Jazma Online Interview January 2006
by Richard Vasseur

Why create a super hero alphabet book?

I was trying to think of a project to do outside of comic books, and I wanted to start doing some art for children's books. My wife Lucy came up with the idea of a superhero alphabet book. It seems like such an obvious idea, but it hasn't been done. It really appealed to me because there are very few superhero comics suitable for young kids, yet kids LOVE superheroes.

What age group is it intended for?

It's meant mainly for kids 4-7, but I wrote it on a couple levels so adults and comic book fans would enjoy it as well. Kids will like the funny heroes, and comic book fans will see all sorts of allusions to established superheroes. Parents will like the alliteration and enjoy reading it to their kids.

Is the book done to teach or entertain more?

Hopefully both equally, but I suppose if I had to choose, it's more entertaining than educational. My main goal was to make it fun.

Was it easy to create all the new super heroes for this book?

Some came very easily to me, like Bubble Man, but It was not easy at all for several of them. My wife was worried someone would beat me to it once my idea became publicized, but I wasn't worried. It took a lot of revisions and changes. I created not just 26, but 32 new heroes for the book. After decades of superhero comics, practically every decent obvious name and character has been copyrighted. I was trying to create silly heroes, not another Spider-Man or Superman, but even a lot of silly names have been taken. For example, I wanted to use The Silent Knight for the letter K, to teach how the k is often silent. It's perfect for an alphabet book, and kind of lame for a real comic book character, yet DC has a Silent Knight. I've worked for Marvel for 30 years and never knew they had an X-Men character named Multiple Man. I found him on the internet after I had finished the art for a multiplying character, so I had to rename my guy Multiplying Mike.

What character do you enjoy drawing the most?

Do you mean in my ABC book or in comic books? My favorite character to draw from my book is Volcano Man, or maybe Upside-Down Man. My favorite comic book character to draw is Spider-Man. I like his costume and the way he moves differently than most people.

Which super hero do you think you have drawn more than any other?

Well, I was the regular penciller on Action Comics for two years, so probably Superman. I also did several issues of Spider-Man in his various titles.

How did you come up with the idea of creating the New Mutants?

It was actually Chris who came up with the New Mutants. They brought me on board to visualize them, and I suggested having more girls than boys on the team. I did some preliminary character sketches, and Louise, Chris, and I decided on the final versions together. I never liked the name "The New Mutants", but none of us could think of anything better in the short time we had. Everything was done under a lot of deadline pressure.

Do you enjoy working for Egmont on the Phantom?

My editor at Egmont, Ulf Granberg, is terrific. I like the Phantom comic, and I like being able to ink my own pencils, but it takes over a month to get paid, so it's difficult financially.

Besides working on comics you also do commissions and teach a correspondence art course so you must be kept busy?

For the past two or three years, I've worked on the Phantom about 3 months on, 3 months off, doing commissions and various commercial jobs in between. I'm always very busy. I did about 60 commissions in 2005! I do the art lessons immediately when I get them, and spend about 2 days on each one, but I only do 2 or 3 a year usually. I don't really have time for the lessons, and I lose money doing them, but I enjoy teaching and helping artists improve.

Which one do you like doing best?

I love doing commissions because of the variety. I also like the idea of giving the fans exactly what they want.

Do you read any comics now?

No, I haven't read comics in years. I prefer to read magazines and books in the small amount of time I have for reading. I was never a big reader of comics, though. The only comic series I ever eagerly read was Marv Wolfman's Tomb of Dracula, and that was mostly due to Tom Palmer's beautiful inking. To me, comics were always mostly about the art. The comics I read as a kid were usually the funny ones: the Harvey line, the Disney comics, the Archie comics. I gave up reading comics to read Mad magazine when I was about 12. My original goal was to draw for Mad.

How can someone contact you?

The easiest way is simply to go to my web site (www.bobmcleod.com) and send me an email.

Any last words of advice?

Eat your vegetables and get plenty of sleep. :) My favorite quote: "Don't be so serious, life is too mysterious!" Artists should get a b.a. degree (no one ever regrets going to college, but they sure regret NOT going), and study hard to learn all the basic fundamentals: anatomy, perspective, design, composition, lighting and color theory. Don't be lazy! Goodbye and thanks!

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