From 'Elektra' to 'Black Widow,' Greg Horn talks comics

If you've ever seen any of Greg Horn's art chances are you had to stop and stare and maybe even take a second or third look.

His photo-realistic style is drawing a lot of attention to books like the current "Elektra" series for Marvel Comics. His next assignment will certainly turn even more heads this month. "The 'Black Widow' story for Marvel's MAX line will be a three issue mini-series written by Greg Rucka," Greg Horn told CBR News on Monday. "I'll be doing the covers and interior art for this adventure, which will be illustrated in the same manner as I do the covers."

Initially, plans were for Horn to provide interior art as well as the eye-popping covers for "Elektra," but things didn't quite work out that way.

"When I first started working with Marvel, I had expressed to Joe (Quesada) and Stuart (Moore) that I'd be interested in doing interiors on a book," said Horn. "Their first project for me was the 'Elektra' series, but it had to be ready by the summer and I knew I wouldn't be able to get it done in time unless I rushed it, and I definitely didn't want to do that. So I had to turn it down."

Fortunately for Horn, his second opportunity to provide interior art came sooner than he expected. "They had me start on the covers for 'Elektra' instead and about 8 illustrations later they called again with the 'Black Widow' offer. For this project, the time schedule is less demanding and I will be able to enjoy what I'm doing. Nothing is more important than that, right?"

Horn's excited to be working on "Black Widow," but he's reluctant to give away too many details ahead of time.

"I don't want to get into any story details here, but Greg [Rucka] has written a brilliant script," said Horn. "We will be exploring aspects of the Black Widow character that I never even thought were possible. [Rucka and I] have talked at several conventions on how we are going to handle some of the very sensitive elements of the Black Widow series. It's important to me that I agree with him on the content and direction of the story as I'll be investing a crap load of time on it. I'm happy to be working on a book that will be so critical to the development of Yelena's character, believe me. She is never going to be the same after Greg and I get done with her. There is a solid understanding between the two of us on what needs to be done to make Yelena a stronger character and to make this series great. I'm ready to do my part."

Horn also expressed a lot of affection for the previous Black Widow mini-series released recently from Marvel Comics. "The conflict created by Yelena and Natasha's differing ideals is very interesting to me. I really enjoyed the JG Jones mini series. He is one of my favorite artists."

Horn isn't finished with the Greek Assassin Elektra just yet. "I am currently working on a 10 page Elektra story for Marvel's "Double shot" also written by Greg Rucka. I'm approaching it kind of like a primer for the 'Black Widow' job so Greg, Stuart, and I can get accustomed to each other," said Horn.

[Lady Death/Witchblade]Fans of Horns dynamic style can also find more of his art in the coming months. "I just finished a Lady Death/Medieval Witchblade Lithograph for Dynamic Forces, and I'm working on the Elektra covers, and the cover to Iron Man #50."

Working with Greg Rucka has been a great inspiration to Horn. In the future, Horn hopes to work with other great writers. "I know it's in vogue to say 'I'd like to work with Brian Michael Bendis' but damn it, I'd REALLY like to work with Brian! I first met him in 1996 when we went on tour across California. Back then, we were lower than tits on a tapeworm. In fact, at one store nobody showed up because the owner didn't bother to tell his customers we were coming! Brian and I played video games for 4 hours and I learned a lot about him, and Kitana and Sub-zero. It has been so great to see him work his way up the ladder, from the bottom wrung to the top. I feel privileged that I was there to watch a lot of it unfold and I am very proud of him. Technically, we have worked together on Elektra, but it would be cool to do a whole book with him."

Fans of "Elektra" were recently surprised at the announcement that their favorite comic book assassin would become a "virtual model" as part of an arrangement with the Karin Models agency. Horn's reaction was similar to those of the fans. "Total confusion," said Horn. "Does this mean that I would have to paint her with various commercial products? One day, might I have to paint Elektra walking along the beach with her Mom saying 'Mom, sometimes I don't feel fresh'?"

Many fans of Horn's work are curious about how he gets such incredible, photo-realistic images. "The art for all my covers start on paper as a line drawing with shading," said Horn. "This is scanned into the computer and painted onscreen. Occasionally, I will try different mediums like photos, 3D modeling, but the vast majority of the work is painted by hand on a computer screen. This is the only way to give it an artistic look."

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