Scott Kowalchuk is a new name to comics fans, but he’s quickly becoming well-known. The first issue of his new Image Series, The Intrepids, sold out from Diamond, and provoked some interesting though mixed reviews on our site. As you’ll see from the interview below, Scott has a deep love for comics history and is tremendously excited to get to work in comics. I spoke to him at the 2011 Emerald City Comicon, where he happily held court at the Image Comics booth.
Sacks: So tell me about Intrepids.
Kowalchuk: Intrepids came about around a year ago. The writer, Curtis Weibe and I, pitched it here in Seattle. It’s a cross between – well, I’ve calling it a cross between Scooby Doo and the classic Kirby X-Men. High octane, kind of fun, not necessarily all ages but kids can read it and not miss a beat. It’s good old fun. The old Ditko/Kirby stuff is really what inspired us when we put it together.
Sacks: With monsters!
Kowalchuk: With monsters, yeah. The premise is a bunch of orphan children, taken in by an aging inventor. He basically outfits them with wild and fun technology, and they go off fighting mad scientists across the globe. You know, one of those really high concept pieces.
Sacks: Very realistic sounding (laughs)
Kowalchuk: Oh, very realistic (laughs)
Sacks: And you’re the artist…
Kowalchuk: I’ve been getting a lot of comparisons to Paul Grist, which is just like… the man is a master. I don’t know why anyone would see that in my work, but I super appreciate it.
Sacks: My only complaint about Grist is that I wish he still worked in black and white.
Kowalchuk: I know. I know. I picked up the first volume of Jack Staff, which was called When Everything Used to Be in Black and White, and it was gorgeous. It’s a lot like Alex Toth. The use of writing, text and sound effects – the handwritten sound effects and text just blow my mind every time I look it. I learn something new every time I look through the book.
Sacks: So you obviously love Toth and Darwyn Cooke…
Kowalchuk: Toth was one of those guys I really looked at when I was designing the series. His old Hanna-Barbera work like Jonny Quest. His Jonny Quest character designs and set designs – I don’t know how he did it. I really don’t know how he did it. The man was a master. He used as few lines as he possibly could in his art, but it was so rich and so detailed. But it still appeals to kids.
Kowalchuk: I think what I see lot in the super-hero books is this push towards realism, and even gritty realism. I miss that retro sensitivity, that retro playfulness that the Kirbys and the Ditkos and the Toths were so influential in developing. You see Grist’s work or you see Darwyn Cooke’s work and you see there really is something to that homage to the old stuff.
Sacks: It’s not just homage either. It somehow becomes more real in a way.
Kowalchuk: I think those guys back in the ‘60s laid the foundation for it. Us new guys – this is my first book, so I’m very aware of it, four or five decades later, we get to benefit from all the hard work that they did.
Sacks: What do you have coming up in future issues?
Kowalchuk: Issues 1 through 3 are completely finished, so we have a good jump. I’m halfway through issue 3 now. Issue 2 has some battle baboons. Issue 1, the cyber-bear is our most prevalent antagonist. We’ve got some babble baboons in issue 2, a manbot in issue 3, and I can’t give you any more than that.
The book is a romp. The high octane quality of the first issue just picks back up in issue 2. We do a lot of homages to pop culture. We have some A Teamreferences in issue 2.
Sacks: Tell us about the heroes.
Kowalchuk: They’re just a ragtag group of kids. Each of them has a different ability. One has super strength. One has pinpoint accuracy. Another is a kind of Doctor Who gadget owner. Another has a jet pack. It’s a good cross section. For me, it’s a lot of fun to draw all those different characters whose abilities are so, so different.
Sacks: Sounds like a lot of fun. Sounds like you really love it.
Kowalchuk: It is. This is what I went to school for. This is what I worked and worked for. It’s really nice to see it paying off. And coming into print – that’s huge. I’m loving that people really enjoy it. I’m loving that we sold out. I still don’t understand why – but anyone who bought it, I appreciate more than they could ever believe.
Sacks: Image is suddenly doing really well these days.
Kowalchuk: They’re taking chances on people, and that’s really important. Really important. Especially for us guys who are new, who have ideas and really want to promote them to the public.