Recently, artist Paul Pelletier took over the art duties on the hit DC book AQUAMAN after Ivan Reis' departure. Pelletier has been working in the industry for over 20 years, on titles from LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES to GLA. Paul took the time to answer some questions about his new job on AQUAMAN along with his process on drawing these books and characters.
Comic Vine: How did you get the job on AQUAMAN?
Paul: Pelletier: I had just wrapped up my exclusive contract with Marvel, so I started looking around at job possibilities following my run on Wolverine. I had been in touch with Eddie Berganza about doing some work at DC, and then I got a call from Geoff Johns about doing AQUAMAN. We had a couple of near misses working together in the past, so I was happy to finally say "Yes!" to this opportunity.
CV: How were you originally introduced to the character?
PP: I guess I first was introduced to Aquaman by watching "Super Friends" as a young kid. As a comic book artist, he was one of the few characters I didn't get to draw much during my first go around with DC. I think I drew him a little in an issue of Superman. When I landed this assignment, I immediately went out and bought a copy of the first trade that Geoff and Ivan did, and got to know Arthur Curry a bit more.
CV: What tweaks do you plan on making to any of the characters in the book for future issues?
PP: Well, I'm still getting to know these characters, so I don't really have any tweaks in mind at this point. It usually takes me around 4 issues to get a decent grasp on who I'm drawing. I guess it all depends on what the story asks for.
CV: What have been some of the challenges you've come across working on this book so far?
PP: First off, the tight deadlines! I joined the book at the last minute, so I've been playing a lot of catch-up. Also, the first story I did was part of the "Throne Of Atlantis" epic, so I was thrown feet-first into the fire! Besides that...? Following up Ivan Reis' work has been the biggest challenge.....that guy is amazing. The scope and grandiose nature of his art is awe-inspiring. He's a tough act to follow.
CV: Because this book takes place underwater quite a bit, how much time do you spend researching and do you think, overall, drawing this book is more challenging than others?
PP: I've spent some time referencing sea life and other ocean related themes, but honestly, every book has a subject or two (or three, or four....) that will need some kind of research. Drawing AQUAMAN does have its built-in challenges, but so far, I don't think it's any more difficult than other projects I've worked on. Besides, working with the creative team of Geoff Johns, Sean Parsons and Rod Reis has made AQUAMAN a lot of fun.
CV: How often do you and writer Geoff Johns talk about this book and how important is a good working relationship?
PP: I've spoken with Geoff a few times (phone and email) about AQUAMAN, and about where he wants to take it. It's really cool that he wants my input. There have been many times that I've worked on projects where I never talk to the writer at all. Just like any job, having a good working relationship with your team mates makes the work that much easier. I think we've got a really good creative team on AQUAMAN. I feel really lucky to be working with them.
CV: What's the strangest thing you've had to draw on this book?
PP: Hmmmm....nothing too fishy so far (get it?....fishy? Haaawww!).
CV: You've worked on a lot of different books from EXILES and GLA to THE FLASH and GREEN LANTERN. When you are working on a new book, do you have a different approach to working on a single character book as opposed to a team driven book?
PP: Well, with a team book, you can get away with not quite nailing a character since you have others that can divert the readers attention until you hit that comfort zone. When it's a single character, all focus is on that one character, so the pressure is on to get them right from the first issue.
CV: You've had a solid career in the industry, what's an aspect of contemporary art in comics you really wish had been around during the early 90s?
PP: Email and scanning artwork has made the process a lot faster, and the internet has made researching topics much easier. Otherwise, it hasn't changed that much for me....it's still me putting pencil to paper and drawing stories.
CV: What advice would you give to aspiring artists out there who want to get into this industry?
PP: Concentrate on being an effective story teller...comics are not just a series of pin-ups, so drawing a cohesive story with expressive characters is very important. Once you can do that, you've got to make sure that you can hit your deadlines. You have to learn to fight through the times when you don't feel like drawing, or those times where you have to draw something you can't stand, or if you're going through a bout of artists' block....you have to be a professional. I think this is one of the big reasons I've stayed busy drawing comics over the last 20+ years.....yeah, it's fun to pencil comics, but it's also a JOB. You need a lot of self discipline to sit at the board day after day with no one right there over your shoulder to make sure you're getting the work done. Good luck!
Many thanks to Paul Pelletier for taking the time out to answer some questions! Make sure to check out his current work on AQUAMAN!