We had a great chat, in which we talked about, among other things, how a background gymnastics and wrestling helped him visualize and layout fights on the page, the highs and lows of Star Wars, and which countries provide the highest traffic to this blog outside the US. (We were both pleasantly surprised by the fact that Germany and Russia round out the top 3 traffic sources!)
So without further ado...I present Kord Industries interview with the one and only Paris Cullins!
Kord Industries: Thank you very much for talking with us! In prepartion I was glancing at your credits on comicbookdb.com and I was surprised to see a lot of horror titles listed. I even went back into my collection and found some of your stuff on "I...Vampire", wow! Are you a fan of the genre? What's your all time favorite horror film?
Paris Cullins: Yeah, I’m a big fan! In comics Charlton’s the “Bloody Mermaid”(Ghostly Tales #91 ) stands out as an early influence. At DC, early on, I was in the practice program doing stories for "Ghosts", "I…Vampire", "House of Mystery"…as far as favorite movies…"Hellraiser"! That movie was like Edgar Allen Poe for the 90’s! The book was good, more clinical, but the movie? You saw what changed her…it was Frank! Opened up an emotional door you can’t close and she changed! She became the monster!
KI: It looks like the majority of your work has been with DC, but you have worked with some other companies as well. What goes into your decisions about which publisher to work with?
PC: I worked for Harvey on “Hot Stuff”, Archie, Nintendo, MTV…In my head they all had a style, everyone has a style and that’s the way you look at it. At DC, if I wasn’t working on a regular title I’d work on special projects, style guides, products like Super Powers, commercial work…that pays more than the average book sometimes.
(Blue Beetle, drawn by Paris Cullins and colored by Tim Wallace. Oh...hey! That's me!)
KI: Since this is a Blue Beetle blog, tell us about your work on that book. How’d you get that assignment? Where you already familiar with the character?
PC: The first collected comic I had was Blue Beetle! My mom was a collector and 1968…for Christmas, she gave me a collection she bought, it had like 8 issues of Blue Beetle, a couple issues of Captain Atom, some Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt…so when I was at DC and Crisis had that shot of Blue Beetle fighting Chemo, that drove requests! They wanted a Blue Beetle comic in like 2 weeks, so Len (Wein) wrote the story and in 2 weeks we were done and running to keep up! We never got to tell the story we wanted to, the origin, because we were always running and then there events like Legends and all…he’s this guy, 19-20 years old, with hormones and all, and he’s willing to close himself away and build all this…it does something. He was like Short Round to Dan Garrett’s Indiana Jones, this archeological assistant…we wanted to work on that, but never got the chance to follow up…
(Captain Atom, The Question and Blue Beetle, by Paris Cullins)
KI: One of the things I loved about your work on books like Blue Beetle and Blue Devil was your style. It always struck me as a perfect blend of comic art and what I believed were influences from animation. How did you develop that style?
PC: My work on Blue Devil came out of the 80’s manga craze, but it’s not just that, it’s a lot of things! Animation, stuff like Hanna Barbera, Space Ghost, The Galaxy Trio, Samson and Goliath, that Alex Toth stuff, Kirby, there’s Kirby in there and Ditko. Some strange Ditko connections with me actually…Ditko was supposed to draw Blue Devil, but he passed, so I got it! Then one night I’m in McDonalds at 2:00am trying to finishes pages of Blue Beetle to make a deadline and this guy walks over to see what I’m doing, and I recognized him right away! He says “Hey, that’s the Blue Beetle. Who’s drawing that now?” and I said “Some guy named Steve Ditko” then introduced myself.
KI: What are the odds of that happening? Must have been awesome! So, this provides a good lead into my next question...do you find yourself torn as a creator when characters you've worked on have changed, or as a fan do you enjoy seeing what someone else comes up with?
PC: Something like Blue Devil, it’s not about science, or sorcery or Hollywood…it was about all 3! That comic was supposed to be fun, this guy should enjoy himself, and he does…but it wasn’t the same after we left, it just wasn’t what I would buy, not what I want in my books.
KI: You did a lot of work on DC’s Who’s Who books too, including some great covers! How did that come about? Did you choose the characters you worked on or were they assigned?
PC: I did a lot of layouts for covers, for guys like Dave Gibbons, Green Lantern covers, Atari Force, Vigilante, Wonder Woman, DC Presents…I’m not going to name the artist, but someone didn’t finish a job and they needed 18 pages done in a day! I was in the corrections office, Marvel calls it something else, but at DC it was corrections, and Len comes in and says they need 18 pages of Justice League, they didn’t care how, they just needed it…so I went home, worked on it all night, in the morning, on the train…from then on, if they needed something, they called me!
KI: What are you working on now?
KI: What are you working on now?
PC: Right now I'm doing a couple things..."The New Devil" with Gary Cohn (co-creator of Blue Devil)...we're out to make something like Blue Devil, but better! It looks like that may turn up in Heavy Metal. I have "Marcus Arena", "Monsta Deacon", I'm doing pinups and interiors for "Bronx Heroes" and some Blue Beetle and Blue Devil fanfiction too!
KI: WOW! Well I hope there's a chance we can run that here at Kord Industries! Last question...if your work on Blue Beetle had been adapted into a TV series in the 80’s, who would you have cast in the role of Ted Kord?
PC: Actually, for Blue Devil, we used…you remember that show about the stunt man? "The Fall Guy", we used Lee Majors, and Scott Bakula. Sort of a combination of them. And for Blue Beetle, it was Bruce Boxleitner and Tom Hanks!
KI: Thanks Paris! This really has been great and I hope we can do it again!
So there you have it...and he was kind enough to leave the door open to future chats, and maybe even some special stuff for Kord Industries (like that fanfiction he mentioned!)
Check him out on Facebook and at Wordpress (they're clickable!)
Thanks again to the amazing Paris Cullins, and thanks to all you Beetlemaniacs for continuing to come back and enjoy the blog!