BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Although most people know Dan Brereton
for his independent work on the Nocturnals
, he likes to tackle a few mainstream projects when the opportunity arises. That's just one of the reasons he's taking on one of Marvel's favorite Thors, Beta Ray Bill. He's penciling the Secret Invasion Aftermath: Beta Ray Bill: The Green of Eden
one-shot. Brereton told THE PULSE, "I leapt on [the Beta Ray Bill project] like a hungry tiger." Find out why ....THE PULSE: Most people know you for your fantastic paintings and the world of Nocturnals. How did you get involved with the upcoming Secret Invasion Aftermath: Beta Ray Bill: The Green of Eden one-shot as the penciler of that book?
Back in 07, I was hired by editor Warren Simons
to work on the IMMORTAL IRON FIST ANNUAL, and since that time Warren had been trying to corral me to do one thing or another while I was busy on NOCTURNALS: CARNIVAL OF BEASTS. Last fall I painted eight pages of GOD-SIZE THOR, and since then we have talked about various projects and characters. Warren may be the busiest editor I've ever worked with, since my days with DC
, and always seems to have his hands full with a plethora of great projects. We were talking in December and the Beta Ray Bill
project came up and I leapt on it like a hungry tiger.THE PULSE: After the many years you've spent establishing yourself as one of the best painted artists around, why did you want to take on the penciling of something like Beta Ray Bill?
First off, that's a very nice thing for you to say. But the simple truth is, there isn't as much room for a painted interior guy these days, especially when there are digital artists working who are not only talented, but faster! I have wicked competition now.
On the other hand, It was a challenge to simply pencil, to hand off the art and storytelling to an inker and colorist and watch it evolve from there. THE PULSE: When you were first approached for the project was Marvel interested in having you create it in your style? If so, how did you get them to just let you pencil it? If not, what intrigued you the most about doing something different from what your fans might be expecting?
Editors have been after me for years to pencil, and I'm no longer resisting it. Warren and I didn't think I could paint the thing in time for its publication. When we both realized I had plenty of time to pencil it, a light sort of came on. I'm so used to being seen as a painter, it almost hadn't occurred to either of us I could just draw it. It was no struggle once the solution appeared so clearly.
And yes, I'm intrigued by the fan reaction. The last book I penciled (and nothing else) was LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #114 for Archie Goodwin
, inked by Tim Bradstreet
.THE PULSE: What did you know of Beta Ray Bill? I really enjoyed the character when Walter Simonson was writing him in the pages of Thor. Were you also a fan?
Yes. Huge. My true inspiration for my jumping onboard was Bill himself. Walter's classic THOR run, starting off with the appearance of Beta Ray Bill, got me back into comics in the mid-80s. I'm a huge fan of Walter's work, and his creation and what he represents in comics: unbridled storytelling genius. Walt comes up with this crazy idea for an alien warrior to claim the power of Thor- and it works! It was-is- so fresh. Who wouldn't want to draw this character? Add to that Keiron Gillen's
script, which is fun and remains true to the character, and it was a no-brainer.
I'm also happy to report Walter gave me his blessing before I started the project, which was important to me.THE PULSE: A lot of people might not know a lot about this character, what do you think -- as an artist -- are his defining characteristics?
You mean aside from the genius design of his horse-skull head?
Beta Ray Bill is one of the most incorruptible heroes in the Marvel
pantheon. Though he's this fearsome, monstrous construct, he's literally worthy of the mantle of THOR. A being who chose to undergo the most painful, dehumanizing process imaginable to become a champion capable of dispatching demons plaguing the universe, whose face has been remade as his race's most feared predatory beast- and yet underneath, retains a noble, indomitable spirit.THE PULSE: I know when we talked about this you joked you could now draw Beta Ray Bill from memory, when you were first working on the character how tough was it to get him to look exactly as you wanted? How long did it take for you to be able to draw him from memory?
I did quite a bit of doodling in the margins of Keiron's script and my sketchbooks, and I consulted Walter's classic run (as well as newer drawings of Bill provided by Walter) and photos of horse skulls. While I don't think I recreated Walt's proportions exactly, I'm happy with the version I put forth. I haven't gotten up the nerve to ask Walter what he thinks ...THE PULSE: I'd imagine the source material of Beta Ray Bill influenced you a lot in the creation of your pencils here, but what else played a part in how you illustrated this one-shot?
I paid a lot of attention to the script. I know that sounds like an obvious answer and it is, but when you read the script and images leap into your mind, the best thing to do is start doodling and sketching as you read. It gives you fresh impressions to draw from later. I also took time to get inspiration from my comic collection: the John Buscema
run on THOR and Jose Garcia Lopez
on ATARI FORCE. THE PULSE: Working as just the penciler, how did that speed your creative process rather than when you were painting pages?
It was so much faster. But at the same time, all the work goes into the pencils, twice as much as for paints. So the process of penciling took more time than I'm used to. When they were done, it was a relief not to have to think about painting them or inking them. It doesn't mean I've given up on painting comics, but I will enjoy the next penciling gig without the small bit of trepidation that came with this job.
Working with Stefano Guadiano
and Mark Pennington
has been a pleasure- it's a good feeling to know your work is in good hands. The finishes have come back looking incredible, and Jose Villarubia's
colors are bright and bold, which agrees with my painter sense as well as my love of the classic Marvel comics look I grew up with.THE PULSE: Along with Beta Ray Bill, what were some of the other things you got a chance to pencil in these pages?
I looked at a lot of drawings of Skrulls, who figure heavily in the story. I was particularly inspired by Jack Kirby
and Leinil Francis Yu
. The script is set in deep space somewhere, so I did research on asteroids and space stations. I got a lot of inspiration from Big John's SILVER SURFER classics, his creative way of making outer space seem like a living, breathing thing.THE PULSE: What's it like collaborating with Kieron Gillen on this project? Is he writing full script or leaving a lot open to your interpretation?
Full script, with lots of ideas, but also lots of room to move and make choices, which you always hope for in a script. In the end, I tried to be faithful to his direction, as he is talented at staging descriptions that matter in terms of story, rather than a writer who tosses everything cool and impressive he can think of onto the page, which, many times confuses the narrative, making it hard to focus on what's absolutely necessary to the scene.
I like simple storytelling, focusing on setting things up properly. Keiron is very adept at communicating ideas simply and he has a knack for foreshadowing. I suspect he's very familiar with Theater, because there's a stage quality that agrees with my sensibilities- staging with only the needed props to tell the story and support the action and dialogue. This is something I learned to appreciate after the years I worked in community theater in the '80s.THE PULSE: What other projects are you working on?
Warren and I are cooking up the next cool thing for me to tackle for Marvel
, which I hope to announce soon. I'm currently writing a RED SONJA one-shot, for which I will be doing some of the interior art sequences and the cover. I'm working on getting out NOCTURNALS: THE DARK FOREVER AND OTHER TALES VOL II hardcover through Image
for July. >Harris Comics
asked for a cover for the 40th Anniversary of Vampirella
, and devoting time, when possible, to my next Nocturnals'
project, SINISTER PATH.
The Secret Invasion Aftermath: Beta Ray Bill: The Green of Eden
one-shot is due in stores this month. PULSE readers can learn more about Dan Brereton