Tommy Lee Edwards asks "The Question" for DC

Wed, September 1st, 2004 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

"The Question" #2
Yesterday, writer Rick Veitch spoke with CBR News about his plans for the November debuting title "The Question" from DC Comics. Today, CBR News presents part two of our look at the series, this time with artist Tommy Lee Edwards, who's not only providing the art for the series, but is coloring his own work as well.

Edwards follows a long line of impressive artists who've tackled the "The Question." Artists like Steve Ditko (the creator of the Question), Alex Toth and Denys Cowan are just a few of the artist's who've lent their talents to the character. Tommy Lee Edwards is the latest named to be added to that list and he has Wildstorm's founder to thank for that.

"This whole project came about because of Jim Lee," Edwards told CBR News. "Jim had gathered together a group of DC properties that a lot of creators wanted to get their hands on. The idea was to have Wildstorm breath some fresh life into some of our favorite characters. Jim called about two and a half years ago to offer me 'The Question.' I have the memory fresh in my head. I think Jim thought I was really un-interested. Little did he know, I was at the mall, riding a carousel with my kids. The other thing going through my brain was 'how am I gonna do this?' I was busy working as a concept designer on a movie, but did not want to pass up this opportunity to work on such a cool comic. There was another writer on the book at that point, and Rick Veitch was handling one of the other books- 'Vigilante.'

"Throughout time, things evolved and shifted. Some of the books were dropped, and DC decided to have the remaining books of this new 'line' called 'Superstorm' take place wholly in Metropolis. Rick thankfully moved to 'The Question.' 'Vigilante' and another one of the titles, 'Luthor,' are hot on our tails. So basically, all this stuff has been in my life for quite a while."

"The Question" #1, Page 20
Jim Lee's call prompted Edwards to begin researching the character, pulling reference for his work from the original.

"The only Question story I actually owned prior to Jim Lee's phone call was an issue of 'Charlton Bullseye' #5," admits Edwards. "I bought this particular Question story because it was drawn by Alex Toth. Beyond that, I had seen the O'Neil/Cowan series, but never read it. My current view of The Question has now been formed by collecting and reading as much of the original stories I can find. With 'original' I mean the Steve Ditko stories done for Charlton in the 1960s. I've really fallen in love with Ditko's creation, and really base my interpretation on that version of the character. I think that what Rick Veitch and I are doing with this series is much closer in character to Ditko's original stories than to the 1980's O'Neil/Cowan stuff."

As an artist, a series like "The Question" provides a number of interesting challenges. For starters, the Question tends to get around a bit as reporter Vic Sage, encountering numerous environments. Then, of course, there's the Question himself, the faceless crime-fighting crusader. How exactly does an artist bring emotion to a guy who has no face?

"Yeah, the mask is a funny thing. Because of the way I draw and color this series, though, we do get a little information to grab onto in the way I render some of the form on the Question's featureless face. A lot of the acting relies on his body language and subtle posture-shifts. The biggest challenges on this book have pretty much been created by Rick Veitch, as my brain oozes from the extreme thought put into this thing. There are so many complex story-telling things we've put upon ourselves in an effort to tell this story in a unique way. Laying this stuff out is by far the most enjoyable challenge I've ever had in comics."

"The Question" #2, Page 17
In the O'Neil/Cowan run in the 1980s, artist Denys Cowan made an unusual artistic choice for the series - no sound effects. Edwards won't be following in that same direction and has his reasons for doing so.

"Although that may have worked in that series, I personally don't understand that decision," said Edwards. "'The Question' is a comic book, so I tend to use comic-book language. We have captions, thought balloons, word balloons, and yes- lots of sound effects beautifully hand-rendered by my regular letter, John Workman. I am a firm believer in pushing the envelope with art and storytelling techniques. However, there are certain things in comic-book language that have worked for decades- and for good reasons. To me, it's not a comic until the lettering is there on the page. That's one of the reasons I need the lettering to be drawn by hand on the board as an integral part of the art. Writers and illustrators have a vast arsenal of tools that come only with comics. It would be a shame not to use them."

Edwards is making good progress on the series, well ahead of even the first issue coming out, and is enjoying his time working with writer Rick Veitch.

"I can't thank Jim Lee enough for putting us together," said Edwards on working with Veitch. "I've totally lucked out, because Rick and I have been having a blast. I'm about to start working on issue #4. The scripts get better and better, while I think my illustrations get better and better. I feel we've really been inspiring each-other.

A collection of ads and art for
"The Question"
"When we found out that 'The Question' had to take place in Metropolis, I was a little freaked out. But then, Rick and I put our heads together, and came up with groups of characters and new villains and plot points. Because Rick can draw so well, he comes up with really interesting visual cues for me to work from. His scripts are very specific, and give me a lot of meat. That's always the best way to work. You need as much information as possible, in order to draw a comic book. I've sadly worked on projects on the other end of the spectrum- having to do something with a rough 'marvel-style' plot that only says, 'double-page spread: all hell breaks loose…' I think the writer thinks he's giving freedom to the artist that way. In my view, the guy's just being lazy, and shoving the workload off on the artist."

Outside of "The Question," Edwards is keeping busy doing a series of licensing illustrations for the "Batman Begins" feature film, the style guide for "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith," a new "Episode III" children's book from Random House, the Star Wars RPG book covers for Wizards of the Coast as well as upcoming covers for Dark Horse's "Star Wars: Empire." Right now, though, his focus is on "The Question."

"I'm just really proud of what Rick and I are doing on 'The Question.' I truly feel that this series will be like nothing else out there, in story and in the visuals."

 
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