Artist Mat Broome returns to comics next week, with the January 2 launch of The End League, Dark Horse’s new ongoing superhero series by writer Rick Remender. Described by Dark Horse as a “thematic merging of The Lord of the Rings and Watchmen“, the first issue (which I read through the advance-providing kindness of Dark Horse’s Jacq Cohen) brings you a world where evil has triumphed over good, but there is a glimmer of hope. Or so it may seem. The energy and kinetics of the first issue’s art caught my attention and spurred me to interview Broome. As an added bonus, Broome directed me to a YouTube click promoting the book, which can be found here. Enjoy.
Tim O’Shea (TOS): Having read an advance of the first issue, the story starts out on a pretty hopeless predicament (usually a good place for a superhero tale of adversity to start, admittedly). Given the core concept of the book, it’s set in fairly dark times, and the characters face an uphill battle. With that backdrop, what was it about the core story that attracted you to the project?
Mat Broome (MB): Being a career DC/Marvel/Wildstorm guy what hooked me on Rick Remender’s story concept was the idea of taking the typical Super Hero archetype and having no strings attached to their outcome. I think what was most compelling for me personally coming back to the industry full time was doing something that I thought would truly challenge me as a storyteller. I love the idea that this group of Heroes have already lost everything and are searching for that one thing that can give the survivors hope. Everyone roots for the underdog 🙂
MB: The story was originally really great ideas that Rick had come up with over several years of working on the outline and character bios between projects. When we decided to co-create a series together we had discussed possibly doing another property that I was working on but it was not developed to the point where we could jump in and start fleshing out all the pieces. The End League (TEL) changed quite a bit from the standpoint of the original cast and even some of the general storyline, but I think we were able to preserve most of the original world view ideas that Rick had which were great to start with.
TOS: Remender has raved about your design work with these new characters. From your perspective, which character was the most challenging and/or enjoyable to design?
MB: The character designs for TEL were probably some of the toughest I’ve done. Just not having been in the grind for a few years, but also because these characters needed to look like they belonged together and at the same time come from the far corners of the Universe. Over all I think the hardest character to design was Astonishman. The funny thing is to most people this character is just your typical Superman or Captain Marvel type, but in every really simple design is a character that exposes your weakest links. There is nowhere to cheat when drawing Astonishman and you have to really sell some iconic gestures without infringing on other companies characters.
TOS: Has your spouse, Wendy Broome, always been the colorist on your projects, or is it rare that your schedules permit such a collaboration? What values does she add to your work?
MB: Oh man LOL. Good question. I actually met Wendy while she was coloring Gen 13 at Wildstorm Comics 13 years ago. I think she took one look at how bad my art was and wanted to do anything she could to help LOL!
Wendy colors everything I do with the exception of the covers, which I paint now. What I have always loved is that she has a very earthy and natural color palette something I have always enjoyed seeing in colorist work. She also has an old school work ethic about how much detail she brings to the page.
TOS: Your inker on this project is your long-time inker, Sean Parsons. Having worked with him on several books, do you try certain things with your art or a scene that you know will play to Parsons’ abilities? What is about his inking style that makes him ideal for your work?
MB: Where do I start with Sean Parsons? Sean is my brother in arms no doubt. Sean and I go back over 10 years together and I think outside of my wife no one has been by my side like Sean. We’ve seen the darkest corners of deadline hell together, including once when Sean finished a Batman two-part series with me out of an apartment working 36 hours straight with a dead tooth in his mouth. And in case you’re wondering no it wasn’t snowing, and we didn’t have to push his car up hill both directions.
Sean’s inks are amazing, and he’s got a sensitivity to how I put down a line that I just haven’t seen on my work elsewhere. Sean was giving me a thin line on my stuff that was perfect the perfect balance between finesse and thick to thin. The work he’s doing on TEL now that I’ve evolved a bit as an artist still blows me away. I put down a tremendous amount of detail on pages, and the great thing about Sean is I know he’ll deliver the polish on the smallest brick standing. No one better.
TOS: Your talents have been in such high demand in the video game industry; this project marks your return to comics, if I’m not mistaken. In stepping away from sequential art, working in video games, and now returning to the medium–have you seen a change in your style or an evolution to certain aspects of it?
MB: One of the most enjoyable things for me being away from the industry and working in games was having the chance to paint and illustrate for so many years, while still having really tough deadlines. Sequential art has its own deadlines, but in games if you miss a milestone your losing millions of dollars so being on time is critical. That really put me in the mindset of planning out my time better before I began and doing better research to do more professional artwork. That’s really pushed me to be more accurate in the form and pay more attention to what’s critical to the piece. I don’t think these are things I did when I was doing books full time before, but I’m very focused on now.
While away from comics I never stopped doing sequential work or staying up late. I would do what really amounted to sketching comic pages and really tearing down how I approached a page to get better. I felt that if I returned I wanted to not only be a better draftsman, but also a better storyteller something that I wasn’t very good at being one of the Image kids.
The style that I’m coming back w
ith is definitely about storytelling and not splash pages. I find myself spending the majority of time on laying out pages spent doing gestures that highlight the script instead of how I want to do a cool fist or flying roundhouse–LOL.
TOS: Given that your work is in such demand in the video game industry, what attracted you to returning to sequential art storytelling?
MB: There is absolutely nothing that compares to telling a story. The projects that I work on at Sony usually require 65-140 people to just make the game, but in comics it’s a writer, inker, colorist and you … and a ton of Red Bull.
Most games take two to five years to complete and the average book takes four to six weeks. Comics is instant gratification and a medium I’ve just been in love with since I was five years old. Just can’t shake it.
TOS: Of the issues you’ve completed so far, can you point to one or two scenes where the writing and pacing just had you eager to get to draw that particular aspect?
MB: Rick has done some of the best scene development I’ve ever worked on. He actually reminds me a bit of Alan Moore in the amount of detail that he puts on every page and I mean that in a good way.
There are a couple of sequences … first, issue one when Astonishman destroys most of the earth. I could not wait to show the repentant Astonishman in the scene right before he kills the Aliens.
The other would be issue 2 when we start to get into some of the personal conflicts of the team and show the readers what they’ve gotten themselves into. Rick is just great at changing up the pace and flow in a page turn and it’s been a blast.