WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO COMICS?
I’m Declan Shalvey, I draw Thunderbolts for Marvel Comics. I previously drew 28 Days Later for Boom Studios, some UK graphic novel adaptations and some of Freak Show, for Atomic Diner.
WHAT COMIC ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW?
More Thunderbolts for Marvel. Just getting started on the Point One issue.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
There’s three parts that are the most satisfying part for me. The first is breaking down the script into layouts. Just concentrating on storytelling and composition; it’s really creatively fulfilling. That’s where all the sparks of creativity and originality occur (if they occur at all).
The second best part is when it’s finished. When it’s all drawn, scanned, cleaned up and handed in. Knowing all that time and effort has produced a finished book is very satisfying.
Lastly the third best part is reading it. Reading a story you helped create. It’s great.
WHAT’S THE WORST PART OF MAKING COMICS?
Reference. Not really figure reference, but location reference. I bloody hate trawling the net for location reference, or trying to get information on a place you’ve never heard of. It’s like searching in the dark with no light to show the way. It’s a time-killer too. It’d be fine if I had all the time in the world (it’s always nice to learn new things too) but I got comics to draw!
HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER COMICS?
I remember reading Duck Tales and Asterix comics when I was a kid, but it was really the Batman, X-Men and Spider-man cartoons that really got me interested in comics. I searched out the comics after getting into those cartoons. I still have X-Men comics I drew before I’d ever read an X-Men comic.
WHO IS THE BIGGEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WORK?
Frank Miller and David Mazzucelli’s Batman: Year One had a HUGE effect on me. I loved the art of Jim Lee, Andy Kubert and Alan Davis as a kid but that Batman story, even though totally different from all the above, absolutely stayed with me. All the art I’m into now seems to have stemmed from that story. So these days, it’s guys like JP Leon, Jorge Zaffino, Goran Parlov, etc that really influence my work. I often look at their work for inspiration.
WHAT TOOLS OF THE TRADE DO YOU USE?
I use a normal HB pencil to rough out my pages and a technical pencil to sharpen them up. I use a Pentel Prush Pen for a lot of my brush work, along with bigger rough brushes for various effects. I also use old school dip-pens for a lot of my linework. I add halftone in Photoshop a lot too.
WHAT IS THE SINGLE WORK OF WHICH YOU ARE MOST PROUD?
Hmm. I’m quite proud of my run on 28 Days Later, but there were a couple of fill-ins and I’m a completist at heart so that sours it slightly. I guess Thunderbolts; Shadowland, my first Marvel work is what I’m proudest of. It’s a solid 2-part story where I really had to up my game. The Marvel work I’ve done since the Shadowland story is definitely better, but I haven’t had a proper run of a couple of issues. I was hoping my 3-part Fear Itself run of issues would top it, but I had to drop the final part of the story. It’s my goal to have a proper, substantial, self contained story all drawn by me someday in the future.
WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE RECEIVED?
Be nice to everyone. Comics is a small industry and you never know who the guy in the que behind you could end up being. Years ago at the Bristol comic con, I got talking to a nice guy who was doing a small black and white creator owned comic. His name was Kieron Gillen. He writes X-Men now. Just goes to show you.
WHAT IS THE WORST ADVICE YOU HAVE EVER RECEIVED?
Comics? What you *should* do is get a job teaching. Or in construction.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE CURRENT IRISH COMIC SCENE?
It’s great! It’s wonderful to see such a broad range of styles being generated from Ireland. The fact that there’s a group of Irish lads doing work for the bigger American companies, to the self publishing gang to the webcomic guys and the various festivals/conventions; there’s a nice range of Irish made material and events. With Ireland being so small, most of us all know each other too.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN IRISH COMICS IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
I’d obviously like to see more Irish guys do better at the bigger companies, but I’d also really like to see more quality Irish-generated works, like Bob Byrne’s Mister ‘Amperduke’ and Gerry Hunt’s ‘Blood Upon The Rose’. More examples of great original stories by Irish Creators. I was delighted when O’Brien’s Press published Gerry’s story and `I believe they have another graphic novel on the way. More of that please; it’s really encouraging that an Irish book publisher are getting involved in comics.
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN IN COMICS IN GENERAL IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
More original material. More genres outside of superheroes. That may sound hypocritical, since I’m drawing mainstream superheroes, but I hope to do creator owned material in the future that isn’t superheroes. Cheap digital comics would be swell too.
WHAT WAS THE LAST COMIC THAT MADE AN IMPACT ON YOU?
Funnily enough, it was two superhero books! Uncanny X-Force and Hulk. They are two books where the writing is fantastic and there is some absolutely brilliant art used to illustrate it. I get really annoyed having to pick between good story and good art. When I buy comics, I want BOTH. Otherwise, Rodd Racer by Toby Cypress. I got an advance copy from Cypress at the last New York Comic Con, but I know it’s being released from image soon, so I highly suggest everyone picks it up.
FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU COULD GIVE SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO START MAKING THEIR OWN COMICS? (And don’t say DON’T :) )
Just keep working at it. No one will ever read your work if you don’t actually finish it. People are afraid of failing but the one guaranteed way to fail is to quit.
ANY FINAL THOUGHTS?
I would hope so.
Declan Shalvey is an Irish comic book artist. He made his name with his first comic Hero Killers, that won an Eagle Award, before going on to work on a number of Irish comics, as well as getting work on American comic books, most notably Thunderbolts for Marvel Comics.