BY JENNIFER M. CONTINO
Yo quiero ... Scott Koblish. The artist recently got a chance to illustrate one of the comic books used in the Marvel Taco Bell Kids Meal featuring the iconic Captain America. Koblish's no stranger to Cap, a customs official even thought he might be Steve Rogers. Koblish inked Mark Waid's "Man Without A Country" arc over penciler Ron Garney, so he couldn't wait to draw this eleven page comic. Along with some great pages from this family friendly comic, Koblish gave us a few teasers from Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds.


THE PULSE: How did you get the chance to create a comic book for Taco Bell's Kids Meal? It doesn't seem like that's an easy gig to get ...

SCOTT KOBLISH:
Well, I think my editor, Nate Cosby got in touch with me, and of course I said "Yes." I used to do a lot of licensing work for Marvel in the 90s, Pizza Hut cups and POGs and whatnot, so it's familiar ground for me. Nate's really great about scheduling too, so for me it fell in between Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four and the Wolverine: Power Pack issue I drew.

THE PULSE: Was Captain America always on the table or were you offered any of the other heroes being used in the campaign? If Cap was always on the table, how long have you wanted to work on this iconic hero?

KOBLISH:
It was always Cap, and that was part of the appeal for me. I love Captain America, he's always had a special place in my heart ever since I was a little kid. I really enjoyed working on him when I inked over Ron Garney on the “Man Without A Country” arc, and I thought Mark Waid and Ron's interpretation of Cap was rock solid. The last issue we did together before Cap got moved over briefly to Image, was the epitome of what I consider Cap - Steve Rogers is always in motion - busting through a plate glass window on a motorcycle, roaring through crowded streets, ditching the cycle off a pier, only to leap out of the water on a jetcycle, ditching that, hitting the ground running, always with a plan of forward motion. I have this big double page spread Ron did of Cap fighting an army on my wall, it's great, Ron knocked it out of the park.


A funny story from when I was working on that version of Cap; I drove up to Toronto on a day off and went through customs, I was asked what I did for a living and had a copy of Cap in the back seat, and presented it, and the customs official shouted out in disbelief “YOU'RE STEVE ROGERS???!”. She caught herself and said “No wait – you're too young to be Steve Rogers.”

THE PULSE: That's hysterical! So many people have drawn Cap in the past and present, which ones informed your opinion the most of how the Star-Spangled-Hero should look and feel on the page?

KOBLISH:
Boy, there's almost 70 years of great stuff to choose from, and I've been reading Cap almost solidly from when I was a little boy. I love Steve Epting and Frank Darmata's current version, Jack Kirby, of course, when he came back to the character in the 60's, that's the template when I think of Cap. Mike Zeck had a great run, I read a lot of Sal Buscema, his was my first real experience with the character. A lot of the 70's and 80's depictions of Cap really stuck with me. I think I've read nearly all of Cap's stories, barring some of John Romita's 50's work, or the 40's Cap, some of which was written by the grandfather of a former girlfriend of mine, by a guy named Jerry Gale, but I've never gotten to see any of those. I'd love for Marvel to reprint some of that stuff.


THE PULSE: What other factors influenced how you drew this, did knowing the target audience was probably pretty little kids (I'd guess ten and under) influence your art style at all?





KOBLISH:
Yes. I knew it was going to be widely distributed, so I really made an effort at designing the page layout clearly, not getting too cluttered or dark, and keeping a sense of fun and excitement to it. I used to do a lot of work for Disney Adventures, and I tried to apply some of those muscles to this project - keep it light, open, clear and fun.





THE PULSE: What kind of guidelines were you given from Taco Bell? Were there things taboo that you couldn't put in here or were there other things that HAD to be included?

KOBLISH:
A lot of that was probably hashed out before I got to it. I tried to make the violence a little cartoony – throwing some stars in the first page when bad guy's heads are being clunked together. Keep it light, keep it moving, not much punching. I have my own personal lines that I don't cross on a project like that.


THE PULSE: Got it. Who scripted this comic? Did you have any contact with the writer or was this a case of here's the story, draw, art monkey!?





KOBLISH:
I try not to think of myself so much of an art monkey- more of an art primate. Opposable thumbs RULE!

Joe Caramagna did a great job with the script – he does a lot of work for Marvel and he wrote Model Operandi. I try and give the script a lot of thought –it was accessible and I wanted to keep it that way in the art. The script was solid, very evocative, and a pleasure to follow. I remember having lots of fun drawing the Hydra leader.





THE PULSE: How many pages is the final product? You showed a few nice ones on your blog already.

KOBLISH:
The comic is 11 pages long. Enough of a story that you get a good sense of who Cap is and what he does, and it's a complete and self-contained tale, which people of all ages can hopefully enjoy.






THE PULSE: Sounds good. How long did it take you to draw these pages? Did you also ink yourself? Who colored the work?





KOBLISH:
I usually ink myself. I have fun doing it, and it doesn't take me any longer for me to ink a page than for me to tightly pencil it, so it probably saves everybody time on deadlines and gives me a little more room in the schedule to get it all done. I think it took a little over two weeks, layouts to finished inks, although I'm sure I was also inking FC:Lo3W in there. I'm not sure who colored the work, I know that they had to have it specially printed, anything that's sold with food has to have a special mix of ink, I'm sure Yum Foods has a printer they work with.





THE PULSE: Speaking of, how was working on something like this different than inking George Perez on Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds?





KOBLISH:
Both are great, I felt very lucky right now that I get to exercise such different muscles. The great thing I've learned from George, and from working with Stan Lee years before, is to really take responsibility for presenting the best work you can do. I'm very conscious of needing to do my best at all times, life's too short.

THE PULSE: Agreed. What have you enjoyed the most about collaborating with George Perez on this project?






KOBLISH:
George is just fantastic, what a stellar guy. Every time a Fed Ex box arrives, I can't wait to tear it open and see what's inside. I love watching how his brain works, and how he lays out the page. He accomplishes so much by partitioning the page into sections, all those concurrent and overlapping actions really add up to a great reading experience. The best example I've seen of what George does uniquely in comics replicated in other media is in the TV show 24; where the screen splits into sections, all depicting something different, but ostensibly happening at the same time.

George uses to his advantage the static depiction of time in comics – there really is no sense of time in a panel, it's not like film, where you are yoked to the ruthless march of a set number of frames per second. In comics you can divorce your experience from the natural flow of time, freeze it, or show different sides to the same instant, and George does that really well.

THE PULSE: We talked about this before, but now that you have several issues under your belt and in print, how does it feel to be involved in this project, and see the fan response?

KOBLISH:
Well, I'm becoming a little more confident with the work I'm doing. I still agonize over the millions of little choices I have to make when presenting a story, but I try not to let it slow me down. I'm always trying to learn, to get better, to stretch myself, get the job done, get it done to the best of my ability, and move on to the next thing.






THE PULSE: Again, speaking of, what other projects are you working on?

KOBLISH:
Wolverine: First Class #15 comes out near my birthday in May; working with Peter David was a lot of fun – and I got to draw Thor for the first time. Although I've inked over the Son of Odin a lot in the past, I had to sit down and think – how do I want to draw Thor? Peter had a riff in the script where Thor is incredibly handsome and assured, and it's really overwhelming for Kitty, at 13, to be in his presence, so I tried to key off of that. Right now, I'm working on an issue of Marvel Adventures Spider-Man, and it is a TON of fun, I get to design a whole batch of new characters as well as spotlight some of Spidey's massive rogues gallery.

I'm having a great time, I expect I'll get hit by a bus any day now.








Several other Marvel characters also have their own comics featured in the Taco Bell kids meal. Check your local TBs to see if they're carrying this promotion. [And if they are, get me some comics, too!]

You can see more of Koblish at his blog:
http://koblish.blogspot.com/2009/04/taco-bell.html