Thursday, May 11, 2006

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

I have a great amount of respect for Marc. Some of his inking has to be seen to be believed. I recommend any of the Action Comics complication graphic novels which has his inking on Ivan Reis pencils.

[Interview for Toon Zone News: 24th March 2004]

Last month, Toon Zone was fortunate to be able to speak to Brazilian comic illustrator Marc Campos about his work in the industry. Toon Zone now presents part two of this in-depth interview.

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

Toon Zone: Below is an example of your work for the Bruce Timm version of Superman. How hard was it to adapt to such a specific character study? Was it difficult to adapt to a stylized universe of characters?

Marc Campos: This image was requested by my agent as a test to a new (at the time) DC title inspired by the Superman Animated cartoon. I’ve always tried to enter the American market with my own style and when this opportunity appeared, I was very excited because my natural style has a lot of similarities with the work of Bruce Timm in the Batman and Superman Animated cartoons.

I’m a great fan of Timm. I think that the development of the style used since Batman: The Animated Series influenced many other artists of comics and animation. Timm is a master.

Regarding the difficulties, I don’t want to sound presumptuous, but I didn’t have many. I think it was because the style is really close to mine, and I’m not saying my work compares to a master like him.

Besides, I think the animation experience was good for me. Having to follow a model sheet or a style guide to adapt to a style that is very different from my own creates challenges that makes my work improve. To be honest, I felt shivers down my spine from thinking that I could actually work on a title like Superman.

Unfortunately, when the test arrived at DC, they had already hired another artist. I have loved DC ever since I was a kid, and I think the Superman animated series is the best stuff ever created for the character. The series is simply perfect. I have all the episodes recorded from TV. I’m such a fanatic about it that I created an image bank with information about each episode. One of my dreams is to one day be able to do something with this universe created by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, and the other artists of this team.

I believe they recaptured the right concept for each of these characters. They rebuilt the characters.

There are some interesting things about this cartoon-like style of drawing. Personally I think the style has a lot to offer to the superhero genre. I don’t understand why people say nowadays that superhero comics are for adults. It seems that people have the necessity to show that this is an adult narrative, and thus, the stories need to be more realistic to be believable. Maybe in older times people had more capacity for abstract stuff.

I like the superhero genre whether it’s done for kids or adults, with realistic drawings or in a cartoon-like style. I don’t think a story is less adult because the line is more stylized. This sort of worry creates some distortions. For example: I’ve read in many places that the main audience of the Justice League cartoon is adults. On the other hand, the comic book version of it is considered kid stuff. People take this too seriously. They should have more fun.

TZ: Working on the X-Men is any comic fan's dream come true. In the last interview, you explained how Nightcrawler was your favourite to draw. Which character posed the most problems or required the most concentration to draw?

Campos: I think it was Charles Xavier. In regards to other characters, bodily and facial expressions could be more melodramatic, more exaggerated. But I consider Xavier a character whose expressions must be subtler. I cannot imagine Xavier grinding his teeth or frowning in an exaggerated manner.

He controls himself. He is almost the Dalai Lama. It is not my intention to make any jokes regarding limits he might have in terms of corporal expression since he is handicapped, but I am talking about subtlety. His gaze was difficult to do. I wanted to suggest greater profundity… a gaze telling us that this person might know everything he wants to know about any living being on the face of the Earth, but does not do it because of ethical reasons.

TZ: Currently you are inking Ivan Reis' pencils for DC's long running Action Comics title. How different is an ink job to penciling? Will you be doing any pencils for the comic?

Campos: I think there are many differences. The work of a penciler involves so many aspects that I get a headache just thinking about it. First of all, the drawer must READ the script. He has to understand the intentions of the scriptwriter, understand the ambience, the dynamics, the tone of every scene, and not only that, he has to perceive how the whole story will develop through all 22 pages in order to really transmit tension, humor, terror, or any other feelings he has to work with. After that he analyses the script and transforms the text into an image.

The penciler considers aspects of narrative, timing, scene composition, and “camera” angles. Then comes the hardworking part: anatomy, perspective, light and shade, references, and all else. It is very difficult. Inking is Zen-like work. One has to be calm, especially when working with Ivan, who puts many details in each frame. Sometimes I call him and I curse him for about half an hour! That was a joke, but regarding Zen, I was serious.

For me, inking means paying uttermost attention to the work of the penciler. In no way should the inker have to interfere with a line of the penciler to the point of putting more of his own personality than that of the penciler.

I love to work as an inker, it strips the ego away. You go to a quiet place, and with all the humbleness in the world, try not to interfere or damage the work of an artist. In regards to starting to draw again, I think it is very difficult. I don’t like my “realistic” line. If I return to drawing comics, I would like to do something with my own line.

TZ: You've done a great deal of work for a variety mainstream companies: Dark Horse, Marvel, DC. Which character or title would you love to be involved with in the future?

Campos: Many, many indeed, although some of them might not be well-known to the public. There is a character named Magnus, Robot-Fighter. It was created by a great artist called Russ Manning. I love this character because it has to do with the classical science fiction of the fifties, a thing that nowadays is considered a bit trashy, but which is also very entertaining.

As I already said, I am a big fan of DC, where one can find wonderful characters such as Dr. Fate, Flash, Metamorpho, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Rac Shade. I am a big fan of Aquaman. I have already read almost everything about him and I would love to work with this character.

I run the risk of sounding very pretentious, but I would love to have a chance to write and also to draw a story with one of these characters. Actually I never considered myself an artist, I started to draw because I liked to write stories, I loved animation and movies and I was a fan of comics.

I wrote stories and wanted to see them expressed in the language of comics. That is why I started to draw. I never imagined I would become an artist. Things just happened.

The final part of this interview will be posted next month, when Marc will be talking about his work in Brazil, which is largely unseen in the US. Look out for a Drawing Board Exclusive interview with Marc about his drawing style in the near future.

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

(c) James McLean

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