Saturday, February 24, 2018
Home  >  Features  >  The Voices of Valiant Part 5: Stefano Gaudiano

Stefano Gaudiano


Stefano Gaudiano has been hard at work for the past 30 years inking some of your favorite titles, ranging from Batman and Gotham Central to Daredevil. When Valiant Comics planned their relaunch in 2012, Stefano was the go-to inker to get some of their launch titles off the ground. In The Voices of Valiant Part 5, Stefano talks to Joe Kach about his road to Valiant Entertainment, his new gig inking a small book called The Walking Dead, and maybe some news about a new TV series based on Stefano's work.


Page from X-O MANOWAR #6


MightyVille: Stefano, thank you for joining us today. So, Valiant Comics: were you initially a fan of the original run back in the '90s?

Stefano Gaudiano: No ... I was aware of them, but I was not a reader. I became a fan, honestly, after I started working with the new incarnation of Valiant in 2012.

What sort of exposure did you have into the company prior to you working there?

Well, in the '90s, it might have been the late '80s, I don’t remember, but basically I knew of the world ... I was a big fan of Jim Shooter’s from , you know, his days at Marvel Comics basically. And even with all the controversies that were going on, I retained a great deal of respect for him. And I was interested in just following what he was doing, and I wasn’t reading the comic books, but I went to the offices to see if I could meet him. But I wasn’t able to at the time. I talked to Don Perlin. I was just, you know, kinda interested in keeping an eye on what they were doing. And this has nothing to do with Valiant per se, but I actually ended up working with Shooter when he did Broadway Comics a number of years later. I was, you know, just kind of-- I knew that Barry Windsor-Smith was working on Valiant stuff in the late '80s and early '90s, so I thought it was cool looking work, but just never took the time to read it basically. Well, when Dinesh Sandeshini and Jason Kothari and the rest of the group basically started putting things together in 2012-- tell me if I’m talking to slow by the way, I’ll try to speed it up and cut to the chase…

No, no, no. This is great!

They ended up hiring Warren Simons to be their essentially Editor-in-Chief, that’s not his style, but that’s the sort of work he does. And Warren had been my editor at Marvel Comics, and he invited me to join the Valiant team basically. And I was called on first to just be an inker on X-O Manowar and then ended up doing a bunch of other stuff. As I was getting familiar with characters, X-O in the first place, and I was getting tradepaperbacks, before they even did the new tradepaperbacks, I would see the issues of other jobs that they were doing, and I became a fan of the work. I actually went back and read some of the Jim Shooter stuff and realized, ‘Wow, you guys have got some great material here,’ basically. It just made me excited. I started becoming really attached in this way I wasn't expecting, because I’m an old time Marvel fan, and when I worked at Marvel Comics, or earlier when I worked at DC Comics doing some Batman stuff, there was this kind of, you know, fanboy thing, from being a kid and loving the characters, and I didn't think that was gonna happen at Valiant. What did happen– because I wasn't familiar with the characters- but what happened is I realized that, with this relaunch, I was kind of on the ground floor of something as exciting as Marvel was in the 1960s. Lee Garbett did this pinup illustration for a Free Comic Book Day special, that I've never actually seen in print, but I got to ink it, and Brian Reber colored it, and it was one of those illustrations where you had all of the Valiant characters that were being published at the time. And it was an exciting thing to just work on them...


The Valiant Universe by Lee Garbett and Stefano Gaudiano


I know exactly which image you’re talking about.

It’s fantastic! So that’s kind of my experience with Valiant: Developing a love for the material, and also alongside that, I've always had a good relationship with Warren Simons. And I got to eventually meet Dinesh and Fred Pierce and, you know, everybody that works at the company and really appreciate the energy that they have, and the care that they put into the work. I think that they work themselves too hard, to be honest. I want to, like, I wanna go over and, like, just help them to get organized so they don’t lose as much sleep as they all lose all the time…

Awww, what a good friend!

You know, it’s a really cool company, and I grew to love it, as I was working with them.

Your art style, coming off of Daredevil, lends itself more to a character like Shadowman. So why X-O Manowar over a more street-level type hero?

Well, that’s interesting. Just a few minutes ago, I was looking at a bunch of comic books that I’d worked on that didn't, I mean, I remember working on them, but they got totally lost in the shuffle compared to my run on Daredevil, my run on Gotham Central, and a little bit of work that I did earlier than that. Most of these comic books that I was looking at were edited by Warren Simons. And they were pretty different things, like I inked David Latham for Warren Simons; I inked Dan Brereton; I inked Manuel Garcia in this really different style than you would have seen on Daredevil. Warren had come to know me as somebody that was pretty versatile, but also somebody that was able to fill in certain gaps. If a penciller gets in a hurry, they have to turn in a number of pages, occasionally they’ll you know, just kind of sketch out a panel and maybe not finish it. And Warren knew that I had the background and the capacity to fill in the gaps. So he put me on X-O Manowar because that was gonna be his launch book and he had confidence that I was gonna be able to take anything that [artist] Cary Nord gave me and just bring it together in a certain way, put it into focus. Now, as it turned out, on that particular job, Cary did very detailed pencils, it’s not like I had to stretch very far. But Warren knew that I could adapt my style to kind of suit this kind of comic book that had some high-tech aspects, but also this more gritty, Earthly barbarian aspect. And I think it paid off. I love the work [colorist] Moose Bauman did; he helped out a lot in just bringing that book together. Very proud of what everyone did with it. So X-O was just a matter of Warren having seen other aspects of my style that don’t necessarily come through when I’m working with Michael [Lark] or, you know, even Charlie [Adlard] or whatever.


A Page from BLOODSHOT #1


What do you have more fun drawing: the big budget, X-O Manowar-type Sci-Fi, or the more grounded Daredevil, Batman, cityscape sort of thing?

Probably the more grounded stuff. I mean, I really love cityscapes and stuff. That’s what I really sink my teeth into. But you know, it’s good to be challenged sometimes and be asked to do something a little different. So, yeah, it stimulates different parts of the brain. My instinct is to draw the gritty, noir city stuff, but doing the other stuff is really cool too.

Moving away from Valiant: Tell us how you got involved with The Walking Dead in the recent "All Out War" arc?

As you probably know, they basically made a decision to have this big event that was gonna be published on a bi-weekly rather than monthly schedule. So it pretty much came down to a mathematical time situation for them. They knew it was gonna be too much to ask Charlie [Adlard] to pencil and ink two issues a month. He’s already a machine, you know, but that was gonna break him. So they needed to bring in an inker, and I think that they had a few people in mind, and you know, I was one of the names that was mentioned. They asked me to do a sample illustration, inking Charlie’s drawings, and it worked out well. You know, they liked what I did. I was available. It was just a combination of things: The people that they were interested in, I happened to be interested myself, and was available to do it. I actually talked to Warren at Valiant about it, I said, “Hey, I've got this opportunity coming up, you know?” He gave me his blessing and I felt good about that. 


Page from THE WALKING DEAD #123


What was that whole experience like, doing a bi-weekly run on one of the most popular comics in the world right now?

Pretty amazing. I mean, it’s been great on a number of levels. I love doing the work itself. I never had a chance to work with Charlie before. And, again, as with a few other artists that I've worked with, Charlie’s somebody that really inks himself. So it’s rare opportunity and I feel really fortunate to have had the chance to do that. It’s obviously raised my profile. So all of a sudden-- well, you come from a Valiant background-- but it’s just that I find myself out there more, people seek out interviews, things like that. Honestly, the pay has been great! So obviously it frees me up a little bit. When I was doing two issues a month, I was just as busy as I had been working at Valiant. Now that we've come back to a monthly schedule, Charlie is taking some time to develop some other pursuits and they've asked me to stay on at least for a little longer, and this is a good chance for me to kind of cover my expenses and not have to do two books a month of inks. 

So you’re still inking The Walking Dead after the “All Out War” arc has ended?

Yes, I’m on for the time-being at least. That’s been very nice. I've found for the first time in a long time I actually have a little bit of time to relax and do things like travel to conventions or whatever. So it’s changed my life in pretty dramatic ways. It’s a good job in terms of I enjoy the job itself and inking and obviously it’s a great job in the opportunities it has presented for me. So, it’s been a big change.

What’s coming up that you’re excited about, whether it’s something that you’re looking forward to from someone else or something that you’re working on?

It’s a lot ... a lot. As far as The Walking Dead goes, I’m very excited about the way that the story is progressing. And just seeing what Charlie is doing with his different scenarios that are coming up, and what [writer] Robert Kirkman is doing. I was fan of The Walking Dead before it came on television, and I continue to be fan. I think it’s a great project.  As far as Valiant, I’m actually excited to see what’s gonna happen with them. I sit here and kinda watch from the sidelines with a little bit of trepidation, because it’s a difficult market and they’re really running themselves pretty hard. But I know that there’s a lot of potential that’s gonna come to fruition there at some point. So I’m excited to see that and also wondering if maybe I will have the opportunity, since I have a little bit more time on my hands, to just ink a cover for them, do something, you know? So I’m excited to see if my relationship with Warren can continue with me maybe actually doing something and not just watching from the sidelines. And then there’s just a bunch of stuff in my personal life that I’m excited about. All kinds of different things ranging from one of my old projects is being seriously looked at for television development, that I was co-creator of, so that’s a big deal.

Can you tell us what that is?

You know what’s funny? I think I can, because I was told that it’s official. I hesitate ... it’s a series called Kafka, but it’s got nothing to do with Franz Kafka. I co-created it with the writer of the story, Steve Seagle, from Man of Action. They do a lot of stuff. They created Ben 10, they’re working on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon for Marvel.




He’s got a new Image book out now, too, Imperial.

Yeah, yeah, that’s right. Steve basically ... somehow Kenneth Brannagh got interested in working with Steve on developing Kafka for television. And apparently it’s actually happening..!


With these sort of things you never know till it’s actually on the screen. But even just the fact the conversation has gotten as far as it has is very exciting for me. So that’s one thing. And then there’s a number of other things. Just, you know, meeting random people ... I’m getting more involved in my community. That’s one thing that The Walking Dead has done, it’s given me the breathing space to explore other things and that opens up different levels of excitement. I feel younger, you know? I’m almost 50, and people say 50 is the new 30, and now I can believe that! Yeah, this feels pretty good, you know? 

It’s inspiring to hear you say that!

I’m glad to hear that. My wife’s been happier too! [Laughs]

That's great! Thank you very much for your time.

No, thank you! Enjoy the rest of the show.


What's your favorite title that Stefano has worked on? 


More Voices of Valiant on MightyVille:

The Voices of Valiant Part 4: James Asmus

The Voices of Valiant Part 3: Fred Van Lente

The Voices of Valiant Part 2: Cary Nord

The Voices of Valiant Part 1: Christos Gage


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