by Jarrod Jones. Humanity has this recurring habit of tinkering around with forces well above our understanding—hell, “understanding,” let’s call it our “existential pay grade.”
The especially mad scientists in the Valiant Universe hang their tin-foil caps in the headquarters of The Burned, a covert operation featuring the kind of zealous types who like to collect calamitous things that have no place in a sane world. And stashed away in the covert catacombs of The Burned is the Black Bar, a way-off-the-grid housing facility that serves as a veritable zoo of the monstrous and the damned.
Somebody just set all these things loose the punish those who claim to control this world. And who’s standing in the center of this gauntlet of Soviet god-beasts and Deadside halfwalkers? Who do you think?
In short, it’s a bad time to be Bloodshot. And a great time to be a Bloodshot reader.
From Tim Seeley, Marc Laming, Andrew Dalhouse and Dave Sharpe comes “Burned”, the latest high-octane Bloodshot ballyhoo that pits Ol’ Red Eyes against the deepest, darkest (and destructive) secrets The Burned ever kept. DoomRocket spoke with Marc Laming about the crucial part he plays in what might be the wildest chapter in Bloodshot’s life yet. (Also, theres a comparison page gallery below featuring Laming’s pencils and inks and Andrew Dalhouse’s colors for Bloodshot #9, in stores October 14.)
Enjoy the havoc below, though be warned—thar be kaiju.
1. You’re currently working on the “Burned” storyarc running through ‘Bloodshot’, which follows the work of Brett Booth—was there any discussion about creating a visual throughline from Brett’s arc to yours? If so, how did you maintain that specific visual consistency?
Marc Laming: Actual discussion but out of respect for the main title artist I would always strive to be as respectful of their designs and world settings as possible. You always bring something of yourself to the job but it’s Brett and Tim’s world I’m getting to play in.
2. Tim’s scripts call for wine-swilling posh types, soaring henchmen propelled by jetpacks, invisible helicopters, island lairs off the coast of Madagascar—and, at the center, our nanobot-imbued superhero. You’re firing on a whole bunch of cylinders in “Burned”; when you’re illustrating an action comic such as this, how do you keep your layouts fresh and perpetually exciting? How do you avoid—if you’ll allow it—burnout?
ML: Having all those “James Bond on steroids” elements that Tim has given me to draw and dream up and design keeps me fresh if not a little out of breath. [Laughs]
3. You’re currently in charge of making Bloodshot, one of Valiant’s biggest icons, look good. Every artist has their own take on the big guns—how did you settle on your own personal take?
ML: I really loved The Valiant and Paolo Rivera’s take on Bloodshot which made him a little more grounded in look, and if you cross that with Greg Smallwood’s cover I think that’ll give you the genesis of where my Bloodshot comes from—and I took a huge amount of inspiration from Lewis LaRosa’s work on the title too.
4. What elements must be a part of Bloodshot? Where can you experiment on the overall design?
ML: For me, he had better have the same overall look—white skin, nanites, red circle on his chest, and red eyes but I think his hairstyle can be played with a bit.
5. In “Burned” there are quiet moments between Bloodshot and the psiot fugitive, Mina Nez. When you’re working on a slick piece of business like ‘Bloodshot’, how do moments like these temper your storytelling? I mean, it’s not like a shot-reverse shot panel exchange is going to cut it in an action book. How do you lay out the quiet beats between the various skirmishes?
ML: I love drawing those more tender moments—Bloodshot might be a bad ass killing machine but he’s also trying to hold on to and rediscover some of his humanity after having [others playing with him] for such a long time, so it’s really important to me that those parts of the story have equal weight and page real estate as the all-out kick-butt pages.
6. I’m looking through these issues of ‘Bloodshot’ and I noticed that you’ve set down more than a few large panels on moments that don’t quite require the bombast of a full splash page. There’s an IMAX effect to these panels—like in issue #7, where those aforementioned henchmen are hurtling above the clouds, the sky wide open, the danger imminent. What are you feeling when you render these larger panels? I imagine you’re trying to get the reader to feel a charge during these beats.
ML: I’m sure that has a lot to do with seeing Bryan Hitch’s work on The Ultimates where he really did make widescreen comics and that’s been a big influence on my work ever since. I like putting the reader in the middle of the action.
7. Speaking of panels, during any proper action sequence—and this depends on the circumstances, of course—how many panels do you feel are too many? Do you ever work around scripts that call for too many panels on a page?
ML: Good question! In US comics 5-7 panels always feels like a good number to me. If there are a lot of panels called for it’s just another problem to solve. But I’ll often add a panel to a page if there are too many actions being expected in a given panel.
8. There are certain expectations in books like ‘Bloodshot’ that require the artist to convey the sort of bleeding-edge technology that these stories demand and those pesky writers might take for granted. It’s one thing to write “the most advanced computer in the world” or “bitchin’ jetpack” and it’s quite another to draw it. How do you go about rendering advanced technology? Do you ever hit any, I guess, techno-snags?
ML: With Bloodshot I’m building on and using Brett’s designs so the snags are very few, it’s just a question of making anything new I come up with is compatible with Brett’s visual world aesthetic.
9. As far as you’re concerned, who is drawing the best action comics in the business right now?
ML: Mathieu Laffray, JH Williams, Gabriel Hardman, Mike Norton, Mike Hawthorne, Lee Weeks, Stuart Immonen, Ron Garney, Rachael Stott, Bilquis Everly, Christian Wildgoose, Terry Dodson, Tommy Lee Edwards, and Mack Chater are all brilliant and I’m sure I have forgotten serval hundred more artists who I think are amazing.
10. It seems like Tim is tackling the more horrific aspects of Bloodshot’s origins, what with Ol’ Redeyes being this mad science experiment and all, which is leading “Burned” down wild avenues. What’s the most surprising thing you’ve been asked to draw from this arc so far?
ML: The bloody stumps of Bloodshot dragging himself up a street threatening a huge Kaiju—that was fun.
‘Bloodshot’ #7 is on sale now.
‘Bloodshot’ #7: Fully-Loaded Edition (with 8 pages of bonus content, including essays from Tim Seeley and ‘Bloodshot’ co-creator Kevin VanHook) drops August 12.
‘Bloodshot #8 hits stores September 9, ‘Bloodshot’ #9 on October 10. You can pre-order ‘Bloodshot’ #9 now. (Diamond Code: MAR202195)
To find a comic store that offers shipping or curbside service, head over to comicshoplocator.com.
Immerse your eyeballs in this 3-page preview of ‘Bloodshot’ #9 (colors by Andrew Dalhouse), including a comparison view of the pencils & inks of Marc Laming, courtesy of Valiant!
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