Scott McDaniel talks about THE SHIELD

scott-mcdanielWe continue our conversations with creators working on DC’s upcoming books starring the Red Circle characters, and today, we chat with Scott McDaniel who’s penciling the upcoming Shield one-shot in August, written by JMS.

First Comics News: Scott, the Shield is by far not your first book, so before we start talking about that, let’s jump in the wayback machine – how did you break into comics?

Scott McDaniel: During my college years at Bucknell University, I met my best pal, Glenn Herdling, who got me started with Marvel Comics.

After graduation (I earned my Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, BSEE, from Bucknell University in 1986), I went to work for Kearfott Guidance and Navigation Corporation, based in Wayne, NJ. I was a systems engineer for the inertial reference packages they made for satellites. These packages were about the size of a shoe-box, and contained two gyroscopes and accompanying electronics. (My claim to fame: my name was among those microfilmed and placed onboard the Magellan spacecraft, whose mission was to take radar images of the surface of Venus. It has since burned up in the Venutian atmosphere.)

After graduation, Glenn went to work for Marvel Comics, in editorial (lucky dog!). Glenn and his family helped me get started on my own in NJ, and we remained very good friends. I worked as an engineer during the day, and practiced drawing comics at night. It was pretty exhausting routine, mixed in with family life with my new wife and infant son. Glenn would take my drawings with him into Marvel, and get them critiqued by other editors and whatever pros happened by that day. Then, it was back to the board to incorporate the pro advice I was given. After several years of this, I finally was offered my first pro work — a Prowler back-up story in Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #9. Heartfelt thanks to the story’s write, Glenn Herdling, as he was instrumental in me getting that first work. And I especially thank God for providing me the opportunity.

The Shield, page 4I was offered some small work in Marvel Comics Presents, but it was very infrequently, and I had tried to get work from other sources (all while still working full time as an EE). I did some SuperCops work for NOW comics, but the company went bankrupt, and the work was never published. I did a little work for Innovation Comics, but I was fired for not being good enough (and rightly so!).

Glenn to the rescue! We did an issue of What If…? together (What If Spidey Never Lost His Cosmic Powers?), and that got me active with Marvel. I was offered four Spider-Man annuals (the “Hero Killers” story). I completed the three main Spidey annuals, and before beginning on the last part, the New Warriors annual, Ralph Macchio (editor of Avengers, Daredevil, and others) offered me a 5 month try-out stint on Daredevil! How did this come out of the blue?? Glenn’s assistant editor, Pat Garrahy, had just moved over to work with Ralph Macchio. Pat was familiar with my work through Glenn, and he saw a lot of potential in me. It was Pat who convinced a very reluctant Ralph to give me a shot on Daredevil following the departure of Lee Weeks. I suppose the opening sentence should read “Glenn and Pat to the rescue!”

With my wife’s support, I jumped at the DD opportunity by quitting my engineering job and going into comics full-time! (Sorry again to Danny Fingeroth for not completing all 4 annuals!)

From this point, the broad stroke of my career is as follows:

* Daredevil monthly series

* Elektra Limited Series

* Green Goblin monthly series

* Nightwing monthly series

* Batman monthly series

* Superman monthly series

* Robin monthly series

* Richard Dragon monthly series

* Green Arrow monthly series

* Trinity (weekly series) backups

* Batman Confidential (6 issues)

* Strange Adventures (limited series) backup

* (plus other shorter assignments along the way)

The Shield, page 5And I’m still having a lot of fun!

1st: How did you get the assignment on the Shield?

Scott: I think it was as simple as the book wasn’t assigned to anyone, and I was looking for something to do after Trinity!

1st: Had you been a fan of the Shield prior to getting the assignment?

Scott: Actually I didn’t know anything about him.

1st: Joey Cavalieri is your editor on the series, what did he tell you he wanted from the series?

Scott: Obviously, Joey wanted to launch these four characters off as strongly as possible. Specifically regarding the Shield, Joey said he wanted to place this Golden Age hero squarely in modern continuity, and he provided art direction to keep my work from being too heavy lined, angular and/or abstract. Personally, I think my art works best when it is bold, heavy and round, but Joey thought thinner lines were more suited here. But that’s merely detail – the goal was to put out a great comic.

1st: Irv Novick did the original character designs for the Shield. How is your interpretation of the character different than his classic look?

Scott: I was actually trying to follow the character as portrayed on the cover art – with a little beefing up. Embarrassingly, as I was jumping between this project and back-ups on Strange Adventuresfeaturing Bizarro Superman, my version of the Shield became larger and larger! Joey was probably pulling out his hair when he saw the ever-ballooning musculature of the Shield over the course of 22 pages! Fortunately, inker Andy Owens came to the rescue, providing the requisite nip-and-tucks to slenderize my hybrid Bizarro-Shield!

1st: Although the Shield came before Captain America, most fans don’t know that. Aside from the costume, when drawing the Shield how are you going to differentiate the Shield from Captain America?

The Shield, page 10Scott: The plan was actually very simple. Visually, the Shield is a more realistically sized super-soldier, greater than human but not god-like in stature. Then that Bizarro guy showed up ….!

1st: What type of reference material do you get for the Shield stories?

Scott: Joey sent over cover images and interior art to the first three Red Circle issues, and I searched the web and my own personal library for all the military stuff.

1st: Since you aren’t following up with the Shield monthly series, what are you working on next?

Scott: I asked Joey if I could compete for the assignment of the Shield monthly, but he said another editor was taking on the monthly series and that the art assignment had already been determined. That was disappointing, as a Shield monthly looks to be a lot of fun, both as a character journey and as an artistic challenge!

But I certainly have my work cut out for me on my next assignment – the limited series for The Great Ten, the group of Chinese superheroes created by Morrison during 52. Talented writer Tony Bedard has written a great series’ proposal, and his debut issue of the series is very strong. I certainly have a daunting visual challenge ahead, but I’m confident that Andy and I are up to it!

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