REFLECTIONS: "Red Sonja/Claw" Artist Andy Smith

Sun, March 5th, 2006 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Robert Taylor, Staff Writer

REFLECTIONS

Volume 2 Number 5

Since his less-than-amiable split from Crossgen Comics, Andy Smith has slowly but surely become an artistic force to be reckoned with. Smith's recent work on "Green Lantern" and "Hawkman" were surely oogle-inducing, but he really shined brightly in his little read, but much-loved miniseries "Armor X" for Across the Pond Comics. Written by Keith Champagne, "Armor X" was one of the best written and drawn portraits of teen angst in recent years, and will always hold a special place in my heart, and not just because Champagne and Smith were in my very first edition of "Comic Culture" for Herorealm.

Smith is now drawing the four issue miniseries "Red Sonja/Claw: Devil's Hands," a Dynamite/DC Comics crossover. The miniseries is written by John Layman, and Alex Ross and Jim Lee are providing the covers. Andy took a few moments to sit down and talk about the miniseries and another spin-off series he's working on.

Robert Taylor: Hey Andy, how's life?

Andy Smith: It's great! Things are going real well, working on "Red Sonja/Claw" and having a fun time with it.

RT: Since you brought it up, tell us about this "Red Sonja/Claw" crossover book you're working on.

AS: It's a kick ass barbarian story where two unlikely characters meet up and have an adventure!

RT: For those of us who are stupid, who exactly are Red Sonja and Claw?

AS: Red Sonja is an iconic Robert E. Howard character. He's the guy that created Conan. She is a tough as nails female warrior that happens to be hot! 'nuff said!

Claw is a DC character from the '70s. He's pretty much a barbarian traveler that is possessed with a demonic claw hand. He's a noble character with a tragedy.

RT: And John Layman's writing, right?

AS: Right and he's crafting a fantastic story for the two characters.

RT: What drew you (no pun intended) to the miniseries?

AS: The paycheck (laughs). Okay, seriously, it was a chance to draw a genre that I've never done before. I've always liked barbarian type stuff, but never had the chance to work on it before. I couldn't pass it up! Plus Jim Lee covers!

RT: You mentioned that this is a bit of a change in pace for you as an artist. Do you enjoy working in this genre?

AS: I love it! You don't need ruler. It's really been fun drawing this type of stuff.

RT: What are some of the big challenges you've had artistically so far in the miniseries?

AS: Well, I haven't drawn horses in about 15 years so that was a small one to tackle. Besides that, just getting into the mindset of drawing a non-superhero book with swords and battle scenes without drawing superpowers, but hand-to-hand fighting.

RT: Have you been following "Red Sonja" over at Dynamite? Like it?

AS: I got caught up with it when I got this gig. At the time I got the gig there was only, I think, one or two issues of the series out anyhow so I got up to speed pretty easily. I think it's a cool book. The writing and art are great! Mel Rubi is doing great stuff and set the bar high on how Red Sonja should look.

RT: Tell us about the coloring process for the book.

AS: The book is being shot from my pencils. We're not going to digitally ink it. My pencils will be darkened some, of course, for printing purposes, but they won't be cleaned up. Wildstorm FX is handling the coloring, and the editor and I thought it would be cool to give the book a painted look like the ongoing "Red Sonja" monthly and "Conan." We want to keep the look consistent with "Red Sonja." I think this type of look lends itself to the theme of the book. It's not smooth and clean like a super-hero book.

RT: What's up with the characters after this miniseries wraps?

AS: Claw is going to get his own book that debuts in June to coincide with the last issue of the miniseries. I'll be jumping onto that as soon as I'm done drawing the miniseries.

RT: Who are your favorite characters to draw in the miniseries? Least favorite?

AS: Red Sonja and Claw of course! Honestly, I don't really have a least favorite character to draw. This whole experience has really been fun.

RT: Who should pick up the miniseries?

AS: Uh, everyone! If you like fantasy and sword and sorcery then this baby is for you. C'mon it's got a hot chick and a badass barbarian fighting and chopping heads off, what more can you ask for?

RT: Whatever happened to the second volume of "Armor X?"

AS: Keith Champagne and I want to do it, but at the time the first one wrapped I got offered some other work, the "Weapon X: Days of Future Now" mini from Marvel, that I just couldn't pass up. And Keith became busy writing some "JSA" for DC while having to ink his monthly book as well. Hopefully we'll get a chance to do it down the road.

RT: What was your first comic book?

AS: "Captain America" #275

RT: What is your favorite comic book of all time?

AS: That's a tough one! I'm going to go with two of them. I have a mint copy of "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" #76, Neal Adams' first one, and nice copy of "Flash Comics" #71 from 1946 with a great Joe Kubert cover and Hawkman story inside.

RT: Has there ever been a comic book that touched/changed your life?

AS: That would probably be the first comic I bought, "Captain America" #275 with art by Mike Zeck and John Beatty. I was in a 7-11 convenience store after school and picked it up and the splash page hooked me.

RT: If you could only draw one book for the rest of your career, what would it be? Who would write it?

AS: I'd go back and dust off my character 1stMan. I had one issue of it published in 1997 from Image, but sales just weren't there for me to do more. I'd probably co-write it with someone. I've worked with a lot of great writers and don't want to just pick one. I'd like to have different guys do it.

RT: What's the best comic book movie ever made?

AS: "Spider-Man" for my money. "Batman Begins" would be second.

RT: If you were remembered for only one thing in your career, what would you want it to be?

AS: I'm actually going to go with the book I wrote, "Drawing Dynamic Comics." I've received tons of e-mails from people all over the world that have bought it saying it's helped them with their own work. To me that is the coolest! And having my own book in the Library of Congress is pretty cool too.

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