BY JENNIFER M. CONTINOEduardo Barreto
has worked on a lot of different comic projects since entering the industry, but he told THE PULSE
working on the adaptation of Otis Adelbert Kline's Swords of Venus
was the kind of story he couldn't wait to get his pencils on for a few reasons. But the main draw
for the artist was control. "[Publisher Michael Hudson
] gave me the opportunity to control my own work all the way through from pencils to inks to the final coloring the art. That is a rarity in our industry and I just had to jump at it.THE PULSE: A lot of our readers might not know much about Otis Adelbert Kline or his work with Robert Grandon on the planet Venus; why do you think this sci-fi writer is one whose work a modern audience is going to appreciate now?
I think that Kline's work captures the classic flavor of the early stages of science fiction. Kline gives us fast paced, adventure filled stories with bigger than life heroes, villains, a gorgeous queen, swordplay, ray guns and alien monsters. I agree that there is nothing new here, but I believe that todayís audience might find it refreshing in an age where "hard-techno science fiction" rules. Older fans (like myself) can find echoes of Flash Gordon, John Carter and Buck Rogers within the body of Klineís work. THE PULSE: I know you're a fan of a lot of classic tales, was Kline on your radar before this opportunity to adapt his works or was he someone you took a refresher course on after hearing about Sequential Pulp Comics?
I knew of Kline (I read about him in Irwin Porges' Burroughs
biography) but I hadn't actually read any of the novels prior to my involvement with this project. Since taking on this assignment I have thoroughly immersed myself in the Kline novels as well as Bruceís scripts. THE PULSE: If you were already a fan of his works, what is it about his style that appeals to you the most? If this is a writer you newly discovered, what stands out in your mind about his sense of style and storytelling abilities?
Klineís storytelling is non stop action, adventure and fantasy which is very exciting and an important element to my own taste. They appeal a lot to the child within us -- the child who dreams of doing heroic deeds. The works are pure escapism, but there's nothing wrong with that in a world where bad news seems to outweigh the good. I think it would be great if we all could keep childlike fantasy and dreams alive within us. THE PULSE: What appeals to you the most about these pulp type tales?
I am a student of history. I find it profoundly interesting. Generally speaking the pulps flourished in an age of turmoil, from the early days of the 20th century through the Second World War. They reflect those turbulent times with an explosion of (if you allow me the disrespectful comparison) "Homeric" like heroes such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, Tarzan and many others. As a people we needed heroes; we wanted them and the pulps served them to us in great doses. THE PULSE: What sets a pulp apart from a modern story? What elements make it actually be a pulp in your opinion?
Pulp writing is very straightforward, is fast moving and is usually full of cliffhangers. Keep in mind I'm not a writer so my opinion may be very wrong but thatís just what I see that differentiates it from modern writing. THE PULSE: How does your art reflect those elements? What do you illustrate in a pulp that isn't there in a "regular" comic book?
I try to convey the mood and aesthetics of that period mainly by using an illustration type of approach. My focus or emphasis is on strong page design utilizing much more cross-hatching and stronger blacks then I would use in a more contemporary comic, even though the comic is going to be in color. THE PULSE: How do you keep the classic qualities but also make a story that today's audience is going to appreciate, follow and enjoy? Who or what influences your art the most?
I wish I could know that I was going to be able to reach the heights of those classic qualities of the great pulp illustrators. I'm trying my best and hoping that todayís audience will like the work. In this particular case, my influences come directly from pulp illustrators, Herbert Morton Stoops, Ed Cartier, Fortunio Matania
and Roy Krenkel
.THE PULSE: How did you come up with the look of Grandon? Who or what did you base his appearance upon?
I based Grandon on Bruce Jonesí
description in the script. Great writing makes my job much easier and Bruce is a great writer. THE PULSE: One would think another planet has unlimited potential in art. How did you decide the lay of the land? How did you decide the way Venus should look on the page?
Again, I go with the descriptions that Bruce gives me in his scripts. I think that the trick is to take earthly objects and give them a little ďtwistĒ to make them "odd" but still very recognizable to the reader. THE PULSE: What about the residents of Venus? How did you come up with their look?
I guess this is where my love of history comes into play. I'm using different ancient civilizations to achieve the look of the inhabitants of Venus. For example Iím using Minoans and Bizantine for the Reabon, fourteenth century African cultures for Vorn Vangalís people and Assirians for the Uxpo. THE PULSE: What have been some of the biggest challenges to creating the art for this saga?
The biggest challenges for me are size and time. I wish I had less panels per page or more pages to be able really convey the epic scope that I envision for the story, bigger battles, backgrounds, etc. About time, well isn't it obvious? There is never enough of it.THE PULSE: What's it like collaborating with Bruce Jones on an adventure like this?
It is very exciting working with Bruce, but itís also a little bit intimidating. I've been a huge fan of his art and his writing since the days of Pacific Comics
. I hope that what I am bringing to the story will make him happy.THE PULSE: You've done a lot of work in comics, what made you want to be a part of Sequential Pulp Comics? What did this company offer you that you just weren't getting elsewhere?
First off, Michael (Hudson) offered me the kind of story Iíve been craving to illustrate for ages. Second, he gave me the opportunity to control my own work all the way through from pencils to inks to the final coloring the art. That is a rarity in our industry and I just had to jump at it. THE PULSE: Are you on board to draw all 24 issues of Swords of Venus? If so, why did you want to commit to that big an assignment? If not, how many parts are you on to draw?
I signed for the first book adaptation which would be eight issues, but I'm willing to stay for as long as they want me to.THE PULSE: When the first issue comes out, how far ahead in the art do you hope to be?
Beg your pardon? Far ahead? I'm so used to being far behind that I better not answer this one. Honestly, based on our every other month publishing schedule I think we are supposed to be two books ahead of the print run at all times. I never feel that I am ahead. THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?
I'm drawing the Judge Parker
comic strip for King Features
, a couple of short Captain Action
stories written by my friend Beau Smith
, and, when time allows, Iím doing some personal painting just for my own enjoyment.
Thank you Jennifer for these thought provoking questions. I hope your readers will give these books a chance. Bruce and I are having a great time adapting Klineís writing into comics.