Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Interview with Walking Dead artist Stefano Gaudiano...

If you know me, you know that I'm basically obsessed with the Walking Dead universe. The comics are my current favorite series. I've also been a big fan of Stefano Gaudiano's work for a long time, so when I heard that he got the gig as the inker on the Walking Dead comic series, I couldn't have been happier!

Stefano Gaudiano has worked on books for all the major publishers, most notably a Batman title for DC and Daredevil for Marvel. He was recently a guest at the Bellingham Comicon (of which we did a recap here), and he was gracious enough to take the time for a little Q&A with It was a honor to interview one of my favorite artists. Hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did chatting with Stefano.

Inteview with Stefano Gaudiano, October 18, 2014

The Steve Strout: Right to the point! How did you get the Walking Dead gig? Were you approached by Image or one of the creators?

Sketch cover Stefano did for me!
Stefano Gaudiano: The request to work on the Walking Dead came directly from Robert Kirkman, actually. I think he had been talking with Ed Brubaker, who is an old friend of mine who knew my work from Gotham Central which is a book I did years before with DC Comics. They contacted me because the Walking Dead was coming out every two weeks instead of every month and Charlie (Adlard) needed and inker, and I was one of the few people they thought would be a good fit. I was available and did a test drawing, and it went from there. It was just an email from Robert (Kirkman) asking me if I was interested and if I would be willing todo a few samples, and things just went from there.

TSS: Had you met those guys ( Kirkman and Adlard) in person before?
Stefano and

SG: I had met Charlie. I knew Charlie. I'd met him at a dinner a few years before. I hadn't met Robert yet, but you know, the comic's community is small enough that he was like friends of friend....

The TV show was already out but I wasn't thinking of it in terms of "oh wow! I get to work on the Walking Dead". I hadn't quite hit me what a phenomenon it was. I only realized how great of an opportunity it was until later. At first I just thought, "yeah this is gonna be great", but then it turned out to be beyond great.

Stefano doing sketches for his fans at the Bellingham Comicon

TSS: I know you can't talk too much about the Walking Dead, so We'll change the topic. For the people that aren't as familiar with you, what other notable books/ characters have you worked on?

SG: The stuff that people would've heard of is the stuff I did at Marvel and DC Comics. I did Daredevil with Marvel. I did a little bit of work on Spider-Man. Quite a bit of work on Captain American and The Winter Soldier as an inker mostly. I did a little bit of penciling on Spider-Man which was great because Spider-Man is my favorite character. Mostly I've been an inker at Marvel. At DC I started as a penciler and switched to inking. I penciled a few Batman related books, and I was an inker for most of the run of Gotham Central working with Michael Lark and Spanish artist Kano. That's something else that I'm known for, Gotham Central. It's not hugely popular, but it's a well regarded book and it's a good experience.

Outside of Marvel and DC, I've worked on comics for ages, since 1984. I've done a number of titles. independent books that people probably haven't heard of. Outside of comics, I've done a lot of freelance in work in video games, animation, newspaper illustration. The most high profile thing I've done, as far as that goes, for a few months I was working under contract with Microsoft on the Halo video game, and you know, that's about it as far as things people would have known about.

Courtesy of Stefano Gaudiano and
TSS: You mentioned Spider-Man was your favorite character. Who is/was your favorite character to draw?

SG: My favorite character to draw? Ok, this is kind of a cop out, but I'm gonna go with zombies. I actually love drawing zombies. They're very forgiving. It's fun. A lot of textures to get into. As far as super heroes or primary characters, I really do like drawing Spider-Man. I might really enjoy, I haven't done this yet, but I'd really like to draw the Hulk. Another one is Master Of Kung Fu. Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu was one of my favorite comic books both as a story and visually from the 1970's. A number of artists worked on it that were really good. Paul Gulacy, Mike Zeck, Gene Day, and I loved all of their stuff and they were a big influence. It would be really fun to draw Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu sometime.

TSS: You mention all these other great creators. Did you have, and who were your influences when you first got into comics?

SG: Yeah definitely. There are artists who influenced me from childhood. Gene Colan , Jack Kirby, John Romita, and Steve Ditko probably were the big four from the get go, and then people like Barry Smith, Paul Galacy, Jim Starlin, and then Frank Miller was probably the last person I felt I was influenced by in the way that you can be really influenced by somebody when you're young. That kind of changes when your old and you admire other people. There's a lot of great artists, but I think of them more like my colleagues than earlier creators.

Outside of american comic books there was Italian artist Hugo Pratt. He was a big influence. He did Corto Maltese. Then the Argentinian artist Alberto Breccia, who is not well know here, except by pure aficionados. He is just an outstanding, outstanding artist.

TSS: Do you read comics. Are you reading any current comics?

SG: I don't read a lot of comics. I read Lazarus and Velvet (both Image Comics titles) by Michael Lark, Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting. I'm always keeping an eye out for stuff Butch Guice does, I love his work. I love Lee Weeks. I keep an eye out for books that are by people that I admire or that I've maybe worked with. I like Saga. I've been reading Saga ( also an Image title). I can't think of anything else off the top of my head. I don't have a comic book store in my town, so sometimes I'll find books at the library. I've enjoyed a lot of what Brian Bendis has done over at Marvel in the last 15 years. It's been interesting. Stuff by Steve Seagle. Nothing specific that I follow month to month, basically. Oh, and I was a fan of the Walking Dead before I got called to work on it. That's a book that I would wait until a couple trades were out then I would sit and devour them in one setting.
Courtesy of Stefano Gaudiano

TSS: Do you watch the show too?

SG: I watched the first two seasons, and then it got too horrific. It's a little harsher in full color with the music and the acting, but I'm probably gonna catch up with what they've done since.

TSS: You mentioned earlier that you would like to work on the Hulk. I usually like to ask comic creators if there is any character or series they'd like to work on. Would it be the Hulk or any other comic series that you'd like to do?

SG: I feel like I haven't given this enough thought, actually. I'm very comfortable inking, and that's one of the issues. I'm not sitting here thinking of who I want to draw. I'm more interested in who I want to work with, and who are the pencilers I'd like to work with. I mean I love working with Butch Guice and I love working with Michael Lark. There's always new artists. Trevor Hairsine is an incredible artist that I've had the pleasure of working with that I'd like to work with again.There's a lot of artists I'd like to work with, so I think in terms or artists I'd rather work with, rather than characters.

As far as characters, yeah, the Hulk. It might be fun to draw Tarzan. I like characters who aren't heavy on technology where it's the musculature, facial expressions, textures of skin, and settings. I also like drawing cities, so Spider-Man would be fun. Daredevil was fun, because anything set in the city gives me the chance to get in there and draw some interesting city scapes. I always enjoy that.

TSS: It's like the city becomes a character in itself.

SG: Yeah definitely. The landscape, whether it's the city or the woods, I really enjoy the way the landscape can affect the tone of the book.

TSS: I don't want to take up too much more of your time because I know you have to get back to meeting and doing sketches for fans. I do always like ask if there is any advice you would like to give to aspiring or up and coming comic artists?

SG: I was asked this earlier today at this convention. The main advice, is don't lose focus of what your passion is. If your passionate about art, and this applies to just about anything, not specifically talking about art. If you're passionate about art, it's gonna keep you engaged. It's gonna keep you wanting to do it over and over again. Practice is what makes perfect, essentially.

Anybody can be a professional artist if you just take the time to practice. Your not going to take the time to practice if you don't love doing it. So, as long as you retain that kind of focus, and you will maybe keep looking at things that stimulate that interest. Say like, your kinda good at drawing, but maybe your losing interest in whatever it is that you've been drawing the last five years. You could find something else thats exciting to draw, just follow that. Once you get to the point where you can apply yourself professionally, other than just keep working and showing your stuff, keep showing up at conventions or sending stuff to editors because persistence is key. Other than that, if you can, find somebody that you can work alongside that's more experienced than you. Do an apprenticeship of some sort. It can even be just like helping them out in the studio, like maybe running errands for them. Then maybe picking up a few tips from them and maybe picking up a little bit of work assisting them. I had the benefit of working with Rick Hoberg which was an incredible apprenticeship for me. Anything like that where you can get in touch with somebody that does the type of work that your interested in, and maybe they need a little bit of an assistance, jump on that. That's the best way probably to learn, alongside a professional that's done a few things you haven't done yet.

TSS: Thanks a lot for your time, I've had fun chatting and watching you work.
SG: Thank you.

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Steve Strout is the media mastermind behind this site, host of the Comic Book Swap Meet, nerd, terrible artist, gamer, convention goer and comic book reader who spends more time rescuing toys from thrift shops than a normal adult should. He is also known around the northwest for his promotion of live music and stand-up comedy events and is the creator/producer of the Olympic Peninsula Comedy Competition (which will make it's big return in 2015). Follow him on Instagram at, and  He can be reached for comments at on twitter at @thestevestrout