Continuing our coverage from Wizard World Philadelphia, we talked with comic artist Dennis Calero, whose work includes Cowboys and Aliens, X-Men Noir, and most recently, The Shadow. Outside of the comic realm, Dennis has also provided art for Dungeons & Dragons, Legend of the Five Rings, and Magic: The Gathering.
Dennis, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us!
Open the Fridge: You’ve worked for several publishers, including Marvel, DC, and IDW. Is there any one character that you’ve enjoyed drawing or one that you have yet to draw and would like to?
Dennis Calero: I’ve enjoyed drawing the X-Men Noir characters very much, especially Wolverine. He’s a very fun character to draw. He’s very easy to make look cool. As far as anyone I haven’t drawn yet, I’m just beginning work on The Shadow Annual for Dynamite and I’m really looking forward to drawing The Shadow. It’s a guy with a suit and a cape…and a hat…AND guns. Everything that I love. I’m very psyched about that.
OTF: I’m a fan of The Shadow, myself, as well as many of the other pulp heroes who have made their way back into comics recently, such as The Rocketeer and The Green Hornet. Along the same line, Marvel came out with the Marvel Noir series in 2009, and you worked on several of those titles, including X-Men and Spider-Man. When they took the characters and adapted them to the different time period, were you given free reign with the character design?
DC: We had free reign to do what we thought was correct. I wasn’t going to put a clown hat on the characters. It was about putting them in the correct period. We had a lot of fun coming up with the appropriate analogs to our characters.
Wolverine was particularly tough. He has his healing factor and his claws, and without his claws, he’s not really Wolverine. So we had to figure out how to do him in that kind of a setting. I had a vague idea that Wolverine would be this crusty tugboat captain - a salty seadog.
Then, by happenstance, while doing research online, I found that there were these guys who would drag in their fishing nets with these dowels of wood with claws in them, used to drag the nets onto the boat. That was when I heard angels singing. There’s the solution right there. And then, he didn’t have his healing factor, but he was still Logan, so he’s riddled with scars from all the fights he’s been in. To me, he almost became more Wolverine than Wolverine. We got to do fun stuff like that.
OTF: It’s amazing where you find inspiration. Aside from The Shadow, is there anything you’re currently working on?
DC: I just finished an issue of Captain Victory and I’m literally talking to about six or seven people about different kinds of projects, but I’m concentrating on The Shadow right now. My web comic, that I do with Todd Stashwick, called Devil Inside, which can be found at toddstashwick.com, has been optioned by Universal Cable Productions, so we’re working on developing that into a television show. We also have wonderful news on the television front, but I can’t talk about that right now. It’s very, very exciting.
OTF: It sounds like you have plenty to keep you busy.
Thank you for talking with us, Dennis. We look forward to seeing your work on both page and screen!
Be sure to check out Dynamite's The Shadow, as well as the multiple installments of the Marvel Noir series.