Comic Book Biography: TOM RANEY

tom-raneyBe it outside the Marvel Universe with Mutant X or with DC Comics’Outsiders, Tom Raney has provided a unique look at super heroes. Tom who has just recovering from pneumonia took some time away from the Outsiders to chat with us a First Comics News…

First Comics News: The first place I know your work showed up was a page in Literacy Volunteers of Chicago, Word Warriors. There were some pretty impressive names associated with that project, Michael T. Gilbert, William Messner-Loebs, Mike Grell, Max Collins, Terry Beatty, Tim Truman, Trina Robbins, Mark Nelson, Mike Vosburg, Mark Hempel, Mark Wheatley, Mike Gold and others. As a newcomer, how did you get involved with this group?

Tom Raney: I was still a student at the Kubert School. Boy, this is a while ago. If I remember correctly, the Literacy Volunteers of Chicago were putting out this charity book, and needed a few pages done. They came to the school and asked for some help. It’s a good cause, and I was happy to lend a hand.

1st: Was this your first published work?

Tom: Yup!

1st: Two years later you are doing Vegas Knights for Pioneer Comics. How did you get involved with this project?

Tom: I had done a tiny bit of work for DC; thankfully it’s never seen the light of day. It was for Action Comics Weekly, and funny enough, it starred Speedy! I really did a horrible job, and they cut me. Richard Brunning brought me into his office and very nicely went over my work, telling me what I was doing wrong. Then he took me over to Dick Giordano who went over it again. After that Dick had me coming up every two weeks or so with new pages to go over. It was extraordinarily kind of him to do this for me and to this day I feel honored that he took the time for me. While all this was going on the guys over at Pioneer called up the Kubert school looking for artists for a line of new books they wanted to produce. I got the call, and went to work!

While I was working on Vegas Knights, a book with Universal style monsters living in Las Vegas as mobsters and fighting an Elvis look alike, I also worked on another book for them, called Cover Girl, a spy book with an international model as the main character. I produced 3 issues of each book for them. Thankfully, again, only the first issue of Vegas Knights came out.

1st: How did you end up back at DC?

Tom: After the whole Pioneer thing kind of imploded, I started looking around for something new. I don’t recall how we started talking about it, but Rags Morales put my name in when they needed some fill-in work on Forgotten Realms.

1st: At the same time you were working for Marvel, how did you break in to Marvel?

Tom: Susanne Gaffney, who worked with Bob Harras at the time, saw copies of my pencils sitting on a desk in the bullpen. A friend of mine worked there as a raider and wanted to do inking samples over them. Susanne liked what she saw and got my name and number. The next thing I knew I was working on the X-Men Annual for that year! TheDragonlance job also never came out, too bad, cause a lot of things came together for me then and that job looked much better than what I had been doing. It looked a whole lot nicer than the Annual too. Go figure.

1st: At this point were you able to support yourself solely as an artist?

Tom: Yup!

1st: You were one of the artists to join Image their first year, how did you get involved with Image?

Tom: I actually joined WildStorm, not Image directly. Jim Lee had seen my work and asked Joe Rosas, who worked with him at the time, and is still a good friend of mine, to get in touch with me. At the time I didn’t jump over because I was a little wary of the whole enterprise. About a year later, Bill Kaplan, who was editor in chief at the time, called with an offer of work. That summer I went out to visit for a month and loved the atmosphere. The next year I moved out to San Diego.

1st: What was it like working for Homage Studios?

Tom: It was great!! There was a lot of enthusiasm there! The offices were great, the other artists were inspiring and I had a view of the ocean right next to my desk!

1st: You started regularly working on StormWatch with issue 37, the issue that introduced the characters that later became the Authority. Do you consider yourself the co-creator of Authority?

Tom: Nah. I helped lay the groundwork. Warren and I really gelled, and I think broke a lot of new ground when we did StormWatch. It was HUGE fun!! But it was really Warren’s baby.

1st: How much input did you have in the creation of Jenny Sparks, Jack Hawksmoor, The Engineer, and The Doctor?

Tom: Just the visuals.

1st: What was it like working with Warren Ellis?

Tom: Great!! He’s just fantastic! A mad talent that I can’t wait to work with again.

1st: After 5 years you left for Marvel, why did you leave?

Tom: Micronauts. I got word that Marvel had required the rights to theMicronauts. It’s still one of my favorite books. That run that Bill Mantlo and Michael Golden did is amazing!! It’s one of the big reasons I’m drawing comics today!! The day I heard about it I placed a few calls and lined up a job that was supposed to be an Alpha Flight Annual that guest starred the Micronauts. It became the one with the Inhumans. Still a lot of fun, but not what I initially came over to do. At least I got to work with Joe Casey, who wrote a really cool script under some truly rough conditions.

1st: How much input did you have in the creative process on Mutant X?

Tom: A lot while creating the book, none once the actual writing began.

1st: What was it like creating your own alternate X-Men universe?

Tom: Started out fun…

1st: You were part of Marvel’s 9-11 Heroes project, how did it feel to be part of that?

Tom: Honored. I was glad that, in my small way, I could provide some form of aid.

1st: After 3 years working on the X-Men you moved over to Thor, is there a difference working on Marvel Universe characters as opposed to X-Men characters?

Tom: Yes. It’s less hectic, and not so under the microscope.

1st: Were you a fan of Thor?

Tom: Yup! Select eras though. I love the old Kirby stuff and the Simonson stuff, the Buscema issues were great and I loved Pollard’s run! I hope I’m remembering everything correctly; my books are buried right now, and can’t dig them out. I know I’m forgetting something.

1st: What was Dan Jurgens like to work with?

Tom: Dan was great! He’s a really nice guy with a huge imagination!! I’m really impressed with the direction he’s taking Thor. It’s a big risk that I think is paying off wonderfully!

1st: Is there any advantage working with a writer who is also an artist?

Tom: Maybe. But to me it just needs to be a good script.

1st: Why did you leave Marvel for DC?

Tom: It was time for a change mainly. Dan DiDio made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and my mortgage wouldn’t let me say no.

1st: The first issue and second issues of Outsiders have come out and both sold out, that must feel great?


1st: How did you get involved with the Outsiders?

Tom: Eddie offered it to me. When Dan brought me over there were several books available, plus the option to create something new.Outsiders appealed to me on several levels, it seemed like a natural choice, and I think it was the right one.

1st: How much input do you have on the Outsiders?

Tom: I designed the costumes/characters. Judd and I talk about story elements. There’s some good give and take.

1st: What is it like to work with Judd Winick?

Tom: He’s a blast!!! Right from the first call we got along great!! That’s soooooo important!! We’re both on the same wavelength with the direction for the book. The stuff we’re talking about that’s coming up later is just gonna blow people’s minds!!!

1st: I notice issue #4 and 5 have a guest artist, is this a rotation or just a fill-in?

Tom: Just a fill-in. I came down with a severe case of walking pneumonia right around the time that I accepted the Outsiders. In addition to losing time just from being run down, when I was diagnosed with it, my Doctor medicated me to such an extent that I was bedridden for a month. So basically, that’s where all our lead-time went. Rather than constantly fighting the deadline, the guys upstairs decided to bump me ahead a few issues. They love what I’m doing and don’t want me to rush. Now I’m on a much better deadline and don’t have to worry about my health again.

1st: What characters would you like to work on that you haven’t had the chance to yet?

Tom: Too many to list. But I guess the top ones would be Batman, the whole JLA, the Avengers, the FF, Etrigan, Swamp Thing, Spider-Man… I could go on all day…

1st: What else do you have coming up in the future?

Tom: Just OUTSIDERS!!! That’s more than enough!!

1st: Well, Tom, thank you for you time and I am glad you are feeling better. Good luck with the Outsiders.

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