Artist Chris Samnee Bites Into ANGEL & FAITH

Chris Samnee Bites Into ANGEL & FAITH

Dark Horse’s Angel & Faith have shown the fireworks that can be had from an unexpected team-up, and in May’s Angel & Faith #10 we can look forward to the same thing on the creative side. For this special one-off story, series writer Christos Gage welcomes his Area 10 collaborator Chris Samnee to draw a story of the titular duo coming to help some old friends of Giles from his Ripper days.

For Samnee it’s a chance to finally step into the Buffy-verse, a world he’s grown to love as a fan for years. Although he’s worked twice in the Whedon-verse on Serenity, his busy schedule hasn’t given him the opportunity to touch down on this world of vampires and the supernatural. But despite his busy schedule balancing issues of Marvel’s Daredevil and IDW’s Rocketeer, Samnee carved out time to do this special issue for a chance to re-team with Christos, a chance to draw the Buffy-verse, and the chance to work with a new colorist for the first time. Newsarama talked with Samnee about all those subjects in a rollicking phone interview while Samnee worked at the drawing board.

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Newsarama: You’re everywhere this year, Chris. We spoke with you earlier this month about your new Rocketeer series at IDW and you’re also doing Marvel’s Daredevil. What brought you over to Dark Horse to do this one-off issue of Angel & Faith?

Chris Samnee: Well, I’ve been talking to editor Scott Allie for going on about eight years now. I met him at a convention way back when, trying to get work from him back when I was begging for work. We struck up a friendship and I did some work for him like Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale in 2010 and then a short story in USA Today with the Serenity crew. Since then we’ve been trying to find something else for me to do there, and this opportunity jumped out at us. It seemed right, and it was also a good chance to work with my Area 10 buddy Christos Gage. In addition to all of that, I’m a big fan of the Buffy-verse and the Angel & Faith series as been great so far.

Nrama: Speaking of that Area 10 connection with Christos, what’s it like to be doing this – and be doing it with someone you’ve already done so many comics pages with before?

Samnee: It’s great. There’s already a sort of shorthand between us that makes things easier. I don’t think we even talked on the phone before I started working on Angel & Faith; we have our own language, and I was able to jump right back into it seamlessly. Another added thing is Christos tends to have a smaller number of panels per page, which lets me stretch my legs and do bigger things with my art. I think Christos is going for big action moments in this issue, and I hadn’t had the chance to do that much recently. It’s fun to break out of the routine that I had gotten into of doing a lot of period pieces with talking heads.

Christos is an amazing writer, and if you’ve been following Avengers Academy or Angel & Faith you can vouch for it yourself. There’s been a lot of writers in the Buffy-verse, but Christos really gets the characters’ voices just right. It’s my job to try to live up to that with my art. It’s a far cry from Area 10, and I’d like to thing we’ve both grown since then… but Christos is putting me to shame. He’s really grown by leaps and bounds.

Nrama: Although this is your first time in the Buffy-verse, it’s not your first time in the worlds created by Joss Whedon as we mentioned your Serenity comics. How would you describe your level of understanding for Buffy and the gang?

Samnee: Good. I didn’t really watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer when it first came out, but my wife got me into it years later. I got caught up around when the third season of Angel was airing, and have been glued to it ever since. When I got to see season one of Angel I told my wife, “oh my god… he’s Batman!” From episode one I’ve always been a bigger fan of Angel stuff than Buffy. It’s really grown on me, and I love it.

Nrama: Can you tell us anything about the issue you’re working on, Angel & Faith #10?

Samnee: It’s featuring two characters coming back from Giles’ past. They were going to be on the Ripper television series when Joss was working on that, but now they’re coming here. He gave the okay to use those characters in this arc, and it really grows on a lot of the mythology Joss planned from way back when. We have the connections between these two and boatloads of demons. It’s great to be able to draw a ton of crazy monsters, which is a far cry from what I’ve been used to. It really feels like an episode of Angel we’re doing here, but with an unlimited budget! 

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Nrama: We’ve seen you change-up your style to fit each book you work on, from Captain America & Bucky to things like Ultimate Comics Spider-Man and Thor, The Mighty Avenger: how do you do it, and what did you note about Angel & Faith that is going to help you find your way on this issue?

Samnee: Well, I feel a lot of that is tied to the colorist. There’s been a different colorist on each title I’ve worked on, and how they approach it affects how people receive it. With Justin Ponsor, for example, he brings a much more modeled coloring style with lots of highlights and smoothness. Whereas Bettie Breitweiser has smooth, cut edges with a lot of period colors.

I don’t know that I switch up styles too much, but I do try to get a tone across unique to each book. When I’m trying to interpret the script I might do some things lighter or darker. It’s not conscious decision, but somewhere in the back of my mind I’m making little decisions with each line that add up to a different tone. Captain America & Bucky turned out darker than what I expected, but still in a period piece kind of vibe. Thor, The Mighty Avenger felt like a lighter book. Angel & Faith has a lot of black. The lighting on the Angel show was pretty low-key, and I’ve been trying to match a little of that to get that look here in the comic. Also, a lot of it takes place at night with demons, so I couldn’t do the Thor, The Mighty Avenger bright skies sort of approach.

Nrama: Speaking of colorists, who’ll be doing your colors here?

Samnee: Jordie Bellaire, who I’m a big fan of. I’ve been trying to find something to work with her on, and this is it. Both our schedules have been busy, but this one works for both and I’m really excited to work with someone new that I’m a fan of! 

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