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Marvel's Bagley Swings to DC's Trinity
By Jason Larouche.
A few months after setting a new record for most consecutive issues done by one creative team - once held by legends Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's 100 issue run on Fantastic Four - Marvel Comics artist Mark Bagley made the unexpected move of not only moving on from Ultimate Spider-Man, but left Marvel for DC as well.
"I just felt like it was time," Bagley said as he busily signed comic covers at the Fan Expo 08 in Toronto, Ontario. "The record turned into a thing and then it seemed like now that that's done, it was time for a change. I was still loving the book; I still read the book. It was time to try something a little different."
Bagley first broke into the comic book business through a Marvel Try-Out book. From that point on, he not only helped start New Warriors, but enjoyed a lengthy stay on Marvel's flagship property, Amazing Spider-Man, one of his boyhood titles. When he completed his run on Thunderbolts, he and writer Brian Michael Bendis took the popularity-deprived Spider-Man property and did something radically drastic: start the character from scratch without the need for backstory. "It was only meant to be a six-issue miniseries. It was gonna be like a revamp, sort of like [John Byrne's Spider-Man: Chapter One a few years earlier]. I forget what they called it. I turned it down three times and I'd never heard of Bendis. I never knew how good he was." Instead of six issues, Bagley remained on the new ongoing saga, offering new visual interpretations to compliment Bendis' scripts and bringing in the attention Spider-Man required in time for the first motion picture's release.
As to what brought him to DC Comics, Marvel's top competitor, Bagley regards it as opportunity knocking. "Kurt Busiek called me to do something like Trinity, and the timing was right. Marvel didn't really have a project that played to my strengths at that time. They loved me; they wanted me to stay, but I felt like it was time."
From the first issue, fans could tell that Mark was delivering his own take on DC's strongest properties - Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman - with the Dark Knight in particular, whom he had penciled in a crossover with Spider-Man back in 1997. "I just change as an artist," he digresses. "I'm going at him now more like it's my character. Back then, in the crossover thing, I didn't feel like I had any right or bones to change him at all. But now, it's just a little more tweaking." Further, he offers his viewpoint on how to garb these characters in their civilian identities, such as in a scene between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent. "In the first issue, Bruce Wayne is shown in a pullover shirt, kind of relaxed. He's a rich guy, out on the dock; he's not gonna wear a suit. I dress characters as how I think - I don't know it's like acting! That's how I approach it."
Being a man who has seen his share of aspiring artists come up to his table, Bagley offers this criticism. "Study the form; study how to do storytelling, study like how the greats have done it before: Gil Kane, John Romita, and those guys, John Buscema and Jack Kirby. Study how to tell a visual story. Most guys today don't know how to draw a visual story; they just draw a pretty picture. [And what] really makes me mad is when I meet fans, someone who wants to be a comic book artist, and they come to me with different sized pages and not the right materials. They haven't invested time to learn the tools. To get any job you need to do that. [When I was learning] I just immersed myself. It's like anything; you're not going to be a good golfer if you don't immerse yourself in golf. You're not going to be a professional painter if you don't [immerse yourself in art]."
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.