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The past decade has been good one for Cully Hamner. His creator-owned miniseries Red has served as inspiration for two hit feature films, and he’s found himself in the upper echelon of DC Comics’ talent roster as a cover and interior artist, as well as a character designer for the publisher’s New 52. Now the Alabama-born artist, who recently turned 45, is working on an undisclosed “big” project for DC that will allow him to both draw and co-write, something he’s been wanting to do for years. While he has penned stories for anthologies and one-shots, this will mark his first time writing on a larger scale.
I’ve talked with Hamner for years by email and at conventions, discussing trends in comics, his own work and our shared interest in superhero costume design. After several months of back and forth, I finally caught up with him for this conversation.
One of the strongest voices in comics over the past 20 years has been Warren Ellis, a write whose impressive body of work ranges from Next Wave: Agents of H.A.T.E. and Transmetropolitan to Global Frequency and Planetary to Fell and FreakAngels. In 2012, however, that voice was largely absent from the medium. For the past few years, Ellis has split his time at his time between writing comics and, increasingly, prose novels such as 2008’s Crooked Little Vein and commentating on society and culture for magazines like Wired and Vice. On Tuesday, Ellis’ second prose novel Gun Machine was released by Mulholland Books, combining his fascination with the layered history of cities with crime noir. I reached out to Warren on Tuesday and we corresponded by email to discuss the future of his career, of comics, and his place in it all.
Awards | Stan Lee will receive the Producers Guild of America’s 2012 Vanguard Award recognizing achievement in new media and technology. “Stan Lee’s creative vision and imagination has produced some of the most beloved and visually stunning characters and adventures in history,” Producers Guild Awards co-chairs Paula Wagner and Michael Manheim said in a joint statement. “He not only has created content that will forever be in our culture but continues to make strides in the digital and new media realms, keeping the comic book industry fresh and exciting. Stan’s accomplishments truly encompass the spirit of the Vanguard Award and we are proud to honor him.” George Lucas and John Lasseter are among the award’s previous recipients. [press release]
In recent years, we’ve seen a boatload of comic books and graphic novels make their way to the silver screen, from “big two” stalwarts like Spider-Man and Batman to independent titles like Scott Pilgrim and 30 Days Of Night. Among the various adaptations, though, some creators have emerged as magnets for Hollywood types — and one writer in-particular has more to offer than anyone else: Warren Ellis.
Warren Ellis emerged in the late 1990s as the foremost sf writer working in comics. Starting with the seminal DC/Vertigo series Transmetropolitan and moving into his re-invention of the superhero genre with The Authority, Planetary and later Nextwave, Ellis became a rare thing — a successful writer in both the creator-owned field as well as the super-hero dominated work-for-hire mainstream. Along the way he became a prolific writer, with seemingly more graphic novels and trade paperbacks on shelves than any other comic creator. He’s produced more than 40 creator-owned series, with the recent film REDderived from the three-issue series he did with Cully Hamner. Ellis himself is no stranger to Hollywood — he’s worked on animated films for G.I. Joe, Castlevania and the upcoming anime based on Marvel’s Iron Man and Wolverine.
With such a broad and intelligent ouvre of work, Hollywood’s already lined up several more Ellis works they’d like to put on the big screen — but here are some ideas they may have not thought of (yet).
Cully Hamner is an artist who never disappoints me. So I was immensely pleased that he and I were able to finalize this email interview in the chaos of the holiday season just in time for our one-year anniversary at Robot 6. We start the interview discussing his current collaboration with Greg Rucka on The Question co-feature in Detective Comics. From there, due to the film that is currently in production and the trade paperback collection that was released in mid-2009, we discussed his 2003/2004 Homage/Wildstorm collaboration with writer Warren Ellis, RED. There’s so many projects I could have discussed with Hamner, but I’m grateful he was willing to discuss RED to the degree he did. Hamner is clearly an artist who looks forward, not back–which makes me appreciate his indulging my RED interest in this discussion.
Tim O’Shea: How hard is it to convey emotion with the Question, the face is taken out of the dynamics, but you do still give a hint of her facial dynamics in certain scenes?
Cully Hamner: It’s a matter of considering that, even though you see no specific facial features, the planes of the face are still there and will react to light and shadow. It’s not a total blank, you know, Renee’s real face is under there, along with a range of expressions. So, when I look at it like that, it becomes a much simpler thing than you might think. So, what I do is just go ahead and draw an outline of the modeling on the face, and Dave McCaig (and before him Laura Martin) colors over that, and then drops my linework into a color. It’s not a full range of emotion like a detailed face would have, but I’ve been able to get across a few things well enough. Seems to work.