Exclusive Interview with Ethan Van Sciver

[Date: September 2006]

By Jason Larouche.

On the final day of the labour day weekend event in Toronto, FanExpo 2006, I had the opportunity to talk to current Superman/Batman artist Ethan Van Sciver. Teamed with Mark Verheiden, he is the fourth artist on the popular team-up of the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight Detective, and is hot off the acclaim he has received for Green Lantern: Rebirth, written by Geoff Johns.

The Superman Homepage would like to thank Ethan for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule.

Superman/Batman #28 Q: Can you describe your backround in art? Can you name some of your creative influences?

A: My background in art is just that I've always been drawing my whole life. I have no art education whatsoever, unless you count an art class. I don't, because I learned virtually nothing there. I mostly learned from being around other artists and having very talented parents who passed on the gene to me. [As for] artistic influences, I love John Byrne, I love Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Ernie Wrightson. All these guys made me wanna draw.

Q: Did you read comics as a kid? If so which titles?

A: As a kid, at age twelve or thirteen, I read Superman. I loved Amazing Spider-Man, especially when Todd McFarlane was drawing him. Just about everything John Byrne did I read, so I read the entire Fantastic Four run that he did and I loved it; it took me a week to read that. And that's basically it. It wasn't DC Comics for me really until I grew up a little bit. I was a Marvel zombie up until then.

Q: Before Superman/Batman, you were the artist on Green Lantern: Rebirth, which brought Hal Jordan back to the land of the living. Knowing the amount of history this character carried and the importance of this story, were you at all pressured to deliver a visually dynamic presentation to go along with the script?

A: Well, Geoff [Johns'] scripts are dynamic anyway. They require visual, very exciting drawings to go with it. To be honest with you, I didn't know much about Green Lantern before I got the job. Green Lantern wasn't a character I was particularly interested in drawing ever. I never saw myself as a Green Lantern artist. But when they offered me the job and told me that we would be restoring Hal Jordan as Green Lantern and that Geoff Johns was going to write it, I knew it was gonna be good and it would have a big audience, so I took the job and since then, I've loved the Green Lanterns. The thing about not really being a fan of Green Lantern beforehand, though, I didn't really feel too behold unto other Green Lantern artists like Neal Adams [or] Dave Gibbons [so] I basically did my own thing; I felt free to do that because I wasn't really in awe of the character and his legacy. Now I am. But before I was kind of 'this is my toy, I think I'll play around with it.' And that's where all the changes and tweaks that happened in Green Lantern: Rebirth came from. That's what kind of added to it.

Q: At one point you did work on Marvel Comics' character, Wolverine. Is there any difference in terms of how artists are treated by Marvel and DC? Which is the better company in that respect?

A: DC feeds their artists ice cream, Marvel whips them. That's the only difference. It's an abusive environment. Obviously I prefer DC.

Q: What can you tell us about the direction you and Mark Verheiden have in mind for the World's Finest following the Loeb-McGuinness-Pacheco-Turner runs?

A: Mark loves the Silver Age. He loves weirdo, Silver Age characters and he wants to bring them all back. That's his agenda. Mark thinks Titano is a great idea; he convinced me that Titano, a 200-foot chimpanzee, was a good idea also. I don't know how he did that but he convinced me. And he's an action guy. He likes to write a lot of big action scenes with lots of whacky characters, and I don't think he has too much of an agenda beyond that.

Q: As an artist, what do you think one has to keep in mind when approaching such visually different characters like Batman and Superman? To you, what separates them beyond the embodiment of light and darkness?

A: Well, I guess Superman is an optimist and Batman is a realist. Visually, the way to separate them, and the challenge of doing a book like Superman/Batman is to use light in such a way as to separate the two characters and just let them be distinctly themselves and still interact with each other. Superman doesn't look good in shadows, in my opinion; he looks wrong when you put him in too many shadows and in the darkness, where you draw Batman. Likewise, Batman looks terrible in the daylight. So it's a challenge trying to get these two characters to fit together in one book. In Green Lantern: Rebirth, I had Batman represent himself as a silhouette when he was around the JLA because there was so much brightness and so much glory around the JLA that Batman would have to recede into the shadows, essentially just become a silhouette, a shape, when he was around them. It's that kind of problem with Superman/Batman. The only thing I'm finding really challenging about Mark Verheiden's version of Superman/Batman is that it's so over the top and so silly in some places that it's hard to really define the characters in every moment. I mean when you have Batman fighting Killowog or something, it's not the right place for Batman to be in. It's not a comfortable place for Batman to be in. So, you have to sort of bend the rules a little bit there.

Q: Are there any titles you hope to get your hands on in the near future?

A: The great thing about DC is that if there was another title I'd wanted to get my hands on I'd have my hands on it right now. DC is very accommodating with their characters, and they're very accommodating of me. And if I were to say 'I must draw Aquaman right now,' they would probably allow me to draw Aquaman right now. The current environment, the current creative climate at DC is such that they've learned that when a creator has energy towards one of their properties, they should generally let him go and do it, and the best results follow. At the moment I love Green Lantern. Green Lantern's all over Superman/Batman. And after Superman/Batman I'm going to go back to Green Lantern with Geoff Johns and do more work on the characters. I just don't feel done yet; I don't feel finished. Long answers to short questions.

Q: Okay, that's all I have thanks a lot.

A: No problem. And what is it? Superman'

Q: Yeah,

A: That's right I love it. It's a great web site. Keep it up.

Q: I'll tell Steve Younis you approve of the web site.

A: Excellent. Do that.

This interview is Copyright © 2006 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.



The Superman Homepage has had the pleasure of interviewing various Superman Comic Book creative people about their work.

Question and Answer Interviews:


Krypton Club Interviews:

Lois 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.

Check the Television section of this website for some “Lois & Clark” Interviews conducted by The Krypton Club.