We’ve got a special treat today here at FIRESTORM FAN – an exclusive full-length interview with Ethan Van Sciver, co-plotter and cover artist for the upcoming FURY OF FIRESTORM series!
With just one week before the release of THE FURY OF FIRESTORM #1, Ethan Van Sciver took time out of his busy schedule for a chat with FIRESTORM FAN! Ethan is probably best known for his astonishingly detailed artwork on comics such as GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH, NEW X-MEN, and FLASH: REBIRTH. He’s also building a reputation as an “idea guy”; as someone who goes above and beyond to fully explore the mythological depths of his characters.
FIRESTORM FAN: Where did you grow up and how did you first get interested in reading comics? What were some of your favorites?
ETHAN VAN SCIVER: I grew up in Southern New Jersey, and I’ve always loved superheroes. It wasn’t until I happened to buy a copy of John Byrne’s MAN OF STEEL #1 that I started to actually read comic books, instead of just looking at the pictures. And then I fell deeply in love with them. Oddly, I went from Superman straight over to Marvel. I was 12 or 13, and the grumpiness, the angst of Marvel characters appealed to me more at that age. My favorites were X-MEN and the FANTASTIC FOUR.
FF: What attracted you to drawing and what were some of your first paid jobs as an artist? Did you have any formal training?
EVS: I always drew, and I always drew superheroes. I used to take a sheet of paper and fold it 5 or 6 times, unfold it, and then draw a superhero in each of the little boxes that the folds made. Kind of like collecting all of the heroes I knew. Adults told me I drew wonderfully, and as a kid, we tend to do more of what we are praised for. So I believed I was a good artist, and kept at it.
My first paid job as an artist was probably at the mall as a caricature artist when I was a teenager. And then some children’s books I illustrated. No formal training, unfortunately. Everything happened very quickly, so I never got to go to Kubert School.
FF: How did you land the job at DC drawing Impulse?
EVS: My independent book, CYBERFROG, had reached a point where it was unsustainable. I kept getting eviction notices from my apartment, and it was hard to keep food in the fridge. So I realized that I had to let it go, and I had to make that leap into the Big Two, even though I didn’t feel ready. I thought IMPULSE looked like a good way to transition. It was cartoony, had a smaller audience, and for some reason, I thought I could do it. So I called the editor and faxed him a drawing of Bart Allen. And he gave me a fill in issue!
FF: As a fan, I gotta say your work on Green Lantern and Flash was breathtaking! What do you feel were your biggest contributions to the Green Lantern and Flash stories? What is it like seeing your contribution grow beyond your original involvement?
EVS: Thanks! I think my biggest contributions to GREEN LANTERN were a new understanding of who Sinestro is, and what he looks like. And then the Spectrum, which came directly after we figured out that there should be Yellow Lanterns. I don’t know what my lasting contributions to FLASH are, considering FLASHPOINT may have changed everything! But I still have concepts and notions for Flash that never got used. I’ll have a chance someday, I hope. Watching it grow now doesn’t feel like much of anything. I feel proud, I suppose. But it was never mine, and it still isn’t. Occasionally I let myself say, “I created that symbol!” Feels good.
FF: Who would win in a fight: Forbush Man or Ambush Bug?
EVS: Ambush Bug, of course!
FF: How did you get the Firestorm assignment?
EVS: I asked to be the cover artist, and Dan and Geoff suggested I do much more than that. At first, I wasn’t sure I had any ideas for it, but DC Characters are so rich…there’s so much potential and so many possibilities for them. It wasn’t long before I was babbling and excited.
FF: Gail Simone said you had to convince her to join you on Firestorm. How did you manage that?
EVS: By telling her those ideas!
FF: Have you always been a fan of Firestorm, or is this a more recent passion? Do you have any favorite issues, storylines, or characters?
EVS: I think I’ve always been a fan, but not in the sense that I read all of the books. I just like the character. I like the way he looks. He exists within my imagination, the way other characters I love do. Sinestro existed in my imagination in a way that never existed in any comic books. Jean Grey too. I just need to present these visions on paper.
FF: What can you tell us about the new storyline? With the title The Fury of Firestorm, should we expect to see some fury?
EVS: The new story is about two boys who get caught up in an enormous super-science conspiracy with global consequences. It’s about politics, it’s about our borders, it’s about the future. And it’s about anger and misunderstandings as well.
FF: Is your Firestorm a complete re-imagining, or is this an altered version of Firestorm picking up where Brightest Day left off?
EVS: It’s a complete re-imagining, but it’s linked to where Brightest Day left off.
FF: Should the fans expect to see any other classic characters, besides Ronnie and Jason?
EVS: Oh yes!
FF: You and Gail Simone are both very politically outspoken, often on different sides of the fence. As co-plotters, does that play out in the comic, such as differences between Ronnie and Jason?
EVS: Definitely. But Gail scripts everything, so she always gets the last word!
FF: How far along have you gotten on your plotting? Is Gail writing full-script or plot-first?
EVS: We plan out a handful of issues roughly, and then plot them together. I plotted issue #4 by myself, which was fun. And then Gail writes up a full script. We’re still finding our method.
FF: What’s it like being on the other side now, coming up with ideas for another artist to realize on the page? What do feel are some of Yildiray Cinar’s artistic strengths?
EVS: It feels fine. I’ve been an idea guy for most of my career. Having someone else draw up the stuff makes me feel a little bit incomplete, but at the same time, it’s Yildiray Cinar, and he’s marvelous. He’s a fantastic designer, and a great storyteller.
FF: Who redesigned the Firestorm costume(s)? What are some of the intentional differences from the classic suit?
EVS: Yildiray and I both kinda did. I had some initial ideas, that I think you posted on your website. Yildiray modernized it, cleaned it up a little. And then we talked about the four circles and what they mean. And that led to some minor adjustments.
FF: What would you say are some elements that make a story a “Firestorm story”, rather than just any other superhero story?
EVS: Our Firestorm is about conflict. Conflict and secrecy and anger, the things that stir in us and cause violence and fury. It’s about ideas sometimes being outside of our control, about the possibility that those ideas can become twisted and poisonous, and hurt people, sometimes those closest to us. But it’s also about trying to overcome those things and maintain friendships with people who you may have misunderstood.
And then it’s also about unimaginable power, collecting it, sharing it, and unleashing it.
FF: What aspects of Firestorm do you enjoy writing the most? What aspects do you find the most challenging to write?
EVS: Well, I enjoy doing what I was hired to do, which is to create the Firestorm Bible, explaining how the superpowers function within their little corner of the DCU. I enjoy helping Gail map out a slow reveal of these ideas and new characters. That’s what I love most. I do NOT love writing the personal stuff. The emotional beats. That’s what Gail does best!
FF: Should we expect to see Plastic Man appear soon in the pages of The Fury of Firestorm?
FF: What is the best comic book movie of the year so far: Green Hornet, Thor, X-Men: First Class, or Green Lantern?
EVS: X-MEN FIRST CLASS.
FF: What did you think of the Green Lantern film? How did it feel seeing some of your ideas on the screen?
EVS: I’m still waiting to see it. I thought I’d wait for the dvd, honestly. I am happy that DC’s characters make it to the big screen, but I’m never all that eager to see superhero movies. I can’t explain that. It’s just a confession.
FF: As a collector of autographs, which autograph do you cherish the most?
EVS: I’m very happy with the note I got from Virginia Leith, who played Jan in the Pan in THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE. I love that movie. I saw it as a little boy, and it scared the heck out of me. Anyhow, she’s a recluse now, and doesn’t answer fan mail. But I wrote to her anyway to tell her I loved her work, and she very kindly wrote me back. And so I framed that letter and it’s hanging in my hallway.
FF: Looking back at the work you’ve amassed, what are you most proud of? What do you consider a high point both personally and creatively?
EVS: GREEN LANTERN REBIRTH is on it’s way to being a classic, and thank god I got one of those in my lifetime. Not every creator does, even the best. It’s a matter of luck.
FF: What comic books are you reading currently?
EVS: WALKING DEAD.
FF: Besides Firestorm, are there any other projects you are working on now?
EVS: Quite a few! But they’re secret!
FF: What would your dream comic book project be?
EVS: I’m working on my dream comic book project all the time! I don’t wait. I go after the projects that I want!
FF: With all this newfound experience plotting comics, should we expect you to write and draw CYBERFROG: REBIRTH anytime soon?
EVS: Maybe, but let’s make FIRESTORM into a hit series first, okay?
My thanks to Ethan Van Sciver for generously donating his time to this interview! I’ve always been impressed with how accessible Ethan is to the fans. If you’re ever at a convention featuring Ethan, be sure to stop by and visit his table. I met him a few years back at DragonCon and he was incredibly friendly and approachable. I think it adds so much to the enjoyment of a comic when a creator is as open and energized as Ethan! To keep up with Ethan, be sure to follow him on Facebook.
THE FURY OF FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MEN #1 goes on sale September 28! Only one more week and our long wait will be over! If you haven’t already, be sure to reserve a copy now with your local comic shop! For more on THE FURY OF FIRESTORM, click here for a FIRESTORM FAN interview with Gail Simone! For all the latest on Firestorm, be sure to come back here to FIRESTORM FAN, follow us on Twitter, or like our Facebook page!
Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the interview!
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