After 25 years as a professional comic book artist, Dale Eaglesham is finally getting to draw two of his favorite Marvel characters together in one epic story.
Beginning with Incredible Hulks #623 on Feb. 23, Eaglesham will begin a three-issue story with writer Greg Pak that features both Ka-Zar and Hulk — two characters the artist specifically requested to draw. As Eaglesham described it, the chance to draw a grand adventure story with these two characters is "pure Paleolithic poetry" (for a first look at Incredible Hulks #623, click here).
This is just the latest dream project Eaglesham has gotten in the two years since he became a Marvel exclusive artist, as he's worked on comics like Steve Rogers: Super Soldier and Fantastic Four. Before that, the artist worked for DC on series like Justice Society of America and Villains United.
In the first installment of a two-part interview, Newsarama talked with the artist about the upcoming arc on Incredible Hulks.
Newsarama: Dale, as your work on the Hulk is about to come out — was drawing Hulk and Ka-Zar something you specifically asked to do at Marvel?
Eaglesham: Actually, yeah. When Marvel asked me to put together a wish list, both those characters were on there. The cool thing is that I’ve gotten to do several of the items that were on my list – getting to work with my buddy Steve Wacker when I first came to Marvel, then working with Tom Brevoort on my childhood dream book, Fantastic Four, then getting to work with Ed Brubaker, whom I’d admired for many years, and then doing an FF story with Stan Lee with another old editor buddy, Justin Gabrie. It’s been quite a ride. Hulk was also on my list, and so was Ka-Zar. I really wanted to work with Ka-Zar and mentioned that early on, so I guess when they decided to launch that book and first introduce it in Incredible Hulks, they thought of me. Nrama: What are you trying to bring to the book? Have you tweaked your style to bring about a certain vibe for the book?
Eaglesham: I always adapt my approach for each project. For this arc, I really want to take readers on a journey to a lost land, so I wanted to recall the works of Williamson, Raymond and Frazetta and their amazing talent for depicting strange and primitive new places. Because of certain creepy aspects of the story, I wanted to throw a pinch of Wrightson in there as well. I have long craved adventure material, the “lost lands” type of material that Edgar Rice Burroughs and Jules Verne were so adept at. Sadly, this type of adventure material is a rarity in comics today.
Nrama: How has it been working with writer Greg Pak on Hulk?
Eaglesham: Really, really great. We’d never worked together before, and it’s been such a treat. He understands comics, writes them really well, and can delineate a personality from just a line or two of dialogue. He’s a real team player and wanted to know right from the get-go what I enjoyed drawing. We’re planning to work together again in the near future.
Nrama: What approach are you taking to Hulk? And how does the story play into how you're drawing him?
Eaglesham: I think everyone knows I like to draw explosive musculature, so for once, I can give that free reign!! Seriously, it’s not even work drawing Hulk. It comes so naturally; it’s just a blast. What also comes naturally is seeing a hero given to brute force in such a primitive environment. Pure Paleolithic poetry.
Nrama: You're getting to draw Ka-Zar, Lord of the Hidden Jungle. What are your thoughts behind this character, and how are you approaching drawing him in this story?
Eaglesham: Jungle characters are the best. I love drawing him, just like I loved drawing Catman on Villains United. No spandex, no shiny armor… just raw energy. I love it. I won’t get to explore him much, sadly, because I’m halfway through my third and last issue at the moment, and the story is more about something that happens to Hulk in the Savage Land. But maybe I’ll get another opportunity to draw him one day. I hope the fans enjoy the arc, ‘cause I sure enjoyed drawing it!
Nrama: We've seen a few art previews with some other characters. Can you highlight the characters you're getting to draw and what your thoughts are behind how you're drawing them?
Eaglesham: Really, a three-issue arc isn’t enough to get to know them. To me, right now they’re still just big green muscular characters. Except for the red ones. The red ones aren’t green. But they are big. But seriously, the Hulk and the Warbound (Skaar, Korg, Elloe and Brood) make for a real odd collection of characters — and that is right down my alley.
Nrama: Drawing action in the Savage Land must provide you the opportunity to draw some pretty crazy stuff. Anything you can tell us about what we might see from you?
Eaglesham: I had lots of fun drawing the jungle scenes. I rarely get to draw that kind of scenery, and I love it. There are also lots of really gross bugs in there. You should see some of the ref[erences] Greg [Pak] sent me for this arc, not to mention some of the images I found during my own research for it. Insane stuff. You’d think they were science fiction, but no, they’re very real and they live right here on earth! I kept grossing everyone out by giving them what they asked for — giant things with lots of legs, proboscises and the lack of human eyes. There was one giant insect in particular that we named Kleek.
Oh, and there are dinosaurs, and those were always my favorite toys as a kid. I still have a few of my plastic dinosaurs from 40-odd years ago.
Nrama: When you were doing FF, they shot your pencils without ink. Why did that change? And did that contribute to the fact that you were only on the book for seven issues?
Eaglesham: Actually, everything I’ve done at Marvel so far, except for this Hulk arc, has been shot from the pencils. I managed to draw 14 issues in about 20 months with that system, even though it takes almost 50 percent more time to draw each page. While I loved the control and freedom that gave me, it was utterly exhausting. Meanwhile, the schedule moves merrily along and leaves you behind. So, yes, that was a big reason for being on FF for only seven issues. I drew those seven issues in nine months, with almost no lead-time, doing the work of two people – the penciller and the inker. Doing those issues in that time frame meant working 14-hour days, often seven days a week.
Nrama: Who's your inking/coloring team now? How is that collaboration working for you?
Eaglesham: I love my team right now. I think it may very well be the best team I’ve ever had. My inker is the amazing Drew Hennessy, who inked my Sigil work at CrossGen way-back-when. He’s one of my favorite inkers in the biz. And my colorist is Dean White, and man, has he ever been a revelation. He’s amazing. I wish I could keep him with me for my next project, but he’s already overbooked, so no-can-do.
Check back with Newsarama later this week when we talk to Eaglesham about what's next on his Marvel agenda as we also look back at his 25 years in the comic book business.