Phil lives in rural Iowa with his wife and two children. He began working in comics while attending The University of Iowa. He graduated with a BFA in drawing with minors in sculpture and painting. He has worked for nearly every comic book publisher in his career.
Phil’s past work includes: Swamp Thing, The Crow: Waking Nightmares, The Coffin, The Wretch (‘96 Eisner Nominee), The Creeper, Ultimate Marvel Team-Up, Brave Old World, Fringe, Rust, Taboo, The Picture Taker, Attitude Lad, Deadline USA, Negative Burn, Clerks: The Lost Scene, Deep Sleeper, Green Arrow, Nightwing, El Diablo, Gen 13, The Irredeemable Ant-Man, Marvel Team-Up, Black Terror, The Anchor, Golly!, Wonder Woman, The Darkness, Green Hornet, Seraph, Firebreather, The Bionic Man and lots, lots more.
He is nice and likes nice people.
G-Man interviews Phil Hester
G-Man: Let's start with The Darkness #1. We find Jackie in Central America
in a place called Sierra Muñoz. Why the change of scenery? A way to
get away from the events of First Born? Is this a way for Jackie to be
"free" to be on his own?
Phil Hester: All of the above. Jackie's dual lives come to a head at the same time
and it's clear to him that the events of First Born make for a natural
breaking away moment. It's an interesting choice, because on the
surface it looks like he's just running away from himself again, and
maybe he is, but once you get a look at what he's up to in Sierra Munoz
you might come away with the impression that he's actually starting to
take his criminal ambitions and his supernatural powers more seriously.
G-Man: Interesting. How much time passes between First Born and #1?
About six months.
Phil: How much time passes between First Born and #1?
About six months.
G-Man: Will we see any crossovers with Sara Pezzini, Witchblade, the baby, or
Phil: Someday, but the first arc (1-6) will be self-contained. I think our
first guest star will actually be Aphrodite IX.
G-Man: How many issues (or story arcs) do you have planned out?
Phil: The first year and a half or so. The first arc is a hard six, and the
next arc has a little more wiggle room as it's composed of one or two
issue arcs that all tie together.
G-Man: Darkness Levels (mini-series) seemed to slightly change Jackie's
origin. I think I read Marc Silvestri saying that both histories were
true. Is that the case with you? Can we go with Levels as his origin
or does that take place in an "alternate" universe for the video game?
Phil: I think The Darkness has actually been around long enough that his
origin is almost Batman-like, meaning as long as you stay true to the
core concepts of the character's origin you can tweak it here and there
as the years pass and not really mess things up.
G-Man: With the popularity of the video game, any new word on a Darkness
movie? (Think it was first announced in 2004. Does Dimension Films
still own the rights?) Would you be a consultant?
Phil: I'm clueless on this one, so I wouldn't count on me being any sort of
consultant regarding a film. I think Marc would have that role.
G-Man: What's it like working with new superstar, Michael Broussard?
Phil: You nailed it. He's a budding superstar. What can I say? It's a joy to
watch the new pages roll in. His work is absolutely dazzling.
G-Man: What kind of script/direction do you give him? Detailed? Panel by
panel, "this is what I want," or description of what should happen on
each page and then you fill in the script?
Phil: I actually do a tiny, rudimentary thumbnail layout of each page with
balloon placements and panel descriptions in the margin. I'll attach a
dialogue script to that so Michael actually knows what's going in the
balloons. That said, I respect Michael's skills and he has total
freedom to disregard my layout. It's just that, as an artist, it's
easier for me to understand the rhythms of a page when I can see it, so
I work Kutzman-style.
G-Man: Which do you prefer as an artist? When you give your direction, do
you separate yourself as a writer and artist or do they come together?
Phil: That's very hard to say. To date, excepting The Wretch, almost
everything I've written I've felt was probably best drawn by someone
else. When I'm working from another writer's script I have no
preference as long as I can sense a devotion to the integrity of the
storytelling in the script. The format itself, be it Alan Moore
encyclopedias or Stan Lee cocktail napkins, isn't that important.
G-Man: You live in Iowa and Michael lives in LA, do you guys meet up,
talk over phone, instant message? How is your work relationship?
Phil: We talk at cons, and like I said, he gets pretty detailed notes from me
every issue. I guess it's a good sign that we haven't had any phone
worthy conflicts to date. He's a great young artist and I'm lucky to
have him saving my ass on this project.
G-Man: I used to live in the midwest myself (Illinois), are you
recognized in your hometown? What about conventions? Like them or
pain in the butt?
Phil: I live in a town of 900 people, so actually everyone is recognized by
everyone else here, but most folks here do know what I do and follow my
career somewhat. I actually really enjoy conventions, but by the third
day I'm ready to get home to my family.
G-Man: Any weird or crazy convention experiences?
Phil: I was asked to do a sketch once while standing at a urinal. I did it
drawing and peeing simultaneously.
G-Man: That's impressive! Being a family man in Iowa, what is your inspiration for the dark
world of the Darkness? Do you have a special happy place you like to
Phil: It's strange, because a lot of my work tends to be horror-oriented, but
I think most people who know me would describe me as dreadfully
wholesome. I guess I get it all out this way.
G-Man: Do you ever listen to English rock band The Darkness?
Phil: Yeah. That video was pretty hilarious.
G-Man: What are your thoughts on how your creation (with Kevin Smith) Mia
Dearden is being portrayed today? Happy with her direction? (Judd
Winick's move to having her HIV positive.) (And by the way, I loved
the design of Onomatopoeia).
Phil: Thanks. It's funny that I'm known for co-creating the Mia Dearden
Speedy since I only drew her in the Speedy costume on a few pages. I
think she's a great character and I think her HIV status is a realistic
consequence of her former life. I trust Judd to handle it in a way that
shows Mia as a complete human being. Her HIV status doesn't make her
any more or less of a hero, her determination does.
G-Man: Who's the better sidekick, Speedy (Roy Harper) or Speedy (Mia
Phil: I'm biased.
G-Man: You've worked with just about every comic company, do you actively
read other titles or only ones directly involving what you're working
on? Any current favorites?
Phil: I'm actually pretty indiscriminate. I'll read almost anything from
fantagraphics to Marvel and DC to manga. I tend to follow creators more
than characters or companies. I will say that I'm about a year and half
behind on reading my pull list.
G-Man: The Irredeemable Ant-Man unfortunately came to an end. It felt a little weird how
Eric's character changed a little at the end, was that done to move him
to the next chapter in his life or was it something that was eventually
going to happen. (It won't be the same seeing him make other
appearances with you involved).
Phil: I think Robert always planned on getting Eric to a little more mature
place. Listen, not many people can live past 23 being a total dick.
Eric was a realistic portrait of an everyman, not necessarily a bad
guy, so his growth was something to be expected.
G-Man: Besides Darkness, what else are you working on? Is Firebreather
still set to come out in 2008? Is the movie still in motion?
Phil: I've got two series set to come out from Image next year- Firebreather
with Andy Kuhn and a supernatural horror/comedy book called Golly with
Brook Turner. I'm also continuing the comic formerly known as The
Atheist under the title Antoine Sharpe with Will Volley from Desperado.
I'm writing and drawing a Daredevil/Magdalena crossover. I'm also
drawing a three-issue Superman Confidential arc with my inking pal Ande
Parks and writer Clay Moore. I'm also set to draw a six issue mini for
DC this summer. I'm also currently looking for a wholesaler of
G-Man: That's a crazy schedule. Civil War? Who was right, Iron Man or Captain America? Should
super-powered individuals have to register?
Phil: Head says Iron Man, heart says Cap. Outlaw super heroes are cool,
though. I liked it better when cops shot at Spider-Man anyway.
G-Man: What's your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Phil: Cake batter from Coldstone's.
G-Man: What was the last good movie you saw?
Phil: It's a few years old, but I recently saw the bull riding documentary
Rank and was really moved by it.
G-Man: Who would win, Darkness or Ripclaw? How long would the battle
Phil: What time is it?
G-Man: So what if Darkness had to fight someone with a really bright
Phil: We take care of that in this arc.
G-Man: Alright. Can't wait. Thanks for your time.
The Darkness Issue #1 hits the stands December 12th.