Comic Book Artist Edited by Jon B. Cooke Comic Book Artist, Eisner Award winner for "Best Comics-Related Magazine", celebrates the lives and works of great cartoonists, writers and editors from all eras through in-depth interviews, feature articles, and unpublished art.

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

From Comic 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 did.

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...

CBA: Philosophy?

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 effort.

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.

PAUL: Absolutely.

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 your chops.

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, I think.

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 artist.

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 stuff?

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 going.

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 started out.

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 matter.

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 rebellion.

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 over!

PAUL: Don't forget David Niven [laughter]—who the hell cares about David Niven?—but we found a place for him in there.

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 time?

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 thing.

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 working on.

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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