and strung themtogether and I drew them all out with a thread of a story in them,and went around to the artists at the convention and had them eachink a panel. And whatever wasn’t inked at the convention, someoneelse inked later. It was just filler. That was my first professional job.
Then they ended up having me do a couple more parodies withBanana Man. I saw one yesterday that someone had, so that personwas probably the most thorough collector of my art. I look at it andsay, “God, it’s so bad,” but its still kind of funny. And there’s oneunpublished Banana Man story that was a spoof of Superman II—
8-B COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 December 2002
Inset right: Pals Jill Thompson andP. Craig Russell smile for the
camera. Craig was a great help tothe young artist, and was assistedin turn when Jill would pose for
reference photos to be used in theproduction of his opera adapta-
tions. Courtesy of Jill Thompson.
Above: After George Pérez decidedto stop drawing Wonder Woman,though still writing the series, JillThompson was brought on board
to pencil. This splash page detail isfrom the 50th issue (Jan. ’91). Inks
by Romeo Tanghal. ©2002 DCComics.
never a time where you sat down at the table and thought, I don’tknow how to draw this, because it was written for you. I have twopages that I kept from one scene at the very end of that arc, whenDream has to kill his son. Everything else is gone—anyone that wantsSandman pages is going to have to buy them off someone else,because it was ten years ago and I have no more Sandman pagesexcept these two. One is the page where Abel is building himself alarge, Rube Goldberg kind of contraption to sit on because it’s rain-ing and raining and Dream is so sad because his love has left him,and it’s flooding the Dreaming. It was very Winnie-the-Poohesque;and that was when I knew that Neil and I completely meshed on thiscollaboration. He would sometimes suggest styles that things shouldbe drawn in—references to, or an homage to, a certain illustrator; butwhen he wrote this scene there was no reference to anything, and allI could think of was Winnie-the-Pooh: ”And the rain, rain, rain camedown, down, down, and the rain came down, down, down.” And Ithought, I want to draw this in the style of the Winnie-the-Pooh illus-trator, Ernest Shepard, so I looked at my Winnie-the-Pooh books andI started drawing in that style. Of course, I didn’t ink it, so I don’tknow if it completely translated, but I mentioned to [inker] VinceLocke that this is what I was looking at and this is what I wanted it tolook like. I would fax Neil Xeroxes of my pencils, and when Neil gotthese pages, he said that was exactly what he had been thinking ofwhen he wrote that scene, and it was quite extraordinary that Ipicked it up without him mentioning it. I have that page and I’vegot the page where Dream has finished washing his hands after hehas had to kill his son, and he’s sitting in his chair in his white, whiteroom, and he’s weeping, because that’s how I felt when I had to stopdrawing Sandman. I remember drawing that thing—and I was sick asa dog—feeling horrible—and feeling horrible—saying, “I wish I couldkeep drawing this, it’s the easiest (not easiest as in there’s no effort)and the best job I probably will ever have. It’s fun, it’s great, it’s easy,and it makes a lot of royalties.” [laughs] I remember begging him acouple of times, saying, “Please, please let me draw this. I’ll draw ituntil it’s over, and it will be on time every single month.” He said, “Ican’t do it. I’ve promised arcs to other people.” He has mentioned hewished he could have let me draw the rest of it. CBA: I know I would not have minded.Jill: It was so easy, and I would love to draw another one. That
Delirium mini-series he’s been promising me for tenyears now, [laughs] I would really like to collaborate
with him on that. It would be interestingto see how we would work togethernow, with so much time and distancebetween working relationships. I workcompletely differently now. My style isdifferent, but when I draw Sandmanwould it be the same? Would I fall
back into that comfortable draw-ing style, like the way I drawSandman at conventions? It’sweird, you’d think that I’d drawhim like Scary Godmother,because that’s how I draw now.But when I draw Sandman,Sandman looks a certain way, andmy arm just must naturally go back
to that Sandman-drawing, and Death-drawing, where there’s a little of the influ-ence of Scary Godmother, but this is howSandman looks to my arm. This is how it’ssupposed to happen.CBA: Were you ultimately satisfied withthe inking, with Vince Locke?Jill: Ultimately? No. Comfortably? Yes. Andoriginally? Shocked, because at the time my pen-cils were very tight, and Vince is very loose. I loveVince’s work, and I love that style, but there were
instances during Sandman where I would ink thingsmyself. I would ink entire pages, like that page I was
just mentioning with Sandman crying. I inked three or fourpages of that, because I wanted these certain scenes, because I want-
ed their faces to retain these little subtleties that no one has everpicked up on except me. There are exceptions: Al Gordon has inkedmy convention sketches and there was a slight nuance that otherpeople would have inked over, but it remained. Terry Austin, too, ona pin-up, but I was a teenager then, so that was the hugest thrill. Hewas such a professional, he could make anybody look good; but thelittle tiny facial subtleties he totally kept. There were things that Vincewasn’t getting completely; and being fussy and younger, I thought,“Oh my!” I didn’t know how to get my point across. I was friendswith Steve Rude, and he would do that all the time and then writecritical comments in the borders like, “You have to learn how to drawa face,” or “You’re an artist. You must be an artist before you can bean inker,” which I totally agree with, but I would never insult myinker knowing they were going to continue working with me while Iwas doing so. So sometimes I would just ink things and send them in.I never said, “I inked that. I should get paid for it.” I wanted this cer-tain scene to be all mine. It was selfish of me I suppose, but I thoughtVince and I worked well together. We liked each other. We liked eachother’s work; we worked together when we were like “What will wedo with all these pages?” “Sell them of course.” And we’d say, “Well,what will we sell them for?” I’d say, “I don’t know. Ask Neil, he’llknow.” And Neil would say to us, “Well, Mike Dringenberg says hegets this much money for them. So at the very least you should
December 2002 COMIC BOOK ARTIST 23 15-B
Above: Bob Fingerman (creator ofthe fabulous alt comic MinimumWage) drew this SG pin-up featur-ing Jill and her husband, comicswriter Brian “100 Bullets”Azzarello (with cigar). ©2002 BobFingerman. Below: Another JillThompson kids’ book cover.©2002 Uglytown Productions.
#23: MIKE MIGNOLAExhaustive MIGNOLA interview, huge art gallery (with never-seen art), and comprehensive checklist! On the flip-side, a ca-reer-spanning JILL THOMPSON interview, plus tons of art, andstudies of Jill by ALEX ROSS, STEVE RUDE, P. CRAIG RUSSELL,and more! Also, interview with JOSÉ DELBO, and a talk with au-thor HARLAN ELLISON on his various forays into comics! NewMIGNOLA HELLBOY cover!
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