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Author Topic: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters  (Read 35018 times)

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #120 on: 14 October, 2018, 11:46:20 am »

Julius Howe has collected an interview he conducted with Carlos Ezquerra, originally broadcast as a series of short chats on the Inky Fingers podcast in 2014, as a single episode. Lovely tribute and a fascinating, often very funny insight into how Ezquerra approached his art and his career - LINK

Transcript follows:

Ezquerra is my second name. My full name is Carlos Sanchez Ezquerra. Sanchez is my father's name, Ezquerra is my mother's name. This is very common with artists - Picasso is his mother's name, too.

My normal day can go from 9 o'clock in the morning, I am working, say, until 2 o’clock, I watch the news and then have lunch. After siesta, I start work again around 4 o’clock until 6 or 9 o’clock. That will depend. I am very anarchic - I don’t have any routine.

I am very quick. In the old times, I was the fastest pen in the west. I can do something like 20-25 pages per month. But, if it’s not necessary, I can be doing 2 pages per month. I tend to work faster at the end of the month, when I have to finish something.

The first day of a new story, I can be doing half a page a day or even less. And then the last days, when the deadline is near, I can do one and a half pages per day. It’s quite a big difference. I am quite lazy. If I have to do something, I’m quite fast.

With writers I’ve been working with for so many years, like John Wagner, Alan Grant and Garth Ennis, I don’t discuss very much the story. They give me the script, I read it, and then I decide how they look, the ambience, the characters, clothes - everything.

I can control the speed of the story, too. When I read a story for the first time, it’s like I’m looking at a film in my head. So, I can see quite well how the character looks; I try to reflect their personality in their face, their movement and their clothes.

I try to design a character so they will be easily identifiable even if they change clothes. With Dredd, the uniform is practically the most important thing, but with Strontium Dog, he’s changed his clothes, shaved his hair, and you can recognise him.

Not just Strontium Dog: Just A Pilgrim, Durham Red, Bloody Mary - they are easily recognisable.

I ask writers to make scripts very short, like a telegram. If they use long descriptions, I get confused; if they’re short, I can concentrate on what’s happening. I’m quite impatient, so if there’s a long description, I don’t read it (laughs).

The writer, he can imagine it, but to draw it on paper is a totally different thing. That is my option, not the writers’.They know that and we complement each other very well. I’ve been working with John Wagner for almost 40 years, like a married couple!

With Judge Dredd, he was described as a cop, dressed in black, working in New York in 1999. With the city, they told me it was growing very fast. In Spain, we say ‘growing like mushroom’, so I drew him in a mushroom setting - not a phallic setting! (laughs)

I let my imagination fly! John was not very happy with it, but Pat Mills was very enthusiastic and they changed the scripts. I was thinking ‘the first story will be mine’, but it was a big surprise when the first one printed was by Mick McMahon.

Some of the figures in that story were maybe not cut & paste, but very similar to mine. So I was very angry at the time, and so I said I wasn’t going to work anymore with 2000ad. They tell me the first story I did was too violent, but they don’t tell me that at the time.

> I never like it too much, the graphic violence. You can see too much. I prefer to see a knife coming up and down and some blood coming out the bottom of the page - I think it can be more effective and more dramatic.

But, you know, some other times, I’ve been forced by some writers to do something gory. I don’t like it very much, but if I have to do it, I have to do it. I try to do something tasty. (laughs) <

Not drawing the first Dredd was no problem. You're supposed to be a professional. Also, the character is mine, so I can do what I want. I love to do anti-heroes, most of my characters are anti-heroes - Dredd is the exception. He is law-abiding.

I always consider myself to be underused. The way it is working in the comic industry is they don't pay for the creation of new characters, so that doesn't motivate you to create new characters. That benefits the editors, not the artist.

Even secondary characters, like Middenface McNulty and Durham Red, have their own personalities. They made a series with Durham Red but they changed her so much it was another character.

Mark Harrison did a great job, but it was nothing to do with the character. They even changed the time she was living. They should have given her a new name and done her as a different character. That happened with Strontium Dogs, too.

I don't mind them giving my characters to other artists, except maybe Strontium Dog - it's a character I love very much. The problem is that when you change from one artist to another, you change the personality - it's a different character.

With Judge Dredd, there are many other versions, but the eagle's always on the same shoulder. I don't mind when every artist puts a little bit of their own personality into it. In Spanish magazines, they credit the paternity of Dredd to Brian Bolland!

I always try in the epics to do every part of the story myself. I know the people hate Inferno, but I really enjoyed it! I did good artwork there. The characters are very good, Grice and such, but if they don't like it they don't like it!

With The Pit, I tried to draw all the characters with their own defined personality because they were going to be shared with other artists. They were strong characters.

I’m a dirty artist.  If I start sketching on the page, it can be a nightmare. Instead of doing one line, I do fifty. Then, when I’m inking, I choose one of those lines. Now I am working with a very thin kind of paper, which I put on top of my rough and draw more clearly.

I ink on paper and then scan into the computer. I started doing the colour on the computer in 1996; I think I was the first artist in England to colour with the computer.There was some crazy artwork, but I was enjoying it!

The speed of when I was colouring by hand is the same as with the computer, but the computer is more fun and it’s cleaner. In the old times, the first thing I did when I got a brush was to cut the point to make it flat. I remember Dave Gibbons was horrified! (laughs)

Now, I have a Pentel brush pen. I’ve never been a brush artist, more a pen one. My art is too messy to use the brush. I like to use different techniques, but in the end I use the one that’s quickest for me. But I try to change my style from time to time.

From the first day I started working for DC, the usual thing was to send first the pencils and they’d look at it, change it, and send it back to the artist. I said, ‘we’re not going to do that’. I finish totally, and if they don’t like something, I change it.

But I refuse to send first my pencils, and that’s the same for one comic or the other. For me, it’s always been very, very important to have freedom. This is the reasons I don’t want to change from 2000ad. I feel very, very comfortable in 2000ad.

I think I’m the only artist not to move to the States. Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons … but I’ve never been interested in that because in 2000ad I have total freedom. They are nice people, plus I never liked the superhero stuff. In Spain, I never read that.

I read the classic US adventure comics, Rip Kirby, Juliet Jones, Prince Valiant, Alex Raymond, but never Superman or Batman. If you look at my art, it’s not the sort to fit with superheroes. I only did one Batman, with John Wagner.

I don’t think John Wagner likes superheroes either. We only did it because we were challenged by Archie Goodwin, in London, to do a Batman story. It wasn’t printed until eight years later, so maybe it was not too good. I did a Spiderman, too.

Until I was twenty years old, I didn’t know you could make a living drawing comics. I always like very much to draw and to read, but when I was doing military service in Gibraltar I met an artist and he told me (inaudible)

In Barcelona, I started in editorial, the lowest stuff, but I was full of energy and ambition to go to the top. I draw a 24 page script and they’d give me £1 or 50p. But, somebody was interested in my work and I could only go up.

I was always very optimistic. If always say if there’s a rock in my path, I could do nothing or I can go around the stone or over the stone - typical glass half full. I say if you don’t laugh at life, life laughs at you.

I was in Barcelona, and in ‘72 I went to England. In ‘74 I started work for Battle, and when I brought work into the editors I met John Wagner, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Mick McMahon and Kev O’Neill. It was like a club.

When I was 3 or 4 years old, I was not a very tranquil boy, so the teacher would give me paper and pencils. So for years, I was in the corner, drawing, that way they could keep me quiet - control me.

For years, when I was bored in class, I’d draw something like a castle and then start drawing very little figures, fighting. Crusaders! It could be a castle or a pirate ship, with these little figures, fighting.

I wasn’t interested in science fiction, more the characters. I don’t mind if it’s a pirate story or a war story, I’m more interested in how the characters move, how they react. I learned to tell stories from films, from John Ford.

For many, many years, my bedside book was Confessions Of A Film Director, by Eisenstein, the Russian director. He was telling how he made Battleship Potemkin and Ivan The Terrible; he was one of my teachers.

Also, Charles Dickens was one of my masters. He taught me how to tell a story. He’s very cinematic in that he can describe a scene and you can imagine everything and everyone in it, and that’s how I learned to draw comics

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1glidhi-CNYNM70i8Tuj5Ft6jFmd8IX-TUwabEgwptSg/edit?usp=sharing




TordelBack

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #121 on: 14 October, 2018, 02:22:55 pm »
Thanks for that Frank. What a guy.   :'(

Funt Solo

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #122 on: 14 October, 2018, 03:35:57 pm »
Thanks for sharing that, Frank.  Fascinating stuff.
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Bolt-01

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #123 on: 15 October, 2018, 03:10:40 pm »
Thanks Frank.

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #124 on: 04 November, 2018, 05:23:47 pm »

Simon Jacob says it's okay to share these Nemesis tryout pages he found in his loft. Jacob thinks they were from 1988 - 1989 ... maybe the divisive reaction to the late John Hicklenton's art style had Tharg exploring alternatives.

Jacob says he was asked to provide a Rocky Horror vibe, but his involvement with Nemesis never went beyond these pages. See more of Simon's Nemesis tryout, his early Armoured Gideon designs, and his excellent current work, here.





Depending on your point of view, Tharg was either dedicated to exploring all artistic possibilities or flailing wildly in all directions, in 1988. Before he was handed the poisoned chalice of replacing King Carlos on Strontium Dog, Simon Harrison tried out for Nemesis, too - as well as being considered for ABC Warriors and Slaine (the most Simon-y of all Pat Mills's strips)




All images courtesy of the Dale that dare not speak its name



Robin Low

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #125 on: 04 November, 2018, 05:40:17 pm »
Fucking hell! If art like that was appearing in the Prog right now I'd be a lot more enthusiastic about it.

Regards,

Robin

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #126 on: 04 November, 2018, 09:01:08 pm »
Seen that Nemesis before but Elfric is pretty special.
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TordelBack

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #127 on: 04 November, 2018, 10:48:20 pm »
I'd love to see more of both of those. The Harrison Slaine is as expected, absolutely great on the frantic weirdness, less so on the humans (never thought I'd have a problem telling Nest apart from Johnny Alpha). The Jacob Nemesis OTOH... that's just completely freaky, shouldn't work at all but most definitely does. Wow.

AlexF

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #128 on: 06 November, 2018, 06:45:37 pm »
Cracking finds and shares there Frank!

broodblik

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #129 on: 06 November, 2018, 07:01:07 pm »
Cool stuff Rank

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #130 on: 15 November, 2018, 08:42:51 pm »

I was going to post this on the current prog thread, but the hints here about long-term repercussions are almost +++ SPOILERS +++ and mean this is probably an interview that deserves preservation for the ages.

Rob Williams offers an episode-by-episode breakdown of the story (so far). I'm ashamed to admit I didn't realise it was plucking a hair from her chin that made Hershey think of McGruder ...


A team of Stealth Judges with invisible tech are undertaking illegal assassinations around the globe in order to prod world events in certain directions. This is being done under the control of Judge Smiley — a spook who operates as a sort of Senior Judge without portfolio. How much free reign he’s given by The Chief Judge is unknown.

These are illegal murders. It’s a crime. So Dredd’s going to try and bring Smiley down, even if it could mean the collapse of the Judge system.


PROG 2100, “The Small House, Part One”

We know Dirty Frank has a historical connection with Smiley but we don’t know what. Dredd’s suspicions have been confirmed — he knows Smiley has been assassinating pro-Democracy politicians.

Dredd’s a simple animal in many ways. A crime is a crime. So Smiley needs bringing down. Whatever the consequences.

But there’s always several levels of subtext with Dredd, even if he’s not entirely fully aware of his motives, I think. That’s what I find interesting about writing him. He’s angry. He’s going to rip this down no matter the cost. And he knows there will be a cost — either to the system he’s served so long, or to his “friends.”


PROG 2101, “The Small House, Part 2”

My previous story about Dredd was called “Titan” not just because of it being the Saturn moon where the Justice Department prison is set, but because Dredd is the titan of this comic, this world. Nixon wanted to show Dredd he was just a murderer who uses the law as an excuse to justify his rage.

Smiley sees Dredd as something different. He appreciates how useful Dredd is as a thuggish bogeyman to scare the citizens in behaviour, and what an impressive weapon he is. But you’ll have to read until the end to find what Smiley truly thinks of Dredd.

With Smiley’s line - “We’re fascists” - I felt it was time I paid my dues, being honest. If you’re going to write Dredd for any length of time at some point you have to confront the fact that he’s a fascist head on. I think you need to remind the readers of that too so they don’t see him as something aspirational. Dredd’s world is a cautionary tale. It is anything but a utopia.

Fascism is inherent in the character and the world’s concept. The Judges are not the good guys — except Dredd sometimes is… That’s why the next issue after the ‘We’re fascists’ line I had the scene with the escaped dune shark eating citizens. If you’re one of those citizens being attacked you want Dredd to show up, to protect you.

This is a complex character for those reasons. And our world being where it is right now, where fascism is rising in Europe and in America. Where there are dangerous right-wing groups gaining power. I felt that I had to write a Dredd story that acknowledges the dangers.

Smiley has a line about death already having claimed this world but it’s only his actions that stops the city falling into the abyss. Maybe he has a point. The best villains often do. But are you willing to sacrifice everything good and noble to achieve that survival?

There’s no easy answers to these questions. So, in a world of chaos, all you can hold onto is Dredd with his viewpoint ‘murder is a crime, and so you are a creep who needs arresting.’ Dredd’s a very Peckinpah-like character. Simplistic. A line must be drawn… somewhere.

At least that’s what he tells himself. I suspect his true motives may be something other… 40 levels down. It’s complicated.


PROG 2102, “The Small House, Part 3”

We see SJS Judge Alex Gerhart during his Long Walk. Gerhart also plays a part in the Judge Pin storyline I’ve been doing with Chris Weston.


PROG 2103 & 2104 “The Small House, Part 4 & 5”

Hershey’s fate and longevity are a major theme of “The Small House”. Is she complicit in what Smiley’s been doing?

McGruder was a longstanding Chief Judge who, in a typically askew bit of writing by John Wagner, grew chin hairs, even though she was female. I liked this scene with Hershey. She — previously an action hero with Dredd in stories like “The Judge Child” — is bored stupid listening to some city planning stuff, and finds a single hair growing from her chin. She thinks of McGruder, and, yeah, just a human moment. Maybe Hershey’s been there too long?

Dredd doesn’t know who to trust. After Trifecta Hershey allowed Smiley to keep operating. So, maybe Hershey knows? Maybe she authorised his assassinations? If that’s true, then the whole of Justice Department may be on the opposite side to Dredd and his team.

So, in going after Smiley in this way, Dredd knows full well that he could be bringing the entire system crashing down here. And he’s willing to do it, because crimes are being committed and he is a Judge. There’s an arrogance in this. He believes his judgement is absolute.

The chessboard was an easy metaphor for Dredd and the Kazan clone’s meeting in” Trifecta”, which Al Ewing, who wrote that scene, then undercut by having Dredd shoot the chessboard. A very Dredd blunt tactical move. Smiley tells Dredd early on here that he is “not a tactician.” But I will say that it’s unlikely Kazan has kept the chessboard pieces for sentimental reasons. The Kazan clone is a tactician.


PROG 2105, “The Small House, Part 6”

I knew Sam was going to get it here. I felt bad about it because I liked the character very much. A genuinely optimistic, kind, hopeful man. Which is precisely why he had to die. If I did my job right you’ll feel terrible about Sam going too.

PROG 2106, “The Small House, Part 7”

I thought the 9-panel grid there was a good way of suggesting order — which contrasts with Frank slipping into insanity via some of the visuals. the 3 ordered ducks on Smiley’s wall becoming hellish nightmare creatures, etc. Order’s a big theme in “The Small House”.

There’s a line in “Trifecta” where Smiley tells Frank, who he’s rescued from the snow, “Wally Squad, I think, Judge Frank. I could use someone in Wally Squad.” Smiley places him there. Frank’s mental instability came about partly because of what happened in the snow, and partly because on some level Frank knew that Smiley was in his head, somewhere. Able to snap his fingers at any point.

Dredd’s actions are secret and not authorised by Hershey and Justice Department. I think what’s interesting about this moment is Dredd saying this line to Hershey is a very human, flawed moment. He is not a robot. He’s just found Judge Sam killed, he suspects at that point that Frank did it (he doesn’t know for sure). Maitland has just — rightly — called him out for allowing Sam to die.

Dredd knew that there’d be a cost to all this. So, his anger is biblical when Hershey confronts him, and he blows that anger at Hershey in front of a room full of Senior Judges. It is not a tactical move. Dredd operates via his gut.

Hershey’s non-reaction is because she knows, deep down, that Dredd’s right. That goes back to the McGruder hair scene. Hershey knows her time is up. When Dredd says this to her, she can’t find it within herself to fight him on the subject.

A big, very human, flawed moment, that will have big repercussions.


PROG 2107, “The Small House, Part 8”

Dirty Frank's backstory was always there. Some of the details weren’t. I knew Frank was on an unofficial Justice Department hit squad mission. That he was part of something terrible, wouldn’t go through with it, and effectively died in the snow. I knew it was something to do with the Sovs and that one day I’d get around to revealing it all. Smiley came into existence later with “Trifecta”. So, you have the major blocks in your head and fill in the specifics much later. It’s an evolution.



I've copied and pasted in case this enlightening and important interview falls off the internet one day, but it's good form to give the page itself a click and thank Doom Rocket for giving Williams a grilling



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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #131 on: 15 November, 2018, 09:05:15 pm »
FWIW, I thought that was quite spoilery when I read it, in as much as discusses in fairly unequivocal terms some interactions and motivations that we’re still speculating on at the current stage in the story. I was a bit miffed at Rob, TBH.
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Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #132 on: 15 November, 2018, 09:20:46 pm »
FWIW, I thought that was quite spoilery when I read it, in as much as discusses in fairly unequivocal terms some interactions and motivations that we’re still speculating on at the current stage in the story.

True, but I think I'm more interested in the story now than when I was pretty certain it was a version of The Sting.



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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #133 on: 16 November, 2018, 08:42:46 am »
FWIW, I thought that was quite spoilery when I read it, in as much as discusses in fairly unequivocal terms some interactions and motivations that we’re still speculating on at the current stage in the story. I was a bit miffed at Rob, TBH.

Yes it is quite spoilery and I was going to leave til after the last part and then I went and read it. It gives a big clue as to what will or won’t happen on one of the biggest things for me - Hershey’s reaction to Dredd saying he no longer respects her authority. I was wondering if she was going to have him removed but no, it seems she understands/ accepts that, so presumably she is going to let it slide. So will we actually get the major changes alluded to?

Frank

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Re: Thrillpower Overload: the missing chapters
« Reply #134 on: 16 November, 2018, 12:11:05 pm »
FWIW, I thought that was quite spoilery when I read it, in as much as discusses in fairly unequivocal terms some interactions and motivations that we’re still speculating on at the current stage in the story. I was a bit miffed at Rob, TBH.

Yes it is quite spoilery and I was going to leave til after the last part and then I went and read it. It gives a big clue as to what will or won’t happen on one of the biggest things for me - Hershey’s reaction to Dredd saying he no longer respects her authority. I was wondering if she was going to have him removed but no, it seems she understands/ accepts that, so presumably she is going to let it slide. So will we actually get the major changes alluded to?

I think the spoiler angle is more around the question of whether Dredd and Hershey are play acting, and their falling out is all a show to fool Smiley. Which, on the evidence of this interview, it isn't.