Category Archives: UV Creators

UV Creators: Norm Breyfogle

If you want a good place to start reading the Ultraverse, there’s no better jumping-on point than the first year of Prime. Norm Breyfogle’s art was a huge part of what made those books great, with dynamic action and interesting layouts. I don’t think there were any better comics being done at that time.

He’s also pretty well known for his work with Batman. You can keep up with him and check out his art on his web site.

How did you land the job as the artist on Prime?

The truest answer for that is that I drew Batman first (lol). It was most certainly my high recognition factor after drawing Batman for about 6 years which made Malibu Comics want me as their big name artist on what ended up becoming, more or less, their flagship title.

Of course, I was busy with Batman at the time they approached me, but what cinched the deal for me were three things:

1) I’d been on Batman for a long time and I was willing to try something new.
2) Malibu offered me a substantial signing fee just for coming on board.
3) Malibu also promised to publish my creator-owned, -written, and -drawn title, whatever it might turn out to be (I hadn’t even a title in mind at that point, but I eventually settled on Metaphysique, which was published under Malibu’s Bravura umbrella). Ultimately, this was the part of the offer that I felt I couldn’t turn down.

There couldn’t have been an actual human that Prime is modeled on (be pretty scary if there was). What did you use as a reference for the character’s over-the-top physique?

I didn’t require any reference at all. By that point I’d been studying and drawing anatomy for almost two decades (the first deacde as an amateur, of course). The only time I used any reference for drawing Prime was once when I needed a good, close-up, extremely physically strained facial expression for him – when he was about to explode out of Maxi-man’s grip, in fact – and then I referenced a shot of Arnold Schwarzenegger working out.

In Prime (No. 12) you drew a two-page short of Prime roughing you up a bit. How does it feel to draw yourself?

It was fun. I didn’t exactly try to draw a self-portrait or anything; it was just a comic book version of me. It’s been so long now that I don’t even recall if that two-page short was my idea or my editor’s!

Do you have a favorite Ultraverse souvenir that you kept all these years?

Just copies of the comics, and a couple of the Prime action figures that were made. Oh, yeah, I also still have a T-shirt with Prime’s chest symbol upon it.

What are you up to these days?

Malibu lasted for a few years, and after that, I returned to DC for a while to do Anarky and The Spectre, but for some reason unknown to me, after 2001, DC stopped hiring me.

In 2000, I drew a Hellcat mini-series for Marvel, an Avengers Annual, and a Thunderbolts Annual. After 2001, Marvel, like DC, stopped hiring me, for unknown reasons.

So, I started working in comics at Independent companies, first on the title Black Tide for Angel Gate Press, then Of Bitter Souls for Speakeasy and Markosia, then The Danger’s Dozen for A First Salvo. I also penciled and inked a series of illustrations for Stephen Pytak’s novel (published through Mazz Press) titled The .40 Caliber Mousehunt.

From 2009 to just recently, I drew for Archie Comics, starting with a “New Look” Archie story arc, then penciling the equivalent of two books per month for Archie Comics in the magazine-formatted Life With Archie: The Married Life. I was also penciling and inking the covers.

Also in recent years, I drew a Munden’s Bar story for IDW, and a lot of fan commissions. In 2010 I drew and painted 21 full-color illos for another of Stephen Pytak’s novels (again published through Mazz Press) titled The Wild Damned.

For the last few years, I’ve also been doing occasional illustration assignments for non-comics clients of all kinds (advertising, books, magazines, CDs, etc.) via my London-based representative, Debut Art.

This month I finished penciling and inking the interior pages and the cover of the one-shot, 26-page Batman: RetroActive book representing the ’90s, on sale in August. I was very surprised when DC editor Jim Chadwick emailed me with the offer, because it had been about ten years since I’d done anything with them.

Now, I’m not drawing Archie any more, but I’ve begun penciling and inking a new monthly series as the on-going artist. The title and company will be announced any day now. Until then, I can’t divulge it.

Advertisements

UV Creators: Aaron Lopresti

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.


UV Creators: Roland Mann

Roland Mann is another one of the guys who was there from the beginning of the Ultraverse. A man of the South, he’s back in that part of the country, writing and mentoring writers.

He was nice enough to discuss how he got started with Malibu, an unpublished Steve Gerber Sludge story (!) and his continuing education and career path.

How did you find your way from Southern Miss to California to work for Malibu?

I had been freelancing for Malibu beginning in 1989. In fact, I was not only writing various series and mini-series (like Cat & Mouse and Miss Fury), but I was packaging some of the incredible talent that was hidden in the southern Mississippi area, books like The Mantus Files with horror novelist Sid Williams, who is from Louisiana.

Anyway, I met Chris Ulm, the editor in chief for Malibu in 1992 at DragonCon and he told me that they were ABOUT to have to cut back on work for me. When I asked why, he said they planned to build an in-house staff. Seeing as to how I was having a great time working in comics and I hated to see the bulk of my work go away (I didn’t only work for Malibu, but I got about 75 percent of my freelance work from them at the time), I asked if they’d consider hiring me. Ulm suggested he didn’t think I’d ever leave my beloved Southland … but two weeks later, he called and offered me an editor position.

After some discussion with my wife–who was on the final leg of her Masters Program at the time–we decided it was a good move for us. I moved out in November of 1992 and took over the entire Genesis Line of comics (Protectors, Dinosaurs for Hire, Ex-Mutants, etc).

You were at Southern Miss about the same time as Brett Favre … did you ever see him around campus?

Actually, yes. But it wasn’t around campus. Brett’s door opened to the door of one of my very good friends at the time, Tony Fortenberry (brother of Thomas, writer of the first SilverStorm mini-series). I’d often visit Tony for writers group meetings, playing board games, or just hanging out. It wasn’t unusual that Brett was there. I remember watching him play as a freshman and being VERY impressed with his arm!

What were your responsibilities at Malibu?

Most folks know about my editing duties. I went from Protectors to Ultraverse as editor. After I made the move to UV, I edited about half the line, with Hank Kanalz editing the other half.

Another thing I did at Malibu that I’m pretty proud of is started and ran an intern program. I can’t remember if the idea originated with me or, if not me, it was likely Ulm. We needed help making copies, filing and that sort of thing. As my wife has been in Higher Ed for her entire life, she suggested the intern program.

So, I interviewed and hired all the interns at Malibu until the Marvelcution (and I honestly don’t know if any more were hired after that). SOME of those became Editorial Assistants and then Assistant Editors. Thus, some of them were pretty sharp folks! After Marvel bought the company I was promoted to Managing Editor–which really meant that I just helped Ulm with paperwork. They had to change some titles to try to stay in line with Marvel.

After Ulm, Tom Mason and Dan Danko left the company, I was Senior Editor (although Marvel chose to keep a non-UV editor to “finish” off the line–something I always found very interesting). For a while, I also “trafficked” the art department. NOT the coloring department, but actual art and lettering, corrections and that sort of thing. But after the company got really big, it went to someone else.

Do you have a favorite memory from working on the Ultraverse?

It isn’t so much an “Ultraverse” memory as a Malibu memory … Y’know, this might sound hokey, but one of my favorite memories is the weekly editorial meetings we used to have. Once a week, the editors would get out of the office (in the day before cellphones) and have an editorial meeting with Chris Ulm. That’s when I really got to know the other editors.

Truthfully, though, Malibu was a very fun place to work. The atmosphere was generally really pretty good (post Marvel it began to change, but it wasn’t as IMMEDIATE as many seem to think). With UV, I got to work with a few creators whose work I’d enjoyed for years. I even got to have about a two hour lunch with Stan Lee himself!

What is your favorite Ultraverse-related project that you worked on?

Boy, THAT’s not a loaded question, is it? I think Steve Gerber is one of the unsung great storytellers in comics and with the UV. Two of my favorite projects were Gerber Sludge books. The first was Sludge: Red X-Mas with art by Mike Ploog, and the second was an unpublished Gerber story that had pencils by Mitch Byrd.

What happened to that unpublished Gerber Sludge book?

I wish I could answer with any authority, but I can’t. WHILE I was still employed, I held on to the hope that it would see publication. Once my employment was … ahem … discontinued … well. I DO know this: I saw some of Mitch Byrd’s art FROM that book show up on eBay a few years back. So–and I’m guessing–I think what happened is that those in charge the final days just sent all the artwork back to Mitch when they were returning art. Mitch held on to it a while…then decided to try to recoup some $. But that is PURELY a guess (a logical and educated one, but a guess nonetheless).

Do you have a favorite souvenir or collectible that you kept all these years?

I have a framed George Perez Chromium cover to Genesis #0. It was framed by the printer.

It’s funny, I had a LOT of stuff for a while. But, as anyone who’s moved a few times can attest, moving STUFF is a pain … so I slowly got rid of most of my “collectible” stuff. The biggest thing I think I still have is my “editorial copies” of the entire line of UV books. Me, Hank, Dan Danko and Chris Ulm used to have 3 ring binders of each UV title. Each time a new issue was released, one of the interns would take copies, punch them, and add them to our binders. They were on a shelf above my desk and I could have quick reference to any UV issue. I still have those, though the binders are long gone.

What are you up to these days?

I just completed my MFA in Writing (which is like a poor man’s PhD…it’s a “terminal” degree without all the fluff) and hope to get back into the classroom. I taught English at the University/College level for several years before being downsized (thanks to 9/11). I speak at writers conferences here in the Southern region and lead writer workshops/retreats (such at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Annual Writers Retreat) where I mentor writers. I’ve also just completed a superhero novel titled THE INTERNS. My agent is confident she can sell it–so I’m confident with her! I also blog regularly at: http://www.rolandmann.me.


UV Creators: James Hudnall

James Hudnall was the writer for two of the cornerstone titles of the original Ultraverse, Hardcase and The Solution. He’s still writing comics today along with political blogging and a number of other endeavors; you can keep up with him on his web site.

He took some time this week to answer a few questions about his time working on the Ultraverse.

How did you come to work on the Ultraverse?

I was between projects, looking for work and I heard at a convention from some friends that Malibu was looking to start something and they needed creators with some name cache, so I talked to Tom Mason and Chris Ulm at the con, then Dave Olbrich and agreed to talk to them some more at their office. It snowballed from there. They were flush with money from Image which started out with them, and they wanted to create a new universe with established comics creators that could be a new DC/Marvel if things worked out. The industry was still doing really well at that point.

Unfortunately, everyone else had the same idea. There were tons of these new companies from Valiant, Milestone, Defiant, etc. Not to mention Image, which was the hottest new company. Competition was fierce.

What is your best memory from working on the Ultraverse?

The friendships made and the fun times at the conferences we had. They were great times. Also being able to produce regular comics and get paid well. That’s always enjoyable. I miss those days.

Did you keep a favorite souvenir or collectible from your time working on those books?

I kept as much as I could. I still have boxes of some of my books in storage. My favorite are the NME and Hardcase toy figurines which I have somewhere.

How do you feel about Hardcase being basically erased from the Ultraverse in the Black September storyline?

Fine. Better that than they ruin him more than they had. Nothing that happened when the original creators left is real. Just consider that stuff bogus because it was. Marvel wanted to put in “hot” creators who frankly had no interest in doing anything good. It showed.

What are you up to these days?

I have comics projects I want to do and have artists but it’s a very tough time to do books. Waiting to see if I can get financing to do them myself. I am also a web developer.

Any chance we’ll see books like Hardcase or the Solution in print again?

It’s not up to me. I would love to revisit them with what I know now, and make them work a lot better. But I seriously doubt that will happen. Marvel seems extremely disinterested in the Ultraverse. There are legal obligations they have to follow if they use them which means paying us founders some royalties. They seem to be dead opposed to that. Sorry.


UV Creators: Chris Ulm

It’s hard to imagine someone had more of an impact on the Ultraverse than Chris Ulm.

Ulm was there from the beginning as one of the founding partners at Malibu, and helped develop the foundations for the comic universe. He graciously took the time to answer a few questions about the Ultraverse and what he is doing today.

What was your job title at Malibu and what were your responsibilities?

I was the Editor-In-Chief and a founding partner of Malibu, helping to build the company from its earliest days (along with Scott Rosenberg, Tom Mason and Dave Olbrich). As regards the Ultraverse, I came up with the original idea for a writer’s based universe and recruited the original founding fathers and supervised the in-house editors and writers. In addition, I co-created Rune (with Barry Windsor-Smith) as well as a bunch of other characters.

Do you have a favorite memory from working on the Ultraverse?

Too many to count. Working with the original founders and developing a universe based on a comprehensive background and enormously inventive characters was the high point of my career in comics. I really enjoyed the speed at which we could build an entire universe and bring it to life and I think some of the characters are true classics that I hope we will see again in the future.

What is your favorite Ultraverse-related project that you worked on?

I really liked all of them, to be honest. I enjoyed the characters a great deal and felt personally driven to make sure the creative teams were able to do their best work, despite a tough publishing environment and lots of competition (Dark Horse had released their superhero universe at the same time). I am very proud of the body of work that makes up the UV.

Mostly, I miss the speed at which we could bring new characters and concepts to market and the terrific creative talent it was my privilege to work with. Malibu was a special place and as I have progressed through my career as a creative director, game maker and storyteller I am reminded daily that companies like Malibu are very few and far between.

Do you have a favorite souvenir or collectible from the Ultraverse that you kept all these years?

I’ve got all the comics in bags as well as the toys and CD Romix! Probably my favorite is the Ghoul action figure. Everybody needs one.

What are you up to these days?

Today, I am the CEO of Appy Entertainment, a game company that is “Deadly Serious About Stupid Fun.” We make original games for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad which have been downloaded over 8 million times. We view the app market as a place where new ideas and concepts can take root, much like the comic book industry in the 90’s. Check out Zombie Pizza, FaceFighter, and Trucks & Skulls to see what we are up to!