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Interview with Bob Almond
With Jager

Click meBob Almond broke into the comics world by inking Marvels' Worlock and the Infinity Watch. From there, he's been able to add his touch to many characters while working for Acclaim Comics, Malibu Comics, and DC. But nothing compares to his recent run on Black Panther. In his three year run on the series, he and Sal Velluto redefined the character.

Now he is hard at work, adding his touch to Aquaman and JSA: All Stars. I had a few questions for Bob. He had a few answers.

Thanks for agreeing to do the interview! I know you're a busy man. First off, Bob, I was wondering if you could explain to our readers what you do as a comic book inker.
A comic book inker is the illustrator who reinterprets the pencil work in ink. Our responsibility is editing and enhancing to make the work print ready. We're at the front lines to fix any problems but also to push along whatever effort and concept the pencil artist is making.

For tools I generally use Windsor/Newton Series 7 size 1 brushes, Sakura micronmarkers and rapidograph ink. I also use a variety of tools at some degree or another like Hunt 102 croquills, plastic erasers, X-acto blades, french curves, flexi-curve, ink-edge triangle, Pro-white correction fluid, technical pens, zip-a-tone & instantex, burnishers, toothbrushes, frisket sheets, electric eraser, and even found objects occasionally.

How involved are you in the layout of the book?
I'm not involved in the layout of the book. But what you see in print is my interpretation of that artwork. The penciler sets the foundation and I fine tune and, if necessary, adjust it.

So would you say the inker adds the emotion and tone to the book?
Whenever necessary, yes. But the penciler may have already made an effort to do so. If so, then I just enhance that effort.

What made you decide to become an inker?
I'd decided to become a penciler. Until the '90s I don't think most artists intended to become inkers but some have turned out that way, often because they're better and/or faster at it thus making a more lucrative living with it. I wanted to be a comic book artist since the age of nine and when I went to college I took up illustration and dabbled in some drawing and inking but after graduation I sent in several pencilling submissions with little success. I happened to submit one inking sample to Dark Horse and although they, too, eventually rejected the work these samples are what veteran creator Jim Starlin saw and showed his editor to get me hired as a pro inker at Marvel Comics in 1992.

Click meJust recently you were awarded the OOK Award for Best Inker of 2002 for your work on Black Panther. Congratulations! What was it like winning an award that's totally decided by the public?
Thanks! I have never won any awards before in the business after several years. I was just happy to produce the best work I could muster and, due to that, keep getting more work. As a huge Marvel fan, getting long-term assignments like Warlock and the Infinity Watch and Black Panther is a dream come true. But I guess fans really started to notice the work by Priest, Sal and myself on Black Panther because I found myself as part of the on-line Usenet Newsgroups Squiddies awards Black Panther sweep for 2001. Besides us getting 'best creative team' I was stunned to see myself winning 'best inker' as well. And then for 2002 I tied with Mark Farmer at these awards for 'best inker' and then subsequently found myself winning the same award for the first annual Comicboards OOK Awards. When the other nominations are talents like Williamson, Vey, Farmer and Hanna I would debate the legitamacy of me being the 'best' in that category. But it's always rewarding to be recognized by the public for work that you are truly proud of so it was an honor to me to be bestowed such attention.

You really made a name for yourself with Black Panther. While on this book you worked mostly with Sal Velluto handling penciling duties. Now you're working with him on JSA: All Stars and Aquaman. Why do you and Sal click so well?
We simply have a mutual trust and respect of each others work as an artist. Over the 6 years that we've worked together we've developed both a creative synergy as well as a friendship. It's the type of partnership that you don't find often in the business and you strive to keep it for as long as you can.

After working together for so long, you have to have developed some original character concepts... Any ideas you can share?
There have been concepts that Sal has developed with writers but, believe it or not, Sal & I haven't done so together yet. Hmmm...

Can you compare working on a team book (JSA or Avengers), compared to handling a single hero (Aquaman and Black Panther)? Do you enjoy one or the other more?
The solo books are not as time-consuming as a team book but, for me personally, the team books are more fun with all the characters you get to play with.

Click meHow do you prepare for inking a book?
Actually for Sal's work, since we're of the same mind generally, I just jump right in. I don't do any inking warmups like some artists do. If I work with a new artist and if I have the time and access I may discuss the work over the phone with them or refer to their other work as a form of brief research and orientation. But otherwise I also just jump right in. But it usually takes an inker a few pages to get into the penciler's head and figure them out.

Are there any characters you just gotta get your hands on?
Avengers. This has always been my dream book. But getting my hands on most of the classic Marvel or DC characters would rock.

How about creators? Who would you love to work with?
George Perez. He's the artist to inspire me to join the world of comics. Perez Avengers would be the ultimate project; I've only inked a partial Avengers TPB cover to date. Other artists would be Jim Starlin, John Byrne, Bob Layton, Carlos Pacheco, Bernie Wrightson, Tom Raney and some I've most likely missed.

What are you reading now?
That question should be more like "what are you buying now that you hope to find time to read one day". I'm presently 3-4 years behind in my reading due to my work and family schedule. I just keep ordering what characters I like by the creators I like that reviews and my friends tell me are still good. It's tricky. I occasionally get to read a few issues of something from my recent list from the last couple of years: Avengers, Black Panther, Defenders/The Order, Thor, Captain Marvel, Thunderbolts(until 75), Fantastic Four, anything by Starlin, Daredevil, The Crew, and various limited series. I also love getting the vintage Marvel trade collections.

What kind of advice does this seasoned inker have to give the hopefuls out there?
Passion, patience and perseverance and a little bit of talent goes a long way. But it's still no guarantee of success and the market seems to always get more competitive. I used to believe that the greatest challenge was 'breaking in' but the greatest challenge is actually 'staying in'. I don't want to scare anyone but make sure that they go into this with eyes wide open. If you want it for the love of it and not the money then there be fun and rewards aplenty.

Millionaire or Playboy? Which and why?
I'd personally settle for well-off and getting' some : )
But the former I guess. My wife might be reading this : )

Check out Bob's site at:
Also, you can talk to him at his forum
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