As Newsarama readers know, Howard Porter just returned to drawing comics late last year after suffering a hand injury that threatened to end his career. Now he's launching a new Magog ongoing title in September with writer Keith Giffen, creating a whole new world of characters and villains.
"I got a call from Mike Carlin one day, and he asked if I would want to do a monthly book. Then he told me it was Magog, and I said, 'Who?'" Porter said with a laugh. "He said 'The guy from Kingdom Come!' and I said, 'The guy with the horns?' And he said, 'Yeah.' And when I said I didn't really know the character very well, I think he said something like, 'Not many people do.'"
But the editor sealed the deal as soon as he mentioned that Porter would be drawing the comic for Keith Giffen.
"I said without hesitating, 'Yes please!'" Porter said. "I can't believe I get to work with Keith Giffen. His scripts are just really engaging and fun and creative. And John Dell is inking me again, which is great."
It's a big change from where Porter was two years ago. While working on the Trials of Shazam in 2007, Porter accidentally cut his thumb on a shard of broken glass, severing the nerve and most of the tendon. After surgery and physical therapy, he still had no feeling on the inside of his thumb, forcing him to quit drawing.
Although Porter had established himself working on comics like Grant Morrison's JLA and Geoff Johns' The Flash, he had to looking for another way to make a living and became a school bus driver. But it didn't take long before Porter started carrying a sketchbook in his bus, trying to find a new way to hold a pencil so he could at least draw for fun.
"I started out drawing with the pencil between two of my fingers, but I hold it pretty much normal now," the artist said. "I still don't have feeling in my thumb, but now 'not having feeling' feels normal to me."
After working on his drawing for a few months, DC editors asked him to draw a few covers and eventually to work on the interiors of Titans, although he still continued to drive a bus in the afternoons.
"I'm doing really well," Porter said. "I'm working a lot, which makes me happy. I feel good about everything. Well, I never feel good about the end result of my drawing because I can't even look at them after it's done. I didn't look at one of my Titans books -- they're still in the boxes. I have a phobia of looking at my work after it's done because I'll pick it apart and probably never draw again! But yeah, I'm happy with what I'm producing and I'm really enjoying drawing again.
Although Porter is a few issues into penciling the series, he said he honestly doesn't know all there is to know about Magog because the mystical secrets behind his new identity are being revealed as the story goes along.
"Keith is defining him and his powers and everything about Magog's world as the story continues," he said. "We see little flashbacks of him being a soldier, so we're even filling in the blanks of his past as we go along."
The character's alliance with Hawkman in Justice Society of America should give readers a clue about Magog's more brutal approach to being a superhero. "I guess he's somehow a good guy, but he kind of does bad things as he carries out his job," Porter said with a laugh. "He's not very gentle in the way he does his good deeds."
As a result of the character's approach, Porter is using a little darker approach to the artwork as well.
"I'm trying to use more darks and shadows than I have in recent time," he said. "And I'm much more graphic, like a superhero/Vertigo book, to match the tone of the story.
"I'm thinking of Magog as a Gladiator in the arena," Porter said. "That's the body type and language I'm looking for when he is suited up -- a battle-worn gladiator unfazed by the horrors he witnesses. His face is scarred from a grenade accident, so half his face is scarred and he lost his eye, which is now a weird glowing thing. And when he's in action, he's like a one-man wrecking crew."
While readers find out more about Magog, they'll also find out more about what his costume and trident can do. "I think Keith is going to make it so the metal arm can do some surprising things," Porter said. "And we'll see why he wears all those little pouches and what kind of things his trident can do."
One of the things that was familiar to Porter was that Magog's costume is being incorporated into the story in a way where it comes out when needed.
"His costume comes out of something like how the Flash's costume comes out of his ring," Porter said. "Keith has come up with a way to make his costume appear like that, sort of. I got to draw that in the first issue. And I remember drawing that for Geoff when he brought back the Flash ring. It was a fanboy moment for me, getting to draw the Flash doing that. So being the first one to draw something sort of like that for Magog was pretty cool."
But despite all the bells and whistles on Magog's costume, the artist said he's been drawing the character more as David Reid than Magog in early issues.
"Keith is building a lot of new supporting characters," Porter said. "They are very interesting characters, as you can imagine. Keith has a real vision for them as personalities, but he didn't give a lot of details about how they should look, although I talked to him on the phone a little. So I just had fun with it. "
Designing new characters and building Magog's world is what makes this gig special, Porter said.
"That's my favorite part of drawing comics is designing characters and the scene and creating a world that you can immerse yourself into. There are new villains and new supporting characters. And there are three really fun characters that I wish I could talk more about, but you'll have to read the first issue to find out more," Porter said.
"Keith is creating Magog's whole world, and that includes a new set of dangers," he said. "Keith has told me where he's going with it, and it's just amazing. He wants to create new things and have some smaller, denser story arcs with good, solid stories. And getting to draw all these new things just makes me feel lucky to get to work on this comic and bring all these things to life."