Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tom Scioli Talks @ Godland, Jack Kirby and More

Matt Brady has recently posted a great interview with Tom Scioli, artist on Godland and Freedom Force that is a must read.

Some excerpts -

NRAMA: Why did Kirby’s work and style make such an impact on you? What is it about his style that hooked you?

TS: It's hard to explain the appeal of something that you find appealing. The world he depicts in his art is alive. It's 3-d. It moves. No one else's art does for me what Kirby's does. Everything else looks limp and flat by comparison. He found a new way of doing things. I want to follow his lead. I think he found a way of drawing that is the optimal way of drawing for sci-fi comic book epic storytelling. There isn't one aspect of his style that I'd want to ignore.

NRAMA: That said though, you’ve sure read or heard some of the comments - those who dismiss the book based only on your art alone, calling it a Kirby ripoff. Thoughts?

TS: I can totally understand their point of view. Kirby's been mistreated all through his career. His fans are defensive of him and his legacy. His detractors want his influence to disappear from comics altogether. I think some of his fans look at my stuff and say "is this another guy looking to make a quick buck off of Kirby?" I think if you read my stuff, you'll see that I'm giving back as much as I'm taking. I'm using the style, the squiggle, the crackle, but I'm creating my own compositions, my own characters, my own stories, my own way of doing stuff. It's still me doing the heavy lifting. There's plenty of me in there, it's just that it screams "Kirby!" so loudly that it tends to drown out everything else.

Every artist has his master from whom he learned. A lot of really tremendous comics artists who I look up to have a primary influence, the same way Kirby is my primary influence. The difference is that the guys they idolize aren't as well-known or easy-to-spot as Kirby. It's a tough position I put myself in. My work forces people to compare me to the greatest artist ever. I don't have a chance, but at least I'm giving it my best. I'm interested in putting out the best possible comic I can.

I learned his style a long time ago. I'm not copying Kirby. I don't lift compositions from Kirby comics, I don't have a Kirby comic open when I'm drawing. When I draw, I sit down at a white drawing table. I have my pencils, my pens, my brush, my triangles. I start drawing. Occasionally I might have a sequence or character that I'd worked out in a notebook, but usually not. Most of the time it's just me and the board, like any other artist. I hate using reference. That's the beauty of drawing-comics-the-Kirby-way. You don't need reference. If it looks good on the page, then it's good. It doesn't need to be correct or accurate, just cool-looking.

Any time I get a bad review, no one addresses the point of, was it a good comic? Did you enjoy it? Did it take you someplace you've never been? They never get past the knee-jerk, "it looks like Kirby, so it's a rip-off." I think there's way more originality in an issue of Godland or 8-Opus than there is in yet another go-round between Thor and Loki or Captain America and the Red Skull no matter who draws it.

I'd love to read a review where someone says I didn't like it cause the story sucked, or cause the action was bland, or ‘cause the ideas were shit. It's never happened. Any time somebody has written a bad review it's, "This guy draws like Kirby. That's a no-no."

The people who are into the comic get it. The people who won't let themselves give it a chance are missing out on some damn good yarns. I don't think Erik Larsen or Joe Casey would be interested in working with a "greatest hits" machine. They get it. My fans get it. If I were just a hollow ghost of Kirby I don't think anybody would take any notice of my work.

I'd like everybody who won't give my work a chance because of the Kirby-ism--I'd like them to read a copy of Godland or any book of mine in the comic shop. Don't pay for it, just read it in the store. See for yourself if you like it or not.

Everything I have heard about Tom has been very positive. He's a local artist in my area and my LCS manager said that he drew him a really cool Hellboy sketch at Pittsburgh Comicon a few years ago without charging him.

I've always wanted to buy one of his comics, but I wasn't really interested in the Freedom Force property. When I saw the preview images for Godland though, I knew that this would be my chance to check out what he could do.

The first two issues of the book have not disappointed me, I encourage everyone to check this title out. They aren't ripping off Kirby, Starlin etc.. They are just simply inspired by them like anyone else who has read those classic stories.

His creator owned work The Myth of 8-Opus also sounds like an interesting tale, so I'm going to check that out too.


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