Today's a big day for the Shrine! Not only does Aquaman #4 hit the stands, but we're having a chat with two of the people responsible for Aquaman's resurgence: inker Joe Prado and colorist Rod Reis!:
The Aquaman Shrine: AQUAMAN has been one of the best received books of DC Comics' New 52: It has garnered overwhelmingly favorable fan-reaction, widespread critical acclaim, and a lot of new readers who are admittedly surprised to now call themselves Aquaman fans! Are you guys surprised by the initial success of the series? Was there any apprehension that the series wouldn't be received as positively as it has been?
Joe Prado: Dude! I was totally surprised by the fans' reactions! Especially because (and I can speak for myself, Ivan, Geoff and Rod here) we are Aquaman fans ourselves! For us the new series is an extension of a job well-done during Brightest Day! So, we ended up having so much fun working together with this fantastic character, that it was only natural to us to...well...continue to have fun working on Aquaman! Aquaman's world is so vast and so full of possibilities that it was a no-brainer for us. Honestly (and this is my opinion), I never doubted that Aquaman would be well-received by the fans! At the end of the day, it is a book made by fans--for fans!
Rod Reis: Working on an Aquaman comic book is always a risk and for years many authors have tried many new things and failed. When Ivan Reis said he wanted to draw Aquaman, the entire team accepted the challenge together. The expectations were the best because we had very talented artists on board.
The public reception was better than expected and it gave us a further boost to do the best job possible. For me as a colorist this is definitely a dream job. I'm loving it.
AMS: Were you fans of Aquaman as a character before working on the series? If so, what are some of your favorite past stories and creative teams? Who are your creative influences?
JP: Totally! I loooooove the Nick Cardy run on the series, as well as many others! Just to point a few: the Peter David Era, Neal Pozner & Craig Hamilton's mini-series, the Jim Aparo run, the Sub-Diego arc--so there you have some of my favorite Aquaman stories, and creative teams!
In terms of Aquaman, all the ones above are still influential to me. Now, artistically I'd say...well, a bunch of artists! George Pérez, José Garcia-Lopez, John Byrne, Jim Aparo, Tony DeZuniga, Alfredo Alcala, Hal Foster, Alex Raymond, Alan Davis, and most recently, Bryan Hitch, Steve McNiven, Steve Skroce, Michael Turner, Scott Kolins, Jim Lee, and of course, Ivan (Reis).
RR: It was a long time since I read anything related to Aquaman in the comics, but I still followed the character in the cartoons. I didn't understand how the character was so great on TV but in comics always lacked something. For me, the Aquaman from Batman cartoon The Brave and the Bold is one of the coolest. I also found very interesting the "Sword and Sorcery" style on Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis.
My biggest influence recently is what was done with Aquaman in Brightest Day and Blackest Night.
AMS: Wow! Impressive knowledge of the Aquaman mythos! Many of the stories you cited are faves of ours as well and made the Shrine's list of "The Greatest Aquaman Stories Ever Told!"
More so than any other character, Mera has exploded in popularity since Geoff unexpectedly featured her in Blackest Night. What do you guys think the big appeal of Mera is all of a sudden? And Joe, what's it like working on AQUAMAN #6--the Mera spotlight issue--doing double-duty with both pencils and inks? Will Mera be just as beautiful as when Ivan draws her?
JP: Ah! Easy one! Mera's appeal? Dude, you mix a hot, strong-willed, kick-ass redhead in a swimsuit, and there you go! Damn! Mera really rocks! From where I see it, Geoff really transformed Mera into a strong character with a great personality and a mysterious past...
And having the chance to draw and ink #6 is awesome! I'm giving my best to not look bad in comparison with Ivan! Damn! Gigantic shoes to fill! LOL! I hope the fans dig it! ;)
The story is really, really cool! And you'll see Mera in a totally different way! Especially the way she uses her powers. Ah! And a little bit of her past too...!
RR: I really like the dynamic between Arthur and Mera. She is a big part in the success of the book and fans love when she takes off enemies' heads. I hope the female audience is able to identify with the character as well.
AMS: Rod: The coloring on AQUAMAN has been absolutely brilliant and fans are really taking notice of your work...too often a colorist's work goes overlooked--but not on this series! Are you taking a different approach to coloring AQUAMAN than your other books? Specifically, with AQUAMAN #4 (out today!) which takes place in the deepest part of the Atlantic Ocean, can you share about your technique & how this issue's colors are unique in a way that we may not have seen before?
JP: I know this one is for Rod, but hey! Wait until you guys see #5! Damn! Rod rocked on that issue as well! ;)
RR: Coloring Aquaman is a milestone in my career because from this job I'm thinking more about the style of coloring, looking for something very unique and cinematic to this book. This is very different from what I'm doing on Nightwing, where I've developed another completely different style. While on Aquaman I seek something bright and heroic, in Nightwing I do something more full of textures and way darker.
Another thing I can point out is that I talk a lot with my team, Ivan and Joe, to know the best way to improve the art with the coloring. For issue #4 the challenge was to color a non-illuminated environment and still make Aquaman pop out. I hope you enjoy the final result which is very impressive and cinematic, almost "Alien" mood…
AMS: The New 52's AQUAMAN is unlike any Sea King series before it...Arthur is no longer King of Atlantis, he is living on the coastline in his father's lighthouse and his relationships with Mera, his father Thomas Curry, and the people he is trying to protect are revealing to us the human side of Arthur Curry that we've never seen before...What is your favorite part of doing this new series and how do you plan to keep things fresh & exciting in future stories?
JP: Aquaman has been such a great book to work on! The collaborative process amongst the "Aqua-Team" is amazing! We are constantly bouncing off ideas, talking through email and on the phone. So for me that's a big part of what is making this book out to be so awesome! Everyone is personally involved on the project, and that's what comics are all about! It's a team effort! And personally, this is my favorite part.
You guys just wait to see what we have in store for you! Ivan and I are designing a new set of characters for the series right now! Something new, fresh and cool for the Aquaman Universe! I don't know if anyone saw one of Geoff's latest tweets, but he mentioned something called "The Other League"!
AMS: We did...and consider our curiosity piqued! (For those of you who missed it, here's the text version: "And been working on the second big AQUAMAN arc: THE OTHER LEAGUE. Starts with issue #7 with Ivan Reis and Joe Prado!" – Geoff Johns via Twitter)
JP: So guys, keep your eyes peeled, there's tons of cool plans for Aquaman, Mera, Atlantis, etc, etc, etc! Bottom line...Aquaman is awesome! ;)
RR: I love everything about this book, Geoff is doing an amazing job developing this new version of Aquaman where we learn more about the relationship with his father, a lot of stuff about his past, who sank Atlantis, and will have old enemies and new enemies too. Very exciting stuff coming up!
AMS: That's very cool to hear guys and please know that your genuine excitement for working on AQUAMAN clearly shows in the book! Speaking from a fan perspective, we are thrilled to have such an awesome team of creators (including Geoff & Ivan) at the helm of our hero's ongoing adventures!
Aquaman #4 is out today both in print and digitally from DC Comics so be sure to let us know your thoughts on the issue...and check out the Shrine on Saturday for our full recap on the Comics Weekend post!
A big hearty "splash" of gratitude to the Aqua-Team for taking the time to chat with us, thank you again Joe & Rod!