Joining me for my 7th monthly
interview feature on the Moonstone website is the whole darn creative team from
Stephen Thompson studied animation in Dublin Ireland before beginning his comics career drawing Freakshow for local company Atomic Diner Comics. He was then hired by Dark Horse after a portfolio review at the San-Diego comic con to work on Star Wars: Republic. He is currently pencilling BUCKAROO BANZAI for MoonstoneBooks.
Lori G:Well boys,
thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me!|
Let me start of with you, Joe, how did this whole project
Joe: Well, it’s a bit of synchronicity,
really. We tried to find the rights
holders for Banzai when we re-tooled Moonstone
Then, out of the blue one day, I
got a phone call from Banzai director WD Richter. We talked, and had a good time just talking
Banzai. From there, the two of us just
pushed this thing forward on sheer will, for there were still odd obstacles
Lori G: Joe, this is something of a “dream” project for you, isn’t it? What is it about the original Buckaroo Banzai film that made you such a fan of the property?
Joe:I saw the movie in its original theatrical run, and I just loved it. It was crazy, funny, and heroic in a very “pulp” style, like “Indiana Jones”. I wanted MORE immediately, but sadly, there never was any more. I have seen the movie many times, and laughed every time. Then, I recently read the novel, and it is QUITE good really. The material really holds up nicely.
Lori G: Joe, can you
give us an overview of this ALL NEW Buckaroo Banzai mini-series?
Can the fans expect to see all the all old
favorites, like Pretty Tommy and the rest of the original Hong Kong
Joe: Well, we fans can look
forward to Perfect Tommy, Reno, and New Jersey (and Mrs Johnson of course)
all being at Banzai’s side during this
adventure. Plus, there are two NEW
Cavaliers that we will meet that also play a major role: (bass player/sharp
thing wielder) Lady Gillette and (drummer) Red River Daddy. The mini series is
a complete story written by Banzai’s creator
The plot, as always, is about
saving the world! But, along the way, we
get a few glimpses of Buckaroo’s secrets, as well as
Lori G: Let me ask you Stephen, how did you get involved in the new Buckaroo mini series?
Stephen: Well, I had been sending around some samples to companies I liked the look of and Moonstone was the first to bite, God bless ‘em. I did some character sketches of the Hong Kong Cavaliers (I had to base them on pictures I got off the net as I didn’t have the movie yet) which were okayed by Rick and Joe and off we went.
Lori G: Stephen, were you a fan of the movie before coming on board as the penciler for the mini-series? Is there anything about the characters from Buckaroo that you find especially compelling or interesting, and do you have a favorite?
Stephen: No, I’d never heard of the movie before getting offered the job. I live in Ireland and I don’t think it made it to cinemas on this side of the Atlantic. Since getting the job I’ve had a few friends tell me they were big fans of it from the video release. I like how stylized the characters are. They don’t act like totally realistic people but more like archetypes, which I think lends them well to being transferred to comic books. Tommy’s my favorite character because he kind of wears his emotions on his sleeve, which leads to a good range of expressions and actions. Cool and goofy is an interesting mix.
Lori G: Stephen, did you watch the movie several times to get a “feel” for the characters, of if not, how did you get that “authentic” Buckaroo vibe going? I must know, did you run out to buy your very own Blue Blazer?
Stephen: (Nah, I just dyed an old grey one, much cheaper). I did get the DVD and watched it a couple of times straight away. The film had a very distinct tone to it, which seemed much closer to comics than traditional movies to me. They’re just a bunch of costumes away from being a superhero team in some ways.
Lori G: Stephen, compare your work for Buckaroo to your previous work, like your Star Wars work. Did Star Wars help prepare you for Buckaroo, or could nothing really “prepare” you for the wacky adventures of Buckaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers?
Stephen: Well, Star Wars was a good training ground for BB. Both are sci-fi films obviously, so you have to draw a lot of objects, environments and vehicles that are based on real stuff (well, real props and sets). That usually makes things a bit trickier though because anything you design for a comic you try to keep fairly simple as you know you’ll be drawing it a bunch if times. You don’t have that problem with film so you can design things to be as complicated as you like.
Lori G: Stephen, what is your artistic background? Have you always wanted to be a comic book
artist, or did you just happen to fall into it? From an artistic point of view, who do you look up to in the comic book
Stephen:Well I started drawing when I was three or four. I wanted to be an animator when I was young because it seemed to be mostly talking animals and I couldn’t draw people very well. Then when I got into American comics when I was thirteen or so and I switched to wanting to be a comic book artist. I studied classical animation in college, which was the closest thing I could find to training for comic books. My two main influences are Jim Lee and Simon Bisley. Jim Lee’s run on X-men was some of the first American comics I ever saw. Before that I had read mainly English anthologies like Battle, which were mostly black and white wars stories. Jim Lee’s stuff was such a revelation and this was when I started following specific artists rather than books or characters. Other than those two I’m a big fan of Killian Plunkett, Travis Charest, Stuart Immonen, Chris Sprouse, Mike Mingola, Whilce Portacio, Kevin Nowlan…and the list goes on.
Lori G: Keith, you are an “original” Blue Blazer!(FYI: Keith was the original inker on
Marvel’s Buckaroo Banzai mini-series from 1984.)How does it feel to return to the crazy world
of Buckaroo, more than 20 years later?|
Keith:Actually, I was the original “background” inker on the book. Armando Gill was the inker of the figures in the book. But now, here I am inker of the book. It feels great and a little unreal. I mean who would have thought?
Lori G: Thanks for that correction there, always good to have the RIGHT information before I going blabbing all over the place. (ahem, now back to our regularly scheduled interview) Keith, how did you originally become involved in the FIRST Buckaroo Banzai miniseries, back in the day, at Marvel?
Keith: I was a Romita Raider at the time at Marvel. That was John Romita’s group of art correctors. The editor of Banzai asked if I was interested in doing backgrounds for the book and I said of course.
Lori G: And of course the fans would like to know Keith, how did it just so happen that you became involved once again with ol’ Buck here at the Moon?
Keith: Well, I’ve been working on another book at Moonstone with Dave Ulanski called Kolchak Tales, and I guess they liked what I was doing. So Dave asked me if I would like to ink Buckaroo.
Lori G: Keith, as the inker on this book, tell me and our
readers a little bit about the process of inking Buckaroo. Do you start with the backgrounds and then
proceed onto the figures or vice-versa?
After receiving a new page from Stephen, what is the first thing you
Keith: Believe it or not, I receive a CD from Stephen with the pencils on them. I use Photoshop to turn the pages art lines from black lead pencil to non-reproducing blue. I then print it out on two ply Strathmore paper at art size, which is 11x17 and ink on that. I tackle the backgrounds first and leave the foreground figures for last.
Lori G: Keith, I have to ask, after working on TWO Buckaroo Banzai mini-series over the years, are you a fan of the character and/or the movie? Is there anything about Buckaroo himself or any of the other characters that you find especially appealing?
Keith: Sure I’m a fan. I watch the movie whenever it comes on. I like the comic book weirdness of it and I especially like Buckaroo. He’s the go to guy for anything imaginable or unimaginable. I would feel safe if a guy like that and his band were around.
Lori G: Joe, back to you. There are multiple covers for all three issues of the mini-series. Can you give us the cover artist
Joe: Well, for issue #1, we have
Matt Haley’s “Buckaroo and group” cover as well as Michael Stribling’s “Lectroid and femme fatale” cover as the two regular
Lori G: Joe, I know the fans would like to know, will we see
more Buckaroo Banzai comics in the future after this first 3 issue
Joe: Moonstone would REALLY really like to continue the Banzai franchise past this initial mini series. I DO know that WD and Mac have MANY other tales of Buckaroo that haven’t been told yet to anyone, so yeah, I’d like them to be told here!
Lori G: I would like to ask all three of you what other projects you are currently working on. Tell me what is on the horizon!
StephenMore Buckaroo Banzai hopefully!
Keith: Hopefully anything that Stephen is working on.
Joe: The most immediate project I have is the three issue “Kolchak/Sherlock Holmes” color mini series, which is now finally going full steam ahead! It’s an intriguing mystery told from two different points in time! I am very much looking forward to seeing this baby out! The artwork is by Andy Bennett and Jeff Johnson, and with colors by Ken Wolak! Plus we got GREAT covers by Eddy Newell, Doug Klauba, Dan Panosian, Vatche Mavlian, & Michael Kaluta!
Lori G: Stephen, Keith, and Joe, thanks for stopping by to
chat for a bit! I hope everyone has
enjoyed this special threesome this time around.
Ok, that just sounded wrong. ;) Moving on then, questions or comments
about this interview, feel free to post them on the Moonstone Message Board, I
have a nifty little section there called, appropriately enough “Gal on the
Moon.” Don’t be shy, come say hi! Until next time…|
Moonstone Gal out!
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Saturday, December 20, 2014