Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
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BAKER'S DOZEN for 02/18/2009
The Best He Can
Ron Garney on working with Jason Aaron on Wolverine
Today, I'd like to share a bit of something special with you all: An excerpt from Ron Garney: Going with the Flow-On Creating Art and Storytelling, the inaugural release from my own imprint, BBP Press. This is the next installment in the Bill Baker Presents line of interview books, which began under another imprint with two earlier volumes [Alan Moore Spells It Out and Alan Moore's Exit Interview].
The section I've chosen focuses on Ron Garney's work on the main Wolverine title with writer Jason Aaron. It's a particularly appropriate choice, I think, considering that Ron's already hard at work on the first issue of Wolverine: Weapon X, which re-unites the artist both with the height-challenged Canuck and Aaron.
Bill Baker: Is Spider-Man a character you could see yourself revisiting at some point in the future?
Ron Garney: I didn't want to leave it to begin with, right away. I mean, I had just started really getting into the groove of doing it after a year. But I kind of knew. I remember I had called up Joe before that, and I said, "Am I the regular guy on this book? Is this going to continue?" And he said, "No, you're the regular guy." And then, way before I even stopped, there were rumblings of "Is JR [John Romita Jr.] returning?" and all this stuff. That's the nature of the business, and the gossip, you know? And sure enough, I guess they decided to go with this "One More Day" thing [drawn by Joe Quesada], which was Straczynski's last hurrah, and that was it. So, on to Wolverine I went.
But I would have enjoyed staying on it. I really like the character. It was fun to do. But I got to do Wolverine after that, which I was very happy about.
BB: Yeah. You really seemed to be having a blast drawing that character, and those particular issues.
RG: Yeah. Yeah, I love the character, and I knew we were going to shoot from my pencils, and not have it be inked. So it was more motivating to do work that I knew I was... Not capable of; I always knew what I was capable of. But I knew that, if they were shooting from my pencils, the sky was the limit as far as my stylization and what I could do with it. Because I knew it was all going to be there, and it wasn't going to be interpreted any other way than being colored. The inks tend to...
They always change it. As great as the inkers are that I've worked with, the end result always changes the entire product. It's kind of like if you mark one little area differently, it may not seem like a lot on each panel, but when you add that all together, the overall feel can be dramatically different than what you initially intended.
So I found myself, over the years, tailoring my penciling to the inkers, rather than them tailoring their style to me, because I often found that-regardless of whether the inkers would say, "I want to know what you're going for"-inevitably, it would end up looking like what they would normally do, anyway. Because, in some sense, they're doing their style over the top of you, you know? And that's fine. That's what you get when you're being inked, and I accept that.
But here was a chance for me to do pencils, and just have it be something that I was completely in control of, and have that be colored, and just worry about the coloring. And I think it showed; I got to do more of what was me on the Wolverine stuff.
BB: How about the scripts?
RG: Yeah. Jason Aaron's is probably the hottest writer of the year, right now, as far as new guys coming into Marvel under contract. And I really enjoyed the way he wrote. When we first talked...
We spoke a couple of times on email, and we both had similar loves, like old westerns. So, knowing that going in, I was even more enthused, because I always wanted to do that kind of thing. I like doing period stuff, where I can costume the characters in old costumes from the 40s, or a war from the 1800s, or whatever it is, because those time periods have such particular flavor to them. And when you get to costume everything, it really adds something to the work when you can really pull off the flavor of a time period, you know? And I have a lot of fun with that.
It's one thing when you invent your whole [universe], when you do a fantasy thing like I'm doing right now with the Skaar: Son of Hulk book that I'm working on. But then, it's another thing when you get to do period pieces where there's a particular look you have to achieve. And it's a very gratifying thing when you can pull that off, make the viewer feel like they're really in that time, you know?
BB: Right, and then there's the whole period environment, too.
RG: Yeah, the buildings, the cars, the whole thing.
You know, I think my favorite part of doing the Wolverine story was doing the stuff set in 1920s Kansas City. I got to draw old cars, and the buildings. And the streets were still cobblestone or dirt. [Laughs] So it was fun, creating that believability. It was fun referencing how women looked, and their hairstyles, and ...
Little things make a biggest difference, you know, and those things are fun for me.
And doing the West; I got to do Mexico, and a Mexican prison, and it was just fun. And that's where Jason and I had a lot of fun, because I'm a fan of spaghetti westerns, and so is he. When we first talked, we realized that; and when I got the script I was elated, because of the first part. The opening scene was in a Mexican prison in the 1920s. So I was instantly thinking of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and that kind of thing. So I was real jazzed to do it.
BB: How detailed were his scripts?
RG: I had some freedom to change some things. There was a lot of detail. I could get the mood.
Sometimes you just work with a writer well. It was like that with Mark Waid. I could take Mark Waid's plots-he was writing plots at the time-but I could take what he was writing and just feel it, you know? And I feel like that with Jason Aaron. I could read what he was writing, and I just felt it.
And there was some room for me to change a couple of things, without changing the story at all. In issue #63, I believe, we open up in 1920s Kansas City. He had originally written the first page to incorporate a scene of Mystique and Logan walking through the streets of Kansas City, and then there's some card players and stuff. And that was originally a panel, but I turned it into a splash page. I took that panel and made it a whole page, because I really wanted the readers to fly into that moment and be there in that time period. And it worked out well for me. I think it was one of my happier moments, artistically.
Ron Garney: Going with the Flow-On Creating Art and Storytelling will hit the shelves of comics shops across the country Wednesday, the 18th of February. If your retailer's out of copies, he can easily reorder it from Diamond Comic Distributors-the reorder code is AUG06 2915.
Alan Moore's Exit Interview is also available for reorder from Diamond [that reorder code is SEP08 3785].
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