The former inker on many titles (Ghost Rider, Avengers, Moon Knight) talks about his DD issues from the early 300's with M.C.Wyman and Scott McDaniel. He also talks about his artistic influences and his upcoming work.
Kuljit Mithra: Can you give some background on yourself and why you decided to make comics a career?
Christopher Ivy: My name, surprisingly, is Chris Ivy and I'm one of those "comic freaks" that was given the chance to turn pro by some generous souls at Marvel twelve years ago. The story's a familiar one: My dad was in the military so we moved quite a bit when I was young. Comics became an important part of my life--filling those gaps of "social inactivity" before making friends after every move. I started tracing my favorite heroes in a notebook when I was around 7 or 8 years old. That grew to filling lots of notebooks with my own sketches and drawings by high school and a few Xerox-copied comics created with my friends. After Art College I got my first break at Marvel.
Mithra: What kind of training have you had and what influenced you the most for your inking style?
Ivy: After high school I attended Parsons School of Design in New York City and graduated with a BFA in Illustration. I can't emphasize enough how important that kind of education is for an artist. It was there that I learned to start exploring the world around me for inspiration and artistic growth instead of just emulating other comic artists. You can see that in the work of friends of mine with similar backgrounds like Mark Texeira, Javier Saltares, and Dwayne Turner as well as artists with distinctive styles like Alex Ross, Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz to name a very few.
As far as specific influence for my inking style--the biggest credit goes to both John Romita and Don Perlin, my first bosses at Marvel. I learned the most about inking in general from them back in 1987. Other inkers that influence my style include John Romita himself, Joe Rubinstein (who I background inked for before my first pro work), Klaus Janson, Al Williamson, Tom Palmer and Scott Williams.
Mithra: What was your first professional job?
Ivy: I believe my first job was a back-up story on a New Universe title over Mark Bagley. I did a lot of work on the New Universe books in my first year of work.
Mithra: Besides Daredevil, what other titles have you worked on?
Ivy: At Marvel: assorted issues of Psi-Force (New Universe), Marvel Comics Presents, Fantastic Four and Avengers. Also Alpha Flight, Cage, Ghost Rider, Hulk 2099, Moon Knight, Blade and assorted issues of Spider-Man, Punisher, Marvel Team-Up and Wolverine. There's more--just not remembering them right now.
At DC: Anima, Sovereign Seven, Flash, a Superman Annual, Young Justice One-Shot and an upcoming Beast Boy (Chameleon) mini-series.
I also worked on early issues of Supreme, Shadowhawk and some Wildstorm pin-ups in the early days of Image.
I also had the privilege of working over one of my mentors, Don Perlin, on Valiant/Acclaim's Bloodshot.
Mithra: What do you think is the hardest thing to master about inking?
Ivy: For me, at first, it was learning how to handle a crowquill pen. It comes in time, though.
Mithra: How did your job on Daredevil (301-303, 305 and covers to 306, 307) come about? Were you going to be the regular inker, or was it a guest stint?
Ivy: As I recall, Ralph Macchio (editor) was trying out new artists for the book after Lee Weeks moved to bigger and better things. He was very gracious to let two newbies like us do a "guest stint" on a top-notch book at the time (and he gave quite a lot of us freelancers first-breaks), but I always understood it was until he found someone he was comfortable with on the book. That person became Scott McDaniel (another first break!)
Mithra: What did you think of the two artists you worked with - M.C. Wyman and Scott McDaniel?
Ivy: I liked both of them. I particularly liked Scott's work. I could see the distinct style I knew would give him praise early on. My only regret is that I was made an offer I couldn't refuse from another publisher to ink another title--and I had to let go of inking Scott's DD to pursue it. Dumb move.
Mithra: Can you explain what the difference is in inking the traditional way, and the technique used by Scott McDaniel in later issues of DD (the heavy inking etc.)?
Ivy: Scott could explain this best, obviously, but that later style (which fits his pencils much better than the style I was giving him) is similar to that of Frank Miller in that he creates "blocks of shadow" to emphasize form instead of hatched lines. (Imagine sketching a ball with charcoal, but with a light right behind it. There's a big circular shadow cast in front that emphasizes its shape.)
Mithra: What do you think of Daredevil when compared to the other characters in the Marvel Universe?
Ivy: I always had him near the top of my favorites. The most profound stories from Marvel came from both this book and Spidey.
Mithra: What creator or creators do you think produced the definitive Daredevil?
Ivy: Of course Stan Lee built the foundation as writing goes. Frank Miller's introduction of Zen is second only to that. Artistically--I always liked both Frank Miller and Gil Kane inked by Klaus Janson most of all.
Mithra: Who are your favorite characters and what have been some of your favourite projects you've worked on?
Ivy: My all-time favourites are from Marvel: Fantastic Four, Avengers, Thor,Daredevil and Iron Man--in that order. Amongst my own projects, Cage was a high-mark. Also Moon Knight, Sovereign Seven & Flash.
Mithra: Your DD issues mainly dealt with villains like the Owl, and Surgeon General. What type of villain do you think would work best with Daredevil for the overall story?
Ivy: I'm still stuck on the classic DD villains like Owl, Mr. Hyde, Man-Bull etc. It's all in who writes them (ex.: Miller's Bullseye).
Mithra: These days most comics fans are worried about the slumping industry... is it really as bad as we think?
Ivy: Yes and No. As a professional, this is the worst it's been since I started, with friends that don't get a chance to work as much as they used to--but as a fan--I like some of new titles that have come around because of it (Preacher and Flash at DC; Inhumans at Marvel) and you (as fans) have more power than you think. Just e-mail (or snail-mail) Marvel, DC and wherever else you buy comics and don't be afraid to tell them what you want: a certain artist or writer on a book, for a particular character to come back, or even to lower the prices so you can buy more books. The "slump" is from not enough fans buying books so most everybody is scared to take any chances publishing a title that might fail. Tell them what you like or dislike.
Mithra: Any upcoming work you want to talk about?
Ivy: Yup. More of that "testing the water" by DC. A new mini-series on Beast Boy, formerly of the Teen Titans, by Ben Raab and a co-writer that escapes me now (I'm sorry) and penciled by Justiano. Cool stuff.
Also one of the series of Star Wars: Bounty Hunters one-shots for Darkhorse, over my buddy Javier (Ghost Rider) Saltares.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 1999
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear
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
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