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The Barry Kitson Interview: Sharing The Enthusiasm

The Barry Kitson Interview: Sharing The Enthusiasm
Interview by Matt Trevino & Kip Speer
March 31st, 2002 courtesy of http://www.herorealm.com


Almost 4 years ago, fans had high hopes for THE TITANS, the new book launched after a highly successful 3 part mini-series co-plotted by Phil Jimenez and Devin Grayson, with Jimenez doing the pencils and Grayson writing the dialogue. In that storyline everyone’s team of former sidekicks reunited to battle the JLA, in order to save their friend and former teammate Victor Stone, a.k.a. Cyborg. But after 41 issues, most readers would agree that series has not met their expectations.

During the last year of THE TITANS, the focus has been on a group of super powered teens that ran away from the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO). The slow pacing of the DEO kids storyline and the feeling that the Titans were being relegated to guest stars in their own book upset many readers. There is hope for the book, however, with many changes in the iminent future. With issue# 41 the DEO kids fiasco will come to an end, and The Titans will embark on a totally new direction armed with a revamped creative team.

Tom Peyer will be the new writer as of issue #42, which comes out June 19th. Tom may be best known for his recent run on HOURMAN, THE AUTHORITY, and last year’s JUSTICE LEAGUE fifth week event. His first issue of THE TITANS is a great jumping on point for those wanting to start reading the book for the first time, and for those who have left and have been waiting for some changes to be made. Other changes include James Pascoe as the regular inker, and José Luis García-López as the cover artist

One reason Titans fans are so optimistic about the future is because of artist Barry Kitson (AZRAEL, EMPIRE). If you visit the message boards that DC provides for discussion of their projects, check out the Titans’ forum. That’s where you’ll find Barry, making time to interact with the fans as much as he can. At the time he started posting the board could be a somewhat hostile place, but he didn’t shy away. His accessibility to fans and his infectious positive attitude towards the future of The Titans with regards to a new writer, inker, and cover artist coming aboard have many singing his praises.

Barry was nice enough to answer a few questions for us (Matt and Kip, or ‘Termy’ and ‘Slade’ as we are known on the Hero Realm message boards), something we greatly appreciate given the demands on his time. He has also given us some pencils from issues 42 and 43! Here is the artwork, and what he had to say.

Matt & Kip: Have you always had artistic ability? Did you train professionally anywhere?

Barry Kitson: I think I’ve always had some ability to draw, possibly inherited from my father who was quite an artist in his youth! Most of my ‘skills’ are self-taught I just began trying to draw like Jack Kirby when I was about six years old and things kind of took their on path from there! I never had any professional training – in fact I failed my high school art exam…apparently everything I did looked like superhero comic artwork and that wasn’t to the examiners’ taste.

M&K: How did you get into drawing comics, and what was your first work? How long have you been in the comics field?

BK: I was incredibly lucky actually and very fortunate to come into contact with a very generous gentleman called John Stokes (currently inker on AMERICAN CENTURY) he saw some of the drawings I’d been doing for my own amusement – with the vague hope I might one day become a professional artist – he gave a me a lot of advice and also told a few editors he’d worked for – he was already a very well respected figure in UK comics – that my work was worth looking at.

Following that and after a series of rather incredibly fortuitous events (too complex to try to explain here) I managed to land an assignment drawing SPIDERMAN for Marvel UK – the story was written by Mike Collins and inked by Mark Farmer. That was about fourteen years ago I think!

M&K: What other comic book artists are you friendly with? What creators are you friendly with?

BK: That’s a trick question! ( Far too many to be confident of naming them all without leaving somebody out!). I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve become friends with just about everyone I’ve worked with over the years… long may it stay that way!

M&K: Who are some artists you admire in the comic book world? Any whose style, if any, do you try to imitate or incorporate into your own work?

BK: Wow! Well there are far too many artists I admire to try to name them all – I’m loath in fact to name any for fear of offending those I forget! I certainly don’t try to imitate anyone – I’ve always enjoyed artists who have their own styles. I’d rather see a ‘rough’ original style than a ‘polished’ copy any day.

I do try to incorporate from EVERYONE who’s work I like though – I try to work out what it is about any artist’s style that I like and try to assimilate a little of what that was into my own artwork… maybe that’s why I’m told my style doesn’t look like anyone else’s – it’s a mix of everyone’s!

M&K: What other parts have you played in the creative process in comics? Is penciling your favorite part of the process?

BK: I’ve written, plotted and inked! I guess I would primarily consider myself a penciler, but I actually consider the process as pretty much a collaborative effort in story telling. Each area has its own rewards, obviously writing being the most cerebral and inking the least (but arguably the most technical) – I would probably say I enjoy penciling the most as it lies somewhere between the two – the best of both worlds.

M&K: How have you and James Pascoe grown as artists since your last job together on Azrael?

BK: That’s a really tough question to answer – I like to think I’ve learned a lot since the Azrael days about storytelling and refining how I would like my work to look…though as James will tell you, I’m always trying new ideas and it’s impossible to second guess me.

I think James has grown technically – he’s really impressed me with his inking from #43 onwards as he’s gotten used to my little foibles again. I think we’re probably doing our best ever work together – almost unrecognizable from our first collaborations.

… I’d be interested to know how he’d answer that question!

M&K: What would be your “dream project”? Would you just work on the art aspect of it, or have other responsibilities as well?

BK: I’m not sure I could name a dream project as such. I’m pretty happy right now working on THE TITANS and EMPIRE, one being a company owned book featuring great established characters, the other creator owned and under our control. Both mean I get to work with great writers, Mark Waid and Tom Peyer and both allow me a fair say in the nature of the stories. I think my strengths, such as they are, probably lie in my storytelling through the art so I think the ‘tasks’ would probably overlap on any project I worked on.

M&K: What do you feel the new creative team will bring to THE TITANS, now that Tom Peyer has joined the team?

BK: I think ‘edge’ probably sums it up as well as anything. There’s a lot of surprises in Tom’s work and a freshness that I think is great! I think there’s maybe an urgency too that the title hasn’t had for a while.

M&K: In a recent interview, some well known names in the comic book business were asked about their feelings regarding the part the internet, especially the DC message boards, plays. What is your feeling on the internet and message boards?

BK: My experience of the internet is pretty limited as far as the comic book business goes. I really only started getting involved when I came on board THE TITANS and I just wanted to share my enthusiasm for the book with some of the readers… who before then had been pretty disgruntled on the boards.

The best thing has been getting to chat with the readers and getting a lot of support and encouragement from them – the posters on the Titans boards have been incredibly kind to me! It’s been a great pleasure getting to know them!

The worst thing seem to me to be when people use the anonymity of the boards to spread negativity for no apparent reason. It’s not something I get a kick out of – I’m not trying to say they shouldn’t do it…only that I don’t enjoy it. Each to their own!

M&K: While working with Jay Faerber on THE TITANS, you’ve had some storytelling and plotting influence, will you continue to do so with Tom Peyer?

BK: I’ll still have some influence, but in a slightly different way – as all collaborations have their differences. I usually work pretty closely with writers and that’ll be the case with Tom.

M&K: With such a rich history to draw from, how will you and Tom decide who to add to the team?

BK: I think it comes down to Tom saying ‘I’d really like to write X’ and my saying ‘I’d really enjoy drawing Y’ …and where the two aren’t a mismatch they’ll be in the stories!

M&K: Can you give us some idea of how far ahead you and Tom have planned stories?

BK: We have everything planned out through to #50 with plenty of ideas to go way beyond that.

M&K: What are some of the difficulties working on a book where so many of the fans have been following the title for a decade or more?

BK: I’d say the only real difficulty – especially with THE TITANS – is the convoluted continuity that is hard to deal with. Of course all the long time fans will have their own opinions about what the characters should or shouldn’t do or how they should behave given any set of circumstances, but really you can’t worry too much about that – you have to be true to your vision and hope to carry the readers with you. There’s no way on a book like Titans you could please every long term reader all the time.

M&K: The team currently consists of Nightwing, Troia, Tempest, Arsenal, Jesse Quick, and Argent. Can you tell us if the membership will be changing soon? And if so, who will be either joining or leaving?

BK: Lilith will be back, so will Starfire, so will Damage…and so will a whole host of favorite Titans some in major roles, some as supporting cast. More than that I think I’ll do best to keep secret!

M&K: How would you like your time on THE TITANS to be remembered after you’re gone?

BK: Really all I would like is to be remembered as an artist that respected the characters and improved the book. If any of my versions ever got considered to be the definitive of any of the characters that would be wonderful, but I’m not sure if that’s a realistic dream. Maybe I’d settle for being ‘the guy that brought Lilith back’!


For all those fans that have been reading THE TITANS and are ready for the DEO kids storyline to be finished, we leave you with this last comment from Barry. It was taken from the DC Message Boards, and has kept many readers hanging in there for a while longer while waiting for the new creative team to arrive: “I don’t know how to make this any clearer…the kids DO NOT APPEAR AFTER #41! I guess they may show up after I leave the book…or if I’m still here for issue #250’s big reunion bash, but Tom and I have no plans to use them.”

See–we told you there was hope! Please join us for issue # 42, due out June 19th!
–Matt Trevino & Kip Speer

[ Message edited by: GeorgeBerryman ]

 


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