Pete Woods: I Love Working Hard

A comics interview article by: Jason Sacks


Pete Woods is living the dream. He’s gotten to draw a long run onAction Comics with one of his favorite writers, Paul Cornell. And in the upcoming giant-sized issue 900, Woods gets to illustrate the triumphant return of Superman to the pages of that iconic series. I caught up with Pete at Emerald City Comicon this year, where he obviously was excited about the grand finale of the giant year-long storyline in Action and his other work as well.

Sacks: I’m here with Pete Woods, who’s working on Action Comics. The book’s doing really well. Do you enjoy working on Action?

Woods: My first comic was Action Comics #1, a reprint that my mom gave me. The Famous First Edition. When I was 5 years old, I knew that what I really wanted to do was to work on comics. 

Sacks: You’re drawing a run that’s really getting a lot of acclaim. That must be a lot of fun for you.

Woods: Oh, of course. It’s always nice to have people enjoy what you’ve done. I mean, it’s all Paul. Paul’s fantastic. I’m a big Doctor Who fan, and two of my favorite episodes are the ones he wrote. “Father’s Day” and “Family of Blood.” 

I grew up on Tom Baker.

Sacks: We were actually just talking about that over lunch. I’m getting a lot more fond of Troughton.

Woods: Oh yeah, Troughton was great. And Pertwee too. I didn’t like Pertwee when I was younger, but I started to like him. 

Sacks: So you get to draw all these characters you’ve loved for many years. That must be a great experience.

Woods: I’m having a lot of fun with the Lex Luthor thing for the last ten or twelve issues. This run will be ten issues. Superman is finally back with issue #900, in the first two pages we have Superman now. It’s great to have him back in Metropolis with the whole crew and the real Lois Lane instead of the robot Lois Lane.

Sacks: So in a way you haven’t been drawing Superman. 

Woods: In a way I have not, but I don’t think anyone’s really missed him in Action. Although I think they’ve missed him a bit in the continuity. But this past year having Lex star in the book has given it a different feel and attitude. I think people have liked it. I’ve loved the hell out of it. 

Sacks: Was it hard working on a comic where you obviously love the classic artists like Curt Swan and John Byrne?

Woods: You mean, am I intimidated? I’m always intimidated. Superman is such an iconic character, and so many great people have worked on it over the years, that I often don’t feel worthy to follow in their footsteps. I’m doing the best I can do on the book, and I hope the fans like it.

Sacks: Superman’s iconic, but he sometimes feels out of step with the times. It’s cool of DC to take a different approach to him.

Woods: I think that Superman, when handled correctly, can be timeless. As I think Grant and Frank did on All-Star Superman. You can still tell a classic Superman story and be relevant and fun and exciting. Hopefully we’ll continue that.

Sacks: Did you take some inspiration from All-Star Superman?

Woods: I hope so, yeah. It’s phenomenal work. Grant and Frank work phenomenally well together.

Sacks: You also get to work on the milestone issue 900, too

Woods: Which is also intimidating, but Paul’s turned in a great script. The end of the story is just classic Lex Luthor. The end of the story is just perfect. We built up this huge story arc, and we’re going to see what Lex does with it. It’s pure Lex, all the way.

Sacks: Lex always has something planned.

Woods: He always has something planned. He’s smarter than you think he is, and he’s also – my wife doesn’t want me to reveal any secrets. (laughs) Lex is smart and he’s dangerous. He’s sometimes his own worst enemy, I think.

Sacks: And you got to play with Batman and Wonder Woman in your career, too. You got to play with the Big Three. 

Woods: I’ve been extremely lucky and privileged to get to work with all these icons, including Green Lantern, Catwoman, and all these characters that I’ve grown up with and love so much. It’s really a privilege and a blast. I feel extremely lucky.

Sacks: I think the first thing I remember you working on was the Amazons Attack series. 

Woods: That was fun. It was very art nouveau. When I was done onCatwoman, on my wife Rebecca’s recommendation, I took a different approach. I opened up the linework and did something more – I guess you’d call it European. I continued that in with Amazons. I think it worked for that series. It wouldn’t work for Action, so I went back to a more traditional style. 

Sacks: Would you prefer to do more art nouveau style, or are you following the dictates of the story?

Woods: I tend not to think about it too much, though sometimes I get obsessed with style. Eventually after an issue of two, the style of the story will work its way into the artwork no matter what.

Rebecca Woods: The characters and the writing style all have an impact on the way the story needs to be drawn.

Sacks: It must be fun to have two artists in the family.

Rebecca Woods: And the kids love to draw, too!

Woods: Rebecca and I work very differently. She’s much more painterly and a classic artist. I’m much more steeped in comics.

Sacks: Are you hoping to stick with Superman for a while?

Woods: We’ll see what the future holds. I can’t say anything more than that. 

Sacks: You’re going to stay with DC?

Woods: Oh yeah, I’m currently exclusive with DC for at least another year. So as long as they’ll have me, I’ll keep drawing for them. I appreciate it greatly.

Sacks: You’re obviously having a great time working with Paul Cornell. Does he bring a different approach than most of the people you’ve worked with?

Woods: You know, Paul is – I grew up on British fiction and British comics, so Paul’s language, his approach, his attitude are really in tune with the way I see comics. So we mesh really well. Paul is very thoughtful about what he does. He’s very deliberate about what he does. You may think you know what’s going on, eventually in the end, you’ll be surprised. Because Paul knows what he’s doing and he knows how to throw you a bone. And also how to throw you a red herring too.

Sacks: That’s part of what was great about his Doctor Who episodes. There’s a lot of meat and a lot of red herring.

Woods: You never know if you’re right when you guess where he’s going.

Sacks: So 900 is going to be a big event for the readers.

Woods: Yes, 900 will be. The main story is 50 pages long and I’ll be doing 36 of those pages with Jesus Merino doing the other chunk of pages. There’s two stories going on throughout the issue. Then there’s going to be some other stories by other artists and writers. Some people who have been on the book in the past. I don’t remember offhand who it is because I have a horrible memory.

Sacks: That’s kind of a tradition with the Superman books. They did something similar with Action 800.

Woods: 900 will be much the same. A big book with lots of stuff in it. 

Sacks: You’re having a great time, doing what you love to do.

Woods: Exactly!

Sacks: Anything else you’d like readers of Comics Bulletin to know about you?

Woods: I draw comics. That’s about it. Just working hard. I hope everybody loves it. 


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