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Nate Stockman on a 'Savage' year for comics

Comic Books

Nate Stockman on a ‘Savage’ year for comics

A Q&A with the Irish artist and a chance to win a commission.

Originally slated for a June 2020 release, Valiant Comics’ Savage is back on the menu for February 17. We’ve been particularly hyped for the series since showing off interior art by artist Nate Stockman back in March, and we couldn’t be more excited for this development.

Well, correction; we couldn’t be more excited until we actually interviewed Stockman. Below, he delves into his career illustrating comics, his artistic/creative approach, what it takes to capture the Savage series, and more! OK, now we’re at absolute peak excitement levels.

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Before diving head-long into the interview, did you know there’s a chance to win a commission from Stockman (!) Valiant is running a contest that ends on Monday, January 11. Learn how to enter here and find the Valiant site.

Nate Stockman interview Savage 2021

Courtesy of Valiant Entertainment.

AIPT: You tweeted about Spidey being a career goal, I was curious if you could map out your career over a 100-meter dash. Where are you now, what were your record-beating moments (still on the metaphor), and what goals do you see yourself at 75, 95, and 100 meters?

Nathan Stockman: The Spidey! series which I drew five issues of a few years back was for sure a big milestone for me. It was my first Big 2 work and on my favorite ever character. To clarify that tweet – I’d love a run on the Amazing Spider-Man title, which in my opinion I’ve always viewed as Marvel’s flagship and the pinnacle of Spider books. I’ve still plenty of wall-crawling left to do before I’m at that level!

And of course, Spider-Man isn’t the be all end all for me. It’s just a personal goal. I’ve got plenty of goals set out. I want to do more creator-owned work too. That’s a desire that’s been building again quite significantly recently.

The Legion of Superheroes is the other big career goal for me. The only book that ever really rivaled Spidey as my fave. (I loved the Amalgam book that smooshed the 2 series’ together so I didn’t have to choose!)

And of course, I’d love to do more Savage. This book has been terrific fun to work on and the variety of cool stuff I get to draw is an artist’s dream!

Getting back on track with the metaphor – I’m happy to waddle along to the finish line of death or retirement, whichever comes first (it’s going to be death 100%), and as long as I can say I’ve enjoyed what I’ve produced and hopefully so have the people who’ve read my work.

AIPT: How do you approach staying creative while quarantined? Do you have a set routine? 

NS: It’s been rough because as much as artists joke about how they don’t leave the house much anyway, the option being taken away was a bit gutting.

And also missing out on conventions which for creators is our big social mix with readers and each other. Time away and socializing are big contributors to my creative process. Like any job, you need time away to recharge and come back fresh. With that option gone the biggest motivator this year was just staying above water.

I didn’t set any lofty career goals. Just pay the rent and bills. The need to do that was enough to get up and get going. You can’t wait for inspiration to strike. You just need to get up and draw and try and keep going.

Although you’d never know by looking at me I did try to exercise regularly to get a bit of time away from the board and clear the head. Just a 30 min walk or so most days but it made a big difference!

Nate Stockman interview Savage 2021

Courtesy of Valiant Entertainment.

AIPT: This isn’t the first Savage at Valiant. What do you think the character needs to maintain its identity visual or otherwise?

NS: I think the artists on the first series (Lewis and Clayton) created a really strong visual for Savage. He’s quite a-typical: scruffy, smelly and standoffish. But also he LOVES jumping around and beating up the bad guys. I think that enthusiasm is an important part of his personality to remember when drawing him. He isn’t bashing in heads looking solemn and forlorn. He’s doing it with a giant manic grin!

AIPT: Spoilers be damned (but seriously, no spoilers) — I loved the last page of Savage. How do you approach a full-page splash that includes many characters?

NS: I LOVE group shots. I know not every artist feels the same but for me coming up with compositions and acting and posing is super fun! Generally, I’ll approach a multi-character page like this by making sure there’s a prominent focal point that the eye goes to in order to get the most important information across. Then once that’s taken care of I can put in extra background stuff to develop the page more. The main thing I try to remember is that a splash is an important tool with a story to tell so don’t get too flashy at the expense of getting the point of the page across.

We’re also very fortunate to have Triona Farrell on colors on the book. What she brings to add mood, focus and depth can’t be understated. I’m constantly flabbergasted by her work. And also our Eisner winning (not for lettering) letterer Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou does amazing work in adding tone and emphasis.

Everything combined makes it all greater than the sum of its parts. Lose any part and it’s not the same impact. There really is no “I” in team Savage! (Though Hassan has the most commonly misspelled name in comics and has more than likely contained several “I”s at some point).

Nate Stockman interview Savage 2021

Courtesy of Valiant Entertainment.

AIPT: What were some of your favorite comics of 2020?

NS: I’m reading the recent Jimmy Olsen series at the minute and enjoying that. Steve Lieber is fantastic at selling gags. It’s a real joy to experience how he crafts punchlines!

I’m also very much enjoying my fellow Irishmen Nick Roche and Chris O’Halloran’s fantastic Scarenthood book. I’ve been fans of both of them for years and I think they’re both doing career-best work on this. It’s a VERY Irish book which I love. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Ireland have a read of this. The horrible truth will be revealed. Not a shillelagh in sight and a LOT more swearing than you’re expecting

AIPT: When it comes to adventure comics like Savage that blend comedy and action what do you think is one thing it must do?

NS: Leave you completely satisfied but still wanting more, like Christmas dinner!

And that’s a wrap. If you like what you see, and what Nathan had to say, check out Savage #1 which hits shelves on February 17. Find your local comic shops here.

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