Darick Robertson is the artist and co-creator of Transmetropolitan and The Boys.
The Boys Vol. 2: Get Some
Written by Garth Ennis
Illustrated by Darick Robertson
Colors by Tony Avina
Cover Price: $19.99; Available Now
One reason and one reason only was the reason (!?) why I approached a certain comic book artist to interview. One word: Transmetropolitan.
Of course I have plenty of classic comics, in fact, I have a collection of over 300 old school comics. But they lie dormant and gathering a mound of dust at the foot of and under the bed (I do vacuum!). Graphic novels for the discerning age are the coffee table books for everyone to see. If you have a coffee table, make sure it’s higher than the average toddler heightâ€¦you do not really want to warp their minds at such a young age…buy shelves.
The 60-issue miniseries collected as a 10-issue trade paperback was one of my greatest personal finds ever. As per usual, I was a little bit too late to get into the comic from the start, but I did the requisite collector thing and got the graphic novels. I could then therefore catch up on what I had sorely missed. I also made damn sure that I had collected all the 60 back issues possible.
What a task. With comic store owners telling me it wasn’t worth it, and many a repeated issue bought without realizing, I tried. So I bled my local town store dry, then the store in the next town over. And then the city of Manchester where the TPBs materialized. Finally my mission took me to eBay. For obvious reasons as many a Geek will know, eBay proved to be the last bastion where I would finally (possibly) complete my collection. It took me til Jan 2007 to finally complete it. And that was with issue 59! Issue one had proved difficult to track down, but not impossible. 2007. That’s five years after the series ended! And surprisingly cheaply as well!
And so while reading Wizard magazine I happened upon The Boys. And so the search started again. Went to Forbidden Planet and found the first TPB [volume one] sold out. Went to Waterstones (twice) and found it hidden on the shelves. Volume Two, surprise, surprise, was in my local bookstoreâ€¦the last place I expect to find it.
Dynamite Entertainment may have single-handedly reignited my lust for comics. Yes, I’ve become increasingly and exceedingly picky. For a while I was reading and collecting Hellboy, but that fizzled out. But The Boys may have restarted that.
A series that will forseeably get to 60 issues, and with other plans in the works of this project going further, I personally recommend you searching this one out. The comic is based on the premise of a team of suped-up Black Ops on a mission to keep the superheroes of the ‘real’ world in check. Read the original Geeks of Doom review of TPB Volume one here: Comic Review: The Boys TPB, Vol. 1.
Volume 2 begins with the traditional story arc phase that is common in most comics these days with a limited run. But that is the best aspect of it, and this will hopefully lead to many a spin off and origin stories in the futureâ€¦
What is especially interesting about the start of this graphic is the parody of a certain well known Dark Bat-Like character and his crisis of conscience involving him and other superheroes. And when I say ‘crisis of conscience’ we are not talking the typical comic book ‘evil-twin’ ideal. And when I say ‘crisis of conscience’ we are not talking ‘switching sides’ or ‘losing powers’â€¦
It is no surprise that it was Darick Robertson‘s art that attracted my attention. Darick seems perfectly suited for comic book art that is not of the norm (my favourite type) and yet like I described in a previous article of mine (Lowbrow Study: Coop Inter-Re-View) it is the minimalist approach that wins it.
They will inevitably be fans of the ‘walnuts wrestling in a wetsuit’ look of Rob Liefeld proportions that exploded in the 1990s, and then in turn became a clichÃ© unto its self, but Darick, I believe, goes against that by producing work that is real, the proportions make sense, the colours (credit due to the inkers and colorists also), and the detail much more classic. But with this comes the horror. Seeing aesthetically pleasing artwork is made all the more shocking when you consider the consequences of the superheroes on humankind. The character ‘Wee Hughie’s’ motivation for joining The Boys is rapid when his one and only true love is torn from his armsâ€¦and her own.
I really can’t go into any further details about the current TPB because I don’t want to ruin it for youâ€¦the TPB buying public (Hint), I know I want to. But I tell you nowâ€¦there’s a whole lot more in store for The Boys, especially with issue 19 due in May we’ve got a long way to go yet. However, without asking some rather obvious questions (I hope) I pestered the very artist of The Boys himself, Darick Robertson. Enjoy.
Geeks of Doom: Please enlighten us to your fascination with drawing Bulldogs…
DR: You may actually want to ask Ennis and Ellis what their fascination with Bulldogs are.
Ennis specifically wanted Terror to resemble Stompanato though. He likes the way I draw bulldogs I s’pose.
GoD: Your future-scapes that appeared in Transmetropolitan were vivid and unnerving, how easy was it to create such futurist concepts?
DR: I loved it and I was free to let my imagination run wild. I had the good fortune of moving to Italy and traveling around Europe the first year I was working on Transmet. Then in the latter years living in San Francisco and then New York for the finale, so I was immersed in all these different city cultures and it definitely impacted the way I designed those backgrounds.
As things progressed Ellis was less detailed about what he wanted to see and gave me more room to be creative by just stating things like “Spider walks down a street in the porn district.”
Geoff Darrow’s amazing covers and work on Hard Boiled, and Otomo’s AKIRA really influenced me as well.
GoD: You also seem to draw quite graphic imagery. Why?
DR: Because that’s what the story’s about! I draw what the story calls for in tone and approach, and try to match the writer’s intention with fitting graphics, whatever the story is about.
GoD: How difficult is it to translate a script?
DR: As long as it’s written in English or very simple Italian, I do OK. I tend to think and see and recall everything visually. I’m not good about numbers and dates, but I have a great memory for trivia. I pull memories out seeing the images and that hold information for me, such as a band or a movie. I’ll recall and face and what they were wearing and that will tell me the year and title. So when I read, I see the movie in my head immediately.
GoD: What pointers do you get?
DR: From Ennis I get requests to reign in or push harder the expressions and most of the time, to make more room for the dialogue.
GoD: Is there something about comics that makes you emotive, that inspires such swipes at heroes [in reference to the Butcher and his disdain]?
DR: No, that really falls on my co-creator’s attitudes about mainstream super-heroes. I have two little sons who are in the throes of loving the same heroes I grew up with and I still love those characters.
Ennis has a different take on American mainstream characters as he didn’t grow up with them, so his sentimentality lies else where with Bean-O and 2000 A.D. characters, and war comics from his childhood.
The appeal for me in The Boys is that I have an axe to grind with folks that pretend to be something they’re not. Just because you put on Superman’s costume, doesn’t mean that you’re Superman. In our story, character counts and PR Firms and corporations hide the truth about the symbols that dominate the American Zeitgeist.
I also love drawing super heroes in a realistic way, and I love to design characters. So I really get the best of both worlds with The Boys. When I created Space Beaver in 1985, the original impulse was to have a laugh at the idea of these cute little animal characters, really gritty and serious, shooting each other and blood and guts spewing out of them. I found that hilarious. I loved the contrast.
GoD: Has the move from Wildstorm to Dynamite Entertainment given you more artist freedom?
DR: Yes, but in many ways we’re just moving forward with the story we were going to do anyway. We didn’t amp it up or anything, we just don’t worry about someone coming in after the fact and insisting on changing our work. Dynamite’s publisher, and my old friend, Nick Barrucci came to us as a fan of the comic already and just assured us that we’d have a home to do whatever we thought was best with our comic (as long as it didn’t devolve into some hate speech filled tirade or anything) and he’s been true to his word.
GoD: I’ve heard that The Boys has been optioned in Hollywood, care to share any secrets?
DR: You know as much as I do at this point. It’s been optioned by Columbia Pictures, they’re talking to writers. I’ve heard that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were in advanced talks to write the screenplay and as a fan of theirs, I was pretty chuffed (that’s a word I learned from Simon Pegg).
But at this stage all I know is that it’s being developed as an ‘A’ list project and that’s exciting. If it actually gets made, I’ll really be excited. But Ennis has the right idea about these things and I’m following his lead when he says “Keep the focus on the quality of the comic and not on Hollywood. That way lies madness.”
GoD: Thanks for your time, I know you are very, very busy!
DR: My pleasure, Sam.