Off on a Tangent Part Two: Jamal Igle

A comics interview article by: Chris Murman
Editor's Note: Today is Part Two of our discussion with the creative team behind DC's Tangent: Superman's Reign, which is set to hit store shelves March 19th, with artist Jamal Igle. Part one with writer Dan Jurgens can be found here.

Jamal Igle was a busy man last year. While finishing up his current DC exclusive contract, Jamal spent time penciling titles such as Nightwing, Green Lantern Corps, Teen Titans and some Countdown work to boot. 2008 is off and running already for the artist and will get even busier with the release of the Tangent maxi-series. I took some time to chat with Igle about the series, the renewing of his DC exclusive and the coming birth of his first child.

Chris Murman: For starters, let's get the controversy out of the way regarding Tangent: Superman's Reign. You're teaming up with Robin Riggs to replace Matt Clark, Fernando Pasarin and Jesse Delperdang for art chores. Was it just scheduling that played a factor or did they need a different direction with issue #2?

Jamal Igle: No, actually the way the issues are broken up, I'm drawing the 17-page main story for each issue, and there will be a five-page back up story written by Ron Marz and drawn by someone else. The series was originally set up so that Dan was going to pencil issue #1, and I was going to take over from issue #2 on, but Dan's schedule got tight. I couldn't do issue #1 because I was penciling Countdown and Teen Titans, so it worked out that they recruited Matt for the job.

CM: Many of us readers are familiar with the Universe that Dan Jurgens helped create, but the characters haven't been relevant in quite some time. Why do you think these characters are being moved to the forefront again?

JI: It's multifaceted actually. Not only is it the 10th anniversary of the Tangent Universe books but with all the world hoping going on now, it's almost a no-brainer to do this. The Tangent universe is unlike the rest of the DC world in that only the names are the same. The characters, their roles in the universe, and their powers are all completely different from the other Earth's versions. We also get to see the evolution of the Tangent universe. Things are so much different than when we left off 10 years ago.

CM: The cover for issue #2 has the same Tangent Green Lantern that was utilized in the Ion maxi that Ron Marz wrote. Are you drawing upon the version of the character portrayed by Pasarin in that series or did you go further back?

JI: With all of the characters I actually tracked down most of the original books, and I'm using those appearances to shape my looks. What's amazing is if you look at the line up of artists who did the series originally--Gray Frank, Paul Pellitier, Mike McKone, Tom Grummett, Matt Haley, J.H. Williams III--you're looking at the cream of the crop. All of them are still in the business doing their best work constantly. It's fun to look back at them then and see their styles solidifying and changing.

CM: Part of taking a series on as an artist has to involve getting to put your own personal stamp on characters, but how much playing did you do with these characters? What will we see different?

JI: You'll see some changes. Some minor, some major. The Lia Nelson Flash hasn't changed at all, but the Spectre has matured and his look is going to be different. With some characters it will be seen in the faces, we're playing with real time. Ten years have passed in the Tangent Universe. Other things haven't been changed, just adjusted to fit my sensibilities but nothing radically different yet.

CM: You recently re-upped on your exclusive contract with DC. Tell us about how it's been working with the publisher as of late. Was it a no-brainer to sign on the dotted line again? Did you make any requests as part of the deal?

JI: Pretty much a no-brainer for me. I'm a DC fan primarily as a reader. I've had so much fun playing with the DC characters over the last few years and my editors have been continuously encouraging and supportive.

For me, I have to be comfortable with whom I work with. I have to know that I'm not just flinging poo against the comic book wall so to speak. The feedback level is great, and I'm enjoying it.

Although next time I better get that hot tub full of chicken wings they keep promising me.

CM: I heard a rumor that you're an art teacher in New York in addition to playing in DC's sandbox. How do you balance the two jobs out time-wise? Do you get quizzed about your comic work in the classroom?

JI: Well, I've had to cut my time back. I only teach two Sundays out of the month, and this year will be my last for a while. Since my class is a comics class, those are all the questions I get [laughs].

CM: What knowledge to you try to impart on your students about making a living doing art?

JI: Well, the mantra of my class is story telling. Story telling is the key for comic art. I don't judge styles because everyone has their own and what appeals to you may not appeal to me. So I concentrate on panel composition, layout, character direction and flow, shot composition and page dynamic, how to move the eye around the page are the main focuses of my class. However, my main continuing lesson is the value of being patient, not getting frustrated that things aren't coming out the way you see them in your head.

Art is a journey; we're always students no matter how far we go professionally.

CM: You had a productive year in 2007 working on Nightwing, Green Lantern Corps, Teen Titans and some Countdown as well. What can we look forward to reading with your name on it this year besides the Tangent Universe series?

JI: I don't know, it's still early. The good thing about this series is I have a little extra time in my schedule so I may end up doing something else. I'm taking on commissions also for the first time so that's been really fun as well.

CM: I also noticed on your website you are expecting your first child very soon. Congrats! First of all, are you getting nervous yet? Will you have pictures of young Firestorm Igle to show off soon? (laughter)

JI: I'm not nervous, but I'm having weird dreams about exploding piñatas, so it's on my mind. Karine and I are taking things in stride and getting ready. So by May of this year I'll be slapping people in the head with pictures of my daughter. (laughter)

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Tangent: Superman’s Reign in March.

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