During Visual Arts Expo 2018, we had a chance to sit down and have a little chat with Dave Ross, the man behind comic illustrations of many prominent Marvel, DC and even Star Wars characters such as Spider-Man, Black Panther and Batman. Here’s what we got out of him during our short interview:
Q: Starting off, what drew you – pun intended – into comic books?
Dave Ross: We’re all wired in one way or the other, some are wired for maths, some for artworks. For me, I was attracted to comics because of the line art, I love the artwork.
In school, most kids were into sports and other things. But there’ll be a clutch of kids that are into comics. Even in that little group, it could be broken down further where there are the people who are into the characters and follow their favorite characters no matter what. If a guy likes Spider-Man, he’ll always pick up a Spider-Man comic despite who’s the artist. But I wasn’t like that, I was more into the artist, I was more into the artwork. For example, if this one artist was doing this or that, I’d follow. Wherever the artist goes, you’d go.
I love the artwork. Because of that, I wanted to do it. To me, it wasn’t enough to be a consumer of the product, I wanted to produce the product.
Q: What has been the most challenging genre for you?
DR: I think the most challenging was the sci-fi genre. The reason is that if you’re working on an established franchise like Star Wars or Star Trek, then there’s a real desire from the fans and from the editor, for you to be very precise with everything.
So, the ships, props, the guns, the lightsabers and the costumes, all have to be dead-on accurate. It’s similar to what previous generations of comic artists would say about old war comics were they to get the rivets in just the right places on the tanks or they get letters back saying “Hey, you weren’t quite accurate on that one”.
As much as I enjoy doing sci-fi, it can be a real challenge.
Q: So on the other hand, which genre has been the most fulfilling?
DR: That’s a really tough question. But, I guess the first love I had was for the superhero genre. I’m more of a light fantasy kinda guy, not really into that dark and brooding setting, where violence is really bloody and all that.
I’m a Jack Kirby fan, The Thing gets in a fight with Hulk where either knocks each other right through a wall and bricks are flying everywhere, he dusts himself off and gets back into the fight. To me, that’s what I love, it’s more lighthearted, it’s a lot of fun to draw.
If there was only one genre that I would have to draw for my entire life, it would be that light superhero genre.
Q: What are your favourite superheroes to draw?
DR: I can’t really pinpoint individual characters, but the type I like doing are the athletic ones. Because I’d like to be pushed with my figure drawing. Characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther or even Batman when he’s being acrobatic, they’re a whole lot of fun to draw.
Q: Which movie superhero adaptations are your favourite? What about your least favourite?
DR: I felt they did a terrific job on Iron Man, he’s the precursor to the Marvel Cinematic Universe that became so successful. The depiction of Iron Man, having Robert Downey Jr. to play Tony Stark was like as if he was born to play the role.
Least favorite. I thought X-Men Apocalypse was kinda weak. I didn’t like Colossus, from the Deadpool movies, I think they did quite a bad job on making his body look like steel, it ends up looking a lot like rubber instead.
I was really impressed with Thanos however, because when I was looking at the earlier incarnations of him when he was in the first Avengers movie, I thought this was gonna look really silly. But the way they do it now, similar to the Hulk where they’re doing MOCAP (motion capture) where I could see that Thanos was Josh Brolin despite all the special effects and CGI, where it’s a lot more convincing through the facial expressions.
Q: What other projects are you currently working on?
DR: Just a little thing I’m doing for fun right now, which has a Malaysian backdrop to it and will probably be published here.
Teaching has been taking over in the last year or two. The school that I’m teaching at is in Toronto and we’ve just added a 4th year curriculum for sequential art students, so I’ve been designing courses on that. I’ll be busy with teaching now that there are a couple more courses to teach.
So, I’ll be working on smaller stuff, a short little story which takes place in Kuala Lumpur. Beyond that, I’m not taking on any big gigs currently.
Q: Since we’re seeing a resurgence of Star Wars in the mainstream media, would you be interested in doing more Star Wars related stuff?
DR: I wouldn’t mind that, I’ve always enjoyed the Star Wars Universe. So, I had a couple of friends that passed me the names of the editors on the book and said that I should contact them.
Once my schedule opens up a little bit and I can take on a chunk of work again, the first people I would get in touch with is those editors, it’ll be great to get back in and do some Star Wars stuff.
We thank Dave Ross for the informative interview, and hope he had a wonderful experience here at Visual Arts Expo 2018!