Jim Valentino has been apart of the comics industry since the late 1970s. He started off doing self-published work and various projects for small press. His big break came in 1983, when normalman first appeared in the pages of Cerebus as a back-up story, and then was launched as a limited series (Don't forget to pick up the trade http://www.amazon.ca/Collected-normalman-Jim-Valentino/dp/1582408157/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377724702&sr=8-1&keywords=normalman). He would later do freelancer work at both Marvel and DC in the late 1980s. In 1990, Valentino wrote and drew the first two plus years of the Guardians of the Galaxy series at Marvel (You can pre-Order the first volume of his run
http://www.amazon.com/Guardians-Galaxy-Jim-Valentino-Volume/dp/0785184201/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377718626&sr=8-1&keywords=jim+valentino). Co-founded Image Comics in 1992, created ShadowHawk and the Shadowline subsidiary, which is the home to a great line of various comics like Morning Glories, Cowboy Ninja Viking and many more.
CBNAH: Jim, thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I want to start at the beginning. What comic or event made you want to be an artist?
Jim Valentino: To quote my old friend, Keith Giffen, "You act as if I had a choice." I began drawing and telling stories by age two. My father read comics in World War II. When he realized I was drawing in a comic style, he brought comics home to me. So, to answer the question, the medium itself made me want to be an artist. For me, comics were what most people describe as a religious experience--a bolt from on high.
CBNAH: Who were some of your influences growing up?
Jim Valentino: Too many to name/list. In comics I would have to cite Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger, Gil Kane, John Broome, Stan Lee and a bunch more--then there were influences from books, television, animation, etc.
CBNAH: I first came across your work while you were on Guardians of the Galaxy title around '91. What's your overall thoughts on your Guardians run?
Jim Valentino: Loved it. Had an absolute blast with the series.
CBNAH: Can you tell us the genesis behind the creation of ShadowHawk?
Jim Valentino: ShadowHawk was a direct response to Batman always letting the Joker go to kill again. Only in comics can heroes not kill, which is, patently ridiculous. Every other hero in real life, literature or movies, kills. Every. Single. One. Except comics. So, I figure, okay--if super-heroes can't kill, he'll maim. And if the Joker were ShadowHawk's enemy, he would never kill again.
CBNAH: Cowboy Ninja Viking is one of my favorite titles from Shadowline. Are there any plans for AJ (Lieberman) and Riley (Rossmo) to do more stories in that world?
Jim Valentino: They are doing something new for the deluxe hardcover that's due out shortly. Other than that, I can't say. You'd have to ask them. At Shadowline and at Image, we do not tell our creators what they have to do--they tell us what they want to do.
CBNAH: Peter Panzerfaust has been a surprise hit and is gaining a lot of positive feedback from the fans. Our staff members really enjoy the book. What's in store for the title in the coming months?
Jim Valentino: Again, you really should be asking that of the creators of the series, Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins.
CBNAH: Are there any titles from Shadowline that have floated under the radar that readers should check out?
Jim Valentino: I would say all of them off the top of my head, but since you ask; A DISTANT SOIL--Colleen Doran is finally finishing her magnum opus science fiction story under our banner. We are creating new, re-edited definitive versions of the original trades and publishing brand new chapters of the story until it reaches it's end. MINIATURE JESUS is the latest bit of insane brilliance from Ted McKeever. It's about Jesus being resurrected in one of those 8 inch plastic figures you see hanging from crosses. If that doesn't either entertain you or horrify you, I don't know what will! FIVE WEAPONS is the latest hit from Jimmie Robinson and, I think, his best work yet. It's about a school that trains assassins...and what happens when a brilliant pacifist enrolls. LOVE STORIES TO DIE FOR is a flip book from Dirk Manning and friends. Two complete comics in one--and both of them are great stories. And finally, RAT QUEENS, which if you don't pre-order you WILL be sorry. It's unquestionably our next big hit and it's from Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch. You've been warned.
CBNAH: Where do you see digital comics in the next few years?
Jim Valentino: Pretty much where I see them now; as a viable delivery service for the fans and a lucrative revenue stream for publishers and creators. Unlike what some people think, digital comics are actually increasing sales of printed books and the reason is simple--digital comics are cheaper than printed books--therefore it's easy to sample something you may have heard about without a huge financial outlay. I would expect it to continue in that direction for some time to come.
CBNAH: Lastly, any advice for upcoming writers and artists?
Jim Valentino: Run! My advice is learn your craft--ask yourself if you're as good as the best, not as good as the worst. Are your ideas original? Are they well executed? Are you a self-starter? Can you take rejection, disappointment and the ups and downs--financially and emotionally--of the creative life? Do you, as noted in my first response, have no choice but to do this? If so, I wish you only success. If not, well, there's always Sears.
CBNAH: Thank you, for your time.
Jim Valentino: Thank you.