INTERVIEW WITH BUTCH

 

 

Excerpts from my interview with Butch Guice in Comic Book Marketplace 101, April 2003

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEW HEIGHTS OF EXCELLENCE AT CROSSGEN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: In 2001 you moved your family down to Tampa, Florida and joined the new company CrossGen Comics.

How did the decision to leave one of the big companies and join an unknown firm come about ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: I don't know if I'd categorize CrossGen as being an unknown firm at that point. They had already

established an impressive talent pool and track record early on.  It was an extremely difficult decision, however.

I wasn't upset over my treatment at DC, as I had been at Marvel-just the opposite in fact. I was very happy with

both the book I was on and the writer I was working with.  I was inking myself so if I didn't like the art, I knew who

was at fault there, as well. Ron Marz called me up initially and inquired if I would be interested in coming down and

looking at the facilities in connection with their offer of work.  I agreed, but explained I really had no desire

to leave DC, etc.  I do remember Ron chuckling at that statement, which in retrospect, I suppose he had every right 

to do so since he was already down in Tampa and knew what I was about to discover for myself-CrossGen is

a different sort of comic beast altogether. I arrived with  a nice little speech prepared in my mind should I need to

decline their offer and thank them for their interest, but they had hooked me by the end of the first day. For me, at

least, I had finally found that comic company I dreamed about as a kid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: Was the prospect of working with writer Mark Waid part of the decision ?

 

GUICE: It wasn't even a point of consideration, to be honest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: The premise of RUSE, a supernatural Victorian/Gothic detective story is a big gamble, but it's been a

huge success.  Was it time for a story of this type or is it the dynamic creative team that has made the book

a big hit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: I think your average comic fans are no different than readers of other literature through history; what they

want are well-told, engaging stories with characters they can relate to and care about-whatever the genre.

Far too much is made over whether this "type" of story or that one is what the market is waiting to embrace. A story

is a story. Tell it well and there always seems to be readers who will seek it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: The gargoyles are a blast, any chance that they will become more important in future stories?

GUICE: The gargoyles, like so many other things in RUSE, still have much to be revealed. In RUSE # 17 and # 18

Simon , Emma and the readers will see the birthplace of the gargoyles on Arcadia for the first time. We reveal a few

more of our trademark hints and suggestions along the way, but are far from finished with the tale of the

gargoyles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RUSE is one big, whopping, interrelated adventure. The only way to get more answers is to keep reading the

issues. We try very hard to reveal our information in layers- a fact here, a snippet there.  It all gets explained

eventually, but the creative team will rarely draw you a straight line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: How involved are you in the writing of RUSE ?

 

 

 

GUICE: The actual scripting, not in the least. The entire team enjoys a very free hand in contributing to the

plotlines, characterizations and the underpinnings, which make up our book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: I believe the entire creative team of RUSE- yourself, Scott Beatty, Mike Perkins and Laura Martin

are all located and working in the CrossGen office.  Does this give the team the ability to truly interact in

the creative process?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: Actually, Scott Beatty is still out of the office at this time, but he is in regular contact with everyone

on the team.  Mike, Laura and I, of course, see each other on a daily basis and toss thoughts and ideas

back and forth pretty much incessantly-whether it might be art related or plot driven. Everyone has an equal

voice on RUSE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: I will have to admit that I am totally biased when it comes to your work on RUSE.  I believe the 13

issues (issues 6 was drawn by Jeff Johnson) of RUSE represent the apex of your career. Is this the best

work you've ever penciled ?

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: If it is, it's due more to the inspiration and support of my fellow team members than any sudden

artistic insights of my own. Mike and Laura don't get nearly the praise deserved for their efforts. They are the

heart and soul of RUSE. I'm just the incredibly lucky guy who got paired up with them. And Scott Beatty

is just great. We spend hours on the phone laughing hysterically at ways to twist and turn stories inside out.

RUSE fans will be very surprised with what's coming up in the next two years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: I would like to talk about what I call the "WOW" Factor. To me this is that incredible experience

that comes to a comics reader when they come across an amazing comic book.  I've had that feeling three

times in thirty years. First was AMAZING SPIDER-MAN # 39 by John Romita Sr., second NICK FURY # 1 by

Jim Steranko and lastly RUSE # 1. Has the industry responded in a similar fashion ? Are you getting the

respect for your work that you deserve?

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: There's really no way I can answer that question. I can only say I'm having more fun drawing comics

currently than I have had at any other time in my career. I'm surrounded daily by some of the best people

I know in the industry, many of whom I'm blessed to call my friends, there seems to be no limit to the support

I receive from my wife and daughter in my efforts, and I get to jump out of bed each morning and do this

job for a living.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: Mike Perkins has a nice touch with his inks on your pencils, does the knowledge that you've got

a great inker working with you give you more time to concentrate on the drawing ?

 

GUICE: Mike has one basic directive from me (said only half-jokingly at the time)…ink my intent, not the

actual drivel I happen to produce. So far, he's succeeding beyond all my expectations. Mike's just great. His

Archards's Agents" penciling and inking work is a wonderful example of just how talented the guy really is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: I love the witty banter between Simon and Emma. Is it a challenge to translate that onto the page?

GUICE: I love drawing "body language." RUSE would be a delight if for no other reason than it's filled with

chances to draw all sorts of expressive body language.  We've been blessed with terrific banter from both

our writers, which has given me ample excuses to "play" with body language.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: Emma is much more than a "Doctor Watson" to Archard. When will we get to see her live up to

her full potential and use those magic powers?

 

 

 

 

GUICE: All things in their due time. Emma's "story" is due to take some rather surprising turns before

everything is said and done; turns I don't think anyone reading the comic even suspects at this point.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: The pages of RUSE contain some incredibly detailed artwork. Is there a lot of research involved

in getting that Victorian era feeling?

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: In the beginning we did a lot of research, but by issue 4 or 5 we pretty much settled into the look,

so much so, in fact, I recently emptied my bookcases of all the reference books and put them in storage. Since

then, it pretty much all comes out of my head unless there is a very specific item or place we need to

capture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: Is there much difference between working for the new kid on the block--CrossGen versus the

old established companies lie DC and Marvel?

 

 

 

 

GUICE: If you mean in the actual physical demands of my job, no not really. However, if you consider other,

less tangible rewards such as having a vested interest in not only your own book, but the entire line, does?

Or, perhaps having a voice in discussions at every stage  about the visual look of every page ? Or being

encouraged to do your best work at a reasonable pace of production because you get paid a regular salary,

which allows you to get off the freelancer treadmill? Or no longer needing to worry about not having health

insurance coverage should you be injured, or how you're going to survive financially when you reach retirement

age? Then, yes it's no secret.  There are huge differences being at CrossGen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: What's coming in the future from Butch Guice and CrossGen? Any chance that you'll work on

any other series?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: I'm sure there will be other projects down the road eventually. In the meantime, I'm supposed to

provide illustrations for a new R.A.Salvatore short story scheduled to appear in the back of CrossGen's

first DEMONWARS trade paperback through Code 6 Comics, as well as possibly ink a few odds and end

projects over Bart Sears.  RUSE commitments and my assistant art director duties at CrossGen don't allow

a huge amount of extra time, but I enjoy squeezing in whatever I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: Looking at your work on RUSE, you have been able to produce facial images with incredible

expressions. This is some of the best facial work I have ever seen. It almost looks as if you've drawn from

photos. What is the secret behind these amazing expressions?

 

 

 

GUICE: I don't know if there is any big secret. Facial expressions are a lot of fun, particularly in a dialogue

heavy book such as RUSE, where they play such as important role. I just try and support what the scene

requires according to the plot, and then Scott Beatty comes along and writes some bit of brilliant prose,

which makes it look like I'm actual a far better artist than I am.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: In issue 5 of RUSE. There's a nice panel of three ladies of the night.  A quick look at the CrossGen

Website reveals that they're based on Tammy and Tiffany and Michelle, three members of the staff. Also

Simon's agent Peter Grimes bears an uncanny resemblance to CrossGen owner Mark Alessi. It must be

nice to work with such interesting people.

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: The people at Crossgen are just terrific, and have been very supportive about appearing in RUSE

in various cameos.  John Smith, our facilities manager and convention major-domo has appeared as well,

and there are more cameos planned with other CrossGen employees.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART:  The above is also mentioned in the letters page of RUSE # 8, with the additional teaser that

Mrs. Guice has appeared in a cameo role in RUSE.  I'm thinking she was the inspiration for the beautiful

Gypsy on pages 4 and 10, in issue 8….

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE:  Uhmm…actually, she was the murder victim in issue 5  We didn't tell her until after the issue

came out.  It was something of a surprise, but she took it well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: Most of your work on RUSE is based upon two page layouts. Now this has been used on occasion

for years,but it has never been the standard format of any series.  Is this something you've always wanted

to do?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: Actually, I never considered it until joining CrossGen. You wouldn't be able to do such a

technique at Marvel or DC, what with all the advertising pages cluttering up the story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STUART: Anything else that you'd like to share with your fans, philosophically or comments on the state

of the comic industry in general?

 

 

 

 

 

GUICE: I would just like to thank everyone for their kind support over the years, both fan and professional.

thirty years ago I was a scrawny kid with a head full of ideas about drawing comics someday.  I've been

incredibly lucky in realizing that dream, and being allowed to continue doing this for the last 20 years.

I can honestly say I'm having more fun now than when I dreamt the dream as a kid the first time around.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a small portion of the original interview which appeared in COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE 101

Butch was kind enough to conduct this interview via email during Dec 2002- Jan 2003 and the interview

was final edited by Butch Guice

  

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