AICN COMICS Q&@ with THE FLASH Artist Francis Manapul!!!
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AICN COMICS: Q&@ is our new semi-weekly interview column where some of your favorite @$$Holes interview comic bookdom’s biggest, brightest, newest, and oldest stars. Enjoy this latest in-depth interview filled with @$$y goodness and be sure to look for more AICN COMICS as we gaze into the future of comics every week with AICN COMICS: SPINNER RACK PREVIEWS every Monday and then join the rest of your favorite @$$Holes for their opinions on the weekly pull every Wednesday with AICN COMICS REVIEWS!
Q’s by Ambush Bug!
@’s by FLASH Artist Francis Manapul!
Hey folks, Ambush Bug here with another Q&@ with one of DC’s top talent artists, Francis Manapul. Mr. Manapul has been thrilling fans starting with ADVENTURE COMICS and now he’s the regular artist on the new Barry Allen, THE FLASH series. Let’s see what Mr. Manapul had to say…
FRANCIS MANAPUL (FM): I grew up on Wally West as well so I do have a better understanding and love for the character. However I welcome the opportunity to learn about Barry and to me he feels fresh and new. Which is exciting I think!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): First off, having read the first two issues of FLASH, I have to say as much as I loved Wally West, I'm starting to like the idea of Barry Allen being back around. Having grown up watching Wally evolve into the Flash, it was a hard pill for me to swallow seeing Barry back in the red and yellow. What are your thoughts on the Flash and Geoff Johns' decision to bring back Barry?
BUG: Seems Barry hits the ground running in his new series (pun intended). What have been some of the challenges having to draw a character who is basically constantly in motion?FM: I think the challenge comes in thinking of new ways to portray his speed. I've been incorporating a lot of his environment to show motion aside from the Flash himself. From Barry catching Chinese food thrown in the air to putting money in the meter as he evades the villains. Geoff has also been upping his game by having Barry do different things with his speed from dissecting a car apart in mid air to learning and building an apartment in less than minute.
BUG: Have you adapted your art style to match the tone of this book very much? It seems to be somewhat sketchier in FLASH than your work in other books.FM: I'm sure to some folks’ dismay my work on the Flash is a bit more sketchier. My previous work on ADVENTURE COMICS required more finesse and subtlety to portray the pastoral scenes as well as its dramatic nature. THE FLASH is in a large bustling city so it's more detailed and heavy, and I needed to draw Barry in a looser fashion to help sell the sense of motion in a static medium.
BUG: One of the biggest things Johns is known for is his treatment and revitalization of the Flash's Rogues. Next to Batman's villains and maybe Spider-Man's, Flash has to have the coolest arch-enemies. Do you have a favorite Rogue?FM: Absolutely that's what's so great about Geoff is his ability to take a group of rag tag villains and make you fear and care for them at the same time. My personal favorite is Captain Cold for his visuals and villainy but with just a tinge of honor.
BUG: It's every artist's dream to one day draw for DC. Can you talk about your road to becoming the artist on one of DC's top titles?FM: The very first time I spoke to Dan Didio I told him that the Flash was a dream gig for me but plans were already in motion back then for a relaunch so it wasn’t to be. DC got me working on THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES. A lot of hard lessons were learned from that but it ultimately gave me direction on what kind of artist I did and didn't want to be. I got to work on SUPERMAN/BATMAN right after which accomplished a huge dream of mine. After that I expressed to Dan that I would love to work with Geoff Johns and from there we did ADVENTURE COMICS which lead to us teaming up on THE FLASH! So it was worth the wait being able to not just work on THE FLASH but to work on it with such a spectacular writer!
BUG: Any word of advice for up and coming artists that they may not have heard a zillion times before?FM: Perseverance, hard work, and the drive to succeed. Oh wait that's all typical but a must. What most artists forget though is to just be a nice guy. This is a collaborative medium; no one likes to work with jerks.
BUG: I always find it really interesting to find out what kind of stuff artists have adorning and surrounding their work area. Do you have any interesting toys, nick-knacks, or brik-a-brak around your art desk that provide inspiration for you?FM: My desk is quite messy it's usually littered with other pages and bills. Right now it's got a Flash statue that was designed by the late great Michael Turner along with a big Flash action figure which was a gift from Dan. Also my computer which is great for interacting with other artists which gets me going.
BUG: On average, how long does it take you to finish a complete issue?FM: Anywhere from 3-5 weeks. Situations always change so you just gotta keep up.
BUG: Can you talk about your collaboration with Johns? Does he just turn in the script and let you do your thing or are both of you involved in both the scripting and drawing process?FM: Geoff and I really established a good work flow on ADVENTURE COMICS. I feel we really understand each other and the stories we want to tell. I may have suggested a few things here and there at the start (nothing plot related more just things the Flash can do) but I pretty much just let Geoff do his thing and he does the same with me. I think we're so in sync that sometimes no words are necessary, it's quite freaky.
BUG: How much in advance do you know the path Johns is taking the Flash down (man these puns are just too easy)? Is there an upcoming storyline you are looking most forward to drawing?FM: I'm aware of the general area we're going in but I seldom know the roads we're taking until I read the script to draw it. It's more exciting that way! That said, I can't wait to do the next story arc! It's a kind of story that's a dream to do for any character!
BUG: Is there a character in comics you are just dying to draw?FM: I've already had the pleasure of working on The Flash, Superman, Batman, and recently, Wonder Woman, and a few other DCU characters. I'm one lucky dude! So what motivates me more is who I'm collaborating with rather than what I'm working on.
BUG: Do you have any other projects you'd like to talk about while you've got our attention?FM: Sure! Aside from THE FLASH, I did a 2 page story for the SUPERMAN/BATMAN anniversary issue with J.T Krul, as well as a piece for the WONDER WOMAN 600th issue. A few JLA covers here and there. I'm also doing another short story with J.T that will be in black and white, so I'm really excited about that. I've also been working on a TV show called “Beast Legends” which will start airing on the History Network in Canada next month, and later on on SyFy in the US.
BUG: Last chance, why should everyone race to their comic shops and pick up FLASH?FM: It's the perfect jumping on point for any Flash fans new and old. Our goal on the book is to make it as accessible and fun for everybody. And the Flash runs really really fast and does some really cool things!
BUG: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions.FM: My pleasure!
BUG: Be sure to see Mr. Manapul’s amazing art every month in THE FLASH!Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole / wordslinger / reviewer / co-editor of AICN Comics for over nine years. Check out his ComicSpace page for his entries in Cream City Comics’ MUSCLES & FIGHTS VOL.3 and MUSCLES & FRIGHTS VOL.1 anthologies. Bug was interviewed here & here (about AICN Comics) and here & here (on his VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS: THE TINGLER comics). Bug’s latest comic is VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS #21: WITCHFINDER GENERAL (available in May’s Previews Order # MAY100828) on sale in July. Fanboy Radio recently interviewed Bug about it here. Bug was also interviewed here & here about his upcoming original vampire miniseries NANNY & HANK (available in June's Previews Order #JUN100824) due out in August.
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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June 29, 2010, 9 a.m. CST
...I'm not sure what the reasoning is for the sketchy artwork, but there isn't a good one. It looks sloppy.
June 29, 2010, 9:15 a.m. CST
It feels looser and more organic. Seems to fit well with Flash's power-set too. Imho.
June 29, 2010, 9:21 a.m. CST
is a good one. push the boundaries, people.
June 29, 2010, 9:27 a.m. CST
F*ckin' A! Totally agree. That's what is going to make this medium survive and thrive -- pushing the boundaries. Bringing the arty and intellectual elements to bear on the inherit pop-art action tropes. Upend the adolescent power-fantasy and make it art.
June 29, 2010, 9:30 a.m. CST
by The Penultimate Gunslinger
I'm no expert on comic book art, but his work on Adventure Comics was mind-bogglingly cool, and The Flash looks even better.
June 29, 2010, 9:36 a.m. CST
thanks to manapul for a great representation of barry
June 29, 2010, 9:39 a.m. CST
in teen titans and in his long run as flash and of course appreciated wallys involvement in the jla but he was always just keepin the seat warm for barry in my book.
June 29, 2010, 10:09 a.m. CST
by Dave I
Barry died. I know, they had that loophole so they could bring him back. That is one aspect I HATE about comics. Sure, the occasional exception since these are super-humans with supernatural powers and extraordinary circumstances, I'll except like the one-in-a-million escape from death's door or a resurrected spirit like Deadman. But when they start going all Jesus-and-Lazarus and bringing people back from the dead that have been dead for like a quarter a century or just ignoring the basic laws of physics and nature? I'll pass. I can suspend disbelief for a lot of stuff, but if you are going to kill somebody off, generally speaking they are dead. The end. Strangely, I can suspend disbelief and accept Superman flying, or Spider-man sticking to walls, or Batman somehow being able to have enough momentum to swing from the top of one skyscraper (from what that's actually tall enough for him to use? beats me) to the top of another, or writer-to-writer discrepancies over how strong Hulk is or the alleged indestructibility of Wolverine's adamantium skeleton contrasted with Hulk snapping him in two like a twig. I can accept that. I CANNOT accept that death can be conquered so easily. EVER. If they "die" really make them die. Otherwise, what are the consequences? If you say they die, don't make it some elaborate ruse where some impossible ray gun is used where a .45ACP would do the job for like the couple of bucks it would cost to fill a clip. <p><p>So no, Wally was NOT just keeping the seat warm for Barry. Barry DIED (didn't they depict his spirit in Heaven?) and Wally was The Flash for longer than a lot of comic book readers have been alive. I like comics, but this kind of stuff is why I do not read them nearly as much as I would like. They are afraid of change and consequence. Barry dies and goes to Heaven, but wait! 25 years later, he's back! Captain America dies! But wait! Because they used some time-travel gun, instead of, you know, just shooting him in the head with a M1911 standard-issue pistol, he somehow came back in time and ends up alive in his body and is back! Bruce Wayne died. But wait!!!! HE'S time-traveling because, apparently, in a strange twist Darkseid's Omega Sanction does not actually kill people! DUN DUN DUN! So he's time traveling and will come back later this year. Probably. Jason Todd died, and was resurrected. <p><p>This is turning into a huge rant but it is a HUGE problem! Have some consequences for actions, and stick with them! If Spider-Man gets married, deal with it or think it through before you do it and DON'T MARRY HIM! Don't have The Devil make people forget he got married. Brother! And if people DIE, let them stay dead! That is the final consequence! Heck, if death can be brushed off, or retconned, comics lose a lot of gravity. I mean Gwen Stacy died; only to come back as a clone from what I remember, but the ACTUAL Gwen Stacy stayed dead. Do we find some way to bring her back? If you can erase death, why can't some smart superhero use that to take away any consequence or risk of failure by figuring out how to do it anytime they fail. Oops, that lady got hit by a bus? Well, let's pull a Jason Todd on her or have The Flash or his seat-warmer go back in time to five seconds earlier than she died (even if it happened like 50 years ago) and save her. <p><p>I realize these are funny books, but there still has to be consequence and rules. Death should mean something, even in comics and kids' books. <p><p>-Cheers
June 29, 2010, 10:40 a.m. CST
Has this artist ever run a step in his life? Flash looks like he's taking a dump more than runnig at super-speed. <p> Sloppy as fuck!
June 29, 2010, 11:16 a.m. CST
by The Penultimate Gunslinger
DC Comics have tried to address this problem with "Blackest Night" - basically the end result of that series is that "dead is dead" now, but I guess we'll have to see how long that lasts. At least they tried to solve the problem - comic book deaths have become one big joke. <p>When they killed off Barry Allen, at least the intention there (as I understand it, even with the loophole) was that he'd stay dead. But when Marvel killed off Captain America a couple of years ago, it's obvious that they never had any intention of keeping him that way. It cheapens everything. If I was a superhero and my buddy died, I wouldn't even bother going to his funeral - as I'd know he'd be right back in the land of the living in a year or so.
June 29, 2010, 11:49 a.m. CST
The problem with the 'dead is dead' concept is that, ultimately, audiences grow up and the pieces aren't written solely by one writer. <p> In a Watchmen or a Y: The Last Man, it's easy for death to be permanent because they're self-contained and written by one specific mind. Expecting Marvel and DC to sticky rigidly to 'dead is dead' is asking a bit much, because these comics will - invariably - still be around in a hundred years. </p> <p> And the next generation (hopefully me), will come in and may very well go 'why not bring Karen Page back and see what effect that has.' Now it could be that the retcon sucks, but at the same time I think the fact that these characters don't have a finite end point means you have to switch up every now and again. Especially given how many great Silver Age characters there are that could lead a book, but were killed off for trite reasons.
June 29, 2010, 11:53 a.m. CST
by Dave I
I'd agree. When your friend or loved one can die and then just be brought back, it totally cheapens everything. If they write something in like the Lazarus Pit, o.k., sure. It's a rare exception given a kind of organic sort of origin, there are limitations, and it is not perfect. But you have people popping back to life all over, and it's not like they dump the still-warm corpses into Lazarus Pits and have to deal with the side-effects and limitations. Some of these just approach lunacy. <p><p>I will take the death of ANY character and the consequences over some cheap plot device of someone dying, then presto-chango, they're back! This is one of those things that, for me, is just beyond my ability to overlook. I mean, if you could literally bring somebody back to life, or somehow time-travel, people would be building churches to you and starting religions about you. Superman and Ra's al Ghul and Barry Allen would have devout followers. They would not just be super heroes they would inspire new types of faith movements and attract followers asking how to be healed or for their sick or recently dead to be resurrected or for them to go back in time and fix things or prevent disasters. Contrast that with the finality of the death of Morpheus/Dream in Neil Gaiman's Sandman. That was a LOT more touching than if they had a quest and brought him back good as new. <p><p> I just think, for me, the shrugging off of death is something I will never be able to stomach. Unless it is a comic about Jesus, people should not be just coming back from the dead. <p><p>-Cheers
June 29, 2010, 12:18 p.m. CST
by Dave I
The problem with that is that what's the point? If Karen Page dies, or Uncle Ben dies, or Betty Ross dies, the characters deal with it. If my wife dies, or I lose my best friend, or when my father goes, I do not get to have any of them back because I live the next 50 or 60 years. It creates a HUGE disconnect. And if you have to resort to that, then maybe the characters shouldn't be forever. It will never happen, but what IF Bruce Wayne actually dies and they give the mantle to Dick for real, and Bruce Wayne is referenced, becomes a legend, and maybe told in flash-back episodes? Same with Hulk; you have Skaar now, and perhaps something happens that leads to a new Hulk from some experiment and the next generations can have their own Hulk that's post-Bruce Banner. Or maybe they just keep the characters ages ambivalent but make them deal with the character choices and grow from them, not retcon everything or bring back the old. It gets boring when they just take EVERY big moment in a series and just more or less say "just kidding" and change it. <p><p>So for me, this either means that I hold comics accountable to things like some semblance of reality at least in terms of big-picture things (like death or dues ex machinas), or I am very selective about what I read knowing that stuff like that will annoy me and rely more on mini-series and novels or things that are finite, or at least plan out characters actions and think things through before acting and then actually let things have some long-lasting consequence. I know I am a stickler for this, but sometimes this stuff ends up either static (as NOTHING ever changes, which is boring) or makes everything meaningless (if I can disregard death, or any big decision in a comic knowing it will eventually change what's the point), then why do I care? It becomes boring. And that is kind of what has happened. I am more inclined to read graphic novels or things that are either finite, or independent enough to let run their course a/o keep building on the past. Like The Watchmen, Sandman, I Kill Giants, Tommysaurus Rex, or even Calvin & Hobbes! Maybe the fact these things are going to be written to last forever makes serial comics at least of DC, Marvel, and anything successful enough to keep them from making definitive choices or changes with characters just not for me. I LOVE the medium, but that mentality just destroys a lot of comics for me. However, all I am really asking for is that if somebody dies, do not resurrect them, and if somebody makes a life decision that you decide to change, don't have have Mephisto wash it all away. Adhere to those two rules and I can probably deal with almost anything else they throw at me. And that includes either making big changes and letting characters have their arcs being stuck in their own time and be replaced or by just making them timeless but continuously growing from the events in their loves. <p><p>-Cheers
June 29, 2010, 12:20 p.m. CST
Thank you for this interview and for recognizing amazing talent and humble, hard-working people. This is why I frequent AICN.
June 29, 2010, 2:40 p.m. CST
The guy has been killing it on ADVENTURE COMICS and now THE FLASH. And FLASH #3 is out tomorrow!
June 29, 2010, 3:01 p.m. CST
...and when Pop took over art chores on the Flash, the fanboy world went nuclear. Mr. Mhan didn't last long. So now it's ironic that 10 years later a similar artist is on the Flash and nary a peep.
June 29, 2010, 3:05 p.m. CST
..."But you have people popping back to life all over, and it's not like they dump the still-warm corpses into Lazarus Pits..." Aw man, you just gave me an idea of a killer comics story!
June 29, 2010, 3:59 p.m. CST
Good points. I just don't think they work within the current creative mindset of ongoing comic-books ala Marvel/DC.
June 29, 2010, 4:14 p.m. CST
by Dave I
I will also admit, it's more my problem than anything else. However, it feels like they think we are too stupid to get it if they DON'T reset/recon/resurrect things, events, or people. I just kind of wish they'd sort of arc a character's life (very loosely) and just play with the middle. As it stands now, they're locked in this kind of never-ending purgatory. <p><p>Still, maybe it would just get too stale for them at Marvel/DC/etc. in the long run. I DO think we could as an audience deal with it though, but I could also be in the slim minority that believes that and would buy into that kind of storytelling, much less actually wants it. <p><p>-Cheers
June 29, 2010, 8:53 p.m. CST
...or at least DC Comics, anyway. Seems there's a vast conspiracy by a cabal of villains who go around body snatching various dead people and surreptitiously dumping them into Ras Al Ghul's Lazarus Pits, thereby resurrecting them so they can be used to manipulate various heroes towards the notorious ends of the cabal of mystery villains. It's a long con, it's been going on for years but now, Ras himself discovers the plot and is killed (well, again). Our heroes, led of course by master detective Batman, must find Ras' body and a Lazarus Pit to resurrect him one more time (despite the dangers) to obtain vital information they need to uncover the plotters and the true nature of their schemes. Heroes will live, heroes will die, heroes will live and die again and the DC Universe will never be the same... again!
June 29, 2010, 10:59 p.m. CST
(23 years to be exact).<p>Speaking of reset, have you seen the new Wonder Woman costume? The 90's called and want their gimmick back. Diana looks like she borrowed Black Canary's costume.<p>JMS has depowered her and copied Spiderman's One More Day and Brand New Day storyline. He needs to stop hanging out with Joe Quesada.
June 30, 2010, 3:26 a.m. CST
For deaths to be concrete, you'd have to have full co-operation with the creator of those characters. Frank Miller, for example, likely considers Elektra to be 100% dead. When Kevin Smith wrote his DD stuff, he stuck to that. And everyone else ignored it. It's like... personally, I wouldn't bring back Gwen Stacy if I wrote Spider-Man. But I'd probably bring back an old JSA character to give them a renewed shot at iconic status.
June 30, 2010, 8:46 a.m. CST
a change of directrion and have brough in JSM of babylon 5 to write her new stories.
June 30, 2010, 9:31 a.m. CST
by Dave I
I thought DC/Marvel/etc. generally owned the property once they (presumably bought and) published the characters. I thought once the property was owned by them they could generally do whatever they wanted with them, AND eventually the creator would die so eventually that would not be an option if they waited long enough. <p><p>Maybe I'm being a cynic, but I am thinking that for a death to be concrete the publishing company (again, Marvel, DC, or whomever) would have to see it as just not being profitable to bring them back. <p><p>Gwen Stacy & old JSA characters . . . Bringing back Gwen Stacy, for real, would be a mistake. That as much as Uncle Ben's death helped shape who Spider-Man was. However, given recent (HUGE MISTAKE type) decisions, I would honestly not be surprised if they did bring back one or both to make some controversial money-making run. They would probably retcon it at some point or explain it away as clones or the Chameleon or some Spider-Spirit afterlife cross-over or dream/hallucination or something so they could return to status quo. I'd hate it, it might get lambasted, but it would probably sell comics, much as I hate to admit it. <p><p>Bringing back old JSA characters and such . . . If they character was killed, I generally say keep them dead. However, I DO think it would be potentially cool to have the character inspire somebody else to take up the mantle. Create a good origin/backstory, interject the guy/gal that looks or acts like the dead character, then sort of slowly reveal him as the new _________ that had some connection or was inspired by the old _________ or whatever. <p><p>And sure, there could be exceptions. There will be anyway. However, Barry was dead for like 23 years. Wally seems pretty accepted and kind of beloved in some circles. I'd rather Barry was left dead but still a legend, and if they want something new & fresh, well, write something! Although, to be honest the Barry Allen loophole not-really-dead thing is not nearly as annoying to me as some other comic decisions I've mentioned (at least they had the foresight to write it like that and eventually Barry will have to complete his "death run" or something), but does still kind of annoy me and seems unnecessary since THERE'S ALREADY A FLASH!!!!! Who's been there for like 23 years. But again, that's one of my recurring gripes with comics, the lack of consequence and meaningful change (e.g. Kirby's plan to kill Darkseid at the end of New Gods and DC's refusal to let him write the story he intended), and why I am pretty selective about which comics I buy and read. THAT is the kind of stuff that really kills a lot of comics for me. <p><p>-Cheers
July 2, 2010, 9:25 p.m. CST
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