Tour De (Speed) Force: Francis Manapul

Wed, October 28th, 2009 at 3:28pm PDT | Updated: October 29th, 2009 at 8:45am

Comic Books
Jeffrey Renaud, Staff Writer

Francis Manapul's Flash

Over the last year, superstar writer Geoff Johns has re-dedicated himself to his all-time favorite superhero, The Flash.

Currently bringing Silver Age icon Barry Allen back to DCU prominence in the bestselling miniseries "The Flash: Rebirth" along with frequent collaborator Ethan Van Sciver, Johns is also scripting and executive producing a Flash movie for Warner Bros. But that's apparently not enough for the man behind what is considered by many the definitive run of Wally West's time as the headliner in DC's "The Flash" from 2000 to 2006. Johns is also writing both the Barry Allen main feature and the Wally West co-feature in a new "The Flash" ongoing series, which he confirmed for CBR News will begin in April 2010.

Rising star Francis Manapul will move from his current assignment on "Adventure Comics" with Johns to illustrate the Barry Allen feature, while Scott Kolins, who has collaborated on several projects in the past with Johns, including a lengthy run on a previous "Flash" series, will provide art for the Wally West co-feature.

In this, the first of a two-part series speaking with the artists behind the new series, Manapul shared details about growing up with Wally West as The Flash and how that may affect his portrayal of Barry Allen and what challenges drawing speed may present.

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You've been working with Geoff on "Adventure Comics" the last six months or so and you've told us before the book was a perfect fit for your style. Can we assume you think the same of "The Flash"?

I think "The Flash" will have to be a different beast. I feel that "Adventure Comics" was a perfect match for my inks and watercolors since it adds to the quaint rustic feel of Smallville. I think I needed "Adventure" to help push me in the right direction artistically. I wont lie to you - "The Flash" represents new challenges, all of which I'm very excited to tackle.

Working with the medium that I do will allow me to experiment with how I portray his speed visually, moreso than if I were to just pencil it. I've discussed with both Geoff and [colorist] Brian [Buccellato] the type of things we can do to show his speed, and my fingers are itching to start!

When you learned you were moving from "Adventure Comics" to "The Flash" were you shocked, pleased, angered...?

I was surprised, excited and sad all at the same time. Surprised in that, I've tried to get the book before, but it just didn't work out. Excited in that, not only do I get to draw one of my favorite characters, but I get to do it with Geoff. And sad in that ,we had to leave "Adventure Comics," a book which Geoff and I both love.

Have you been working with Ethan Van Sciver on Barry's look? Or will you be re-designing his look once again when the new series launches?

No, we won't be redesigning Barry's costume. For the most part, I'll just be taking my cues from Barry's original designs.

What are you most looking forward to about drawing The Flash? Are there particular elements of his design that you like best? And what's the trickiest part?

I love experimenting with how to portray his speed. There are so many ways to go about it. You can blur the background and have speedlines and keep The Flash in focus to keep the readers attention on him. Or, you can blur The Flash and keep the background in focus. In a lot of ways, portraying his speed also creates great storytelling techniques that can be added to your bag of tricks. I'm very excited to explore this aspect of the book and try out new things.

And for me, the trickiest part is making sure my Barry Allen looks different from my Wally West. Having grown up with Wally, my natural portrayal of The Flash tends to look like him. As I get more familiar with Barry, I know I'll get my footing and get it right.

How would you best describe your art style and will readers of "The Flash" series notice any changes or transformations from your previous work?

Much like "Adventure Comics," I'll be inking my work and adding watercolor to it once again. So if you're familiar with that, you'll enjoy "The Flash."

"Adventure Comics" was all about the quiet moments, so I understand some of the readers' apprehension to my portrayal of speed. As an artist, each book has its own identity, and we adapt to allow the strength of the story to shine through. I have no doubt that Brian and I will be doing the same with "The Flash," creating a new visual identity for ourselves on the book.

Of The Flash's rogues do you have any favorites to draw and will we be seeing him in future issues?

I love Captain Cold. And you'll have to read to find out if he's appearing anytime soon.

Will you get a chance to draw multiple Flashes in any of the issues?

I hope so.

What else are you working on these days?

I'm wrapping up "Adventure Comics," as well as drawing the covers for "Blackest Night: The Flash." But my main focus will be "The Flash."

"Adventure Comics" #4, a "Blackest Night" tie-in issue by Johns and Manapul, hits stores November 18.

TAGS:  dc comics, the flash, francis manapul, geoff johns, adventure comics

 
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