A 30-year veteran of comic artistry and prolific for his sharp edges and meticulous detail. Arthur “Art” Adams is one of the most popular comic artist today. Making his mark with Longshot #1, Arthur was responsible for some of Marvel’s greatest covers; including all 5 issues of X-Men’s “Battle Of The Atom” arc which celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the legendary superhero team – he even bagged an Eisner in 1988 for Gumby Summer Fun Special. In town for STGCC 2017, Kenny sat down with Arthur for a quick interview.
You’re prolific for your tight pencil work and meticulous detail, and you are actually an inspiration to many contemporary comic artists like Olivier Coipel so my question is this… who or what actually inspired Arthur Adams?
AA: Wait… Olivier?! Really, no that can’t be true. He so good though. He probably just wants to have a smooth head like mine[laugh]. Well, I was a fan of many artists like so many people are. When I was early in my career I wish I could draw like Frank Frazetta so I tried and tried and tried but I could never draw as well as Frank. And then I discovered people like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Walter Simonson and felt that that was more in the range of what I could do especially Kirby because during the mid-sixties he would draw humans in sections, so an arm, a body and a head – kinda like in pieces. While Frazetta was very fluid – he drew human figures as one very fluid shape but Kirby was chunkier so I could imitate that very easily…well I thought anyway. So those were my early influences but the people who really got me excited about drawing comics were Michael Golden whose work made me go “I gotta draw comics” and before him, I love movies like King Kong and Godzilla so I thought I would do VFX for movies – either design VFX or sculpt monsters to be animated into films. But I saw Michael Golden and that got me really excited in drawing comics, I was already familiar with the works of Walter Simonson and Barry Smith so those two others are very big influences as well.
You once mentioned in an interview that you worked at a “slow” pace but you always seem to hit your deadlines, what is your secret sauce?
AA: Well…Fear, Fear is good. I think I missed one or two deadlines pretty badly but for the most part I get right to the edge. So, there’s two things, I found out that if I turn in work later, they don’t ask me to change things. I know some artist who are really punctual, they get their work done early but they were always asked to make changes which can be very difficult because you want to move on to the next job – you don’t actually get paid much to change things or sometimes they don’t even pay you at all because it’s part of the contract you signed when you took the job. But when I turn in jobs close to right when they are ready to send to the printer, they don’t have time to ask for changes. So they usually they go out ok. And then I don’t want anyone to lose their investment because it cost a lot to publish comics and there’s a lot of people working on them as well. I would say that I’m not very good with deadlines but I’m not the worst.
You’ve seen the transition of geek culture from an alternative movement into the mainstream, the mean girls who used to make fun of you for liking comics are now wearing Captain America shirts, how do you feel about this transition?
AA: Everyone still makes fun of me…It’s okay, I’m used to it by now. I think mostly it’s the people who are really buying comics because comics don’t sell like they used to even though people say they are very popular. When I started drawing comics, the initial orders for Longshot #1 were 120,000 copies and Marvel thought about cancelling it because that was very low for orders. If I were doing a book now that sold 120,000 copies I’d be considered a superstar because comparatively, comics back in the past would sell like a million copies on average. So I think a lot of the people enjoying the movies and buying the toys are the same people who couldn’t afford comics during their youth. So they have money now, they are not buying the Sideshow toys and watching the latest Marvel/DC movies in IMAX for over 20 dollars per ticket. So I think it’s about those people getting older and I hope some people who enjoyed the movies will check out the comic books.
And for the record, I like Mean Girls.
I pose this question to all artists I interview, how do you overcome creative block?
AA: I have a mortgage, because whether I’m having difficulty or not working the bank still wants their money. It’s just a part of being a professional artist because sometimes when you don’t have any ideas, you either steal somebody’s idea or you steal your own idea from another time. Also, when I’m doing covers, I’ll usually do several sketches so even if I have a block on the first couple, I may just look at a couple of other comics for inspiration and maybe do something that’s similar… at least in the sketch and it’ll naturally evolve into something totally different by the time it’s done. But so much of geek culture consumption is based on nostalgia so often when I work on my covers, I’ll look at covers I loved as a kid because I have that sense of nostalgia about comics as well. So if I can do something that has a flavour of the things I liked in the past – I could try and incorporate that. I really do rely on other’s past work when I’m having difficulty.
Photos by Alex Tan
By Chen KangYi
© POPCullture Online 2017