Writer Jeff Parker, Penciler Paul Pelletier, and Inker Sean Parsons have quickly established themselves as yet another gangbuster creative team on Aquaman, continuing in the rich tradition of very talented folks who have brought us the Sea King's adventures. The Shrine has been fortunate enough to chat with both Jeff and Paul, and Sean similarly generous in taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about what it's like to work on Aquaman (whose 33rd issue drops today!):
The Aquaman Shrine: Were you a fan of Aquaman before getting the assignment?
AMS: It was fate!
SP: I think it was fate. I have an Aquaman villain living in my pool. Our little dog (Macaroni) likes to float around in our pool inside a small inflatable pool that looks like a crab. It reminds me of the Nautilus because it looks like she's in the mouth of a giant creature. I think she thinks she could be Arthur's greatest foe if she could just get past her own form of Kryptonite, chicken wrapped peanut-butter biscuit flavored dog treats.
SP: Peter David had a nice long run. Anyone would appreciate a chance to stay with a character and guide him for so long. I can't even fault him for the long hair. It was a 90's thing. :) Plus, that was about the time I was breaking in so I was devouring a lot of material in those years. Heck, even I had a pony tail in the early 90's. I tried to kill it, but it came back a few years ago. Maybe Aquaman's long hair could come back as a villain and try to take over Arthur's head again.
AMS: Jeff Parker has been introducing a lot of new villains to the book, are there any from Aquaman's (admittedly rather thin) Rogues Gallery that you'd like to see in the book, if only to get the chance to work on?
SP: I'd love to be a part of a cool Black Manta story. We only got to draw him on one of the killer 3D covers. I'd love to see Paul’s take on him in a real story. Visually, he is just a fantastic looking character.
Beyond Black Manta, I'd love to see Jeff and Paul keep creating new forces to challenge Arthur. I can't get enough Topo either.
AMS: How did you end up with the job as inker on Aquaman?
SP: It was kind of direct, but then roundabout. They needed a couple pages inked on issue #14 over Pete Woods, and I got lucky enough to get a couple of those. Here's where it gets roundabout. Pete liked what I did, and so he asked for me to be his inker on an upcoming project which turned out to be Vibe. It was a monthly assignment and I was stoked to pick it up. Pete's pencils were great and I knew it would be a fun assignment.
The editor on Vibe, Brian Cunningham, was also taking over Aquaman at the time and asked me if I was fast enough to ink Vibe and do two fill-in issues of Aquaman at the same time. I said I could pull it off, so he gave me the two fill-ins with Paul. Paul was happy with the inks, and I loved working with Paul and somehow our fill-in run (Paul was assigned three fill-ins, but someone else inked the first one) turned into a steady run. I guess when DC sees a good thing happening they leave it be. Two fill-in issues have turned into the longest run on a title I've had in the business. It's been really fantastic and I hope we can keep it going for a lot longer.
AMS: Some art teams are brought in to help "save" a book, while others take over following a successful run by other artists. You and Paul were definitely in the latter situation; was it intimidating at all knowing you would be taking over a book whose previous art team was so well received?
SP: Ivan and Joe were just crushing things on Aquaman. A real powerhouse team and I couldn't be happier to come in behind them. It's been a real privilege. Getting to keep Geoff Johns on the book for my first nine issues really helped to solidify Paul and me as the art team on the book. I think if I had been coming into the title knowing we were going to be the regular team I would have been more nervous about it, but thinking we were just pitching in for a few issues took a lot of pressure off of me.
AMS: Do you change your approach to inking depending on whose pencils you're working with? Can you describe how you work with Paul Pelletier's art?
SP: Yeah, I really try hard to ink everyone differently. I try to look at the intent of the penciler and figure out what style he is going for, and bend my inks to enhance that look for him. I consider myself very adaptable to most styles, but sometimes you get a guy who draws like Alan Davis, but wants you to ink him like Travis Charest and mentally I can't bring myself to change someone's pencils like that. If you can draw like Charest, I can ink you like him. I consider it a fun challenge to push myself to ink new styles. I can't squeeze water from stones though, so if you draw like Davis, I'm going to ink you with a brush.
With Paul, I think we've changed and grown together through the months and formed into something neither of us started as. Lately, I've been doing some digital inks over Paul as well as some traditional work. I think the result is coming out nicely.
I still ink all the covers traditionally, and inevitably I end up doing a handful of pages each issue with the traditional tools of the trade. When inking Paul traditionally we work via email. Paul scans the pencils in and emails them to be to print out as blueline on Bristol board and I ink those boards, scan it in and email back to Paul and editorial for approvals.
When I get the go ahead, I upload my files to DC's server and I also email the large file to the colorist so he can get a head start coloring. We’ve been very lucky to work with a couple great colorists on Aquaman. First we got to keep Rod Reis from Ivan's run on the book, and when Rod finally stepped away, Paul tagged Rain Beredo in and he’s been doing a knockout job for the team. Add Jeff Parker to the mix and I don't think I could dream up a better group of people to handle the book. Jeff has been doing a great job showing Aquaman as a leader and a real guy. I love his direction on the book. He's also created one of the coolest new villains I've seen on the book, the Chimera, which the public was just introduced to and will be getting to know over the next couple issues.
Sean was thoughtful enough to send some examples (click to embiggen) of what he's talking about. We thank him for his continuing great work on Aquaman and for talking with us! Thanks Sean!