When it comes to crafting an event comic, two cornerstones for ensuring the epic stories at hand work involve the very practical manner of producing the comics in a timely manner and the more mysterious one of adding in a "shock and awe" factor to the final pages. With Marvel's just launched "Fall of the Hulks" event, the publisher called upon a penciler who's used to both hitting big monthly deadlines and drawing big shocking images: Paul Pelletier.
Jumping right into the recent "Fall of the Hulks Alpha" one-shot after an intensive stint at the helm of Marvel's cosmic-themed "War of Kings" event, Pelletier will serve as the regular artist on Greg Pak's "Incredible Hulk" for the remainder of the storyline, starting with January's issue #606. "I think it's the best my stuff's ever looked," the artist told CBR of his collaboration with inker Danny Miki and colorist Frank Darmata. Read on for our first artist's spotlight installment of THE GREEN ZONE, wherein Pelletier talks about how "Alpha" helped land him his "Incredible" gig, why it was either Hulk or Thor in his mind and why he couldn't spoil the story of "Fall of the Hulks" for fans even if he tried.
CBR News: Paul, Marvel's announced that you're taking over as the regular artist on "Incredible Hulk." What's on your drawing board right now?
Paul Pelletier: Right now I'm working on page six of "Incredible Hulk" #607.
You're well into it, then! Editorial brought you in to work on "Fall of the Hulks Alpha" before this gig. How did you jump from one big event in "War of Kings" to another?
It's just kind of how it fell out. Partway through the "War of Kings" series, I still didn't know what I was going to be working on next. Most of the time, I just leave things to chance and say, "What have you got? I'll work on anything." But this time around, I was actually a little more proactive. I said to Marvel. "I'd love to work on something Hulk related – either a mini series or fill-ins or something! Or something with Thor." And they came back to me with "Fall of the Hulks," and that was it initially. Then they wanted me to do at least a seven-issue stint on "Incredible," though I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll go longer. I was really, really happy that they actually came back with something I was looking to work on.
Hulk or Thor. Those are two of the biggest, brawniest guys Marvel has to offer. Was that what attracted you?
Well, when I was collecting comics years ago, I was a huge fan of the Peter David/Dale Keown Hulk stuff, and afterwards the Gary Frank stuff. I really dug the character from back then. But with both of those books, just coming off "War of Kings" and "Guardians of the Galaxy," which both have a crapload of characters, I thought it'd be nice to work on a book that had a smaller cast – something to focus on a little more. And it's fun drawing the big, strong guys, so something like Hulk or Thor would be fun too. And with Thor, the idea that I was working on "War of Kings" and "Guardians" which was a lot of sci-fi stuff, and with Thor you get into Asgard, and I'd be able to do something more feudal. That was going through my mind, to work on something different than I had been doing.
Well, talk about a different feel – Jeff Parker's work on that "Alpha" one-shot seemed to connect with fans thanks to his ability to pull out what some would look at as silly or weird and find a way to make it work. "Now we're going to put M.O.D.O.K. in a scuba suit!" Do you like to play with some of those elements too?
I think the tough things with the "Fall of the Hulks" one-shot was that it kind of jumped around a lot. I had to work to get a good head of steam going, because it was constantly jumping from past to present to all over the place. That was a little difficult, and it was a real pain in the butt trying to keep track of the Leader. "Does he have smooth head or a broccoli head at this point?" [Laughs] That kind of stuff was a bit of a pain to keep track of, but talk about pressure with Scuba M.O.D.O.K.! When I got to that page in the plot, Jeff specifically said, "Paul, we need you to draw the best spread of your career." No pressure there! [Laughs] But that was still a fun page. Scuba M.O.D.O.K. is actually becoming one of my favorite characters to draw.
The transition from one-shot to ongoing Hulk book seems pretty much a no-brainer since editorial seemed to dig your work with the characters. But what is it like when you step in for some pages in the middle of an issue by a penciler who has such a different style from you, like you were called on to do with Ariel Olivetti in "Incredible" #605?
With #605 it was funny, because I was well into #606, and they came to me and needed six pages on the issue before. So I put aside #606 and started working on those pages. When I first found out I was going to be on "Incredible Hulk," I started looking at Ariel's stuff and asked Mark Paniccia, "We're going from this really nice, painterly stuff to me. Is this really what you want?" [Laughs] My stuff is a little more old school comics style, and they felt pretty confident with me doing the book. That was a real boost for me.
There seems to be a plan to work in artists for this event who are "of a piece" with the past few years of how the Hulk books have looked. Do you feel like you're meshing well with that idea as the story is going along?
Quite honestly, I have no idea where the story is going! [Laughs] I just kind of do my thing. Fortunately, while my style is very different from Ariel's stuff, it's not that far removed from what Ed does. It's more of a classic style, and I feel pretty comfortable with that. I'm just trying to do my thing with it and having some fun. So far, the stuff Greg's been having me draw is a lot of fun. And I couldn't be happier right now. This is the most fun I've had in a while. Some of the "War of Kings" stuff was fun too, but it was pretty labor intensive.
The main cast of Hulk lately has been Skaar and Bruce Banner in his non-Gamma irradiated form. What have you gotten out of drawing each character?
Well, just the disparity between the two characters is fun. You've got Banner, who's spindly and a little wimpy, while Skaar is this big barbarian-type character. With the two characters, it's fun to see them work together. Growing up, one of my favorite comic books was "Power Man & Iron Fist." You put the two of them together and it's fun to see the types play off each other. That's what it's like with Skaar and Banner.
Is there anything coming up you've been excited to draw or asked Greg to try and work in?
I have absolutely no idea. It's funny when you mention it. I think back and go, "Man, I've never asked what I'll be drawing in these issues." I'm just excited to be drawing the book. There's a lot of spontaneity, even though there's a lot of planning going in to [the event]. Things are very liquid, so they can change within an issue or two. There's a part of me that wishes I could spill the beans on stuff, but I can't. I just don't know what's going on.
"Fall of the Hulks Gamma," the final prelude chapter to the "Fall of the Hulks" event, is in stores this week. Pelletier's first full issue of "Incredibly Hulk" follows in January.