A Perfect Job For Me
Who hasn’t read a comic book in his or her life time? Scott Hanna's work has appeared in comic book titles such as Spider-Man, Batman, X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Ghost Rider, Iron Man and many more. Comics books are funny books or comic magazines made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by all sorts of dialog.Today, I have the greatest pleasure to be speaking with Scott Haan, one of the artist inkers who has been drawing and inking comic books for a long time.
Scott received the 2005 Wizard Fan Award for “Best Inker” and the 2002 Eisner award for “Best Serialized Story” - Amazing Spider-Man #30-35: “Coming Home”. His work appeared in the Smithsonian’s 9/11 anniversary exhibit with artwork from the book HEROES. His original art is currently on display at the MOCCA Museum in New York city and part of art collections around the world. (Watch interview video below this article)
Annick: Scott, it is a great pleasure for me to be speaking with you today and share your story with our readers.
Scott Hanna: It is wonderful to be asked! It is always a joy to share my work with others. One of the most amazing things about my job is that I do something I love to do for myself, and it brings entertainment to others at the same time.
Annick: At Marvel Comics, Scott you have worked on some incredible characters such as Spiderman, Iron Man, the X-Men and the Hulk among others. Another famous character is Batman for DC Comics. How did you get into all of this? Did you plan it or it just happened?
Scott Hanna: That is a long story, but I de?nitely did not plan it. I think it is where I was meant to be though. I actually resisted getting into comics for a while and kind of got dragged in by friends to help another comic book inker. After that, I found out that I really enjoyed it and that I was very good at it! Getting to work on all of those amazing characters is just a result of staying in the business for a long time and working really hard to always do my best.
Annick: Of course, not everyone can do this and it is an art that we don’t hear much about. Were you born in an artist family? Did you ?rst fall in love with Comic magazines or were you always a talented artist?
Scott Hanna: My mother is a very talented ?ne artist who works in oil and pastels. She specializes in portraits and landscapes and has won countless awards over the years. She is still a working artist and is always an inspiration to me. Somehow, I was the only one in a large family to take after her in art. I entered my ?rst art contest when I was ?ve, well before I started getting interested in comics. I made the decision to focus in art when I was ten, about the time I really did ?nd superhero comics.
Annick: It looks like you are enjoying your work very much. Would you give it up to become a farmer or the president of a company? How much do you love your doing your work?
Scott Hanna: It is one of those jobs that I would do on the side even if I had another full time job. When I got started in comics I was making so little money, that I had a full time job as a security guard and fit in the artwork in my free time. I really have the perfect job for me, and I can imagine few jobs where I would be as happy. All of them would have to be in the art world in some way. I also get to work at home, which few other jobs allow.
Annick: Comics artists usually sketch a drawing in pencil before going over the drawing in India ink, using either a dip pen or a brush. Was it difficult to learn how to ink? Do you have to first learn how to draw?
Scott Hanna: Inking is defnitely an extension of a solid drawing foundation. Many people have the mistaken impression that inking is for those who do not draw as well as the pencillers. All of the best inkers I know draw very well and it is really a requirement to be good at this specialty. Many people do fnd it difficult to master all of the tools in inking, but it mostly takes a lot of practice, just like any other art forms.
Annick: Any number of people can assist in the creation of a comic book in this way, from a plotter, a breakdown artist, a penciller, an inker, a scripter, a letterer and a colorist, with some roles being performed by the same person. Where did you learn your trade, Scott? Did you go to a special school for it or did you learn on your own?
Scott Hanna: I was really first taught pen and ink when I was in high school. I had a fantastic illustration teacher at a vo-tech school in Morris County, NJ. He had us try out different drawing tools from pencil to inking to watercolor. Most of it I learned on my own though. I was strongly influenced by the golden age of illustration pen and ink artists from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. I also worked for a short time with another inker when I was first getting into the industry, but by that time I was already quite practiced with the tools.
Annick: I have never heard of schools teaching inking. Is it actually something that you can request for when you register to an art school?
Scott Hanna: I never had any teacher in college teach inking. Most of what I do comes from an extension of regular drawing and painting classes and adapting the knowledge on my own into the medium of ink. There are several schools now that have majors in sequential art and I believe most of them deal with inking in some way. Many of the professional inkers of my generation learned in an artists studio system where you learned on the job by assisting a lead artist.
Annick: Illustrating a book and inking a comic book are two different worlds and yet both have the same goal and that is to accompany a story. Did you ever try to be an illustrator? Can we consider inking a specialty of illustration?
Scott Hanna: My major inspiration as an artist was inked book illustrations, but comics are a much more reliable form of employment and use most of the techniques of book illustration as well as many specific to comics. Inking as a separate technique was developed mostly because of the time factor of comics work where so many illustrations are done in a finite period, it is easier to maintain quality by using a team of artists with different specialties. The same idea is used in animation.
Annick: Did you have the chance to publish your own Comic book and create your own characters?
Scott Hanna: When I first started out as a penciller and inker in comics I was helping create new characters, but always with a writer who would come up with the original concept. I do not consider myself a writer, and would much rather work with someone talented in that arena rather than trying to do it all myself. I love collaborating with others when I work. We get to enhance each other when we work as a team.
Annick: What is your favorite character in all the ones that you have inked?
Scott Hanna: Spider-Man and Batman were always my two favorites as I was growing up and they remain my two favorites to draw.
Annick: Spiderman is a favorite of many. Do you like Spiderman? Are the characters talking to you when you are drawing and inking them?
Scott Hanna: Growing up with the characters allows in?uences my particular interpretation to a degree, but mostly I try to follow the lead of the writers and pencillers I work with. My job is to get across their versions of the character to the best of my ability. The characters talk to me through the script and the pencils.
Annick: I know that many people collect Comic books. Do you?
Scott Hanna: I have way too many comics in my collection, but like a true collector, I can’t sell them. I still buy many comics for a particular artists or writers work.
Annick: Comic books have been popular for over 75 years now. Will they stay popular forever or will they fade away? Have you noticed a difference in the last few years?
Scott Hanna: Many people have called superheroes our modern mythology. The concepts and types of stories have been around since at least the beginning of literature and the arts, so I think comics will stay around for a while. With the increases in technology, the form may change over time. In the future, our comics may be more similar to the movie versions or video games. However, I think the combination of the written words and illustrations is a special one that seems to have worldwide appeal and is really only found the comics or graphic novel format.
Annick: Tell us more about the Inkwell Award, or Inkwells, given to artists who are in the field of inking in American Comic books.
Scott Hanna: The inkwell awards were established only about 4 years ago to promote and educate about this often overlooked art form and to recognize excellence in the field. The award categories are voted on by both professionals in the industry and the readers who can all vote online at their site inkwellawards.com. I have been honored to win the awards for most adaptable inker in 2010 & 2011 as well as favorite inker 2011.
Annick: Scott do you have a message that you would like to share with our readers to encourage them to support the arts and become artists? The arts are so important in our lives, I would think.
Scott Hanna: Art is really the universal communication tool. All of the arts communicate and entertain. Writing, drawing, dance, music and all the other arts are what keep us connected and please our eyes, minds and souls. The history of civilization is defined mostly by two things; art and war. I prefer to encourage the art. I tell all beginning artists to have fun with their art and enjoy themselves. Even if you choose to do it only as a hobby, it is a superb way to express your inner self and communicate with the world inside and outside of yourself.
Annick: You have made appearances on national and local television, radio, museums, libraries, historical societies and national and international Comic book conventions. Scott, I hear you are also a wonderful lecturer. Could you please share with us some of your important notes as a speaker?
Scott Hanna: Usually I try to encourage doing a job that you love and share my enthusiasm for what I do. I have been drawing comics for over 25 years and I still enjoy it tremendously. Comics are such an accessible medium, it is easy to interest audiences of all ages when I start sharing some of my expertise. When I was young I was quite shy, but when I talk about comic book art I am anything but.
Annick: You and your lovely wife live in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It is beautiful there.. Do you also teach at Community Colleges and Universities?
Scott Hanna: Fortunately, my job allows me to work out of my home, so I can live out in the country. I Lived in NYC for a long time and I loved that as well, but I have a lot more room now. I teach occasionally at the Baum school of art in Allentown, PA. I have a very heavy work load in comics, but teaching allows me to share my knowledge with a new generation and to occasionally get out of the house:)
Annick: Do you offer private inking classes?
Scott Hanna: No. Many inkers have studios where they train new artists, but I do my teaching at Baum. I have actually never taught a class in inking as it is such a specialized field, though I have done several lectures on the subject at various locations. My work schedule is so busy that I really don’t have the time to add in private classes. Most inkers do one or two books a month at most and I usually do three or more.
Annick: There is no age for comic books. Scott, thank you so much taking the time to share your story and talent with us. Treasures of Wonderment wish you much success in your future endeavors. I wish you and your family a very safe and relaxing summer.