NEWS & INTERVIEW: Dublin Comic Con Announce First Guest – The Walking Dead's Charlie Adlard Plus A Talk With Charlie
Dublin Comic Con announced this afternoon the first confirmed guest in The Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard. Dublin Comic Con takes place on August 10th and 11th 2013, Dublin’s first Comic Con showcasing full size props and costumes from a wide range of movies, tv programs, games and comics.
Check out the facebook page for Dublin Comic Con for regular updates: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dublin-Comic-Con/298328063554103?ref=hl
As an added bonus, I spoke with Charlie as part of my 5 Minutes Column… hosted on comicrelated.com a bit back so re-presented for your pleasure is a talk I had with him about his long tenure in comics.
by David O’Leary
Welcome back to this the ninth edition of 5 Minutes With… Today we are joined by a journeyman of comics. He is the artist on the critically acclaimed The Walking Dead and has worked on everything from Green Lantern to the X-Files. In a revealing interview Charlie Adlard talk about his surprise at the success of The Walking Dead, how the success of the X-Files book overshadowed the creators working on it, his love for European comics and more besides. So read on…
David O’Leary: Hey Charlie, many thanks for taking the time to speak with us.
Charlie Adlard: Not a problem at all!
DO’L: You are of course known for your work on The Walking Dead these days but you have a long and varied past to your work both in the UK and US. How did you fall into comics as a career?
CA: Well I’ve been working in the industry as a pro for around 18 years. Apparently people regard you as a “veteran” after 10… So I’m way past my prime! I got onto comics the same way as a lot of my contemporaries… just showing my portfolio to editors at various conventions. I’ve always been a comic’s fan, ever since my Dad gave me a copy of Mighty World of Marvel back in 1972… That was it, I was hooked – no looking back.
I was lucky back in the early 90’s – the industry had a lot more money to throw around then and consequentially a lot more US editors would be flown in to UK cons. So there were a lot more chances of getting work. Nowadays I feel sorry for people trying to break in -there’s a lot less editorial presence at cons and, because of that, less chances of finding work. I always advise newcomers, if they can afford it, to go to a US con – then they can put their work in front of as many editors as possible. Ever since getting my first job (in the Judge Dredd Megazine) I haven’t looked back… and I feel very lucky to be able to say that.
DO’L: Although The Walking Dead is keeping you busy, you have been keeping in touch with your British work with continued intermittent stories with Savage in 2000AD. Why keep coming back?
CA: Why keep coming back? Well – I really love working for 2000AD… And Savage was a perfect story for my skills. It was also the type of story I really enjoy working on. I think it’s some of Pat Mills’ best writing. Unfortunately, mainly due to my TWD commitments, I had to give up Savage – which was extremely regrettable. I also want to pursue other creative avenues in my career – primarily doing books for the French/Belgium industry. But if my and 2000AD‘s paths ever cross again – I see no reason why I wouldn’t do more work for them. My time(s) at Rebellion was an extremely creative and enjoyable one… but sometimes you just have to move on.
DO’L: Your work on The X-Files in the mid nineties was at the height of the series popularity. When you took on the work were you a fan of the television show?
CA: When I took on the X-Files no one expected the thing to explode the way it did (rather similar to TWD). When I was offered the book I certainly hadn’t heard of the series and it had only just started over in the States. I think Topps just viewed it as a quick and easy cash in on a genre TV show. I was drafted in because I could generate the right “atmosphere”… certainly not because I could draw likenesses! Anyway, we were all unprepared for how big it would all become and the X-Files turned (for a few years at least) into the type of property that would turn anything related to it onto a major success. Our comic included. Unfortunately it’s success overshadowed who was actually doing the comic… it really could have been anyone – it didn’t matter who was writing or drawing it – it was the X-Files that was the star and when it was all over I was still fairly unknown. It did not make me a “star” by any stretch of the imagination.
DO’L: Your 2006 book ‘;Rock Bottom’ with Joe Casey was originally announced in 2002 under the name Monolith. Were you involved with the project that early or did you come on board later?
CA: It’s true, the book was going to be called Monolith, but when Joe wrote it there was no artist attached – I came on board much later on. By that time DC had already published their own Monolith, so we certainly couldn’t use that title. Hence Rock Bottom was born…When Joe asked if I was interested in drawing it, I asked to see the script and read it in one sitting… It was incredible! It was one of those rare occurrences where I felt blessed to be sent something THAT good – I just had to do it. Money didn’t matter, I would do it for free… and basically I DID do it for nothing. But I don’t care, the end result was the main thing and getting it out there was the most important thing. I urge anyone who’s remotely interested in something not in the mainstream to read the book… It’s s work of which I’m very proud.
DO’L: You arrived on The Walking Dead when the book was still under the radar of a lot of people. Now that the book has exploded in popularity, with a television series, multiple arcs under your belt, how satisfying is it to see the book evolve the way it has?
CA: Oh, incredibly satisfying! I feel very lucky. Lightning doesn’t often strike twice, but it has with me… well financially anyway. The first time was the X-Files and now TWD. Obviously TWD today means so much more than mere monetary rewards… It’s totally creatively fulfilling unlike the X-Files. But – like the X-Files – Robert and I were totally surprised by the success of the book. Totally! Sometimes I have to kick myself , I can’t quite believe just how big TWD has become. I feel very privileged to be involved with this book… And it’s hard to believe that when I first started on issue seven I thought I’d probably do “just” the 6 issues and move on to something else more “high profile” after. Thankfully Robert and Eric Stephenson at Image persuaded me not to leave… Best advice I think I was ever given!
DO’L: The book is more about character introspection and development interspersed with terrifying violence. What do you make of Kirkman’s direction with the book compared to your average zombie story?
CA: Well, if the book was just an average zombie book… I might’ve left after those 6 issues… and not regretted it. The whole strength of TWD is in the characterisation… I’d go as far as to say that it isn’t actually a zombie book at all – it’s a character driven piece about how a group of disparate people survive and cope with an extreme situation which just happens – in this case – to be zombies.
DO’L: Are you continuing in the book for the foreseeable future?
CA: Oh yes! I’m with this project until the bitter end…
I’m lucky – I’m fast – so I don’t have all my time taken up with TWD… I can do other projects in between issues. So things never get stale with the main book, I can step away occasionally and recharge my batteries. Also I quite fancy being in the select group of artists that have a BIG number of single title issues under their belt – the Kirby’s, Sim’s etc… And me!
DO’L: You’ve worked on everyone from Judge Dredd to Green Lantern. Any favourite memories of books from down the years?
CA: In mainstream terms I have soft spot for the 2 issues I did on Superman…Perfect Superman story (Joe Casey again!) and a joy to draw. I also have fond memories of the initial Mars Attacks mini series. Keith Giffen was another pleasure to work with.
DO’L: I don’t think you have had work at Marvel since the Warlock mini with Greg Pak in 2004. If you were to go back someday what would you like a crack at?
CA: Funnily enough it was Warlock that I might’ve left TWD for! Thankfully the series – even though I really enjoyed working on it with Greg – was cancelled before I had to make the choice. I got offered a few other Marvel projects over the next few years, but TWD and other creator owned projects have kept me away from further superhero shenanigans… Though, if I were ever to return to that over done genre, I’d quite fancy tackling a certain Dr. Doom…
DO’L: How did the collaboration with Mathieu Misoffe on Le Soufle du Wendigo come about?
CA: I pretty much instigated that… in so much as I actively looked for work in the European comics industry. I’ve always been a BIG fan of the comics industry across the English Channel and a few years ago after I completed Savage book 2, I felt ready to show them what I could do. So I went to Angouleme, ended up talking to Soleil amongst others and they were the first to bite after my visit. They hooked me up with Mathieu and Wendigo was born. The exciting thing is that I’m now talking further French albums with Delcourt ( who publish TWD in France) and Soleil again… All original material.
DO’L: Is it still just a French version available of that book or has it being translated?
CA: Unfortunately it remains in French… for now. But hopefully one day I could get it published in English. It’s a great story and one that’s deserving of a wider audience.
DO’L: You seem to be an artist who can take on more than one project at a time. Any other projects on the horizon for you right now?
CA: As I said – there’s further European projects in the pipeline. One with a rather popular US creator…! And there’s always other irons in the fires… always. I’m not the sort of artist who rests on his laurels, so I’m always talking with editors and on the outlook for stuff that might get my creative juices flowing – so to speak… Unfortunately it’s just nothing I can talk about at the moment.
DO’L: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us Charlie, cheers.
CA: Not a problem… It was a pleasure!