BY JENNIFER M. CONTINOMarvel
exclusive Tommy Lee Edwards
is creating a new page in the history of some of their icons through his work on Bullet Points
with J. Michael Straczynski
. We've chatted with JMS about the series, so now it's Edwards turn to give us a few more details about how these bullets changed the course of the Marvel Universe
that most of us have come to know.THE PULSE: You told me about Bullet Points almost four months before it was announced formally in March. Since you've known about this for so long, does that mean the lion's share of the artwork is already done and there should be no delays in the release of these five issues?
TOMMY LEE EDWARDS:
I'm done with issue # 4. #5 will be done by mid-to-late January. So no, there will be no delays. My contract with Marvel
has me producing five issues per year. Due to other illustration work and the sheer amount of hours it takes to do Bullet Points
, my year basically flies by. THE PULSE: When you first heard the idea for this series, was it one of those that you really felt excited to be working on, or did it take a while to grow on you? What were your initial thoughts of J. Michael Straczynski's plans for this version of the Marvel Universe?
I was generally into illustrating this series from the beginning. I was looking forward to handling a more "main-stream" superhero project. JMS's story was just that. His plans for the Marvel Universe
were pretty fun. On the surface, some of the story elements and tone are rather serious and grim. But underneath it all, I feel that Bullet Points
is just good-old-fashioned comics. This is a very fun and dramatic comic aimed at comic-fans.THE PULSE: When you had this kind of blank slate version of the Marvel Universe to play with, how did you decide the look of each character? How did you want this to be distinctive from other incarnations of the characters?
Most of the Bullet Points
versions of major characters read as familiar to the readers. The book hinges on the iconic look and feel of the historic universe we're playing with. Therefore, I chose not to completely disregard any designs or costumes for characters like The Hulk, Spider-Man, Iron Man
, agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
, etc... Some characters are not affected at all by the rippling affect started by the assassin's bullets from WWII. Thor
is unchanged. Submariner. The X-Men
. Lots. Believe me, I know. Pretty-much everybody shows up in this series sooner or later.THE PULSE: Which character was the toughest for you to create visually?
Superheroes are generally tough for me to draw; based on my background and training in traditional and classical drawing and painting. It's great to have the challenge, though. But oh yea- Hulk
is the hardest for me I think. Right now I'm getting into Galactus
. His whole sense of scale is proving to be pretty tough. THE PULSE: What's it like for you working with J. Michael Straczynski? How does he compare to some of the other writers you've collaborated with in the past?
EDWARDS: Bullet Points
was written before I got on-board as the illustrator. JMS had already handed in full scripts, which was great. I need a full script in order to fully and efficiently lay out the page-by-page storytelling, compositions, lettering, and character acting. The thing I found out the hard way, is that JMS likes to change his mind on stuff later. He likes to tweak stuff after the fact.
That probably works just fine for other artists and letterers. But for John Workman
and I, it creates severe problems. That's basically because the pages are so designed in the drawing, coloring, and lettering. The lettering is done by hand on the board. Therefore, any mind-changing and moving around of elements after the fact can be a nightmare for me. That's why it's always best to handle all editorial and lock-down a script before the artist draws one line. By our very natures, all artists and writers have different styles and methods. So it's all part of the show.THE PULSE: If you had to describe Bullet Points to someone not steeped in Marvel knowledge or the non-traditional comic book reader, how would you explain it so no one would feel like he or she was left out?
EDWARDS: Bullet Points
works just fine as it's own story, without having any knowledge of the Marvel Universe
. It's basically about a group of people who are destined to become great or terrible things. It's also about how destinies can change at an instant. It's about how intertwined our destinies can be. And it's about war, superheroes, guns, rocketships, aliens, and monsters.THE PULSE: What kind of artistic research did you do for this? Was there something you really had to search to find out about?
I ended up having to buy a few of the Marvel "Essential"
collections to feel more comfortable with the subject matter. I grew up reading Stan Lee
. The Silver Surfer, Thor
, and Spider-Man
were my favorites. I lot of that stuff is still with me, and is affecting the way I approach Bullet Points
. Just yesterday, I was drawing Dr. Strange, the Ancient One, Dormammu
, and some other dude. I had to go on-line and get costume and character reference.THE PULSE: Which character in this Universe do you enjoy drawing the most? Why?
For the first couple of issues, Steve Rogers
was my favorite to draw. Right now I'm really getting into Reed Richards
. The reason is because they are both characters with a lot of "acting" potential. They have emotional and physical ranges that are fun for me to tackle in the drawing.THE PULSE: How is working on something like this pushing you as an artist?
EDWARDS: Bullet Points
is pushing me to draw a lot of things I may not normally do - Like a purple giant alien fighting a green deformed man in downtown Manhattan. The most challenging and toughest things often end up becoming the most rewarding. THE PULSE: Why shouldn't any PULSE reader miss Bullet Points?
There is nothing in this comic that reinvents the wheel. It may spin that wheel a different way, and give us a different angle on things, but Bullet Points
is essentially an homage to all that great stuff we read as a kid. It's a definite hardcore comic, in my mind. I like what JMS had done with the melodrama and character's personalities. Bullet Points
is fun. It's fun to draw and fun to read. It's called entertainment. THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?
I'll start a new mini-series at the end of January with Mark Millar
. This will launch my second year as an exclusive with Marvel
. I'm also starting a new series of 60 paintings for a new Star Wars
book from Del Rey
, some new packaging art for Hasbro
, and a bunch of other stuff I can't think of right now. As far as personal projects go- I'm chipping away at Teddy Grant
(my creator-owned comic), directing a music video, and screwing up two kids, a wife, and a dog.