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Glenn Whitmore is a comic book colorist who has worked on many Superman comics, especially around the time of the "Death of Superman" story line.
The Superman Homepage would like to thank Glenn for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule. We would also like to thank him for the images he sent along for us to include in this interview.
|Q: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
A: I was born in 1966 and raised in Morris County, NJ and I am still living in the same town since age 11.
Q: When did you first become interested in comic books?
A: I first became interested at the age of 4. I vaguely recall my first comics being Batman drawn by Neal Adams. I watched reruns of the TV show and the old Superman/Aquaman Filmation cartoons so that led me to get the comics. Up until age 14, I read DC exclusively. After that, I began to add some Marvel in.
Q: Did you have any formal art training or are you self taught?
A: A little bit of both. After high school, I attended the Joe Kubert School which was only fifteen minutes drive from where I lived. Like most schools, and in life in general, my real education began after graduation. To this day, I continue to work on my drawing skills by taking life drawing classes and studying from life.
Q: When did you first decide that you wanted to work on comic books?
A: When I was ten, the Kubert school offered Saturday morning sketch classes for young kids. Joe himself taught those in the beginning. After he was done with the first lesson, I was hooked. There was nothing else I wanted to do but be a comic book artist.
Q: How did you go about becoming a comic book colorist? What was your first big break into the industry?
A: After I graduated from Kubert, I worked at a local newspaper where I was hired to color the DAILY comic strips. A fellow staffer suggested I take some of my tearsheets to DC and try to pick up some work. After nearly a year of pestering Bob Rozakis (head of production) for some work, he relented and gave me a mini-series to color called Hawk & Dove, pencilled by an up-and-comer named Rob Liefeld.
Q: What comic book artists would you say have influenced your style the most?
A: As far as coloring and the Superman years, editor Mike Carlin probably had more influence than any artist. Mike had a strong idea of what worked and what didn't. I was a young guy who was easy to work with and gave the editor what he wanted. Mike was able get the best work out of me and I learned a lot from him.
Q: What comic books are on your monthly must-read list?
A: None. I follow my favorite artists more than I do the characters. If Jerry Ordway is drawing a story arc for a particular character, then I'll pick it up. Recently I got into DC: The New Frontier. Sometimes I'll pick up the Tom Strong stuff with Moore and Sprouse. I liked Green Arrow by Hester and Parks too.
Q: In your career what book(s) have you worked on that you're most proud of? Why?
A: Most recently, I colored Steve Rude's The Moth. Steve liked my work and we got along great. It was also my first gig in comics for a while and it was great to come back with one of the all-time greats. Over the years, he became a favorite of mine and I feel priveleged to color his work.
There's nothing more thrilling than getting your first lesson in Dude 101.
Among all the Superman books, The Death and Return period and seeing the excitement of the fans is something I'm proud of as well. Being a small part of a cultural happening is something I'll never forget. Also, I did financially well and was able to buy a home.
Another series I colored was the 1992 Justice Society series, drawn by the late, great Mike Parobeck. I'm a big fan of those characters and his artwork was perfect for it. I was really disappointed when it was cancelled in the wake of the whole Image thing. I never got to meet Mike and it's one of my few regrets as a professional.
Q: This being the SUPERMAN HOMEPAGE I'd be remiss if I didn't ask your thoughts on the Man of Steel. Are you a Superman fan? If so what incarnation (Movies, TV, radio or Comic) has resonated the strongest with you? (If comic please specify an artist, writer or run that stuck with you.)
A: My tastes go toward the Joe Shuster/Max Fleisher version. I first became excited by Superman when the Golden Age version reappeared in All Star Comics of the 1970's. Wally Wood drew him with the squinty eyes and the greying temples. In my eyes, somehow he was more Super, even though he was not as powerful.
Q: How did the position of Superman colorist come about for you? Who contacted you?
A: I was visiting with another editor after finishing up on the Hawk & Dove mini-series, which was edited by Mike Carlin. I stuck my head in Mike's doorway to say "hi" and he offered me the job. Petra Scotese was quitting the book to take some time off. Originally, I was supposed to fill in until Gene D'Angelo was to take over. Mike said to me that if I worked out okay on it, I could be the regular. So it worked out for about ten years.
Q: Coloring seems to slip beneath the radar of most people's reviews of comics, with the focus being on the writer, penciller and inker. Do you think colorists are under-appreciated?
A: I do think both coloring and lettering are under appreciated, which doesn't surprise me. From my own experience, I only noticed lettering and coloring when they detracted from a comic.
Q: Can you give us a quick run down of what is involved in coloring a comic book? How much is hand-done and how much is computer assisted?
A: To my knowledge, NONE of it is hand done these days. I usually download a file from the artist through an FTP site onto my Mac and use Photoshop to color it. On The Moth, Steve and I will go back and forth, with him making suggestions for changes and trying different things. Once he approves the color for the complete book, I upload it to Dark Horse's FTP site.
During the Superman days, I did ALL guides, The editor would send them to the separator. I had little idea of how a computer worked. I was not one to rush to learn new technology. But when I finally started learning Photoshop, I began to appreciate what the separators like Digital Chameleon and Wildstorm had to go through to color my pages.
NOW, I can't imagine working without my Mac.
Q: During your run coloring Superman comics there was a character called "Whitty Banter" whom I believe was created in tribute to you. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
A: In 1993, the entire Superman team, including me, was flown out to LA and San Diego to be extras for the Lois & Clark TV show and for the convention. After dinner, a group of us would hang out in the hotel lounge, and I would start joking around with the guys pretending to be a talk show host. At one point, I said "hey, this is some witty banter we've got here". Then it became the "Whitty Banter" show.
Later on that trip, the gang threw Carlin a surprise birthday party in his hotel room. I started being "Whitty" again, and began to "interview" Doug Hazlewood. Then out of nowhere, Jenette Kahn [then DC President] sits in the "interview chair". Well, I just froze up, which was pretty funny to the rest of the guys. She showed great humor and was a good sport about it.
I really had fun at the Super-summits, hanging out with the writers and artists annually. In relation to that, as the COLORIST, I would always humorously suggest bringing back Superman RED/Superman BLUE. That one would always bring laughs. One year, I couldn't be at the summit, but when I received the plots for the next year or so, in there was a story line for Superman RED and BLUE.
Q: Is there a favorite Penciller and/or Inker you had most fun working with?
A: Jon Bogdanove caught the spirit of the Max Fleischer Superman and I would put him on top the list for Superman artists. Like I mentioned before, working with Steve Rude was a blast as well.
Ordway was drawing Adventures of Superman when I broke in and I was very excited to be coloring one of my idols. Jerry and I had a good working relationship, and coloring his work on the Power of Shazam series was a thrill as well.
Q: Is there a Penciller and/or Inker you would really like to work with?
A: I'd like to continue working with the Dude [Steve Rude].
Q: Are there any projects you're currently working on that you'd like to plug?
A: Two. The Moth trade paperback is coming out in '05 and I heartily recommend buying it. Healthy sales will guarantee its return to Dark Horse.
Also, I self publish a retro, Sci-Fi Superhero which you can see for yourselves.
Q: Thank you for allowing me to interview you!
A: That's a statement, not a question. "Whitty comes out of retirement?" Now that's a question. But it was my pleasure. Thank YOU.
The Superman comics crew in 1993 on the Warner Bros lot during the filming of the "Lois &Clark" TV show. From left to right: Dan Jurgens, Doug Hazlewood, Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson, Glenn Whitmore, and Brett Breeding.
A covention at the Javits Center circa mid '90s. L to R: John Shea (Lex Luthor from "Lois & Clark"), Jackson Guice, Jon Bogdanove, John Byrne, Mike Carlin, Louise Simonson, Walt Simonson, and Glenn Whitmore.
A page from "Adventures of Superman #450" (1988), Glenn Whitmore's first Jerry Ordway story.
Superman Annual drawn by Walt Simonson.
1998 "Man of Steel #81" art by Jon Bogdanove and Dennis Janke.
When Lois & Clark started production in 1993, there was an obvious relationship between the comic book people and the Hollywood people.
A trade paperback Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, was published, with Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher on the cover. It included reprints of comic book stories that were the inspiration for Lois & Clark, helping to define the characters. Comic's included are: The Story of the Century (Man of Steel miniseries #2), Tears for Titano (Superman Annual #1), Metropolis - 900 mi (in SUP #9), The Name Game (SUP #11), Lois Lane (in ACT #600), Headhunter (AOS #445), Homeless for the Holidays (AOS #462), The Limits of Power (AOS #466), and Survival (ACT #665).
A number of comic book writers and artists had roles as extras in the episode I'm Looking Through You (Season one, episode 4). Their presence was immortilized in the Sky Trading Card #34.
Craig Byrne, president of the online Lois & Clark fanclub The Krypton Club, carried out a series of interviews with comic book writers. The interviews are reprinted with permission of the Krypton Club.