Thursday, 30 November 2017

Interview with Glenn Fabry Part 3



Chris McCauley completes his three part interview with Glenn Fabry


We’ve covered Glenn’s formative years, his self-taught mastery of painting and his involvement with 2000AD.  Glenn has become internationally recognised through his work on some Marvel comics and his iconic covers from The Preacher series, as night settles we begin to discuss this period of his work.

Detail from Glenn'c cover to Preacher Book 4


Chris: You’re an incredibly busy man Glenn, can you tell me a little more about current projects?

Glenn: Well I’m currently doing the covers for Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, in issue 10 I’m also doing the interiors of that as well, I’m working on the 'Newt' artwork, a collaboration with Duncan Jones.

Chris:  Tell me a little more about that project Glenn

Glenn:  It’s coming out on Netflix, but the artwork that I’m currently engaged with should be out, hopefully, before the film comes out. I’ve actually only got a few pages of that left to go.  I’m also doing promotional stuff for The Preacher television program

Chris: Really? Can you talk about that?

Special Cover to promote the amc Preacher series
Glenn: Basically, they want me to do my old covers, but replace the characters of my old covers with the actors, so I’ve done a cover with Dominic Cooper, I’ve done one with Graham McTavish – the actor who plays The Saint of Killers and the next one will be Cassidy – Joe Gilgun’s face on that one.

Chris: I think Cassidy is my favourite character in that series so far

Glenn: He’s really interesting as a character – how far have you got into the series?

Chris: I’m onto Season 2 episode 2 at the moment, I really enjoyed the fact that the first series was like the prelude, it showed you what happened before the first issue of the comic.

Glenn: Yeah, well essentially I think the creative directive decision was that you can’t have this guy walking around with a dog collar and calling himself a preacher and he never does any preaching.  All he does is going round, kicking arse and…

Chris: Seeing John Wayne

Glenn:  <laughs> yeah and .. so they had to find a way to deal with it, so they decided to create a kind of prequel storyline in the first series.  The only actor I have met related to the series was Dominic Cooper and obviously I knew Garth.

Chris:  I think one of the strengths of the show is the casting, I was especially surprised by Ruth Negga, the actress who plays Tulip.

Glenn: Well, she has got more cred, than some of the other members of the cast, she’s been Oscar nominated.

Ruth Negga as Tulip


How I was approached in regards to my involvement in the show, a representative of AMC contacted me and said “Hi, I loved your artwork and what you did with the characters” and I thought, “Hold on a minute, this is my chance, my TV money could be so much better than my Comic money, TV money could keep me going for a while”

So I sounded enthusiastic and said “Yeah, it’s great that you are making the Preacher as a television show, that’s fantastic”

AMC then asked if they could take some ideas from the covers and incorporate them as Easter Eggs on the program.  I said “yeah no problem”, I then asked if I would get any pay from that, or royalties and was told No.

Chris: That seems a little unfair

Special Cover to promote the amc Preacher series
Glenn:  Yeah…when it comes to the promotional material, the release of the covers with the actors faces, I think they want one per series, so I’ve done two so far.  So I’m hoping that the series keeps on going and then I can do a full set.  That’s the thing, I have no idea, because you can’t tell from AMC how many people are watching it.

Chris: I would assume a shit load

Glenn:  Well it must be , the first season had 10 episodes whereas the second season was upped to 13 episodes.

Now this is going back a bit, but I used to know JG Ballard, the science fiction writer, back in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  His most famous book was Empire of the Sun, which Steven Spielburg made into a film. It starred Christian Bale as the kid in the film, it was a mind-bending performance by Bale, I think he was 12.   

Anyway I was working in the garage, as a petrol attendant and JG Ballard used to come in there, get his tires pumped and his car filled. So in 1986 or 1987, I was invited to Forbidden Planet, up in London for a signing of a book and I looked around and there was this guy I knew, from filling up his petrol tank at the garage.

So I went over to him and said “What are you doing here?” and he said “I’m JG Ballard, who are you?” I replied “Well I do..some drawings ..for comics” and we had this conversation and he was a bit more chatty.

'Jack in Black' sketch*.
Now when Empire of the Sun came out, I went to the video shop – to get a copy, as I walked into the video shop, JG Ballard appeared and as I had read the book, I asked him what his opinion was about the conversion to the film from the novel, because there were so many significant parts of the novel that had been left out or had been changed.

Ballard said “Well they did as well as they were going to do

I think that’s something that applies to The Preacher series really, they are doing as good as a job that they could.  The key thing is to make it accessible to as many people as they can.

Chris: That’s why I think a lot of purists were complaining about the first season of the Preacher, because it’s a different structure to the narrative – it’s a different way of looking at it.

Glenn: It’s tailored more to what the audience would want, creating a good, solid backstory for the plot to go forward.

Chris:  Glenn there’s another piece of your work that I want to talk about , it was something I loved, it was Thor:Vikings.  I was really surprised by that

Glenn: It wasn’t a typical Thor story, having the main character have to call in help from all these heroes of the past.  Having Undead Vikings show up in modern day New York and murder and loot everyone. 

So here’s the thing, there was one of these published every month, I was so proud of my work on it that I was giving away my trade paperbacks to my friends and relatives, so then I suddenly realised that I didn’t have any copies left for myself, so I got in contact with them, they couldn’t get me any more copies, because it was out of print!  

The reason why it was out of print was because it would affect people’s sensitivities on how Thor was going to be portrayed in the movies.  If you look at the second Thor movie – I think it was subtitled Dark World, compare that with what I did in the Thor: Vikings story.  In the film, there’s a sequence which almost mirrors the comic where he gets beaten up.

A change of pace from Thor: Vikings


Chris:  I was able to obtain it from comixology – so it’s available digitally

Glenn:  That’s no good!  What about Paper!  - actually I think you can get Thor: Vikings in German from Panini but they can’t show swastika’s in Germany so it’s been edited.

Chris:  I loved Thor : Vikings, the way you illustrated it, it was captivating and the scene where he gets beaten up that must have shocked some regular readers of Thor.

Thor taking a beating from the "Thor: Vikings" series by Glenn and written by Garth Ennis


Glenn:  Well the way that Thor was illustrated there was different from regular Thor as well, I grew up with Jack Kirby, back in 1966, the face he did for Thor was quite feminine.  So I was trying to realise a more realistic version of Jack’s work.

Chris:  I want to go back to 2000AD again and ask a final question, whose art did you really gravitate to when you initially read the comic?

Glenn: Well, I though the best ever artwork in 2000AD, was McMahon’s Slaine, the Sky Chariots theme, I couldn’t believe it.  It was such an incredibly strong style.  So, when I had to take over from him – and I was only 21 - I was overwhelmed and slightly terrified.

Slaine sketch from an evening in the Parlour Bar.  Check out Sector 13 issue 2 for more of Glenn's sketches.


It was a tremendous pleasure to speak with Glenn, one of the most experienced artists in the comic book genre and I hope the readers enjoyed our three part interview with him 

Chris  McCauley


Huge thanks to Chris for sharing this interview with the Sector House 13 Blog.  And a special word of thanks to Glenn for his time and the original sketches that have accompanied each part of the interview. 
A quick reminder, the first part of this interview, and the sketches we liked best, appear in Sector 13 issue 2, our 2000 AD fanzine.  Just £6:50 postage paid for 36 A4 pages of great comic art and features from the Sector House 13 crew.   (Payable via Paypal to Sector13@Boxofrainmag.co.uk – outside UK please contact the editorial address for prices).

*Jack in Black was Glenn's first paid comic-strip work and appeared in the Stranglers Fanzine, Strangled.

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