Art Thibert: Well thank you very much Michael. It was really neat to meet Kevin Nowlan for the first time that was ahigh point. It was almost cooler than the award itself.
1st: Obviously, you are a big fan of his work, in what way does it impact you?
Art: In every way if you look at my pencils whenever I draw my own stuff, I usually look at his for inspiration. Style, shading, technique, just about everything.
1st: let’s talk about your current work, you have been doing a lot of DC work. I’m familiar with your Marvel work working with Dan Jurgens on CaptainAmerica and some other projects, tell me about some of the projects that you are doing now.
Art: Right now I’m working on (Widening) Gyre 2 right now with Kevin Smith and Walter Flannigan, so we are an issue and half into that. Just got brought on to the relaunch, the DC relaunch so I really can’t talk too much about that.
1st: As an inker or an artist?
Art: An inker, so I’ll probably be okay to talk more about that probably in a month or so.
1st: Are you excited about that project?
Art: Oh yeah, it is amazing I think this is one of those things where it is a once in a lifetime opportunity, what they are doing at DC right now.
1st: Are you surprised by the fact that they look like they are turning a corner on the legacy of DC over the last 40 years since 1956 with the reinvention of the Silver Age Flash?
Art: Clarify, I’m not sure?
1st: We all know the so called Golden Age Heroes and then when they reinvented them it was Barry Allen as the Flash, Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, etc and now it seems like they are keeping the characters, but it seem like they are evolving them in a radically different way, correct?
Art: Yeah, I think they are actually referring to them as the Gold and Silver Age and this is the next evolution. So, I hope I didn’t say too much there.
Art: But you already knew that, they have sent out press releases?
1st: They have actually identified some of the books but not all and I am not asking you to identify the books. But you are excited, can you say who you are working with?
1st: Okay that’s fine. Tell me a little bit about your style and how it evolved. Your first work was for one of the majors was Marvel, DC?
1st: Really, what books?
Art: So, Marvel, remember the Starline books, Heathcliff and they kind of had cartoon books for kids? So it was the Inhumanoids and I was doing finishes over Jose Delbo’s pencils. At DC I got hired to pencil the Warlord. So I got hired to be a penciller and an inker on the same day and it was literally the same day. I was at Marvel and a friend of mine, Art Nichols was catching a cab to DC and he asked me if I wanted to join him. I did and so while I was there I had my portfolio and just started shopping it around and Bob Greenburger said, “Hey what do you want to do for us?” Asking a new guy what do you want to do that is a loaded question. So, I said whatever you want to give me, I’ll gladly do, so it was the Warlord. It was three or four issues and I think the Kuberts actually followed me on that.
1st: Oh Really?
Art: Yeah, yeah and I think that might have been their first work too.
1st: In terms of the evolution of your work, most people know you primarily as an inker now, but as you did pointed out you started as a penciller. I want to say that I recall you from Image also, did you do some work for them?
Yeah I did a series called Black and White, it was creator owned so I did three issues of that, and then it was released as an ongoing, but that is when the market shifted and started going down so I left Image and went back to Marvel. But, I think I was at Image for five or six years.
1st: You mentioned Dan Jurgens a bit earlier, so lets talk about Dan as an artist and how you work with him? Because the stories are legendary that when (Carmine) Infantino does a drawing there are four or five lines and the inker has to pick the one he thinks is best. How is it to work with Dan because you say he gives you the ability to frame it?
Art: It was a unique work situation with Dan because I was hired on to do finishes, so that is when the penciller gives you breakdowns and that is when you put in the light sources and the shadows, the grays and the crosshatching and stuff like that. So it was really a unique situation where I didn’t have to follow what he put down verbatim, but basically the work structure, and all the story telling and all the construction was his, but the rendering and all that was all me.
Art: Well I am kind of doing finishes right now on Gyre, they don’t officially call it finishes, but on Gyre 2, I think you’ll see a big style finish than on Gyre 1 and I’m kind of pushing it more into that finishing direction.
1st: I approached the (Inkwell Awards) panel about this earlier but I’ll ask you directly, we are in a world where it seems like I wouldn’t say inkers are jeopardized, but it seems like there is an effort to cut back on inking styles, on inking work and since you make most of your living as an inker, it has to concern you?
Art: I don’t kind that too be true and it is weird, I read online where everything’s going digital and inkers are being phased out and I get the mailer, all the comics that DC publishes every month and there may be just a handful of books that are just solely pencils and not inks. So, I don’t known where people are coming from when they say those things, because I don’t find it to be true. But even if it was, I am fairly confident that I’ll be able to sustain it and I think it is just one more tool for the penciller. If the penciller chooses to just go straight pencils that is a creative decision he has, if he want inks, then I am here, you know what I mean?
1st: What about the evolution of the colorist as a partner to the penciller and the inker? If you look at work say from twenty years ago you see a lot more definition, refinement, of the art by the inker, now it seems the colorist is adding tone, texture, etc.
Art: Yeah, I think pencillers are kind of dropping back too. So you see that it is not just the inks, it is color coming in as a major voice as well So, it is probably kind of split, depending on the colorist and the inker, it is probably fifty-fifty as far as having a voice and finishing the work now. I think pencillers go into a project now knowing who is going to ink it and who is going to color it and they kind of pencil appropriately.
Art: Yes and yes.
1st: Character you most enjoy doing and character you most enjoy working on?
Art: Oh my God, I love Wolverine, I love the X-Men and I love Batman. Working on Gyre is a dream come true right now because I have worked on just about every icon out there; Spider-man, Superman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, all these books and the one book that got me interested since I was a kid was Batman, so finally I get to do a run on Batman.
1st: Wow how cool.
Art: Yeah , yeah!
1st: How cool for you, very good, any final thought you would like to leave with us?
Art: Just comics are cool and I don’t think anyone should lose their heads about inkers being phased out.
1st: Okay, thank you so much, appreciate it, it is a pleasure.
This interview was conducted the weekend of the 2011 Charlotte Heroes Convention.