An interview with
Conducted by Randy "MSL" Burtis & Michael "Dermie" McDermott
Dermie: How did you get started working in comics? Was it something you had always wanted to pursue?
I was attracted to comics since... well, as far back as I can remember, and have had a pencil clutched in my fist for about as long. I was always
drawing, and more often than not I was drawing my favorite characters. I
pretty quickly recognized that the Superman that I drew ( I would have been
five or six years old) didn't look near as good as the one in the comic
book, so I suppose it drove me to keep working at it. I was hooked... and I never recovered.
MSL: What has been your most unusual or off the wall comic project?
The Popeye thing wins, hands down... I doubt I've done anything as off
the wall as that... if I have, I don't remember it. Maybe I've blocked it out.
MSL: You have quite the resume of books you have contributed to. On the DC side of things you have been involved in several of the volumes of Teen Titans, but as well solo character books like Superboy and Robin. Were there some particularly memorable or significant issues from those runs?
My first run on Titans was memorable mostly for how scary it was... with
very little real experience I was taking over from George Perez, and working
day to day with Marv Wolfman! I really have to give Marv his due... he encouraged my creative input, and made me feel that my work had
My next shot at Titans was just pure fun...kinda like old home week
coming back to all these characters, and thru Geoff Johns being able to see
them with fresh eyes.
Superboy had a lot of significant issues... issue 2 will always stand
outfor me. It was the first comic I'd ever done that I couldn't find
anything I wanted to change or redraw.I might be able to find something now,
I'll have to check.
Other high points of the run have to be the 'Kamandi'
storyline we did and Superboy One Million... Karl Kesel and I were kids
in acandy store playing with those Jack Kirby concepts.
Dermie: How did you end up working on Avengers/Thunderbolts, and the New
I don't really know the details leading up to the call, but Tom
Brevoort needed someone to finish off the last four issues of the miniseries
from Barry Kitson, and I was free to do it. There really wasn't much more to
it than that. It was kind of like jumping into the deep end trying to pick
up the threads of the project on the fly, but I'm pleased with how it
MSL: From your viewpoint, what makes New Thunderbolts a book fans should be picking up? What can we expect in the upcoming months?
I think what makes New Thunderbolts worth readers' time is that it
really is a book that hinges on the characters... they're not hangin' around
their headquarters waiting for the villain to attack. The 'Bolts do what they
do... not exactly the best way, or for the best reasons, or necessarily with
the best of intentions, but hoping it'll work out for the better.
Maybe the best testimonial I can give is that prior to working on the series, I
hadn't really followed the Thunderbolts in their previous incarnations... now
I'm a fan. As for upcoming issues... I hate to give stuff away in advance. Maybe ask Fabian.
Dermie: Who has been your favorite Thunderbolt to work on, and why? Your
Radioactive Man. He's just so above the antics of his teammates, he
just cracks me up sometimes. Fun to draw.
My least favorite would have to be Joystick, but with a proviso... we
just haven't done enough with her yet.
Dermie: You've created new looks for some of the T-Bolts in this series, in
particular, Genis Vell (aka Photon) and Mach-IV. Have you enjoyed the
chance to redesign some of these characters? How much creative freedom
do you have when doing these "makeovers"?
I was pretty much given free reign to redesign any character I saw fit
when I started NTB#1... but I actually changed very little for the simple
reason that I felt it was important that we recognize our characters for who
they were right off the bat. Some characters had a history, and some were
more obscure, and some of the characters from Avengers/Thunderbolts didn't
make the jump to the new series. I thought it better not to confuse new
readers who may have been somewhat familiar with the more obcure characters
from other appearances, or longtime TBolts readers who were looking for the
I felt the option was always open to make over a character
further down the line as a story point( and we have, as we've seen with
MSL: Some readers on the message board have commented on some differences between volume one and volume two of the series. In the first series Moonstones, umm endowments were prominently featured, but in this recent volume comments have been made about the endowment of some of the men...care to comment?
Dermie: Was it a challenge to create an all-new Swordsman for the series?
All new characters are a challenge... for all kinds of reasons. This
New Swordsman was a challenge because his identity is being kept a mystery,
and his look is designed to be evocative of that... once his true identity
comes to light, we might consider changing his costume...or not, if everyone
likes his look.
Dermie: Thunderbolts is a series known for surprise guest appearances and reviving obscure characters. Are there any particular characters you hope to get a chance to use during your run on the series?
Not at this writing... but when I do, I'll wait for my chance to
Dermie: What has been your favorite scene to draw thus far?
Favorite scenes seem to be on a sliding scale, as the latest one was in
the last issue I finished. See if you can guess when the issue comes out. I
have a favorite scene in every issue.
MSL: Word Association. I will toss out a word, or
two. What is the first thing that comes to your mind in regards
to that. Answer as briefly or fully as you want.
MSL: Geoff Johns?
Tom Grummett: Terrific talent.
MSL: Chuck Dixon?
Tom Grummett: Let's work together again soon.
MSL: Kurt Busiek?
Tom Grummett: Busy!
MSL: Fabian Nicieza?
Tom Grummett: True Thunderbolts.
MSL: Gary Erskine?
Tom Grummett: True Thunderbolts.
p>MSL: Tom Grummett?
Tom Grummett: Wha-?
Tom Grummett: You want it when?
Tom Grummett: More shower scenes.
MSL: Speed Demon?
Tom Grummett: Less caffeine.
MSL: Radioactive Man?
Tom Grummett: Needs his own book.
Tom Grummett: Bigger than the biggest thing you saw yesterday.
Tom Grummett: Hey, I live in Canada!
Tom Grummett: We want a shower scene.
MSL: Mach IV?
Tom Grummett: Will grow up to be V someday.
Tom Grummett: Sorry, that's still secret.
MSL: Purple Man?
Tom Grummett: No shower scenes, please.
MSL: End of word association...
Dermie: Having worked with both glossy and non-glossy comic paper, do you
have a preference? Do you feel one or the other suits your art better?
Not really. I do think that it comes down to your inker and colorist,
and I've been pretty fortunate with those guys over the years.
Dermie: A number of Marvel comics have been following a trend of not using inkers anymore. How do you feel about that?
I don't think its a trend. The vast majority of what I've been reading
has been pencilled and inked. I think there are some projects that are
going to use current technologies to create a look that'll make it stand out
from the pack, but I think for the most part there'll always be a place for
inkers. I've found that an inker brings something to the table... and can bring
a fresh take on a penciller.
MSL: Exclusive contracts seem to be the rage these days. You have done extensive work for both the main companies, what made you come over to Marvel?
I was already there, working on New Thunderbolts with a solid writer
terrific inker. Seemed like a no-brainer.
MSL: Are you available to do commissions? If so, how can fans contact you for that?
I have been, but the current workload has made it really more awkward
administer than I'd like, so I'm not currently accepting requests for
commissions. If the situation improves I'll let you know.
MSL: Besides New Thunderbolts and the Marvel Handbooks covers, are there any other projects we should keep our eye open for?
The New Thunderbolts are keeping me quite busy enough for the time
but there's sure to be a surprise or two along the way.
MSL: My thanks to Tom for taking the time out to do this interview, as well as to Dermie for his help with the interview. Everyone needs to grab the latest issue as it has Thunderbolts versus the New Avengers and of course Tom's art!!