Thursday, May 11, 2006

INTERVIEW: Marc Campos on Action Comics and beyond! PART ONE

[Interview for Toon Zone News: 16th February 2004]

Comic artist Marc Campos has produced work for a multitude of different titles across the comic industry. He is currently inking for DC Action Comics. Based in Brazil, Marc has kindly offered to share some of his work and background with Toon Zone. This is the first part in an extensive and exclusive three part interview with the artist and will look at his career and artwork both in America and Brazil. Look out for a further in-depth commentary on his technique as a comic artist at The Drawing Board Website in the very near future.

Both Toon Zone and Marc would like to thank Sergio Codespoti for providing the translations for this interview.

Toon Zone: Marc, can you tell us a little about how you got into comic illustration?

Marc Campos: I started to work with comics in 1984. And although I’m from a small town called Três Lagoas, that year I was living with my parents and my brother Ricardo. At the time, I was 19 years old and played in a rock band. I have always been a great fan of comics, but at that age I paid more attention to music. I bought a local comic title which had an ad for a company that was seeking new talents. That was funny because at the time the local comic market was on a low tide and seeing an ad seeking new artists was a bit nonsensical.

I sent a horror story anyway and to my surprise later, the company sent me the story printed on a comic, a check for the story, and an invitation to actively participate in the future editions.

I did some six or seven stories for this company that was located at (the most important city in with a population of more than 15 million people). Later on I met someone from Editora Abril, which was the biggest publishing house in Latin America. I did a test to be an art assistant and got the job. My musical career ended there. I returned to São Paulo (I had lived there previously in 1983) and sadly I still live there.

Editora Abril had the license to publish both Marvel and DC stuff here and to me it was a pleasure to work in the Brazilian editions. I did color separations for the local editions of Dark Knight Returns, Ronin, Black Hawk and a truckload of other fantastic stuff.

It also had some bad moments. Obeying editorial requests, I had to commit some heresies (famous around these parts and probably unheard of in the foreign market) on some Marvel materials. Like altering some characters that were in Secret Wars because of some of the chronology in the titles they published here. In that case, I switched the female Captain Marvel for Iron Man. Believe it or not, I had to draw Iron Man in every panel Captain Marvel appeared.

In Daredevil Born Again, they asked me to change the scene where Karen uses drugs. I had to change that panel too!

After that, I did some work for an animation company called Thalia Films that did some work for Hanna-Barbara. I started doing clean-up and ended up as an animator. We did one episode of Flintstone’s Golden Years (I’m not sure if this was the final name), one or two Smurfs, one of Snorkels, and we even did a pilot of a cartoon, I don’t know if it ever aired, called Clown City .

I returned to Editora Abril as an Art Director and in 1989 I accomplished my dream of really working with comics. I did a test for the old Malibu and ended up doing three series of Deathworld. Then I did Retief and The Warlords and finally Dollman.

TZ: Who have been your influences within the comic industry?

Campos : I have hundreds of influences; North American artists, Europeans, South Americans, Japanese, and of course, Brazilians. In general I like the old artists, the great masters... Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Will Eisner, V.T. Hamlin, Al Capp, Dik Browne, R.B. Fuller, Ramona Fradon, Harold Foster, Russ Manning, Milton Caniff, C.C. Beck, Frank Robbins, Alex Toth, Alex Raymond, Jim Steranko, Hergé, Morris, Charles M. Schulz, Jules Feiffer, Goscinny, Guido Crepax, E.P. Jacobs, Hermann, Hugo Pratt, Jean Graton, Greg and Henrique Breccia. Also some of the new masters like John Byrne, Walt Simonson, Frank Miller, Keith Giffen, Mike Mignola, Mike Allred, Mike Avon Oeming, the Hernandes brothers, Bruce Timm, Daniel Torres and finally the Brazilians: Ziraldo, Mozart Couto, Flávio Colin, Laerte, Lourenço Mutarelli and Libero.

I’m not sure if all this shows up in a relevant way in my work. If I had to pick some of that list I would say Kirby, Ditko, Eisner, Hamlin, Capp, Hergé, Simonson, Miller, Giffen, Mignola, Timm, Ziraldo, Libero, Colin, and my ultimate influence: Daniel Torres.

What attracts me to a style is its personality, the soul of the line. I don’t seek the technical virtuosos. To me an artist doesn’t have to necessarily recreate reality as a photograph, he should code it, stylize the images as he or she sees it. He can show his vision, his interpretation of that reality. There are some artists who are only putting a new spin on things that Alex Raymond or Kirby created and so on. Of course it’s difficult to show something totally original today, and no artist should seek that, but the problem does not lie in wanting to show something new. At worst, the reader does not wish to see something new.

TZ: You've done comic work, both pencils and inks, for a variety of different companies - do these companies differ in terms of how they work in relation to the comic artist?

Campos : It’s hard to answer that because I’ve never worked directly with those companies. I’ve always worked using my Brazilian agent, Hélcio de Carvalho, from Art & Comics. They are also agents of Ivan Reis, Ed Benes, Joe Bennet, Roger Cruz, Greg Tocchini and many others. Mike Deodato used to work with them too, but today he is at Glass House. As far as I’m aware, I’ve never had a problem with editors or their companies.

When I was invited to work with some American companies, I had to adapt my line, my style, and do something more mainstream... more super-hero like, a bit more realistic. It was an interesting challenge. I thought that the work would not be consistent and I wouldn’t be able to get to do some titles... it ended up with me being known as the “first” Brazilian to enter the difficult and competitive American market of comics! It was a surprise.

My first work was for Malibu and it was the most traumatizing of all. I had to do 56 pages of pencils and inks per month. After two and a half years in this crazy rhythm, I had a serious heart problem and had to stop for six months. I’d forgotten how to draw. Later I had to run after it to get it back.

I liked working for Marvel a lot because there I could use my own style, which has much more to do with the so called animated style, and even better, I could ink my own work, giving it a much more personal finishing. But I’ve always loved DC. I love their characters. They are icons, the stuff of legend. They have a powerful and deep mythological quality, although everybody understands that they are a bit superficial and to some extent outdated.

I did Darkstars, Justice League of America , Extreme Justice, Guy Gardner – Warrior, and Blood Pack for DC and I found it odd. I didn’t like the end result. I don’t like my drawings when I try to be more of a “realist”. I’m sure that my realist style is almost insignificant.

My work for Dark Horse, in The Mask Adventures, was nice and easy. Dark Horse seems to be a very good company to work for.

TZ: Of the X-Men characters you've had to draw, which have you particularly enjoyed working on? Which do you think you have styled the best?

Campos: Without a doubt it was Nightcrawler! I love the character. He has some body dynamic that is easy to be explored. He has a few characteristic stances that I was honored to be able to do. I studied the work of the fabulous John Byrne to do The Origin of Nightcrawler and it was real nice to notice how he achieved the transmission of the personality of Kurt Wagner using stances and expressions. I tried to follow that but I don’t know if I achieved it.

TZ: We have a picture from the Brazilian edition of Sin City – how did this job come about, are you a fan of Frank Millar's work?

Campos : Leandro Luigi Del Manto, at the time one of the editors responsible for the Brazilian version of Sin City (currently working for another publisher), invited me – and some other artists – to create pinups of Sin City . It seems that Dark Horse and even Frank Miller liked it a lot and approved it.

I’m an ardent fan of Frank Miller... I might be the only living being who loved DK2!!! I really liked it and I think I understand what he tried to do. I don’t like the end of the story, what he did with Dick Grayson and Superman... but anyway...

I’ve followed his career for many years now and I can see how his art has changed and has gotten better over time. Not only in terms of style, narrative and the scripts, but in his way of perceiving and doing comics for the American industry. Miller is fundamental in the construction and destruction of how comics are made, not only in America , but in the whole world. He will be forever remembered for his relevance because of his art and his influence in the industry.

The first time I went to America, I went out with some people, from the Cleveland Convention, to buy some comics and got scared when I bought his work and some of Mike Mignola’s stuff because I saw how some people hated the art of both. These guys were short of cutting my throat! They said that both cannot draw! Even if this was true, which it is not, it is as if comics were only about pretty drawings! There’s much more to it than that.

Translator for this interview was Brazilian comic artist Sergio Codespoti and Marc recommends readers to have a look at his website at

{c} James McLean

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