Drawing the Gun: Rick Leonardi Talks Vigilante

Rick Leonardi Talks Vigilante

Vigilante #1, page 2

There's a new vigilante on the streets of America. The Vigilante.

This new Vigilante (nicknamed 'Vig' for short) made his mark in the Nightwing series some months ago, and now his creator Marv Wolfman is joining forces with artist Rick Leonardi on a brand new ongoing series. Last month we spoke with Wolfman, now we turn to Leonardi.

Rick Leonardi knows his way around a comic book. Best known for his work on Spider-Man 2099 and Cloak & Dagger, and he's co-credited with creating Spider-Man's black costume. In recent years he's been up and down the DC line, with work on Superman, Nightwing, JLA Classified and Batgirl.

Vigilante #1 is in stores December 24th with a bullet, and Leonardi's just turned in pencils to issue #2. That means he's got time to sit down to talk with us about the book before he jumps into issue #3.

Newsarama: It's great to be about to speak to you, Rick. Let's get right into it -- From the sounds of it, the new Vigilante series isn't a typical superhero series - very street-level, down and dirty. How would you describe the way you're drawing the series?

Rick Leonardi: Clearly a series like Vigilante will involve a lot of dimly lit, dramatically lit scenes; lots of black/white contrast stuff. This puts a ton of pressure on the inker to let the shadow masses define the scene, and back off a little on the fussier, more typical line approach. Fortunately, John Stanisci seems really comfortable working just this way...

NRAMA: The pages released so far back that up.

When you are drawing a western, you end up drawing a lot of horses and tumbleweed. For superheroes, it's a lot of explosions and flying. What would you say the trademark of the Vigilante book is?

RL: The trademark I'd like to develop over time with Vig would be this black-suited character prowling through an environment, a hunting ground, of shadow and light, his red V mask looming out of the dark just before he strikes. His world should be a place where occasional DC "capes" visit, but leave in a hurry.

NRAMA: This is your first time starting a new series in sometime, Rick. What goes into you choosing what you want to work on?

Vigilante #1, page 3

RL: The chance to launch a new(ish) character is always attractive, and Vigilante has at least two bonuses: Marv Wolfman, whose credits go back to Cretaceous times at least, and the DCU/Batman environment with all that wealth of guest and supporting characters.

NRAMA: Both you and Wolfman are comic book veterans, and I tracked it down and discovered that you worked together briefly on New Teen Titans #22 back in 1986. Do you remember the experience at all?

RL: If it's the project I'm thinking of, this was a Koriand'r/Komand'r story where Marv specified all double-wide spreads, with simultaneous narrative across the tops and the bottoms telling the story from the respective sisters' points of view. This was decades before Jack Bauer and 24. At the time I was convinced it would never work…

NRAMA: Do you read comics much on your own outside of work?

RL: Some. I'm picky. Anything by Mike Mignola, though- I'm on it.

Vigilante #1, page 4

NRAMA: That'd be another good team-up – Rick Leonardi and Mike Mignola.

Let's talk about how you work -- when you receive a script, how do you begin working on it?

RL: I start by giving it a couple close reads, looking for howling logic problems on the one hand, and the big payoff scene on the other.

NRAMA: Looking over your work, I'm enamored by the fluidity and organic movements of your drawings. What goes into your thought process when you putting action together?

RL: Fight scenes work better when the choreography takes place within, and makes use of, the setting. A fight on top of a train works a lot differently than a fight inside the cabin of a boat. There is also the character's style to consider. Batman in a fight is cold, methodical, pitiless; Nightwing fights with daring and wit; Vigilante is shaping up to be bruiser, taking punishment to dish it out.

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