Original ‘Miracleman’ Artist Garry Leach On The Series’ Return: ‘I Figured Someone Had To Get Lucky At Some Point’ [Interview]
With Marvel’s publication of Miracleman #1, thirty years of hearsay, hopes, rumors, big announcements, broken relationships, erroneous claims, false starts, and mountains of litigation were finally resolved with a conclusion that once seemed, for all intents and purposes, totally impossible. Now, through the magic of lawyers, digital coloring, and the unlikely cooperation of all parties involved, the derailed train is back on track, and a new generation of readers finally have the opportunity to discover just why Miracleman is so revered.
In celebration of this momentous occasion, original series artist Garry Leach, whose languid concoction of dynamism and sharp-lined realism defined the look of the revisionist superhero, generously took the time to answer a few questions about his legendary work. In addition, Marvel has provided ComicsAlliance with an exclusive preview of Miracleman #2, including a page from “The Yesterday Gambit,” presented in color for the very first time.
ComicsAlliance: It’s been over thirty years since the publication of Marvelman in Warrior. Did you honestly ever think Marvelman/Miracleman would be printed again?
Garry Leach: I had a pretty strong inkling it would. There’s been a few attempts since the end of the ’90s, but back in 2006 there were big moves to break it out of the legal quagmire. In 2007, 08 and early 09, three companies had been looking at reprinting the works under various alternative Marvelman names before Marvel finally secured the rights. I figured someone, somewhere had to get lucky at some point.
CA: How does it feel now, with the new printing hitting shelves?
GL: Slightly surreal. I’ve been working on different aspects of this for seven years now, with all manner of set backs, side tracks and diversions, so it’s a bit like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Cross ‘em….
CA: What’s your role been in the new printing?
GL: You have to remember that most of the Marvelman original pages have disappeared into the woodwork, very little has turned up in time for this printing. So there’s been lot’s of restoration and retrieval work from the Warrior black and white strips. The Eclipse printing was so retina searingly bad it just made me want to gouge my eyes out. None of us wanted to repeat that chromatic nightmare. So I’ve been working closely with Cory Sedlmeier getting some of the pages back up to an acceptable print standard, and tracking down old post production material that’s been buried away in portfolios and attics for the last 30 odd years. It’s been a lot of legwork but it’ll be worth it. Cory’s done a stand out job pulling all the sources back together.
CA: The new coloring looks fantastic, and the fidelity of your artwork is much closer to how it originally appeared in Warrior. How does it feel to look at work that you produced three decades ago?
GL: It’s great seeing it with proper coloring, at long last. Even the line work will be sharper than theWarrior printing. When I first drew the strip I’d only been working professionally for four years, so now with thirty years more experience, I look at these pages and want to redraw everything. I’m never satisfied…
CA: What do you think about the reprints being under the Miracleman moniker? I’ll admit that I think it’s a better name, and it’s how I came to know these stories, but it wasn’t the title when you worked on the book.
GL: Haa haaa… yeah, to be honest I prefer Miracleman, too. It scans better as a title and as a descriptive “power” word it’s far closer to what Marvelman is really about, a “miracle” being more potent and rarer than a “marvel.” We had a big editorial meeting about it at the time but at the end of the day, it’s only two to one letters different and if we’d created a superhero from scratch we’d never have come up with the Marvelman name.
CA: When you originally started working on the project, did you think it would be as revolutionary as it was? That you’d be doing an interview about it thirty years after the fact?
GL: Good god, no. We were just a bunch of guys who wanted more creator control than we could get at the big UK publishers. Their ideas were at least 10 years behind the times, 2000AD was the rare exception and we were already working on that. When the first strips came in we knew we had something special and the fan reaction was incredible. The real cruncher was the Eagle awards where we scooped a stash and we also won best Action Strip, Best Writer and Best Adventure Artist from the S.S.I. ( Society of Strip Illustrators ) as these were our industry peers it was quite a big deal. Even that didn’t really indicate the longevity Marvelman would have, or that he would become an iconic character, it still surprises me now.