Aaron Lopresti was just getting started as a comic book artist when he was hired by Malibu. Sludge was one of the quirkier titles in the Ultraverse, but his illustrations brought the character to life and made it one of my favorite books to read (Confession time: I met him at a convention in Tampa back in the early 1990s and he signed a few books and cards for me). He’s still working in the field; you can keep up with him on his web site.
How did you land the job drawing Sludge?
I was approached by Dave Olbrich and Tom Mason at Dragon Con waaaaay back in 1992. I had just started my career at Marvel and only had a few Spider-Man backup stories to my credit. Dave and Tom were very cryptic about their big plans for the next year but I told them to call me when things got going. Dave did call me and offered me a book in Malibu’s new Ultraverse line. They offered me Hardcase and almost double what I was making at Marvel (which wasn’t much), so I accepted.
Later that year, I was attending Fred Greenberg’s N.Y. Comic Con and met up with the rest of the Malibu crew. I got to look over all of the titles they were planning on releasing and when I saw Kevin Nowlan’s design for Sludge, I knew I had to do it. I dropped Hardcase and became the artist on Sludge.
Were there problems with drawing such an inhuman character?
Nothing! For me drawing monsters is easier than drawing people. With a monster you can mess with the anatomy and pretty much do what you want because there are no real guidelines. The trick to drawing a monster, whether it is Sludge or the Hulk, is to be able to make it look cool. It is harder for some than others. It just depends on what you like to draw.
Do you have a favorite memory from working on the Ultraverse books?
I have many great memories. It was a very fun experience all the way around. I enjoyed working with everyone on the staff and was made to feel very important to the process even though I was really just a novice. I am still friends with just about all of the editors and higher-up staff, so that says a lot about the working atmosphere at Malibu.
I got my first chance to write serious comics because of Steve Gerber’s tardiness with some scripts and I did my first professional looking comic art there. The big Malibu Ultraverse launch news conference was a pretty significant and memorable event. Also, going to all of the major conventions and hanging out with the crew. Good times.
Did you keep any cool collectibles from that time?
I have a bunch of Sludge No. 1’s with the limited edition silver ink logo. I also have copies of the promotional pamphlets and booklets that they produced. The big thing I wanted was a Sludge action figure. Unfortunately, they never got past the prototype (pardon the pun) stage. I got to see both the Sludge and Lord Pumpkin prototypes but because they were scheduled as the second wave of toys they were never produced before Malibu went under.
What are you up to these days?
I am writing and drawing a feature called Garbage Man for DC Comics that appears in the new Weird World mini-series and the upcoming My Greatest Adventure mini-series. It is very “Sludge-centric” so fans should check it out. I am also the regular penciler on the new Justice League International series for DC Comics which comes out in September.