For a company that was founded by one of the industry’s premiere artists Marc Silvestri, the quality of the artwork for any series with the publisher’s name attached is a key thing. And when the series is the pinnacle for years of background storytelling and the publisher’s key event for the year, that makes the choice of the right artist for Top Cow’s upcoming miniseries Artifacts even more imperative.
Earlier this month we spoke with the series’ writer Ron Marz, and now we turn to Michael Broussard, who will be illustrating the first four issues of Artifacts. Broussard is one of several artists who have made their name working at Top Cow; Broussard joined the company by way of winning their 2006 Talent Search and has most recently been the series artist for The Darkness. And now as he turns his attention to Artifacts, he’s getting the chance to draw virtually all of the publishers’ characters, and being the key artist for the company’s biggest book ever. For more, we talked with Broussard by phone about this project which debuts in late June.
Newsarama: You won Top Cow’s talent search in 2006 and now four years later you’re drawing Top Cow’s biggest event series ever. What’s that like for you, Michael?
Michael Broussard: Well, it was a little daunting at first – but now that I’ve started drawing the book I’m more comfortable. My first major solo comic was with Ron on Unholy Union, and that was pretty special being thrown on a big project right out of the gate. Now re-teaming with Ron and working on Artifacts, it feels like the first time. Each time I get on a new project, there’s always a time in which you feel like you’re trying to work the bugs out.
Nrama: Can you tell us about the early stages of a project like Artifacts? Do you just jump into the script on “Page One, Panel One” or do you do some preparatory work?
Broussard: there’s a lot of preparatory work going into the series, especially with the designs of certain characters. Nothing is ever final before the first page – Ron, Filip and I discuss the ideas pooling into the series and try to get on the same page before I start those pages. That preparatory work helps out a lot, and makes it easier for me when it is finally time to start drawing the pages. It’s hard for me to jump right into a script, so doing the preliminary work really gives me a chance to get my head wrapped up in the series.
Nrama: You’re coming onto Artifacts after a good run on The Darkness, whom you’ve been quoted numerous times as saying is your favorite character. I know Artifacts is a big book, but why’d you want to do it?
Broussard: For me it’s always a personal thing. The Darkness has always been my favorite Top Cow title – that’s why I originally submitted to them years ago. But in my last issues of The Darkness I could tell that I was wrapping things up, and I began thinking about what else I could do. With Artifacts, I get the opportunity to stretch and draw all of Top Cow’s characters while still getting to draw Jackie. I had a lot of favorites out there in the Top Cow universe, and I made those favorites known early on and thankfully we were able to incorporate them into the first arc.
Nrama: Coming onto Artifacts, this is a big deal for Top Cow – with a lot riding on it. I’m sure there are a lot more challenges that readers don’t see in working on a book like this – it’s like the Superbowl for Top Cow. How’s that “big game feel” been for you with this book?
Broussard It’s a bit daunting because this is Top Cow’s big event book for the year. I’ve never drawn this many characters in one issue before, so it’s taking some getting used to – but I’m up for the job. Every time I’ve started on a project, I’ve been lucky that it’s been bigger than the last. It’s a big event, and I’m okay with that. Its cool, because I get to draw the character I’m most familiar with – the Darkness – and then get to spread out with the other characters. Like I was saying, I was involved early on in this book – before there was a firm outline or script even – to talk about what the book should be, and who should be in it.
Nrama: I can sense some returning characters coming in – and Ron confirmed that for me with promises of appearances by Tom Judge and Aphrodite. Can you tell us about those characters you wanted into the mix?
Broussard: I definitely had my top 5 – The Darkness of course, along with Witchblade, Tom Judge, Aphrodite and Necromancer. I was also looking forward to drawing the Angelus, so having her as a part of the series is a plus too. And the minute they designed and created the Ember Stone and the Glacier Stone, being able to play with those just makes it better.
If you’ve seen the jam piece cover for #1 Top Cow just released, I staked out and drew a collection of my favorite characters; out of the 30 who are on there, I did about twelve – but some aren’t revealed yet.
Nrama: Of all the characters you’re drawing, which one stands out most as one you look forward to drawing?
Broussard: The easiest one would be Jackie, because I’ve drawn him a million times in The Darkness. The next easiest would be Witchblade, because the ornamentation of her suit is similar. Tied for third would be any other characters that don’t have intricate designs, such as Tom Judge and the Necromancer.
But really, since I had a lot of input of who was going to be in the first storyarc, I’m not dreading drawing any of the characters. I might not feel excited about doing so many sequential panels, but other than that I’m not really dreading it.
Nrama: The story of this series is about breaking open the secrets of Top Cow’s 13 Artifacts to the light of day. Challenging as it may be, it’s also an opportunity to make your mark on the universe in a big way.
Broussard: It’s good feeling to put my stamp on this, and that the artists who follow my four issues of Artifacts will be taking that baton. I’m shooting to do some really cool designs of old character, and make them loveable in terms of their design and easy for everybody to follow.
Nrama: Another unique facet of this is that this is your second partnership with writer Ron Marz, who wrote your first solo comic years ago -- Unholy Union.Before I let you get back to those pages, I have to ask: what’s it like to get back with him for your biggest project to date?
Broussard: That’s what I’ve been looking forward to most. He always challenge me with what he puts in the scripts – back in Unholy Union he threw in all these Marvel and Top Cow characters early on that I had to wrap my head around, and a similar thing is happening with Artifacts. I work best when I’m tested to my limits – I love it when that happens. It may make those days I’m working on a particularly difficult page more challenging, but it also makes me a better artist.