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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Aquaman Shrine Interview with Paul Pelletier

A few month ago, Paul Pelletier was added to the list of Aquaman Artists, an august group that contains some of the greatest comic book storytellers ever to pick up a pencil. Jumping into the ocean hip-deep, Paul was half of the massive "Throne of Atlantis" crossover, and now he (with inker Sean Parsons and colorist Rod Reis) is poised to leave his distinctive visual mark on the Sea King.

Paul was kind enough to talk with the Shrine about what it's been like, bringing Aquaman to life:

The Aquaman Shrine: You've mentioned in previous interviews that you didn't come to Aquaman with a whole lot of knowledge of the character (outside of watching him on the Super Friends). Before you landed the assignment, did you have a general feeling about the character? Was he, Mera, or any of the villains someone who you really desired to draw?

Paul Pelletier: No, I really didn’t have much of a grasp of who Aquaman was before I got the assignment to draw the book. The first thing I did was to go out and buy a copy of the trade containing issues 1-6 of the New 52 Aquaman. It was pretty clear what Geoff was doing with Arthur in making him a complex character that could not be simply described as a "hero who talks to fish". I liked how Geoff showed Aquaman to be a noble character, yet did it with a sense of humor...oh, and Ivan Reis did some outstanding artwork in those issues! This trade helped a great deal in boosting my interest in drawing this character and his supporting cast.
TAS: You had a successful run on Guardians of the Galaxy, which had five or six main characters. With essentially just one main character in Aquaman, do you find it easier to compose any given page or panel?

PP: Yeah, Aquaman is the main character in the book, but we’re starting to introduce a pretty decent supporting cast that makes it much more than just a solo hero book. We have Mera, Tula, Vulko, Murk...new guys like Urn and Swatt, and more to come. I actually like it better when I can draw multiple characters, especially when they have unique looks and well defined personalities. Character interaction is a lot of fun to draw…well, at least for me!

TAS: Is it an artistic challenge coming up with different ways of showing someone swimming? Aquaman does so much of it, and there are only so many poses…

PP: I'm sure this will be something I'l have to deal with the longer I draw the book. I really hate to repeat myself, so I guess I'll have to concentrate that much more on trying to keep things interesting. I guess it's not too much different than drawing the Flash running, or Superman flying...we are paid to be creative, so it's part of the job!
TAS: Can you shed a little light on your process working with Geoff Johns? For instance, in Aquaman #17, you have that beautiful two-page spread of Aquaman talking to his finny friends (one of my favorite moments in the series). Does Geoff in the script indicate this should be a huge, multi-page spread or is something like that up to you?

PP: Yeah, that spread was something else...I really had to bone up on drawing differing forms of sea life for that one. It was in Geoff's plot that it was to be a double-page spread...basically, he said he wanted to have a smallish shot of Arthur surrounded by various forms of sea life. I guess I could've gone even nuttier with it, but the deadline was really tight. I do have to give major props to inker Sean Parsons and colorist Rod Reis here...they really helped to pull this piece together. Each issue is a big team effort.

TAS: Also in previous interviews, you've mentioned doing online research on sea life. Are there particular sea creatures that you've found and said "Oh, I want to work them into the book somehow"?

PP: Not necessarily...I figure if I draw this book long enough, I'll probably get a chance to draw them all!
TAS: You've only had the chance to draw Mera sparingly so far. Is she someone you'd like to tackle more as the series goes on?

PP: For sure...Mera is such a fun character. There’s not much bulls$%# when it comes to Mera...just a lot of kicking butt.

TAS: You've gotten to draw the Justice League in the Aquaman book in the last couple of months. Do you have any particular favorite DC character you've love to see guest star just for the chance to draw them?

PP: Hmmm...probably Omac, just for the pure goofy fun he would be to draw.

TAS: It seems that Aquaman will be spending more time in Atlantis in the near future. Do you feel at all beholden to how it looked when Reis and Prado were drawing the book, or do you feel like you want to interpret it in your own way?

PP: I definitely want Atlantis to have a similar feel to what Ivan and Joe helped establish, but at the same time I'd like to add my own "flavor" to it (whatever that means...I'm still trying to figure that out!!!). I guess most comics would be kinda boring if we all tried to stay exactly true to what was done in the original stories. Hell, we’d all be drawing just like Kirby if that were the case!
TAS: Have you had a favorite moment or moments so far? A sequence, page, or panel where you really thought you nailed it?

PP: I really think that Aquaman #18 was the first issue that I finally felt less like "the guy who’s trying to fill Ivan Reis’ shoes", and more like "the artist on Aquaman". There are a few moments in this issue that I was really happy with after I penciled them...a scene with Arthur and Tula; one with Arthur and Vulko; the last page of the issue. Like I said, I was really pleased with this issue as a whole. Geoff is giving me the chance to have some fun exploring mood and subtle character moments...storytelling bits that make drawing comics a blast.

TAS: Most importantly, are you having fun? Aquaman has had some amazing artists on him over the years, some of whom are most famous for their runs with the character. Without spoiling anything (although you can if you want to!), are there things coming up in the series that you're really looking forward to?

PP: Yes! Drawing Aquaman has been a fantastic experience and I feel very fortunate to have landed this gig. I look forward to exploring the Seven Seas (hint...hint!) along with the rest of you Aquaman readers...it should be a fun trip!

TAS: I know we're all looking forward to it! Thanks Paul!

Special thanks to Joe Prado for helping with this interview!


Earth 2 Chris said...

I've always liked Pelletier's stuff, going back to his days on The Flash and Titans. Nice to see someone with a more classic style is still getting high-profile work. Unlike a lot of modern artists working in comics, the man doesn't rely on Photoshop to cover up his technical shortcomings.


Johnny said...

I was really bummed when Reis left the book, but I must say, Pelletier is definitely a worthy successor. Hope he sticks around for awhile.