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Comic Radio Show: Did you know that you are on a trading card?
John Bolton: Yeah, I knew it. But these trading cards I find a bit enigmatic, so I'm not recognized at conventions.
CRS: Did you ever dream of being on a trading card one day?
JB: No, that's something that never really occurred to me. I'm constantly surprised and amazed that in this industry so many things happen. It's almost like being a rock star: You being recognized on the street and your image very often published.
An amazing thing happened to me as I was doing a signing in Bologna: We were going to the shop to do the signing and we were 30 minutes early. There were two people rushing towards us and one of them recognized me. They had come from Napoli, what was 5 hours by train and they had come solely to meet me. They had to catch their last train, so I made some sketches for them in the middle of the street. I think that's when you feel that fame is with you.
CRS: Is it a good feeling for you?
JB: I'm always surprised. As an artist I work in a vacuum, almost. When I was working in London you had contact for example to an editor. In America everything goes to the post. I don't even meet the people I'm working with. That's one extreme, working in a vacuum. The other extreme is being recognized often.
CRS: Does it take long to draw for example the Manbat 
for the Batman Special. How long does it take?
JB: I think everybody thought it took longer than it actually did. As I accepted the project I had already said yes to two other projects that were about to happen any time. One was working with Sam Raimi doing a comic book adaptation of "Army of Darkness" and the other was working with Chris Clairborne illustrating a book. So I started Manbat, did fifteen pages. Then I stopped and did 75 pages for another strip, fully painted and forty paintings for the book. After that I completed the Manbat. So there was this great gap in between. When I started the book, stopped and started again a year later, so people were wondering what it was. It was an exception. And that was 150 pages of fully painted art work. It was an enormous task to undertake.
CRS: Is it hard for you to paint comics?
JB: I only take jobs that I want. If you're sitting there for 6,7 months you make a commitment. You want to maintain the enthusiasm and professionalism from the minute you start until the day you turn in the last page.
I made the commitment to work on a project; a lot is involved. I meet the writer, we talk about what we want to do. It's very important for me that what I produce has a longevity. Money is not important. Don't quote me on that (laughing). I've done jobs for next to nothing and still put the same amount of work in. I made some VAMPIRE NUDES for Glamour international and I got paid next to nothing. 3 years later I was able to use them for something else more than once. You have to do everything with the right mentality, you have to try to produce quality.
CRS: What is your mentality? Is it more "I'm a comic artist" or "I'm an artist"? Is there a difference?
JB: I am an artist who likes to tell stories. And that's why I paint. That's why the work I do is very personal. But you have to want to do it.
CRS: So what do you think about the comic industry? How did they react in America to Manbat, a fully painted comic of a popular theme?
JB: It was very well received. It did a 100.000 at a point where the industry, it was beginning, you know, the rob was beginning to set in. There was a backlash to the comics that were being produced, that seem to be produced on an artificial level, a bit of silver here, a bit of platinum there and all in the same comic. And so there was the backlash to that, but obviously that being a lot of talk about Manbat so I was momentarily distracted (laughing). When Manbat finally came out, even at the point when the industry was suffering, it still sold over 100.000, which were exceptional sales at that point when you consider the sales price.
CRS: Do you think that there's a development to fully painted comics
like Alex Ross' MARVELS or KINGDOME COME , this high quality in paintings and stories?
JB: Yes, but not everybody who picks up a brush can paint, that's the other thing. It's very important to maintain that integrity. Alex Ross can paint, that's no problem but you can't just produce painted comics for the sake of it. Then, again, you're doing it for the wrong reason. When I started working for America there were only two outlets for fully painted work at that point: One was Heavy Metal and the next was going to be Epic Illustrated. Epic was trying to go down the European route, where they would just allow European artists to draw
CRS: Like for example Marvel UK?
JB: Probably much later, but sadly at that point, we're talking about 1981/82 something like that, there were very few outlets for fully painted work. It grew very quickly. You had John J. Muth doing Moon Shadow and so on. But to me there has to be a good reason to sit down and paint a comic. To elevate it from everything else that's available.
CRS: I assume you can make your living being a comic artist. But couldn't you make more money if you'd just make individual paintings.
JB: Yes, if that's the only reason for being in the industry. If I was only doing covers and nothing else. But I have to tell stories.
CRS: What kind of stories?
JB: They differ. My current one is MENS INSANA which is about a guy living on the insane plane and that is an incredible difference to Manbat which is in turn very different to BLACK DRAGON or MARAUDER. Everything I do I want it to be different.
CRS: What can you tell us about your next project?
JB: MENS INSANA is finished now. At the moment there are three different graphic novels and I'm juggling and it depends which ever hits the ground first. That's what I'll do. I like to set up the projects far enough in advance so that I can, in my own head, associate a style with the story and the comic. So my next project will be a certain style, the one after that would be a different style and so on.
CRS: Do you work this way to develop or to always try something new?
JB: Both. In many ways it's the people you work with and the story that you have to tell. With MENS you couldn't take a classical approach because it's a very wacky, sort of almost slapstick, very fast joking pace. So the illustration has to reflect that. Otherwise one is too heavy. There has to be a balance. They have to work as a team. That's what I do. I put a style to one side. I catalogue a style for a certain story because it's important that the two of them work together.
CRS: Thank you for the interview.
JB: You're welcome.
Das Interview wurde geführt von mg , Bilder von Frank Bischoff.
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