NEW 'HELLSPAWN' CREATIVE TEAM SENDS A MESSAGE
Niles/Templesmith Partnership Promises Big Things
February 8, 2002
The 11th issue of Todd McFarlane Productions' Hellspawn comic book is about to hit stands and, as many people know, there's a new creative team onboard.
Steve Niles remains at the writing helm, where he has excelled and turned the dark and malevolent Hellspawn into one of the best-kept secrets in all of comics.
New artist Ben Templesmith began his Hellspawn journey by wrapping up issue 10. The forthcoming #11 will be his first full issue. The new team is excited about working together and looks forward to getting Hellspawn back on the shelves regularly.
Now, dear readers, meet Mr. Templesmith:
Spawn.com: First, can you give readers a little background on "who's Ben Templesmith?"
Ben Templesmith: Ben is just some 23-year-old Perth-born Australian who went to University to be a graphic designer so he could learn how to put a K-mart catalog together. Interesting and life-fulfilling stuff, you might say, but all the while he wanted to draw images for a living instead.
SC: Is the Ashley Wood style of Hellspawn your normal style or did you have to work at matching Ash's art?
BT: I guess it sort of is. I always liked the way he treated shadows and the tone of his work. Since I attempted to learn the computer side of things as well, I tend to exude the "Ashiness" quite a bit. I guess if you're doing darker art, using computers, Ash immediately comes to mind because he's really at the forefront of that area. That said, I DID have to work at getting that certain level of Ashley Wood goodness into the end of Hellspawn #10 (and to a slightly lesser extent #11).
SC: Your art sometimes looks like it's painted, sometimes like it's digitally manipulated, sometimes like a little of both. How do you create the pieces in Hellspawn?
BT: There's no one answer to that, really, since some pages (and in some cases bits of pages) are done differently to others. It's all drawn and/or painted in the real world, though, and then fed into the computer at some point to do the things you can't really do in real life. Lots of layering and compiling mostly. It also allows a lot more freedom with the color. On the Spawn Boards right now, I've started posting an image, first as just a sketch, which I'll then take through to a decent-looking final piece (I hope!) showing it at steps along the way.
SC: The impression many have of Todd McFarlane is that he has little involvement in the comics, but I know he has final approval on everything TMP publishes. Have you had much contact with him and what type of suggestions did he have for you?
BT: I've had one quite long chat with him actually. Once I got past the "bloody hell, this is TODD!" going through my mind, and I actually started taking in what he was saying I realized he was pretty spot on with stuff. I don't tend to get too much input, living out here where I do, so it was all appreciated. Todd's got a vision for Hellspawn for sure, but at the same time he really wants me to find my way myself, rather than simply be another Ashley Wood. The way it's usually gone is I end up showing pages, and then I get suggestions about bits that need more "oomph." So, it's free reign to an extent, but Todd certainly has a hand in it and has the final say.
SC: Along those same lines, how did you end up with the Hellspawn gig?
BT: Well, first I had this voodoo doll of...ahem... Actually, an online buddy, Brent Ashe, TMP's Art Director-type guy, got in touch with me about a commission he wanted. As I understand it, he ended up actually showing some of the stuff off my Web site to Todd, who liked it enough to get me to do some tryout pages on a Sam and Twitch script. After that I was asked if I could do some Hellspawn, and that's not exactly something that's easy to refuse, as I'd been following it from issue #1.
SC: Is it your plan to have the look of Hellspawn evolve into a book that has a distinct "Ben Templesmith" look? In other words, what direction do you see the book going in?
BT: That's the plan, yup. Certainly that's the challenge that's been put before me. I guess the direction will still be a dark one, a bit darker than regular Spawn, I'm not sure what Steve has up his sleeve but issue #12 is going to be rather horrific! The trick will be keeping what Hellspawn is while at the same time making it reader friendly enough, that some people who might otherwise be inclined to it won't pass it by. One thing I really try to concentrate on is the storytelling aspect, and based on Todd's suggestions, I'm working at making the actual art a bit more defined and clear, too. I'm learning new things everyday at the moment, literally, so where our direction eventually goes, it should be a cool destination.
And what's going on in the Hellspawn writing game? Let's ask Mr. Niles:
Spawn.com: You're known for being quite prolific. How many future issues of Hellspawn have you already plotted and written?
Steve Niles: I'm ashamed to admit that I'm only four issues ahead, but there have been all sorts of things happening surrounding this book. There's been a change in artist, there's been some controversy, so I'm staying pretty close to the wire on this one. I have plans for the next year mapped out, but have scripted only those few.
SC: Along those lines, can you give readers any hints or insight into the direction of the book?
SN: At this point I see two things that the Hellspawn must address in the immediate future. One of these things will be a constant threat of attacks now that Spawn has killed his master and really brought way too much attention on himself. The other is definition. Spawn is changing