Artist Alley with Bob Mcleod
Over the years, there have been several artists that I have come to truly appreciate and who have been a big influence on my art. One of my favorite artist and inkers is Bob Mcleod. Bob is a comic book artist best known for co-creating the New Mutants with writer Chris Claremont.
Bob has been an inker at Marvel and DC on many series, including The Incredible Hulk, Conan the Barbarian, The Legion of Super Heroes, Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, and The New Titans, as well as penciling Star Wars and several Spider-Man fill-ins for Marvel. Bob worked on the Uncanny X-men series including inking X-men 94. Bob also inked Apocalypse's first appearance in X-factor 6. Bob has worked with a majority of the great artists and writers out there… From Neal Adams to Bob Layton, he's inked them all.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Bob to ask him a few questions:
How did you get started in the business?
I have a good story about my start that you can read here: http://www.bobmcleod.com/start.html
Basically, I sold my car to finance a trip to NYC, where after a few months of rejections I finally met Neal Adams, who called Marvel and got me a job in the production dept. doing lettering corrections. I started getting freelance work a few months later.
What was the first book that you worked on?
Well, I inked some backgrounds on a few comics for Mike Esposito, Al Milgrom, and Klaus Janson, possibly before anything else. Marv Wolfman gave me my first freelance job. I penciled and inked a satire of the movie West World for Marvel's Crazy magazine #5, I think while I was still working in the production dept. at Marvel. Marvel paid for Marv and me to see the movie and gave me still photos from the movie to help me with likenesses. It was great. I think the first non-humor job I did was inking over Keith Pollard's tight pencils on the black & white Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine #5, a couple months later. The first color comic I did was a few months later on Kazar #7, inking John Buscema's breakdowns, which I was totally unprepared to handle at that time.
Who is your favorite person to collaborate with (writer to pencil or artist to ink)?
I really enjoyed working from Peter David's script on Amazing Spider-Man #267, “The Commuter Cometh”. I'm basically a humor artist at heart, and that was a funny story. John Buscema's breakdown's were always my favorite thing to ink, because they allowed me so much freedom to do whatever I wanted with them.
What is one tip you can give to an artist (technique in inking or pencilling)?
One tip isn't going to take anyone very far. Comic art is a very difficult art form, requiring many varied skills and areas of knowledge. Good inking should be based on good drawing (after obviously gaining control of the tools), and good penciling requires good figure drawing. So I would say study figure drawing first and foremost.
What are your thoughts about Fox developing a New Mutants movie and are you involved?
I'm very excited about the upcoming movie, which of course I never dreamed would ever actually happen, and I think it's hilarious that people assume I'll somehow be involved. I would be stunned if anyone from the movie contacts me for any reason, other than the remote possibility that they may invite me to the premiere. While I would of course love to make a cameo appearance, and I assume I'll at least get a screen credit as co-creator, I'm mainly just hoping they focus on some of the characters I co-created, because so many of them were created after I left the series. I enjoy the X-Men movies for the most part, so I'm expecting to like the movie.
What book did you work on that you feel is your best body of work?
That's difficult to say, because I didn't stay on any series very long. I always wanted to ink my own pencils, and wasn't fast enough to do that on a monthly basis. My favorite work was the movie satires and Teen Hulk strips I did for Crazy, because as I said, I'm primarily a humor artist. I think I did some good work on Star Wars and Superman, and the Spider-Man: Vengeance and Venom: The Enemy Within mini-series I penciled and inked.
Who is your favorite character to draw and why?
I enjoy drawing Spider-Man, because of the poses he gets into, and I like his costume. I also like drawing Storm, because I like her costume and her overall look. And I like drawing the New Mutants I co-created, of course.
What was it like to work with the late Gene Colan?
I always loved inking Gene's pencils. I found him easy to ink, particularly on the ink wash jobs. His pencils were very difficult to erase, though, because he used such a soft lead and filled in all of his blacks so completely. It was best to ink him with a pen, because so much of the brush inking would come off with the lead when you erased over it.
Who is the biggest art influence and favorite artist?
Well, Mort Drucker is my art god. I was very influenced by him early on, and basically wanted to be him. I studied Neal Adams religiously, mainly for his rendering, when I was learning to do dramatic comics, along with John Buscema, for his figure drawing and visual storytelling. My favorite comic artist, if I have one, is probably Jean Giraud, however. I dearly love his Lt. Blueberry work. And what about Frazetta? There are too many great artists I love and studied.
If you could get any artist to draw you a commission, who would it be and what would you want them to draw?
Well, Frazetta's gone, and Giraud is gone, and Mort Drucker is pretty old now, but I'd love to have him draw a caricature of me……
I want to thank Bob for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. If you want to see Bob draw one of his favorite characters be sure to check out the following video:
For more information about Bob please be sure to check out his website at http://www.bobmcleod.com/