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Harry Candelario Interview
by Will Allred (07/07/2001)

Harry Candelario is a name I first came across several years ago. Inking newcomer Greg Capullo's pencils on Marvel's Quasar, he would later again team with Capullo on Marvel's X-Force. They eventually parted company, but it was their collaboration on Quasar with veteran writer Mark Gruenwald that will always stand out in my mind as a penciller and inker working so well together that the result was much greater than the sum of its parts. Harry had some time recently to sit down and talk about the Marvel Bullpen, working for the X-Office, and what he's been up to lately.

Allred: How did you first get interested in comics?

Candelario: I was 12 or 13-years-old, and one of my classmates was talking about some really interesting guy. I think it was Green Lantern. Then the inevitable "Who Can Beat Who Debate" started. I knew nothing about this, but I really wanted to know what was going on. The first comic I ever bought was Superman Family with a cover by Kurt Schaffenberger. I was blown away. I thought it was the most amazing art I'd ever seen. Then again, I had never read a comic up until then. I must have read those early ones 20-30 times! I absorbed them. After a while, you couldn't really read them anymore...they just kinda disintegrated. Around that time I collected anything Superman...Action Comics, Justice League, Worlds Finest...anything, as long as Superman was in it. Then I noticed Neal Adams... Oh My God!! What an artist!! I copied and traced and mimicked everything he did.

Allred: How did you break into the comics business?

Candelario: My best friend in high school had an internship at Marvel Comics in 1979. They liked him to the point that they hired him for the summer that year and again the next summer. By that time, we had already graduated, and he was moving around in the office to a more permanent job. He asked if I could interview for his old job. They said yes. I interviewed with Jim Shooter on September 4, 1980, and I started work the very next day. I started working in the repro department. That's where you take care of the proofs of the printed art. After two years there, I moved into the Bullpen and worked there until 1989. To say that the Bullpen was fun would be one of the biggest understatements ever made. It was a BLAST!!
During my time in the bullpen I became friends with guys like Bob Layton, Mark Texiera, Klaus Janson, Chris Ivy, and a whole mess of other artists, but the reason I mentioned these guys is because I worked as their background inker for about a year or 2. They really helped me a lot.

Allred: I've always wondered about the fabled Marvel Bullpen. What exactly did you do there, and what else went on behind its doors?

Candelario: To start, the Bullpen had some of the best Christmas parties EVER. Marvel had two parties at Christmas: one in the Bullpen and the other at a hoity toity place like the Friar's Club. The Bullpen Party would start at about lunchtime. The art tables were moved out of the Bullpen and all the supplies and sensitive work would be put away in a safe place. Everyone was invited. If you worked for Marvel for 5 minutes, and you weren't taken out in shackles, you were invited. The Editor-in-Chief at the time was Jim Shooter. He would buy personalized gifts for everyone in his department (Editorial and the Bullpen). Most of these were gag gifts, but others were gifts to show his appreciation for a job well done. One gag gift I received was "long, one-piece underwear" with the drop seat in the back. I lifted weights, so I was the resident super-hero, it had a cape and everything I actually still have it... somewhere.
Halloween was another reason to party, too. Prizes for best costume were something to look forward to.
If someone had a birthday, we celebrated. There were 20-30 of us in the Bullpen, so there was a lot of celebrating during the year. We didn't do the "everybody chip in to buy Harry a gift thing," we just took a 2 hour lunch with our boss. Of course when we got back to work, it was almost time to go home.
Most of the time in the bullpen was work, work, work!! I mean the comics had to go out. The way we worked was to get in by 9, start by 9:15 - 9:30 (depending on your workload), work until lunch (12:30 - 1:30), and work until 5. Most of us worked overtime on a regular basis to keep the tight schedules. That's why we partied so much I guess.
Mostly it was coming to work and doing your job, then around 10:30 it would start... Hector Collazo (inker now) would do a perfect cartoon voice and just break the silence and the tension, or Kenny Lopez's (letterer) desk or lunch would be missing. OK, I admit it. It was me and Hector who did it.
Sometimes you had an individual who wanted PRIVACY, so we built an office in the middle of the bullpen for him. We used a refrigerator box. It had windows with curtains and doors that actually worked. We even drew flowerpots on the windowsills.
Mark Gruenwald was another "genius" of fun. Marvel had weekly tours and he always came up with different ways of making it fun for both the tourists and the Bullpenners. One time he bought red jumpsuits and white hardhats for everyone. When the tour came around, we'd all put on the "uniform" and walk around with clipboards. The best part was that EVERYONE participated, there were no curmudgeons who wouldn't play along. Everyone from the interns who were just hired, to George Roussos who was in his 70's at the time. That made it really fun, the fact that everyone had fun with you.
There was this easy feeling in the Bullpen that as long as you got your work done, there were no rules except respect for your co-workers and when you finished your workload, help someone else. I can't say EVERYBODY was my friend, but everyone did get along well enough to make a very nice place to come and work.

Allred: What are some projects that you've worked on?

Candelario: My first real job was an Iron Man 8-page story that got printed in some 100 page special or something and they gave Chris Ivy credit for inking because the editors were used to seeing me work on his pages, So they assumed that they were his. I didn't mind because it being my 1st job, IT SUCKED, so in my opinion they blamed him...HA HA!
My big break came when I was inking backgrounds for Bob Layton on Iron Man #256 over John Romita, Jr. Bob had to quit the issue after inking only 4 pages, the editor, Howard Mackie, asked me if I was confident enough to tackle my first job. I said, "No, but I'll do it anyway." The rest is...well, you know.
Other projects I worked on were:
X-men 2099
Spider-Man 2099
Marvel Adventures
Spider-Man Unlimited
Amazing Spider-Man
Savage Sword of Conan
Fantastic Four
Iron Man
Uncanny X-Men
Ghost Rider
Teen Titans
Dirty Pair
(Dark Horse).
There are so many titles, I can't remember all of the ones that I've worked on. It would be easier to say the ones I didn't, though. I did a lot of "help the editor on his deadline" work that I didn't get credit for that is way too much to name here.

Allred: Who are some of the pencillers that you've worked with, and who have you enjoyed working with the most?

Candelario: Hector Collazo, Andy Kuhn, Joe Madureira, Ron Lim, Mark Texeira, Greg Capullo, Adam Warren, Joe Bennett, Scott McDaniel, Brian Hitch, Wilce Portacio, Mike Deodato, Mike McKone, Claudio Castellini, John Romita Jr., Dwayne Turner, Carlos Pacheco, Brandon Peterson, Roger Cruz and Steve Scroce...these are just the ones I remember. As to the ones I've enjoyed working with the most...Andy Kuhn,,,Nice guy and damned good penciller!
Joe Madureira...what an artist!
Ron Lim...Really nice guy, and his pencils are among the most competent in the business.
Greg Capullo...Damn awesome!!!

Allred: Do you prefer pencilling or inking?

Candelario: In comix I prefer inking, It's a craft I enjoy and not really think about. I mean, when I get a really good penciller I savor every line. If I get a bad penciller I can either ignore what he has and overpower him...I hardly ever do that...or I can go into "autopilot" and ink what he put down and try to spice it up without changing anything. The "not thinking" part comes in when I get jobs that are due overnight and are ridiculously, unreasonable with the amount of work. By this time in the schedule, the editor doesn't care about handing in a masterpiece, he just cares about the deadline. So, he gives it out to a few different inkers, and we try to help as best we can. I try not to take so much that my work suffers. I just can't seem to bring myself to "hack out" pages.

Allred: What project(s) are you currently working on?

Candelario: Right now...nothing. I haven't worked for Marvel since Spider-Man Unlimited got cancelled in January of 2000. They keep telling me that they have nothing for me at this time.

Allred: What's a typical workday like for you?

Candelario: When I was working. I'd get up between 2 and 4 AM, make coffee by the vat, and go downstairs to my "office". I would work until maybe noon, go to sleep for about 2 to 4 hours. When I would wake up, I would work till about 8-10 PM. The next day, it would start all over again. I would work like this for 4 or 5 days in a row, and then take a day off. Then another 5 back on, and so on.

Allred: Influences?

Candelario: My major influence was Neal Adams, some of the others that have influenced my inking were Scott Williams, Michael Golden, Dan Green, Al Williamson, Terry Austin, Klaus Janson, Bob Layton, Mark Farmer and Joe Rubinstein.

Allred: On the technical side, what tools do you prefer when inking?

Candelario: That depends on the pencils. Sometimes I get pencils that beg to be inked by brush. They are just so soft and illustrative that I don't dare touch them with a pen. Most of the time I ink with a pen...Hunts 102-crowquill. I also use French curves to get those long fluid shapes right. I'll use rapidogragh pens for machines and stuff of that nature because it gives me that technical look.

Allred: Who are some of the pencillers out there now that you'd like to work with

Candelario: I would love to ink Jeff Cambell on Danger Girl, I would love to ink Adam Hughes, Alan Davis, and maybe Mark Silvestri, but I'm too much of a fan of their work, and I like what they do without me.

Allred: Dream project?

Candelario: One of my closest friends is Hector Collazo, I would LOVE to do a "no deadline" "big time" graphic novel with him, Like maybe a Batman or Daredevil story written by the 2 of us and "drawn" by the 2 of us.

Allred: Favorite character(s)?

Candelario: #1 - Superman
#2 - Any sexy female character

Allred: What can you tell me about working on Quasar with Mark Gruenwald and Greg Capullo?

Candelario: I had just finished 2 issues of Excalibur over Dave Hoover, and the editor was happy with my work, and he spread it around that he was happy. Keith Williams was a friend of mine and was inking 3 books (he's one of the special few) She Hulk with John Byrne, Web of Spider-Man with Alex Saviuk and Quasar. He was overworked, and he wanted to quit one. He went to the Quasar editor (Kelly Corvese) and told him that he needed to quit Quasar. He also told him that he had an idea for a replacement for the book. Kelly told him he already had a replacement in mind, but asked him who his idea was. They both said my name.
Mark was a Great Guy to work with, because he listened to everything and if he liked your idea, he'd let you know. Greg was a perfectionist. He knew what he wanted. If I changed something, and he didn't like it, he'd let me know. Fortunately his pencils were awesome, all I did was just learn from them. Mark put it this way...we inspired each other - my inks made Greg get prettier and more realistic, His pencils inspired Marc to write bigger more far out stories and they both inspired me to do the best job I possibly could.
I was friends with Mark Gruenwald since 1980. So, when I started on Quasar, we just became a little tighter. Greg, on the other hand, I never met and still haven't. We became phone friends, and we'd exchange ideas and just be there for one another. The letterer was Janice Chaing. Nice lady, but we had no reason to contact each other. Letterers and colorists can do about 10 books a month, if they can get it, but pencillers and inkers do only 1 a month (not counting those special few guys who can do more), and if that's the case, they really pour their heart and soul into their work.
I remember I would bug Greg about drawing "sexier" women, and he'd do it because he wanted to do it anyway. It got to the point where they had to "edit" the art. We went, "YES!! They noticed." The major influence I had on the art was the constant starfield that we had to draw on Quasar's cape. I came up with a few different ways to make the stars easier, and finally I came up with the easiest way ever. Instead of using white paint on a toothbrush and splatter on the inked artwork, what I came up with was the opposite. I used "liquid frisket," and toothbrush-splattered on the UNINKED page. It was 10 times faster and about 1000 times less messy. The best part was that it didn't affect anything you didn't want affected.
Near the end of our run on Quasar, a few editors were trying to "get us" to work for them. Some of them were trying to "sabotage" each other to keep the other guy from getting us. Image was just starting, and Marvel was gonna loose a lot of good talent. So, for a while they were treating us like celebrities. It bothered me because these guys were my friends just a few years ago. I mean we went to lunch together, and we worked overtime together. And, mostly because I've heard all the comments that would be said behind artists' backs, I didn't want to be in the firing line. I took the job obviously (X-Force), but I made sure that I stayed one of the guys.
Quasar was one of those experiences that I'm gonna treasure for a long time. I worked with 2 of the best in the industry. The reason it was so memorable for me was because the art was amazing. I learned something new almost on a daily basis. Greg Capullo may not have been an easy guy to deal with, but he knew his stuff. Up until that time, I never worked on anything so incredible. Most of the stuff I was getting was stuff that was beneath the better inkers. Then I got Quasar, and I became a better inker. The stories were fun and the artwork kept up with them. I remember inking a cover with a crap-load of skulls…inking a female character with 6 breasts...going back into the "New Universe". No other title in the Marvel universe could even come close to the weirdness and creativity that was unleashed there. It felt like a "first kiss"

Allred: From Quasar, you and Greg went to X-Force. What was it like being on one of the premiere (at the time) X-books?

Candelario: Working on X-force was a mixture of emotions. First, I was ecstatic over the fact that I was on an X-book. I mean the money was GREAT! The prestige was overwhelming. The attention was intoxicating. But, the deadlines were stringent. The pressure was grueling. And, the demands were ALMOST impossible.
The incentive money for the high sales of the book was more than I ever expected. As for prestige and attention, editors were falling over each other to ask if I could ink this cover or that cover for them, or if I wanted to work on a poster or a set of cards. It blew me away when I got a call from one of those Home Shopping network thingies to do a card signing which consisted of a limo picking me up at my home, driving me to some office in New Jersey, and signing for the next 2-3 hours. I signed the fronts of a card that I happened to be the inker on. I signed about 2000 and got paid a dollar a card...FOR 3 HOURS WORK!!
However, the deadlines were merciless. The schedule on these books were so tight, that I had to ink the pages as soon as I got them. The penciller had to hand them in as fast as he could, too. I got calls on a daily basis saying, "we need more pages"
"But, I just handed in 4 this morning."
"Yeah, so, how many are you handing in tomorrow?"
The demands were more like, "you're an X-artist, so people want to see your work." That meant that on top of my inking duties on the book, I also had to work on posters, other covers, back-up stories, and anything else that they decided I should be doing. All this AND not slow down the schedule. Whenever I spoke to any of the other X-artists, they all wanted to throw in the towel, except that the money was too good. By "X-artists," I mean anyone on the team from the writer to the colorists. I was really close with both the colorist and the letterer on X-Force. We collaborated on ideas a lot...whether it was colorholds (pre-computer color) of special lettering effects. The 3 of us were friends from our bullpen days (Marie Javins, Chris Eliopoulos) so we had no problem communicating ideas to each other. It was really fun doing that.
Greg Capullo was a strange fellow. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but self-centered would be a better description. He was very protective of all his work and very critical of anyone who inked him. At first he loved my inks over him, then after about 15 issues of us working together, he just...didn't. I don't know. I was fired at issue #23 and to this day I still don't know why. Believe me, I've asked. So when he went to Spawn, I guess he didn't want me anywhere near him.

Allred: From here, you went to X-Men 2099, right?

Candelario: X-Men 2099 came about as a result of me being fired from X-force. I worked on Excalibur for a few issues and on a few different titles that I can't seem to recall. But, I asked Joey Cavilieri for a shot at the book. After about a week or so, he called me and told me X-Men 2099 #12 would be my first issue. I was thrilled. The reason I wanted to work on it was Ron Lim. I had seen Ron Lim's pencils on some editors desk one day and asked who was this guy and why doesn't anyone use him? When I was told that it was Ron Lim, all I could think was that no inker has done him justice.
I know that he's had a few phenomenal inkers before such as Terry Austin, Joe Rubinstein, Al Gordon just to name a few, but none on a regular basis. I didn't say this out loud, I just thought it to myself (I wasn't THAT stuck up).
When I started on issue #12 I didn't know what to expect. I mean, I had just come out of the "boot camp" that was the X-office, so I expected the same bullcrap. I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least. The editors were human, the deadlines were reasonable, and Ron Lim was and still is one of the nicest guys I have ever met (the other one being Kenny Lopez).
Ron didn't critique every panel. He wasn't paranoid, and I never heard him bad-mouth anyone ever. We worked on 22-26 issues together. The reason I'm not positive about the number is that whenever he worked on something else, like Spider-Man or like the Power Rangers Movie Adaptation, or when they moved him to Spider-Man 2099, I was there inking him. He was always open to ideas, like what I would prefer to ink or like what we should make this character look like. For example, if we spoke about Jack Kirby or Neal Adams and how great they were, the next few pages I would get would have Kirby or Adams influences.
I guess the greatest honor or compliment I ever got from Ron was that I was his mother's favorite inker. We're still friends to this day, and we try to work together any chance we get. The only problem that Ron and I had was bad printing. I mean the printing on X-Men 2099 was pretty bad. Joe Madureira was in my home one time...I'm such a name dropper...and he saw pages on my drawing table and was amazed at the work. He asked what it was, and when I told him that it was Ron on X-Men 2099, he was shocked. That's when we realized that the printing sucked big time. In fact, Ron himself told me that he didn't have an opinion about me until he received the originals in the mail a few months later. And, he realized it then, too.

Be sure and check out Harry's web site, The Inked Anvil at
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