[Date: August 8, 2000]
Denis Rodier is an artist who worked on the regular Superman comic books between 1991-1999.
The Superman Homepage would like to thank Denis for agreeing to do this interview, and for fitting it into his busy schedule.
This interview is Copyright © 2000 by Steven Younis. It is not to be reproduced in part or as a whole without the express permission of the author.
Q: Can you please tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
A: Hi, I'm Denis Rodier and I'm an artist (not as easy to answer as you might think).
Q: When and How did you become a Comic Book fan?
A: I'm the youngest in a family of five and everybody (including my parents) where avid readers. Comics where the main reason why I wanted to learn to read. Nothing unusual there, but it was the beginning of a long love affair.
Q: When and How did you first get to work on Superman?
A: I was starting in the business and after a year of inking THE DEMON for DC, my stuff caught the eye of one of the pencillers on the books who asked Mike Carlin to get me on the book. At the time the Superman titles sales figures where laughable and I was the only one seeing it as a good opportunity. I'm not saying this trying to come across as the savior of the book but just to show that it wasn't brains or even exceptional talent that gave me the job but just good timing and a lot of luck.
Q: When did you first decide that you wanted to work on comic books?
A: I always wanted to draw comics but in my teenage years I discovered many things that distracted me, if you get my drift. Also, I wasn't prepared to move to New York to try to make it as a comic book artist. You have to remember that, at the time, you had to be close to the office to get assignments. It's only after my college years that I somehow rediscovered American comics and with the birth of next day courier service, it became possible to do freelance work from almost anywhere on the globe.
Q: How did you go about becoming a comic book artist? What was your first big break into the industry?
A: It was as simple as whipping out a bunch of samples and showing them around at conventions. This is where an aspiring young artist learns the most. Furthermore, it's also the best place got get yourself known, so it's part classroom, part job interview. What I did was simply get my face out there and send as many samples as I could to as many editors as I could think of. Eventually it's Denny O'Neil who was looking for an inker on the Bonus book insert in Detective Comics. (The Bonus book was a book within a book made to showcase new talent).
Q: Where did you go to college?
A: At Lionel Groulx College in Ste- Therese, Quebec in fine arts and Ahuntsic College, Montreal, Quebec in graphic design.
Q: Would you recommend that others join the comic industry?
A: Now is not the best time to do it. Heck, these days it's real hard even for seasoned pros! I'd also like to think that cream always rises to the top, so if you're really into it (and really good) do it. But if it doesn't work, you can always try again in a few years when the business gets out of its coma. There's plenty of avenues for good artists and any artistic endeavor will make you a better comic book artist.
Q: In your opinion, is the comic industry still a strong business?
A: Nope, bad business decisions were made which kind of painted us into a corner. We thrived on hype and now that it's gone we have to hibernate until it comes back. That's no way to run a railroad.
Q: Who's your favorite comic book hero?
A: Charlier and Gir's (Moebius to you guys) Lieutenant Blueberry. The best western ever! America included. Second place goes to Corto Maltese by Hugo Pratt.
Q: What comics do you personally read?
A: Apart from the two mentioned above, I will read almost anything by the French artist Hermann who may be known in the states by the translation of his series Jeremiah. Kyle Baker is great too, his You Are Here book is a must, and I believe one of the most entertaining American comics that I've read recently is Leave it to Chance. Great character, great adventure stories, great art. What more does one need!?
Q: What version of Superman is your personal favorite?
A: I must say that sadly, most of the time I find superheroes to be empty shells; just costumes with their personalities only defined by their powers. Once in a while there is the right guy to breath some life into those piles of muscles. Superman is an exception and Jon Bogdanove did some amazing stuff with the Man of Steel as did Gil Kane.
Q: Which do you think of when illustrating/inking a story that stars Superman?
A: When I do some ink work, I must react to what's on the page and put my own personality to it. It would look faked to try to emulate some other artist's style so I try not to. It's easier to do it when pencilling. Some people (such as Bog) will do an interpretation of everything he sees and turn it into his own so it is fun to see how you can almost tell what he's reading at the time just by looking at his work.
Q: What are you working on at the moment? What plans do you have for the immediate future?
A: Right now I'm doing comic book parodies for SAFARIR magazine which is the Quebec equivalent of Mad magazine. I'm also illustrating science fiction stories for Black Gate Magazine (yet to be published) and freelance illustration work. Last june I had my paintings shown in a solo exhibition in a local gallery.
Q: Will you be working on any future/up-coming Superman-related projects?
A: I don't believe so, I have done my share and the current editorial staff on the book is going for a different look. So until they go retro...
Q: Who would you like to see play Superman on the big screen in another Superman movie?
A: No idea.
Q: What do you think of the Superman Homepage?
A: Looks quite good, I'm impressed.
A few "off topic" questions:
Q: Do you have any bad habits?
A: I do too much research on a project before I start. It's very close to procrastination.
Q: What is the best advice anybody ever gave you?
A: Never run in the woods at night.
Q: Who would you most like to sit next to on a long airplane flight?
A: Frank Zappa.
Q: Who would you least like to sit next to on an airplane flight?
A: Rush Limbaugh.
Q: What is the one thing you can't live without?
A: Music! Without this small gift for illustration I would probably be playing music for a living right now.
Q: If you were down to your last $10 how would you spend it?
A: A good CD. I did comics for so long I get overly critical and don't read through most of them now. Now had I been a musician...
Thanks for allowing me to interview you!
Feel free to visit Denis Rodier's Website.
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