First Comics News: How did you break into comics as an inker?
Andy Owens: Like most inkers, I started out as a penciller. I would go to conventions and stand in line for portfolio reviews. I noticed that if there were say, 100 people in line, 97 were pencillers, 1 was a colorist and maybe 2 were inkers. At the same time, a buddy of mine Jason Gorder broke into the business as an inker. So, I did the math and started concentrating on inking. I would bartend at night and come home and practice inking till the sun came up. I did this for almost 2 years when I met Art Thibert at San Diego Comic con. He liked my work and was looking to fill out a studio of inkers. I was hired on as an inking assistant. Which was basically an apprenticeships. I learned all of the ins and outs of the business. I then moved on to my own work, starting at Top Cow and then moving on to Dark Horse, Marvel and eventually DC.
1st: What brought you to the Shield?
Andy: Scott McDaniel and I were looking around for our next monthly assignment after finishing Trinity and the Shield was one of several projects offered to us.
1st: Had you been a fan of the Shield prior to getting the assignment?
Andy: Not really. I do remember reading it in the 70’s or 80’s when I was a kid. I remembered the look of the character but I couldn’t have told you the story.
1st: You are inking Scott McDaniel’s pencils on this series. The two of you have done a lot of work together. Is that intentional, or just that the two of you work for the same editors?
Andy: Scott and I are a team. We’ve worked together for 7 years or so. In this business, when you find a penciler/inker combination that works well, you try to keep that team together. I was a fan of Scott’s work for years and when the chance to ink him came along, it was a dream come true. Right from the beginning, we fit really well. What he wanted from me and what I wanted to do with his pencils was exactly the same thing. It’s a rare thing nowadays to find a partner that you work so well with in this industry. And we get along great, which always helps.
1st: In this series you have a colorful super hero set against tanks and the desert. How do you ink the pages to get the desert feel while still leaving the hero light enough to be colorful?
Andy: I always try to separate the backgrounds from the figures. It’s much easier in a place like Gotham for instance. I can make the figures slick while making the surroundings as gritty as possible. When we went to Superman, it was much more difficult as Metropolis was pristine as opposed to Gotham’s run down, dark and dirty alleyways. So the approach to the desert in the Shield was somewhere in between. A little texture and grit, but not too much.
1st: As the inker do they give you a copy of J. Michael Straczynski’s script to reference or do they just give you Scott’s art and have you ink it without a script?
Andy: Personally, I like to have the script on hand. But when it comes to getting it, sometimes yes and sometimes no. It depends on the editor, sometimes they’ll send it and sometimes I’ll have to ask. A lot of times I don’t need it since Scott’s storytelling is so great. In this case I got the first batch of pages and didn’t need it, so I didn’t ask for it. So I still haven’t seen the script.
1st: Do you ink with pen and brush or do you digitally ink the pages?
Andy: I ink with pen and brush. Unless you are inking your own pencils and doing it all on the computer, I don’t see a need to ink digitally. I saw this post once of this guys digital inks and he was stating that it only took him 14 hours. It was a decent piece, but all I could think was, I could have done it in 4 and done a better job. What was the point? I don’t know, I just like the old school approach. Actual tools on paper.
1st: What is next for you after the Shield special?
Andy: We have a Bizarro backup story in Strange Adventures coming out soon and now we are starting a new series that I’m not sure if I’m supposed to talk about yet, so I’ll keep it’s name and info to myself. I will say it is a team book with different characters than the usual.