As an old-school fan of Uncanny X-Men who stopped reading in the late ’90s and only recently returned to the fold, I was truly excited about the chance to interview artist Terry Dodson, who has been penciling the series while his wife, Rachel Dodson, handles the inks.
If you’re not familiar with Dodson’s work, you’ve been missing out. His bold-yet-classic style is dynamic, lush, and frankly a pleasure to look at. He’s worked for many different publishers and titles–notably Ghost for Dark Horse, Uncanny X-Men for Marvel, and Wonder Woman for DC–and I personally hope to see some cool creator-owned material from him in the near future. To learn more about that, read on:
TFAW.com: So, you started drawing some of the X-Men more than a decade ago with the Storm miniseries. How does it feel to be back?
Terry Dodson: Like I never left. I do, however, know I’m a much better artist now, and I have one of the best inkers in comics inking the work, so visually it’s much stronger work.
TFAW.com: What are some of the differences in the way you interpret the characters now?
TD: In that time period there have been a number of changes, from the three X-Men movies and also the Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon runs on X-Men, so those are all things that are in the back of my head that hadn’t existed before.
TFAW.com: With the Utopia story arc, a lot of the X-Men are experiencing major upheavals–especially Emma and Scott–and it’s showing in their costumes, etc. What was your process for coming up with any design changes?
TD: Pretty simple–I head to the sketchbook and start breaking down my initial ideas. I then send to Marvel for feedback and then revise appropriately. Marvel wanted the characters “consumer friendly,” so I ended up reining in some of my initial ideas and ended up going for a little more generic superhero look for them.
TFAW.com: The Dark X-Men arc has introduced a lot of characters who aren’t usually in the X-Men family: were there any you were particularly excited to draw? Anyone you were dreading?
TD: I put in my vote for Cloak and Dagger, as I read about them as a kid and never had a chance to draw them professionally, which turned out to be a pretty rewarding experience. Dreading: Harry Osborne’s Iron Patriot costume!
TFAW.com: Do you have a favorite X-Man to draw?
TFAW.com: If you could radically change the look of any of the characters, who would it be, what would you do, and why?
TD: I would like to do something different with Emma–draw her with a white version of her black Dark X-Men costume. I think Dazzler could use some more tweaks. Gambit is probably ready for an update and Psylocke, as well! I’m perpetually tweaking the costumes on the characters–usually very minor things, but always trying to improve or understand them better.
TFAW.com: What’s your work relationship with Matt Fraction like?
TD: Good–he’s writing some fun and easy-to-draw comics, which makes my job a lot easier. He already has the first two years of the book planned out, but he’s open to ideas and very easy to work with.
TFAW.com: Can you give us a hint of what’s to come with Uncanny X-Men? Are there any pages/issues you’re particularly excited about?
TD: I will be working on the middle of the Nation X arc, issues #518 and #519–where we find out more about that Void Sliver that Emma receives at the end of the Utopia arc, plus more Magneto.
TFAW.com: You’ve been sharing art duties on Uncanny with Greg Land, alternating story lines. How do you like it so far?
TD: Great–I took the job because it was planned to have alternating artists, and it allowed me time to do my best work and still have time to do other projects, and work outside of comics.
TFAW.com: Growing up, what were your inspirations?
TD: Frank Frazetta, Maxfield Parrish, Michael Golden, Arthur Adams, John Byrne, Star Wars–that the biggie, probably
TFAW.com: Your wife, Rachel Dodson, really brings your artwork to life with her inks. What’s it like working so closely with an inker?
TD: The next best thing to inking the book myself–Rachel is one of the best inkers in comics, so it really makes my job a lot easier.
TFAW.com: I feel like the way you draw women is a really cool balance of portraying feminine, strong women who are gorgeous without being overly cheesecake (not that there’s anything wrong with cheesecake). Is this a conscious choice?
TD: Oh yeah, it’s a constant process of drawing strong yet beautiful and appealing characters without going to an extreme. I love ’40s-’50s pinup art, and I think there are hints of it in my artwork, but with most of the storytelling-related work, I really try to get rid of it and use it when only when necessary, so as not to distract from the story.
TFAW.com: In that vein, you’ve drawn a lot of strong female characters, including Wonder Woman. What are your thoughts on her?
TD: WW just felt like a character that I was born to draw–I never really read the book itself. I always enjoyed the character in other books–I really loved what Alex Ross did with her in Kingdom Come and Darwyn Cooke in New Frontier, plus the amazing run of Brian Bolland and Adam Hughes covers for the monthly.
TFAW.com: What’s your dream project? Are there characters or genres you’re hoping to work with?
TD: More creator-owned work at this point, as I’ve pretty well drawn all the mainstream characters that I’ve wanted to. I’ve had my first book published with a European publisher, Les Humanoides Associes, and that experience really opened the door of possibilities.
TFAW.com: What else do you have coming up?
TD: In addition to my regular rotating arcs on Uncanny, I’ve just done a cover for an upcoming What if Spider-Man story, plus I will be doing more works for European publishers, with announcements on those soon. For updates, my website and blog is www.terrydodsonart.com.
TFAW.com: Thanks again, Terry!
While you’re here, make sure to check out our Terry Dodson collection, especially the upcoming Dark Avengers Uncanny X-Men Utopia Premium HC. What’s your favorite example of Dodson’s work? What do you wish he would do next? Comment below!