Between 1999 and 2009 Lightsabre.co.uk brought news, fanfic, podcasts and much, much more to the masses. Our eighty-ninth guests is a world-renowned comic artist with a portfolio of works ranging from Superman Returns to Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Adam Hughes.
Lightsabre – Adam, welcome to Lightsabre.
Lightsabre – You’ve become synonymous for your fantastic ‘bad girl’ art on Catwoman, Wonder Woman and Tomb Raider but over the years have contributed some stunning Star Wars art. What draws you to the saga?
AH! – Star Wars was my catalyst, my spark. I was 10 when Star Wars came out (not Episode IV or A New Hope, kids…. Star Wars) and it made sure I never grew out of the phase where we all love to use our imaginations. There can be a danger in never growing up, a Peter Pan Complex or something like that, but there’s a difference between being childISH and childLIKE. I think the great thing about the Star Wars saga is that it is all-ages (for the most part), and as an adult I’ve learned ways to appreciate the thing I loved as a kid.
Lightsabre – Tell us something of your career. Where did you begin in publishing and what led you to today?
AH! – I started out in the big black & white comic craze that was going on in American comics in the mid-80s. There were handing out comic assignments in vending machines in those days… Ah, the 1980s. All that Tetris and Winger. I spilled New Coke on my parachute pants. What nostalgia….
What led me to today? A long and crooked road. I can never see more than a few paces at any time. Can’t believe where I am, from where I started, and I probably won’t believe where I end up. I’m sure it’ll all end in tears.
AH! – A fabulous cocktail of dissatisfaction and self-loathing! It really helps to never truly love your art, at least it does for me. Raging self-hatred really does push you to be a little better every time. Does it help that some other folks get enjoyment and satisfaction from that which vexes and confounds me? Absolutely not! Did I mention that bemused self-involvement was the garnish on that cocktail? My bad.
Seriously, if I develop, it’s because I loathe drawing the same thing twice, so I think I’m always looking for a new way to draw stuff. I think that keeps my stuff relatively fresh.
AH! – Well, I guess there’s conceptual stages and then execution stages. I sit and think about what to think about, and hopefully come up with a zinger of an idea. “What Jabba’s sail barge was actually a false front, a seemingly legitimate cruise line that is one of the many false fronts to Jabba’s criminal empire? I bet I cool Art Nouveau theater poster advertising Princess Leia’s slave-girl singing & dancing debut might be different…
That’s another factor, thinking about what else I have to go up against. I knew about the Star Wars Celebrations conventions almost a year in advance…. I had time to think. I guessed that a lot of artist might want to take this opportunity to do what we all would like to do: the classic Star Wars montage. Big Head in back, lotsa characters in front, the dreaded New Hope montage. So, I knew I couldn’t stand out just on pure art, there were too many excellent artists in the Art Shows at the Celebrations this year, so I thought I’d d something conceptually different. Everyone would probably have “anniversary fever” and feel like doing an Episode 4 print, so I guess I thought Return of the Jedi would be out of left field.
OK, concept done…. start sketching. Try to come up with a good pose and design. Since I was riffing on a century-old design movement, I studied the books. Lots of Alphonse Mucha. Try to find the recurring design motifs and think like a master. Eventually, you hit upon the perfect design. OR, if you’re ME, you run out of time, and just do your best idea.
Execution. Find some nice reference shots of Carrie Fisher, and really try to make it FEEL like Princess Leia. Hours and hours of pencilling. Erase the boobs, make them smaller, fight the natural instinct. Even more hours of inking. Scan the line art into my computer, in sections(!), because it’s so big. Put all the pieces together in Photoshop. Color the image in Photoshop. Age the piece in Photoshop! Take the image to the printer, and since my life is one big James Bond film, deal with the gorgeous blonde who is my printer’s rep. It’d be great, except for the fact that I think the James Bond film that my life is, is Casino Royale. The first one.
Lightsabre – What kick-started your interest in Star Wars?
AH! – A summer’s day in May of 1977! My mom taking my cousin and I to a theater to see that new space movie. That’s all it took. Oh, and a boy, a girl, and a galaxy.
Lightsabre – We were lucky enough to have you over here in the UK in July 2007 for Celebration Europe. How much did you enjoy the weekend, and how different are the American fans from the European fans?
AH! – Celebration Europe was a hoot. I’d been to London for the first time about 8 months earlier, to a show that was ALSO at the ExCeL centre. So, I felt Tube-trained and DLR proficient. I love London. And it was nice to find out all the clichés were false. The food was wonderful, everyone had great teeth, and I was not the obnoxious American tourist! A splendid time was had by all. As for the fans, the difference was in the politeness. I meet all kinds in American conventions, but almost every British fan I met was stupefyingly polite.
Lightsabre – Your style is impactful and dynamic, and no-one draws women quite like you do. Do you prefer being a cover artist, where that knockout impact can be best showcased, or a sequential artist doing monthly books?
AH! – Well, I’m SLOOOWLY getting back into doing interiors. Doing covers is GREAT, but I’m a comic book artist who never draws comic books. It’s strange, and I’m trying to remedy that. But doing comic covers is a lot of fun, especially when you get as much creative freedom as I do.
Lightsabre – What other hobbies and interests do you have?
AH! – I like travelling, playing the guitar poorly, and collecting prop replicas. Toys! Toys are fun! As are video games. Is that sad? I never had any when I was a teen, so I’m taking care of lost fun now. It’s never too late for a happy childhood.
Lightsabre – Lucas is releasing two new television series, with hopefully more to follow. What are you hoping to see?
AH! – Welllll…. my hopes for the shows aren’t about what I will see, but are more about how I’ll feel. I grew up LOVING Star Trek, and I kinda gave up on Trek about a season or two into Voyager, for no other reason than I think I’d seen enough. It’s possible to go to the well too often, and I worry that the thing that makes Star Wars special is the rarity of it, the spectacle of a new Star Wars film. I hope that with being able to tune into a new Star Wars story every week or so, that the magic won’t evaporate from familiarity. Also, there’s a little fear I have that with so many new hours of material, there’ll be some new element introduced into the mythos that I won’t like. When the 6 movies were over, I kinda breathed a sigh of relief, glad that nothing TOO disagreeable came down the pike. Jar Jar has faded into a mist of Ewokian proportions, so I hope that nothing is introduced that is on par with them, LOL. Is that negativistic? To not have hopes about the new shows, just fears about what I DON’T want to see?
Lightsabre – How satisfied were you with Revenge of the Sith?
AH! – I was glad we exited without embarrassing ourselves too much. Sith was fun, and did its job well enough. I personally had always imagined Anakin’s fall from grace to be a tad more Shakespearean, a bit more poetic, but I was happy enough with what I got. Obi-Wan is my favorite Prequel character, and I thought Ewan McGregor finally got a chance to be the young Alec Guinness he probably wanted to be playing from Day One. I thought it a shame that Padme was relegated to weeping and combing her hair. But, I have to say, my jaw hit the crusty, buttery floor when Anakin burst into flames, screaming bloody epithets. THAT was a powerful moment I’d always hoped for, and boy, did I get it. Thanks, Unca George!
Lightsabre – What lies ahead for you in the future?
AH! – A misery of years in the Houses of Lamentation, and a chorus of dead voices will curse my name. Or, I’ll win the lottery and you can all come over and play in my life-size Millennium Falcon! Whee!
Seriously, chipping away at All-Star Wonder Woman, which I’m writing and drawing, and an end to my run on Catwoman covers. After that, who knows? I hope there’s gonna be some Indiana Jones comics next year, to go with the new film! THAT’D be fun to draw…
Lightsabre – A quick question about our site. Any comments?
AH! – I can’t actually see it, as I have a complex series of firewalls and filters that only allow my computer to see porn.
Lightsabre – It’s been a great interview, and thanks for being our guest. Just one final question. You have one final Star Wars cover to draw and a choice of three Star Wars women to inhabit it – Mara Jade, Queen Amidala or Princess Leia. Who do you choose?
AH! – Dear God, it’s like Sophie’s Choice with blasters, all of a sudden…. Okay, even though I would crawl naked over 9 miles of broken Coke bottles to drink Natalie Portman’s bathwater, I have to say it’d be Princess Leia. Color me old-school.
This interview was originally posted on lightsabre.co.uk on 16th December 2007.