Michael Walsh Interview - Toronto Comic Con 2018

by Hussein Wasiti on March 21, 2018

CTG: You had a young, aspiring artist come up to you earlier -


Walsh: Yeah, I get that quite often at shows like this now. Young or aspiring artists asking for portfolio reviews, which I'm always happy to do because I did that when I was a young artist coming to shows like this. I was always very thankful or artists that would take the time to speak with me and to talk about my work.


CTG: Is there any advice that you would give to an artist reading this?


Walsh: I would say to draw every day. Build up a routine of drawing comics because once you actually make it, you're gonna need to produce a page a day-ish, especially at the beginning of your career. So you wanna be in the routine of already drawing every day once you start getting work. Besides that, always work on the basics. Always practise the basics. Perspective, anatomy, figures, practise storytelling and clarity in storytelling.


CTG: Speaking of the beginning, what made you want to transition from reading comics as a kid to making them?


Walsh: I always wanted to have a career in art for as long as I could remember. I was a 90s kid so I grew up watching X-Men: The Animated Series, Spider-Man, Batman: The Animated Series, so this nerd culture and these characters have been ingrained in my interests for 25 years. I've always had an interest in it, my parents always endorsed it and were very supportive. When I was younger I thought it would be either animation or comics or something like that, and it just worked out that I enjoyed drawing comics and the amount of creative control you have when making a comic as opposed to when you're working in an animation studio. So this is kind of a lifelong process and concern for me.


CTG: From what I've read of your work, you pop in for an issue in series like The Vision or Spectacular Spider-Man and you depict the relationship between two characters in a really meaningful way. Is that a coincidence or is there a sort of method?


Walsh: I never even thought about it that way because early on in my career I had done larger runs on things. When I started off I six issues on a series I co-created from Image called Comeback. I did six issues on X-Files and then I had fifteen issues straight, monthly, of Secret Avengers. So everything since then has seemed like a smaller project. I think that a lot of my work focuses on dramatic, small moments and playing up the subtlety and nuance of character acting and when Marvel has, in the past, looked for an artist to illustrate specific moments that are more emotional in nature and not as action-packed and dynamic, I'm someone who comes up at those offices because I've been a proven commodity, an artist that's been able to show that they can do those things. It's a different skillset than drawing someone taking a punch or throwing a hammer. Drawing a slight smile and a complex emotion that might show a forlorn regret in their body language. That's just as difficult in drawing a giant punch in the jaw.


CTG: About that Spider-Man issue… how does it feel like having a hand in such an important moment in the character's history? The choice that Peter makes is already starting to effect him in Dan Slott's run on the character.


Walsh: It was pretty amazing when I was asked if I would have the time to draw that and be available. I was overpacking my schedule to make sure that I could do that, just a little bit, because I couldn't say no to that issue. I had already some Hawkeye stuff lined up that I was going to be doing in the same time period and I told Marvel that I really wanted to do it and I wanted to make it work. And we did. It was a tight few months for me because I was working on multiple things but I'm so happy that I was able to draw that. It's such an important issue in the Spider-Man mythos but it's also a really strong issue of writing. Chip [Zdarsky] wrote such a fantastic script. He showed that he could be more than a humour guy. I mean, if you've been a follower of Chip's work then you should know that by now, but I think some people didn't realise how good he is at those dramatic moments and he really got to show that.


CTG: That page where he takes his mask off is really when the series transition from a more jokey series to something that could be really serious. Speaking of other intimate issues, how was it like working on that issue of Vision with Tom King, #7 was it?


Walsh: I think it was #6, it might have been the last issue of the first trade. Yeah, that's another one of those issues that felt really important to the history of the character, and I got to contribute to what will probably go down as one of the greatest long-form stories on a Big Two character in a long time. I think Tom King is really shaping a corner for himself in comics where he's becoming one of those big names and to be able to work with him on the book that pretty much showed he can do this well… He's an intelligent writer, and being able to contribute even a small portion to this historic run on the character was amazing. And I was flattered that I was asked to do that. I was thankful to be able to work with Tom, he's such a great collaborator and I'm hoping to do more with him in the future.


CTG: You mentioned your schedule earlier. Are you working on something right now, has anything been announced?


Walsh: Right now I'm working full-time on Star Wars: The Last Jedi for Marvel which is gonna be a six-issue series with a giant-sized first issue. We're gonna be adapting the movie but also adding some of our own flavour and moments and we'll be telling different scenes from other perspectives that weren't in the film. If the film follows Rey for a few moments we might follow Luke instead, and we're also going to be giving context to shorter scenes and cutting down longer scenes. So we're just going to tell the story in a different way, making it worth the viewers of the film to come and check it out.


CTG: Where do you think comics are right now, and where could they improve?


Walsh: I'd love to see a little bit more diverse genre work in comics. I'd love to see more Western stuff, I'd love to see more horror stories being told. I think there's a really big focus on superheroes and hard sci-fi stuff so I want to see the popular genres broaden out a little bit. I'm hoping we can keep pushing diversity in comics which I think is really important, to bring in new fans and to give voices to the underrepresented. So I'm hoping that is a trend that continues to keep growing. I like things that are unique and eccentric and that have their own voice. I'm not big on a "house style" of stories because they all just feel the same to me. I want to be experiencing something new when I read a comic, and the books that I really like are the ones that are doing something different.