Talking Comics with Tim: Peter Krause

This Wednesday marks the return of Peter Krause to monthly comics as the artist on BOOM! Studios' Irredeemable. The series is described by BOOM! as daring to "ask the question: what if the world's greatest hero decided to become the world's greatest villain? A 'twilight of the superheroes'-style story that examines super-villains from the writer of KINGDOM COME and EMPIRE!" Many people, including myself, fondly remember Krause's great run on the 1990s DC series, The Power of Shazam. My thanks to Krause for this email interview regarding his return to monthly fun, as well as BOOM!'s Chip Mosher for facilitating the interview.

Tim O'Shea: This marks the first ongoing title you've done since Power of Shazam--but you've been a busy and happily employed artist outside of comics all these years. How has your non-comics work served to help improve your artistic skills overall and are there certain chances you're now willing to take--or visual experiments you want to try now that you never would have considered earlier in your career?

Peter Krause: Wow…what a great opening question. I suppose there are some chances I’d be willing to take, but I’m not sure if I can point to the non-comics work specifically as the reason. After a time, I think you get a bit more comfortable in your own skin, and you’re not chasing the artistic flavor of the month. You can be a bit more confident in the decisions you make.

As an example, there are times where I just want to be loose and smear the ink around to show a certain texture or indicate a kind of ambiance. In my younger days, I might have been afraid to do that.

O'Shea: Did you start hungering for an ongoing series once you started working on the Cuffs collaboration with Derek McCulloch for Popgun 3? Or did that hunger hit you well before that?

Krause: Haha! A hunger, you say? I don’t know if I had an overwhelming hunger for an ongoing series as much as an itch to do comics again. Drawing the Popgun story “Cuffs” scratched the itch a bit. Comics really does get in your blood, but I would have been happy to do a little here and there.

But when you get a chance to work with Mark Waid—and you are helping design a whole world with new characters—well, that was just too good an opportunity to pass up.

O'Shea: What kind of visually engaging scenes has Mark Waid written for you that you've enjoyed rendering the most?

Krause: I’m not sure there are any certain scenes that I love more than any others, although Mark did have me render something in the first issue that took a bit of work. He said that he’d never ask for something like that again. I think you’ll know what that scene is when you read “Irredeemable” #1.

All of the characters are infused with such personality. That’s a testament to Mark’s writing, and it certainly helps me when I portray the way they act and react to each other.

O'Shea: Is Waid open to your suggestions of alternate ways to potentially play a scene?

Krause: We’ve already had a couple of times when I’ve suggested an alternative to what was written. Mark has been very open to that.

We’ve also had a few discussions on the phone where we’ve hammered out some small, unrealized parts of the script. It’s nice to have that input.

O'Shea: Have you been surprised at how enthusiastically and seemingly unanimously positive the response has been to the fact you're returning to comics? Did you realize that you had developed such a loyal following from your Shazam days?

Krause: In these internet days, I don’t know if anything is unanimous! But I must say I’ve been taken aback at the nice things people said about Power of Shazam!

It’s sometimes hard for an artist to look back at his own work, because you know where all the strings and wires are that are holding it together. But I’m glad people enjoyed POS, and it was great drawing the Marvel family and working with Jerry Ordway, Mike Manley, Dick Giordano and Mike Carlin.

O'Shea: As an artist who infuses his characters with poignancy (as noted by Waid in the advance press on this title) what visual elements do you employ with your art to portray such poignancy?

Krause: I’m not sure there are any “visual elements” that I use to provide the poignancy. Good writing helps. I think any poignancy comes from getting under the character’s skin and feeling what you imagine they would feel.

You are an actor and a director when you’re drawing the comic. We have an example in the second issue where we show the Plutonian in a relationship. It was tough because he acts like a lout for a couple of pages, but you want to have some sympathy for him as well.

Matt Gagnon—our editor on the book—really loved that we pulled it off. That was a poignant scene, and it’s one that I think will be hotly debated by our readers.

O'Shea: Do you think the fact this new title will be a tale about the path to evil, do you expect that be a harder sell to readership, or do you think because of Waid's track record with books like Empire people are hungry for another book tapping into that dark nature of the supersoul?

Krause: I’d hate to limit the scope of the book to just being a tale about the path to evil. I think it’s also about good people trying to oppose that evil, and what steps they would go to stop it. When you get to the end of the second issue, I think you’ll know what I mean.

Mark’s track record speaks for itself, and I think there are plenty of readers that will be on board because he’s writing “Irredeemable”.

O'Shea: Once you started working on the book, but it had not been announced, how hard was it for you not to tease folks about it at your blog?

Krause: Ah yes, my blog. I’ve been so bad at updating it, so it wasn’t that hard!

I don’t know how the rest of you do it with your flickr, and your twitters and your Facebook! I have work to do, pages to draw!

Okay, I’ll try to calm down now. And I’ll also start posting more on the blog. If the BOOM! crew says it’s okay, I can maybe put a few artistic teases for “Irredeemable” there.

O'Shea: Who is inking and coloring you on this assignment and how much have they made your best stuff look even better?

Krause: I’m inking myself on this, which has been fun. And our colorist is the amazing Andrew Dalhouse. I hope we can keep him around for awhile, because he’s doing a great job.

O'Shea: In addition to Popgun and Irredeemable, do you have any time for other creative pursuits in 2009?

Krause: I continue to do some storyboard work, but with the workload of a monthly, I’m not pursuing any other comic work right now.

Drawing “Irredeemable” is a lot of fun, and I hope people will give us a try.

Now, back to the drawing board!

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