Interview with Farid Karami (January 2024)

Farid Karami was recently the artist on DAREDEVIL #3 and #5, and here we chat about helping out on issue #3 and his full issue with She-Hulk in issue #5. Many thanks to him for taking time to answer my questions and hope you enjoy this discussion!

Kuljit Mithra: Hello, nice to chat with you. With Daredevil #5 out this month, I had wanted to reach out, so thank you.

I've read that you have an animation background. Had you always been interested in comics and that led you to enter the Top Cow 2019 talent search?

Farid Karami: Hello, likewise. Thanks for the opportunity. Yes, I studied animation as my master's degree but the program was mostly research-driven and I didn't get enough time to draw. I've been a fan of the comic medium for years and the reason I got into animation was to learn visual storytelling and get closer to my goal which was becoming a comic artist. It's funny because I grew up not having access to any comic books or comic book stores, and the first time I set foot into a comic book store and bought a comic was my first comic with Marvel which was [Heroes Reborn] Night-Gwen. The reason why... it's a long story that I might tell one day :). Before I ever decided I wanted to become a comic artist or knew comics even existed I loved drawing and telling stories through pictures. When I discovered comics and found out it could be a career I drew every day to get into Marvel or DC so I could draw and tell stories and also afford to buy as many comics as I wanted. I shared my art everywhere and someone told me there was a Top Cow Talent hunt happening so I submitted my art for their 2019 talent search, won, and got a job at Marvel a few months later.

Mithra: You've done a lot of work with Marvel, with Venom, FF and more but it was only recently I remembered that you were involved with the Luke Cage: City of Fire mini that got cancelled after it was solicited. I don't know how much you can say about what happened, but had you already drawn that whole first issue? This was one of your first projects at Marvel, correct? That must have been a quick introduction to how the comics industry can be.

Karami: Yes, I drew the whole first issue and was happy with it but it got canceled after all. Why it was canceled I can't say but that happens in comics. It was my second book at Marvel.

Mithra: Let's get into your Daredevil work. Your first issue was helping out Aaron Kuder on issue #3. I'm guessing the DD editors already knew you from Venom? Do you find this type of work more challenging where you aren't doing the whole issue and have to figure out where your pages fit in?

Karami: I worked with [Editor] Devin Lewis on Venom and with [Assistant Editor] Tom Groneman on Venom and What if Miles Morales: Wolverine. They knew me and I always had fun working with them. Daredevil is my favorite Marvel character so when they asked me to temporarily join Daredevil I said yes in a heartbeat. But the first issue was challenging because we jumped back and forth with Aaron and I had a bumpy start, it took me a day or two to figure out how to fit my art and my take on Daredevil in the currently established series. Fortunately, I did something similar on FF and was invited to draw the second to last issue of the whole run of Dan Slott's FF with tons of cosmic characters in the background that frankly I didn't know that much about. So Daredevil one was hard but not as hard as FF so can't complain :)

Mithra: Do you try to change your art style to match the other artist(s) in this case? I know there was some consistency with Jesus Aburtov's colors, but did you try inking a different way or layouts a certain way, or did the editors just let you draw the way you draw?

Karami: Frankly, no. If editors choose you to join an art team they already know if you can fit or not and they decide based on that. I read the previous books and look at the other artists' work to not deviate from it drastically but at the end of the day, I keep my style because it takes you a lot of time to try different styles and as you know the deadline is always right around the corner.

Mithra: Issue #5 was a nice surprise, because I don't believe your involvement was solicited. I only saw the preview and saw you were doing the whole issue. First I have to say, there was a nice sense of movement, even though a majority of the issue is Matt and She-Hulk sitting at tables and just devouring food. I really enjoyed it, and it made the issue fun to read. Did you have that kind of reaction when you got the script from Saladin Ahmed?

Karami: Thank you, I'm happy you enjoyed it. Yes, I wasn't solicited and it happens to me a lot :) when I got the script and found out I get to draw both She-Hulk and Doctor Strange I was really happy, but not going to lie, drawing people talking around tables is my weak point and I was nervous about it the whole time, and being nervous about what I have to draw makes me lose sleep which happened a lot on those pages. But since I knew it's a challenge for me I spent a lot of time on them to get them right, for example, I spent half of the work day to draw the single panel of Ramen bowls. I'm happy everyone seems to enjoy those pages. Phew!

Mithra: Now, the star of this issue is the way you drew She-Hulk... online reaction has been crazy, as I'm sure you've seen. You brought your own style to her, and she had this energy coming off the page. Can you go into some of your initial designs, how you wanted to portray her size and strength, but also put your unique spin on her?

Karami: Online reactions surprised me a lot! And I'm grateful to all the fans of the book. I did a few issues of Marvel Unlimited Avengers webseries two years ago and She-Hulk was there. I wasn't happy with the work I did there so I knew what not to do. Saladin wanted an athleisure outfit so it gave me freedom to choose her clothes and I love that part. I did the layout of her coming to the store, but it wasn't She-Hulkie enough and Devin told me to widen the shoulders a little bit and make some small changes in her posture, and the legend was born hahaha. I looked at tons of references for her, 80s big hairdo and female Olympic athletes and I also googled how tall she is so I can adjust the muscles based on the height so it doesn't become unrealistic.

Mithra: I saw that you did some pages traditionally and some digitally for the issue? Do you prefer doing the larger splash page type of images with pencil and ink?

Karami: Yes, I do some splash pages or important ones like the first time Venom and Dr Doom fought in Venom LPII traditionally. Traditional art takes more time but the result is worth it and you can sell it. Splash pages are fun to look at if done traditionally. I don't know if people talking in numerous panels has the same effect.

Mithra: I also have to ask, since I am Sikh, did you base the store owner off anyone? It was nice to see in a DD comic. Reminded me of my grandfather.

Karami: The credit on that Sikh store owner goes to Saladin who wrote it and I just drew him. I'm happy it reminds you of someone you loved. The faces, expressions, and hand movements of the characters I draw are very important to me and I spend a lot of time getting them right, and couldn't be happier to hear it connected with the reader.

Mithra: Thank you very much for the interview. Hopefully you can return as part of the rotation of artists, but if not, I will be on the lookout for your work. Is there anything you can mention that we should be watching for in the coming months? Thank you again.

Karami: Thanks for having me. It's a pleasure. I hope to come back to Daredevil one day. It might not happen soon but fingers crossed. I'm grateful to Devin, Tom, Saladin, and Aaron for having me as a guest artist on these two issues. Aaron is back from the next issue and I hope everyone picks up the next issues to see what Saladin and Aaron are masterfully doing. I'm now drawing a tie-in miniseries of an event. More about it soon, I guess.

(c) 2024 Kuljit Mithra & Farid Karami
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

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