Adam Hughes’ resting sad face hardly bears any testimony to his sense of humour that oozes out from his speech effortlessly, exposing his wit and pensiveness. The highly acclaimed illustrator is best known for the striking cover artwork that he contributes to the comic book industry.
Over his 25-year career, Adam has won the Eisner (Best Cover Artist, 2003), Harvey (Best Cover Artist, 2001-2003), and Inkpot (2007) awards for his illustrative work. In 2010, DC Comics published the New York Times best-selling book – COVER RUN: The DC Art of Adam Hughes and in 2012, Adam returned to interior storytelling with a total of 37 issues of the comic book series – Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan.
He currently freelances for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Archie, BOOM!, and Dark Horse Comics, as well as providing artwork for properties outside of the comic book industry. This month, Nookmag stole a chat with the artist when he graced the annual Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC)…
When I was younger, I… used to love travel. Now I travel so much for work, I just want to stay at home. I give my wife a hard time about travel, but when I get there, I have a great time.
I personally feel that… an artist’s best tools are his or her eyes. It’s not their hand, the paper they work on or the pencil they use. It’s their ability to observe, whether it is looking at the way light falls on hair or the way fabric falls. The more you observe and the more you can process what you observe, the better an artist you are. I’m always seeking inspiration from the minute I wake up in the morning to the time I go to bed.
I was exclusive… with DC for a very long time. I went freelance about two years ago, just so that I can expand my client base and work for more people. I still work for DC and have a good relationship with them. But now I’m also working for Marvel Comics… It allows me to go where the work is.
I mostly work… in the American comic industry, and sometimes in the European comic industry. I’m allowed the creative freedom. That’s one of the reasons I stayed in comics and not work in films or television. Even though they don’t pay as much as television or video games, the creative freedom is my reward. I like the fact that I can do what I want most of the time. If I have to do a change, it’s easy as my original idea is almost still there.
I have this character that… I want to do and tell stories with. Whenever I have a free moment, I’d think about it. I haven’t had the free time to draw this character. It only lives in my head because I haven’t been able to get away from my assignments long enough to figure what this character looks like. It’s tough. But it’s better than not having any sort of demand. There will be time for this character down the road. I’m going to have to make time. I’m always so slow and behind on assignments that I shouldn’t be drawing something else other than the assignment I’m working on.
One of the nice things about comics is… that you could do two or three things at the same time. You can have something going on in the visuals and something completely different going on in the captions. I think it’s important to always break new grounds, try new stuff and challenge yourself. But never forget where you came from, where the character came from, where you started out because it’ll come to a point where you’d lose sight of it if you lose your tether to the character’s origins.
When I get artist block, I’d usually… play video games or clean the house. I recently took up gardening. My wife loves to garden. When I have a hard time solving an illustration problem, I’d go, weed the yard or water the plants or do something in the yard. Even when I’m doing these, I’d think about how to draw Captain America’s shield. The idea will come to me because I got away from the drawing table for a little bit. That’s how I deal with it – I’d go do something that’s productive.
I do consider… playing video games a constructive use of time.
Catwoman has probably been… my favourite character to draw. I’m sorry the book ended before I got to explore all the ideas I had. The way I see her in my head – I see a lot of humour but also a lot of dark tragedies. You really can’t do humour with Batman. I could see the place for as much tragedy as you have with Batman but some really fun type of escapades – you know, the whole cat burglar, catch a thief kind of aspect.