Drawing the 'Devil: Ross & Salazar on Death Defying Devil

Joe Casey on the Death Defying Devil

As we’ve reported, this December, Dynamite Entertainment continues the Project Superpowers expansion with the debut of The Death Defying ‘Devil #1 by Alex Ross, Joe Casey and Edgar Salazar. The series spins out of the events in the first Project Superpowers series, which saw the ‘Devil return to the present day after being imprisoned in a magical urn for decades.

The story by Ross, Casey and Salazar will stand on its own, and will also serve as a bridge to the next Project Superpowers series. In it, according to Dynamite:

The mysterious 'Devil is put on the case to track down the terrorist organization known as "The Claw". Travelling with the equally mysterious Justine, The 'Devil is also shadowed by a new hero that very well may hold the answers to the 'Devil's strange existence, and new clues to the nature of the Urn which imprisoned all of our heroes!

As we reported earlier today, in addition to covers by Ross, John Cassaday and Salazar, John Romita Sr. will provide a limited Chase Cover for the first issue.

We spent some time with Superpowers mastermind Ross, and Salazar to get behind the silent man behind the mask…

Newsarama: Alex, looking at the Death Defying 'Devil's outfit - you've left it basically unchanged from the original version. From a design point of view, is this a case of simple=good?

Alex Ross: Yes. [Laughs]

Historically thinking, and even with some thoughts about illustration today, the 'Devil's suit is basically an unencumbered leotard.

NRAMA: Is that, or was that a speed thing? I mean, originally the ‘Devil's costume put almost all the onus on the colorist...but for today, with leaving it be, it needed was today's technology to bring it to life in colors, in reproduction it seems...

AR: Right, I mean there's a lot of things you see in modern film where a character is brought to life through means of modern design aesthetics… colors, textures… In the case of a character like ‘Devil. the only thing I wanted to try, and this is something I didn't get a chance to do with a lot of other costumes I've played with, is treating it like a high-gloss surface, that is perfectly adhered to the human form picking up on, you know, very sensitive little muscle arrangements in the body, which again, I tried not embracing in the first part of my career -- showing in a way, what the simplicity that the cloth and fabric will allow for in the human figure. But in the case of ‘Devil, I wanted to fully embrace this more movie level kind of presentation of a body suit and that is, in my hands, how I use the paint brush and how I highlight those areas and subtle gradations and the highlights -- and of course the same thing is done with the computer coloring.

NRAMA: You kept the spiked belt. There's a lot to be said that the outfit informs who the hero is...but what does the belt say in a contextual sense when it comes to the ‘Devil? Besides that using an exercise ball for ab work is out?

AR: It probably reminds one that this is a figure for confrontation, you know, that as this figure of the forties, over his long period he was a gentle figure, given that he hung around with this young boy team [the Wise Guys] for a lot of his later period. In a case of having such a thing in his design, it's aggressive and shows that in close quarters with a villain he's likely to gut ya. You know there's some of that violence that was embraced and encased in the Golden Age material that we forget was there, you know? There were characters that killed villains, it wasn't unheard of, it's just that we know more of the creative histories of the characters that have thrived consistently for the decades since. So I don't know of a single case where Daredevil himself did that, but in our case of the use of the spiked belt, I imagine we're going to put it to use more than a few times.

NRAMA: Likewise, you kept the boomerangs...

AR: Well, the nice thing about the boomerangs in a way is that they are an element that is a fairly gentle weapon. It is something Batman has used for years in the form of Batarangs and generally the Batarangs, outside of Frank Miller's use of them, has been an offensive weapon of a largely peaceful nature, but knocks an opponent unconscious when it hits them in the head or it grabs something that you need from somewhere else, it knocks some other thing. It's much like Captain America's shield, it’s on that same level as that, as opposed to a sword or a gun. But because of the shape and the metallic finish of the boomerangs, which the metallic finish for all I know may be more my part of interpreting that aspect of it, is his showing that there is an offensive quality to it as well, that could be using it on the sharp side of it both of which will be embraced in our use of it.

NRAMA: The design for the dragon on the cover of #1 - blue and green, rather than an opposite red and blue. Obviously, you can't say too much about him, but why that scheme?

AR: Well, it was such a fun idea, the idea which should have been something in the back of my mind for so long with these characters is developing new villains to take them on, of which the Dragon is the first -- a new villain that we are concocting with links and ties to the Golden Age. It's not something I want to repeat ad nauseam as if, there's a character called the White Terror, but showing the kind of dramatic opposite, the sort of bizarro-esque version of a hero which is the same thing of what Venom is to Spider-Man, god it's such a standard thing within comics and in film as well, the heroes the opposite to the other, you know the Iron Monger to Iron Man or the Abomination to The Hulk and on and on and on, and in the case of the purple and green colors, it's obviously embracing the opposites, the colors that we often see in superhero costumes the red and blue being somehow always opposed by purple and green like it was for Lex Luthor, the Green Goblin, the Lizard, you know and on and on and on. Rarely does it wind up those colors are used for the heroes, like the Hulk used for the heroes instead of the villain.

NRAMA: Edgar, what got you on to this series in the first place? What was the appeal for you?

Edgar Salazar: Well the series were offered to me by Nick [Barrucci] and Joe [Rybandt] and I immediately said yes! There were too many thing good about it, one of them was to be able to work on a project with Alex Ross who I admire and respect a lot -- for me he is the only artist I know that truly can show us how superheroes would look in real life more than any Hollywood version can. And to have Joe Casey, that is such an experimental writer is just great. And with all the boom that has been Project Superpowers, it would definitely appeal to any artist to be part of a "new" universe in the middle of an expansion, with lots of possibilities and directions it could take.

NRAMA: Did you know about the original version of the character, and who the 'Devil was?

ES: To be honest, not, until I saw the illustrations of Alex Ross, but certainly was the one who drove more my attention along with the Black Terror, both look great, also visually had a very strong attitude that for me is very important on a character. After that I made a little research on the web, on Dynamite forums (those guys really know their stuff) and got a chance to read a couple of stories so I could get a little more in touch with him and other characters'.

NRAMA: Gut level - what's your take on his costume? Does it make it easier to draw the character? Harder?

ES: Well he has a simple type of costume and I really like that, so I won't spend lot of time on drawing other types of details (like the ones on Justine’s uniform), maybe the only "challenging" thing is to give 2 senses of light (red and black) with the pencil as I didn’t use grayscale, I could just manage the same way both sides and leave that work to the colorist, but to tell the truth, I don't like to do that, but maybe I'll try it in some of the future issue just to see how it works, also drawing those eyes sometimes are kind of tricky to do as I usually draw those type of big eyes on mask characters and The ‘Devil looks like he doesn’t have one… so I've got to fit him, I usually think how Norm Breyfogle used to draw Batman's eyes, but trying to do it in a more realistic approach.

NRAMA: How do you approach the 'Devil in your mind, before you draw him? What do you try to bring to him in terms of inspiration or physical models?

ES: For me The ‘Devil is kind of easy to draw as a figure, as he has a always a nice flow of movement, he is strong, athletic but very natural on how he moves, I got my lesson on drawing from books by Burne Hogarth, so that helps me a lot. For me it’s trying to make him look like he’s risking his life in every jump he does, maybe even he just go to get a glass of water and he should look like he is jumping and "defying death" [laughs]

NRAMA: What's it like working with Joe Casey on this series? Is he keeping you on your toes?

ES: He is such a great writer, writing a principal character that doesn't talk -- it's got to be really , really hard, and he just does that and more, he gave an action packed, fun and coherent story, and in the artist view he also manage to do a very coherent description of what he wants which make my life much easier, of course there was some hard to do shots but man, those were really well planned, I hope that I had been close to make justice to it.

NRAMA: You're exclusive to Dynamite - what led you to that decision, to sign on with them?

ES: Well I had been working with them for the last couple of years, and they are great to work with so it looks like the obvious step, also they have a good line of characters that I like: Red Sonja, Army of Darkness… not to mention the possibility in the future to do crossovers with other companies and characters that I like. I already did one with The Darkness vs. Eva crossover which it was great to work, also because of the great talents as [writers] Leah Moore, John Reppion and [colorist] Romulo Fajardo.

NRAMA: Are you looking at moving from project to project at Dynamite, or are you looking to make your mark on 'Devil?

ES: I had been moving from project to project at Dynamite, so it would be nice to focus on one project for awhile so it would be really nice to leave a mark on ‘Devil, but for now, I guess I got to work as hard as I can to make this series the best I can and learn a lot in the process and hopefully make something that the readers like.

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