Creator Art Picks, where we ask comic creators about the comics and artists they like and that influence them. For the first installment we have Dave Hendrick, writer of the O’Brien Press graphic novel “Granuaile: Queen of Storms”.
Who was the first artist you took notice of when getting into comics, that made you realize it was someone’s job to draw or just made you aware of creators?
I came up in the ’80’s and as such Secret Wars and G1 Transformers were everything to me, I remember studying Mike Zeck’s covers most nights and trying my damndest to draw like him (it never took so I settled for writing). So for me he was the first “name” I trusted, as in if he was involved I was sure of enjoying whatever the book was. I remember having a massive poster of his Cap annual cover where him and Wolverine (in the Art Adams brown suit – the best one) are facing off, man I used to just stare at that for hours. Back then it was all about the artist, I couldn’t have cared less about who was writing, that came a little later. Geoff Senior on the UK Transformers stuff was really important to me too. If he was drawing I was reading.
Do you have a biggest influence or favourite artist, one that’s maybe affected your style or storytelling more than others?
I have all sorts of influences not all comics related but they find their way in. Hitting my adolescent stride in the ’90’s meant I was either going to have a thing for yellow spandex or black leather and I guess I went the black leather route and invested a lot of time and energy into Vertigo and all it had to offer (there was a bit of spandex along the way). Looking back though at that period the guys who stayed with me were James Robinson and Tony Harris for their Starman run, I still go back to that regularly when I want to remind myself why comics are important. Not a comic but not far off BTAS is a masterclass in compressed storytelling and style as is Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. James Ellroy and Philip Roth always creep in every so often as I’m a neurotic middle aged heap like most of Roth’s heroes and Ellroy’s villains. Back to comics, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon on Preacher taught me how to write for comics though. I mean actually taught me. This is really embarrassing but I’m going to tell you anyway. Garth did a signing in the old FP on Dawson street and 17 year old me decided he’d obviously love to read a script I’d written so I gave him one with a note asking him if he’d any advice. I got my Preachers signed and went on my way. About four weeks later an A4 envelope arrived at home for me within which was an original Preacher script with hand written notes by Garth on why certain things were done the way they were and how best to break down a story oh and also to always submit TYPED text – as to my eternal shame the script I’d given him was in long hand. I still look at that (and blush).
Do you have a favourite artistic run on a series, or simply a love of the way one artist draws a certain character or team?
See my earlier answer – Starman really is the business. I could look at anything Tommy Lee Edwards does forever, he painted a really rough 5 minute sketch of The Thing for me a while back and I swear to god it’s the greatest piece of art I own. John Paul Leon is a master of his craft the guy could draw the Dail proceedings and I’d be hooked. Rian Hughes has an eye unmatched by anyone. Kevin O’Neill’s weirdness is unsurpassed. Fiona Staples is a genius. Sean Phillips is also amazing as is Duncan Fegredo, Jamie McKelvie’s work just emanates cool. Goran Parlov too. Mignola’s brilliant as is Sienkiwickz, Cooke on the Parker books, Sean Murphy on anything. I can keep going honestly, Samnee, Jock, Scalera, Esad Ribic. Luca – how lucky was I to get him! Anything Kirby ever did. Totally discounted him in my younger days but what did I know, as I hit my 20’s I fell in love with every dot and dial the man ever drew.
Tommie Lee Edwards page from TURF
Do you have a specific favourite page or sequence from an artist?
Jesus Chris you’re not making this easy on me are you. Dave McKean’s Doll House staring back at Arkham in his and Morrison’s Arkham Asylum gave me chills back in the day. Quietly’s opening page to All Star Superman blows me away. Larry Hama’s silent issue of GI Joe – phenomenal. That’s three, as I write these answers there’s a ton queueing up for attention, ahhh!! The voices won’t stop now!!
Frank Quietly, opening to All-Star Superman #1
Larry Hama, from GI JOE #21
What’s your favourite comic book cover?
Oh ffs, that’s like asking who my favourite child is…but if I had to choose FF 51 by Kirby. It’s such a poetic image. Sums up the pathos of the character (Ben Grimm) in one beautiful image.
Who’s your favourite artist right now?
Honestly it’s Dec, for his work on Injection – don’t tell him though he’ll be a nightmare – seriously though isn’t it amazing!!
Is there a current underrated artist or up and coming one you’d like to highlight?
Shazam By Evan Shaner.
Reyn by Nate Stockman.
Yeah this little known Cork fella called…Shiney? Or Sliney I think, very publicity shy but he’s great (sorry Will, I kid), seriously though Evan Doc Shaner is my first pick, I don’t know if he’s underrated but I’d like to see him do more, I’ve been following him for years (you’ll see why soon) his Captain Marvel, sorry, Shazam is a thing of beauty. I’d kill for him to be on FF though, he’d nail it. I think Nate Stockman goes under the radar for whatever reason which is a shame as he’s amazing, Nate’s book with Jay Faerber Anti-Hero is a real gem, you can get it here http://www.monkeybraincomics.com/titles/anti-hero/
and he’s an Irish lad with an Image book in Reyn which we should be screaming about.