Pat Garrahy was the assistant editor on DD during the Chichester/McDaniel run on the title. Here he talks about those issues, the Man Without Fear limited series, and his current colouring work.
Kuljit Mithra: You are well-known for your colouring work on JLA, Powers and other titles, but many comic fans may not know you did some editing work as well many years ago. Had you started in the business as an editor? What was the initial interest for you in comics as a career?
Pat Garrahy: Back in 1990, my college roommate spent a semester in New York, met a girl, and stayed for the summer. While he was there, he arranged for an internship at Marvel Comics. When he returned to De Pauw University in the fall, he convinced me to apply for the same internship program. So I spent the January term of my senior year as an intern at Marvel Comics. I worked for editors Bob Harras and Howard Mackie. After the internship ended, I returned to finish school, and within a couple of weeks, Bob Harras called to see if I would be interested in returning to New York for a few weeks to aid in the editorial production of X-FORCE #1 and X-MEN #1. So I took some time off around Spring break, went to work as sort of a freelance assistant editor, and shortly thereafter was offered a full-time assistant editor position. Marvel waited a few months while I returned to graduate from De Pauw University, and two days after graduation I was living in New York and working full-time for Marvel Comics.
I had always been a comic book fan when I was a kid--I even worked in a comic book store in Chicago back when I was in High School. Similar to many people, I stopped collecting comics once I went to college due to a tight budget, and I felt as though I was leaving comics behind. When the opportunity to work for Marvel presented itself, I jumped at the chance to join the industry.
Mithra: I believe you started as assistant editor on Daredevil (after Len Kaminski) around issue 304. Was it a job you were actively trying to get, or was it just assigned to you? Were you a big fan of Daredevil?
Garrahy: Actually, after interning for Bob Harras and Howard Mackie, I started working as an assistant editor in Marvel's Special Projects department. I worked for then editor Glenn Herdling. We were responsible for a few titles (DESTROYER & NOMAD, custom comic books, trading cards, posters, and Marvel's Quarterly Reports (in comic book form). After working for Glenn for about nine months, Tom DeFalco approached me to take over Len Kaminski's position as Ralph Macchio's assistant editor. Although I wouldn't say I was actively trying to get the position, I jumped at the chance to work on DAREDEVIL, THE AVENGERS, FANTASTIC FOUR, CAPTAIN AMERICA, and THE MIGHTY THOR which were the titles Ralph was editing at the time. I was a fan of all these titles--having collecting them when I was a kid. Although FANTASTIC FOUR had always been my favorite title, I grew up reading Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL and was eagerly as psyched to work on DD. Within a relatively short amount of time, DAREDEVIL became my favorite title to work on--due to a close working relationship which I developed with the creative team.
Mithra: What were some of the other titles you worked on?
Garrahy: Well, in an editorial capacity I also worked on DAREDEVIL THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR, THUNDERSTRIKE, lots of Marvel Trade Paperbacks, FURY, AVENGERS: THE TERMINATRIX OBJECTIVE, and later at DC I edited THE NEW TITANS, BLACK LIGHTNING, DEATHSTROKE, and NIGHTWING.
Mithra: As assistant editor you probably had to coordinate all the creators on the title, so how was it to work with such creators as Dan Chichester, Scott McDaniel, Hector Collazo, Bud LaRosa and others?
Garrahy: They were all great. I'm still good friends with Scott, and although I've been out of touch with Dan and Hector, I look forward to running into them on occasion. We had an absolutely fabulous time working together as a creative team.
Mithra: What did you think of Scott McDaniel's change in art style?
Garrahy: Short story: loved it. Long story: Scott was an old college friend of
Glenn Herdling (my first boss at Marvel). He had done a few custom comic projects for Glenn
and myself back when I worked in Marvel's Special Projects. Scott had also done some
Spider-Man work, and initially I think Scott was really influenced by the Spider-Man house
style at the time. When I started working for Ralph, DAREDEVIL didn't have a regular
artist. Within days I convinced Ralph and Dan to bring Scott on to the
Scott was working full-time as an engineer. Once he felt comfortable working on a monthly title, he left engineering to throw himself fully into DAREDEVIL. So as Scott had more time to devote to his art, it began to change. I worked very closely with Scott, and when we planned the release of THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR; Scott, Dan, and I pushed for the new art direction. It was at this time Hector Collazo began inking Scott. Hector, as well as being an incredibly talented artist, had worked in Marvel's Production Department and later replaced me as Glenn Herdling's assistant. So, like Scott, we culled Hector's talents and stole him away from Glenn. (Sorry, Glenny!)
Mithra: How was it to work with Ralph Macchio? Marc Siry, another former assistant editor on DD, commented on how Macchio is very dedicated to his work and can be very intense at times.
Garrahy: Ralph is a rather interesting character--very talented--and sort of the last remaining icon representation of the old Marvel (back when Marvel was considered a company and not a corporation). I think once I got the feel for the books, my own "intensity" replaced whatever Marc Siry saw, because I'd describe Ralph as being very laid back.
Mithra: You worked on the title during the early 90's speculator craze days. How was DD selling before Fall From Grace and after?
Garrahy: DD's sales were fairly average when I joined the book. I think Tom DeFalco actually gave the creative team a pep talk along the lines of, "You'd better get your f------ asses in gear, or I'll cancel the book." So we gathered for a summit, planned "Fall From Grace", made gestures towards Tom DeFalco when his back was turned, and huddled in the corner designing covers and costumes. Oh what fun! If I remember correctly, DAREDEVIL was selling around 60,000 to 70,000 copies a month (which in those days was pretty low--below 60,000 most books were cancelled). The initial response to DAREDEVIL #319 blew all our sales expectations away. We went to a second printing within a week, and by issue #321, I think the sales jumped above 200,000.
Mithra: How did editorial first react to the change in costume idea, and what was your opinion on it?
Garrahy: I was way to close to the project to have an objective opinion--I loved everything we were doing. I remember many conflicts with Tom DeFalco. He kept killing all our initial designs for DD's new costume. The end result was a compromise. I don't really remember the rest of editorial taking issue with the changes in DAREDEVIL--most were complimentary. I do remember John Romita getting upset. John was the Art Director at the time, as well as being one of the original artists on DAREDEVIL. John's office was right next to mine, and I used to use John as a sounding board all the time--I loved his insight and sensibilities. John is not only amazingly talented, but a very very nice gent. So it really gave me sort of an internal struggle when John blasted our changes. In summery: conflict with authority/Tom DeFalco--negligible, conflict with patriarchal father figure/John Romita--much angst.
Mithra: What about Elektra? Was their any hesitation from Macchio to use her? What did you think of her 'revival'?
Garrahy: Ralph promised Frank Miller years ago that he would keep Elektra dead. He
meant to keep his promise. But he made the promise when Marvel was a close-knit company, and
Marvel the corporation had no intention of leaving Elektra an unturned stone. The orders for
Elektra's return came
from above--they wanted to play with her potential as an action figure.
Under the circumstances, I think we did a really good job of bringing her back. The one thing we tried to do was keep Elektra's return a secret so it would shock the hell out of everyone. Somewhere early along the way we had a huge response to the first few issues of DAREDEVIL. And we never expected the "press" exposure to be so relentless. So we let it slip.
Mithra: You probably saw first-hand how DD fans were taking to the changes in the title... was there a clear 'love it' and 'hate it' division? Were there a lot of people really upset with the changes?
Garrahy: No--I think love it or hate it was pretty much the response. Most of the feedback we received was in favor of our changes. We justified it by offering THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR at the same time as a "traditional" alternative, and the knowledge that in comics nothing lasts forever.
Mithra: Had you come up with the 'Redlines' letter page with the graphic in the background? Were the pages not printing correctly, because it seemed people were having lots of trouble reading them.
Garrahy: My fault entirely. Our production abilities were somewhat simple back in those days--before the age of Macintosh really rushed in. The creative team agreed we wanted to make a change to give DAREDEVIL a brand new look--an overhaul in total trade dress--make it stand apart. I designed the new logo, and the letters page. Unfortunately we just had problems with the ink saturation on the letters page, and no matter what the changes, it always came out muddy. On the plus side, I think more people actually were reading the letters pages in DAREDEVIL! :o)
Mithra: After Fall From Grace you left the title. What was your next project after DD?
Garrahy: Shortly after "Fall From Grace" and THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR were complete, I left Marvel to pursue outside interests. Within a short amount of time I ended up working as an editor at DC. I always regretted leaving DAREDEVIL because many of the plans we had for the book (Dan, Scott, Hector, and myself) never really came about. The editorial direction changed, and everything just drifted apart. It would have been nice to see Dan and Scott complete the elaborate long-term schemes we had originally outlined.
Mithra: What was their storyline going to be about?
Garrahy: I can't really say much about the storylines Dan had planned to write, because, I don't necessarily remember the outlined plots, but they were far-reaching. The big plan we had, really a sub-plot, was to slowly see the Kingpin regain his hold on the New York Crime syndicates, and retaliate on Matt Murdock/Daredevil in a big way. I remember being very excited to see Dan and Scott carry this out. Dan had also wanted to set up really great power struggles among the Hand, Hydra, and the Criminal Underground of New York. The end result would have been Kingpin (maybe around issue #350?) dominating or obliterating his competition during the course of all the hoo-haa. That much I do remember. My side of the future plans for DAREDEVIL, were involved with the design and packaging of the book. Scott, Dan and I had worked out an idea for redesigning the trade dress of DAREDEVIL with each story arc--much the same way we did for "Fall From Grace" and the "Tree of Knowledge" storyline which followed. It was actually an idea taken from Dave Sim's CEREBUS story arcs. Each story arc was to have its own identity. "Tree Of Knowledge" was to be a nod in the realms of current technologies, the next story was to return DD to a more gritty realism. When I left Marvel, I left behind the groundwork for the redesigns--the "Tree of Knowledge" storyline was initiated, but I was unable to see it to fruition. Soon thereafter it became clear the editorial direction on the book was changing. Scott McDaniel left to pursue other projects, and DAREDEVIL eventually changed editors. Dan Chichester was taken off the book, and all our grand plans for ol' Hornhead went by unrealized. Nothing lasts forever in comics.
Scott or Dan may have already mentioned this, but the quality of THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR, along with the exposure that series was undoubtedly going to receive, created a LOT of motivation for the regular DD creative team. We put a lot of mental sweat into DAREDEVIL to make sure the work we did--especially on the "Fall From Grace" storyline--was going to take folks notice. I think we put a lot of effort into creating a DD storyline which was unique, and stood out in contrast to what Frank and JR's work was. As part of the editorial team on both projects, I was really glad to see each was a success in their own right. Although I loved working on both--they still remain highly ranked as my favorite projects--I think I would give Dan and Scott more credit. They had to work harder for their success at the time.
Mithra: Had several different designs been prepared for the look of each issue of MWF? Who came up with the cardstock cover and foil idea? Was that yours as well?
Garrahy: At the time foil, holograms, and embossed specialty covers
were thrown on
every other book Marvel published. The decisions to put foil on the
was not our idea--frankly most of editorial was getting sick of it. When
was told we had to use foil (and during my stint at Marvel, tons of
specialty covers were "assigned" to our books), I wanted to make sure we
were using it in a way which had never been done. Instead of placing red
foil on the large Daredevil figures, I opted to try to foil John Romita
Jr.'s artwork. The manufacturing guys ran a few tests with the printer to
make sure it was feasible, and once we knew it could be done--the issue
being the complexity of the line art--the original covers were completed
you saw them in print. JR Jr. had already pencilled at least one of the
covers--if not all, and I remember sitting down with him to discuss my
for the cover designs for the series--which involved John making changes
re-doing some of the cover work he had already turned in.
The cover design was actually a nod to early twentieth century Russian art. Very rectilinear in design, plain type, simple color schemes, with the large "Lenin-esque" center figure of Daredevil in red foil, and the smaller figures of action at the bottom of each cover image. The only cover which varied from this design was the cover to issue #2. JR Jr. had completed the image, we really liked it, and instead of re-doing the cover, we worked around it--it was Elektra, after all--why shouldn't the Elektra cover stand out a bit!
The overall theme behind the cover designs was Daredevil in retrospect. Since DD doesn't show up in costume until the last issue (and the red and yellow tights at that), we wanted to be able to tie the red costume into the cover design of each issue--made the book more identifiable. In discussions with Frank, JR, and everyone else involved, we wanted to really make the book stand apart--try something new and not necessarily traditional. We even dropped the traditional DAREDEVIL logo, and I designed the the type logo which used my thumbprint as an emboss pattern to tie-in Matt Murdock's blindness--the tactile sense of touch on THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR. I think our discussion focused on the book being more about the definition of Matt Murdock's character, and less about DAREDEVIL. At least I think that's how we won arguments with DeFalco.
Mithra: Was it true that Miller and Romita, Jr. took years to get the project going, in order to coordinate their time with other work? I've heard things about this only being a graphic novel, then it was stretched out to be a series, etc. and it was first a movie treatment.
Garrahy: It might have been a movie treatment, I'm not sure--but it was supposed to be a hardcover when the project was initiated. Frank and John completed the plot and the art way before I began working for Ralph. When I started working as Ralph's assistant, all the penciled art was sitting in a flat file drawer--had been for a long time. There had been no plans to publish the book, and Frank hadn't written his script (which didn't look like he was going to do any time soon). After I settled into my position as Ralph's assistant, I started pushing buttons. About once a week I'd ask Ralph when the hell we were going to publish the book. Then I started working on Tom DeFalco. Then it was easy to get John Jr. riled up--so he too began badgering Tom and Ralph. I think the ball really started rolling when we got the sales department guys involved. They saw the $ signs, and knew it had to be published. This process of harassment and trickery took almost two years before we received the commitment to publish. Unfortunately by the time THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR was going to be published, the comic market had already started its major decline. Publishing THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR as a hardcover was not feasible--too expensive. So I was asked to break it into a limited series. Ralph re-connected with Frank Miller to initiate the writing of the script--he added extra motivation by telling Frank he would give it to someone else to write if Frank didn't. I don't think Ralph ever intended to let someone else write Franks book, but it was probably the right thing to say to get certain gears in motion. Frank and John weren't happy the book was changing formats. We had the sales guys punch the numbers, and Frank and John both had to agree it was the way to go.
Mithra: Did anyone in editorial have a problem with some of the 'retconning' that Miller did with DD's origin?
Garrahy: Not that I'm aware of--I think everyone was just really excited to see Frank and John's work in print. Oh--except for one tiny point. In issue #1, Frank had written a scene where Matt pushes a prostitute out a window. In the original plot and script, the Prostitute dies, and it becomes a defining moment of Matt's tortured soul. I had issue with this scene, or rather a line of dialogue which emphasized the murder. I felt the way it was written made Matt's character less heroic--in many ways tainted. Ralph and I discussed it, and we opened it up for debate to others in the office. The general consensus was in agreement, and so Ralph called Frank to have him change one line of dialogue. This was a crucial moment for Matt's character, and Frank wasn't happy about the request. I think he actually saw our point, and that one line was changed to something a bit more vague. I also think Ralph took responsibility for the change so Frank would think the request came from him. (If Frank ever reads this, I'm sure I'm in trouble...)
Mithra: How was it to work with this team and how did they differ than the team on the regular series?
Garrahy: The major difference was THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR was completely penciled before I became involved. A lot of the work on my part was in the packaging and design of the book. I talked to Frank on occasion to relay information about our progress, but 80% of the time our discussions would digress to politics, world events, and stuff outside comics. John Jr., on the other hand, used to pop in the office very frequently. Since his part was done, I'd just keep him up to date on our progress, have him make little changes to covers, and shoot the breeze. The majority of my involvement with the creative team was with Al, Christie, and Joe. I really respect their work--love each and every one for their talents. They were great to work with in all respects.
One of the unique things I did for the creative team was to list their
credits on the covers of this series. At the time, DC was listing the
writer and artist credits on the covers of each book they
wasn't. Of course Marvel was going to put Frank's name on the cover,
because Frank's name sold books. Although I wouldn't have had any
putting Frank Miller, John Romita Jr. and Al Williamson's credits on the
covers, I managed to argue with Mark Gruenwald (I have to digress and tell
you all how much I miss Mark--he was a truly lovely human being who put up
with a lot of my crap.) that Christie and Joe deserved the credit due to
their long-standing involvement with DAREDEVIL. Since Mark had been the
executive editor who oversaw our office, I circumvented Tom DeFalco
Tom said no to everything, and made up rules on a whim) by going to Mark.
also knew Mark had a solid friendship with Christie, and Joe Rosen was his
all-time favorite letterer. So Mark was easily convinced everyone
the credit, and I took the brunt of Tom's wrath when he saw the cover in
print. (If you didn't guess by now, almost everything I did pissed Tom
DeFalco off--never stopped me from trying new things, tho!)
My investment with the regular DAREDEVIL team was a bit larger. I'd been working with Dan, Scott, and Hector for almost two years at that point in time. We were all fairly close, and I felt totally involved with almost every aspect of the book. THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR was a fantastic project to be involved in as a part of the editorial team. I loved the content, had great relationships with everyone involved, but due to the nature of the book's creation (before my time, so to speak), I always felt a bit estranged.
Mithra: Was Miller working on this project while Fall From Grace was occuring? What did he think of Elektra coming back?
Garrahy: Yep--Frank was scripting THE MAN WITHOUT FEAR when we were told Elektra would be brought back. What did Frank think of Elektra's return--not much. I was listening to Ralph's side of the conversation when Frank called. Glad it wasn't me. Honestly, Ralph never intended to let Elektra come back. He made a promise to Frank years prior, but the nature of the company changed. Back when Ralph made his promise Marvel was still a company community. When Marvel went public with its stock in 1991, it became a corporation overnight. Not everything changed all at once, but it was made very apparent by "Those Who Sit Above" Elektra was a commodity they intended to market, and damn Ralph's promise. I know this brings up a debate on creator's rights, since I was involved with both projects, I'm kinda on the fence about the subject, but I certainly understood why Frank was upset.
Mithra: Let's switch topics now. I've interviewed some colourists who have worked on Daredevil, such as Gregory Wright and Richard Isanove. Both have different methods and styles. Are you more of a colourist who learned the traditional way and then started using computers, or did you learn separations on a computer? Where did you get your training?
Garrahy: I come from a fine arts background. When I came to Marvel I was a
painter--lots of huge oil canvasses and all that. The first year or so living in New York, I
used to come home and I'd have this huge easel set up in my very small apartment. I'd come
home from work and start painting.
I'd lose track of time, and it would be like four or five in the morning
before I'd quit and go to bed.
At the time, I lived across the hall from Suzanne Gaffney--the then assistant editor on the X-MEN books. Suzanne was also a talented artist, and I used to drag her over to my apartment for critiques. I think what happened was Suzanne told Mark Powers I painted, so Mark was the first person to offer me coloring work. He gave me some of Sam Kieth's WOLVERINE pages to color. I was directed to ape Glynis Oliver's established style, and I did. When I look back at those pages, I'm always amazed they turned out so well, because I've turned in a lot of shitty work since that first job.
So I turned my fine arts skills and applied them towards comic coloring. Back in 1991, we were still limited to learning comic separations the old fashioned way of working CMYK in increments of 25%. We'd have to code each color used with printer's codes for percentages of CMYK. I learned by looking at other colorists work--Glynis Oliver, Greg Wright, Christie Scheele, and Tom Palmer were probably the biggest influences. Christie was my favorite because her color sense was very close to my own. Tom Palmer, although an inker by trade, is a fantastic artist who, at the time, used to ink and color THE AVENGERS. Tom had a great sense of professionalism and dramatic lighting which I borrowed heavily from.
While I was working at Marvel, I freelanced as a colorist regularly because I couldn't live on my assistant editor's salary in New York. When SPAWN and IMAGE changed the way coloring was done, I really pushed the limits at Marvel. Eventually I convinced the Manufacturing guys to let us work in 10%s instead of 25%s. So when you look back at Ralph's books you'll probably notice they were the first mainstream Marvel titles to start the change in coloring. Also, while working for Ralph, Ralph was notorious for being very late with his books. As a consequence, Ralph used to give me our own books to color overnight in order to make shipping. This wasn't allowed--editorial couldn't assign freelance work to themselves. So my roommate, Chris Matthys, used to get a lot of freelance from our office. As a result, I ended up coloring a lot of DAREDEVIL and AVENGERS pages because those books were always running late. Although Chris was a talented colorist in his own right and did do work for our office, when you see Chris Matthys credited as colorist in DAREDEVIL the majority of the coloring was actually my work with assists from Chris. In fact, DAREDEVIL #324 was an issue I completed with Chris in one madcap all-nighter. I love that issue!
Mithra: What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages of each method?
Garrahy: Well, I do both. I like creating both the traditional hand painted guides
which others separate, and I like doing my own separations on the computer. I guess the
traditional hand painted guides have a disadvantage because you're left with the computer
separator's interpretation of your guides. Fortunately I've been very lucky to work with
some great separators who often make the pages look better than my own guides. Heroic Age is
the separation company I've worked with on JLA over the past five years, and I've always had
a close relationship with them--I love their work.
The major disadvantage of separation on computer is it takes longer and you don't get paid much. As a colorist working on a computer, you do have the advantage of controlling the exact appearance of the book as others will see it in print.
Mithra: As I mentioned before, you are currently colouring JLA and Powers. Any other projects you can talk about? Are you thinking of doing any other types of multimedia projects for comics or other areas?
Garrahy: Actually, I just left JLA. I've been working on JLA books for five years, and I just needed to work on something new. I loved the JLA. Working with Grant Morrison was a pleasure--I really like his writing. Howard Porter and I have been good friends since we started working together back on THE RAY. When Howard left JLA, I thought it would be a good opportunity to make my exit.
Most of the coloring work I do these days is done with artists who are close friends. Mike Oeming, the artist on POWERS, got me involved with the book. Basically guys like Howard or Mike have a project and ask me to color their work, I drop everything because I like working with talented artists who happen to be good friends. POWERS has turned into a real love child. Not only have I taken over the color and separation chores, but I do all the production work, and starting with issue #4, I'll be lettering Powers as well.
Outside of comics I still do a lot of design work. I'm currently running a design studio--Ojo Caliente Production Studios--and I've been busy putting together our new website which sort of promotes a lot of the work our studio does. You can go see more examples of our stuff at www.ocpstudios.com. Aside from the comic work, design, and web content, I'm a huge tech nut. I get out of the house/studio and remain social by going out and building computer networks for a few local companies. It's not art, sort of a hobby, and usually pays for the computer equipment for Ojo Caliente.
Mithra: And finally, what do you think of the current 'web comics' being produced?
Well, I'm all for it, as Ojo Caliente is producing its own POWERS parody (Bendis and Oeming approved) on the www.ocpstudios.com website. I actually believe the web, new technology, and web content in the same vein as web-based comics have contributed to the decline in comic sales in a major fashion. (I used to argue this point to folks at Marvel before the big decline). It's a new type of competition. It may be detrimental to comic sales, but it is preserving the art form. It also represents an avenue of "publishing" which was not available to many who wanted to join the comic book industry. Although I think web-based comics are still in their infancy, it's pretty much the most logical approach to producing comics in electronic form for mass media consumption. Remember Tom Hanks in BIG--whereas portable electronic comics may be too expensive, comics on the web are accessible to everyone. Stan Lee's new web projects might be laughed at by some, but I think he's got great ideas. Eventually Stan's new business might just become the next template for the comics industry.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 2000
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 &
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Lee Weeks (2)
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