In this consumer-based industry, it can be easy to forget the years of hard work that the people in the business put in. Behind every panel, it takes a skilled writer, artist, inker and colorist to make the product complete. Behind each scene goes hours of preparation. Hush Comics’ weekly article “Respect My Craft” will dive into the history of these comic book and pop culture greats that will hopefully give a new perspective on how the men and women behind the pen (or stylus) contribute to the collective awesome-ness of the nerd world, or at least give you a reason to invest in their work.
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Name: Yanick Paquette
Notable Work: Wonder Woman (1998-1999), Batman Inc V1 (2011), New 52 Swamp Thing (2011-2013)
“It’s so rare that I’ve been able to really let loose upon drawing flowers and plants and these kinds of visuals, that you don’t get drawing, say, Spider-Man or Batman. This book gives me access to this potential. On the personal side, I love nature. I collect bugs. So for me, it’s a challenge because it’s something I’m not used to drawing, but it’s something that I’m really enjoying getting to do.” – Yanick Paquette
Yanick Paquette has two things going for him: he is an amazing artist, and he has a weird name. Take it from somebody who knows, having a weird name helps you stand out. Paquette can thank his French-Canadian heritage for his unique. Growing up in Montreal, Paquette got his first taste in comic books when he rescued a Chris Claremont/John Byrne X-Men issue from the trashcan. Most may recognize the name from his work alongside Scott Snyder in the New 52 Swamp Thing book, but Yanick Paquette is actually quite the renaissance man – you can take his moonlighting as a baroque composer as an example.
Yanick got his start in the industry by contributing to several different titles like Xena: Warrior Princess: Year One, JLA: Tomorrow Woman and Warrior Nun Areala – ya know, the normal stuff. It gets better, though. One of his first publicized pieces of work was the 1999 Harem Nights – an erotic book whose story centered around “the erotic travails of a gorgeous harem slave under a nefarious spell that forces her to achieve orgasm with a willing partner a day.” It’s a far cry from the work on Wonder Woman that was published that same year. His first monthly piece in the business, Wonder Woman really gave Yanick the spotlight to showcase his skills for a wider demographic to see. He was the first to draw the famous Wonder Woman Battle Armor as we know it today (the first incarnation from Wonder Woman #10 in 1987 was decidedly more classical) and the Diana that he drew was sexy, but without showing too much skin. More importantly, the arc that he pencilled, Devastation, marked a distinct turning point in the series, which took a noticeably more realistic approach to its art after Yanick and colorist Patrica Mulvihill joined the creative team.
What I appreciate so much about Paquette is his appreciation for colorists in the industry. Casuals fans might not realize it, but typically in the production of a comic book, the “artist” title is broken down into three jobs: a penciller (whose name you see adorning the issue), an inker (some pencillers insist on doing their own inking) and a colorist – the latter of which breathes the life into the piece. No matter how beautiful the pencil-work is, it really isn’t complete without the genius of the colorist. When DC made a creator’s survey, Yanick advocated that colorist receive royalties, and their names displayed on the cover next to the writer and penciller – a statement made at the expense of telling DC how it is losing to Marvel. It’s great to see that type of team appreciation within the industry that can only come with an understanding of the bigger picture.
When Yanick got the gig as a penciller for the New 52 relaunch of Swamp Thing, I had no idea it would be the journey that it turned out to be. Paquette considers himself very much a student of the old school, inspired by the original portrayal by creator Bernie Wrightson and the psychedelic vibe of that era. Luckily for us, the great working relationship between himself and writer Scott Snyder allowed him to have a vintage vibe to the art, but still carry a dark, modern story. The supernatural element of Swamp Thing allowed Paquette to experiment. From the panel layout to the symmetry before the Green and the Rot, Yanick brought just as much passion and originality to his art as powerhouse Scott Snyder did with his writing.
That being said, Paquette has never shied away from being in the company of great writers. In addition to his Swamp Thing run, Yanick has been fortunate enough to work with amazing writers: Robert Kirkman (Ultimate X-Men), Jason Aaron (Wolverine: Insane in the Brain), Matt Fraction (Uncanny X-Men), Mark Millar (Civil War: X-Men) and even the legendary Alan Moore (Terra Obscura) – the latter of which has been heralded as having written arguably the best Swamp Thing stories ever. The experience between each team differs depending on the writer. Some give specific scripts, some give vague ones. Scott Snyder likes to let Yanick draw out the fight scenes, and then create the dialogue around it. For example, Grant Morrison, who Paquette has collaborated with on Batman, Inc., The Bulleteer and 7 Soldados da Vitória with, gives very little script, and actually challenges Yanick to help create the story with his art, which then inspires Morrison to add on to the original scope to fit his vision. So not only is Paquette supplementing the story with art, he is, in essence, creating the story as well.
Yanick is extremely methodical; he actually prefers not to do monthly titles so that he may perfect his product. So it should come to nobody’s surprise that the Wonder Woman: Earth One graphic novel that he and Grant Morrison were working on has been delayed until 2015. In a recent interview with CBR, Morrison said that Paquette is twenty pages into the 120 page book – when you see the panels he has created thus far, you’ll know why. The retitled Wonder Woman: The Trial of Diana Prince with Grant Morrison uses unique panel structuring to add Greek designs to the layout, similar to the way Swamp Thing did. In the meantime, DC Collectibles has released the first statue based off his work; he made such a mark on Wonder Woman that he was awarded his own Art of War Statue – joining such company as Jim Lee and George Perez (whose 65-issue run on the series is the longest of any writer in the book’s history). Yanick also appreciates the benefits of social media, and is frequently posting drawings and other adventures from his convention cycles. Fans seem to also appreciate the interactions and his commissions can be found all over tumblr.
None of the media in this article belongs to Hush Comics; it all belongs to their respective properties (DC Comics). Join us tomorrow as we continue our countdown to Denver Comic Con with former DC editor, online columnist and Sideshow Collectibles Project Editor, Janelle Asselin.