The former artist on DD talks about his stint with J.M. DeMatteis and Bill Reinhold.
Kuljit Mithra: Before we talk about your work on Daredevil, can you briefly give a bio and what influenced you to take up illustration as a career?
Ron Wagner: I was born and raised in Iowa. I grew up loving comics. Mainly DC's war comics -- Russ Heath, John Severin, Alex Toth, and Joe Kubert being some of my favorite artists. These are the artists that influenced me to make comics a career. Moved to New Jersey in 1981 to attend the Kubert school; my first job being a background artist for Stan Wok on World's Finest. I was also a neighboor and assistant for Gray Morrow.
Mithra: Your stint on Daredevil started with issue 344. From what I remember, former editor Marie Javins wanted you and J.M. DeMatteis on the book. What had you been working on just prior to this, and what ultimately made your decision to accept the penciling job?
Wagner: I don't really remember what I was working on before and I accepted the job because I have always loved the character.
Mithra: What had been your opinion on Daredevil at the time? Always been a fan, or just had a basic knowledge of him? Any favourite stories or creators?
Wagner: Some of my favorite creators for Daredevil have been Frank Miller and Klaus Janson of course. David Mazzucchelli was a huge favorite of mine. I thought the stuff he and Frank Miller did together was amazing. Lee Weeks is a favorite and I think he really found his voice on that title. Did Ron Garney do some issues? If he didn't he should have.
Mithra: I've also heard that Klaus Janson had originally been asked to join you as the art team. What do you think his inking work would have brought to your art, when compared to Bill Reinhold? What are the positives of each inker?
Wagner: I don't remember if Klaus was asked. It would have been great if he had. I was very glad to work with Bill though. I think he and I complement each other nicely and we went on to do more work together as well as becoming friends. He and Klaus have a great roughness to their work that I enjoy.
Mithra: How was it to work with J.M. DeMatteis? Did you have any input for the storyline or how you wanted to represent the characters etc.?
Wagner: I don't think J.M. and I had much contact with each other. Although, I think I changed some stuff around storytelling-wise and he wasn't to crazy about it.
Mithra: The reason I brought up representing the characters, is mainly the character 'Sir'. I'm guessing it took a while to figure out how you wanted to draw her the way you ultimately did. Any particular references here? What did you think of the character herself?
Wagner: I don't really remember how the look for Sir came about. I thought "she" was an interesting idea.
Mithra: The armoured costume was dealt with early (by ripping it to shreds). I was wondering which costume you preferred to draw? Why?
Wagner: I liked the classiac "Red" costume. It was the Daredevil I preferred to draw. The companies feel they have to change costumes on classiac characters from time to time to boost sales, I guess.
Mithra: What did you think of the Jack Batlin identity? Was he 'Daredevil' to you?
Wagner: I didn't care for any of it. No.
Mithra: You worked on DD from 344-347, then came some Cary Nord fill-ins, and you returned for the double-sized 350. Were the fill-ins planned so you could have time to draw 350?
Wagner: I was late on the deadlines.
Mithra: Had there always been a plan to bring DD back to his red costume, or keep him in his yellow one? Issue 350 has him in both.
Wagner: I think they put him back in the red costume because no cared for the other.
Mithra: Had you planned to leave DD with issue 350? Or did the editorial team want to go in a different direction?
Wagner: I think it was a little of both.
Mithra: What did you work on after this? Was it Genesis with John Byrne?
Wagner: I worked on The Book of Fate with Keith Giffen and Bill, and I loved it. No one at D.C. cared for it and I was asked to do the Genesis project.
Mithra: How was it to work on that limited series?
Wagner: Too many characters for me. I like to do one character and his supporting cast.
Mithra: Given your history with G.I. Joe, what do you think of the recent news of a G.I. Joe comic from Image?
Wagner: I didn't know anything about it.
Mithra: And finally, what's next for you in terms of comic work or otherwise?
Wagner: I haven't done comics for awhile. I currently do portrait work and illustration. I've been getting a wid hair to do some short story work for titles like Weird Western Tales over at D.C. Something I can write, pencil, and ink myself.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 2001
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