Is there a difference between your approaching a comic book and another kind of
illustration (like a music album cover or a game)?
Yes, definitely. In a comic book cover, one tries, generally, for impact. This isn’t always like a punch
in the nose, sometimes the cover can startle the jaded comic book buyer by being a photograph, or a
collage, a single color with maybe one black form to set it off, a huge eyeball reflecting another eye
and glowing teeth… Because comic book covers are so large, compared to paperback book covers
and especially today’s CD covers (the old 33.3rpm record album covers, 12”x12”, were the IDEAL
artists’ canvas!), the comic cover can be detailed or simple, graphically laid-out in a clean, mechanical
manner, or look dishevelled like a kid’s sock drawer. It’s an ideal showcase for good design and
drawing, and even better for clever thinking. Because the audience for a comic book is rarely a first-
time buyer, the cover artist/designer can play with the expectations of the reader, with luck, intriguing
them into buying a book they may not have felt they were interested in.
Good drawing always makes me look more than twice (and also makes me PRAY the interior art is
“up to” the cover art: one hopes the cover artist did the art for the entire issue).
Ideally I like to tease the reader when doing comic book covers, while doing some nice drawing /
coloring. I believe it is always a good idea to somewhat reflect what’s inside the comic book. In this
day of Variant Covers there’s often no chance for a second Variant Cover artist to even know which
comic a cover might end up on.
How do you feel when a character that you have worked on, like The Shadow, is revived and
drawn by other artists?
If it’s approached with integrity and talent, of course it’ll be terrific. It’d be saying something about
myself if I didn’t like to see what others do with the same characters I’ve had some success drawing:
after all, my interpretation of The Shadow, beginning in 1973, comes late to an already well-defined
character. Since I had a shot at working on someone else’s character, it’d be small of me to not take
a keen interest when another artist comes along and puts their spoon into the mix.
When the character that gets reborn is one I developed or designed, I’m even MORE curious. Look
at the heights Amy Reeder took Madame Xanadu to: amazing work! Sergio Aragones took Eve, the
hostess of the Sinister House of Something and did some thigh-slappingly funny cartoons using her for
years. Later, Neil Gaiman took Eve and transformed her entirely, giving her a life in the Vertigo
comics that no one could have imagined when she debuted in the 1970’s.
I guess the only time when I raise an eyebrow is when a character is entirely altered by the new take:
different personality, different history, etc, and, in the case of female characters, it annoys me when an
artist decides to alter her figure so they can draw another large chest.
Will you pick up the upcoming ongoing SHADOW series by Dynamite or you’re not any
curious at all?
Yes, I definitely plan to look over Dynamite’s new SHADOW comics. I’ve seen some cover teasers:
there’s some good work!
STARSTRUCK has been around for decades, having been through revivals, different
publishers and media. How does it feel visiting its universe every now and then?
STARSTRUCK is always with me… getting the recent 13 book series and the large collection from
IDW onto the stands was a real milestone in its publishing history… now, with the 350+ page book
on the stands, and the new Starstruck Comics website up and running the possibility of more
STARSTRUCK is closer than ever.
Should we expect any new STARSTRUCK stories in the future?
There exists approximately 200 finished but uncollected pages on my shelves: all that’s needed to get
the ball rolling is to find a way to draw the other 200 pages that are to be laced in between these
finished pages. Living in New York City means that even a labor of love like STARSTRUCK must
have a source of money I can pay my rent with while working on the new art.
You have rarely seen you in superhero comics, except for some covers. Is there any
particular reason for this?
I generally don’t have what most superhero comics editors see as a superhero style. However, over
the past year or so, Marvel has had me draw a 30 page stand-alone comic that is a lynch pin in their
CHAOS WAR storyline: “Chaos King” (Chaos King’s original name: Amatsu-Mikaboshi), in which
we find as many as 20+ well-known Marvel characters getting whumped up on by Chaos King.
Brandon Montclare’s storyline includes The Fantastic Four, Living Mummy, Frankenstein’s Monster,
Werewolf By Night, Morbius, Ghost Rider, Satan, Son of Satan (Hellstorm), Hela, Satannish, Pluto,
Satanna, Pandemonia, various Skrull Gods, Overmind, Champion, Hercules, Thor, Galactus and The
Silver Surfer, Marduk Kurios and Cthulhu plus various gods and citizens of Zenn-La, the birthplace
of Norrin Radd (The Silver Surfer), and that Imp Supreme: Impossible Man (not to mention the five
little heroes I put in without asking anyone: Boom Boom, Gomi, Jubilee, Alex Wilder and Layla
Miller… though, of course, not by name!). If you missed “Chaos King” when it came out, it is
included in CHAOS WAR: X-MEN TPB.
Marvel has also had me work as cover artist and an interior artist in their new FEAR ITSELF
storyline, tackling the Fearsome Four: I never expected to draw She Hulk, Nighthawk, Frankenstein’s
Monster nor Howard The Duck in the comics… but I did. And I also got to draw the alternate Hulk,
Spiderman, Wolverine and Ghost Rider.
There’s been several pages of Marvel’s Black Knight along the way, with covers featuring Spiderman,
Captain America, Hercules, Wolverine, Thor, and a host of background parts for other well-known
Marvel folks. Add to that covers for Zombie Killraven vs Machine Man, Wolverine Vs Fin Fang
Foom and the five ZOMBIES CHRISTMAS CAROL covers… Hmmmm… I surprise myself.
You have illustrated dozens of covers in your career from fantasy books to superhero ones.
Is there a series that you have most enjoyed illustrating its covers?
STARSTRUCK comes to mind, of course: I’ve done more covers than there are issues for that
story (since the books have come out through 4 different American publishers: Heavy Metal, Marvel,
Dark Horse and IDW), and there were covers on the Spanish magazines that ran the strip in the 1980’s.
Both BOOKS OF MAGIC and LUCIFER were great fun and sometimes challenging cover series.
Doing covers for BATMAN, DETECTIVE, HOUSE OF MYSTERY, HOUSE OF SECRETS and
THE SHADOW were golden times at the drawing board.
The five VAMPIRELLA covers done for Harris Comics are still bringing me enjoyment, while Glenn
Danzig’s BLACK ARIA ANGEL / DEMON CD cover and the CD covers (with 24 interiors) for the
Black Sabbath Tribute albums, NATIVITY IN BLACK I and II, are close to my absolute favorites.
What is the status of the PARADISE LOST graphic novel you’re doing with Steve Niles?
We are on hold just now, awaiting the go-ahead from the production company.
What should we expect from your adaptation?
I can’t say, exactly: as with every project, there are script revisions before there’s a finished story.
I’m not yet aware of what tack is being taken with the story (there’s so much to Milton’s poem).
Rest assured: I’ll be doing my best to present an awesome graphic novel!
Can you tell us about your participation in Vertigo’s new anthology, MYSTERY IN SPACE?
I don’t know that I have any participation in MYSTERY IN SPACE … no one from DC Comics has
contacted me… perhaps they will in the future. Wait! Just a minute: I may have an 8-page script right
here on my desktop (I don’t think anyone mentioned what book it was going into, but it’d certainly fit
into MYSTERY IN SPACE!!!)
Do you have any other projects planned for the immediate future?
I have been doing pencil drawings for Tom Yeates to do tonal watercolors over for two books in a
series of Myths and Legends for younger folks, written by Anthony Horowitz… I’ve done about 80
I’ve designed a CD Cover for a rock band: Venrez, and we are currently putting together a video for
their song KARMA.
I’ve just finished the 6th (and final) painted cover for a mini-series from IDW titled MEMORIAL.
I believe the first two issues are out on the stands.
IDW will be releasing a series of 48-page sketchbooks in which my unfinished idea drawings and
thumbnails from my fanzine beginnings to the new projects of today will be presented.
I am also doing an illustrated version of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ PRINCESS OF MARS for IDW.
It isn’t allied with the film due out soon, simply my drawings for ERB’s timeless story (something I’ve
dreamed of doing ever since I first read the book in 1960)
Perhaps most exciting: I’ve about 5 private commissions in the works: art that people have asked me
to do… the subjects range from The Shadow through BOOKS OF MAGIC to Shakespeare’s
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM.
About The Author Θωμάς Παπαδημητρόπουλος
When he was born Thomas Papadimitropoulos, doctors were forced to pull with cupping, which left
sign. It's good now. As a journalist, he has written a bunch of stuff (from motorcycles and music by
garage doors and body building), but now writes for comics and enjoying it as much as anything else.
Once you read a post, he rather tries to fill in the gaps in superhero comics or to find space in the
House to fit somewhere new trades – it's not that it's a lot of blame being small home.
|All art copyright Michael Wm. Kaluta and the respective owners.
|Michael Wm. Kaluta
|Interview Corner # 82
by Thomas Papadimitropoulos
|For those of us working in ... lowercase works and we don't have many professional give and take
with the Art, terms such as "comparative advantage" usually describes something that pertains to the
technology or practices and uses lowercase. If needed, however, to use the term "comparative
advantage" in Art, that in many cases I described the man's talent and the ability to customize this
talent in different cases.By this logic, one of the artists who has however this "comparative advantage"
is this week's guest: Michael WM. Kaluta. Kaluta is located in comics and illustrations in General for
more than four decades and has taken hundreds of jobs – so you'll need to constantly reminds us (or,
in the case of the new anthology of Vertigo, the remind us)!The fact, of course, that has taken on so
many projects, both within and outside of the comics industry is not a matter of luck or connections.
It has to do with his talent. This put his signature in dozens of covers, from the BOOKS OF MAGIC
and various superhero titles (ACTION COMICS, BATMAN, THOR, ROCKETEER and others)
to music albums, Danzig and tribute to Black Sabbath among others.The same talent has made him
known to the world of comics fans around the world, thanks to the excellent design in a series that
has taken over. Among these, of course, the run on THE SHADOW (script by Dennis O'Neil), one
of the first "hits" of the popular hero in comics and the series syndimioyrgise with Elaine Lee,
STARSTRUCK. The latter, indeed, continues occasionally until today, with various collections and
mini series. In addition, Kaluta has (co-) created popular characters, such as Eve (which many know
through the pages of the SANDMAN) and Madame Xanadu.All of the above, of course, are a few
drops in the ocean of his gifted artist. As the projects added in this ocean of talent and impressive
designs. This time, Kaluta worked with Steve Niles to carry in the form of graphic novel PARADISE
LOST by John Milton, on behalf of the Legendary. In addition, you will participate in the new
anthology of Vertigo, MYSTERY IN SPACE.Let, however, this week's special guest, Michael
Wm. Kaluta, talk to us about the old, modern and future projects, in the following interview