Phil Winslade, the artist on Daredevil/Spider-Man, talks about the heroes and villains involved in the series, and his past comic work. Many thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Winslade for their help with this interview. Much appreciated.
Kuljit Mithra: Who or what influenced you to start in comics?
Phil Winslade: The main person who influenced me to start a career was Steve Pugh who I met at art college. I didn't think that it was feasible to earn a living this way despite loving and reading comics from an early age, and so opted for the "safer" career path of commercial illustration. Learning the unfulfilling specifics of this trade, and realising through the friendship with Steve that the only thing keeping me going at college was everything about comics and nothing about graphics, I realised I hadn't really got a choice. At college our only lifeline was our self-published comics.
Mithra: Which artists do you think inspired your drawing style?
Winslade: As a child I think my first hooks were Jack Kirby, John Romita, Sr. and John Buscema. They inspired me to start drawing my own comics at the tender age of about 11. By the time I had got to art college the likes of Barry Windsor-Smith, Glenn Fabry, Gene Colan and Alphonse Mucha were my main influences. That's not to say that Kirby et al were discarded, but there was more relevance to the problems I was setting myself in these creators. The first group were consummate story tellers, with strong dynamic grounding. I learnt a sense of how to tell a story. The second group taught me about anatomy and the concept of creating different worlds, rich and full of detail.
For some years now though, I have been fascinated by the likes of Alex Raymond, Al Williamson, Neal Adams, Gene Colan, Duncan Fegredo and Jackson Guice. What intrigues me most is their sense of realism set against their dynamic approach. Colan and Adams are particularly masterful in the way they can make a figure almost photographically realistic and yet still imbue the figure with a sense of movement that a camera cannot capture.
While drawing Amazonia I was also hugely inspired by the nineteenth century artists Charles Dana Gibson and Clement Cole, and this has provoked me to investigate and be inspired by the works of such artists as Dean Cornwall, Virgil Finlay, Norman Rockwell and Gil Elvgren.
Mithra: How would you describe your drawing style?
Winslade: A kind person might call it classic; another view would be traditional or old-fashioned. I see myself as trying to carry forward (as well as I can) the combination of good story telling and good draughtsmanship that the talents above exemplify.
Mithra: Before we discuss the Daredevil/Spider-Man series, I'd like to ask a few questions on your Ant-Man special that you did with Bob Gale. It seems this book has been the forgotten title from the Marvel Knights imprint. How did you get involved with the project? I've heard Joe Quesada wanted Bob Gale to write the story, and Gale accepted after he heard you were involved with it.
Winslade: Joe 'phoned me to see if I was interested in doing a story about Ant-Man and I jumped at the chance; Ant-Man being a favourite childhood hero. I'd wanted to work with Bob again after our earlier collaboration on a Batman story for the No Man's Land arc. I was very pleased that he had the time to do it.
Mithra: The Ant-Man special wasn't your typical story because there were no costumed villains... it was essentially a story about teaching what Christmas is all about, and the relationship between Ant-Man and the Wasp. Was it a welcome change for you? Did you enjoy the story?
Winslade: Yes! and Yes!
As far as your comments about costumed villians tho', I haven't actually ever drawn that many - in fact only one 6 page story comes to mind, where I did have a supervillain and superhero (Wonder Woman) fighting each other. Strangely enough it's always been something I've wanted (and expected) to draw, but has always eluded me somehow!
Mithra: I've also heard that initially this comic was going to be printed in a larger format? Is that true?
Winslade: Yes, but it turned out to be unfeasible with deadlines and such. It was quite a sweat to get it out for Christmas as it was.
Mithra: Turning to DD/Spidey... the first few issues are now out and there's quite a few changes with some of DD's rogue gallery. How much research did you do on Stilt-Man, Gladiator, Copperhead and Owl? And what motivated or influenced you to keep or change aspects of their costumes? Had you been a long-time DD fan before this?
Winslade: As a long-term DD fan I was already aware of the majority of the villains featured. In fact, I was partially responsible for the inclusion of Gladiator and The Owl. The only character who was a little less familiar was Copperhead. When re-vamping their costumes I didn't want to stray too far from the originals, as I felt they would lose their identities, and essentially just cleaned up or augmented what was already there. I feel that complete re-invention can sometimes be detrimental for both characters and readers alike. Psychologically, tho', the characters have changed.
Mithra: Daredevil and Spider-Man have often been compared and I'd like to know what you feel is the fundamental difference between the two in character and how you approached drawing both of them, in and out of costume.
Winslade: The differences in the characters are, to my mind, quite well defined. I see Spider-Man as skittish, awkward, slightly immature and lacking in confidence. He tries to cover this with incessant jokes but his mercurial mood-swings belie a deeper discomfort with himself and his surroundings. In the book I've tried to make his body language portray this.
DD on the other hand is thoughtful, reasoned and mature. His movements are considered and hence graceful. His demeanour is calm and rational. There is a consistency which comes from his obvious ease with himself and the world, whereas Spider-Man is a coiled spring, a Jack-in-the-box, ready to explode at any moment. Maybe this maturity has come from having to cope with his disability, or as a direct result of the effect of the disability itself. Matt Murdock is someone who has come to terms with himself, whereas Peter Parker patently has not.
Mithra:Will any other DD characters from the past show up in the series (that you can talk about, of course)?
Winslade: None that I can mention except perhaps Natasha.
Mithra:What's it like working with Paul Jenkins? Are you providing any input with the storyline?
Winslade: It's been great fun working with Paul; I've felt much more like a collaborater than usual, with lengthy 'phone calls about both script and illustration. Joe's involvement cannot be discounted either! It's been a real adventure, and a much more exciting way of producing comic strips I cannot think of.
Mithra: How do you think Jenkins portrays the Parker/Murdock friendship in the series?
Winslade: I think Paul captures the difference between them really well from the beginning. The first scene encapsulates their personality conflicts from the start, even down to their preferred beverages! He creates the tone that will eventually come to a head later. As well as this, he illuminates a common purpose and an indulgence on both sides for the other, which creates the strong bond of their friendship. They annoy the hell out of each other, but like family realise how much they need and care for each other.
Mithra: How long has this project been in development? After reading the first issue, it seems we get a glimpse into what happened in the yet to be finished David Mack arc in the ongoing title. Were there any worries about this as the issues were being prepared?
Winslade: The project was started well over a year ago, and was seen as vaguely independent of either book's continuity.
Mithra: Can you give some details of the 'Concept Cover' that was offered by Dynamic Forces? Have you been sketching out all the covers and then Alex Ross paints it based on your designs?
Winslade: Alex has had a free hand with all of the covers, although I did suggest the concept for issue 4's. As for the 'Concept Cover', I was asked to produce the design for the Dynamic Forces cover, and Alex and I conferred over the content. The important thing for me to include was the Empire State building as it is a visual reference that is used in the series for symbolic purposes. There is also a Dynamic Forces 'sketch book' cover based on my tonal sketch for Alex. Cool or what?!
Mithra: And finally, you have recently drawn a Sentry special. What other projects are upcoming? With Bob Gale scheduled to write Daredevil after the Bendis/Mack arc, would you be at all interested in monthly DD work?
Winslade: Unfortunately, I am not a fast enough artist to work on a monthly book, tho' I'm sure that if the opportunity arises to draw DD arcs, I will be more than happy to oblige! It would be nice to re-visit Mr. Murdock regularly, although this depends on editorial direction as concerns a regular artist. I certainly enjoy being part of chronicling the life of The Man Without Fear!
(c) Kuljit Mithra 2001
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