Randy Bowen, the famous sculptor of many statues for Marvel and other companies, talks about his new Daredevil statues and his other work. He also talks about the process involved with making a statue.
Kuljit Mithra: Can you give some background on yourself and how you eventually ended up designing statues?
Randy Bowen: Here's the short version: I've always liked sculpting and drawing. I was the first sculptor in the field to receive name recognition for my work. I started out as an illustrator then went on to creating model kits, then statues. For a complete bio-story, check out the latest issue of Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine.
Mithra: Do the companies that you work for come to you with ideas on what to make, or do you pitch the ideas to them?
Bowen: I used to do commission work for the various comics companies, but not I only work for my own company. The ideas are mine, but I do have to get approval for licensed characters.
Mithra: Are there any characters that you want to make, but haven't had the chance yet?
Bowen: I really like the Golden Age DC stuff, Robert E. Howard, etc., but I think in the next few years I'm going to focus on original characters and ideas.
Mithra: I read in previews that Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti helped design the Daredevil statues. What was their involvement?
Bowen: I based the pose on a pencil sketch from Joe that appeared in the Marvel Knights Sketchbook. He did some other sketches that were great, but would have made the final sculpture too expensive.
Mithra: Does popularity of the character dictate what statue is done?
Bowen: To some degree - yes. I try to take a different tack than most companies. Sometimes I do the less popular characters, simply because I like them. It makes bad economic sense, but I do it to make myself happy. I do have to sculpt the popular ones from time to time, so that I can do the lesser known characters I want to.
Mithra: Whose idea was it to do two versions of DD?
Bowen: It was our idea. We plan to do the same thing with selected characters.
Mithra: Aside from the colouring, are there major differences between the two that you had to account for while making the designs?
Bowen: Yes, we had to re-sculpt the chest insignia, the boot tops and the gloves.
Mithra: Can you briefly describe what was involved with getting the initial prototypes done for DD?
Bowen: We start with the sketch, which then has to go through the approval process at Marvel. Once that's done, it's just a matter of doing the work.
Mithra: What materials do you use?
Bowen: I use a bakeable polymer clay called super sculpey.
Mithra: What kind of tools?
Bowen: I hand-make all my own miniature sculpting tools.
Mithra: Compared to some of your other work, were the DD statues relatively easier to create?
Bowen: Not really. Each statue creates its own set of problems.
Mithra: How much time did you spend designing the DD statues?
Bowen: Not much. The real design challenge was the base. Fortunately I am trained in mechanical drafting. In other words, I can give a machinist a working drawing of exactly what I want.
Mithra: Were the billy clubs difficult to produce?
Bowen: No. I think we just used a piece of wooden doweling for the clubs. The hands were then sculpted around the dowel itself.
Mithra: Once you've created the prototype, how does it get to the production phase and what's involved there?
Bowen: Once the original sculpture is approved by Marvel, we then create a silicon mold and make the painted prototypes. After the paint scheme is approved, we send the painted samples off to the factory for price quotation. The factory creates what are called 'counter samples'. These are then shipped back to us to make sure that they meet with our approval. After those are approved, we send them back to the factory for the production phase. All the sculptures are then cast, finished and painted by hand. In the meantime, back in the States, we are given the box dimensions by the factory. From there, I create a detailed sketch of what I want the packaging to look like. This is then given to our computer graphics guy to make into a usable file for packaging.
Mithra: Were you always a DD fan?
Bowen: Yes, I loved DD in the seventies. I lost touch with comics for a few years, until a friend handed me a Frank Miller issue. I was hooked again.
Mithra: Are there any other DD related characters that you'd want to create?
Bowen: Ya, I've always loved the Black Widow. She's probably one of the sexiest female heroes ever created. She doesn't have the large fan base of say an X-Men character, but what the heck... I like her.
Mithra: Are there any coming out soon?
Bowen: Black Widow within the year. We're also going to be doing an Elektra mini-bust.
Mithra: Can you talk about any other statues that you are currently working on?
Bowen: Right now I'm finishing off a sculpture of Thor. The next one will be Captain America. Both will be released as moderately priced painted statues. We've also got some very cool mini-busts coming out soon: Red Skull, Mole Man, Black Panther, Black Bolt, Magneto and many more.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 1999
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear
Jose Guns Alves
Black and White
Roberto De La Torre
Carmine Di Giandomenico
Tommy Lee Edwards
Elektra Hand Devil
Fall From Grace
Justin F. Gabrie
Devin K. Grayson
John Patrick Hayden
Alex Irvine & Tomm Coker
Mark Steven Johnson
Lauren Mary Kim
Ryan K. Lindsay
Vatche Mavlian &
Shane McCarthy &
Richard K. Morgan
Suzanne H. Smart
Stephen D. Sullivan
Lee Weeks (2)
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