Talking Comics with Tim | Shawn Crystal on <i>The Decoy</i>

Today marks the release of the second installment of the three-part digital-only comic Wolverine & Deadpool: The Decoy written by Stuart Moore and drawn by the focus of this email interview, Shawn Crystal. As noted by Crystal, when teasing the Marvel Digital Comics project last week at his blog: "The story is 22 pages in length, each chapter being around 7 or 8 pages." Once you've finished the interview and are looking for more info about Crystal, you can visit him at Deviant Art, Facebook, Twitter or a site where you can buy his original art.

Tim O'Shea: What can you tell us about your new Deadpool/Wolverine project which started last Wednesday?

Shawn Crystal: Well, it's got Wolverine being a bad a$, Deadpool being a dumb a$, and a giant Robot. What more do you need?

I would like to say that getting to draw Wolverine was AMAZING. He's a childhood favorite of mine, and I had so much fun drawing him. He's such an icon. I had the classic Art Adams Wolverine poster on my wall, all through college. I felt like the kid in me was standing next to my art table watching me saying "DUDE! You're drawing WOLVERINE!!!!!" I had a lot of smiles working on this book. I really hope to get another chance to play with him.

O'Shea: What was it about Wolverine that appealed to you as a kid and that still clearly appeals to you now?

Crystal: Well, he has CLAWS!!!

As a kid who read the X-Men religiously, Wolverine was the guy who danced to his own tune. Sure, he was a tough brute, but he was also the renegade. I liked renegades. I liked people who didn't follow the path that everyone else followed. I liked hardcore music, early hip hop, skateboarding, and yes, comics. So I guess, I saw a bit of me in him. Now, in my adult life, that still holds true. I draw and teach comics for a living, and I still listen to Hip Hop and Hardcore, and I still read comics religiously. Wolverine is a short, stout, hairy lil firecracker. Much like myself. Now, if I only had claws...

Also, he's damn fun to draw. He's got a great shape, and he jumps all around the page like a wild animal, slashing his claws and spit flying from his mouth. Did I mention he has claws?

O'Shea: Who are you teaming up with on this project? Are you inking yourself?

Crystal: We're getting the band back together on this one. It's the same team that created Deadpool Team Up #896, with U.S. Ace and those uzi wielding raccoons. Written by Stuart Moore, Pencils and inks by me (so, yes, i am inking myself) and colors by John Rauch. I was in good hands, once again. Stuart wrote a super fun action packed story, which gave me the chance to stage a few giant action sequences. That was a great challenge, something i really enjoyed. Then there's John, who does such an amazing job coloring me. He's like my other half. Our work looks like a singular unit, not two separate pieces.

O'Shea: As you note, this is not the first time you've collaborated with writer Stuart Moore. What are some of the narrative curve balls or quirky scenarios that Moore gave you this time to relish as an artist, that thanks to your rapport he trusted you to capitalize upon creatively?

Crystal: This story is one giant fight. One big action sequence. Visually, it will only work, if the staging of the action is handled well. In the last issue we did, the bulk of the story was a chase scene. It was there that I learned how to successfully stage and visually direct an action sequence. I guess Stuart was really happy with the results, cause this story was like the next level for that skill set. A lot of people take action for granted. It's as easy as drawing some cool guns, and flashy poses. Right? Wrong, it's not like that at all. Action is really about choreography, much like a dance sequence. There's a difference between a Michael Bey action sequence and Ol' skool John Woo sequence. Good Action is not a cool pose, it's a flowing sense of moments and movement. Now that I've talked like an action sequence know-it-all, I hope the work I did backs it up. For all we know, I'm full of it.

O'Shea: Your previous work for Marvel has been direct to print. This is being developed for the web. Are you approaching the project differently due to the change in venues?

Crystal: The structure of the story is different, while still being a one-shot 22 page comic. It's told in 3 chapters, much like a 3 act structure. The chapters will be released weekly. So, while the story is the length of a single floppy, it's 3 weeks worth of comics. That really intrigues me, playing with the structure of the read.

As far as my art is concerned, I really didn't take a different approach. I've worked really hard to achieve a "look" in my work. Something I'm still figuring out. People are responding well to what I've been doing so i don't want to stray from the success i've had with that. I know a lot of my fine line work shows up well in print, I'm not sure if it'll have the same look on screen. With the story seeing print eventually, I focused on that. I hope it doesn't suffer on screen too much. This is a first for me, so when it comes out, i'll see what i'll need to do differently next time. We're all still figuring out this world of digi comics...

O'Shea: In last year's interview, I asked you the following question: "As a SCAD Atlanta professor, it’s part of your job to keep an eye on who is doing some of the best work in the industry, who is setting the trends, styles and techniques that editors and publishers most appreciate. From your perspective who are some of the artists that are at the top of their game at present?" I'd be a fool not to get your perspective for 2011.

Crystal: I'm so glad you asked this question. I wish more creators would give shout-outs....


Rick Remender: This is the year Rick takes over Marvel comics. He's doing some of the most fun, exciting, and big stories in the Marvel U. He's also an amazing cartoonist, though he'd never admit it.

Cullen Bunn: Cullen is the next big name in comics. He's about to explode at Marvel. Also, if you're not reading The 6th Gun, you're missing one of the best series out there.

Jason Aaron: Jason is amazing, but we all know that, right?


Nick Dragotta: Nick is a powerhouse. Look for his many Marvel projects this year.

Jason Latour: This is Jason's year. Keep an eye out for his Vertigo graphic novel "Noche Roja" It's GORGEOUS.

Chris Brunner: I think Chris may be the most amazing artist in comics today. Look for his book "Loose Ends" this year. Published by 12 Guage/Image.

Goran Parlov: Cartoonists don't get any better than him. He "gets it" on every level.

Sean Murphy: We all know what Sean is capable of, now? Nuff said.

Eric Canete: Eric's work is a lesson in composition, design, and storytelling. Every panel.

Jason Pearson: Jason's drawing the X Men. JASON'S DRAWING THE X MEN!!!!!!!! Jason's work is what taught me how to do comics, and i am so happy to see him taking on the big dawgs at Marvel.

Rafael Albuquerque: He's amazing.

If you know me, you that I'm friends with most of these guys, to some degree. Please do not mistake my love of their work for a friend plugging a friend's work. These guys are the best there is, and their work inspires me on a daily basis.

DC Announces New Batman Project From Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch

More in Comics