Last moth it was announced that there was a new writer on Jim Valentino’s ShadowHawk. This month it is announced that there is a new artist as well. We talked to creator Jim Valentino, writer Scott Wherle and artist Ted Wing about the changes and what new readers can expect.
First Comics News: First off, why change creative teams after only six issues?
Scott Wherle: Right or wrong – I’m going with the latter, the book has carried with it a stigma that hasn’t been easy to shake. It has nothing to do with anything the creative teams on the current book have done, and everything to do with what people perceived it to be based on their experience with the book of the same name from the ‘90s. In order to shake that stigma, something had to be done.
Jim Valentino: That’s right. According to the feedback we were getting, the book was a little too old-school. We determined that it needed an edgier, not “darker” that always gets misconstrued these days, look; something more modern, and that called for a re-thinking of both the story and the art.
1st: Scott, how does your approach differ from Jim Keplinger’s approach to ShadowHawk?
Scott: We’re just different writers with different ideas, that’s all. Otherwise, I think our approach is similar in that we both like to get to the heart of the character first, and let everything else follow. I liked a lot of what Kep did with his four issues. I really think he nailed the relationship between Eddie Collins and his dad James. He also did a great job of establishing the supporting cast and their roles. It’s up to me to advance things from here.
Jim: And, in all fairness to both of them, they were both working from my plots and ideas.
1st: With a complete change in the creative teams, what type of changes should the readers expect in terms of storyline and story telling?
Scott: A complete 180. For the most part, the stories we’ve been telling thus far have been without consequence. That changes starting in issue #7. I don’t want to give away too much. All I can really say is that the ShadowHawk that emerges by the end of issue #12 will be much different than the guy you’re reading about now. The seeds are planted in issues #7 and #8. Starting with issue #9, we dismantle ShadowHawk and rebuild him from the ground up.
Jim: One can only go so far with the “new guy learning the ropes” theme. The changes that we’re enacting will be the direct consequences of his actions, his experiences and what he learns from both. He’s going to discover in very short order that the world is not black and white and sometimes every choice you have is a bad one.
1st: Image has announced that they planned on getting back to their super hero roots and ShadowHawk was to be a part of that. Carlos Rodriguez did some very straightforward DC/Marvel style art. Ted Wing’s art is more dynamic and Vertigo-esque. Is ShadowHawk moving away from the traditional super hero motif?
Scott: Yes and no. You’ll still see bad guys, but the approach will be quite a bit different. The primary focus will be on character, not concept and not the slugfest of the month.
Jim: While Ted’s art is anything but traditional, ShadowHawk remains a super-hero book set firmly in the Image Universe.
1st: Ted, did you have any idea posting art to a message board might lead to a job?
Ted Wing: No, not necessarily, I posted mostly just to share art as others did on this and other boards.
1st: This isn’t the first time someone has landed a job by posting their art, by any means, is it?
Scott: Yeah. During my editing days, I latched onto a couple of guys whose art I’d been seeing on the Wizard message boards and recommended them for jobs. Ever heard of Mark Brooks or Stefano Caselli? Some of their earliest work came from being visible on message boards. I’d gather this has probably happened a few times since. There’s so much great talent out there waiting for their break.
Ted: Ryan Ottley (Invincible), Sean Galloway (Teen Titans), Khary Randolph (various properties)…and many others have gotten gigs with partial help from exposure through the internet.
Jim: Right – there are several sites-Digital Webbing and Penciljack among them where new artists are allowed to strut their stuff. Several artists have come to my attention from these boards and the open art threads on both the Image Central and Shadowline boards. I believe that these sites will be a consistent source for new and developing talent in the years to come.
1st: There are tons of people posting art to the Shadowline message board, what made Ted’s art stand out?
Jim: For me his art shone like a beacon. I’ve always liked mixed media and he was combining traditional painting with Photoshop, collage with illustration. In both concept and execution, I found his work aesthetically pleasing.
Scott: There’s something intriguing about what Ted does. It draws you in and forces you to look at it and not just glance over it to read the words. You get a sense that something’s actually happening as opposed to just being pretty to look at.
1st: Ted, given that you’re the newcomer here, what else have you done, previous to landing this gig?
Ted: I’ve done pin-ups and covers for various books, as well as sequentials and story boards for various pitches…but mostly RPG projects with Ronin Arts.
1st: Was this a situation where Carlos was already leaving or was Ted’s art so good that you said “We have to fire Carlos, and hire Ted”?
Scott: No, Carlos was doing a bang-up job, and as far as I know, wasn’t planning to leave the book. We just wanted a drastic change in art to go with where we were heading with the story. Ted fit that bill. I’d imagine you haven’t seen the last of Carlos with Shadowline.
Jim: Yeah, I truly love Carlos and his work. For straight ahead super-hero fare he can’t be beat and the guy is an editor’s dream, he never misses a deadline, he’s always receptive to changes. I can’t believe he hasn’t been snagged by Marvel or DC, to be honest.
1st: For readers who haven’t picked up the first six issues of ShadowHawk, will #7 make a good starting point?
Scott: Yes. I’ve been trying to write my issues in a way that lets the reader join in without having to know everything that’s gone before. There are some subplots in play, but they’ll be easy to pick up on.
Jim: And there’s always a “Previously” blurb on the inside front covers our books. This allows a new reader to catch up immediately, even if we’re in the middle of a story. I’m a firm believer in the [Jim] Shooter axiom that every book is someone’s first and we do our best to adhere to that by clearly introducing the characters and the conflict in every issue.
1st: Can we expect ShadowHawk to interact more with the Image Universe, or was The Pact the extent of his involvement?
Scott: We have a specific plan in place that takes us up through issue #12, so I’d say until then, no. Thereafter, who knows?
Jim: He can and he will. He exists in the Image Universe, so that door is always open.
1st: What else can reads expect to see coming from Shadowline?
Jim: We have several new books lined up, one of which we’ll be announcing in the next week. Some of these, like the Intimidators, will be in the Image Universe, others, likeEmissary, won’t be. I’m a big fan of diversity, always have been, so these books will cover a rather wide swath in style and genre. We’ll be releasing more information about each in their own time.