The artist of the SHADOWLAND: POWER MAN mini talks about working on the series with Fred Van Lente and all the cool characters he got to work with.
Kuljit Mithra: Since the POWER MAN mini was part of the SHADOWLAND event, I'm guessing that you were approached by Marvel to work with Fred Van Lente. Is that a safe guess? What was your initial interest in the project?
Mahmud Asrar: Yes, [editor] Bill Rosemann asked if I'd be interested to do this mini creating and establishing a new Power Man in the Marvel universe. I found out Fred [Van Lente] was writing and it was something I couldn't pass up. I was pretty excited about it as it'd be my first mini series at Marvel.
Mithra: You've mentioned on your site that you really enjoyed working on this series, especially Van Lente's scripts. What was it about the collaboration that differed than other projects you've worked on?
Asrar: I truly had a blast with this and that is mostly due to Fred's writing. Each issue got better. Fred has an uncanny ability to convey character and emotion in a really short period of time. I started caring about each character from the first issue and sometimes only in a few panels. Besides that Fred is a hilarious guy. Kept me laughing all along the way. Especially the stuff he wrote for me in the script.
Mithra: You got to work with a lot of new characters and old obscure villains. I'd like to get some background on some of your designs for Victor, since you probably had more freedom to work on the costume with him, and even his "civilian" appearance.
Asrar: Yeah, I guess I've drawn most of the old Power Man and Iron Fist villains for this book. Given the context of the story it was huge fun. As for creating the new Power Man, it was a collaborative process. Fred, Bill and me pitched in our thoughts and ideas for how the character should be and we moved on from there. I was of course in charge of bringing him to life visually. I had two basic ideas at first. We went with the original concept of making his look a modernized tribute to the old Power Man look. Of course since Victor has a different power set his look obviously is easily distinguishable.
Mithra: How about some of the villains like Cottonmouth, Nightshade, Spear, Chemistro, Mr. Fish, Cockroach Hamilton etc. That must have been fun trying to find their past designs and try to incorporate your own look for them.
Asrar: I was lucky enough to have Fred dig up some reference for those guys. Being obscure as they are it's difficult to find proper reference. Drawing these stereotypical villains screaming the 70s designs was a lot of fun. I believe Chemistro was the only updated guy among this bunch. We also decided to update Deadly Nightshade to have an outfit more befitting of the present age. All in all a lot of fun.
Mithra: Also on your site, you've posted some of your pencil work. For the majority of your work on this series, your inker was Scott Hanna. What was it about his inking that served your art well? And what should an inker bring to any penciler's work?
Asrar: Scott has been the inker on most of my Marvel work. We have a great working relationship. Him being a talented artist himself, he really understands what I want to achieve and the end result turns out great. For the first time on this project he inked over printed bluelines of my pencils instead of over the original art. That took a bit of adaptation but worked out nicely. Unfortunately Scott had to be pulled out of the project in the last issue so we had Rick Ketcham filling in instead. To me an a good inker can make or break the looks of a book. A good inker understands the penciller and what he/she wants to achieve and brings that out and expands on it. This in turn leads to better storytelling and clearly readable visuals. A bad inker can mess up everything and take out the spirit from the artwork leaving a lifeless mess of shapes.
Mithra: You shared art duties on issue #4. Was this a planned event, or deadline crunch, or...?
Asrar: This was an interesting and partly unfortunate turn of events. Comics is a media mostly dependant on a monthly serialized schedule. This leads to many things that you really can't account for or predict. I understand that from the readers point of view it might look different but without getting too deep into the matter all I can say is this issue had to turn out the way it did and I feel that it wasn't anybody's fault.
Mithra: Last question: The Power Man and Iron Fist mini has been announced. Just a case of being too busy to work on this one, or did Marvel want to go with Wellinton Alves all along?
Asrar: Actually Marvel offered me first but unfortunately I had made previous commitments to both DC and Dark Horse. So I couldn't do the upcoming mini. Hopefully I'll get another shot at the character in the near future.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 2010
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