Comic Book Historians

Tim Sale: The Gentleman's Artist part 1 with Alex Grand & Jim Thompson

April 12, 2019 Comic Book Historians Season 1 Episode 39
Comic Book Historians
Tim Sale: The Gentleman's Artist part 1 with Alex Grand & Jim Thompson
Comic Book Historians
Tim Sale: The Gentleman's Artist part 1 with Alex Grand & Jim Thompson
Apr 12, 2019 Season 1 Episode 39
Comic Book Historians

Alex Grand and Jim Thompson interview Tim Sale, discussing his life from when he was born in 1956, through his childhood comic book reading of 1960s Marvel, his training under John Buscema in the late 1970s, his 1980 inks of Mythadventures, his working relationship with Jeph Loeb on 1990s Marvel and DC like Batman Long Halloween and Superman for All Seasons, his Marvel Color series and his involvement in the Heroes TV show in 2005. This is the first of a two parter interview that covers the life and times of Tim Sale from 1956 to 2005.  Music - Standard License. Images used in artwork ©Their Respective Copyright holders, CBH Podcast ©Comic Book Historians. Thumbnail Artwork ©Comic Book Historians. Support us at

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Show Notes Transcript

Alex Grand and Jim Thompson interview Tim Sale, discussing his life from when he was born in 1956, through his childhood comic book reading of 1960s Marvel, his training under John Buscema in the late 1970s, his 1980 inks of Mythadventures, his working relationship with Jeph Loeb on 1990s Marvel and DC like Batman Long Halloween and Superman for All Seasons, his Marvel Color series and his involvement in the Heroes TV show in 2005. This is the first of a two parter interview that covers the life and times of Tim Sale from 1956 to 2005.  Music - Standard License. Images used in artwork ©Their Respective Copyright holders, CBH Podcast ©Comic Book Historians. Thumbnail Artwork ©Comic Book Historians. Support us at

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Alex: Welcome to another episode of Comic Book Historians. Today we have a special guest, Tim Sale. I’m here with my trusty cohost, Jim Thompson. Jim, how are you doing?

Jim: You shouldn’t trust me, Alex. I’m a lawyer.

Alex: Yeah. Never trust lawyers, ladies and gentlemen, but I do trust Jim though. Today we’re with Tim Sale, a comic book auteur and artist for the past 30 or so years. He has both an extremely talented visual storytelling ability, and also historical perspective as he does make comic book history commentary on social media, which is always fascinating to read.

Alex: Tim, thank you so much for joining us today.

Tim: Sure, my pleasure.

Alex: I want to start from the beginning. You’re born in 1956. You’re born in New York. When you were six years old, your father bought-

Jim: Well he wasn’t born in New York when he was six years old.

Alex: No, that is also a true statement. Well done. Lawyers, you know? You got to watch out.

Tim: I was born in Ithaca, New York.

Alex: Okay.

Tim: Which is my father’s hometown. His father was a professor at Cornell. When my father … Well when we became a family, we moved to Massachusetts. My dad was a very young, very cocky professor of English at Amherst. That was my first six years. We moved from Ithaca when I was three weeks old, so Amherst was my growing up period.

Alex: When you were six, you guys moved to the West Coast.

Tim: Yeah.

Alex: Your father bought your first comics for you.

Tim: Yeah, to amuse me in the car, because we drove. He didn’t know anything about them. He knew I liked adventure stuff.

Alex: Yes.

Tim: Like Zorro and Robin Hood, and all these visual semi costumed heroic people. A lot of them was Disney.

Alex: So these were like Dell comics from 1961 or-

Tim: No. No. He didn’t … No, I don’t think he bought me those kind of comics. He bought me superhero comics, but he might’ve bought me Millie the Model too. I don’t know.

Alex: I see.

Tim: What I can tell you is that when I was in 20s at some point, I went to a spinner rack and found a reprint of Amazing Spider-man annual number two.

Alex: The Dr. Strange one.

Tim: Ditko and Lee, the Terrible Tinkerer was one of the backup-

Alex: That’s a classic issue by the way.

Tim: It absolutely is on many levels. I had this intense wave of nostalgia. I almost said nausea. But nostalgia. I figured out that that was one of the books that dad had bought me. And looking at the … Less so the Terrible Tinkerer story, although it is a wonderful one, I did a remark of the Terrible Tinkerer last year in a sketch book, one of my sketch books. That’s in a side note, but it was so much fun to draw. All that coming out of his nose and all that shit. Sorry, can I swear?

Alex: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah. You can swear. He’s really … Ditko, of course, it’s-

Tim: Yeah. His eyebrows are like this. You can’t improve on the Dr. Strange story. Everything about it is amazing.

Jim: Yeah, true. That was two stories, both annual one and annual two are like, in terms of Ditko, those are just tour de forces.

Tim: Pretty prime.

Jim: Both of those splash pages on annual one?

Tim: Annual one, yeah.

Jim: Just were incredible.

Alex: They are.

Tim: Right.

Alex: He has like a punchline to each of those battles with those single pages. They’re incredible. Ditko’s Dr. Strange too, that was amazing. That was pioneer stuff.

Tim: Yeah, that was distilled down. I mean there was more of a formula to the annual one.

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: Because you’ve got to get all the guns and he’s got to fire all the guns separately, and feed it all.

Jim: But each fight is so differently framed.

Tim: Yeah. Oh no, it’s extremely well done.

Jim: It’s well done, yeah.

Tim: But it’s still a formula. In the end, there’s nothing [inaudible 00:04:25] about the Dr. Strange one. That’s funny. It’s a great Strange story.

Alex: True.

Tim: Anyway, and I ripped off a couple of those pictures in Spider-man blue.

Alex: Nice. Okay.

Tim: Some of the punches and stuff like that. That was my father’s contribution to my career as it were. Always, as I said earlier, I’ve been attracted to adventure fiction, especially heroic and without recognizing it, people wearing costumes, masks. Not everything is as wimpy as the Scarlet Pepper now. I mean I have a lot of really good stuff out there. Later on, it became things like the Count of Monte Cristo, and just thrilling, mysterious…

Alex: Oh, I see, so not necessarily super powers, but-

Tim: No.

Alex: The costume, the adventure.

Tim: The powers were always less interesting to me.

Alex: Yeah, right.

Tim: Or not the point. I should say that.

Alex: Yeah. Yeah.

Tim: A guy who can walk up walls is pretty great.

Jim: Because I know your age compared to mine-

Tim: Which is what? We should say.

Jim: Three years. I’m three years younger than you. I remember going in Walden Books and I had not read any Edgar Rice Burroughs, but those Frazetta covers of that time, those just knocked me out too in terms of that kind of thing, and was … Were those … You’re like what? You’re like a teenager at that time.

Tim: Not Burroughs, but Conan.

Jim: Yeah. Well, it was Conan for you? Oh that Conan the Cimmerian number three, where the Frost Giants one and the blue.

Alex: Yeah, it’s a beautiful one.

Jim: That one just knocks me out. Those-

Tim: There are too many to mention. Just an amazing array. I remember that, faked or not, there was a letter in a Silver Surfer issue, where somebody posits wouldn’t it be great to have … And it’s a terrible idea. To have Conan meet the Silver Surfer.

Alex: That’s colliding genres right there.

Tim: They said, the Sumerian and the Surfer, that’s a great title.

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: But it was Roy who was answering letters at that point. Roy, obviously, was interested in Conan and Howard, and so he wanted to respond. He wrote about it. I said, “Well I got to check this out.” I went and I found the red cape was the ape cover.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Tim: I was like … 14, 15.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: I couldn’t believe that they didn’t … We had a fight scene in it, it was stopped when … It’s kind of like porn when it’s soft porn and-

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: And they didn’t stop.

Alex: Yeah, they kept going.

Tim: Conan poked out this guy’s eyeball. He broke his back. I can just-

Alex: Wow.

Tim: Whoa!

Alex: I never heard the porn analogy, but I can see that.

Tim: Well you know you don’t-

Alex: I’m not saying I relate to it, but I-

Tim: You don’t cut to the fireplace when the good stuff starts happening.

Alex: Right.

Jim: Robert E. Howard didn’t cut to the fireplace.

Alex: Yeah, that’s true.

Tim: I just loved the pulp of it. I was at the right age for all that. I had an Eisenhower jacket. It’s four pockets inside and out. Each one had a paperback in it. A lot of the pages were the good scenes, I dog eared it down. So if I had to wait for a bus or if had any spare time, anyway, there was that. How I had gotten to that, I don’t know.

Jim: But not Burroughs?

Tim: No, never Burroughs. I’ve never read any Burroughs.

Jim: You’ve never drawn Tarzan? You never cared about any … That Cooper, Tarzan is-

Tim: Drawing Tarzan is a different thing. I haven’t very much. I haven’t drawn Conan very much.

Jim: No. I was going to ask you that, because I couldn’t recall. If you did it, it was like a-

Tim: Some of that is just the intimidation of Frazetta

Alex: Right. Right. Right.

Tim: I don’t know what I’d bring to it.

Alex: One thing I want to segue toward, so who is your favorite Conan comic book artist?

Tim: Not Buscema

Alex: Not Buscema, okay. You knew what I was segueing to, obviously.

Jim: There’s so many, but that’s what I heard.

Tim: For a while, it was Smith, but it’s not Smith.


Alex: Right.

Tim: I love the Frost Giant’s daughter it is pretty perfect.

Jim: That splash page is unbelievable.

Tim: The double?

Alex: Yeah. yeah.

Tim: The storytelling in a lot of it is really great. Adams at times, not always. In comics, there isn’t one that I really-

Alex: There’s no one favorite?

Tim: No.

Alex: One thing I want to kind of segue to in the next stage. You were at University of Washington for a while. Then you left the University of Washington, took some classes, John Buscema classes at the New York School of Visual Arts. What led to that change?

Tim: No. He had his own workshop.

Alex: Workshop, okay.

Tim: That he created.

Alex: Yes.

Tim: It was not at the School of Visual Arts.

Alex: I see. Oh it was the one that he did himself.

Tim: Yes.

Alex: Oh I see. Okay.

Tim: I also was enrolled to the School of Visual Arts at the same time.

Alex: Okay.

Tim: But I almost never went.

Alex: Right. Okay.

Tim: I was really there for the workshop.

Alex: I see. Okay.

Tim: That was three months long, three different illustrators, three different teachers. Each one, once a week, would give a lecture with demonstrations. The first one was Buscema. He taught anatomy. The second one was Romita. He taught inking and storytelling. The third one was Marie Severin. She taught cover design and storytelling.

Jim: Holy crap. That’s an amazing three-

Tim: I know.

Jim: I mean that threesome is something.

Tim: And as often the case in real life, real talents, not that Severin was not talented, she certainly was, the real talents were not that good teachers. She was the better teacher. She took a shine to me, and she invited me up to the bullpen.

Alex: Oh really? Marie did? Cool.

Tim: Yeah. I think Shooter was the head of-

Alex: Jim Shooter?

Tim: The bullpen then.

Alex: What year … Would you say that was like 70…

Tim: ’76.

Alex: 76. Okay. So that was probably Archie Goodwin, maybe. Maybe I’m wrong.

Tim: I don’t know. I don’t think so.

Alex: Okay. Okay. Okay.

Tim: Marie had seen some of my ink wash stuff.

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: Which I don’t know how.

Jim: Not published yet, right?

Tim: No. No.

Jim: Just seen it.

Tim: She must’ve asked. I can’t remember. They had people doing, in the black and white comics, they would just come in and do light tone over inks, ink wash.

Alex: Yeah, oh wow.

Tim: Pablo Marcos-

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: That kind of thing.

Jim: Ploog was doing stuff directly from his pencils at that point for like Planet of the Apes and things.

Tim: Really?

Jim: Yeah. Yeah, and Tom Sutton too. They were doing it directly … They weren’t even inking at that point.

Tim: It was reproduced from pencils?

Jim: Yeah, reproduced from the pencils.

Tim: Actual pencil?

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: So not grease paint, grease pencil, or…

Jim: My understanding is both of those, they were doing pencils.

Tim: Okay.

Jim: Reproduction. I could be wrong. You’re more a tech guy that … Obviously.

Tim: Well Adams did some of the first issue’s stuff.

Jim: Oh yeah, that’s true.

Tim: The first issue of Vampirella had great story with the artist and the mermaid looks out the … By the sea. This vixen comes out of the water.

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: That’s all pencil.

Alex: Right. Right. Those are some pretty bizarre stories, by the way. Whoever wrote those, that was kind of-

Tim: Oh that’s Archie.

Alex: Oh it was? Oh that’s cool.

Jim: Oh yeah. Goodwin, when he was doing the Warren stuff, that was golden.

Tim: That motherfucker did seven … There’s seven stories in each one of those things.

Alex: Yeah. Right. Right. He did all those, huh?

Tim: He did almost all of the stories and all three of the books.

Alex: Oh that’s cool.

Tim: For at least three or four years.

Alex: Yeah.

Jim: He was writing stuff like for Ditko that just nailed Ditko.

Tim: Well I talked to him about that.

Jim: To Goodwin?

Tim: Yeah.

Jim: Oh please tell us about that, because that’s awesome.

Tim: Well he was our editor on Long Halloween.

Jim: Oh that’s right.

Tim: And he got sick during that, but he was also our editor for all the Batman stuff before, so all of the Halloween specials, Archie was the editor on that. He could draw, but he was more of a writer’s editor, so he was extremely for Jeph, who was still learning his ropes.

Jim: That’s Jeph Loeb?

Tim: Yeah, sorry.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: But he would call and just give a note. You know that panel where Batman’s shadows in the wall, and he scares the villain, and the cigarette jumps out of his mouth, that’s great. Okay, see you later. But you know that he’d looked at the book.

Alex: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: It took him five minutes.

Alex: Right.

Tim: To give back something like that, nobody does that.

Alex: Right.

Tim: We did it then and we did it now, for sure.

Alex: Wow.

Jim: It’s so clear in looking at those Warren Ditkos that he understood exactly what Ditko could do.

Tim: That led to he and I having conversations, because not unlike you and Me, Jim, I was a fan and a thoughtful fan of what he did, and was very curious about his relationship. He talked about … He was the first person I heard say this, and Jeph does this too. Part of the job of a writer in comics is to know who your artist is, and write to their strengths and away from their weaknesses.

Alex: Right.

Tim: The easiest way to do that is to ask them what they want to do and what they don’t want to do. He would do that. He would say to Toth what he feel like drawing. Toth would say, an airplane fight in the sky.


Alex: Right.

Tim: And he’d write-

Jim: Yup.

Tim: You know? Or-

Jim: Because why wouldn’t you have Toth do a fight in the sky?

Tim: Well what do you want to do? You don’t want to do that? What do you want to do? Subterranean creatures. Great.

Alex: Sounds good. Yeah.

Tim: I’ll come up with something.

Alex: Right. That’s cool.

Tim: But for Ditko, he was looking at things like The Fly, the Closed Room, the guy all bandaged, wrapped in bandages, no?

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah. Compared to the Ruby.

Jim: Oh the Ruby is so good.

Tim: You know, that’s Ditko saying, well you know … Oh no. Hey, hey, mister. You want to buy a ruby?

Alex: Right.

Jim: The collector with those eyes? Things that nobody was doing … I mean that was brilliant.

Tim: So he went to the artist and said, “What do you want to do?” That was half his job there at that point, because Archie was like 18 when he got this job?

Alex: Yeah. Yeah.

Tim: His brain was just going a mile a minute.

Alex: Constantly going.

Tim: So okay, I can do that. I can write something like that.

Alex: Right.

Tim: You’re going to be the genius in this. I’m just the guy helping you.

Alex: That’s cool.

Tim: Yeah. So amazing.

Alex: This is going to segue to the ’80s with this particular question. Some of your first type of work, it was not superhero. Jim’s going to ask more about this, was a magic series called Myth Adventures in 1983. How did you get into that? Tell us a little bit about how you got into that.

Tim: I never heard of the books. There were a series of books that were popular.

Alex: Right.

Tim: They were illustrated by a guy named Phil Foglio, the books were. The Pini’s were traveling the country, going to comic books stores, because they were interested in expanding work graphics into publishing things outside of Elf Quest. I knew one of the managers of Golden Age Collectibles, which is a local Seattle shop. He called me and said, “Look. They’re looking for inkers.”

Alex: Oh that’s great.

Tim: At that point, I thought, that’s what I want to be is an inker.

Alex: So you had a good relationship with those people at Golden Age Collectibles at the time.

Tim: Yeah.

Alex: I’ve been there. That’s a nice place.

Tim: Yeah.

Jim: So was that because you were not confident about your own storytelling?

Tim: It absolutely was.

Jim: Okay.

Tim: When I came back from the workshop, I was sure I didn’t know how to do it. Now this was the golden age thing was eight years after coming back from New York.

Jim: Right.

Tim: So I absorbed a lot of other stuff in between and just gotten older, figured stuff out. The black and white boom of which Elf Quest was a part was happening.

Jim: That and Sim were the two big ones-

Tim: Dave Sim was the biggest influence on me, but there are other. Tom McQueeny was doing some stuff that I just loved.

Alex: And you’re also a fan of Alex Toth, right?

Tim: Yeah.

Jim: But now did you reach out to Sim at all? Did you ever have a project with him?

Tim: No. No, I was too scared. I don’t know that they were doing stuff like that. I wasn’t aware that they were interested in publishing other stuff.

Jim: Until later, because they did Bob Burden and-

Tim: Right, but that wasn’t anything I was really interested. That’s not my niche of comics.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: I’d say Dave at shows and stuff like that. In fact, he was the first person I ever heard say this bit of wisdom, which is absolutely true to this day. He was being adored by fans somewhere, and he said, “Look. In here, I’m a superstar. I go out to lunch, nobody knows who the fuck I am. I like it that way.” You know, he didn’t say Brad Pitt, but let’s say-

Jim: I get it. Yeah.

Tim: He can go out to lunch and nobody bats an eye.

Alex: That’s right. There’s no darkness to hide in.

Tim: I thought that was great and smart. But his storytelling and the way, especially before Gerhard, I think I may have mentioned this on the board, on your board. I didn’t read it after Gerhard came in.

Jim: Oh that’s really interesting to me.

Tim: I liked the high wire act of wrote, penciled, inked, lettered, a book a month, and he did that for quite a while.

Jim: And it was good.

Alex: And he took a lot of shortcuts.

Tim: I didn’t care. I mean it’s like early Frank Miller Daredevil. You know, people would say, “Oh you can read it in 10 minutes.” Yeah, but look at this? There’s nothing else like this out there.

Alex: Yeah. He could tell a story without words, really.

Jim: Well Sim was doing that constantly in that epic … He was doing epic illustrated Cerebus and those were just, without words, storytelling. It was brilliant.

Tim: Well there was a page recently on my fan page that somebody posted. I guess it had just come up on eBay. It was a Thieves World page. It was so Cerebus.

Jim: Oh that you did?

Tim: Yeah.

Jim: Oh that’s interesting.

Tim: It was a-

Jim: That’s so funny.

Tim: The establishing shot … First of all, it’s almost no backgrounds, except for the establishing shot. It’s black gutters all the way around. Well not to the end of the page, but a black rectangle, and then black gutters within that, right? Which is so much of what Cerebus was, because he would just do … He would sell out on one or two pals an issue. The rest of it was people talking. It was compelling, because he wrote it so goddamn well.

Alex: Right.

Tim: You didn’t care. You didn’t feel cheated. At least I didn’t.

Jim: No, he understood comics.

Tim: That was a real different maker to me.

Jim: I’m with you. That was that period, and you were born in that moment, and I want to say to my segue into things, I was doing research today on your stuff, even though I know most of your stuff. As I went through chronologically everything that you were doing in the ’80s.

Tim: Right.

Jim: It was like I have all of it. It’s not because I was immediately I understood you. I didn’t know who you were when you were doing Myth Adventures. It was that I was alive in that particular moment.

Tim: Right. Sure.

Jim: I was just buying those things. It was like, I got that. I got that. I got that. And it didn’t stop until the ’90s before I hit something that like, I don’t think I picked up that issue. I had everything you were drawing from the moment you started with Myth Adventures. It’s just so … I didn’t even know. I knew once you did challengers of the Unknown or maybe Amazon, where it’s like I know Tim Sale. Before that, I was still buying everything you were doing from your birth basically. I told Alex, I have to do the ’80s, because I have to talk to you about this stuff.

Jim: Starting with Myth Adventures, I read that first issue of Myth Adventures like 100 times. I just thought this is the funniest thing I’ve ever read. I was like, you know … Okay, I was 23 at this point. It just … You were inking it partly because you weren’t confident. Were you happy with it? What was your experience with doing that as a first project? Were you just happy to be there?

Tim: I was broke, seriously broke, living with friends, living off of the friends. My rent was $100 a month and I couldn’t make it. There’s that.

Jim: So you were happy to get a paycheck.

Tim: I sold out on my try out, which is I did a lot of cross hatching in a lot of stuff, because they told me it was going to be black and white. Then I get 26 pages of pencil. Phil was working two up.

Jim: He done comics or just illustrations at that point?

Tim: No.

Jim: He was not the teacher for storytelling-

Tim: Oh he certainly was not. They gave me a week to ink that, 26 pages.

Jim: Wow.

Tim: They expected what I did on the try out, that level of crosshatching. So every panel, a lot of stuff. I did it. Pretty much from then on, the relationship between the Pini’s and Foglio and me just went in the can.

Alex: Oh really?

Tim: Yeah. In the first issue, I’d fill it … They’d go out in the little woods. Okay, there’s some trees. I made them look like trees, or at least better than what he put down the page. That was an example of … He said, “Look. You can do this better than I do. Would it be okay if I left some stuff for you.” I said, “Sure.” I should’ve said, “Sure, you doubled my page, right? Because I’m paid ink, not to pencil.”

Jim: But you were new.

Tim: Totally. It just got worse and worse. That was sad, but-

Jim: You kept doing it.

Tim: In the meantime, I met Robert Asprin, and Len Abby –

Jim: Wow.

Tim: Because Aspirin wrote the original Myth Adventure stuff.

Jim: Right.

Tim: And I’d done some of my fantasy work and put it up in a fantasy art show that Asprin and Abby attended. They saw it. They were looking for, unbeknownst to me, they were looking for someone to draw Thieves’ World, which is the popular-

Jim: Right.


Tim: Here’s the guy who is naïve and cheap, and we can probably get him for nothing. They did. They said to me, “Here’s the only thing. You have to come to Ann Arbor, which is where we live, because we want to stand over you to watch and see what you do for your first book.” Well by that time, I was confident in my storytelling. As I spoke to the Asprins and also Laurie Sutton, who they poached from Epic.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah, with Archie, right? To be the seasoned head of judging what can or not go. I did a try out page for her. She said, “We would hire him in Epic if you’re not going to get him,” so that I had the gig. But at that point, I knew that I knew much more than they knew.

Alex: Right.

Jim: So you were making contacts … Is this where you made the contact with Beth Wagner too? Was that later?

Alex: No. That was later.

Jim: Okay.

Tim: That was after Thieves’ World, when I realized look, I still got nothing. Nobody knows what I do. Laurie said, “Well there’s this guy named Mike Friedrich.

Jim: Oh yeah, we’ve been talking a lot about him.

Tim: From the ’70s. He created Star Reach.

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: And then became an agent. Laurie said, “Why don’t you contact him? I’ll give you his information.” I did. I sent him pages. He said, “I agree to represent you. First thing you need to do is come to San Diego.” This was back when it was a comic show.

Alex: Yeah, not a movie show.

Jim: So San Diego for the ComiCo specific?

Tim: It was only comics.

Jim: Yeah. What year was that?

Tim: Late ’80s.

Jim: Okay.

Alex: Okay.

Tim: I did. That’s where I met Matt Wagner, Diana Schutz, Bob Schreck-

Jim: And through them-

Tim: My first time. Second time, and that gave me work for five years at least.

Jim: Oh because Grendel.

Tim: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah, which is huge.

Tim: It is. It was. Also, they’re all friends of mine. That was a big thing too.

Jim: Wagner’s awesome.

Tim: He is. It wasn’t until the next year that I went and I met Barbara Kesel. Barbara Randall at that point, not married to Karl. She was partly there as a DC representative to look for talent. I showed her some pages that I’m still pretty proud of actually.

Alex: Nice.

Tim: But they’re very Love and Rockets-y.

Alex: Oh cool.

Jim: Jamie or Berta?

Tim: Oh Jaime.

Jim: Yeah, I mean Jaime.

Tim: Yeah, but that kind of storytelling, and also three pounds a page, a lot of it.

Jim: Sure, because he’s Ditko influenced.

Tim: Actually Beto did a story that was four panels on the page, and I said, “That’s a really clean way of telling and then framing it better.”

Jim: Clean is-

Tim: There was more room for the art, you know?

Jim: Clean is the very definition of both of those guys.

Tim: Barbara said, “Well it’s very nice Love and Rockets, but we don’t publish Love and Rockets. We have a guy that Janette Kahn, who was the head of DC at that point. She was very interested in finding people from the movie-TV world to come into comics. Jeph was one of those people. She put us together.

Alex: Oh cool okay.

Tim: We were looking for something to do.

Jim: Was this before … This was after ComiCo or before ComiCo?

Tim: ComiCo.

Jim: Yeah. I’m thinking about Amazon, obviously.

Tim: It all jumbles. Certainly, the published work, the first published work with Jeph was after a bunch of ComiCo stuff.

Alex: Okay, after ComiCo.

Jim: Because boy, Amazon, I thought, for me, was the first time where … I’d seen your Granuloid scene, obviously everything else you have done, but when you did that with Segal?

Tim: Steve Segal.

Jim: Steve Segal. When you did that, it was like I saw what you were going to be to some degree. There was more space in it, and it was bigger. It was beautiful.

Tim: Well. Here’s the thing. Steve wrote that intentionally for three panels on a page.

Jim: Which is your wheelhouse? Which is what you wanted to do-

Tim: Because he had three voices going at one time, so they played off of each other. There was the comic book voice. There was the inner voice of the reporter, right? Then there was the printed word that the reporter used, which always was a polished version of what the inner voice was. I told him. You’ve ruined me for the rest of my life. That went right up until well now.

Jim: So you’re still really proud of that-

Tim: No. No. No. Well yes, I am, but also I’m still trying to find a way to acquiesce to three panels on a page.

Alex: Oh interesting.

Tim: Although Tom King has told me he thinks it’s a very interesting problem to solve.

Jim: He does 9 panels on the page, all the time. At least with-

Tim: Not with Lee.

Jim: No. That’s true. With Lee Weeks?

Tim: Lee’s the … Well he’s top five guys working now at least.

Jim: That Elmer Fudd thing was beyond-

Tim: And Date Night. That was the second annual.

Jim: That was so good, but with Miracle Man, what’s his name? Gerards?, the guy that he works with a lot of times, with Babylon and different things. With Mr. Miracle.

Tim: I don’t know.

Jim: Oh he does a lot of similar to nine panel grids in a lot of his work.

Tim: Sim would work with 12 panel grids, and with nothing but Cerebus’ face and dialogue.

Jim: Yeah, and Ben does kind of-

Tim: You could read that in a second. It wasn’t Watchmen.

Alex: Right.

Tim: Where it took an hour to read a page, just because it was back and forth, and it would be a voice off camera, you know? Severus didn’t say that. You know? You’re just off to the races. Anyway.

Jim: It switched to other crazy things. He was so diverse in what he was doing.

Tim: Right.

Jim: When you were working with Grendel, the momentum of that, what he was doing, at Wagner was doing, I thought that was like so exciting, from his own work to then the Pander Brothers. He was changing up every time, so when you had to do it, when he gave you that assignment, was there a lot of pressure to like I’ve got to make my statement too? Because everybody was doing such bizarrely different things.

Tim: Yeah. No, it wasn’t because Matt was very constrictive on what he wanted. It was two stories and one issue, each issue. The vampire story and then the orion story. The orion story was told like a newspaper. The dialog and the captions were kind of pasted in and stuff like that, no word balloons or anything like that, and a very strict grid. The idea was that the vampire stuff was whatever you want to do.

Tim: I wasn’t ready for whatever you want to do. I felt constricted by the other stuff thought. It was weird. I was flattered. I was really good friends, at this point, with Matt. It was ultimately important, but not that much fun.

Alex: That’s really interesting.

Tim: I have forever given him shit that I … My Grendel is the only Grendel who never put on the Grendel mask.

Jim: Yeah, right.

Tim: So nobody ever asks for my Grendel.

Jim: But you did get to do a Grendel mask eventually. He won an Eisner for it.

Tim: I did some hunter stuff, yeah, Hunter Rose.

Jim: You got an Eisner. Right?

Tim: The book got an Eisner.

Jim: Right.

Tim: I got an Eisner for Superman for all Seasons.

Jim: Yes.

Alex: Right. That’s right.

Tim: That’s different. It’s the only Eisner I’ve gotten that’s mine.

Jim: That’s true. But you were a part of the one that got-

Tim: I was part of Long Halloween

Jim: That was black and red, right?

Tim: Black, White, and Red, yeah.

Jim: Yeah. Alright, so-

Tim: That was my first published ink wash work.

Jim: Speaking of not that much fun, let’s talk about Challengers of the Unknown. I’ve read that Jeph Loeb] was asking you more than what was in your wheelhouse at the time, that he was pushing you-

Tim: Well I wasn’t entirely fair with him. I thought I could do stuff I couldn’t do. There was that. It was more just how experimental the story was. It was all over the map. It was crazy for a DC book, especially.


Jim: Yeah.

Alex: Was that the first Superman you drew in that Challengers of the Unknown?

Tim: Yes-

Jim: Oh that’s good.

Tim: Dick Giordano said, no, no, no. I drew him more like a Fleischer. Dick said, no, no, no. He took my art, put a piece of tracing paper on it, and drew, this is what it should look like.

Alex: Oh I see.

Tim: So that’s what I ended up drawing.

Alex: Okay. Okay.

Tim: Not the Fleischer.

Alex: It was altered. It wasn’t the Fleischer one that you intended.

Tim: Yeah, he didn’t alter it, but I had to alter it per his instructions.

Jim: Well you were in good company, because you’re with Jack Kirby in terms of DC making like changes to Superman.

Tim: Well Steranko and Marie Severin’s face, you know?

Alex: That’s right.

Tim: Faces.

Alex: Did you and Jeph Loeb essentially hit it off as far as storytelling? Did you think, okay, this is a writer. I want to do more projects with him?

Tim: Oh it took a while. He has intense charisma. I liked him right away, but I didn’t know what to make of him. It was very … He was one of those guys that was going bald and he had a long ponytail. This is the early ’90s, right?

Alex: I’ve seen guys like that in movies.

Tim: I remember him saying to me at one point, “Why didn’t anybody tell me I was an idiot?”

Alex: Okay.

Tim: Well you know, we all thought it, but you know. Anyway, I went to his office at Universal. He had a toy train on the floor.

Alex: I see. He was already kind of a TV-movie guy anyway.

Tim: Oh he’s very into that, but he was really smart and really funny and really articulate and really into comics. He said, “Look I’m the guy … I’ll just tell you right upfront. I’m the guy that says, why can’t we put a camera on the end of a broomstick and throw it out the window and see what that looks like.” That was challengers.

Jim: So was that his project? Did he want to do challengers? Who wanted to do Challenger?

Tim: No. No. Neither he or I had any history with Challengers at all.

Alex: Right.

Tim: He wanted to do Superman and Batman. no. We can’t do that.

Alex: I see. So it’s more of what the company would let you guys work with.

Tim: He said, eventually after running down everything he wanted to do, he said, “Just tell us what’s available.”

Jim: And they said Challengers?

Tim: That was one of them. We picked that one.

Jim: What was the others?

Tim: I have no idea.

Alex: Before we go to the Jeph Loeb-Tim Sale, Tim Sale-Jeph Loeb world, Billi 99. That was published in 1991. It had a bit of a dark edge to it, bit of a political twist. One of the catchphrases for that was it’s 2:00 o’clock, do you know where your rights are.

Tim: Yeah.

Alex: We spoke a little bit earlier. You said there’s a bit of a Watchmen influence on it. Tell us about that.

Tim: In that catchphrase.

Alex: As far as the catchphrase, okay.

Tim: Not so much otherwise. It was a time when people were telling vigilante stories, V for Vendetta, things like that. Political vigilante stories.

Alex: Right. Political vigilante, yes.

Tim: I was very interested at that time in politically activated stories.

Alex: Okay.

Tim: Some of that was because of V, which I think is a great piece of work.

Alex: Yeah, absolutely.

Tim: Much more than Watchmen. That was more Sarah, the writer. Sarah Byam was the writer. I shared it all with her, but inevitably, I was about the art. I had just discovered Batman Year One, by Mazucchelli

Alex: Right.

Tim: Therefore I discovered the brush, in a different way than before. Now I used a duo shaped paper, I guess to have more control. It was going to be black and white. I wasn’t ready to trust the ability to reproduce ink wash very well.

Alex: Right.

Tim: I’m still kind of iffy about it. My Batman black and white story is terrible, because of the way it’s reproduced, I think.

Alex: Oh I see, the reproduction of it.

Tim: Yeah. I remember looking at it and thinking, you know, fucking Warren could do this in 1965. Why can’t you guys do it now?

Alex: Reproduce it correctly.

Tim: Anyway, there was that, but yeah. There was a lot of Mazucchelli in Billi.

Alex: In Billi 99-

Tim: As far as the art goes. I lettered it too.

Alex: Oh okay.

Tim: Which is the first thing I lettered since Thieves’ World.

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: That was the basis of … My lettering in that was the basis for Mr. Starkings Making a font of my lettering, which is now the only thing is that used whenever I letter anything.

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: Or when I write draw anything.

Jim: That was in what? That was in…

Alex: Billi 99. He lettered it.

Jim: But you lettered … They use lettering in heroes too, right? Your handwriting at least.

Tim: Richard Starkings of Comicraft, genius, he thinks, as do I, the best lettering is by the artist, because it’s part of the art. He would rather have it be, as is often the case, like Giro often, and many other French, but also like Travis Cherist, and things like that. It’s pretty hard to read. Richard said, “Look, for a fee, we will make your own font. You can always have your stuff on computer. Then you can plug it in.” So that’s how everything is lettered now.

Tim: Jeph goes so far as to insisting, well when he was doing comics … Richard is the only person who can letter my work. It’s not … Obviously, because he’s the artist, but he feels that Richard, these are my words, and Richard interprets my words, whoever’s drawing it best. It’s in his contract every time. It has to be Richard.

Alex: That’s interesting.

Tim: It’s one of the great things about Jeph.

Alex: That’s great. I mentioned Heroes, the TV show.

Tim: Yeah, the opening credits, and I didn’t know this, but if you go, and it’s only like $50. Anybody can buy my font from Comicraft. There’s an upper case, lower case, and a brush font. The brush font is used for the credits in Heroes. I didn’t know they were going to do it. Jeph said, “Watch. There’s a surprise for you.”

Jim: That is great.

Alex: That is great. Going back to Jeph Loeb, early ’90s, he looks like that guy in those movies.

Tim: Yeah.

Alex: So then after Challengers-

Jim: Shadow of the Bat.

Alex: Oh yeah.

Tim: Those were for hire.

Alex: Work for hire stuff.

Tim: Terrible. I didn’t like the stories at all.

Alex: Oh I see.

Tim: Somewhere earlier, I’d met James Robinson a

t San Diego. I think he was up and coming, and Matt got to know him, and so he’s part of the Matt crew. He was the guy who would periodically call and just chat on the phone. The same with Matt. James drops that he sold a script for a Legends of the Dark Knight, through Archie.

Jim: Was that Blades?

Tim: Yeah. I said, “You have an artist?” “No. Would you like to do it?” “Yes.” I told Jeph. Jeph’s like, “Fuck. How do I get one of those? I wanted-” “Well they don’t repeat artists or writers, Jeph. Sorry.” But Jeph being Jeph called Archie.

Alex: Oh okay.

Tim: And wrangled him into doing another one.

Alex: Right, with the power of his charisma.

Tim: It’s pretty powerful.

Alex: Oh okay. That’s cool. Okay.

Tim: That I think also Archie liked what I did.

Alex: Yeah, sure.

Tim: So there was that.

Jim: Because it was awesome. I mean Blades is … You’re in a growth area-

Tim: It’s hard to tell-

Jim: I love-

Tim: For me, it’s hard to tell. It’s so overwritten.

Jim: Yes.


Tim: So it’s hard to tell.

Jim: Some of that stuff is really strong in a way that Challenger, like you’re working through stuff. You’ve developed a lot between those periods. It’s a good. I mean your craftsmanship, yeah, it’s-

Tim: Good. I haven’t looked at it in a long time, but thank you.

Jim: There just … Legends of Dark Knight, at that moment, is just hitting on all, because you do that and Wagner does faces, which just is great. Then you do … It’s just like running like crazy at that point. That’s Goodwin, isn’t it?

Tim: Yeah. It has to be.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah. He’s just nailing it.

Tim: Also, everybody wanted to do Batman. That was the whole idea of Legends, which is … And why would it have so much turnover is because so many people wanted to do Batman.

Alex: Is it because of the movies? Like the Michael Keaton movies were out so everybody wants to do Batman?

Tim: No, it was before that.

Alex: Even before, okay.

Tim: He’s just fucking cool. People wanted to-

Alex: He’s a cool guy, yeah.

Jim: You’re getting to do it without the yellow … I mean it’s letting people do what they think it’s-

Alex: The raw Batman, yeah. The one that shoots people.

Tim: And so Jeph said, “How do we do it?” And talked to Archie into it. So we started to do this thing that was at least partially inspired, although I think the legend has become more than the why. Partially inspired by the Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams Halloween in Rutland, Vermont issue. Jeph would say, well it used to be DC would do a Batman Halloween thing every year. No, they didn’t. It was pretty much that one.

Jim: Marvel did a lot more of them, the Rutland.

Tim: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: At some point, it wasn’t going to be … It was decided not to be a legends thing. They were going to put them all in one issue. That’s why it’s three issues long, the first Halloween special.

Alex: Right.

Tim: That was when Jeph and I first started to learn how to work together.

Alex: Oh okay. That’s cool.

Tim: Because it was a long slog before, because he would sort of describe things to me-

Alex: Like on the phone?

Tim: And I’d draw something. I thought maybe I was more of a co-collaborator on the phone.

Alex: On the phone, yeah.

Tim: He would always shoot him down and say no, whatever I came up with.

Alex: So like thoughts that you would originate on it, he would say no to those as far as the story. Okay.

Tim: Or just a scene. The first Halloween special, it was when he first would call me and he had broken down the whole thing on a legal pad, using a credit card, make a page out of that as a stencil, and just make notes. He’d describe it to me. We got to know each other. Remember that time in Casablanca when … Or that time Neal Adams did this. We really got to know each other. We’d be like five hours on the phone. I’d be taking my own notes, and it was a lot less redrawing of stuff, because of that.

Tim: I remember finishing it and Jeph got up here and we were going to do a store signing in Seattle. I’m driving to the store, and I said, you know, I don’t think there was a single page that I didn’t look forward to drawing in the story. I don’t know if I’ll ever have that again. He said, “Don’t say that for crying out loud.”

Alex: Jeph said that.

Tim: Yeah. “You’re going to jinx it or something.”

Alex: Because he felt like something special was happening between you guys.

Tim: He didn’t say that. Probably. Don’t say maybe this will never happen again.

Alex: Right. Yeah. True.

Jim: Do you think this was because it was Batman? Batman speak to you … I mean like was that one of the reasons?

Tim: Yeah, I do.

Jim: Yeah. Because it’s so obvious that with Batman, you come alive in terms of that, in a way that you weren’t engaged with Challengers.

Tim: It’s weird, because-

Jim: And Villains.

Tim: I didn’t really grow up with Batman.

Alex: Right, but he’s a cool character.

Tim: And then I watched the TV show, and I love the Adams stuff, but I didn’t … I often didn’t buy it.

Alex: Right.

Tim: Because I just thought Marvel had to do that. Yeah, there was something visceral about it.

Jim: Yeah, because you just instantly-

Tim: And he conceived of the character and Gordon. That was also coming off of year one. I mean Gordon was smoking in the first thing. You know? Well anyway, and then Madness, and then I think it was Fears, which became Choices, versus Choices then became fears. The second one is the Mad Hatter. The third one is the retelling of Christmas Carols

Jim: Ghosts.

Alex: Yeah, you’re referring to the three one shot stories.

Tim: Yeah.

Alex: Yeah.

Jim: So first time where I’ve seen you draw a horse just to discuss my horse thing.

Tim: You mean the scarecrow.

Jim: The scarecrow horse, that’s the one that’s like-

Tim: Those are pretty good drawings.

Jim: Those are really good. That’s a good work.

Alex: Yes, they are.

Tim: I don’t know how I pulled that out.

Jim: That was a Tim Sale horse that I picked and that I loved, but that was the first one I saw. I’ve since seen like in your book that you were drawing horses on postcards and everything else. You were interested in postcards and horses. But that’s the horse where I was like, whoa, that’s a horse.

Alex: Yeah-

Tim: A lot of that was Patrick McGuin, too, the adaptation.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Tim: I just felt that. I completely changed the character, the look of the character. Nobody’s ever mentioned it.

Jim: Were you looking at the comics too? Like the Dan Spiegle stuff?

Tim: No.

Jim: Only the actual film?

Tim: The McGuin, yeah.

Jim: Yeah. Because yeah, you changed the character completely. You know, I don’t know if they talk about it enough. You changed the Joker completely too. With the teeth-

Tim: They never said anything to me. It was just shocking.

Alex: Yeah, dude, they had these kind of cool caricature type looks to them. I mean they’re … Anyone who’s seen them once, they’ll remember those pictures.

Jim: Those three characters, Scarecrow, Joker, and Poison Ivy, I thought you just took in a different direction.

Tim: Well Ivy was inspired by Black Orchid.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Tim: The Gaiman and McKean book. I never thought I’d have to draw her again, much to my chagrin, so I gave her all those leaves.

Jim: That’s a pain.

Tim: Yeah. It is. So anyway. That was the only thing. The Joker wasn’t … If it was inspired by anybody, it was the Grinch.

Alex: Oh okay. That’s interesting.

Tim: The Scarecrow was Patrick McGuin

Alex: So now before you did the Long Halloween, Batman in 1996, you and Jeph Loeb went over to Marvel, worked on Wolverine, Gambit, Victims in 1995. Were you guys essentially kind of that growth curve of collaborative storytelling? Was it a different kind of process with that Marvel story, versus the Batman stories? Tell me about that, and how did that get set up? Was that just Jeph Loeb kind of talking with someone at Marvel saying-

Jim: Was that a money thing?

Alex: Yeah, what was that?

Tim: Yeah, money total grab.

Jim: Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Alex: It was a money thing, okay.

Tim: Oh yeah, it was a total money grab.

Alex: I see. Okay.

Tim: Look. These are the two … He had been in the exec office. They knew they were the two top people in comics. I knew it as soon as I did it, and all of a sudden teenage girls were … It was like the Beatles or something. Draw me Gambit. The only thing I found interesting about it was that there were two guys who thought of themselves as tragically spurned or been done wrong guys by a woman.

Alex: Right.

Tim: They held that image of themselves with them.

Alex: Okay. That’s interesting.

Tim: I said, let’s explore what bullshit that is. It just got away from Jeph. He admitted later that he just he didn’t get around to it. He was fucking around with other stuff in the story. That’s the biggest failure in my view.

Alex: To not explore that aspect of it.

Tim: That we never had … No, it’s a whole thing, except for the money. Now I did make enough money that I rented a house on a beach in Malibu for a month in the summer, which is not cheap, based on Wolverine and Gambit.

Alex: Wow, that’s cool, because the revenue is based on percentage of sales at that point, wasn’t it?

Tim: I don’t know. They paid us a lot of money.

Alex: So there you go.

Jim: Speaking of money, I wanted to ask you about image at this point too, because-

Tim: I got less for that.


Jim: You got less for Death Blow? But that was where everybody else was cashing in.

Tim: That was the whole point of doing Death Blow.

Jim: Let’s hear that.

Tim: It didn’t work out that way.

Jim: Why not?

Tim: Well first of all, I wasn’t selling the way that other … I didn’t sell that book the way that other people were selling books.

Jim: But you actually could tell a story, I mean not the editorial, but like-

Tim: Yeah. Look at Image Comics in the ’90s and you’ll see how much importance they put on telling a story.

Alex: Yeah, it’s actually hard to follow those stories. I looked back at them.

Jim: Yours was one of the only one that I actually bought and could read and continue to read, because it was … You obviously know how to tell a story.

Tim: Right. Honestly, just awful. I was hired to imitate Jim Lee, imitating Frank Miller, doing Sin City.

Alex: There you go.

Tim: Look. The writing was awful. The stories were terrible. I was always behind deadline. I would get, “I’m so sorry. The script is so late. We need it tomorrow.” That kind of stuff. It was just a terrible experience. It would’ve been fine if there was that cash cow.

Jim: If you were getting it like … Because a lot of people, that was their best experience in comics in terms of from a money perspective. They made money.

Alex: At Image.

Jim: Yeah, at Image. That was really what-

Tim: I broke the mold.

Jim: It was one of the only readable ones I ever saw. It wasn’t very good in terms of the story.

Tim: No.

Jim: But at least the panels made sense to me.

Alex: Made sense.

Tim: Right. Right.

Jim: I actually like it in that context.

Tim: Well thank you.

Jim: Okay.

Tim: I wish I’d enjoyed doing it.

Alex: So Batman, Long Halloween, that’s probably … That’s a big fan favorite, I think, of a lot of the things you’ve done.

Tim: The touchpoint. It’s absolutely the thing that changed my life.

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: My career. Yet, at the time, it was just another thing to do, a continuation of what we’ve been doing.

Alex: Right.

Tim: Right. And Jeph knew it was ambitious on his end.

Alex: From a writing-

Tim: Much more on his end than my end.

Alex: Okay.

Tim: That he … When he was writing movies with his writing partner, his writing partner would make fun of him for his plot ideas. That year, Jeph had to do murder mystery, where if you guess it in the first three issues, you’ve got 10 more to go, what kind of a drag is that, right?

Alex: Yeah, sure.

Tim: Yet it all worked out, you know?

Alex: Yeah.

Tim: I learned a lot. I was worried that I’d be able to pencil in and he can book a month, I still kind of can’t believe I did. In fact, I asked Klaus Jensen to ink me. He declined.

Jim: Why?

Tim: I think because he didn’t want to take it on. That’s all. It’s just a big job for a year and stuff like that.

Alex: Yeah, that’s dedication.

Jim: Was he the guy you were going to … I mean, was his your first-

Tim: I talked with Archie. I said, “I want somebody graphic.” I was looking around and I thought of Angelo Torres, because of his work in Creepy and Eerie.

Jim: Sure.

Tim: But he hadn’t done anything except sort of imitate Mark Drucker and MAD for a long time, and he’s an old man. He turned it down. We talked about with a few other people, but then it was Klaus. I’m sure Klaus … I would love to work with Klaus.

Jim: What Miller did in Daredevil, I mean that’s a collaboration.

Tim: Yeah. Anyway, Klaus’ approached to ink is closer to mine than a lot of other people’s.

Jim: This isn’t Alex Toth kind of blackness and things. I mean-

Tim: Well it’s graphic.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: Tactile in that sort of way, tactile.

Alex: I like that word.

Tim: Well there’s a lot of texture.

Alex: Yeah, there is. I know what you mean. 1998, Superman for All Seasons. I think most comic people have read those four issues. They’re pretty incredible. I love them. Jim, you’ve obviously read those. I feel like they really captured what Superman should look like, what he should feel like when you read him, the emotions that revolve around Superman. Can you tell us a little bit about that collaboration with Jeph Loeb as well?

Tim: Sure. Well I knew … My personal pitch of DC was you have two and three icons in comics. We’ve done a lot of one of the two that you own. I’d like a chance of doing the second one. It’s going to be a difference between the dark and the light.

Alex: Right.

Tim: So my approach is going to be really different.

Alex: Yes.

Tim: But they didn’t expect what I was giving them.

Jim: They made you change it to some degree, right? Some of the characters.

Tim: Well some of that was absolutely reasonable when I look back on it. I wanted Clark to look like a farm boy. I wanted Superman to look like he didn’t have to go to the gym to work out. The fact that he’s eight feet tall is only mentioned once in the book, but he’s supposed to be this high school kid, who grew up on a farm in Kansas. I want it to be clear that he was super as Clark, but not stand out in a certain sort of way.

Alex: Right. In a humble sort of way.

Tim: And I also … So I played with the humble and farm boy probably too much at first. He ended up looking simple in the brain.

Alex: Okay, like Of Mice and Men, something like that?

Tim: Yeah, something like that.

Alex: Like he could break a rabbit’s neck by accident.

Tim: As the Hulk does in Hulk Gray

Jim: Nice.

Alex: Full circle.

Tim: Chiarello came to my, I learned later, came to my defense in the DC offices, because people were ready to fire me, I’m told.

Alex: Why?

Tim: Because they didn’t want Clark Kent looking like a dumb fuck.

Alex: Okay, I see, because of the simple approach. Okay.

Tim: Yeah, it wasn’t because of the thin lines or otherwise. Thank goodness. I think the real strength of the book is on the first issue. I didn’t really care about the rest of the other three.

Jim: You’re right. That’s the one that-

Tim: It’s the more Rockwell. I knew Rockwell was my touchpoint, because I grew up in the ’60s, and I kind of aligned him unfairly with right wing politics.

Alex: What? Rockwell.

Tim: Yeah.

Alex: Okay.

Tim: i mean the flag you know-

Jim: Americana?

Tim: Except that Americana’s different than that. The attention to detail is a part of … Pay attention to what’s on the desk or what’s in somebody’s bedroom. That tells a story about their character. I just got so into it. Because I was doing pretty much only pen work, very little black, the rest of it. I knew I wanted to have the colors take care of all of that. It was just … It felt just right right away. It was blue lined, which is something they don’t do anymore, because of computers, but it was actually painted. I don’t know if I should explain blue line or not.

Jim: Yes.

Alex: Yeah, please.

Tim: Okay. It’s a process leading to a way to color of printing the black and white artwork around a piece of sheer acetate, then laying that acetate on top of a chemically treated piece of board and shining a light through that, such that when you pick up the acetate, there’s a blue … All the black is in blue, non reproduction blue, on the board. The colors can paint right on that when you lay the acetate, the black line on top of that, and photograph that as your page. There’s all kinds of problems with it, with registration and stuff like that. It’s now obsolete, because of computers.

Alex: Oh I see.

Tim: I think it was probably the last thing that was printed that way, certainly in this country. I’d seen it done in Europe. I just thought it was a great way to do it. Anyway. I love just the contrast between Batman and this, both I tone and in artistic style. Then I won an Eisner for it, so DC shut up.

Alex: There you go. That’s how that goes.

Jim: Who did the colors on that?

Tim: Bjarne Hansen. He’s the friend of Teddy Christiansen.

Jim: Oh so good. That Superman book he did was great.

Tim: Yeah.

Jim: Isn’t it?

Tim: It is great.

Jim: It is great. I’ve taught that before. That’s a great Superman-

Tim: Well which one?


Jim: Oh the Man for … The one that he did about doing the Superman project, like getting assigned Superman. Do you know what I’m talking-

Tim: Before that, he did a Superman book without permission-

Jim: Oh I know the one you’re talking about too. That’s the one you were talking about?

Tim: The cover is … Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: That was my first introduction to Teddy.

Jim: Oh he’s so good.

Tim: He’s a really great, sweet man. So then coming back to Batman, I’d learned an awful lot by looking at Rockwell and other … It’s my first really introduction, and really looking hard at American illustrators outside of comics.

Alex: Right.

Tim: So that I think my work on Dark Victory is miles ahead of Halloween.

Alex: Oh yeah.

Jim: It is, isn’t it? Yeah.

Alex: That’s in 1999, just to clarify for listeners, yes.

Tim: I finished it … Or actually, I was going over the color guides in Pasadena as I had just moved to Pasadena in 2000. I know that deadline.

Alex: Yeah, Dark Victory, I was going to ask, what kind of … I don’t want to say mistakes or things, but what had you learned from your previous storytelling to put Dark Victory together, but you added an aspect I didn’t predict, which is you’re actually looking at illustration outside of comics at the time. So that was part of how Dark Victory turned out as far as those panels.

Tim: Yeah, it wasn’t about the storytelling so much as the inking quality.

Alex: The actual pictures.

Tim: My ability to draw.

Alex: Right. Wow. So what kind of illustrators? You’re saying Rockwell. What are some others that come to mind that you were looking at?

Tim: Colby Whitmore, Frank McCarthy, Al Parker, Noel Sickles.

Alex: Oh cool.

Tim: Yeah.

Alex: Sickles could really illustrate his comics.

Tim: I can give you half a dozen.

Alex: Right. That’s pretty cool. Now we’re getting into the early 2000s. You guys essentially did a lot of great work at DC. You had done that random Gambit, Wolverine story. Then you guys kind of did a few things in a row over at Marvel, the color series. It was almost like silver age retellings of these characters. You said you had read a lot of these comics from the ’60s. How did that all come about?

Tim: There were times when, especially in [inaudible 01:02:45] blue, I think, that it was hard for Jeph, because I wanted to specifically reference some of the Lee-Romita stories right after Romita came on. So let’s say, issues 43 through 48.

Jim: You did that other Vulture, didn’t you? The-

Tim: Lackey. I did Lackey.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah, I remember that.

Tim: Chicago.

Jim: I remember that. That was so Romita. I mean, and great Romita, but you were doing Romita there.

Tim: The whole thing was my attempt to do Romita. Then I knew people were probably going to expect me to do Ditko, but my love of Spidey was Romita. My love of Gwen was Romita. It was really … The impetus was Gwen.

Alex: I see.

Tim: Jeph and I have said this in print. They were about to come out with the first Kirsten Dunst, Toby Maguire movie, where they took this blonde actress and gave her sort of red hair. They gave her really red hair. And made her Mary Jane. We’re like, fuck it, who’s going to forget Gwen? We would not have that.

Tim: We wanted to have Gwen and Peter be the … Even though with the face it tiger was going to be in there, we wanted to have the two gals sort of fighting over Peter. Peter doesn’t know what to do with it for the second time in his life.

Alex: Yeah, and poor Harry Osborne.

Tim: And then Harry’s a part of the story.

Alex: Right.

Jim: Peter on a motorcycle.

Tim: Yeah, but you get to have all these flirtatious stuff, and you also get to have some of the great villains, Kraven, who I did not do very well. I regret.

Alex: Really?

Tim: Because I think he’s a great visual. But the Vulture … I would’ve loved to done the Shocker and I wanted to do the Rhino. Jeph really wanted to do the Rhino. I didn’t want to do the Rhino that much, but you know, that kind of thing. It was really … Jeph had to win his way through that, because he wasn’t feeling it emotionally the same way. Yet he had the wow finish that knocks everybody out, especially boys. It’s a weepy love story for boys, really. The same way that Casablanca’s-

Alex: Oh I see.

Tim: Daredevil, for it’s straights, of which there are many, wasn’t really much of a whole. We had two issues of this origin story of Peter’s relationship with his dad and the tragedy, the deaths, and all that stuff. We went our way through a romantic comedy through the rest of the book.

Alex: Right.

Tim: So there was really two things going on, and it was a lot of fun to draw. Each moment worked great. It just wasn’t a whole. By the time we gotten to the Hulk: Gray, that really works as a whole. It all takes place in 24 hours, just brilliant idea of why does Betty love the Hulk. It’s because she only knows a monster, her father.

Alex: Right.

Tim: And there’s sympathy for Bruce, but it’s really her attraction to the Hulk. It was the mystery, and then Jeph explains it. He also takes her through several stages of grief, all within 24 hours. And I got to draw the goddamn Hulk, or the inedible Bulk, as I write, based him on.

Alex: Although goddamn Hulk sells pretty cool too.

Tim: The desert was so much fun.

Alex: New Mexican-

Tim: I did a lot of European work, so Giro and Book, who does Bouncer.

Alex: Yeah.

Jim: Sure, absolutely.

Tim: So a lot of that stuff.

Jim: What about Kirby? Because the other two-

Tim: He wasn’t a big influence on-

Jim: Because I didn’t see it there, and that…

Tim: No.

Jim: But it’s like … But how could it not be? I mean the Gray Hulk. Once you say Gray Hulk, it’s like you think that, but that’s not you saw in it.

Tim: Right. No.

Jim: That’s interesting to me.

Tim: No, it’s much more Marie.

Alex: Marie Severin’s Hulk.

Jim: Yeah, that makes sense.

Tim: Marie and an ape combined, that was the … Actually trivia, or soon to be reality, Jeph and I are doing a one page story of the Inedible Bulk in some Marvel something 1,000, just like Detective 1000.

Alex: Oh cool.

Tim: It’s barely a re-imagining of three panels in Inedible Bulk’s story, where he’s walking on the street. In the Severin story, a canon shoots him right in the back and it just blows up. He’s licking a Popsicle that he’s just gotten. He says, “Hmm, Bulk like this avocado lime bar.” Then we pull him out until we see his face, and he’s just … Somebody say something, or something like that, “Bulk felt a gnat.” That kind of thing. We’re going to do something like that.

Alex: Yeah. That’s pretty cool.

Tim: It was between that and Dr. Doom, which is the one … That was the one that got away from me, that I wanted to do with Jeph, that we never got around to at Marvel. I’d love to … Because I love the origin story with Boris. It’s at the end of one of the annuals. I can’t remember which one.

Jim: Oh yeah.

Tim: It’s only a five page story or something.

Jim: Oh Fantastic Four annual, like-

Tim: Yeah, it begins with him on the throne.

Jim: So good.

Tim: He calls for Boris and-

Jim: That opening splash page, oh yeah. It’s so good.

Tim: Yeah.

Jim: Which, you know, I’ve got lots of questions, but quick one on that, because I heard from people that you most admire mostly the artist, the influences. You don’t mention Wally Wood. Both in terms of Daredevil and now that Dr. Doom, because I think of Dr. Doom, obviously Kirby, but those amazing adventures Dr. Doom stories are so good too. Is Wood not somebody that is in your-

Tim: Not for superheroes.

Jim: Even with Thunder Agents? What is interesting to you with Wood if not superheroes? Because Daredevil-

Tim: Sprit in the Moon. I kind of like him better as an inker than a penciler. I never liked the soft porn stuff.

Alex: The Sally Forth?

Tim: There’s some of the-

Jim: What about his EC stuff? Because you really like EC?

Tim: Yeah, some of the EC stuff, absolutely.

Alex: So Spirit on the Moon, that’s when [inaudible 01:09:40], and then he ghosted for Will Eisner and…

Tim: Yeah.

Alex: The spirit detective went to the moon. Okay.

Jim: Because I know you like airplane stuff, and Wally Wood, I mean Alex Toth does the best, but Wally Wood does some killer air fights.

Tim: Where?

Jim: Both in terms of some of the EC stuff, he does a few, but in the Warren stuff, he does a couple of really good air fight battles too.

Tim: I don’t remember those. I was going to say Skymasters.

Alex: Yeah.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: So him making Kirby.

Alex: Those are nice.

Tim: Kirby’s work is great in those.

Alex: Yeah.


Tim: Wood takes it over as he does.

Alex: Right, on the inking.

Tim: Which is fine at times. I mean I always feel that way about certain inkers, like Kevin Nolan, who takes over … But he made it better.

Jim: Yeah, he took over the Spectre story with Ditko. I don’t like anybody taking over Ditko completely. It looks like a Nolan story, but it’s so good.

Tim: I don’t know that.

Jim: Oh yeah. He did a very … It was a short, and it was a Spectre story. He inked Ditko. It’s awesome. I’ll send it to you.

Tim: Well there’s that … What is it? Kelly Plunkett, Batman Superman story. It’s pretty well known. It’s amazing. It’s Robin is fascinated with Superman, wants to be introduced to him, so Batman introduces him. Robin is just aww, man, he’s so cool. Look at him. He’s so great.

Alex: Right.

Tim: And Batman says, “He’s thunder. He’s a lightning. He’s an alien. Do not trust him.” There was a time when Kelly Plunkett was really writing just the way that Darwin or Bruce Timm could write, right to the core, very simply, a character. A lot of his Batman Adventure stuff was just perfectly right on, spot on. But that Nolan story is great. I think he inked Quesada terrifically on Sword of Azrael was doing Joe didn’t like it, because he took over. But just beautiful, beautiful work. He’s a really sweet guy.

Alex: Right.

Jim: He’s so good.

Tim: Yeah. He’s great.

Jim: I mean there’s so many of those guys that are just like people don’t understand how good they are.

Tim: Well he doesn’t work very much.

Jim: Yeah.

Tim: And lives in the middle of Kansas.

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