Brian Denham was one of the artists on DD#375 and in June will be releasing his own series for Antarctic Press. Here he talks about his DD work and what his new series is about.
Kuljit Mithra: Can you give some background on yourself and how/why you chose to become a comic book artist?
Brian Denham: When I was a little kid my brother Terry showed me a stack of old comics he had. He told me how people drew them and they were colored by people who colored in dots. I told him at that time that I was going to draw comics when I got big. I couldn't have been 4 years old at the time.
Mithra: Is there any one character or comic that inspired you to make this decision?
Denham: I drew a Superman picture in 3rd grade that I could remember how to draw so I would draw it for every kid in school. No photocopiers then.
Mithra: How would you describe your art style? Who or what influenced you?
Denham: Realistic and kinetic. Neal Adams, John Byrne, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and the manga team Clamp.
Mithra: How do people react when you tell them you draw comics for a living?
Denham: They think it's cool. They get excited as well.
Mithra: Some of your credits include the Violator vs. Badrock special, Warrior Nun Areala #1-3 and Alpha Flight #5, all for different companies. Are there any major differences in philosophy/creativity among them?
Denham: I see Image as being flash over substance. They didn't want character reactions except for a stoic face or a grimace. No in between. Antarctic is more individual style over anything. They don't really want an Image look which I am happy to unlearn. Marvel was more of a 'Get it done' attitude. I didn't feel they cared what it looked like as long as it was done.
Mithra: In June, you are debuting your creator-owned series, American Woman, for Antarctic Press. Why go the creator-owned route?
Denham: I have created characters my entire life. I had an active imagination growing up and would create all sorts of stories to keep me entertained. It only makes sense to me to do my own stories as a grown up. It also boggles my mind that people are so against this thing called "Creator-Owned Books". Does anyone ask Stephen King why he doesn't continue an Edgar Allan Poe story? I can create something unique to the super-hero world. Something as unique as Batman was to super-heroes. Or as unique as any other iconic character without ripping someone else's work off. When Rob Liefeld 'created' Glory for Image, it was basically Wonder Woman. She was a goddess from the Isle of Paradise instead of Paradise Island. I asked him once "Rob, how come all of your Extreme characters are like Marvel and DC characters?" Glory/Wonder Woman, Youngblood/Avengers, Badrock/Thing, and so on... How can you not get sued? DC sued for Shazam(Captain Marvel) which didn't really resemble Superman at all. He said he was Rob Liefeld and nobody could f&^* with him. That's a load of BS to me. I have an original character unlike anything seen before in comics and I defy anyone to say it isn't unique to the comics world. I didn't want to ride the coattails of characters created before I was born. It would be nice to do a Superman, Batman, Hawkman, or FF story one day just like it would be blast to do Daredevil and Alpha Flight. I think I would be better suited to doing original stuff and let the less creative out there stay on the icons.
Mithra: What is the series going to be about, and why did you choose Antarctic Press as your publisher?
Denham: American Woman tells the story of a line of super-heroes dating
back to the Revolutionary War. These American women have protected
America by channeling the spirit of the American people through them.
They can then unleash it as incredible magic power. They only need the
people on their side so if public opinion for the American Woman is bad
and she is not trusted, she can't harness the power. With today's media
bent on destroying anybody who looks pure, this story really takes off
when AW is under fire by a reporter with a mysterious agenda!
(DRAMATIC MUSIC HERE)
I chose Antarctic because I've been a Ben Dunn fan for over a decade and I really think AP has potential. The entire industry is in a slump and nobody is really doing new things. Here, AP is doing stuff out on the edge - starting toy companies, doing animation, picking up my book, something very far removed from anything seen in a long time (if ever) and they are also picking up cutting edge stuff like Stargods and Alley Oop. Lots of diversity here. I like this company. Plus they do what they say they are going to do. No BS.
Mithra: You contributed art to Daredevil #375. How did that come about, and what do you think of the final product?
Denham: I did a few pages for editor Jaye Gardner in Alpha Flight which was very rushed because I had an unbelievable deadline. But I got it done and he told me he would get me something with more time and he gave me 3 DD pages which I did over the Christmas holiday. The final product was not colored as I would have liked and I wish I could have inked it myself. It really got butchered. Another reason doing it yourself is the only way to go. It sucks putting a lot of effort into something to appease the fans and seeing it ruined or left out.
Mithra: Are you a fan of Daredevil? Why/why not?
Denham: I'm a big Daredevil fan. I have been since I was a kid. I wish I had an opportunity to really unleash on him; do some super realistic stuff but with that Hong Kong cinema flair for the unbelievable. I think DD is a testament to the human condition. I remember thinking I could overcome anything when I was a kid because DD was blind and still did things. He was the man without fear!!! So when I was afraid, I would pretend I was him and I could do anything.
Mithra: What would you do to make Daredevil a more popular character?
Denham: I would draw it. Super realistic artwork with a kinetic explosive artistic flair. The new look [Joe] Quesada is doing rocks. If I could do it, it would look a lot like that but better! :)
Mithra: Are you worried about how your new series will fare? It's risky for new series in the industry right now...
Denham: I really thought I would worry about it more. But I figure that if I do something that I pour my heart into, it will find its audience. Sure it's risky, but it's still worth the effort. Better to do something great now while it's risky than not and have nobody here to read it in a few years.
Mithra: Will you be taking on any other projects while you work on your own series?
Denham: I am trying to make AP a better company. I'm trying to get great artists to join up and do something that they own. I'm also trying to reenlist into the Marine Corps and do my book in my spare time.
Mithra: Are you also writing your series?
Denham: I wrote the plot and some dialogue. I have a writer who will script the first issue and we'll co-plot and he'll write the rest of the issues. I wanted to set the mood and storytelling with the first issue.
Mithra: Do you plan on making movies, action figures etc. based on American Woman, or will you just concentrate on the comic side of things?
Denham: I have an American Woman action figure coming out in June and I have some people already interested in a cartoon series. Lot of work ahead.
Mithra: What are some of your interests besides comics?
Denham: I have none. Comics are my life. I do like playing Legos with my son.
Mithra: What is your dream project?
Denham: I will do a Superman story before I die and I love a shot at the FF. Also a Jabba the Hutt story. I would really like to revive Captain Marvel for Marvel Comics!!!
(c) Kuljit Mithra 1998
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