Back in the early to mid 80′s I was a Marvel Comics aficionado. My tastes developed over that time in such a way that eventually I would only buy comic books if I liked the artist. This means I followed John Byrne pretty closely. I remember being blown away with the art in his short run on The Incredible Hulk in 1986. Soon thereafter John Byrne left Marvel and began working for DC writing and pencilling Superman (not bad for your first gig at DC!) Up until that point I had very little exposure to the DC universe but if it was good enough for my hero, Byrne, it was worth a shot. Although DC comics had a different taste than what I was used to I quickly came to love this new world.
Transition to the mid 2000′s. I wasn’t buying many comic books but I was buying lots of action figures. Like my earlier criteria for buying comics I stuck to buying figures that, in my opinion, were well done aesthetically. So when DC Direct’s first series of figures based on the art of Ed McGuinness were released I was sucked in. Not having kept up with comics I was now intrigued about this McGuinness guy. So I went to my local comic shop and picked up Superman/Batman Public Enemies. Wow! I liked the story and loved the art. Then DC Direct’s next McGuiness series came out based on the JLA Ultramarine Corps story line. Bought the figures and the graphic novel. Same with the Vengeance waves.
So when I heard Ed McGuiness was coming to Phoenix’s local "Cactus" Comic Con I made sure to go. I had missed his panel with Jeph Loeb on Saturday but I did make it to his solo panel on Sunday. My first impression was that he is a very down-to-Earth, unassuming kinda guy. Although there was not a big turnout for the panel he entertained our questions for a full hour. I did not take notes (didn’t realize I’d be blogging someday!) but here’s some of what I recall:
He likes and thinks its cool to have action figures that are based on his art although he did admit to getting a bit weary of the reused bodies. He thought master sculpter Tim Bruckner hit it out of the park with Hawkman and didn’t seem perturbed that the figure is so out of scale. I mentioned that I was turned on to his art by way of the figures and he thought that was pretty funny.
Mr. McGuinness mentioned that his drawing process has changed over the years. When he was starting out he would lay out these tight thumbnail sketches which he would eventually trace over. Now he bypasses that duplication and gets right to drawing on the final board. He says it allows him more flexibility and spontaneity. He tries to keep his day to a typical 9-5ish type schedule. Especially now that he has a family to spend time with. He said he loves drawing human anatomy (obviously!)
I asked what his least favorite thing to draw was and he answered: "Guns and cars." Speaking of Jack Kirby he said: "He never designed a bad costume."
Another question I posed had to do with his distinct style. I asked: "Do you find you want to have tight control over the work of your inkers and colorists?" He told us about the good working relationship he’s developed with inker Dexter Vines. Its my personal observation that he’s had some of the industries top colorists working on his titles, including Dave McCaig and Dave Stewart. Can’t complain there!
Finally he spoke enthusiastically about his move to Marvel and his new job: HULK. That’s now one of the few titles I’m picking up. Hey, where’s issue #3?
Funny how 20 years ago John Byrne went from Hulk to Superman, Marvel to DC, and took me with him. Now Ed McGuinness has transitioned from Superman to Hulk, DC to Marvel, and brought me full circle!