I recently enjoyed interviewing long time comic inker Wayne Faucher. Before we started discussing comics I asked if he had any hobbies or interests outside of comics and he explained that he likes to make and photograph 1/6 scale figures. After this I believe his insights into life as a professional comic inker are truly insightful to fans and aspiring artists alike.
Wayne shared a couple of pictures of his hobby explaining it was just "weekend nonsense."
Paul: That looks like fun.
Wayne: That’s exactly what it is. I could easily make a business out of it but that’s how I got into comics. As a result comics is my job and I haven’t actually read one for pleasure in decades. So I don’t sell my action figures….Truth to tell I am actually doing a little photography work for Executive Replicas in the near future, but mostly that’s in the trade for action figures!
Paul: May I please start simply at the very start of your relationship with comics. What were the very first comics you recall enjoying and how old might have you been?
Wayne: My relationship with comics…..Hmmm. Well, I didn’t actually start buying comics or have any of my own until quite late. Probably 13 or 14 years old. So essentially, I started out as a collector, which isn’t normal. I certainly read and enjoyed them but I was also acutely aware of them being things of value. This would have been in the early to mid 70’s. Before that, the only place I had ever seen comics was at the barber shop. In fact, it was an incentive to have my hair cut, knowing I’d be allowed to look at those books with all the drawings. So, the first comics I ever saw were probably Marvel and DC books from the mid 60’s. Kirby's Fantastic 4 and the like. In fact, when the animated TV series aired in ’67 I already knew who the FF were, so it was even more exciting to see them move and speak. I also first saw the DC war books at the barber shop, which of course fueled my imagination for adventures with my best friend, GI Joe.
Paul: Did comics inspire you to become an artist? ....Or were you artistic from an early age and comics were a way to make a career from that ability?
Wayne: No, I was drawing for as long as I can remember. I always drew, but prior to discovering comics it was mostly cars, planes and monsters. Some landscapes, I suppose. I didn’t start drawing people, or people in tights, until I started getting comics. Then I copied a lot of drawings from those. I have a particular attachment to the Amazing Spider-man Annual #1 for that very reason. I copied every Sinister Six splash from the Treasury Edition of that book. It remains my favorite Spidey story ever, but then art isn’t necessarily what you make, it’s how you think. You don’t have to draw to be an artist. In fact, I believe you can be an artist and never make anything. It has more to do with how you perceive the world. The “art” is just a result of how you’ve reacted to what the world has thrown at you. It’s residual and often not of much value.
Wayne: As far as a career; My degree is in graphic design (RISD ‘83) and I did that for a decade or so before I ever got into comics. So comics is my second career. An afterthought, really. I spent almost 10 years in Manhattan doing corporate design for clients like CitiBank, Chemical Bank and the New York Stock Exchange. When my wife and I decided to have kids, I wanted something I could do at home. I figured anybody could ink comic books (it’s basically graphic design applied to illustration), so that’s what I started doing. Of course, this was in the 90’s when all you needed to get hired in comics was a pulse. I guess it’s much harder to break in these days especially as an inker, which is on the cusp of dying out due to the digital options.
Paul: So did you receive no knock backs or rejection letters trying to break into the comics industry? For most creators it is a compulsory rite of passage of sorts.
Wayne: Well, I had a friend who was editing small press comics, so I did some work for them mostly as practice. Then I put a few samples together and went to a convention in Philadelphia. DC hired me at that show. So the years of standing in line for portfolio reviews was not something I ever experienced. On the other hand, I had already been a commercial artist for 10 years and was probably taken more seriously. At least that’s how I always figured it, because my samples weren’t particularly good! But I did know a lot about presentation and functioning in client meetings.
Paul: Were you always aiming for the inking stage of the comic process? Did you toy at all at with becoming a penciller? Obviously they're very different disciplines, I'm just curious if it was ever an option that appealled to you?
I mean, as a teen I thought drawing was what you did. So I suppose I wanted to pencil comics. Then at 16, I got my hands on a Gil Kane/Klaus Janson original from WHAT IF #3. Now I loved Kane, so I had a few of his originals already. I knew his stuff, but this WHAT IF page was different. The marks themselves had an amazing movement. I compared it to the other pages and realized it was the INKER! I thought, “Holy hell, an inker can actually have an effect on the art!” So, I was aware of inking and always took note of inkers. Then 15 years later when I wanted to break in, I never even gave pencilling any consideration. Like I said, inking was much closer to what I’d already been doing in design for the previous 10 years. I can draw. In fact, I did a few small press bits in the beginning and I was offered a Batman story to pencil at one point (which I turned down), but comics are my job, and I can make more money inking. The rule of thumb used to be (not sure if it’s still true) that the inker usually averages about two thirds of what the penciller makes, but I can ink twice as fast as the average penciller. So, more money, besides that, I happen to be a much more abstract thinker and inking is really a much more abstract exercise than penciling.
Paul: So what was your first published work? By the sounds of it that would have been for DC Comics. Who was your first editor in that case?
Well, the first published work would have been some logo back in New York, I’m sure. Possibly the ChemPlus mark for Chemical Bank. Logos were my jam. I still do the occasional restaurant or product logo when I get a chance. For comics, I first did a logo illustration for a book called Whispers and Shadows (can’t recall the publisher), then my first inking work was for Parody Press on a book called SEWAGE DRAGOON #1 over a very talented penciler, Bill Maus. I was lucky to get Bill because I had no idea what I was doing. The editor was Don Chin on that. After DC hired me at the Philly Con, I did my first mainstream work, DEMON #46 over Denis Rodier. It was a Garth Ennis story, I believe, edited by Peter Tomasi. I remember I ended up working 12 hours on Christmas Day to hit that deadline. It was certainly not the last holiday I ever worked through!
Paul: Since then you've worked on a number of properties for DC that include Batman and Catwoman, but I'd like to ask about the Flash spin off Impulse. At the time it was a real breathe of fresh air. It was so fun and full of energy and had such a lively style. Can you talk about your time on Impulse and how it came about?
Wayne: Let’s see. IMPULSE was my very first series. I had worked on a couple of issues of FLASH over Carlos Pacheco, so the Eds were aware of me. I had also just done a STEEL ANNUAL (#1) over Humberto Ramos. When he was offered IMPULSE I guess he requested me. I was also asked to ink Mike Wieringo on ROBIN at the same time, so I had a choice. Fortunately, Wieringo called me up to tell me he DIDN’T want me on ROBIN. He wanted another inker, apparently. I called the ROBIN Ed to let him know. I was informed that there was no way Mike was going to get his guy on ROBIN and I should take it. I decided I’d rather work with someone who specifically requested me than someone who specifically didn’t. So, I was on IMPULSE.
Wayne: It did have a lot of energy! It was very early in both my and Humberto’s careers, so we were really into it. Mark Waid had some great ideas for a type of book which wasn’t being done at the time. The best part was that no one was really watching us, because it wasn’t expected to do much. Those are the most fun books. Of course, doing BATMAN or SPIDER-MAN is fun because it’s a high profile character. IMPULSE was fun because nobody really cared what we were doing, so we did what we pleased. Actually, I’ve always enjoyed working on books nobody reads. I did a run of FRANKENSTEIN, AGENT OF SHADE a number of years ago over Alberto Ponticelli, which NO ONE noticed. But I ended up keeping more artwork from that series than any other I’ve ever worked on. It looked great and they left us alone.
Paul: Can you comment at all about working with Mark Waid? His stories are always very highly regarded.
Wayne: Honestly, I didn’t have much interaction with Mark. As you can imagine most of my contact was with Humberto, who I worked with quite closely. He, of course, interacted with Mark constantly. Waid seemed to have an easy affinity for teen angst. He was getting very hot at the time, which of course put Humberto and I in a very good place. Even by then I had pretty much quit reading comics, so I couldn’t say much about the stories, to tell you the truth.
Paul: Would it be fair to say in general Humberto Ramos has been an artist you've inked over a great deal?
Wayne: Yeah, I think so. I inked him for a couple of years on IMPULSE and then a couple of years on Spider-Man books. So about four years straight, plus a few various projects. Probably the only penciller I’ve inked longer is Scot Eaton.
Paul: There is a reason I ask. How does a long term relationship develop between penciller and inker? Are there a lot of phone calls involved, or after a while does it become instinctual? How does that relationship usually work?
Wayne: There used to be a lot of phone calls, but since the advent of the digital age, that time is long gone. Humberto and I used to talk on the phone constantly. Same with Mark Buckingham. By the time I was working with Scot Eaton all communication was through emails, which is fine, it’s just not as personally connected. It’s all about the work. I always found it funny that I worked with Scot almost exclusively for 4 years very successfully, and we have STILL never spoken! An inker gets to know his pencillers marks, what they mean, and how to translate them to ink. My job is to extend the pencillers vision and take it further than he was able to with pencil. Learning that unique visual vernacular can take a while sometimes, other times it’s instant. I could see brush strokes in Bucky’s pencil marks. I knew exactly what he needed from almost the first page. Humberto took a couple of issues to learn. These days, I very seldom get stumped by a penciller. I have a pretty vast library of styles I’ve worked with in the past and can usually recall what I need to do. In fact, it’s kind of fun these days when a penciller presents me with a problem I’ve never encountered!
ABOVE: Wayne over more Humberto Ramos pencils.
Wayne: Other times, the connection never comes. I inked Yildiray Cinar on LEGION OF SUPERHEROES for almost a year and apparently I never caught what he was throwing at me. Same with Gianluca Gugliotta. I was killing myself on MISTER TERRIFIC with him. I thought it looked great but he was definitely not happy. It happens. The relationship can work in different ways. Sometimes a penciller is thrilled with what you’re doing from the word go. Other times, I might have a few questions about what a mark means or a texture preference. I always used to say “Hey, if you see anything you don’t like, tell me!” After a few years I quit that, because they DID! Now, I just do my best in the time we have. My general work schedule is 13 hours a day. I try to keep it to 5 days a week, but that doesn’t always work out. I figure if I can’t hit a deadline working 13 hours a day, then the problem is with the schedule, not me.
Paul: It seems now you've made the move from DC to Marvel. Can I ask what may have prompted that choice, and also can you compare at all working for the two companies? Are there any significant differences in their working practices?
Wayne: Actually, I’ve gone back and forth between Marvel and DC many times. I even spent some time at Valiant and Image. When I first broke into mainstream I did about 4 years at DC doing IMPULSE, SHADOW OF THE BAT, ROBIN AND CATWOMAN, then I hopped over to Marvel for 4 years to do PETER PARKER SPIDER-MAN, SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN, and various X books, then back to DC to do runs on DETECTIVE COMICS, SHADOWPACT, WONDER WOMAN, BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL, and a bunch of other stuff. After a few more years at DC I started jumping around much more frequently, I guess. For the last few years I’ve been almost exclusively at Marvel doing Spidey books and now Star Wars books. But your question makes it sound as though the jumps were conscious choices...
ABOVE: Wayne over Ed Benes variant G cover for Superman 1, and Ramos for Peter Parker Spiderman 44.
Wayne: ...They weren’t at all. I just go with whoever offers me work! Part of being a freelancer is flexibility. It’s absolutely required. When you don’t have a job, your job becomes finding a job. I have absolutely no pride about the business of comics. After 30 years in the business, I send out more samples than someone just breaking in. You can sit around and bask in the history of your storied career, assuming Marvel and DC will be knocking at your door, or you can move your ass and hustle. Yeah, it's exhausting but it’s more profitable than sitting around watching game shows all day…. Marvel and DC work practices? Well, they used to be very different. DC tended to run like a well oiled machine. Always ahead of schedule, no surprises. Marvel was much more spontaneous. They always cut timing close and seemed much looser, but that could be an advantage too. Marvel had a 911 Tribute benefit book out a couple of weeks after the event. DC took a couple of months. It just had to do with the way editorial and their press schedules were set up. Nowadays however, they are much more similar. In fact, I can barely tell the difference. I’ve had books going for both at the same time and sent the pages to the wrong editors. It’s ridiculous, but overwork can catch up with you.
Paul: I think for many artists I'm told working on the Spiderman titles is a rather special accomplishment because the character is so iconic. Would you say that is true? Is it a fun character to work on?
Wayne: Well sure, the high profile characters are always fun AND they boost your profile in the industry. I enjoy Spidey because I read him more than any other comics as a kid. So the first time I did Spider-man I was pretty thrilled, but from an inking standpoint, you can’t beat a darker character, like Batman. I mean, he LOOKS scary. Everything is in shadow, everything takes place at night. There are many more opportunities for lighting effects. It’s hard to make Spider-man look menacing. He’s so bright and colorful, but yes, there are worse characters an inker could be working on. He certainly helps when it comes to sending out samples.
ABOVE: Wayne over Humberto Ramos's cover for Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #38 (2002) and inks over the very talented Steven Cummings for STAR WARS HIDDEN EMPIRE #4.
Paul: Well speaking of high profile you're currently working on on some Star Wars Comics I believe. That's pretty high profile too. Are you a big Star Wars fan? Can you discuss the project and the characters you'll be working on?
Wayne: Sure, I have been working on Marvel’s Star Wars comics for about a year I think. I’ve been bouncing around between the books doing bits and pieces mostly over Georges Jeanty and Steven Cummings. Now Steven and I have been assigned to the Mandalorian book. We will be adapting season two of the show. These are 30 page issues, so we’ll be trading off issues with Georges Jeanty. Steven and I will be doing the even number issues, I believe. I last inked Steven 18 years ago on an issue of Flash. I’m kind of surprised I haven’t run into him again since then! It’s a pretty small industry. He is awfully good! It’s kind of fun not working on superheroes for a change. Some of the characters in the Star Wars universe actually wear clothes! The only minor downside to it is that Lucasfilm has to approve everything we do, which is fine, except it’s an extra step and the time has to be scheduled in.
Paul: Technology has increasingly influenced the way comics are produced in the last twenty to thirty years. To what extent do computers play a role in your work now compared to when you started in the comic industry?
Wayne: Well, when I first came in computers played zero role. I got the pencils from my friendly FEDEX man, inked them and called for a pick up (from said FEDEX man). If I had a question, I called someone on the phone.
ABOVE: Wayne over Scot Eaton for Titans Giant Sized number 1, and over one of Mark Bagley's pages for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #90.
Wayne: Now, I get my pencils through the computer (JPEGS or TIFFS), I print them in blueline on board, I ink, scan, supplement effects in Photoshop, and post them on the company FTP. Really, the only thing I do the same way is the primary inking. That’s still pen and brush. What I used to use Zip A Tone for, I now do in Photoshop, just because it’s faster. EVERY aspect of comics today has to be fast. We used to have delivery delays. FEDEX might take a day or two, so you had to have some cushion time. Now, delivery is instantaneous. You hit a button and they have it. So, you’re either done on time or you’re not- and the Eds know it. Because of the compressed timing, it’s much more pressurized than before, but the whole world is more pressurized than before, I guess.
Paul: You said earlier in the interview "I guess it’s much harder to break in these days especially as an inker, which is on the cusp of dying out due to the digital options." That rather implies in the future you believe that to an extent talented inkers such as yourself could eventually be replaced with a computerised sytem. Can you elaborate on your quote at all?
Wayne: Well, yeah. That’s been going on for a decade or so, I’d say. More pencillers are inking themselves, many digitally. More books are being printed with no inks at all. The comics industry is evolving. The same thing happened with letterers a few years before that. If something can be done for less money, why not? When comics started, printing was in such a prehistoric state that you needed absolutely black lines in order to have the art print clearly. Print technology has long since progressed far beyond that being a requirement. Inking comics is more of a tradition than a requirement. What it DOES still offer is an additional artistic input. Hopefully as I said earlier, to EXTEND the penciller’s intent beyond what he could do with his tools. Of course, there’s an argument to be made for a separate inker actually DILUTING a penciller’s vision. Which I suppose is why many pencilers prefer to do the whole job themselves. The difference is really between the preference to work in a partnership as opposed to working solo. That option didn’t used to exist. Now it does.
Paul: Comic conventions tend to be part of being a comic artist, granted COVID threw a massive spanner in the works for a little while, but in general do you enjoy attending conventions and meeting fans? Also have you ever been "Starstruck" meeting any writers of artists you're personally a fan of?
Wayne: Hmmmmm. I’m not sure how to say this without disparaging comic cons, but I avoid comic cons like the plague. They just look like an ego feeding frenzy to me. I’ll do a couple a year within driving distance, just to sell some art but that’s really it. Strangers telling me how great I am as though I do something important, is just too weird. It’s comic books, for God’s sake. My daughter does Neurocognitive Research with veterans suffering from PTSD. That’s important. The artists who have fallen under their own spell are just too much. God bless’em . Of course, my attitude is probably why I’m one of the busiest, least known inkers out there.
ABOVE: Wayne with legendary DC Superman Editor Julius Schwartz and The Monkees singer and songwriter Mike Nesmith.
Wayne: Have I ever been "starstruck" at a con? Once. Only once. I was reading a book at my table and I could sense someone looking through my art portfolios. I usually have 5 or 6 set out. I heard him murmuring under his breath “Nice”, “Oh, I like that”. I finally looked up to see Al Williamson holding a page of mine very close to his face really scrutinizing it! I’m seldom speechless, but I just started to sputter like fool. I don’t even think I could get a sentence out. He said something to the effect of “Hey, when you pull yourself together, come on over to my table.” I’d never reacted to ANYONE in comics like that, but I’m big into EC and he took me by surprise.
Paul: Despite not going to a huge number of them do you have any fun convention stories you're allowed to share?
Wayne: I was once sitting at my table and Forrest J. Ackerman walked directly up to me, thrust out his hand and shouted “This is the ring Bella Lugosi was wearing the day he died!” I couldn’t decide if I was supposed to kiss it or what but just as quickly, he stalked away…. Another time I was at a con and it was one of those tumbleweed affairs. It seemed to be me, Zack Levi and Don Simpson (who was sitting next to me) in an otherwise deserted convention center. I mean, it was dead dead dead. Except for some weird, non stop chatter over the PA. Sort of like a carnival barker. Don finally went to find out what it was. He came back, sat down, looked me straight in the eye and said “It’s Kato Kaelin.” I had to go look for myself and as God is my witness, Kato Kaelin was hosting the con. It was like a Fellini movie. Another time I got bamboozled into appearing at a show which was held on a football field. I’m not sure what the actual plan was, but it ended up with my table set up on the 50 yard line, a vendor selling pies in one end zone and a dog taking a shit in the other end zone.
Wayne: Otherwise, I pretty much stay at my table, chat, sign books, close up at the end of the day and have dinner with my wife. And hopefully a lot of wine. I never, ever do after parties. I have met a few folks like Williamson, Dick Giordano, Al Feldstein, Will Eisner, Gene Colan, Julie Schwartz and so on. Those are the guys who I’m really glad I ran into. People like that MADE comics. Most of the comic stars of today, I sort of consider my peers, so meeting them would be a much more casual thing. Although I did sit next to Howard Chaykin for a couple of days at my last con. That was an absolute hoot! Late in the show I bought a piece of art from him, which is a rare event for me. I put the money on the table and got a look like “Are you kidding me?” I said “Take it, we’re all here to take home a little cash!”. He did. And retorted "Patronizing bastard…”.
Paul: There's a silly question I try to ask everyone I interview. Simply put if you could have any superpower, or the powers of any one superhero, what or who would it be and why?
Wayne: Well, I’ve always harbored a keen interest in self-immolation. So, the ability to burst into flames might be fun. It would certainly be a great party trick. But, I guess that ability actually is available to anyone… Of course, it only works once.
Wayne: Good God, I have no idea. I mean, if you’d told me 30 years ago, I’d still be inking comics, I'd have said you were nuts. I've put two kids through ivy league colleges, paid off my mortgage, and I’m STILL doing it. I'm just too damned lazy to quit, I guess. I COULD still be going at it in five years, I suppose. I have a lot of art stored away from the last 3 decades. So, when my business is no longer MAKING pages, it will transition into SELLING them. I’ve been spending a lot of time making and photographing my 1/6 scale action figures in recent years. I know I could make money doing that, but then it becomes a job. That’s what happened to me with comics and I don’t want it to happen again. Promote anything? I guess buy my comics and follow me on Facebook and Instagram.
Paul: Wayne thank you for so much of your time.