One of the most popular artists skyrocketing up the Marvel depth chart is Chris Samnee. His soothing nostalgic style will make you yearn for the Marvel Age of Comics. Chris took some time out to chat with Panel Surfing about his work on Thor: The Mighty Avenger. Verily.
Jason Versaggi: Where are you from? Tell me a little about your background.
Chris Samnee: I grew up in DeSoto, Missouri, which is a small town about an hour south of St. Louis. I moved to St. Louis after high school and this summer my wife and I moved to Portland, Oregon.
JV: Were you a comics fan growing up?
Chris: Absolutely! I got hooked on comics when I was little, 5 or 6 years old, when my grandma bought me a three-pack of Batman comics at the drugstore.
JV: What did you read as a kid? Any titles or characters that were favorites?
Chris: I loved Batman and anything Batman-related like Batman and the Outsiders and Teen Titans. I got into Spider-Man around age 10, and from there got into other comics.
Batman by Chris Samnee from the collection and CAF Gallery of Brian Jones
JV: Your style is very evocative of the old Marvel House Style days of John Romita. I think your look on Thor:The Mighty Avenger draws some parallels to Marcos Martin’s Spider-Man. Who influenced your style?
Chris: Artists like Alex Toth, Milt Caniff, Steranko, Romita, Sr., Kirby, Mazzucchelli and Steve Rude have definitely influenced how I draw. I’m not sure all those influences come across in what I do, but I definitely like the cleaner, simpler art of the Silver Age artists.
JV: Have you been compared to any artist’s? Did you set out to try to ape some different looks and how did your own distinct style develop?
Chris: I’ve noticed with Thor: The Mighty Avenger, I’ve gotten quite a few comparisons to Toth, Mazzucchelli and Darwyn Cooke – all of which I’ll gladly take! I’ve never really tried to copy any one artist but I always find myself taking bits and pieces from artists that I admire. As for my own style, it wasn’t something I set out to develop, it just kind of evolved with each project I worked on early in my career. I really started out working on black and white books, so that probably accounts for some of the heavy shadow work and negative space I use. I still feel like I’m fairly young in my career, so I’m sure my style will continue to evolve with each new project I do.
Thor: The Mighty Avenger by Chris Samnee
JV: What projects have you worked on that you had the most fun with?
Chris: Well, I can honestly say that I’ve never had more fun than working with Roger Langridge on Thor: The Mighty Avenger. I’m drawn to the more goofy, fun, Silver-age influenced titles, so this one is right up my alley. Every moment of working on Thor: TMA has been a joy. I also really loved working with Jeff Parker on X-Men vs. Agents of Atlas and with Paul Tobin on an issue of Marvel Adventures Spider-Man. They’re also creating such fun stories, again, exactly the kind of stories I pick up as a reader. I loved working on The Mighty (DC Comics) with writers Peter Tomasi and Keith Champagne as well.
JV: Where can fans currently see your work?
Well, monthly in Thor: The Mighty Avenger (issue 5 is out next week). I also did the art for Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale, an OGN with Joss and Zack Whedon which will be out through Dark Horse at the end of November. I post sketches on my blog almost daily ( http://www.chrisssamnee.com
) and regularly contribute to a group art blog called Comic Twart ( http://www.comictwart.com
JV: Are there any future projects you are working on that you can talk about?
Chris: Just continuing to work on Thor: The Mighty Avenger along with a few covers for other titles.
JV: If you could relaunch a character or book who would it be? Which title would you love to do an epic run on?
Chris: I’d love to relaunch Superman’s Girlfriend, Lois Lane, but as Superman’s Wife, Lois Lane. I love Lois and Jimmy and of course, Superman. I think a book like that would be a ton of fun to work on. I’d love to do an epic run on Batman.
JV: What is your creative process like? How and where do you work on an issue of Thor: The Mighty Avenger?
Chris: Well, I get script from Roger and read through that a few times. The first read-through is just to get a sense of the story. On the second read-through, I make drawings in the margins and start to work out my thumbnails. From there I do 4″x6″ thumbnails of each page and send those off to my editor for approval. Once approved, I print the each page’s thumbnail at 11 x 17 size and lightbox them in pencil onto bristol board. Those get sent to my editor for approval. Once approved, I then ink each page with brush pens. At this point, I’m still doing everything traditionally. As for where, I have a studio/office in my house where I work almost exclusively. I have difficulty working around other people or in a place with a lot of distractions.
JV: Do you prefer full script or Marvel Style? Describe the interaction between you and your editor(s).
Chris: Full script! I actually don’t think there are many writers who still work in Marvel style. In fact, I’ve only seen one Marvel style script the entire 15 years I’ve been working in comics. I actually like to know what the writer has in mind for each panel, and I like to see the dialogue so I can have the characters “acting” appropriately for what they are saying.
As for interaction with editors, it really varies from editor to editor. My process is pretty much the same regardless of what editor I’m working with.
JV: Who would you geek out at a Con?
Chris: Since I’ve done so many conventions, I’ve actually been really lucky in that I’ve met so many of my heroes already. I remember being nervous to meet Mike Mignola (who I met at C2E2 this year) and when Steve Rude reviewed my portfolio about 5 years ago. Those might have been geek out moments!
JV: What is up with your twitter icons hat? Is that your hat or is it just worn by your avatar?
Chris: Nope, that’s the hat I wear. I’ve worn it since I was a teenager. It’s probably the easiest way to recognize me at a show.
JV: Your work has created a mighty Asgardian hunger so you order up a pizza and take a break with a movie: What’s on your pie and what are you watching?
Chris: Well, I’m lactose-intolerant, so hopefully no cheese! As for the movie, you can’t go wrong with Superman: The Movie or Indiana Jones or King Kong. I can watch those any time.
Thanks for chatting Chris! We look forward to more awesome work on Thor: The Mighty Avenger. If you can’t get enough of Chris and want some more Samnee you can purchase his art from his Etsy store
and you can also follow Chris on Twitter.
Go surf some panels,