Creator Spotlight: Peter Krause
Posted May 6, 2010on:
Heyo everybody! Jonny here. It’s no secret that here at High Five! we love us some BOOM! Studios. Recently I was given the opportunity to interview artist/writer Peter Krause whose work includes pencils for Irredeemable, The Power of Shazam!, and sundry 90s Star Trek comics. Published below is my Q&A session with Mr. Krause, conducted via emails and interwebs:
High Five! Comics: Thanks again for the interview. We always have fun interacting with industry people and getting human faces/personalities for the books we enjoy reading every month. When did you start reading comics?
Peter Krause: Somewhere around 9-10 years old. We had a drugstore around the corner from where I grew up in south Minneapolis, and comics were stocked on a spinner rack there. That’s what I spent my allowance money on–comics. I always bought Superman or World’s Finest. My brother bought Legion of Superheroes and Teen Titans. Later, I discovered Marvel comics. Spider-Man and Daredevil became my new favorites.
HF!C: Some people grow up knowing exactly what they want to do, and most of us stumble in to a job that works for us. Where on this spectrum did comic illustration fall for you? Was it something you dreamed of doing as a kid, or something you fell into?
PK: Oh yeah, I dreamed of it. In grade school, I became good friends with two other guys who also drew all the time. We’d hang out at each others’ houses after school, draw and trade comics. But drawing comics for a living remained a dream. My parents always encouraged my drawing, but somehow I didn’t ever think I’d make a living with my art. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in studio arts and also a degree in journalism. My first freelance job after school was a writing gig. It wasn’t until Lisa and I got married that I reconnected with my love of drawing comics. After several years of working with smaller companies–including a self-publishing stint–I got my first freelance assignment with DC.
HF!C: You’ve been in the business long enough to have been influenced by some of the Silver and Bronze Age artists. What can you tell us about your influences (inside, and outside of comics), and what artists have been most important to you?
PK: The most obvious influence is Curt Swan. I was a Superman fan–first and foremost. Curt drew the Superman I grew up with. When I was showing samples at conventions, Curt Swan’s name was brought up in comparison. Not that I was as good as Curt, mind you. But the influence was there. Curt was a Minnesota guy, like me, so maybe there was something in the water! Other favorites from my childhood were Jack Kirby, John Romita Sr., Gene Colan, Gil Kane, Nick Cardy, Carmine Infantino, John Buscema. And of course, Steranko. Steranko just completely blew our minds! We’d never seen anything like his stuff before!
HF!C: Do you have an artistic philosophy?
PK: Always make your present assignment a bit better than the last. And don’t be afraid to fail–failure leads to learning.
HF!C: When I read your 90s work I notice a stark (and pleasing) contrast from the exaggerated, often abrasive imagery that was so popular at that time. Did you feel any pressure then to mimic that style?
PK: Ultimately, I think you draw the way you have to draw. Not that you can’t learn from others, but I was attracted more to the solid, Alex Raymond approach to storytelling. I remember Frank Miller saying that chasing trends is a fool’s errand. That can apply to your art as well.
HF!C: Were there any offers between “Power of Shazam” and “Irredeemable” that you turned down?
PK: I did turn down some things, but it wasn’t like comic editors were beating down my doors. I’m not sure that “Power of Shazam!” was seen as a success at DC–Jerry Ordway has commented on that in his Modern Masters book. I did get a few smaller assignments from DC–I’m sure that was Mike Carlin’s doing. But I was getting some interest from local ad agencies and production houses to do storyboards and marker comps, so I turned my attention to that line of work.
HF!C: “Irredeemable” is a year old now. How has the critical and commercial success of the work impacted you or your career?
PK: I can easily say that the last 15-16 months have been the busiest of my drawing career. I still do some storyboard work–the pay is just too good. When you put a monthly book on top of that, it makes for many hours at the drawing table. The Eisner nominations–“Best New Series” and “Best Continuing Series”–were a bit of a shock. What impact that has on my career is too early to say. But Mark Waid has been very supportive, and my editor Matt Gagnon has worked around the rest of my drawing assignments. And since I’m giving out kudos, Andrew Dalhouse’s colors have been great.
HF!C: “Irredeemable” has given you a unique opportunity to create characters from scratch. How much of yourself is in these characters?
PK: When we started working on “Irredeemable”, Mark gave me a rough outline of the characters we needed to design. I actually followed up with some more written details on each of the characters as I saw them. I’d hate to say that there are aspects of my personality in each of them–that’s what our imaginations are for. But we have striven to make the characters human with real flaws–some of which have had fatal consequences. And some of the characters I identify with more closely than others.
HF!C: Do you have a favorite character, and is it because you love or hate that character?
PK: Qubit and Kaidan are my favorites. Qubit because he’s a bit obsessive and kind of a straight-line thinker–I’m a bit too much like that myself. Qubit is the closest character we have to Reed Richards–but perhaps without the moral certitude Reed has. Reed Richards has always been one of my favorite comics characters. Kaidan appeals to me because she likes being part of a team, and also is a bit unsure of her worth. She’s at heart an optimist, and maybe a bit naive. All those things make it easy to root for her. And as you will see in one of the upcoming issues, she discovers another aspect of her powers. I think Mark has big plans for her.
HF!C: In issue #9 of “Irredeemable” we saw a good deal of role reversal. Tony seemed fragile and human, whereas The Paradigm became much darker and almost sinister. Has your perception of the characters changed as this project moved forward, or have you and Mr. Waid maintained a consistent vision?
PK: I think the Paradigm/Plutonian conflict has not been inconsistent, but it has brought out hidden aspects of the heroes’ personalities. I think the Paradigm is wrestling with the “ends and means” dilemma, and that’s pushing them to a place where they are a bit unsure. But that’s a place where we can tell a lot of cool stories.
HF!C: Before we go, is there anything you’d like to plug, promote, or otherwise talk about?
PK: I’m on a bit of hiatus, as my next issue of “Irredeemable” will be #16. The incredible Diego Barreto will be drawing issues #13-15. I’d just like to thank everyone for supporting the book. If you haven’t read it, please give “Irredeemable” a try!
Congrats to Peter Krause, Mark Waid, and the rest of the creative team/staff at BOOM! Studios for their much deserved Eisner nomination. Irredeemable #13 is in stores now (sadly lacking Krause’s art, yet pleasantly featuring fine pencils by Diego Barreto). Many thanks to Peter Krause for taking time out of his schedule to mingle with us internet nerds.