Recent promotional piece for Master of Kung Fu. Courtesy of Paul
Gulacy. Art ©2000 Paul Gulacy. Shang-Chi ©2000 Marvel Characters, Inc.
A Master of Comics Art
Artist Paul Gulacy and His Early Days at Marvel
Conducted by Jon B. Cooke
Transcribed by Jon B. Knutson
Book Artist #7
Last September, after I had already spoken to Dan Adkins proteges
P. Craig Russell and Paul Gulacy, I thought it might be cool to include
interviews with Val Mayerik (another Adkins alumni) and hopefully
Big Dan himself, and make a "Adkins School" section for
CBA #6. Well, subsequently learning that Val had zero interest in
talking with us—and dividing the issue into a two-parter—put
an end to that concept; but I did get a riotous interview with a true
comics original and penciler/inker/art director extraordinaire, Mr.
Adkins himself. I can only hope this is the first of many interviews
cuz Dan is a hoot to encounter! This interview took place via phone
on September 19, 1999, and was copy-edited by the artist.
COMIC BOOK ARTIST: Did your family support your artistic aspirations?
PAUL GULACY: Everyone in my family came from old-fashioned
European roots, and my family structure was Numero Uno, and to break
off was taboo, a no-no, in those days. If you broke away from your
roots, it was considered going against the grain.
CBA: So, when you saw Steranko's comics, did you immediately
recognize his approach? You were seeking out his work?
PAUL: Yeah, and the way I found them was in a grocery store
down the street, a little mom-and-pop grocery store, and they'd
have these three comics in a cellophane bag, and I saw the first Nick
Fury with the cover gone, a great splash page that Jim had done, and
I bought it. That's how I got all my Nick Furys and pretty soon
I collected all of them. When I saw what he was doing, it was just
I never had seen anything like that before—it just flipped me
out. This was the '60s, and these were experimental times.
CBA: One of the real ironies is that kung fu was yet another
trend that Marvel was so apt to jump on in the early '70s, and
you guys were able to mold something really interesting and lasting
out of that. I think that's the shock, surprise and delight upon
reading them. MOKF had an unexpected quality. One really had to almost
hammer super-hero readers and say, "No, read it! It's really
good!" [laughs] And it was great that it lasted as long as it
PAUL: When I was given that book, I didn't know anything
about kung fu, let alone Bruce Lee. When I started that first issue,
I don't think I'd even seen Enter the Dragon, and it wasn't
until I went to see this movie—almost a year after he'd
died—when I really got hooked into it. I also have a good friend
from the same hometown, Val Mayerik, another fellow comic book artist,
and he was a second-degree black belt when I knew him, and we would
go to tournaments. I would see Val teach at the dojo, and go to these
tournaments and so forth, and that's where I got a real taste
for it. I knew there was an artistry behind the whole...
PAUL: There was a philosophy and a commitment. I didn't
want to portray it haphazard; I wanted to give some respect to the
people who were into the martial arts. It was a fine line: You had
to balance between what Marvel wanted—the thing being a comic
book, and the visuals expected from that—with the treatment of
having respect for the martial arts as well.
CBA: Did you actually study martial arts yourself?
PAUL: No, I didn't study it, because I would see an artist
buddy coming into my apartment always, like every other week, with
a broken something or other. [laughter] It would postpone his ability
to make a buck, and I knew right away that would happen to me. I remember
one time he came over and he had a cast on one finger, and I asked,
"What happened?" And he said he got it caught on another
guy's gi—the guy's outfit—just sparring around.
I thought he'd got hit, or punched somebody in the jaw, and it
didn't happen like that.
CBA: Your hands are your life.
PAUL: You bet.
CBA: What was Dan Adkins like?
PAUL: Adkins was one of the most eccentric little men I've
ever met in my life, but a sweetheart. He has a crazy background,
and you know, he knows everything. He knows about you, Jon—somehow,
he would know your personal life. He'd call somebody, network
around, "I want to know about Jon Cooke," and I could call
him tomorrow or tonight and he'd tell me everything he'd
learned about Jon Cooke. He could find that information; he's
one of those kind of guys. He would just call people out of the blue—he'd
call Frazetta in the middle of the night and say, "Hey, what
did you make on that last job?" [laughter] "What's
Berkeley Medallion paying right now?" [laughter] Or he could
just call Frazetta in the middle of the night and talk about a hangnail
on his toe!
CBA: [laughs] I heard you describe being Dan's assistant
was more like being a glorified chauffeur, taking him to Elvis movies
at the drive-in. What was his thing with Elvis movies?
PAUL: [laughter] First off, he's terrified of cars. I
was third in line in Dan's Elvis movie escort service, driving
Dan to Elvis marathon movies at the local drive-in in East Liverpool,
Ohio. [laughter] Now Craig was first, he got it set up, and then he
dumped it on Mayerik, Mayerik wised up, and then I was the third guy
in line for this nonsense. Dan would take a big quart of Pepsi and
crunch on Chee-Tos, and that was his dinner. I've never seen
Dan Adkins eat anything else but Chee-Tos and drink Pepsi! [laughter]
CBA: So you had to suffer through Viva Las Vegas and Charro!
on the big screen [laughs]—with this eccentric artist in your
car while everyone else had steamed-up windows? [laughter]
PAUL: Exactly. Here's a funny one: Craig Russell was
leaving Adkins' house one evening and started his car, and a
cat was sleeping inside Craig's motor, and a fanbelt sliced into
this cat's dome, okay? Craig had to take off, but Adkins got
stuck with this cat, and he weaned this cat to health on Pepsi and
Chee-Tos [laughter] and brought this cat back to health, it was in
terrific shape! [laughter] It took off down the street into the sunset.
CBA: Adkins takes care of cats and art students.
PAUL: Adkins takes care of a lot of people, if you know Dan...
He knew everybody, he knew the guys way back when, he knew Wally Wood,
Roy Krenkel, Al Williamson, all the early guys.
CBA: Right; and he obviously had a whole posse, with you guys.
What was his influence on you? What lessons did you learn from Dan—besides
the Elvis movies? [laughter] Did he teach you technique?
PAUL: Yeah, he did. He knew about technique, he was very knowledgeable.
He was the guy to go to for critique, he was the guy who would tell
you what was wrong. There's another great story about Adkins:
You know, he was notoriously late on everything, and when he was working
with Steranko on SHIELD, he called Steranko one day and said, "Look,
Jim, I can't finish this thing. It's just too damn much
work," and I think it was the one with Nick Fury in the haunted
castle, the "Hell Hound" story. So, Steranko panicked and
decides to drive from Reading, way the hell over across Pennsylvania
to Adkins' house in Ohio, and according to Adkins, Steranko hadn't
been to sleep in three days. So, all this talk that Steranko is this
nightowl and doesn't require rest, according to Adkins, is a
true fact. He's one of these guys who can get by with very little
sleep—and he got this thing done.
CBA: That's Steranko for you.
PAUL: It just goes to show how he wanted things done his way.
Even way back then, it had to be done, it had to have a look, it had
to be quality, even if it took him to drive over and get it done,
and that's the way it went.
CBA: When did you first meet Jim?
PAUL: I met Steranko through Adkins and the posse at a Phil
Seuling convention at the Commodore Hotel in the early '70s.
Steranko came up with some babe on his arm. We had a big room, it
was kind of like the Grand Central Station for partygoers. Phil turned
it into this drop-off point, and Steranko shot in. That's when
I first met him, briefly.
CBA: Would Adkins agonize over his work? Because sometimes
it was so meticulously detailed, like "Dr. Strange," and
some of his "Sub-Mariner" stories he did were just so lush.
PAUL: He made Smith look like Smith.
CBA: Oh, he was a great inker on Windsor-Smith. He was a great
inker on everybody, actually.
PAUL: He had an eye for adjusting to one's style, because
he was so very talented. Adkins is a very underrated artist. He could
paint, and he could draw but he just couldn't get motivated.
He was never one inclined to get motivated.
CBA: Was it the money?
PAUL: He lost his burning desire early on, and God knows why.
It could've been money. I mean, it just takes a lot of work!
Most people don't realize how much work goes into these comics.
When you go to a comics shop today, you can criticize it on the mediocrity,
everything looks the same, and it's overworked, or whatever,
but still, even in the worst comic, there's still a helluva lot
of work, and people just don't get that. It's a tremendous
CBA: So many artists consider Adkins their favorite inker,
it's fascinating. Gil Kane loves Dan's work. He did some
superb work on Barry Windsor-Smith. He'd always seemed somewhat
unrealized, almost like the shadow of Wally Wood was on him, or something.
CBA: Your first professional job in comics was...?
PAUL: "Morbius, the Living Vampire." [Fear #20]
It was my first color job. Before that, I did miscellaneous stuff
for Dracula Lives and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, the b-&-w magazines
Marvel was pumping out back in those days.
CBA: Could you conceive of making a living in comics?
PAUL: No, I was starry-eyed like any kid today. You know,
Marvel's whole policy and philosophy is if the artist isn't
happy, "Tough, we can always find another schmuck out there in
the Midwest or Nebraska. They'd be more than glad to be the next
star at Marvel." So, I felt at that young age, I was just rolling
with whatever came my way. I mean, I was starting with the fact that
I didn't think I was going to be able to break into professional
comics—I wanted to, but I wasn't sure it was going to happen—so
when I got a call from Roy Thomas one day, when I'm mowing the
lawn, I flipped out! It was very cool. But I didn't anticipate
staying in it that long. I knew I had other callings artwise, and
there were other directions I wanted to go—even in the midst
of MOKF—and that's what happened. I_sent a message to Marvel
that I was leaving, and I got a call from Stan Lee! He wanted me to
stay, he offered me a little more money—it wasn't enough—and
I told him I wanted to start pursuing other endeavors. I wanted to
be a paperback book illustrator, because I thought painting was next
in line for me. What happened was that one day I went to the drawing
board, looked at a blank sheet of paper there, and I thought I was
going to vomit—it was just too much, and I got burnt out. It
was time to just back off and get away from comics.
Courtesy of contributing editor (and Marvel legend) Roy Thomas,
here's an unpublished Gulacy drawing of Elric and Stormbringer. Art
©2000 Paul Gulacy. Elric ©2000 Michael Moorcock.
CBA: Getting into it, initially, you really developed very,
very rapidly. I recall your "Morbius" [in Fear #20] and
I remember my eyebrows being raised and saying, "This is interesting,"
but then you evolved. In a matter of a year, you really developed
PAUL: Yeah, and one reason for that was that John Verpoorten,
who was head of production, let me sneak in a couple of inks on my
own work. That helped a great deal, and it got to show another side
of my style that the audience didn't get to see at the beginning.
CBA: At the very beginning, Jack Abel was your initial inker?
PAUL: He and Pablo Marcos shared the bill on inking jobs,
CBA: What did you think of their work?
PAUL: I thought it was different, but it was appropriate.
I thought Marcos caught the style a little closer than Jack did—and
that's not to say that Jack did a lesser job—and I respect
both of those guys.
CBA: Ideally, did you want to do your own inks?
PAUL: Ideally, but there was a time factor there, a tremendous
amount of pressure. That's why I never got to do covers when
I did MOKF. That was all due to the fact that there was a deadline
pressure scenario. I just lost the urge to even want to try to do
covers after a while.
CBA: You immediately started to get into a real (I continuously
go back into this word) cinematic approach. Were you where you wanted
to be at that moment when your work really started to shine? Did you
always have your eye towards commercial art, or paperback book covers?
PAUL: No. I discovered I had this strong graphic sense when
I was in high school. Prior to that, I did just a variety of all kind
of art. I worked in pastels, a little watercolor—I experimented.
I was looking at being able to do this stuff early on and get a taste.
But you know, you're restricted when you get into a world that's
pencils and inkpens and brushes and so forth, and you can only take
that so far. Even though my comics work could've been more graphic,
I could have probably expounded more, but I was confined to what it
was—and that was comics. What Steranko did was also inspired
by the fact that he worked in an advertising agency, and he had all
these little studio tricks he'd incorporate into each issue.
CBA: He had a much wider experience than the average comic
PAUL: Exactly. I think a lot of comic book artists aren't
exploring other directions to go in. You look at the new guys today,
and it seems that a lot of them consider Image as Ground Zero for
inspiration. They seem to have no knowledge whatsoever of the scope
of artistic possibilities. On the other hand, even the guys in the
'60s, '70s and '80s were weaned on the earlier comic
book guys, and just didn't go outside comics to look for ideas.
It still takes an eye and a gift to experiment and take chances. I
mean, either you have that or you don't. That's why when
people compare me with Steranko, it boils down to the fact that we
both have a tremendous graphic sensibility, which makes us look very
parallel and very similar. Now, if I hadn't seen Steranko's
work ever—if Steranko never existed—my stuff would still
look very strongly the way it has through the years. I really don't
think it would look any different.
CBA: Getting into the chronology, do you recall being offered
"Master of Kung Fu"? Do you remember how that came about?
PAUL: I did the first issue of "Morbius," and then
immediately after that first book was done, I got a call from Roy,
who, as much as I can recall, felt that Starlin, who'd done one
or two issues, was better suited for Captain Marvel, and felt that
I would be better on the kung fu strip. That's how it came about.
Now, Starlin might have a different story.
CBA: So, you saw this as your first regular gig, right? Were
you ever considered to be the continuing artist on "Morbius"?
PAUL: I would've taken it at that time. I wouldn't
have passed that up. I would've grabbed anything, like anybody
when they first started.
CBA: If you'd been offered a super-hero strip, would
you have taken it?
PAUL: Yeah, back then.
CBA: Would you have had any interest in doing it?
PAUL: I could've made a lot of money with Doug Moench
through the years—had we taken up offers to do super-heroes—and
I always turned it down, I just don't feel inclined to do that
genre. You have to have passion for that, and I never had that and
never got into it. There are other people more qualified than me.
CBA: Were you starting to use photo reference from the word
"go"? You said that Dan had a huge swipe file. Did you start
developing your own swipe file then?
PAUL: Not really. If I wanted to use Marlon Brando as a character,
and didn't have any reference on him, I'd buy a book on
Brando, or whoever.
CBA: You were constantly looking for reference?
PAUL: Not constantly, if I felt inclined. No matter who it
was, if I had to go seek it out, I'd go look for it. I didn't
have piles of stuff laying around my studio. I wasn't clipping
and saving in that sense. Adkins suggested that we all do that, and
it's the best bit of advice you can give to an artist starting
out or an artist that's been at it for a long time. I ran into
Bob McGuinness in London by accident, and I didn't know who he
was at the time, and one of the things he said to me was—and
I always remembered this, because I wrote it down, and I never forgot
it—he said, "An artist is only as good as his reference."
And he said Rob Liefeld told him that. Just kidding. [laughs]
CBA: Do you think that's what's lacking, is that
in the present field, kids are just using old comic books as reference?
PAUL: That wouldn't hurt; but on the other hand, they
want to establish their own identity. Some are using reference, but
they'll put a wacky spin on it, and it doesn't matter anyhow.
I don't know if they care about the accuracy of a .45, and how
to draw correctly and so forth. I don't think that's a priority
for a lot of guys out there. It's more "flavor-of-the-month"
technique. J. Scott Campbell has a cartoony style. Joe Madureira seems
to be a big Disney enthusiast. I really like their work, by the way—and
I really enjoy Scott McDaniel's Nightwing.
CBA: Doing live model nude classes is probably...
PAUL: Getting anatomy down is one thing I wish they'd
begin with. For me, I'd like to see more diversity when I look
at comics today. I hate this clone woman that seems to permeate the
whole industry. You walk into a comic book store, and it's the
same chick on every magazine, it's the same eyes, the same lips,
same nose, same breasts, same ass!
CBA: It's real tiresome, the "bad girl" and
"good girl" comics—it's overwhelming when you
go into the shops. I've almost no interest to go into the shops
except to get the weird, fun stuff and clear out as fast as I_can.
PAUL: There's so much color when you walk into a comic
book shop that it looks like Walt Disney threw up on the wall! [laughter]
90 books with the same skanks on the cover.
CBA: Do you recall meeting Doug face-to-face?
PAUL: Yep. Somebody introduced me when I went up to Marvel
on one of my trips to New York. This long-haired freak came up to
me, we shook hands, and we hit it off right away. He was a great guy.
CBA: You guys obviously hit it off. What is it about your
personalities that's maintained a collaborative relationship
over 25 years?
PAUL: Same interests, same zeal for life, and he's just
a great guy. I've known him for so long, that he's like
my brother, and he's my favorite collaborator.
CBA: You mentioned in one of the interviews that while Doug
was interested in pursuing the philosophical aspects of Shang-Chi,
that you were more interested maybe in the action.
PAUL: That's right.
CBA: Do you think that was part of your burn-out?
PAUL: I think the philosophical aspects just slowed the book
down. I didn't want to get into that material. I didn't
think it was necessary. I think there was room for it, but it shouldn't
overwhelm the series. I thought it was too heady for Shang-Chi. I
wanted him maturing, becoming more worldly.
CBA: Less of an innocent?
PAUL: Doug saw him more in the temple, I saw him driving a
jeep. That was the division.
CBA: Were you like real brothers, in that you'd have
really interesting and lively sessions, getting into arguments and
PAUL: Oh, yeah. You had two minds, two young egos who were
searching for a limelight—and there's no two ways about
it: We competed with each other, that's what made this thing
unique. We were like Lennon and McCartney. I was really, really pushing
my end, and he was countering with his, and as a result, we got this
product. In retrospect, I was disappointed in the last story arc we
did together. I still cringe over that six-part saga. I felt that
last issue should've had more action, to this day—I'm
still telling Doug that. All these years gone by, I'll still
bring it up. He had the last jab in, so to speak.
CBA: When did you realize you were getting noticed? Was it
at shows, was it through the mail?
PAUL: Yeah, I got a tremendous amount of fan mail, from a
very diverse audience. Attorneys, kids, martial artists, movie fans...
and I received awards from overseas early on. That's why I knew
there was a global interest.
CBA: Were you getting better rates after a particular period
of time? The book went monthly when you started, right?
PAUL: I think it was monthly.
CBA: So you were pumping out how many pages a day?
PAUL: I had to get out at least two. I wasn't one of
these guys like John Byrne, who could crank out five pages.
CBA: Well, you had a lot of heavy blacks...
PAUL: Yeah, I was drawing in blue colored pencil, because
I'd put so many darks down it would smudge by the time the inker
got it. By the time the letterer was done with it, it was a blur.
So, Verpoorten was the one who suggested I go to a hard blue pencil;
and that even takes longer, because you've got to keep that point
CBA: Right. Did you hit it off with Verpoorten?
PAUL: Oh, he was a wonderful man. It was really tragic what
happened to him. I believe he had a heart attack while he was at his
drawing table at home. He had a perforated ulcer is what happened
there, and he bled to death internally. He was a huge guy. He was
very compliant and helpful, courteous, always polite. He had a sense
of humor, and was prompt; John had all the qualities of a guy you
wanted to work for, all within an atmosphere of chaos. He had a very
high-stress position, you know, and at the end, it took its toll on
him. He and John Romita made me feel most comfortable when I first
CBA: At the same time, Marvel's corporate star was rising
like nothing before; they were the number one comics publisher, they
were getting TV shows made of their stuff, and they really looked
hot to investors. I guess the suits took over.
PAUL: You've got to remember, I got out of there by that
time, I was drawing Sabre in the late '70s, and was going in
some other directions. I really don't know what was happening
in the late '70s and almost all of the '80s there, for that
CBA: When you were freelancing for Marvel, were you into the
experimentation? Did you feel in essence that were you a slave to
the work, or were you really enjoying stretching your limbs, so to
speak, and trying these things? Sometimes your layouts were so sequential,
they were almost down to depicting a nanosecond of movement. Did you
have a very rough plot from Doug?
PAUL: No, his plots were always... everything was there.
Even the dialogue.
CBA: But you had some freedom to move within that framework
and use your storytelling approach?
PAUL: He would recommend things, but I rarely listen to any
suggestions writers give me, particularly when it comes to action
scenes. I like to choreograph all that on my own. If they want a truck
in there, I'll put a motorcycle. [laughter] If they want a motorcycle,
I'll have it on top of a bridge; if they want it on a building,
I'll put it in a subway. I attribute that more to instinct than
Never-before-published private collection drawing. Courtesy of the
artist. ©2000 Paul Gulacy.
CBA: But that's what you do!
PAUL: Let me put it this way: When I did MOKF, I was very
spontaneous. I never labored over the script and wondered and pondered
how I'm going to play a scene. It was what I call "first
flash": You read it, and you spontaneously get it in your mind
visually how to play it. Your brain tells you automatically how to
play this thing. I never liked to waste a lot of time on any other
kind of approach to it. You had to get it done, you always had in
the back of your mind that you had a deadline on this thing.
CBA: It's a job, you've got to get the job done!
PAUL: That's right; but you've got to remember,
it was also an era when the kung fu movies and Bruce Lee were very
popular. What I tried to do at that time was bring Bruce Lee back
in a sense. When Bruce died, I felt that MOKF was the only outlet
for a Bruce Lee-type guy—that's how I saw Shang-Chi. It
was a continuation of all that fun stuff. We had the spy motif, martial
arts, actors, and parody. It was a big stew of all kinds of stuff
that made that book. We had Fu Manchu in there... I mean, it was
crazy, it was just a mish-mash! And the readers picked up on that.
CBA: But I think you really clued in to the appeal of the
strip— that it was the continuation of Bruce Lee, it was the
chance to see Bruce Lee "alive."
PAUL: Right. In fact, there was a rumor around that Bruce
Lee's wife had called Stan Lee and said "Knock it off."
CBA: Did you ever get to the truth of that?
PAUL: That was told to me by someone at Marvel.
CBA: Did you ever get any other flak? Nowadays, I don't
think you could get away with it, because you had Sean Connery, for
instance, for a period of time. There were a lot of recognizable characters,
James Coburn, and people like that...
PAUL: Marlene Dietrich...
CBA: Yeah, right. [laughs] You were grabbing them from all
PAUL: Don't forget David Niven [laughter]—who the
hell cares about David Niven?—but we found a place for him in
CBA: Casual readers—those were not comics fans—seemed
to get into the book. Sales of the book indicated that guys who were
into martial arts, or who were into spy stuff, were picking up the
comic, who might not pick up other comics (except Conan, maybe). They
specifically focused on MOKF. When did you first get an inkling that
the book was selling as well as it was?
PAUL: I got it from Roy Thomas who mentioned it was up there
in sales with Conan and Spider-Man. I encountered the most diverse
crowd I ever saw in my life—and the most people I ever signed
for—when I attended a convention at The Shrine in Los Angeles.
I definitely heard from the down home folks who really enjoyed our
series and that's really cool. We appealed to a crowd that perhaps
didn't follow regular comics. These were readers who wanted to
tune into something other than super-heroes. Shang-Chi brought that
by being an ethnic character. Back then, mainstream comics usually
featured blond guys with big muscles, and that was about it. So early
on, we had a diverse character and an equally diverse audience—and
that's one of the things that Doug and I are proud of.
CBA: By your own description, you burned out on MOKF. Did
you maintain a relationship with Doug immediately after your run on
MOKF, or did you have a falling out—or did you say, "Hey,
we'll work together again someday."?
PAUL: Yeah, it's always been like that, that's a
line we always use. I mean, in the 25 years I've known him, it's
always been, "We'll work again, we'll do something."
And we do go our separate ways. He's worked with a score of artists
and sold a lot of books with these guys, and I did different things.
It was kind of sad at the end of MOKF. It was like a rock 'n'
roll group that all of a sudden splits up or like a comedy team where
the guys go their separate ways. It was melodramatic like that.
CBA: Did you feel you were leaving comics for good at the
PAUL: Yeah, absolutely. I couldn't wait to get out of
the industry. I just wanted to explore and try some other things.
CBA: So it wasn't particularly negatives of the industry
itself, it was that you just wanted to express yourself in other ways?
PAUL: Not being a big comics collector, I felt kind of a funny
sense of isolation. I_never really joined any kind of comic book professional
cliques—I knew a few people—but I was never close friends
with anybody in the business, outside of Doug, Mayerik, and Adkins.
I was just separate from that whole scene. I didn't go to Marvel
and hang out and have lunch with everybody—that wasn't my
CBA: So it's kind of a "been there, done that"
kind of thing, in that the cliques just don't have anything to
offer you? I mean, you didn't see comics as the end-all and be-all,
but rather as another step in a direction of your self- discovery?
PAUL: If you're going to go back to those days, and Adkins
was the guy who told me this, early on he said, "If you want
to make a great deal of money, you're not going to find it in
comics." And that was true back then. You do comics when you're
young for the love of it, and you'll take whatever you can get—you'll
take a low wage, or whatever—and the thrill of seeing your name
on a book and having your work published nationally becomes very appealing
and exciting; but after a while, you've got to look at the reality,
and at that point, there was something stirring inside of me. I was
being tugged at by some other natural inclination. I needed some kind
of environment that was with other people, and I eventually made my
way into advertising. It got me out of the house.
CBA: Did you find any satisfaction working in advertising?
PAUL: Yeah, it was exciting—I worked for some of the
biggest agencies in New York; but you know, once again, you're
freelancing, you're once again like a mercenary. You're
hired, you're there temporarily, and then you're shuttled
off somewhere else...
CBA: And you're expendable.
PAUL: Right. The longest period of time I ever worked at one
agency was two weeks, on one particular job... one product we were
CBA: How would you assess your time at Marvel in the '70s,
overall? Was it a positive experience?
PAUL: Yeah, for the most part, it was positive. I realized
how important comics are—they fall in the category of jazz, baseball,
Chevrolets, apple pie... it's an American idiom; and that's
what I took with me in those early days, spending time at Marvel.
That's probably the most important thing I grasped. There are
people who love this medium, and respect it—and it should be
respected. Comics and sequential storytelling go back to the days
of the Egyptians, and even further back to the Sumerians, and it's
just a tremendous artform. If it made its way into the Louvre, there
must be something good about it.
CBA: Do you enjoy constantly coming back to it?
PAUL: Oh, it's in my blood.
CBA: You'll never really leave it?
PAUL: No, I don't think so. I'll never really leave
it. I'm not done! I'm still trying to figure it out! [laughs]
I mean, I always have a story in the back of my mind I have to get
out, and the way I get it out is visually. I'm not going to write
it out, I'm not a writer. I'll put it down on paper with
a pencil for somebody, even if it's only for myself.
CBA: And you've got more stories coming from you, right?
PAUL: Oh, yeah, there's a ton! I haven't done a
gladiator story, I haven't done a World War II story, I haven't
done a great western... I want to do some sword-and-sorcery, some
more sci-fi. In fact, Moench and I are going to do a big sci-fi story
for Dark Horse in the future.
CBA: So are you more into creator-owned stuff now?
PAUL: I was into it 20 years ago with Sabre. Right now, Doug
and I feel compelled to do something that's creator-owned. We
have something that we feel is very special and when we get excited
about something... look out.
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