Sometimes when you interview a creator, you get the distinct impression that person would rather be promoting a new film or a new novel, anything but a comic book. Other times you are fortunate enough to talk to a creator like artist Jamal Igle who relishes his craft, loves comic books and is almost as much a booster of his fellow creators as the typical comic book fan. This Wednesday (December 14) marks the release of The Ray 1, the first installment of the four-issue DC miniseries by Igle with the writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray. My thanks to Igle for the email interview. Once you've enjoyed this interview, be sure to check out CBR's late November interview with Palmiotti and Gray, as well as the preview that CBR offered of issue 1.
Tim O’Shea: When the initial 52 DC Books were announced there was a great deal of displeasure voiced about the fact you were not on the list of creators. Two-fold question: How gratifying was it to see your fans support you so vocally on this front. Secondly, without going into details, were you offered a New 52 assignment and passed on it (please feel free to skip the first part and only answer the first part, if you prefer not to delve into it)
Jamal Igle: It was very flattering and humbling at the same time. It was a little difficult for me to respond to all of the inquiries, because I didn't know, frankly, how to respond. I was still working on Superman at the time, so I hadn't been assigned anything. It was a really weird, with all of the assignments being announced, not being able to say anything. The offer for The Ray came just as I was finishing up Superman # 713, prepping #714 and getting ready for San Diego.
O’Shea: Does this mark the first time you have collaborated with the writing team of Palmiotti and Gray? What sold you on joining this miniseries and/or these creators in particular?
Igle: It is, which is really funny because I've known Jimmy for something like 14 years. In fact Jimmy and I have worked together as an art time a few times, but never with him as a writer. However, the opportunity of working with Jimmy and Justin was too good to pass up. I've read pretty much everything they've done from Powergirl, Jonah Hex, Freedom Fighters, The Twilight Experiment, so I knew what they were going to bring to the table. When I got the script, it was so tailor made that I knew I was going to have a blast doing it.
O’Shea: Are there certain aspects of Palmiotti and Gray's writing that you find serve to compliment your approach to storytelling?
Igle: It's a very open collaboration. The script is very straightforward, I think that comes from having an experienced artist as part of the writing team. They understand the limitations of the comic book page and what can be done within the page. There's a clear sense of fun to their stories, particularly with this series. However there's also such a breakneck pace to the story as well, and so many things thrown in, monsters, aliens, etc. All the things I love to design and rarely get a chance to do.
O’Shea: In a recent CBR interview, Palmiotti praised the dynamic nature of your work on this miniseries. Seeing the first issue preview, I was struck by the kineticism of the Ray's powers even when he first gains them. How much experimenting with the layout did you do before you realized "hey he should bounce off a car, then off the belly of a plane and then back down to earth" (a great bit BTW)?
Igle: Well, how the actual layout came together just popped into my head as soon as I read the script. The thing about Lucien’s power set, is that in order to fly, he has to ricochet off reflective surfaces. As he's doing it, he's making hundreds of calculations in seconds. He can't stop in mid-air like most fliers can and because he can move at the speed of light, he's able to cover miles at a time then recalculate where he needs to go. So visually in some panels, it looks fairly random, but it creates such a unique visual effect, one that I’ve rarely seen done in comics.
O’Shea: What do you enjoy more on a project like this: designing the costume and the characters' powers or building the look of the supporting cast?
Igle: Actually the costume was the last thing I designed. It was more important that we ground Lucien's world and make it as "real" as possible. Every location is a real location, I went out of my way to get as much reference for San Diego as I could. Everything from the families houses, to the looks of Lucien's parents, Darius, his girlfriend Chanti. I really went out of my way to design these characters as I saw them in my head as well as maintain the vision Jimmy and Justin had of each character. So all of the action scenes were drawn last, and then once those were done, we designed The Ray costume and went into the high octane stuff.
O’Shea: Can you talk about the benefits of your art being inked by Rich Perrota and colored by Guy Major?
Igle: Well, I've worked with Guy before so I had no issues with the coloring. What's interesting is Rich Perotta. Rich and I worked together on Iron Fist and Wolverine: The Return of Kun Lun for Marvel 11 years ago. We were friends for a long time and lost touch with each other. Then a few years ago I ran into Rich at Heroescon. He had dropped out of comics for a few years and was just getting back into the business and had been doing really well. He was good then but his work has really gotten sharp. He's an incredibly talented inker.
O’Shea: If response was strong enough to the miniseries, would you be game for an ongoing Ray series?
Igle: Of course I would. It's a great premise and the characters are so rich. I could see myself having a nice run on The Ray, if it came to fruition.
O’Shea: I admire how much of a fan of comics you are, even after all these years in the industry, a quality that cannot be said about all industry veterans. With that in mind, I was curious which of the new DC 52 you are really enjoying these days (but maybe you think might be getting overlooked in the deluge of new titles)?
Igle: Well there are the obvious one's Like Action Comics, Batman, Batwoman, Green Lantern and All Star Western (Moritat is kicking ass on that book). I'm also really digging OMAC and I didn't think I would. I really like Hawk and Dove, Green Lantern Corps, Batwing is good, a very strong character piece. [Peter] Tomasi and [Patrick] Gleason on Batman and Robin was a no brainer for me. The Huntress miniseries is really good, between [Paul] Levitz, Marcus To and John Dell, you have a really good looking, well-written book . The surprises for me were Frankenstein and Swamp Thing. I was never a Swamp Thing fan but Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette are so good on it, and Jeff Lemire is so talented.
O’Shea: Is there anything about The Ray you would like to discuss that I neglected to ask you about? On the flipside, after answering all my queries, are there any questions you'd like to ask Robot 6 readers or a message you'd like to give to them?
Igle: It's difficult for me to talk about the series without wanting to spoil things, so I hope people pick up the first issue and give it a try. It really has been a labor of love for me, putting the art for this book together. If you dig it, please contact me via Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (I'm easy to find) and let me know.