Beloved Veteran Artist Pat Broderick on Comics: “Nothing Becomes Easier”
I wound up meeting Pat Broderick purely by happenstance.
I was perusing the Facebook group “Comic Books: The 1990’s” [sic], scrolling along, happily skipping down my own personal geekdom’s memory lane, when I came across something unique in the thread: a sculpture of Doom 2099, one of my favorite Marvel characters from the era. I began going through the comments—all complimentary—before I even gave the original poster’s name a second glance.
And then I did.
“Holy shit,” I said in my comment. “Guys, this is THE Pat Broderick! The guy who co-created Doom 2099–whose work on Micronauts, Swamp Thing, Green Lantern, Captain Atom, Ragman and Batman any self-respecting collector will likely find in their long box!”
I rattled off a few more fanboy tidbits and kept my eye on the post throughout the day. Pretty soon, fellow fans were coming out of the woodwork exalting his work. In response to my comment, Broderick commended my knowledge of his contributions to sequential art, saying that I’d “just about named them all”—a generously false assertion. We began talking and I managed to convince him to do an interview with me.
I’ve always subscribed to the tenet that to be truly happy with what you do you must find something you love and then convince someone to pay you to do it. Pat Broderick evidently also subscribes to this maxim, because he was barely out of high school before he flew from Tampa, Florida to New York City to compete in DC Comics’ junior bulletin program, earning the attention of then-DC editors Sol Harrison and Joe Orlando and gaining employment immediately afterwards. In the subsequent years, he’d bounce between DC and Marvel, providing some of the most reliably solid work in the field while developing a creative legacy worthy of the respect of any artist worth their weight in graphite and ink.
He left the industry in 1995 to go into advertising, leading the creative department of Tracy Locke and Partnership, handling high-profile clients including PespiCo, Frito-Lay, Pizza Hut, Federal Express and Hasbro. Six years later, he joined the designing team for DNA Productions’ 2001 cinematic hit, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.
Broderick, 60, returned to comics in 2003, working for a few indie publishers before reviving Micronauts in 2004 until the title was canceled. During that span he also became a staff member of the Tampa International Academy of Design and Technology, passing on his ample knowledge to a new generation of creators.
Recently, he developed his own self-published series, Nibiru, which adapts into comic format the ancient Mesopotamian myth about a rogue planet on a 3,600-year orbit set to incur a catastrophe upon Earth.
Oh, and for all you hipster fans of A Game of Thrones: Broderick adapted George R. R. Martin’s work–Sandkings, with longtime collaborator Doug Moench–way before it was cool.
Tuff Gnarl: At 18 years old, you broke into the comic book industry by winning a national talent contest held by DC Comics. Is it accurate to say that your first adult job was essentially your dream job?
Pat Broderick: The fact is, yes it was my dream job. However, it was not my first adult job. My first adult job was as a delivery driver and counterman for Kirst Auto Supplies when I was 17. I had been married for about 6 months and was waiting for my first son to be born. I did this job for about 6 months. Then I was hired at L.M. Berry and company as a staff artist. They published the yellow pages for all of Florida. It was while I worked there that I learned of the Junior Bullpen contest sponsored by DC comics and went to New York for the first time for the event held at the New York Comic Con later that same summer.
But for a three year stretch between 1997 and 2000 (where you worked in marketing – a profession fellow artist Neal Adams help you break into), you’ve been working steadily in the comic book industry since the early ‘70s. What changes, both positive and negative, have you witnessed during that stretch of time?
During the ‘70s I was working for Marvel Comics, and at that time they were going through an expansion of their line. Marvel had just entered into the black and white monster magazine market. In fact, my very first work for Marvel was their black and white line with Doug Moench doing the prose, if my memory is correct.
Then, after those, I got a chance to work on Captain Marvel on a try out/fill in. Archie Goodwin was the editor at the time and they were looking for a replacement artist on the book. Apparently, he was happy enough with my work and I was offered the title on an ongoing basis. While I was working there during those years I saw the beginning of the direct market sales develop, which was a big game-changer for the industry. The old way was for the company to just print up huge press runs and hope for decent sales through of their titles. They had a return clause which allowed the public sales outlets to return unsold copies for credit. The direct sales market was a preorder method of printing, so there were no returns. Distributors had engaged the network of privately-owned comic shops nationwide, and because of this the comic companies took very little loss on their direct titles.
I also saw the beginning of the creative sales royalty plan and for a while there the creators were actually able to do more than just scratch out a meager living at it. Before that, we were paid very low wages based on per-page production. Very few of us could manage to handle a single monthly title, much less two or more books per month. But they expanded their number of titles and for a while; there was more than enough work to go around.
You’ve done a ton of work for the “big two” over the years. Which series were your favorites to work on? Why?
It seems that most of the titles I worked on were fun to do for both companies. During my first tour at Marvel, I seem to be known best for my work on Micronauts and Captain Marvel. Then I left Marvel Comics and went back to DC Comics, first on a few issues of Legion of Super-Heroes and, after that, a long run on Fury of Firestorm with Gerry Conway. After that, I left DC for a short while to do a creator-owned title called Sunrunners for Pacific Comics, but as things worked out that was a short venture, as that company shortly went under.
I returned to DC Comics, doing Batman in Detective Comics for a year and then Swamp Thing for a year. It was while I was doing Swamp Thing that I was offered the new relaunch of the Green Lantern property and stayed on that for nearly two years or so. I also managed to squeeze in 12 issues of C.O.P.S., a toy line based comic that DC had acquired the licensing to do for Hasbro Toys, and an eight-issue series called Lords of the Ultra-Realm with, again, Doug Moench, for DC.
It was at the end of my run on Green Lantern that I was offered the Ragman miniseries, and at the end of that I went back over to Marvel again.
We actually met because I recognized your name in a post on a comic-related Facebook group. You had posted a picture of a gorgeous sculpture of Doom 2099, one of your most famous creations. How gratifying is it to still have fans bring up that sort of thing almost two decades after its last issue?
When I returned to Marvel, the first title I worked on was Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Then I caught a break and accepted the Alpha Flight property and worked on that for about a year. Towards the end of that, although I wasn’t looking for another title, I got a call from Joey Cavaleri, who was given a group of books to develop based on a future version of some of their characters and it was then that I was introduced to their 2099 lineup.
I will state right now that when he told me the book was Dr. Doom I just about flipped. I had always wanted to do a title based on a villain’s point of view and had actually pitched the idea to Dick Giordano back at DC. Dick thought that it was an interesting slant but I don’t believe he ever brought up the idea to anyone else at DC. I wholeheartedly threw everything I had into Doom. There was a whole new world to develop, new direction for Doom to travel and, best of all, I got to work with John Francis Moore.
I had not read any of John’s work before that, yet after I had read the first script I knew that this was a writer of the first degree. Those first two years together with John on Doom were most likely my best work for Marvel ever.
Marvel has recently brought back Spider-man 2099, opening the door for Doom 2099’s possible return. As co-creator (with writer John Francis Moore), have they reached out to you in any way to discuss your possible involvement?
No, but there’s always hope that they will.
One of the things I’ve always thought distinguished you from your peers was your thoughtfulness when it comes to character design. This attribute has stayed with you for your entire career, it seems, all the way up to your most recent creation, Nibiru. Do you think you just have a natural knack for it, is it a totally deliberate thing you focus on, or is it a combination of the two?
When I started out in this industry I just hated designing new characters, but I was a young and very inexperienced artist. I’ve grown over the years and have spent years developing my skills, both in design and, even more importantly, sequential storytelling. All of those years storyboarding both commercially and cinematically have really proven extremely beneficial. I can go on record right now that it should be required training for any comic book artist in the industry or for those thinking about entering it. If they really care about developing their skills, that is the best form and method to train yourself with.
Speaking of Nibiru, what drew you to the subject matter? Was it surprising that no one had yet tackled this intriguing subject
Back when we lived in Texas, I was handed a paperback titled “The 12th Planet” by Zachariah Sitchen about the interpretations of the Sumerian tablets that opened my eyes. Then, about two years ago while I was winding down a 15-year teaching stretch, I needed something to work on. I had been doing commissions for a while and had reentered the convention circuits and saw how much it had changed since I was last there. I had also just suffered a tragic loss of my oldest Nephew from colon cancer at the ripe old age of 40. I was broken hearted, angry as hell and decided that it was time to dig into this history of religion to try to get a better understanding of not only my own families loss but also to try to figure out what was really going on in this screwed up world of ours. 9\11 and the World Trade Center attacks; the wars over in the Middle East; 2012 and the Mayan predictions which have come to pass that there had to be more to this than just a Muslim hatred of Israel and vice versa.
It was my investigations into this ancient alien Sumerian subject that finally connected all of the dots together. Now I know. We ARE the result of genetic alterations. There is no missing link. We have all been used and directed by two different factions. It’s all like dominos set up in a straight line, and today we’re the current domino. What I did is I pushed them backwards and it all became clear.
Can you tell us a little bit about your current Kickstarter campaign for Nibiru?
The Kickstarter is just about ready to launch. Currently my colorist Robb Epps and I are finishing our fifth chapter and starting the sixth. With that completed I’ll have enough work finished to publish a 100-page trade. I am also working on my second involvement in a Kickstarter project titled Faro.
I’m just one of the art-bots….
You’ve stayed up-to-date with modern technology, publishing Nibiru digitally through your website (and soon on ComiXology) with the intent of collecting everything in graphic novel form at the end. What has your experience been like putting out your work in such a fashion? What have you learned?
What I learned is that technology advances far faster than any of us are comfortable with. I launched my one and only website www.patbroderickart.com where the series is available to read in 16-page chapters and I’m working on offering live-broadcasted art classes through the site.
It’s also a vehicle to offer my commission work through and collect my comics history in. I’m not going to do the Comixology distribution . I feel that I’m seeing history repeat itself with that area and expect it to eventually be bought by one of the big two just to control it and what it offers…
Like many celebrated artists, you draw real comic book personalities into the backgrounds of your books. Can you tell me about some of your favorite cameos?
Can’t think of any, except I did use David Bowie as the main character in my DC comics graphic novel “The Sandkings” by George R.R. Martin.
For a long time, you were known primarily as just an artist, however, with Nibiru, you’re tackling both the writing and the illustrating duties. How do the two compare and how hard is it to do both? Is there anything that becomes easier?
Nothing becomes easier… In my Nibiru series, I’m adapting many theories into one cohesive story. It’s a subject that there’s a huge amount of resources for, but the biggest angle to tackle is designing a race of beings whose visual influence has to be the basis of multiple civilizations across the world.
Lastly, as someone who is still actively developing his legacy, what to you still hope to achieve, what are your proudest accomplishments thus far and do you have any specific message you’d like fans and readers to know?
My proudest accomplishment has to be raising four sons to adulthood. They are my legacy.
What I hope to do is inspire other artists and continue producing in this field of sequential entertainment. The message I’d like to share with others is to develop your skills so that you can diversify into fields other than comics. Otherwise, they might wake up one day and find their field of choice closed to them and not know what to do or how to continue with their creative drive and where to direct it to.
Thank you for your time!
Thank you for allowing me to rant on like this!
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