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Eric Shanower Interview

Eric Shanower is probably best known for his series Age of Bronze. He has a website and his art can also be seen at

Hungry Tiger Press

smoky man has already conducted an interview with him at Ultrazine where you can find relevant biographical details about him.

This interview was conducted in early December 2003.

Little Margie in Misty Magic Land
can be found in the ABC compilation shown above

Promethea in Misty Magic Land is supposedly written and drawn by Margaret Taylor Case and was first published in the New York Clarion between July 23rd and September 17th in 1905. The obvious inference is that it is a tribute or homage to Winsor McCays Little Nemo in Slumberland.

Is there any significance to the dates and year used? Would it be useful to compare your 9 pages to whatever Winsor McCay published during those months in 1905?

I don't know if there's any significance to the dates and year. That idea didn't enter into my illustrations. While "Little Nemo" is obviously the strongest influence on my art for the story, I wasn't limiting my inspirational sources to that particular strip.

"The Little Journeys of Nip and Tuck" by Bradford and Neill was also an influence, and I tried to keep in mind all I knew of the genre of fantasy strips from that period which includes "Mr. Twee-Deedle" by Gruelle and "The Explorigator" by Dart. There's no specific date correspondence between my pages and McCay's, at least none I intended. If Steve put anything like that into the script, I'm not aware of it.

Did you have any contact with Alan about your work for this title? How detailed was Steve's script or don't you have it any more?

I had no contact with either Alan or Steve. Steve's script was reasonably detailed, giving careful instructions about what should appear in each panel, yet leaving the specific compositions to me. I still have the script somewhere.

What do you think of Promethea in general and specifically JH Williams illustrations and artwork for it? Do you have any specific favourite images or favourite lines of dialogue?

Promethea is one of my favorite comic book series--perhaps my favorite of those currently being published, although I have a hard time choosing favorites of anything, so that includes images and dialogue. The artwork is generally gorgeous, and serves the story well. Sometimes, the page and panel design may get a little too frilly on the edges for my taste, but that's a very minor point. JH's figure drawing is very enjoyable. He manages to capture expressions of faces and bodies so effectively, something that's so important in comics. I just read issue #27 yesterday, and the sense that ANYTHING might happen, which has been there through much of the series, is refreshing and exciting.

Your Little Margie story is actually referenced within Promethea itself in issue #13 pg 16 where Margie denies that visiting the higher spheres is dangerous. Were there ever any plans for you to draw a few pages within Promethea proper itself or for JH Williams to imitate your style used in LMMML at some point?

No one has asked me to draw any portion of the regular series, and I'm not aware of any possible plans for JH to imitate my style. His version of Little Margie is somewhat different from mine, but that can easily be explained by an evolution in Margaret Case's style and depiction of her characters over the lifetime of the strip, which if I remember correctly, is supposed to have run through the late 'teens or early 'twenties. My version of Little Margie is quite definitely a little girl dressed in clothes from 1905. To me, JH's version of Margie looks as if her clothes and hair are from a later period.
My version of Promethea in the Little Margie strip is also different from any version of Promethea JH has drawn. When I sat down to draw the Little Margie story, I knew right away that JH's version of the Margaret Case Promethea would never fly in a 1905 comic strip--JH's scantily clad figure just wouldn't have been appropriate. So I kept the Corinthian helmet, since I wanted there to be a recognizable relationship between JH's Case Promethea and my Case Promethea. I made the helmet a little more elaborate since the strip is a flight of fancy, and put Promethea in a costume inspired by a sculpture of the Greek goddess Athena, since Athena also wore a helmet as the goddess of war. I think Promethea's cape was specified in the script, but I don't remember for sure.

In all there are 9 pages of illustrations and Little Margie, Promethea and Chinky get to visit the Sun, Moon, Venus, Mercury, Mars, Neptune, the Milky Way and then the Sun again. Was there always only going to be 9 pages or could there have been more with visits to Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus too?

The script I drew is the script I received. If there were any plans for more episodes, I'm not aware of them. I figure that the Little Margie story somehow parallels the journey of the Prometheas through the spheres in the regular series, but I've never sat down to really look and see what specific parallels there might be.

It looks like it was quite fun to draw. I especially like the images of the sun-dial, the solar ray, the moon palace, Lady Venus and Davy Jones' Locker. It's also full of puns and whimsical wordplay in the style of Winsor McCays original: sun-rise, sun-spots, brilli-ants, solar ray, moon-shine, Quentin Quickwit's Quickfire Quick-Shop, a speeding snail and tortoise, chinky battling the snake, a boxing-ring, and the comettes.

At the end of it all Promethea and Little Margie learn that the marriage of the sun and moon happens over and over again, it's part of nature and the diamond ring is really a solar eclipse but they still have to go back and get chinky so presumably their adventures continue. Do you think the story has any overt point to make other than to amuse readers and make them recall a very old comic?

I think the story ties in to the regular Promethea series as an _expression of the Promethea "spirit." The Little Margie story is sort of a version of the journey the two latest Prometheas took for so many issues of the regular series. The Margie story sort of shows the same thing as told more concisely and simply by an earlier vessel of the Promethea "spirit."

Alan is retiring from mainstream comic book writing very soon but would you ever draw a comic scripted by Alan if the offer came up?

I would certainly give it serious consideration. I admire the bulk of his work that I've read. I love Watchmen, Big Numbers, and Promethea in particular. I admit, though, that his American Flagg stories don't do much for me.

Is there anything about your style of illustration that you think attracted Alan and Scott Dunbier to assign you this work?

I think Scott thought I could manage to draw artwork reminiscent of fantasy comic strips of about 1905, particularly Winsor McCay's work. My Oz comics are probably what led Scott to think this, and I know Scott was aware of my previous work. I don't know how familiar Alan or Steve was with my past work. I really don't know whose idea it was to ask me to draw the story, or even whether I was the first choice. It could have even been Todd Klein, the letterer, who might have suggested me--I know that Todd knew my work.

Are there any new publications of yours coming out in the near future that you would like to describe?

The second book collection, titled SACRIFICE, of my Age of Bronze series will be out in late spring 2004 from Image Comics. And of course, the regular series of AGE OF BRONZE continues.

I wrote and drew a short comics story for the third volume of Random House's young adult anthology of prose and comics, RUSH HOUR, edited by Michael Cart. I drew several text illustrations for DC Comics's WONDER WOMAN #200.

There may be a new Promethea-related project very soon, but I don't think I can really say anything about it yet.

Thanks Eric and we'll all be looking forward to the mysterious Promethea-related project you've hinted at in your last answer