It started as a fill-in assignment for Yanick Paquette.
The Quebec comic book artist was originally just slated to do a fill-in issue of DC/Vertigo's "Codename: Knockout," spelling for series artist Louis Small on issue #4.
And then, the assignments expanded. A lot. In fact, he's now a co-creator on the book. And with that new financial and legal stake in the book has come creative license.
"Most of this was already pre-designed when I came along, but I am changing things a little bit," Paquette told CBR News on Thursday. "I feel more creative freedom now that I am a creator.
"First I'm doing six issues. So far I did issue 4, I did issue 7 which is done," he said, "Then I am doing issue 8. Issue 9 is Amanda Conner and Jimmy [Palmiotti]. Then I'm doing 10, 11, 12, which is a three-parter of [series star Angela] getting involved in some 'women business.' Basically, at that point, I will be free of my assignment."
Paquette has previously said he didn't want to be tied down to a monthly comic schedule. But "Codename: Knockout" has its enticements.
"There is [inker] Mark Farmer," he said. "When I was a kid, I always loved Mark's stuff. As an artist, you can't go to your editor and say 'I want Mark Farmer.' On that book, he was here before me. ... If Mark stays, I am staying. Getting originals by Mark Farmer, that's good enough."
And for casual fans of Paquette's work, yes, "Codename: Knockout" does have a sexy leading lady.
"As for the book, it's a babe book," Paquette said. "For some reason, I've been typecast as a 'babe artist.' I don't have any problem with that. I know I'm doing it good. And this book is just extreme in that matter. I don't have in mind any books that would allow me to go that far. Not only is it a Vertigo book, that allows me to open the doors to excess, but the story itself is about extremes. ... I could draw, like, 12 issues of 'Catwoman' and not do anything as sexy as one page of 'Codename: Knockout.' Maybe I'll get tired of it, but at this point, it is still cool to do.
"I'm doing pretty girls here. But I did Superman stuff, and there's no women in that. Well, there's Lois, but you can't draw her like that. It's a sign of respect. I did Wonder Woman, and I tried to make her sexy, but I didn't take it to the extreme as I did Angela. ... I know this is one of my strong suits, but there's a lot of good work in the background. ... Surrounding her with great stuff, great guys too ... it's still quality work.
"The only danger I can see so far is being typecast into this kind of work and not get work elsewhere. But I feel I can still do an issue of 'Iron Man' and only do robots in it," Paquette said. "Actually, I'm good with dogs, too. I'm a dog artist!"
In addition to half a year's worth of "Codename: Knockout," Paquette has also done two issues of DC/WildStorm's "Gen13."
"I did them, because I could not resist the idea of doing issues of them with [writer] Adam Warren," he said. "That was a blast, I really enjoyed doing it."
In addition to working with Warren, the assignment had other benefits, including opening the door at a company where he hadn't worked previously.
"There's very few companies I've never been able to work with, and one of them was WildStorm until 'Gen13.' The other [one] is Dark Horse. They just don't want to talk with me," he laughed.
In the meantime, he's enjoying pushing the envelope with "Codename: Knockout." So far, he hasn't been asked to rein the over the top sexiness in.
"It's going to happen at some point. The editor is going to call and say 'oh, this is going to have to be shredded.' ... But, no, they understand it's a funnybook. It's kind of hard, because we're trying to do a funnybook with T&A. And that's hard, because a regular T&A book is funny," he said. "To make it funny, we have to make it so extreme, so that people will realize 'OK, these guys are just doing it as a joke.' Otherwise, they'll think 'these guys are pervs.'"