Mar 22 2015
Top Cow’s POSTAL writer Bryan Edward Hill interviewed Jamal Igle for BlackComicsMonth. The two discuss Molly Danger, being “typecast” as only drawing black characters, Terminator: Enemy of My Enemy and his ritual. Jamal Igle is the artist of several DC Comics ranging from Supergirl, Firestorm, Green Lantern, to Marvel Comics series Iron Fist and Wolverine, Marvel Age Spider-Man, to Daredevil. In June be on the lookout for Jamal Igle’s Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #11.
Jamal, you’re one of the people that showed me I didn’t have to just read comics, I could create them as well, so this is a real honor for me. – BH
Bryan Edward Hill: I like exploring the early motivations of storytellers, and you wanted to be a comic book storyteller from an early age. What about comics was so compelling for you as an artist? Why this medium?
Jamal Igle: For me, I think my first attraction was as a young budding artist. Comics, at the time seemed to be a medium of unlimited potential, even more so than film. Now film technology has caught up to what we seem to be able to create via comics. Still, it was the combination of my love of super heroes like Superman and Spider-man (who I saw on television before I even knew what a comic book was) and my love of the visual diversity of art in general and the visceral connection of reaching a large audience in print. I still, after all these years get excited when I see my work on the stands and my name in print.
BEH: You also worked at Sony Animation, on some great projects like MAX STEEL. How did animation inform your comic book work?
JI: Sony was a great experience for me. I like to think of it as storytelling boot camp. I spent months at Sony working on CGI shows that didn’t require me to draw on model, so all I was doing was learning how to do was storyboard. My comics experience helped a lot but I learned much more about character direction, playing for the camera, etc.
BEH: Your work spans genres from the NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS to NIGHTWING. Do you think there’s a strong difference in approach between doing something grounded and historical and working on something that’s core genre?
JI: Well, I always try to cater my work to the project, but I feel like I’ve developed a look to my work that would allow me to straddle various genres. I tend to focus on overall composition, the settings, accuracy, if it’s a historical piece. I tend to bury myself in all the necessary reference because, as I’ve had this happened, someone always has something to say if you get something wrong, lol.
BEH: Professional storytellers always have their rituals. Can you share what your creative work day is like? What is your preparation? How do you maintain your focus?
JI: My day is usually split between my art and my duties as Action Lab Entertainment’s Vice President of Marketing. My way of focusing on the day of late, starts with daily exercise early in the morning followed by a 5 mile run. The rest of the day really varies on what needs to be done at the moment.
BEH: When you’re working on established characters, you’re doing double-duty, creating new details and continuing tradition. How do you approach working on a character that’s existed for so many years? What do you think you specifically bring to the characters you write and illustrate?
JI: It really depends on what I’m asked to do with the character. If someone wants me to make wholesale changes then everything is up for grabs. Most of the time I try to keep in mind that what we’re doing with a lot of these characters is brand management. You’re maintaining the integrity of the brand and I think I try to be a bit reverential in that case.
BEH: Okay, let’s talk TERMINATOR: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY. I’ll admit, I’m suffering a little bit of TERMINATOR fatigue, with the recent films seeming so far from the soul of what James Cameron initially created, but TERMINATOR: ENEMY OF MY ENEMY is excellent. It’s an organic evolution of Cameron’s work. Can you take us through how you and Dan (Jolley) decided to approach this story?
JI: I wanted to do an old School Terminator story. Having the story set in the original timeline helped and one of the things, again going back to my process, was immersing myself in the 1980’s. I have hundreds of images from the 1980’s on my computer now, lol. The other was really setting up the lead, Farrow Greene, a a different type of heroine. It would be easy to cast a Linda Hamilton type, via Terminator 2, but Dan built a back story for Farrow that was much different than Sarah. In all of the fight scenes, I wanted to show Farrow as not only being tough, but more graceful than her adversary. You’ll see her doing flips, mixing in elements of Kung-Fu and WuShu in her moves. I know she’s a character Dan wants to revisit at some point.
BEH: Do you have a moment you’ve drawn or written (or both) that you’re most proud of? If so, can you tell us why that moment represents you so well?
JI: It all comes down to Molly Danger in that case. nothing satisfies me creatively as working on my girl. It’s the culmination of everything that I have learned from people like Mark Waid, Jay Faerber, Sterling Gates, Geoff Johns, Stuart Moore and every other writer I’ve had the pleasure of working with over my career.
BEH: MOLLY DANGER, your creation, is great on so many levels. It’s a positive portrayal of a young, female protagonist. Popular culture needs more of that. Someone with your veteran career and flawless reputation could have gone to a number of companies and received funding. On the KICKSTARTER you talked about your desire to do it in a “European style.” Is that why you wanted to crowdsource MOLLY DANGER, to have that complete creative control?
JI: Absolutely, I also knew that if I had pitched it to Image or Dark Horse, they would want to do a monthly, more traditional looking version. That was never the intention of the story. At some point we’ll reprint the books in a traditional format and we have something coming down the pipe where you’ll see Molly in a more traditional comic setting and format.
BEH: How has being a black creator affected your work and your professional life?
JI: There were definitely a few roadblocks over the years. I’ve never really been a go-along-to-get-along type of guy, and I think that if I looked like John Cassaday, I wouldn’t have been as dismissed as I was. There’s always been, for some people, the need to cast me in the role of the guy who only draws black characters instead of a guy who can draw anything. At the same time, I think that there is a need in some corners to cast me as the voice of every black comic book creator, when that’s not my role either. I can only speak for myself. My experience isn’t universal, but if you can find similarities between who I am and where I came from as yourself, that’s great too.
Bryan Edward Hill: If you could go back in time and speak to yourself, when you first started telling stories, what would you say?
Jamal Igle: You will be proven right, stick to your guns; it will take you even further than you ever imagined.