The artist on Daredevil: Blood of the Tarantula talks about working on the special, and provides some behind the scenes character sketches.
Kuljit Mithra: First off, thanks for doing this interview. From talking with you a few months ago, I got the impression you were excited about working on this DD special. How'd you get involved with the issue and did it meet your expectations? Are you a fan of the character?
Chris Samnee: Thank you! Yeah I was totally excited to get started and now I'm just as excited to have it out there and to hear what people think. Daredevil was always one of those characters I had hoped to work on one day and I feel really lucky to be given a chance to do so. I had met Ed [Brubaker] a few years back at a local comic show. We've tried to work together on a few projects that never got off the ground, but when a hole opened up in my schedule he was kind enough to pass along my name to DD editor Warren Simons who offered me the job.
Mithra: For the readers who aren't quite familiar with your work for Oni or Vertigo/DC, can you give a brief bio? Is this your first Marvel work?
Samnee: This IS my first work for Marvel but I have been at this quite a while. My first comics work in print was at age of 15, but my big break was with Capote in Kansas (also written by Ande Parks) for Oni Press back in 2005 for which I was nominated for a Russ Manning Award, and I followed that up with a four issue arc on Greg Rucka's Queen & Country. I also worked with Greg, and co-writer Eric Trautmann, on three issues of Checkmate for DC. I've done fill-in work on Exterminators with Simon Oliver as well as a few short stories in American Splendor with Harvey Pekar at Vertigo.
Mithra: I've noticed on your site (www.chrissamnee.com) that you're going to be showcasing some sketchbook pages you did in preparation for the DD special. How did you approach your work on this project? Darker lines? Change in style? What did you want to bring to the table here?
Samnee: With each project it tends to be my inking style that caters to the story. While I always feel like it's my style at the pencil stage, the inks may be slicker for a more mainstream book like Checkmate or gritty dry brushy for something more real world like Q&C. With DD Warren Simons just let me do what felt right to me, so for the most part it was the texture of the Marvel boards and the tools used that dictated how the book came out.
Mithra: From what I can gather from the solicits, this issue looks like a continuation of the story started in the DD Annual with Black Tarantula. Without giving too much away, what direction does this story go for BT and how does DD get involved?
Samnee: I'm not sure how much I can say without spoiling anything... It IS a continuation from last year's annual that Ande did with Leandro Fernandez but I think it's a really strong as a stand alone piece. It's really following Carlos's path from that of a one time villain to somewhat of a... I don't want to say anti-hero but really a Robin Hood sort of hero. How DD is tied into the story you'll just have to wait and see :)
Mithra: Did you make model sheets for Black Tarantula as well? How did you want to present him through your artwork? What do you think of him as a character?
Samnee: I did a few sketches of Black Tarantula both in and out of costume. I actually tweaked his costume a bit for this issue so I had to make sure I was keeping it consistent. He now has more metallic gauntlets, a bit more like the MC2 Spider-Girl Black Tarantula, and I added the spider design to his back with the legs wrapping around his neck to make a little more sense of the white piping on his collars. With BT I really wanted to give a physical weight to him. He stands a foot above Murdock, and definitely has a few pounds on him, so I tried for the most part to keep him close to the ground and pretty stocky looking. He does have amazing fighting abilities but DD should be the only one in this book who can really move like an acrobat.
Mithra: Did you ink your own work? How important is that for you? What kind of tools do you use?
Samnee: I try to ink everything I work on. My pencils are more of a framework for my inks nowadays, so inking my own work is very important to me. I think the majority of my style is informed by how I ink. Until just recently I was trying to stay as old school as possible and stick to solely brush inking (Winsor & Newton series7 #3, or Raphael 8404 #3 for anyone interested) but recently I've been using a Pentel Color brush or Pitt pens. Both of which have the look of brush work but with none of the mess, making it easier to move my work into the living room and watch a movie with my wife or into the bedroom on a sick day.
Mithra: How was it working off of the script? You've worked with Ande Parks before... was it full panel descriptions, or were you left to your own interpretation? What method do you prefer?
Samnee: If I didn't love working with Ande I wouldn't keep coming back for more:) After Capote in Kansas we did a short story in the Belle & Sebastian Anthology Put the Book Back on the Shelf and had a lot of fun with it. I knew it was only a matter of time before Ande and I put something else together. Ande gives full descriptions in his scripts as far as location and characters and such but leaves enough up to me that I can still have fun coming up with the visuals. Honestly I've only worked from this method before. I'd like to give the old "Marvel method" of jumping into the artwork just from a plot some day but for now I dig full scripts.
Mithra: And finally, are there any more issues of DD in the future for you? Would the regular monthly title interest you? What's next in terms of comics work for you?
Samnee: Hopefully, if this issue does well, maybe I'll get to come back for something else at the House of Ideas. I'd absolutely love to do some more Daredevil but there's nothing planned as of yet. As for future projects, nothing I can talk about just yet.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 2008
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