DC's new Sinestro title will not only deal with the wielders of fear, but according to series artist Dale Eaglesham, it might instill some fear in readers too.
Eaglesham, who's working with writer Cullen Bunn on Sinestro, described the new title as "much darker territory" than he's ever explored before. While Bunn told Newsarama that the April-launching title has a "space epic/intrigue/horror vibe," Eaglesham is hoping the visuals will be downright "scary."
DC fans will remember Eaglesham's work for the publisher during the late '90s and early 2000's, including the high-profile re-launch of Justice Society of America with Geoff Johns in 2006. But Eaglesham became a Marvel exclusive artist in 2009, and worked more recently on series like Fantastic Four, Steve Rogers: Super Soldier and Incredible Hulks.
But the artist returned to DC last year, most notably working on September's one-shot issue Green Lantern #23.4: Sinestro (where most of the art in this interview is from).
Newsarama talked to Eaglesham to find out more about his approach to Sinestro.
Newsarama: Dale, we should have known that, after working on September's one-shot Sinestro book, you'd want more. What appealed to you about working on a Lantern title, and with Sinesto in particular?
Dale Eaglesham: In Sinestro, I'll have the opportunity to wade into much darker territory than I ever have before, even crossing into the horror genre. I absolutely love the comic book horror genre but I have rarely had the opportunity to experience it professionally. I am really looking forward to crafting scary imagery, whether it's monsters, killers or giving the imagery the feeling of a serial killer crime scene. There's a killer on every corner and there's only one guy truly at home in that environment and that's Sinestro.
Nrama: That sounds like a little different from what we've seen from you in the past. In what ways is this new title a challenge for you?
Eaglesham: After two decades of wholesome heroes, I have to switch off those visual instincts that have been guiding my postures and expressions. I struggled with my early pages of Sinestro, because the drawings were reflecting the wrong vibe, the strong noble poses or poise and courage in the face of danger. This title requires a sense of coiled ferocity, of safety mechanisms turned off. Sinestro will be a huge challenge in presenting those qualities and yet still be the almost mythical leader, pulling the sword out of the stone.
Nrama: In what ways do you think it harkens back to your work on other projects?
Eaglesham: I've worked with villains and antiheroes before, such as the team from Villains United, Conan, Batman, the Punisher, the Hulk and flirted with horror on Dial H for HERO, when a serial killer got his hands on the dial.
My very first Green Lantern story was issue #136 that featured Alexander Nero, a psychopathic science cell escapee with a yellow ring that created page after page of crazy monsters. I was like a kid in a candy store that issue. That will pale in comparison to what Sinestro is going to do.
Nrama: Wow, when you say it's dark, you must not be kidding.
Eaglesham: It's going to be a very dark journey. We aren't kidding around with this.
Nrama: I remember that back when you were doing Fantastic Four a few years ago, Marvel was touting the way you were working without an inker. Are you still working that way, on Sinestro?
Eaglesham: I'm continuing to work without an inker, and there has been one additional change since returning to DC: I am digitally inking the work myself. I've tried the paler "penciled look," and while it was artistically satisfying, I simply wanted more punch. When shooting from the pencils, the job of cleaning up the pages, a substantial task, as I found out, fell to the colorists. They were losing a lot of actual coloring time performing this clean-up task.
The subsequent enhancing of the pencil art the way I wanted it was also difficult, in that the line gradient is inevitably uneven and there is no time to go in and adjust all of this stuff individually. You end up with lines disappearing, faded black areas, etc. Not only that — pencil lines are easily buried in the modern, saturated approach to color.
I ultimately decided to ink digitally. A friend of mine, Bruce Toombs, showed me a different Photoshop approach to darkening the lines — add to that the ability to do additional drawing digitally, and you have the current formula.
Nrama: For DC fans who might not have seen your work at Marvel or some of the single issues you've done since returning to DC, how would you describe the evolution of your work since you last worked regularly on a DC monthly book?
Eaglesham: If you look at JSA as my last work before I left, the enhanced pencils, which are now digitally inked pencils, is the biggest change. I always had an inker back then. At Marvel, I handled a wide variety of subjects and just continued to round out my skills and evolved my approaches to lighting and figure movement. One of the bigger changes was the use of more creative panel arrangements and framing devices. I tend to choose them based upon the page content and the goal is to heighten the feel of the material but not distract from it. I never make stuff fancy for sake of doing it because I don't see the point of that.
Nrama: As you're doing these digital inks, is there a certain color palette or look you're hoping to achieve, communicating with the colorist on Sinestro?
Eaglesham: When I was going with enhanced pencils, which is much lighter and more vulnerable to being washed out by heavy color, I kept pushing for a lighter and lighter palate, and begging for some white to be used. Turns out that blue is the new white, so that never worked out. With digitally inked art, the line art can take a heavier load.
As to a look, well that will unfold as we go. I always wait for the book to speak to me, tell me where it needs to go, and I haven't gotten that calling yet.
Nrama: You've been acclaimed as an artist for your portrayal of characters and their body language, but you mentioned earlier that this is a darker book, and you're having to think about a different approach to the characters. As you're working on Sinestro, what are the most important things about his character that you're trying to bring out in the art?
Eaglesham: I'm in the process of deconstructing the approach I have used my entire career. In Sinestro, we have a unique challenge in that he is extremely dangerous and yet there is an Arthurian quality to him. Do not be fooled by that calm exterior. The man is a coiled black adder and he will ruthlessly get what he wants. Communicating that will involve his watchfulness, those baleful yellow irises boring into you, thinking three moves ahead of you, seeing right through you. What's emerging is a coiling of sorts, up in his shoulders, neck, upper back and shoulder blades. We have a slender, poised body but those shoulders are oddly hunched up a tad, showing us a hint of tension and power.
Nrama: Any other characters that stand out as figures you either enjoy drawing or are finding a particular challenge?
Eaglesham: Well, all of them actually. They are all twisted in a way, and I find that incredibly fun to work with.
Nrama: Are you providing a new take on the setting of the comic?
Eaglesham: It won't be a new take — just pushing the limits as much as I can. I am not shooting for any zany horror stuff; I'm shooting for art that is as scary as I can make it. I anticipate that things will get darker than I am used to, even uglier. I don't even know exactly what will happen at this point.
The art tends to evolve over the first couple of issues and I'm still feeling out the material.
Nrama: I assume that will also come as you get used to Cullen Bunn's scripts. How's it been working with Cullen?
Eaglesham: I read Cullen's pitch for the series and he struck all the same notes I would have. Cullen is going to take this book and throw it into the dark side of things. Who knows what will grow out of that?
He understands the monsters within, so I eagerly anticipate him getting into Sinestro's head and showing us depths we haven't seen before. I see so much potential spilling out from his take on this. I'm glad the stars aligned and dropped me on the Sinestro doorstep just at the right time.