Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Interview: Declan Shalvey

It's been a long time coming (this interview was conducted nearly two months ago now) but my final interview from D.I.C.E. 2013 is now available for you to read.

I got to speak to an artist who I'm a big fan of. Declan Shalvey has wonderful style and a flair that is easy to identify as his own. I got to speak to him for more time than he probably had spare, if I'm honest, and had lots of fun chatting with him. Here is our interview... 


Aaron: I'm here today with a fantastic artist who has worked on Deadpool, Thunderbolts, is an award winner, but most importantly he's Irish. Declan Shavley how are you?

Declan: I'm very good but award winner? Irish award winning maybe.

A: Yes, well I was going to test a few Wikipedia points like that.

D: Oh well Wikipedia... we could have a big talk about Wikipedia and what is and isn't true. I feel weird in saying "award winning" as that Eagle Award was so long ago it must have exploded by now.

A: You got it quite early in your career as well, you got it for one of the first projects you worked on.

D: It was the first published work I ever did. It was nice that early in my career – "my career" – to have something under my belt that got me so much attention. I look at it now and I'm ashamed of the job I did but still to be able to say after one gig "I drew this" and to have it win an award is excellent. It was like an adrenaline shot, it was great.

A: Yeah, a great confidence boost to say "I've chosen the right thing to do here".

D: Yeah, I guess so. When you're starting out you do a lot of short stories and stuff like that so to actually have a body of work even though it was only 20 pages it was still a complete story. It wasn't like "oh, I'm going to do this 24 page epic that I'll never finish". I wish I could say that was all by planning that I did it, but I would definitely recommend people try it. Yeah, I just totally landed arse-ways into it. Can I say arse?

A: Oh yeah, we're on the internet. Fuck, shit, bollocks. One Wikipedia quote I'm going to test today is apparently you've been quoted as saying that Stephen Mooney, who is here this weekend, was a big influence on you getting started in comics. Is that true?

D: I can absolutely guarantee you that is not true. In fairness, Stephen actually was a big help in a lot of ways because he gave me study space to work in and gave me my first job with Atomic Dog but as far as what Wikipedia actually says, no.

A: I'm sure he probably added that to Wikipedia himself.

D: He probably did just to spite me, just to make himself feel better. If he could possibly edit Wikipedia which I don't think he'd know how to do that.

A: I've been reading Half Past Danger his current story and I feel like he has drawn himself as the main character. Is that a typical kind of thing for him to do?

Stephen Mooney / Tommy Flynn. Spot the difference.

D: I don't know what you're talking about... He once did a Green Lantern sample page and I said "you drew yourself as Green Lantern" and he was like "no I didn't!". And if you looked it was clearly his face.

A: "I just drew an incredibly attractive man!"

D: Yeah he's just attractive and so happens to also be him. Yeah, he's terrible for that. But that's one of the things I like about him and just embrace it. I don't know, I just think he's hilarious.

A: Now, you're Irish... comics are not really known as an Irish thing, but with the internet these days obviously everything can be international. Do you think there are still any disadvantages to being on a small island in the middle of nowhere when it concerns the comic book industry?

D: Yes and no. I think there are some downsides. The fact that you're so far away from the biggest industry centres for example. But at the same time we're very close to one of the other biggest industry centres here in Europe and we don't really pay attention to that at all. It's swings and roundabouts.
I think what is helpful to us, being from Ireland, is that when you go to these places like America you're foreign so you're interesting but there's no language barrier. It's helpful because it makes you more interesting to anyone you talk to. When I was here nobody gave a toss but when I was in America everyone is "hey, you've got a funny accent!".

A: I've experienced that. I do a convention in the states and I get a lot of "heyyyy, are you from Europe?" and I can't help but respond "yeah, sure".

D: "Yeah, mon frere". But yeah, it can be helpful. Myself and Will went over for a while and to be honest it was helpful. It makes you stand out a little bit. Anything that makes you stand out is good. Unless it's racist views or something, of which I don't broadcast...

A: Ha, yeah, we won't talk about that. Now, one of my favourite works that you did was on Thunderbolts but you traded artistic duties with other people on that story. When you're doing that, working with other artists back and forth, do you alter your work to fit a motif with theirs? Or do you think "I'm going to do my thing and they'll do theirs and it's cool"?

D: I'll do my thing and they do theirs, I think. Especially with Kev Walker on Thunderbolts, he's a great artist so me trying to work off him wouldn't have really worked. Also, I've read the scripts and seen what he did, and he basically did what he wanted. Oh, actually, I remember that was a point of contention, I was trying to design costumes off his designs and then he switched them up. In that way I was trying to match what he did by keeping things consistent. But he changed stuff up just when he felt like it so I thought "why am I going to stress out trying to follow what he's doing, I'll just do my own thing". Ever since then I've found it makes for less headaches.

A: Interesting to hear that on a Marvel book "continuity" is once again a problem.

D: You say that but at least with the artists there's no regimented costume design that you have to slavishly follow because, you know, maybe it's a terrible costume. I much prefer that. I would say when I was doing the Captain America costume in the current Deadpool arc, that costume is mental and everybody draws it differently.

A: Yeah the chain-mail thing and all the parts...

D: Well the chain-mail was always there for the past few years, but all the different sections to the midriff and the jeans... Nobody was drawing him consistently. That was a little frustrating. But it made me sit down and figure out my own take, which is more satisfying to be honest.

Art by Declan Shalvey, Colours by Jordie Bellaire

A: Now we're going to have a quick round of dumb questions. We've had some great answers from the other guys (see interviews with Matt Hollingsworth and Jordie Bellaire) so the first question is: What's your favourite cheese?

D: I don't really like cheese.

A: But you're Irish, we love cheese sandwiches!

D: No, I'd never have cheese on a sandwich. I'd have it on pizza but cheese on it's own? Get the hell away from me.

A: Who is the best twerker in comics?

D: Probably me.

A: Interestingly enough, you were Matt's answer.

(At this point everything starts to break down as now Jordie Bellaire and Matt Hollingsworth join in).

Matt: Yeah I said you or Ben.

Declan: Yeah, realistically. I'm going to not be modest and say that I am the best twerker.

Jordie: Modest? Modesty? You're no modest man. You won the modest competition.

Declan: Did I? Where?

Jordie: I don't know. Wherever you announced that you won it, I guess. "I'm sooo modest".

Declan: Well I announced how modest I am about twerking, how great I am.

Jordie: Oh, you're the twerker? You're the best twerker?

Aaron: It's unanimous as well.

Matt: Yeah he asked who was the best in comics and I said...

Jordie: Kieron Gillen?

Matt: No, I said Declan and he answered the same.

Declan: She compliments my ass all the time.

Jordie: He does have a lovely bum.

Aaron: Well now all we need to do is to get Kieron Gillen and Declan to have a twerk-off. Now that's going to be a viral video right there.

Declan: I need a big metal ball to swing off, nude. You'll change your mind fast.

Aaron: Do you have a favourite sports team?

Declan: No, sports to me is a pointless act.

A: I figured nobody in comics would be in to sports.

D: A lot are in to sports. I've nothing against it. It's just the competitive nature of one team against another, it just bores me.

A: "Have a great draw". Ok we're going to play Fuck / Marry / Kill with Trades / Digital / Single Issues.

D: Oh, I can't play that game. I like them all. I like trades, I like single issues and I like digital. If I really like the art I like buying the single issues. If I'm just following the story and I'm not mad about the art I'll read it all digitally. I've been in a comic shop and I'd see a new book and think "nah, I'm not too sure, I won't bother" but then I'm sitting on my arse at home and get it, so I think it's great that way. I personally prefer reading things in trade. To me that's the end game. It's all just a delivery system for the same thing to me and I wouldn't fuck, marry, or kill any of them.

A: You'd just be friends with all three. The next question is: Ryan Gosling?

D: Yes... Yes.

A: Another unanimous answer today. The last movie you saw in the cinema?

D: I don't get to go much. Ummmm... Bollocks. Was it Monsters University? No, it was The World's End. I saw Monsters University and The World's End on the same day. Yeah, it was good. It was a nice evening. There's so many movies I've missed.

Artwork for American Vampire Anthology by Declan Shalvey w/ colours by Jordie Bellaire

A: Who would win in a fist fight between Frank Miller and Alan Moore?

D: Hmmmm. You'd think Frank Miller would be scrappier but then again he looks more frail. Whereas Alan Moore, you wouldn't think he was a fighter but he's got this animal thing about him. I guess Alan Moore. Unconventionally I'm gonna go with Alan Moore. He's got all those rings too, you know?

A: And a cane! If you could play any comic book character in a movie, who would you play?

D: Tommy "Irish" Flynn in Half Past Danger.

A: Haha, Stephen Mooney is crying inside somewhere. And finally, tell us all the comics you have out now that people should buy.

D: The American Vampire Anthology was out recently. Batman Incorporated Special came out recently. Deadpool issue 15, 16, and 17 came out recently and 18 is out soon and 19 finishes out my arc on that book. And that's all I've got for the rest of the year actually.

A: For now.

D: Nothing out until early 2014. But I can't talk about that and you didn't ask.

A: No, I didn't, I don't want a Cease & Desist letter. Thank you, you've been a rock star all day, it's been so hard to get you because so many people have been looking to talk to you and hang out with you.

D: Yeah I'm not going to be able to see everyone and my guilt is going to consume me.

A: Declan Shalvey, letting down his fans since 2001. Thank you very much, thanks for chatting I appreciate it.