Ferguson’s 7 Questions With… DECLAN SHALVEY

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For the latest edition, we have one of my favourite artists whose work I have followed from his early days working on Atomic Diner’s FREAKSHOW, his work with Andy Winter on HERO KILLERS and TIM SKINNER: TOTAL SCUMBAG, 28 DAYS LATER for Boom through to his current work for Marvel on DEADPOOL and lots in between. Declan Shalvey takes time out from his busy schedule to answer my 7 questions.

What was the first comic work you did that was published?

A one shot called HERO KILLERS with UK writer Andy Winter. He told me that if I drew his script, he promised to publish it. He was as good as his word. I was very lucky that my first comic was a standalone, 30 page story.

What is the biggest thing you have learned since that book?

Wow; I don’t know how to answer that. I’ve learned SO much since then. I guess how to be professional is one, but taking the time to hone my craft; to think about drawing and storytelling instead of just doodling amateurishly… that’s probably the one thing l learned more than anything else.

What’s your process for drawing a comic book?

Generally, when I get a script I break it down into thumbnails. I’ll spend a couple of days playing with the storytelling and gathering reference, then collect and scan them so I have all my layouts collected as one image, then maybe rework things if I feel the need. After that, I light-box the layouts onto my art-board in order to keep the composition of the page as close to the layout as possible. I’ll then draw and ink all my panel borders, and start pencilling. I usually pencil in batches of 10, then ink them using various tools like ink, brush, quill, etc. Once I’m happy with them, I fix any mistakes, scan them, then prep them. Then I send them off to the publisher. If Jordie [Bellaire] is colouring the story, I’ll generally go through the pages with her and answer any questions she has or make suggestions if I have something in particular in mind for a certain scene, etc.

What is the biggest influence on your work?

I find more and more that various types of storytelling inspires and influences me. Shows like The Wire, Six Feet Under, Deadwood etc have had a really big influence on my storytelling approaches and the types of stories I’m interested in. I recently watched Shane Carouth’s ‘Upstream Colour’ and that’s had my brain reeling ever since. Other recent movies like ‘Take Shelter’ and ‘The Place Beyond the Pines’ continue to inspire the types of stories I’d like to tell and to make me want to create. A lot of music does the same too Mogwai, El Ten Eleven, Sonic Youth, etc. From a purely artistic point of view, my biggest influences would be David Mazzuchelli, Goran Parlov, JP Leon. A lot of various Fine Art influences too; I got really into Egon Schiele when I was in art college.

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m wrapping up my second issue of DEADPOOL, preparing and researching a short story for the American Vampire anthology written by one of my favourite writers, so I’m quite excited about that. I’m also working on my last VENOM cover, DEADPOOL covers, ROBOCOP cover for the new Boom series, and I just started as cover artist for a new as-yet unannounced Superhero miniseries for DC Comics [JUST ANNOUNCED]. I just did a poster for a short film too; that was fun.

What do you out now or coming out next?

Both AMERICAN VAMPIRE and DEADPOOL are out in October. My various covers are coming out regularly; I actually can’t keep track!

What is your favourite Irish comic?

It’s been out a few years, but Mr. AMPERDUKE is still my favourite Irish comic. The STRAY LINES graphic novel anthology is a close second. I’ve had the pleasure of reading HALF PAST DANGER before most and I’m really enjoying it right now; it’s definitely in my top three of Irish comic. If I could make it a list of four, I’d put HITMAN in there too.

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