#11 cover.Since relaunching with a new #1 last July, Captain America has seen an impressive list of artists join long-time series writer Ed Brubaker. The first five issues were illustrated by Civil War's Steve McNiven, with noted artist Alan Davis (Captain Britain, JLA: The Nail) drawing the current "Powerless" arc.
Veteran artist Patrick Zircher — who's illustrated New Warriors, Cable & Deadpool, Thunderbolts and much more in his career, including a recent stint on Hulk — comes aboard the book with May's issue #11 and a story called "Shock to the System," finding Cap investigating the murders of supervillains in witness protection.
Newsarama talked with Zircher — nicknamed "Patch" — on the upcoming arc, his favorite Captain America era, working with Brubaker and the value in keeping artistic projects diverse and varied. Courtesy of Marvel, we're presenting several black-and-white interior pages, illustrated by Zircher, from issue #11.Newsarama Patch, in the past year you've worked on Mystery Men, Hulk and now Captain America, all three of which are very different types of Marvel books. How important is it for you, as an artist, to change things up in terms of genre and tone?
Patrick Zircher: There's such a variety of characters in comics and I'm fond of so many that its difficult not to want a shot at a lot of them. As far as tone, each of those books has a tone that, hopefully, fits the project. For what it's worth, it's only a difference of degrees; Mystery Men was noir but noir seen through a superhero lens. Anyway, the variety has made the work challenging and involving, helped me grow.Nrama: When illustrating Captain America, is there a certain era or interpretation of the character from the past that strikes you as "definitive" — either from a visually influential aspect, or just one that you're especially fond of?
Zircher: Yes there is. This varies for every fan, but for me it begins with the issue of Tales of Suspense where Captain America first teams up with Nick Fury and goes on for about four or five years after that. Maybe from 1966 to '70 or '71. Vintage stuff, a stretch filled with spies, secret organizations, and classic Cap villains; drawn by some of the best Silver Age artists of the day.Nrama: You recently illustrated Captain America in the Point One issue of Secret Avengers, and will now be drawing him again at length on the solo title. How much of an attachment do you have to the character? And is the approach in drawing an icon like Captain America any different than with a relatively new character (like Red Hulk) or completely new ones (like the Mystery Men cast)?
Zircher: As a subject for drawing a superhero, Captain America is practically unparalleled. He's ideal both in design and body language. The stars and stripes motif is iconic at almost any angle and lighting. I'd love to spend three months on each book, I like him that much — but that's not a reasonable way to draw comics. What differs in the approach to illustrating various books comes from the difference in characters and working with different writers, reacting to each of their scripts.Nrama: Captain America is a versatile character, and it looks like this arc is embracing a little more of a spy-genre vibe, something Ed Brubaker is certainly known for. What's been fun for you in illustrating this story?
Zircher: Practically everything's been fun; I mean, drawing comics is hard work (don't laugh until you've tried it) — but there's work you enjoy and work you toil through. This is enjoyable work. My favorite Captain America stories are the ones in which the book combines the superhero and spy genres. I'm certain Ed's fond of the same era of Cap stories I am, it comes through in the stories. So even though the particular arc we're working on together involves characters from a later period, it's still filtered through a shared love of material.Captain America
#12 cover.Nrama: Speaking of Ed Brubaker, I know you worked with him years back on a Batman comic, but obviously a lot has changed and progressed in both of your careers since then — what's it been like collaborating with him on this story?
Zircher: Ed does his job and then I do mine. It's not a collaboration in the old Lee and Kirby sense. Usually that's irksome because I'm shut out of the 'big idea' part of the process — but Ed's scripts may be the most agreeable I've ever worked from; not just as a reader but as an artist. The beats, page turns, dialogue, panel count, you name it; everything works and works extraordinarily well. Every panel can be drawn and there's still balance, timing, and "breathable" space on the page. He's written a second Golden Age of Captain America stories and is deserving of praise.Captain America
#13 cover.Nrama: You're coming on board Captain America after an arc from Alan Davis and one by Steve McNiven. At first glance, I'd say all three of you are pretty different visually (which makes sense, as the three stories seem very different in terms of content), but do you see some degree of cohesion or similarity between the three of you, in terms of artistic style?
Zircher: It's great to be on a book with the level of talent this book has. Both McNiven's and Davis' art could charm birds out of the trees. As far as cohesion, again, it's a matter of degrees; each of us is an adventure artist with a regard for detail; each working under the same writer; each of us telling a separate story. The arcs bear our individual styles but, all in all, it's not incohesive. I'm glad Tom Brevoort, Lauren Sankovitch, and Ed brought me in. Even though I didn't realize it at the outset, this is exactly the Captain America story I'd hoped to draw someday.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!