By Christian Lipski
Darick Robertson has been creating and illustrating comics since the age of 17, when he first published the cult favorite Space Beaver. Now an established force in the comics world, Robertson has collaborated with some of the medium’s finest writers and brought life to such larger-than-life characters as Wolverine, Nick Fury, and Spider Jerusalem. Currently he’s drawing the series The Boys, which he created with writer Garth Ennis (The Preacher, Hitman). The Boys takes a realistic (if sometimes slightly tongue-in-cheek) look at superheroes and how they would operate in our modern-day world.
When a woman whose only claim to fame is the number of babies she had at one time needs to hire an agent and a P.R. firm, how could you expect less of a man who can fly and bounce bullets off his chest? If you were capable of feats of superhuman strength, how would anyone be able to tell you what to do, or keep you from doing whatever the hell you wanted? It’s part cautionary tale, part violent catharsis, and part romance. I had a chance to ask Darick some questions about The Boys, comics, and what’s coming out of his speakers.
You lived on the East Coast for a while: are any of the locations in The Boys based on real places?
New York is a real place, the Flat Iron Building and the Brooklyn Bridge [are real], which in our twisted alternate reality are what got hit on 9-11, rather then the World Trade Center, because incompetent super heroes were involved. Having lived there, I try to bring an authenticity to the locations.
You’ve had other people doing some inking on The Boys, like Rodney Ramos. How is it determined who’s going to do the inking?
I usually choose, but overall, I prefer to ink my own work as much as possible.
Garth Ennis claimed that The Boys would out-Preacher Preacher. Would you consider The Boys to be the bloodiest book you’ve worked on?
It’s up there. More twisted than bloody, really. Fury Max was pretty violent, as was Born and my Ennis-collaborated issues of The Punisher.
How did Peter Snejbjerg get involved with The Boys, and was his run a result of you taking time off, or vice versa? When guest artists contribute, do you use the time as vacation, or do you line up smaller jobs to fill in?
No, it’s to help me get ahead on issues as we launched the series at Dynamite so close to the bone that I have had a hard time meeting my then-DC-contracted obligations as well as keeping The Boys coming out on time and we agreed it was better the issues come out on time with another artist than having the book’s schedule get spotty.
This recent round of fill-ins was for a bit of relief as I have been doing issues every month for years now and I’m trying to avoid burnout. In comics, you don’t get paid vacations. You get paid for what you produce.
You’ve mentioned Brian Bolland as an artistic inspiration, and now Carlos Ezquerra is drawing The Boys: both artists drew the classic British comic Judge Dredd. Were you a fan of the comic growing up?
Yeah, especially the Bolland stuff. Carlos Ezquerra’s designs are brilliant, but artistically I’m awed by Bolland’s line work and page layouts.
Is The Legend based primarily on Stan Lee (“Splendidio” and the No-Prize), or is he a combination of old-school comic heroes (and characters, as his lost son is reminiscent of J. Jonah Jameson)?
He’s an amalgam of a lot of archetypes from the industry. He represents the silver age of comics and its own battles fighting aging and irrelevance as new mediums and formats march into the genre. He’s hobbled at the feet, he lives in a cluttered basement and is full of dirty little secrets.