TCJ 300 Conversations: Stan Sakai & Chris Schweizer

Posted by on December 25th, 2009 at 4:05 AM

 

Schweizer:
Trades were making me think of some of the trades that I had from the ’80s, one of them being the Ninja Turtles — Laird and Eastman were contemporaries of yours. Do you find that you were more influenced by your peers and those that were immediately before you, than by people who had been putting out comics a long time previous, or is it half and half, or are you not —

Sakai:
I think it’s half and half. My big influence was Steve Ditko, during his Spider-Man and Dr. Strange days for Marvel.

Schweizer:
That’s similar with me. The Spider-Man Marvel Masterworks I got as a kid and that’s how I think of my action sequences — very deliberately, plotted out — you can see Spider-Man is on a wall, and then he jumps to the floor, and then he jumps up to the ceiling, and there is a very clear progression from panel to panel as to what’s happening. Which is sort of the opposite of Kirby, which sets the move for an action sequence and gives you the idea for it, but it’s much less —

Sakai:
It’s more heavy on the power and the action. Ditko was very cinematic, and you could actually see a progression in his moves. It was very nice. Like I said, Ditko was my first comic-book influence. Later on, it became Kirby, even still, later on; it was the European books. Sergio Aragonés is a big influence. Not so much as a style, but as the approach to creating comics. He’s the one who actually pushed into me to do my research. Even though Groo is a broad humor comic, he does a lot of research. If you look at the ships before Groo sinks them, you can see the rigging and everything. You can actually build a ship just from his design.


From Crogan’s Vengeance, ©2008 Chris Schweizer.


Schweizer:
He called me out on my rigging, looking at it. He said, “You don’t have nearly enough!” To be fair, the rigging that’s there, I think is right, but I did leave off all the things on the sides, so that you can see through it. It’s hard to do all those lines with a brush, it’s just too much. But, yeah, his ships are just gorgeous. And his battle sequences are amazing! I can’t even comprehend how to do those.

Sakai:
Actually there was one sequence in my first Nilson Groundthumper story, where Nilson was fighting a monster, and it flowed through about half a dozen panels. And Sergio acted it out just to make sure everything was right, even the way the hand rests on the staff and everything.

Schweizer:
I do that. It’ll probably change eventually, but anytime I’d have any sword-fighting scenes I’d want them to be right. I’d have my yardstick, and I’d fling it behind and move it forward, and think, “OK, would I lunge with my left leg or my right leg?” I don’t know, I have to get up and act out the action sequences to try and get them to make sure that they work.

Sakai:
Right, right. You have to do that.

Schweizer:
What were some of the other influences? It’s mostly stuff that you read as a kid and then —

Sakai:
Uhh…

Schweizer:
The Europeans, are they the ones that —

Sakai:
The European stuff. My favorite samurai artist, or artist of the samurai genre, is a Belgian named Michetz. He does a series called Kogaratsu, and it’s just wonderful. He does so much research on his artwork, it’s phenomenal. Azpiri — I love the Spanish artist Azpiri’s painted work, he has beautiful use of colors.

Schweizer:
Oh, if I were to work in color, the color that captures me more than anything else — have you seen the Beladone books?

Sakai:
Yes, yes. I have those in French.

Schweizer:
I have those in French, as well. I love them as well. His palette is just perfect. It reminds me a lot of Franco Zeffirelli, both in his movies, but also in his operas. I saw a production of La Bohème that had that same palette. All warms with occasional spots of brilliant reds, or blues or golds. And then the rest being this mild sepia that is just absolutely fantastic. So, I look t0 the Europeans for color a lot, but so often they all work in four-color, and so the ink style is so much different than what I can ever use.

Sakai:
You’re right.

Schweizer:
First Second just put out Bourbon Island 1730 and it was difficult for me to read at first, because I’m so used to seeing [Lewis Trondheim’s] work in color and he still approached it with that, or, it seemed to me that he still approached it with that same sensibility, only it being black and white. It was harder for me to tell what was going on in the first few pages. But there’s that looseness to it that I feel, or sparseness to it, I guess — sparseness to the line-weight — that I never feel I can work into my own comics. And so often when I’m reading comics, I’m not reading them as much to enjoy them, although I do enjoy them, but to see what I can learn from them. And that’s the hardest thing, when I find something that I love, but can’t use.

Sakai:
Since we’re talking about the early days, one of the biggest advantages for me was timing. Albedo came out just about the same time that the Ninja Turtles came out. We are both celebrating our 25th anniversary. The Ninja Turtles sparked that huge black-and-white explosion in the ’80s. Usagi was at the beginning of it, and the Turtles pretty much carried Usagi along. They were a big influence on Usagi‘s success. There were a lot more black-and-white books that came along after that that just disappeared.

Schweizer:
The black-and-white explosion — the readers that brought in, do you think that they were looking for a different type of comic than what was existing?

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