Interview with Paul Gulacy
Paul Gulacy - for many collectors all it takes is for that name to appear on a book and it's a sale. Since 1973, Gulacy has been a force in the comic book industry, working on more than two dozen regular titles and contributing to scores more. Cinematic styling, lush backgrounds, graceful characters, powerful, soulful men and beautiful, dangerous women - these are his hallmarks. Gulacy's returning to a Marvel title that began as an attempt to cash in on the kung fu craze of the '70s and turned it into a comic book phenomena under his pen - Master of Kung Fu! Mile High Comics caught up with the artist as he was still forming his ideas for bringing Shang Chi back with the help of his long-time collaborator, writer Doug Moench.
Mile High: How does it feel to be returning to Master of Kung Fu (coming soon from Marvel's MAX line of comics)?
Paul Gulacy: It's really great, the response has been overwhelming. I respond every day via e-mail to folks around the globe who got wind of it. It's long overdue and Doug and I are on the launch pad. We have Jimmy Palmiotti on the inks and we're set to go. We just pray that Ron Perelman [one time Marvel Entertainment majority owner] isn't back in charge by the time we get rolling.
Is the new Comics Code-less Marvel going to allow you more artistic freedom to explore Shang-Chi, the character, his conflicts and his supporting cast?
Obviously, we'll be able to pull some things off that would have been forbidden in the past.
Can you give us an idea of how the character may have changed since you last drew him on a regular basis? Do you still see him the same as he was in 1975?
There is an established passing of time. We'll leave it up to the readers to figure just how much time, but it does take place in the present. I'll adjust the way everyone looks to that. The biggest problem is Shang Chi -- I gotta work on that. I'm open to suggestions. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You were reunited with writer Doug Moench recently on Green Lantern Dragon Lord. How did that come about? How is it working with him again?
It's like working a relative. Dragon Lord was set in ancient china but my original proposal was to make the feature character a gladiator which I always wanted to do a story on way before the film. I got over-ruled. [Editor Andy] Helfer set the whole thing up. We just completed a lodk [Legends of the Dark Knight] series that he edited and he threw the Green Lantern job on us before we hit the door. There was a scheduling problem and that series was very rushed--it could have been better.
Your approach seems more cinematic in that its story-telling capability than other artists. When approaching a scene, how do you ensure the story flows well from panel to panel?
It comes out of total chaos. The trick is to pull it down and grasp it before it eludes you. I always worked on the principal of what some call the "first flash". You read the script and instinctively play what comes to mind initially. I don't labor over how I play a scene. Sometimes I will pull away and the ideas may strike me in the shower or when I hear a particular song in my car or whatever. Tomorrow's idea may come today if I know the script. I really don't know where the ideas bounce in from.
Your backgrounds, buildings and vistas are very stunning. Did you study architectural drawing or painting landscapes?
I've had architectural drawing assignments in art school long ago and I have only painted one landscape. My plan is to do that when I'm some old codger someday-- sitting at an easel painting the ocean. Right now it's broads and shoot-outs for the time being. And that's fine with me.
You've drawn so many of the comic world's best-known characters. Is there any character you haven't had the chance to draw that you'd like to take on?
Your fantastic artwork is available for sale on www.gulacy.com. Is there a piece there that you're especially proud of?
I like the painting called "Siege". The woman on the horse.
What has your favorite title to work on over the years? Why?
Batman, because he's the greatest of them all. James Bond was also a real pleasure to work on. An honor. Two great fiction characters of the last century.
Is there a particular writer you enjoy working with? Why?
Certainly not Moench, he's an idiot. If you all only knew the half of it. Just kidding. Doug is the easiest to work with and he's also challenging. We play off one another well. Many times it's been by circumstance that we were teamed up on things. Our goal first and foremost was to always deliver a good story to the readers. Everything else was secondary, including the art.
What advice can you give aspiring comic book artists?
Don't follow the status quo. Refrain from trends. Surround yourself with the best art and strive to reach those heights. Keep an extensive reference file in your studio. Study the human figure and learn true anatomy. Study people and their behaviors. Study film. Use a camera and a model when you're stumped. Try to do a drawing of something every day. Walk away from the board when you need to walk away. Ask questions.
And thank Bob Gough--my new friend. Been a pleasure.
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