THE BIG INTERVIEW: Will Sliney Talks About Big Pigs Announcement, MacGyver & Cú Chulainn

It has just been announced that with issue #8, Cork’s Will Sliney will be taking over as regular artist on Image Comics critically acclaimed thriller book Pigs.  ICN caught up with Will today to discuss the announcement and also to speak about the large number of projects that Will has on his plate this year. We speak about fan expectations on Image Comics upcoming revival of MacGyver, the gig on Pigs and also delve into his upcoming Cú Chulainn book from O’Brien Press. So read on…
David O’Leary: Hey Will, thanks for joining us once more.
Will Sliney: Delighted to be back.
DO’L: It has just been announced that you are going to be the regular artist on Image Comics hit espionage book Pigs. What can you tell us regarding when you take over from Breno Tamura and what will be your first full issue?
WS: Basically I take over from issue 8. If you look at issue seven I handle an interrogation scene that takes place between Irisa and the cops. Upon reading issue 8 you will see that this is quite a natural progression. I couldn’t be happier to be on board the book.

DO’L: You have of course been on flashback scenes on previous issues of Pigs, giving us brief glimpses on the past of the cast and the group dynamic as they were being trained as kids. What challenges do you see for yourself as the story moves away from the events in San Quentin and on to a new arc in Compton?
WS: I’ve had a few conversations with Nate and Ben about where the story is headed, even beyond the upcoming arcs. It’s something I am very much looking forward to drawing. Obviously I can’t say too much just don’t expect the book to stand still, in terms of both setting, and tone. It will of course push me creatively, but I am up for the challenge.
DO’L: Pigs has been a breath of fresh air in that it is a book set in ‘the real world’. With plenty of inter character relationships with a healthy dose of action and drama, this book comes fully loaded every issue. How have you found your own experiences working on the book so far?
WS: To be honest, at times the very real and visceral take that PIGS takes has been tough to draw. Basically, when drawing these scenes you really have to throw yourself into what’s going on. With PIGS these scenes tend to be very hard hitting and extremely emotional. At times I have even had to call up Ben and Nate to make sure of what was okay to draw in, as they both tend to write some very messed up situations!
It is of course, part of what makes PIGS great, and like you said, a breath of fresh air.
DO’L: Fanboys everywhere rejoiced when Image Comics announced at San Diego last year that MacGyver was on his way back in the guise of a new comic series. Becky Cloonan was to be series artist but stepped back. Writer Tony Lee sent out a call to arms to artists to take over, how did you find out about the project and what did you have to go through to get the job?
WS: Well I know Tony through the con circuit and I actually had been chatting with him a few days previous to the online search about Celtic Warrior so he assumed I was too busy to draw it. Like everyone else, once I saw the call I responded and luckily Image comics chose me.

DO’L: What do you make of working on a book with such a huge pop cultural icon? Were you a fan going in?
WS: Big time, everybody my age in Ireland knows MacGyver well. It held down a pretty regular prime time Sunday time slot on Irish TV for years.
It’s funny because most of my friends wouldn’t know much about Farscape or even Star Wars. But when I told them I picked up the MacGyver gig I got such a great reaction. My local pub even plays the theme song if I am in there for a few drinks.
DO’L: As with most very popular franchises, MacGyver comes with its own rabid fan-base who are years clambering for something new relating to Mac. Even at this early stage there has plenty of talk in fan circles about the book. How conscious are you of what the fans are expecting from the book and does this kind of attention add any undue pressure?
WS: Well, I have been looking online, and picking up a few things along the way. Little things like MacGyver should have long spindly fingers, that apparently it upset a lot of hard-core fans when they replace a lot of his shots with hand doubles in the later seasons. These are things I would never have picked up without browsing the forums. It’s nice to add in these touches.
I’m well into the issues now and it’s going to be a really great story. The comic book format suits the MacGyver story well as he tends to have a lot of narrations with strong visuals.
At the end of the day, we have Lee David Zlotoff leading the book, and with him in charge of the ship, we can’t but go in the right direction. The book really feels like a proper MacGyver experience to me. We even have John Potter onboard creating the MacGyverisms. Wait until you see what he comes up with to get out of a perilous situation in issue two.
DO’L: I have spoken with other creators in the past who have worked on licensed books and they have spoken about how working with character likenesses and licensed works creates its own challenges. How are you finding the processes of making this comic compared to a non licenced book?
WS: Well, I’m well used to licensed books with tons of Star Wars and Farscape issues under my belt. This is different however as it’s a modern day take on the story. I try to think of it as MacGyver’s version of the A-Team movie. It’s hugely important to keep all of the very important charm and feel.
DO’L: It was recently announced that O’Brien Press would be the publisher for Celtic Warrior. How much of a weight off your shoulders is it to have such an experienced company behind you especially when it comes to international distribution?
WS: It’s been great. O’Brien have been on board quite early on but it may be in a different manner than you think.
Right from the get go I have been treated great by the whole O’Brien team. We are both benefitting from each other’s experience.
The book will be distributed by them in European book markets only, leaving it open for it to be picked up in the traditional comic book market. We are hoping that this will provide a great method for the many talented Irish comic book artists/writers out there to get their work out across the whole world.
DO’L: Is O’Brien Press on board for just Cú Chulainn or have you plans for multiple books with this character with them or even other titles?
WS: There are so many fantastic stories from Irish mythology that it would be just plain wrong to stop with Cú Chulainn. I definitely have a few more ideas.
As for Cú Chulainn, I really wanted this book to be its own self-contained epic. There are so many great versions of it, going right back to the legendary Books of Leinster andUlster, but I want this to be a book that contains a full story of his life.

DO’L: Celtic Warrior will represent a book that you have written as well as drawn. How have you found creating a comic from that side of the fence and have you faced any unique challenges in how you have created that part of the book?
WS: Well firstly I have discovered that I just love writing. The process of creating stories can be very exciting and I have already started works in different genres.
The biggest challenge for me is that I didn’t realise how personal it was. When I sent out the first issue of Celtic Warrior to a few friends to read many months ago I got very nervous about it. Something that just doesn’t usually happen to me. I think it’s purely because for the first time, the responsibility for the whole book falls on me.
From pencils, to inks, the colour and to the script, I’m doing it all.
When I think about it, I really enjoy both sides. It’s great having total control over your own book, but on the flipside, I love getting in new scripts to read and seeing someone’s colours. This week alone I really enjoyed reading Tony Lee’s latest MacGyver script as well as Ben and Nate’s latest PIGS script.
DO’L: Is that your plate full this year or is there anything else you have lined up that we haven’t touched on?
WS: Right about now, it’s pretty much full. I’m a two pg a day guy and I love new projects, but for the time being I have to focus on finishing Cú Chulainn (Which is very nearly fully complete) as well as getting more issues of MacGyver in the bag before its big release, continuing my on-going work with PIGS and producing more Star Wars work.
It sounds like a big workload and it is, but I just wouldn’t have it any other way. I love creating comic books and want do it all day long.
DO’L: Will, thanks for your time, take care.
WS: Thanks Dave.
Pigs #8 will hit shelves on August 8th and MacGyver #1 will be due to hit stores in October and keep an eye to ICN for information on the release date of Cú Chulainn from O’Brien Press in 2013.