At Rose City Comic Con in Portland, I got a chance to sit down with a comic book artist who is actually from my hometown! Brett Weldele is known for quite a few of his projects, most notably Surrogates which was turned into a movie starring Bruce Willis. Since we’d sat down with Aron Warner to discuss Pariah during San Diego Comic Con, we thought it would be great to get the artist’s point of view. Brett graciously agreed to be interviewed about the project.
KC: So Pariah, I loved the first volume by the way.
KC: I know, I started reading it but I haven’t finished it yet I just found out about it a couple weeks ago and I’ve been slammed. But it is really really great. So how did you get involved in the project?
BW: Well getting involved was basically Aron (Warner) wandering around Comic Con looking for an artist and he just happened upon – I was sitting at the Top Shelf table – and he just stopped and saw my work. We chatted a little bit and a couple weeks later he actually called me up to talk to me seriously about it. I already knew of the writer and I liked his work, so we all got together on it.
KC: And it all just kind of worked out. So for a project like Pariah, how long does it take? Hours, months, etc. from conception to the final product?
BW: Well we spent about three years from start to finish but we weren’t working on it full time. I would do an issue and then it would depend on schedules because me and the writer’s schedule weren’t really working together, so I’d go off and do something in-between. It took off and on three years for twelve issues.
KC: Were you all in different locations or did you come together a lot to work or did you all just kind of do your own pieces and it got all pushed together?
BW: Well, I was in Oregon. Aron, his company, is in LA, and Phil (Gelatt) who wrote it is in Massachusetts so yeah, we’re about as far away from each other as possible so we didn’t really see each other much. I did hang out a little bit with them in New York last year.
KC: So from the artist’s point of view, since we did talk to Aron about the production side of things, what are you given to work with and what’s your process in handling the material? How much are you given to go off of when you’re starting on a project like this?
BW: I guess I’m given descriptions of who the characters are and what they’re about and start from there. I just kind of do what I do.
KC: You just do it
BW: Yeah, I don’t really try to over think it. I just sit down and do it.
KC: It just is. It is just natural for you, yeah?
BW: At this point its not something I sit down and really over think. Here’s what I have to do and here’s how I’m going to do it. I mean, I’ve been doing this for fifteen years.
KC: So you’ve pretty much streamlined it.
BW: Pretty much, yeah.
KC: Alright, what are some of your other projects you’ve worked on in the past?
BW: Well the book I’m most well known for is Surrogates which got turned into a Bruce Willis movie.
KC: Yeah! Did you get a chance to talk with Bruce Willis or any interaction with the movie at all?
BW: We did talk with Bruce Willis a bit. We got to spend a few days on set during the first few weeks of filming and that was fun. The whole thing was a really great experience.
KC: So, you said Aron kind of offered you the project. What about the project appealed to you?
BW: Well for the most part I get small projects, usually not more than five or six issues and Aron wanted to do twelve issues which is more of a long term project so I could get in and actually figure out how to do something larger. The thing about doing short project is you constantly have to figure out what you want to do next. You’re always basically inventing something else and it takes an issue or two to get to where you figure out what you want to do with the project. With a regular project you’ve drawn the characters so much you’re kind of able to see that part and just kind of really dig into the storytelling. Long term projects are also easier because you know what you’re doing.
BW: Well, I spend so much time because I do all of it – the penciling, lettering, and coloring – that I know the whole book. When it comes out I don’t necessarily read through it but I look through it to make sure it looks okay and something didn’t turn out weird. Darkhorse has actually been phenomenal with their production.
KC: Yeah, we love Darkhorse.
BW: The design work on Pariah is great, the printing on it is phenomenal, and everything turned out super great on it.
KC: So finally, what else are you working on these days?
BW: I’ve got a new book I’m working on with Nathan Edmonson (current writer on Black Widow and Punisher), and we did a book a few years ago called the The Light, and we’re doing another project like that one. Where Pariah is more “hard sci-fi”, this is more kind of, fantasy sci-fi. It will be out next year.