BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
When thinking about how to illustrate the Huntress in the Ivory Madison penned Huntress: Year One, artist Cliff Richards said he was influenced by the way Rick Burchett drew the heroine in Cry For Blood. He learned a lot about the heroine to bring her to life in these pages. Richards told us, "This Huntress must look very different from the ones I was used to seeing in other books." But will his look be a hit with comic fans?


THE PULSE: The Huntress is a character that several artists have drawn before. Which version of the heroine informed your opinion the most of how you felt she should look in the pages of Huntress: Year One?

CLIFF RICHARDS:
Iím working on a version of Huntress more linked to the one described in the Cry for Blood version, written by Greg Rucka and illustratded by Rick Burchett. This Huntress must look very different from the ones I was used to seeing in other books. But sheís cool anyway.


THE PULSE: What is it about the Huntress that you find intriguing as an artist? I mean, you've worked on beautiful, powerful women before, but what makes the Huntress different?

RICHARDS:
This Huntress has almost no sex appeal, although sheís very beautiful and with great look, she is a thoughtful and dark mood heroine. She is as stern and dark as Batman. The way bad guys will fear a lot.


THE PULSE: This story takes place at a very early time in the Huntress' life. How did where and who she was at this point in time influence your artwork? Did you see her different visually now than the way you've drawn her in the pages of Birds of Prey?

RICHARDS:
I had a whole different view of this Huntress, from the one I saw in the pages of Birds of Prey. In BOP, the Huntress was dark too, but I didnít know then about her Italian mafia link. I also didnít know the story about her parents and brother's tragic murder. This made her looks different to me. Now it makes more sense to see her as the thoughtful dark and bad ass she is in Year One, rather than the sexier Super Heroine babe she is in BOP.


THE PULSE: Ivory Madison isn't a very seasoned comic book writer. What's it like collaborating with her, over someone who has written comics for dozens of years?

RICHARDS:
Working with Ivory is a refreshing and delightful experience. Her way of telling the Huntressí story is a very intense experience. She asked me to go with a very noir Mafia style, and I thought this works a lot! She describes the characters and locations as if we were watching a Mafia movie. I bet the Huntress fans will love her as much as I do.

THE PULSE: Speaking of the artwork, how are you approaching it? Are you thumbnailing everything and then going from there, or are you just going with whatever vision you have in your mind ...?

RICHARDS:
I thumbnailed all the pages and submitted them to [editor] Joan [Hilty] and Ivory. After a few edits, I jumped to the finishes and worked more on the locations and charactersí design. Once Joan and Ivory approved them, I sent the pages to inks and waited anxiously for the next batch of script pages, to dive down again into the Huntress captivating story.

THE PULSE: What have been some of the toughest parts of this series to draw so far?


RICHARDS:
I think that to jump into the ďnoir dark moodĒ Huntress style, from the more lighter super heroesí style I was used to working with, was a little bit tough -- but nothing that would make me spend the nights lying awake. I watched some old gangstersí movies to better get the noir feeling, and the ďGodfather #1Ē to better get the ďMafia wayĒ to this book.

THE PULSE: What was it about her idea that held your attention and really made you want to draw this series?

RICHARDS:
The Mafia noir style, plus the story of the Huntress as a young girl who watched her entire family being murdered in front of her very eyes, made me want to give my vision of it in these pages with my lay outs.

THE PULSE: How many issue of these six are you drawing? Are you signed on for the entire series or just a portion of it?

RICHARDS:
Iím working on the entire six issues of this mini -- and love working with Ivory and Joan. And if this mini becomes a monthly, Iíll want to keep working on it with them. It will make me a very happy guy for sure.

THE PULSE: How much does interest in the subject matter affect whether or not you'll take on an assignment?

RICHARDS:
To be interested in a project is very important for me. If I donít like a lot of what Iím drawing, it will be clear to the readers. I deliver the best when Iím really in love with what Iím doing. Fortunately I am lucky enough to love drawing almost everything, so itís hard to find anything that isnít worth my time to work with.

THE PULSE: Have you ever drawn something just because of the money, and not because of any real interest in the subject matter?

RICHARDS:
When I began drawing for the American comic books market, I did have to get some jobs for the money, but, as I really love drawing, I started to like the assignments, and, in the end, the jobs became enjoyable. Thatís why I say that Iím the luckiest man in the world: I love drawing and I love my job.


THE PULSE: How is the creative process for doing something like that different than when you're working on a series that you're really jazzed about?

RICHARDS:
I think it is exactly what I have just said: at the beginning itís hard to jump deeply into the job, because youíre not too involved, but, as time goes by, it starts to become pleasant; because youíre doing what you like most: drawing, drawing, drawing. So, what starts as a boring job becomes interesting in the end.


THE PULSE: Along with these Huntress issues you've also drawn an issue of the upcoming Indiana Jones adaptation. How big of an Indy fan are you?

RICHARDS:
Youíre kidding?!! Iím Indyís fan since his very first movie. When I heard that George Lucas was going to bring the fourth movie to the screen, I was delighted. When Dark Horse asked me to do one of the books of the movie adaptation, it was a real gift for me as a fan and a comic book artist.

THE PULSE: I know you can't say much about the Indiana Jones work now, but how was working on a story based on movie star's versions of the characters different from ones that really never had a life outside of their sequential art appearances?

RICHARDS:
It is very common nowadays to see a comic book character staring in a movie, and it isnít rare to see the contrary: a movie character going to comics or even a game character become a movie or a comic book! I think all these media are linked. So it isnít too big a difference to work on Indiana Jones or Huntress. The only difference is the genre of the stories. The fact is that a comics fan doesnít like it very much when a comic book hero goes to a movie. They always change the characteristics. The same happens to gamesí fan. They donít like the differences they see on the movies.

THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?

RICHARDS:
I have worked on some custom books for Marvel, and started a book related to a PSP game. There are not many details I can tell you now, but youíll know them soon.




Huntress: Year One begins this May.