Monday, April 19, 2010

Exclusive : Artist David Messina on His Star Trek Comic Books for IDW and Much More

nterview by Patrick Hayes

TrekWeb talks to fan favorite comic book artist David Messina regading his work on IDW Star Trek line of comic books and other subjects.

1. Most of your published work has been in Horror (Angel) or Science Fiction (Star Trek). Are you drawn to those genres, or has it just been the work that's come your way?


...but I'm lucky 'cause Superhero, Science Fiction and Horror are my favorite genres!

2. Is there a genre of comic you'd like to try that you haven't?

Superhero, I read superhero comics since I was a child and so far it's the only genre (along with Western) I haven't drawn...until now.

3. Is there a licensed property that you'd like to try (movies/TV/traditional comic character/team)?

mmmm....let me think...I guess Battlestar Galatica 'cause is one of the most beautiful show ever; Spiderman
'cause he's my favorite superhero since I was eight, and G.I. Joe 's Baroness!

She's really an hot character, and I 'd really enjoy drawing her!

4. Is there a dream project you'd like to work on?

...there's a couple of writers which I'd really love work with, but most of all I'd like to draw Hellboy!

I'm a great fan of Mignola 's creature, I could sell the organs of a whole class of my students, in order to draw a Hellboy's story!

Another dream project is about an old character: Ghost created by Eric Luke and Adam Hughes, it was an
interesting mix between erotism and horror...

5. What comics/artists do you follow regularly?

I'm first of all a comic geek!

I draw comics 'cause I LOVE comics, I buy every months a lot of comic books,

American, Italian, French, Japanese...

I'm a HUGE fan of Adam Hughes, Ryan Sook, Mike Mignola and Stuart Immonen, Katsuya Terada and Tsuonomi Inei.

Also I read everything by Mark Millar and Brian Hitch and I'm a reader of Peter David's X-Factor and
Willingham 's Angel.

6. What's the last comic you read, and what did you think of it?

Ultimate Wolverine VS Hulk (the italian edition) and I think that Damon Lindelof is really a great writer.

The story is really simple but told in a charming and funny way, that man should write more comics!

Lenil Francis Yu and Dave Mc Caig's work make me drool as always...

7. Is there a comic that you're fond of that should have more press written about?

...except the Star Trek Countdown which was almost ignored by the non-Star Trek press, I think that Hero Square by Giffen, DeMatteis and Abraham (Boom! Studios) is a great superhero comic, fresh, ironic, fun, done by the same team that brougth awesome comics like the 80' JLA!

8. What type of art (not just comics) captures your attention?

My father is a professional painter,so artists like Mucha, Klimt, Magritte, Phil Ale, Vargas, Rockwell, Jon Foster are in my library among the books of Djurdjevic, Dave Stevens, Ashley Woods, Mathieu Luffray, Katsuya Terada...

speaking of other kind of art, I'm also a great fan of cinema and tv shows...I love the work of directors like Terry Gilliam, Ridley Scott, Tarantino...and lately the quality of tv series is getting higher,so I can define "art" products like Battlestar Galactica, True Blood, 24, Prison Break...

9. I became a fan of your art with your work on the many Star Trek titles you've done. Is there a particular series or book that you've done that you're most proud of? Which one and why that one?

...along with Mirror Images where I found my way to draw the Trekverse, the series wich I'm more proud of are Nero where I've not only penciled and inked everything but also painted a lot of backgrounds and colored several pages.

Giovanna Niro (my colorist) has done a great work that fits pefectly with mine, I'm so proud of her!

10. Is there a specific Star Trek character that you think was fairly easy to draw? Was there one that was always troublesome?

...of course the most fairly are Spock and Picard since their physiognom, their facial traits (nose, cheek bones etc etc) are strong and so easy to draw for that reason they 're my favorites one!

The most troublesome was surely Kirk (William Shatner) since his face hasn't got strong charateristics,he was a classic handsome guy...

11. When you receive a script, do you prefer to have it very specific (what's required panel-by-panel on each page) or loose (general ideas for action that must be accomplished)?

With Scott Tipton and Mike Jhonson the scripts are very specific, but like all the great writers, they know that an artist needs room for improvisation!

So they let me free to make some changes to the script, changes that I do carefull to not betray or upset the story.

12. On Star Trek you've worked almost exclusively with Scott Tipton. What's it like working with him? Why do you think you've worked with him the most?

Scott Tipton is a deeper connoisseur of trekverse. He doesn't just write a story , Scott takes the artist by the hand and helps him to understand what is going to happen in the story and how to draw it at the best.

I wasn't a trek fan when I started working on the books, but thanks to Scott I started understanding the trekverse and what was important for the fans.

I worked so much with him for this reason, and because his stories are solid and respectful of the characters and their backgrounds, and most of all, because in these years,Scott became a great friend of mine!

13. Since Star Trek: The Next Generation: Intelligence Gathering it seems like you've been putting out a Star Trek book every other month. Has it ever felt like Trek overload?

After all this years (almost 3 years) and all the books I started feeling the need to do something different.

I put all myself in these books, first to understand the Trekverse and his characters, then to say something that was
mine, without betraying the fans, but something that the can recognize as my point of view of this important pop icon.

And this new timeline trilogy (Countdown, Nero: the lost years, and Star Trek movie adaptation) was the right chance to make work everything I learned before to jump out!

14. You've worked with some very talented finishers/inkers (Elena Casagrande, Gaetano Carlucci, Sara Pichelli, Gianlugi Gregorini, Federica Manfredi). Is there any upcoming talent working with you, or you've seen in Italy, whose names we should be looking out for?


The name's Claudia Balboni. She ' working with me on this last chapter of the trilogy (since I'm at work on True Blood too) and she's the next big thing! A great artist (an ex student former classmate of Sara Pichelli and Elena Casagrande who actually works for Marvel and IDW) and she's a Star Trek fan too!

15. When you pencil your pages, do you listen to any particular type of music? I ask because Ted McKeever said (when Eddy Current was new) that he listened to Skinny Puppy while drawing and Keith Giffen said he listened to Howard Stern. Learning this, I can see it in their work.

Oh yes! I use to listen a lot of radio and music, especially I love listening to David Sylvian's music and Lisa Gerrard's, and all James Keenan Maynard's projects (Tool, A Perfect Circle, Pushifer).

When I was working on Nero I also listened to Korn 's last album, and Sistem Of Down (and their side projects like Serji Tankian and Scars on Broadways).

16. Do see comics becoming more digital, such as done with Star Trek: Countdown on YouTube? Does this inspire you or cause some trepidation?

Absolutely inspired by that Will Eisner told that the main thing is to tell a story, no matter which tool you use, paper or digital is not important.

An artist will always find the better way to comunicate something to his readers.

A couple of my former assistants works straightly on pc (without paper) and their works are really warm and comunicative...

17. I noticed on the Scuola Internazionale di Comics website that, in addition to teaching art, you teach a class in coloring. You haven't colored your own work for Trek, so I found this interesting. How important is color in comics and in your own work?

Yep, I teach classic school matters like inking, anatomy, iconographic research and modern stuff like digitally coloring.

I usually don't color my work (except the covers and Nero's interventions) but all the colorists who worked with me (Davide Amici, Ilaria Traversi, Giovanna Niro) are all my former students.

I teached them coloring and then I collaborate with the colorist in the early stage of a book.

I show them how I want the colors, since I think how i want the colors in the pencil's stage (some of the signs I do are done to be colored) and then the colorist give me their personal ideas or suggestions.

I supervise and retouch every single page of every book!
I've a clear idea of the final result,I'm really exigent: it's not easy to work with me, but I'm lucky to work with some of the best!

18. The American comic market has expanded in the last two and a half decades in the acceptance by the general public of mature works, such as Watchman and Dark Knight, but Horror and Erotic books haven't gotten the same level of acceptance. As an artist, do you see the American market more accepting of these works? Is it still a tougher sell than the European markets?

In the European markets the erotism (more than Horror) is accepted, but I think that since a lot of Europeans artists start to work in American market it will happening soon...

Since I'm at work on a book full of Horror and Erotism I hope to contribuite to achieve the same level of acceptance!

19. You've stated on your blog that once the Star Trek movie adaptation is done you're leaving Trek. Any chance of returning after a few years away, or have you had enough of pointed ears and phasers?

who knows!!!

20. On your blog you also list all your published projects, as well as those in progress, such as the Trek movie adaptation. You have one listed as "Top Secret." When will this be revealed and can you give any hints?

It was the True Blood's book!

I started working on it some months ago, (preliminary sketches, turnarounds, all this kind of stuff) and lately I started with the book itself!

A lot of blood and girls, and hot stuff...

Also I'm at work on another Top Secret project: I'm working on something with Joe Casey for Image Comics.

Call it a "creator-owned superhero epic"


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