Online Interview with Mark A. Robinson

Synopsis:
The life of Thomas Arashikage has taken him down paths that have allied him with both G.I. Joe AND Cobra. Now he’s away from both sides of the war, and getting into trouble all his own! Storm Shadow returns in his own monthly title written by his creator Larry Hama!

As the release of G.I. Joe: Storm Shadow #1 quickly approaches, I have been lucky enough to interview the creative team behind it. After a brief interview with Larry Hama, the creator and writer, I had a chance to speak with Mark A. Robinson. Mark is a very talented penciller whose works include Codename Knockout, from Vertigo (DC comics), New Mutants (marvel comics) and most recently BloodRayne (Digital Webbing).

Comic Addiction: How did you get the opportunity to pencil the upcoming Storm Shadow series?

Mark Robinson: I was just finishing up some work for TopCow when I was contacted by Susan Bishop from Devil’s Due via a message board account. It was pretty sudden.
We chatted. She asked if I wanted to draw ninjas. I said “hell yeah.” Case
closed.

CA: Did you know anything about Storm Shadow before this?

MR: Sure. I watched GI Joe as a kid every day. I’m a fan of the Cold Slither
Army.

CA: Did you change your drawing style at all for this series?

MR: No. I got a lot tighter than I’ve done before. I think I actually went back
to a “style” that I was tinkering with before TopCow- That I was putting
down on a creator owned project called COCKFIGHT. (Shameless self plug)

CA: Along with pencils, did you do the inking for this book?

MR: Nope. I couldn’t ink my way out of a paper bag. This is all going to digital
colors…Hence the need for tighter pencils.

CA: What was it like penciling Larry Hama’s script?

MR: Larry’s old school with his scripts…There’s not a lot of direct panel to
panel description which gives me a lot of visual freedom of movement. I love
that. I would suspect most artists would these days- I have seen scripts
that basically gives a panel to panel description of the art taking place on
the page. Panel placement, character descriptions, the whole nine…Not a lot
of creative freedom at all. Takes the fun out of it at times, so Larry keeps it loose. Loose is good.

CA: Did he give you a lot of direction or where you free to layout the issue as you wanted too?

MR: There was give and take. Everyone pitched in. Sometimes Larry would be very
specific on the action on the page. Sometimes I would put forth some things that I felt worked for the scene. It’s a collaborative effort all around.

CA: How many issues will you be penciling?

MR: Every one…Until I’m dead or they find someone better…no seriously. We have a
6 issue run planned as of now. This is my longest streak on a book to date. It should
be a challenge…Commitments are nice.

CA: What did you enjoy most about working on this issue?

MR: The ethnic diversity of the cast and the locales are nice changes. I’m real
big on bringing more ethnically diverse books into the mix, main stream…whatever. It’s nice to have a main character embody that. Thomas is an interesting character brewing with a lot of internal conflict. Larry is doing a great job of showing everyone that.

CA: Along with Storm Shadow, what else do you have coming out in 2007?

MR: I have some BloodRayne coming out this year (BLOODRAYNE PLAGUE OF
DREAMS from Digital Webbing Presents). Actually next week! Go get it!
Besides that- I’m all about Devil’s Due and you’ll be seeing a lot of Storm
Shadow.

CA: One final question Mark, What title would you most like to pencil for? (Favorite character or title)

MR: Nightwing. Hands down. I have an obligation to my peeps at my local comic
shop to make that happen. I also love to take a run at John Constantine.

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Online Interview with Larry Hama


Synopsis:
The life of Thomas Arashikage has taken him down paths that have allied him with both G.I. Joe AND Cobra. Now he’s away from both sides of the war, and getting into trouble all his own! Storm Shadow returns in his own monthly title written by his creator Larry Hama!

With the upcoming release of GIJOE – Storm Shadow #01 from Devils Due publishing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Larry Hama about this book.

Rodney Ford: As a bit of back ground info, Storm Shadows first appearance was in GIJOE #21(marvel comics 1982), “silent interlude”. Can you tell us a bit about how Storm Shadow came into being the assassin we all know and love?

Larry Hama: I got to the end of ARAH #21 and got the idea to use him matching hexagrams bit. I didn’t even really know what the connection was between the two characters at the time. But that was the first link. Hexagram 65 of the I Ching (chi chi,) is called “After Completion.” It connotes the instability of perfection because the trigram K’an (water) strives to move downwards, while the trigram Li (fire) pushes upwards. I actually chose that hexagram because the symmetry made it easier to remember, but the meaning turned out to be synchronistically apt. Jung would have been amused.

RF: Did you ever think Storm Shadow would be as popular as he has been for the last 25 years?

LH: I didn’t think ninjas would ever catch on. But then, I worked on one of the first US Nintendo print ad campaigns for Dentsu Y&R and I remember thinking that such a weird product name would never catch on in America.

RF: Storm Shadow is one of the most recognizable and popular characters throughout all of the Gijoe franchise. What do you think makes him such an appealing character?

LH: His story is about the power of redemption. He masters arcane arts and disciplines and is a loyal and good friend to Snake-Eyes, but he is torn apart by envy and pride. Somehow, he finds the strength to get it all back together. Okay, he’s got cool ninja outfit and neat weapons and kicks major butt, but I think his back-story is a major appeal to
those who actually read the comic continuity. I really can’t say about the animated material, since I have not really seen more than an episode or two.

RF: Tommy has gone threw a lot of changes in the last few years. Will this story focus on his inner war as opposed to his war with Cobra and the Joes?

LH: Intrinsically, it will be all about his inner war, but not overtly. I really hate stories where characters sit around and talk about how they feel. I think we should get that information from the action of the story. This is not radio drama.

RF: How did the Storm Shadow ongoing series come about? Did Devils Due approach you to write the series?

LH: Yep. Mike O’Sullivan e-mailed me.

RF: Can you give us any details about the series? Will there be any guest appearances?

LH: Ah, those are surprises.

RF: Have you worked with DDP before? How has your experience been working with there incarnation of GIJOE and subsequent characters?

LH: I’ve done one four issue arc of one series, a four issue limited series and a short story. But I haven’t really worked with the new incarnations and the newer characters. I feel more comfortable in my own turf.

RF: What do you think of Mark Robinson Pencils? Do you feel his style compliments your writing?

LH: Difficult to say at this point. I only have a few pages to judge from and some of them are not in order. It’s impossible to judge continuity without the whole thing there, “After Completion,” you know. But from what I have seen, his drawing is very solid, and his acting has some cool subtlety to it that is a welcome relief from the usual snarling
and teeth-grinding.

RF: If I where to ask you why I should pick up this book, what would your response be?

LH: You put me in a difficult position. I always felt that blatant self-promotion was, well, unseemly. Whatever I do at any time is always my best shot within the real world parameters of the job. I only had a week to write and draw #21, but I gave it all I had. When I have more time to do a job, I tend to get carried away on the research. I am most comfortable with writing and drawing. I’m NOT a good salesman. A cobbler should stick to his last. I would say, please try this book. You might like it.

RF: Do you have anything else in the works with Devils Due?

LH: No, but I have some episodes of Robot boy coming up on Cartoon Network next season and five graphic history novels from Osprey. Also a video game for Curious/Game Lab that I have been working on for a year, and a new secret project with Pepe Moreno.

Online Interview with Adam DeKraker

By Rodney Ford

As a follow up to my review of Star Wars – Legacy #8, I’m proud to share with all of you my interview with Adam DeKraker. Adam was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding his work on this issue and what projects he has worked on in the past. He is a very talented penciller and Inker, having done work for DC comics, Marvel comics, Topps, Upper deck Entertainment, and Nickelodeon Magazine to name just a few.

RF: How did you get the opportunity to pencil a Star Wars book?

DeKraker: I just kept bugging the editor, Randy Stradley, whom I’d met at a convention a couple years back. Just kept sending him the stuff I was working on and let him know I’d be eager to give it a go at Dark Horse. Luckily, the project that opened up was this cool Star Wars gig.

RF: I noticed that there was no inker listed on this book. Did you ink this issue or did colorist Ronda Pattison?

DeKraker: This book was “shot from pencils,” something that’s becoming more common these days as technology has advanced. I scanned in my finished pencils, which, unlike a traditional comic’s page destined for inks, included some gray tones and shading. I fiddled with the pages a bit using Photoshop on the computer, and then sent the files off to Dark Horse. After that, Ronda did all the coloring magic. There is no proper “inker” on a book shot from pencils, but I think it’s fair to say that ideally both the penciller and the colorist put in a little extra work to mind the gap, and “complete” the art, by keeping the penciled work more precise than it may have to be if an inker is working over it, or choosing which lines to darken to make them look black like ink.

More and more books are being shot from pencils these days, with pretty mixed results. The end result can look more painterly with a talented colorist on hand, which can be nice, or the whole thing can just look washed out and unfinished. Unfortunately, I think the latter tends to be more common. Skipping the inker saves on time and money for a publisher though, so it’s becoming something you see more often.

Luckily for me, Dark Horse did a nice job on this. It’s the first time I’ve worked on something where I knew there wouldn’t be an inker and I was pretty nervous about how it’d look in the end. But, I think Ronda did some nice work here.

I still prefer an inked book, generally, but I do look forward to playing around like this again.

RF: What did you enjoy most about working on this issue?

DeKraker: Well, it was my first chance to do work shot just from pencils, so it
was fun to see how that turned out in the end. Having been nervous
about it initially, it made seeing the end result more rewarding.

Beyond that, getting the chance to work on something John Ostrander had
written was quite an honor. And to have it be Star Wars to boot, an
honor, and a bit intimidating!

RF: When you got the script for this issue how did you go about laying out the issue? Or did John already have notes regarding how he wanted it to look?

DeKraker: Generally, the layouts were up to me. Certain sequences or panels had specific directions, but I’d say the majority of the “visual storytelling” decisions were left to me. John’s script was very detailed in terms of what he wanted to make sure was on the page, and he had the script broken down into panels, but after making sure those
elements were there and that it was hitting the same beats, the actual layouts were pretty much up to me.

RF: Are you going to be doing any more issues of Legacy?

DeKraker: If they’ll have me back, I’d love to! I hope so. We’ll see.

RF: So I read some where that you also do inking. Do you have any inking projects in the works?

DeKraker: No straight inking projects in the pipeline right now. I’ve been doing a fair amount of inking over my own work on various little projects lately, like some Upper Deck trading cards and some special promotional projects at DC, as well as some pin ups that’ll be popping up here and there, but it’s been awhile since I inked another artist. Inking someone else can be a nice break from working in your own style, allowing you to stretch a bit. It seems Nickelodeon Magazine often reprints some of the stuff I do for them, so you can always keep an eye out for some of that.

RF: What are you working on now and what do you have coming out in 2007?

DeKraker: I’ve been doing a lot of strange little side projects lately. Like over at DC, I worked on the adaptation for the new Court TV series Til Death Do Us Part, starring John Waters as the Groom Reaper (crazy, right??), and illustrating all the photos for a Daily Planet newspaper for a Con Edison promotion. Collections of my work on Birds of Prey and Super girl & the Legion of Super-Heroes are hitting the stands in the coming months, and there are various pinups and trading cards and things that’ll be popping up here and there. I’ve got another project I’m working on, but not prepared to announce.

RF: One final question Adam, What title would you most like to pencil for? (Favorite character or title)

DeKraker: I really am a big super hero fan, so all the usual suspects, I suppose. At some point, working on the JLA is my dream, but right now I really enjoy the more second tier characters at both companies. I think I’d do a great job on Robin at DC. There’s a ton of weird characters I’d just get a kick out of working on, like Ragman, the Creeper, Iron Fist, or Animal Man. I’d kill to work on a project with a film noir vibe.

There are certainly some writers I’d jump at the chance to work on. I’d love to do something with Brian Bendis or Peter David.

_____________________________________________________________________

I hope you enjoyed this interview, please feel free to visit my comic space page for updates on upcoming interviews and reviews. Once again I’d like to thank Adam for taking the time to do this interview with me and I look forward to seeing what else he can bring to the comic world in the future.

Don’t forget to stop by Adam’s web site at adamdekraker.com

Greenlantern # 16

Review by Rodney Ford

“Wanted: Hal Jordan (chapter three)”

Writer: Geoff Johns

Penciller: Ivan Reis

Inker: Oclair Albert

Colorist: Moose Baumann

Letterer: Rob Leigh

Cover: Ethan Van Sciver

Assistant Editor: Elisabeth V. Gehalein

Editor: Peter Tomasi

Pilot Hal Jordan was chosen to represent an intergalactic police force created by the oldest beings in existence — The guardians of the universe. Protecting earth and all of space sector 2814 from every extraterrestrial threat imaginable. Hal Jordan shines his light proudly as the GREEN LANTERN!”

Characters: Global Guardians, Rocket Reds, Green Lantern, Sentinel, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Vixen, Black Lightning, Hawk Girl, Black Canary, Arsenal, Red Tornado, Captain Jillian “Cow Girl” Pearlman

Green lantern….. Just reading the title brings out the kid in me, and this issue doesn’t disappoint. Chapter three continues the “Wanted: Hal Jordan” story line, written by Geoff Johns. Once again Johns continues to seamlessly tie multiple characters into a free flowing and compelling story.

This issue continues with Hal trying to escape the faceless hunters and the Rocket Reds, as he tries to find Cow Girl, the justice league arrives to put a lid on the situation. The JLA engages the Rocket Reds as Hal explains what’s been going on. Sentinel confronts Hal, refusing to let him pass until he explains his actions. I won’t go into this much more, but I do want to point out how nicely Johns writes the interactive dialog between the JLA and Hal. This Reveals Wonder Woman’s light hearted attitude since Infinite Crisis and Hal’s guilt over cow girl getting shot down, as he puts it “she would be in this mess if I’d played it safe.”

On the other side of this issue you have Amon Sur attacking Edwards Air force base. I thought this guy was intense when Kyle Rayner took him on before becoming Ion, but I have a feeling Hal is going to have quit a fight on his hand next issue. What I find most interesting is that GL has is own prison where a few of his resent enemies are being held. I look forward to seeing the final show down.

Now I just want to say that I have been reading comics since the late 70’s and I’m happy to see the quality of artwork and printing improve as much as it has in the last 10-15 years. Ivan Reis has done a wonderful job of penciling on this entire run, especially on the full page spreads. I really enjoyed green lanterns constructs; the giant hawk taking on the Rocket Reds was outstanding.

The only complaint I had with this issue was with the inks. For the most part I like the inks, but on some of the panels they seem to dominate the pencils. Now the issue does appear to take place as the sun is setting, which may be what Reis and Albert where trying to pull off in this issue. Over all this is another great issue of Green Lantern and is a definite must have. If you haven’t read issues #14 and # 15 go pick them up, this story arc is worth reading.

Star Wars – Legacy # 8


Review by Rodney Ford

“ALLIES”

Writer: John Ostrander

Penciller: Adam Dekraker

Colorist: Ronda Pattison

Letterer: Michael Heisler

Cover: Colin Wilson

Assistant Editor: Dave Marshall

Editor: Randy Stradley

After the death of Emperor Palpatine, the defeated Imperial forces pulled back to the planet Bastion and called a truce with the new republic. For decades, peace flourished, until an invasion of extra-galactic aliens called the Yuuzhan Vong killed trillions and devastated worlds. A galactic Alliance of remaining systems, Jedi, and the Imperial remnant finally defeated the invaders.

Peace was restored, but decades later the Imperial remnant once more proclaimed itself an Empire– with a more benign Emperor on the throne. A century passed, and a new breed of sith, numbering more than two and lead by Darth Krayt, emerged to join the newly reforged Empire. Together they manufactured an incident that sundered the Galactic Alliance and began a brutal war. Now, the Empire is poised to regain control of the galaxy. Yet the intention of it’s sith allies remain shrouded…”

Characters: Emperor Roan Fel, Darth Krayt, Imperial Knights

If you haven’t picked up an issue of this series, now is a good jumping on point. Especially since Dark Horse is releasing a trade of the first six issues coming in April (Star Wars: Legacy Volume 1—Broken *Collects issues #1-3 and #5-7 of the Legacy ongoing series.). This issue focuses on a back story of Emperor Roan Fel and his dealings with the sith Lord Darth Krayt. Let me take a minute to explain a bit about Legacy and where it falls in the star wars time line.

Legacy takes place approximately 130 years after the battle of Yavin (the end of episode IV). The story centers on Luke Skywalker’s descendant, Cade Skywalker, who’s father along with nearly all the Jedi on Ossus are wiped out by the Sith. The story moves forward seven years and Cade is a bounty hunter, hunting down renegade Jedi. Did I get your attention? Good, now there’s a lot more to Cades story so go out and pick up the trade or the individual issues if you can find them.

Now let’s get back on topic, this issue sheds some more light on what happened just prior to the attack on the Jedi Temple on Ossus. The story revolves around Emperor Fel and a couple of his Grand Admirals. Admiral Veed strikes a deal with lady Maladi, to kill the emperor so he can take the throne. Needless to say there’s a lot of double dealing and miss trust to go around. I liked this story, but I think it could have been better if they had lengthened the story out one or two more issues. Obviously this would take away from the main plot line of the series but it is interesting to see how everything started.

I’d like to talk about the artist that penciled this issue, Adam Dekraker. His style stays on track with the rest of the star wars legacy books. I like the way most of his characters come off looking truly evil or at least menacing. The panels are well laid out, giving this book a lot more depth. I also need to note the colorist, Ronda Pattison. As it turns out Adam finished the pencils and Ronda worked her coloring magic to complete this issue, with out an inker.

But that is a tale for another article, which I will be posting here later this week. Adam has been nice enough to answer a few questions about his past present and future work in the comic industry. I’ll post a link on my comic space page when the article is ready to go. Until then I hope you like my review, feel free to stop by my page or just drop me an email. (www.comicspace.com/greenloontern)

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