Artist CHRISCROSS Enters the Buffyverse in New SPIKE Series
By Vaneta Rogers
posted: 02 July 2010 11:55 am ET
ChrisCross, who has his own set of loyal fans from his work on books like Firestorm and Welcome to Tranquility, is working with writer Bill Williams on Spike: The Devil You Know, a four-issue mini-series that just started from IDW.
The takes the success of IDW's Angel and Dark Horse's Buffy to focus instead on charismatic vampire Spike, one of the fan-favorite characters from the "Buffyverse." Spike is a one-time killer of Slayers yet former lover of Buffy, and in this mini-series, he works with demon Eddie Hope to prevent new Hellmouths from opening in Los Angeles.
Newsarama caught up with ChrisCross to find out more about his approach to the series.
Newsarama: What attracted you to doing the Spike project? Were you a fan of the character and/or the Buffyverse?
I hit up IDW when I had a hole in my schedule and I talked to Chris Ryall about doing some stuff. We had been talking awhile for years, ever since I did the first Angel cover, that we should do something together or for the company. Spike was the one that got offered. And, me being no respecter of persons or businesses, you got a funky project? I’m down to draw it. Which I’m going to town with.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the story you're telling in Spike: The Devil You Know?
ChrisCross: As I understand it... and if I get it wrong, Bill will sue me....
Spike is having a great time at a bar with a woman named Andrea (whose image is literally based off this woman on Facebook named Andrisbel Mariafernanda; when I saw her face I knew that was Andrea) half drunk off his mind and hugging up, smacking up, flipping and rubbing down Andrea on the way to an industrial car garage when he is attacked by vampires on their way to Andrea’s car. Or was it his? I gotta be careful. I can see Bill tapping his pen now.
This leads Spike into an investigation that eventually has him up against Andrea again, and bumping into Eddie the blue ice demon-dude. And they partner up to stop whatever Andrea and Tansy have up their sleeve.
I hope I gave but didn’t give too much away. I want people to have fun with this book.
ChrisCross: Well, I went semi-realistic about drawing him, but I left opportunities for his face to fluctuate into something else and still keep him essentially Spike. Not my normal take on a character so well-known, but with the ton of material I was given, I can see myself just going insane trying to keep up with all of the megabytes of images that I was given through screenshot sites and the like.
But I wanted an homage of James Marsters and Billy Idol. Billy likes to sneer a lot, and I wanted to pull that off in one or two panels of the first Spike book. The rest is just long black leather trench, black shirt with gothic style tees and blue jeans punching and clawing through Vamp hordes — or whatever he’s fighting in this mini.
ChrisCross: Actually, Eddie is the easiest to draw because he doesn’t have to look like anyone in particular. I try to pride myself in making faces of characters that appear that you actually met this man somewhere, that you’ve truly could have talked to this person. A familiarity. I want characters to make a home in your mind.
So I make him do off-the-wall expressions that will work with the story and also I add my personal touches to his form and the rhythm of his movements to create some kind of personality that will jive and jibe at/with Spike. Create some Tango and Cash atmosphere. Maybe even some Rush Hour spirit.
Nrama: What other characters have you been drawing from the series?
Nrama: How would you describe the overall style of the book? Your art has plenty of realism, but it feels like there's some attitude here too.
ChrisCross: It’s — pardon the expression — SPIKE TV’S movies that men like to watch! It’s an urban cowboy fight. It’s literally Bill just saying, “I want to create something that just is. So here it is. Enjoy.” You got demons, vampires, portals, women, poker — you’ll see — dimensionally corporate headhunters, bad girls... Who wouldn’t want to see that in a show? Now, it’s in a book.
Nrama: Are you getting to do a lot of action scenes? Is there a lot of artistic choreographing going on?
ChrisCross: Well, Bill has a lot going on. So I have to make sure that it’s seamless. Which means making sure that the image of where they’re fighting and how they’re going to interact will prevail in my head. Most importantly, where they will be anchored when any situation that produces that action sequence blows up and ignites that kind of entertaining smackdown I’m looking for. Some stuff I add, some I shuffle, some I combine.
But I never take anything away from the writer’s script. Never My job is to push the script to get what I want. Not let ego take over and work against or rewrite circumstances. I don’t like it when artist do that to other writers and I would like writers to know that when working with me, I aim to push their scripts to the most it can be.
Nrama: You keep talking about Bill Williams — how has it been working with him?
ChrisCross: Unfortunately, I’ve only talked to him once. He and I are super-busy, but I called that one time to get in his head. And I can only hope that he continues to like what I’m doling out here, which, from various emails, is exactly what he’s liking. But the scripts are pretty straightforward, for the most part. And anything I don’t get or understand, I talk to him through email or call up Mariah Huehner, resident IDW editorship royalty.
I hope I got her last name right. Or she’ll slash me. She said that one time. Yup. Mh-hmm.
Nrama: Well, we wouldn't want to get you in trouble. Let's stop while we're ahead and just finish up by asking if there's anything else you want to tell fans about Spike: The Devil You Know?
ChrisCross: Go out and buy it, have fun with it. Even if you don’t think it looks exactly like James Marsters, just know that the spirit of Spike, (which he doesn’t possess) is in the pages.