Heebink's Notes - An Interview
with John Heebink
John Heebink: Former Nick Fury penciler Heebink's proudest accomplishments are the horror-action graphic novel Doll and Creature and the erotic s-f spoof Space Chicks and Businessmen. He's been a penciler on such titles as Quasar, Daredevil, Elvira, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and currently pencils Peter David's Soulsearchers & Co. He also teaches art in the Academy of Art University's new comic book program in San Francisco)
On Nick Fury
and artistic influences
On becoming penciler
for the S.H.I.E.L.D. book
I think I had more license to determine the looks of the characters than I took, except in case of Dum-Dum, where I took quite a bit. Val's beauty mark came from Gil Kane issues of Cap, I think. I always loved her design, with the hair. I didn't get to design any characters from scratch that I can remember--except the flying armor the S.H.I.E.L.D. guys wore in the last issue (feh--armor design was definitely not my "strong suit").
On the cancellation of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2) and its final issue
The last issue was hasty. Greg was trying to do in one issue what he thought he would be able to do in four (or more, in effect, had Marvel made the reasonable decision to make #50 a double issue). I was behind and did all but the first few pages as breakdowns. Fill-in inker Brian Garvey did a dynamite job on the page where the UN blows up (Editor Mike was instructed by Macchio that it should only be damaged, not destroyed, for Marvel-wide continuity purposes), and presumably worked fast. I'd come quickly to appreciate the sympathetic work of regular S.H.I.E.L.D. inker Don Hudson. I missed him on that final issue of S.H.I.E.L.D., though Garvey did a fine job on a tight deadline.
Had I been allowed to destroy the UN Greg's way, the presence of high-level people like Clinton, Gore and Boutros-Galli on the site afterward would have made more sense. But post-9/11, the idea of sending the Pres, VP and Secretary General to the same disaster site seems risky. I caricatured Boutros-Galli from a verbal description.
On the Nick Fury FOX TV movie
On Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D.'s future
I want to know what the good guys and the bad guys want! That way you can understand the conflict in a real way. It brings the level of the drama up to that of your average movie. I think if there were to be a new SHIELD series, the biggest need would be for new and better villains, maybe without WWII backgrounds. As sort of a would-be writer's thought exercise, I used to think, what if there were a villain (or organization) who would view Von Strucker as a mere irritant and brush him out of the way to get at SHIELD? I never came up with anything...
Heebink's technical comments on his issues
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD (2) #42
Page 20 is one of the Fury pages I'm still really proud of. It's also one of very few interior views of the front of the Heli-carrier that I'm aware of.
|Rockwitz had me redraw the final splash page because my first one wasn't dynamic enough. As I recall, Cap wasn't full figure and he had his thumb hooked in his belt loop. I might as well have had him with a hayseed in his mouth and standing in a barrel for as impactful as it was. I'm glad he had me change it.||
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD (2) #43
By this time Don Hudson's inking is already really clicking with my style. He's a quick study. His hair and clothing folds are particularly great. His inks preserve the vitality and expressions of the faces.
Page 9--Looks like Greg and I decided to try one page with black borders to see how it would work? This successful dry run was deceptive (see below).
Some of my page layouts don't suck. (11's good.)
On page 6, Rockwitz made the peculiar decision to save the reveal of Cap till later, having had me go to the trouble of redoing my awful first pencil of the final page--see below. So Cap's emblematic head-wings became nubs and his figure was clothed in shadow, in a failed attempt to keep people in the dark about just who was standing in Avengers Mansion! Mike later laughingly admitted this wasn't his greatest decision.
Greg got after me for having little Red fire an automatic weapon with one hand. Oops! Hey, maybe she's really strong!?
The Kevin Tinsley color guides were okay for the time, but the (Quebecor?) separations are awful--full of mistakes: flesh-colored teeth, white eyelids and the like. Who was minding the (then-expanding) store?
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD (2) #44:
Throughout this run I was trying to do a sort of watered-down version of the Image style (this is embarrassing to admit), pretty much of my own volition. You can really only see it in some of the shading, where I used the "sawtooth" or "scallop" device. Wish I'd just been myself. Jim Lee I ain't. Lee does a great Nick though and I stole a lot of costume ideas for Nick from his X-Men work.
It was cool to be able to draw the surviving Howlers. Greg didn't like my having Cap express surprise by opening his mouth "like a lovedoll." Heheh! Greg: always right, never a diplomat. I think this issue represents a step backward in the art quality.
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD (2) #45: "The Treachery
Quebecor seemingly forgot this book was a bleed book (that is, one where the art can bleed off the edge of the page) and shot several pages at a smaller size so the edges of the art would be well clear of the trim. Why? Did Phil Felix letter outside the "live area"? That would be unlike him. His lettering might be the most unfailingly professional aspect of this book. That and Don's inks. Hmm. On p.24, he's definitely lettering outside the live area though.
At this point I started going more often to Greg's house so he could oversee what I was doing and we could both have some company as we worked. He gave me a lot of much-needed coaching on how to make this stuff more punchy and dynamic. I think this issue is much better than #44.
Fury is still in
his tux in the bloody final scenes, because of an oversight. Greg'd
meant to have him back in the zip suit, but he or I slipped up.
We both liked the result.
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD (2) #46: "Revelations"
Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD (2) #47: "Final Retibution"
Oh cover colorist..how you suck! Thanks for making every object flatly monochromatic. Thanks for the horrible clashing blues.
This was my swan song as far as Fury, but I somehow suspect that this was not the end of Baron Von Strucker.
I drew myself as the priest on the last page. And apparently I drew Peter David as Dum Dum! Can I blame that one on Garvey? Yes. yes, I can.
A big thanks to John Heebink for all his time and effort for this interview!