Comicbook Biography: ADAM HUGHES

adam-hughesAdam Hughes is one the the most sought after cover artist in comics today, especially if there is a pretty girl on the cover. But his body of work covers much more than just pin-ups, and is wider reaching and deeper than you might think.

Adam agreed to sit down with First Comics News to talk about his career.

First Comics News: You are self taught, how did you learn your technique?

Adam Hughes: Trial and error… lotsa introspection… lotsa studying other great artist for the keys to the kingdom.

1st: Your first work was on Warrior from Malibu, right?

Adam: Actually, my first work was for Eagle, from Crystal Comics, actually; I met the creators at a local store signing.

1st: Early on in your career, you were probably best known as the artist on Maze Agency. How did you get hooked up with creator/writer Mike Barr on the series?

Adam: I met Comico editor Diana Schutz at a con in Philadelphia; from there, I sent in try-out pages for Maze Agency and Justice Machine.

1st: While you were on Maze for a while, your first high profile assignment was Justice League America, how did you make the jump from small press to DC?

Adam: With my eyes closed.  Comico put Maze on hiatus, and I was unemployed for 90 minutes before DC called.  Bill Willingham (Fables, Elementals) had shown my stuff to JL editor Andy Helfer.

1st: You also had a long association with both Star Trek and Star Wars, are you a fan?

Adam: BIG TIME.  I grew up on Trek reruns, and Star Wars is my big inspiration.

1st: How is it different working on a licensed property?

Adam: It’s twice as frustrating.  You have to answer to two bosses, so there’s twice as many chances to be confounded by people who have authority over your craft, without an ounce of art in their soul.

1st: With something like Star Trek, do the actors, or their agents, complain about there likenesses?

Adam: Patrick Stewart had me lesson his conehead on a cover once, guess I over-did it.  Otherwise, I never really hear from the stars.

1st: Which series do you prefer?

Adam: Classic Original Series, all the way.  Next Gen was great, but Kirk and Spock were with me from the beginning.

1st: You worked on a comic titled Desert Storm: Send Hussein to Hell, I know this is total off topic, but what are your feelings about the war in Iraq?

Adam: If the real reason our current government has sent American sons & daughters to spill their blood on the sands of a far-distant land is truly to free an oppressed people, then give them the tools they need so they can come home.  But I fear there are hidden agendas and purposes at play, and we’ll never know what the real reason is for this war; at least not until all the folks in charge are long-dead and free from prosecution.

1st: You worked on the launch of Ghost as part of Comics Greatest World. What is it like being part of the creation of an entire Super Hero Universe from scratch?

Adam: Nervous.  You have no trail to follow, blazed for you by better artists.

1st: With the DCU and the Marvel Universe they grow and evolved over time. Is it possible to create a complete universe all at once and have readers buy into it?

Adam: Absolutely; only, you have to have the right talent to pull that off.

1st: How much say did you have over the character designs?

Adam: A little.  Chris Warner designed Ghost; I just made a few tweaks to fit my personal style.

1st: You worked on a few issues of Penthouse Comix, why switch from Good Girl art to Bad Girl art?

Adam: The only reason: Money

1st: Was there ever some concern that after working on Penthouse Comix, DC might not want to work on all ages comics like Wonder Woman?

Adam: Constant, constant concern.  I was terrified that I was screwing myself out of a career.

1st: With X-Men Classics, you moved away from interiors to being known as a cover artist. Do you find covers as satisfying as story telling?

Adam: Yes, but in a very different way.

1st: When you get a cover assignment like Catwoman, Wonder Woman or Tomb Raider. Do you try to tie the cover into the story, or do you try to produce an image that will sell the comic by itself, regardless of the story?

Adam: My prime task as cover artist is to sell the comic.  Cover artists are the last bit of advertising, and the first bit of story in a comic’s life.  I love to incorporate the story; but sometimes the story isn’t even written by the time I have to hand a cover in.

1st: You did a variety of pieces for Stan Lee presents the DC Universe, did you actually work with Stan on this project?

Adam: Never even talked to him.

1st: Much of your work is painted instead of line art, do you uses models?

Adam: That’s an ‘apples vs. Volkswagens’ question… I do line art on 95% of my covers; they only look painted because I color my own work in Photoshop.  And yes, I use models from time-to-time.  At this stage in my career, I’m more into classic American illustration than cartooning.  The bottom line is, using models means I get my hot neighbor to stand around in a bikini and my girlfriend thinks it A-OK.  What a scam!

1st: How did you get involved with Tomb Raider?

Adam: By doing covers and illustrations for PlayStation MagazineThat led to doing the comic covers.

1st: What are the differences working on Tomb Raider in comics and in a magazine setting?

Adam: None, as far as I could tell.  Sexy, fun, and dangerous, regardless of the venue.

1st: Does magazine work pay better then comic work?

Adam: A little bit, yeah.

1st: You have a long association with Wonder Woman, is there any truth to the rumors that you are working on an All-Star Wonder Woman series?

Adam: I am contractually obligated to neither confirm nor deny my participation in All-Star Wonder Woman.  I am allowed to confirm that I am working on a 6-issue miniseries for DC Comics, and I have none of it done, as I have no script yet.  Maybe Santa Claus will bring me one, I’ve been good all year.

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