In a series of questions, artist and teacher, Darren Auck lets us in on his inspirations, teaching methods, lessons learned, and, for some, finally answers the burning “Chasing Amy” question about inkers and tracers. Darren has seen the industry from many vantage points and at many levels, and his answers are pretty refreshing in their honesty.
Agent Palmer [AP]: Starting off with the basics, where do you currently reside?
Darren Auck [DA]: I live with my wife Danielle in High Bridge, NJ. Dani grew up in this area and I’ve been here since 1974.
[AP]: Is that where you grew up?
[DA]: No, My dad was in construction, so we lived all over the country.
[AP]: What impact did that have on you?
[DA]: I believe this made me more adaptable and socially experienced.
[AP]: Speaking of adaptable, where did you talent come from? Some come by it naturally, was that the case with you?
[DA]: I started drawing early, four or five years old. I think I was born to write and draw and my mom and friends were very encouraging.
[AP]: Did you used to doodle in school?
[DA]: Yes, I was always in trouble in school for day dreaming and doodling.
[AP]: Did you have any formal art education?
[DA]: My high school art and film teachers were great and I was fortunate to attend John Buscema’s workshop with Don Heck when I was 14. The biggest impact on my work (and life) was attending The Joe Kubert School, graduated in 1983.
[AP]: And you made it all the way to Marvel?
[DA]: Yeah, working in the Marvel Bullpen and my stint as an art director with John Romita and Michael Golden was fantastic!
[AP]: What was it like to be an Art Director at Marvel?
[DA]: Very busy–checking off on covers. Drawing layouts for freelancers. Art corrections and talent search.
[AP]: What were some of your big successes, either public or behind-the-scenes?
[DA]: Successes? Really enjoyed working with John Romita and Michael Golden. We accomplished a great deal, rescued some deadline,s and weathered some crazy times. As a freelancer-ROCKO’S MODERN LIFE, meeting AC/DC and doing art for them.
[AP]: AC/DC, Wow! What specifically did you work on for AC/DC? How did that come to pass and what was it like working with them?
[DA]: The AC/DC work started with the Marvel Music imprint, run by my friend Mort Todd in the 90s. He hired me to do pages for the Bob Marley and Woodstock titles. The AC/DC book didn’t get published, but my BOOGIE MAN illustration was used for BALLBREAKER. Mort dealt with the AC/DC people, but a few of us Marvel guys had dinner with the band–great night, cool guys.
[AP]: Back to the world of comics, when did you get into comics?
[DA]: I remember mom buying me World’s Finest and JLA–more heroes for your buck!
[AP]: What are your thoughts on the current boom in comic book heroes on the big screen?
[DA]: Marvel is doing it right, I liked Superman. Too many fans slam a project before it even starts.
[AP]: As with those movies, technology has changed how comic books are made, created and even drawn. What are your thoughts on comic art (and art as a whole) as technology encroaches on drawing by hand?
[DA]: I’m old school. I like lettering on the art boards, but some folks are doing amazing digital coloring and painting.
[AP]: Lettering has changed a lot since you broke into the industry. Thoughts?
[DA]: Yes, learn hand lettering. That was my “in” at Marvel. THEN go digital.
[AP]: What are your thoughts on the famous Chasing Amy question: Are inkers “tracers”?
[DA]: A good inker fixes pencil problems and adds to the art. Tracers don’t get hired.
[AP]: Was being an artist your first choice for a career path?
[DA]: Artist and superhero
[AP]: If you were not an artist, what would have been your other career path, or what would you be doing now?
[DA]: I enjoy teaching at Kubert school, so teaching.
[AP]: As a teacher, what’s the most important thing you want your students to grasp?
[DA]: 1. Talent 2. Hit deadlines 3. Be easy to work with.
[AP]: Is that also the best advice you could give someone?
[AP]: Flipping the tables, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
[DA]: Be true to yourself. Treat others like you’d like to be treated.
[AP]: Let’s take a look at some of your favorites. Who are your favorite artists?
[DA]: Frazetta, John Buscema, Gil Kane, Romita, Kubert, Mort Drucker, Wally Wood, Dali–I could go on forever.
[AP]: Favorite books?
[DA]: How to books on writing, Hunter S. Thompson, horror fiction
[AP]: Favorite movies?
[DA]: I’m enjoying the Marvel films. Old monster movies
[AP]: Favorite television shows?
[DA]: Walking Dead, Daily Show and Modern Family
[AP]: Favorite music?
[DA]: Rock, mainly metal
[AP]: Favorite sports teams?
[DA]: New Jersey (they aren’t in New York) Giants and the Yankees
[AP]: All that being said, what is your favorite or most productive / creative setting for you to accomplish your work?
[DA]: I usually listen to talk radio or music in the studio.
[AP]: What hasn’t been checked off your bucket list?
[DA]: There are a few countries I’d like to explore.
[AP]: What can you tell us about any of your upcoming projects?
[DA]: I’ve just finished working on a mini-comic, “My BF BF” ( My Best Friend BIGFOOT ).
[AP]: What is it about?
[DA]: MY BEST FRIEND BIGFOOT is my first minicomic. My best friend Kraiger’s minis inspired me to do one. I’m a Bigfoot FREAK and I wanted to do an all ages comic about a kid befriending BF.
[AP]: How did it come about then?
[DA]: My stuff usually isn’t O.K. for kids, but I wanted to do a comic for my nephew, nieces and other kids. MY BF BF debuted at free comic book day at AMERICA’S MOST WANTED COLLECTIBLES (Hi, Joe!).
[AP]: Where is it available?
[DA]: I sell the comic with an original Bigfoot sketch (including P&H) for $10.
As you can tell, Darren’s seen quite a bit and taken some inspiration from some of the great in traditional art and in comic book art. He’s never been limited to one subject, and the initiative to work on a kid-friendly comic took a lot of guts.
You can view more of Auck’s portfolio at marvel.wikia.com/Darren_Auck. And for more information on Darren, his artwork, or what shows he’ll be attending next, you may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.