STEPHEN PLATT: A PROPHET(ABLE) ADVENTURE
Originally published 03/94 in Comics Values Monthly #91
By Neil Hansen, Feature Editor
From seemingly out of nowhere, Stephen Platt has turned from new Marvel artist to comic superstar in just a few short months. On the basis of his work on Moon Knight #55, Marvel was slating Platt to take over the art chores on Cable. However, Platt's career took a surprise turn when he moved to Image to take over as artist on Rob Liefeld's Prophet. In this interview, Platt explained why he made the switch from Marvel to Image, and revealed his future plans in comics.
CVM: The name Stephen Platt was unknown in the comics industry until a few months ago. For the benefit of our readers, can you tell me a little about your background.
Platt: I'm 23; I was born in Manchester, England, and moved to Canada when I was seven. Always been drawing, always been drawing superheroes; just never really investigated that avenue until recently. I went to the Ontario School of Art for about two and a half years. Then I basically withdrew myself (in more ways than one) halfway through the semester, because I knew at that point that comic books were where I was going to be for a long time. It was pointless for me, going to school.
If I'm absolutely certain I'm going to make a change, then I make a change immediately. That's what I did, and my school was really understanding about it. I started working for Marvel right away.
CVM: What gave you the impetus to decide that comic books were what you wanted to do?
Platt: I've always been thinking and drawing my own characters, like every other kid that ever wanted to get into comics. Absolutely every kid that I ever talked to was always getting ideas. "They should do this to Wolverine. They should do that with Spider-Man." I was the exact same kid. I was no different, and I was drawing them all the time. Luckily for me, I had people that encouraged me to draw them; they were starting to look better than the other kids drawings. That's when I knew that maybe this was a particular avenue I could explore. I never acted upon it until I got into college, where I realized that maybe I didn't like advertising and didn't like graphic design all that much.
Illustration was my thing, but it's not as much fun as drawing comics which I was always doing, but never acted upon it as a career move. To me, I was just doing what came naturally, and denying that I should do this for a living. Finally, I decided, "Oh, [expletive deleted]! I might as well try." I don't ever want to be asking myself, "What would have happened if…?" That would have been awful. I didn't want to have my life like that.
In February , halfway through my third year of college, I went on a trip to New York where I met a guy in a bank, a Marvel employee named "Whitey" whose real name is Jesus Gonzalez. I noticed that he had a Marvel jacket on so I asked, "Where can I get a jacket like that?" He said, "Well, I work there." That was it. I happened to have my work on me so I pulled it out. I wouldn't let him leave until he talked to me. He was really terrific about the whole thing. I said "Can you take a look at this?" He said, "Yeah, sure. Pull it out." He saw the work and said, "Two o'clock; I want you to come by [Marvel]. Use my name. I'll get you in there." The rest is history. I talked to a couple of editors, and then Terry Kavanagh [writer of Moon Knight] called me with a real assignment.
CVM: You started on Moon Knight material, correct?
Platt: I started on a Marvel Comics Presents story. It was a 32-pager. I only got through the first eight pages because I was doing school work. I had exams and it was just too hard to do both. I continued on the Marvel Comics Presents story when school finished. Then the editor of Moon Knight, Sarah Mossa, called me and asked me to do that title. I was going to take anything; I didn't care what it was. It could have been the lowest [selling] book at Marvel. I didn't care I just thought, whatever they give me, I'm gonna make it bitchin', and try to put my identity out there. That is the key thing, to create a visual identity for yourself. The reaction to the work was really good. I just felt really fortunate the fans dug it; I dug what I was doing. It's that type of chemistry, and I guess that just makes for a successful formula.
CVM: There have been comparisons made between your work and Todd McFarlane's…
Platt: Todd and I have talked about it, and he doesn't see it. I would be lying if I didn't say that he was a major influence in my work. In fact, one of his books was one of the reasons that really pushed me towards that area of illustration. It was issue #328 of Amazing Spider-Man where Spider-Man had these Captain Universe powers. When I saw it, I said, "This guy is having a ball." I just wanted to have a ball, too.
Then I came across Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. For me - I read a lot of Batman books - that was the definitive Batman book. There's a lot of Frank Miller in my work, in the way that it's gritty, although my characters don't look like Frank's. Well, some of them do, and some of then don't - Sin Cityish, Dark Knightish - everyone's sort of massive. There's a bigness about it.
I have been reading Heavy Metal since I was ten, much to the behest of my mother. There's so many European influences. Vitanno Libertore is one of my favorite artists of all time. Ranxerox is his most famous work. He's done a lot of really perverse, completely pagan stuff, but for me, I just loved his technique. I loved the way his characters looked. I loved the rhythm and pace of the stuff. He's one of those people that's completely uninhibited. He had no convictions at all that anything he was doing was wrong, or maybe he knew and that was why he was doing it. At 10 years old, you read Ranxerox and you don't know what half of the stuff means. It just looks cool. Then of course, you get educated later on as to what life is about, and you realize how sick it is. It's a shame he died.
When I was a kid, no one knew who Michael Kaluta was. I knew right away when I saw him in Heavy Metal. I said this guy is awesome. Most of the kids were into Mike Grell and the Warlord thing he was doing, which I liked, too.
George Perez was the first superstar for me. I still see some of him in my work. A lot of people don't; that's fine. I know what's an inspiration to me. I liked George, and I liked his dedication to his craft more than anything else because it was so obvious.
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© 1994 Attic Books Ltd.