MI6 caught up with Chris Moeller to look back 10 years to his cover art for the James Bond comic book adventure Quasimodo Gambit from Dark Horse...

Chris Moeller Interview
17th October 2005

How did you start out as an illustrator and writer?
I always wanted to be an illustrator. I didn't know so much that it would be comics. My career could have gone in so many different directions. After art school, I went to New York to try to break into book covers. Nothing came of that, and, after marrying, my wife and I moved to Pittsburgh, where she had gotten a job at a local university. I discovered a nearby publishing company (Innovation Comics) that was focused on putting out painted comics. My first job was with them. I wrote and painted a movie adaptation called Rocketman: King of the Rocketmen.

How did you end up working on a Bond comic? How would you describe your style of artwork? How did you adapt Bond to your style for the covers?
Dark Horse Comics was my second publisher. The Bond covers came after having done my first original graphic novel "Shadow Empires: Faith Conquers" for them. My painting style evolved quite a bit during that project. Previously, I had been using a multi-media approach: watercolour, airbrush, coloured pencil, acrylic... anything

I could think of. That exploration settled down to acrylics after Faith Conquers, and the Bond Covers happened as my handle on the acrylics was becoming more comfortable.

My approach has always been composed around large shapes, with the details supporting those large shapes. That's become more central to my work lately, but you can see it in the Bond covers as well.

When conceiving each cover, did you have access to a finalised copies of each issue or where you given a brief? How did this affect the resulting covers?
I was just given a description. That's how it's nearly always done in comics. The exception was doing Lucifer covers, where I got a script in draft form, ahead of time, then worked up a number of ideas to give to the editor.

Above: The Quasimodo Gambit #1

Which was the hardest issue to visualize and in turn create? How did you see your James Bond, as a film character or Fleming's original vision?
Ha ha! I saw my Bond as something in between. I've always thought Bond should have an edge to him, and tried to put that into my paintings. I wanted my Bond to look lethal but not animalistic.

Above: The Quasimodo Gambit #2


Issue one sticks close to the established Dark Horse layout, can you talk us through how you made it distinctive from the past issues?
That's interesting. Dark Horse just asked for a "movie poster montage" as the guiding principal for the first cover. I've actually never seen the other Dark Horse covers, so this is the first I've heard that there was an established layout! There are obviously any number of ways you can take a montage. My "shape-oriented" approach obviously influences how I put mine together.

With your second cover you broke the established look of the Dark Horse comic's covers by going with a single image, can you tell us how this came about?
If I'm remembering correctly, I sent in a number of sketches and they decided they liked the intensity of that image enough to depart from the montage approach. It did create a shocking contrast to issue 1!

The final issue in the mini series features both the villain and Bond in a dynamic struggle, can you tell us how you decided on this setting for the cover?
That's my favourite of the group. I liked the idea of the monstrous villain, with svelte, dogged Bond going after him, even as they're falling to their deaths. The composition came naturally... it's how I tend to build my images. A diagonal convergence of lines in the elevator shaft, with the two figures merging into an overall shape that interacts with that movement.

Don McGregor was unhappy with the end publication, saying that several corrections where never made to the final issues. Was this true for your covers?
My covers never had corrections made to them once they reached the finished stage (there are often changes made during the sketch phase).

What if any process did you use to create the final covers? Can you talk us through the process of developing your favourite cover?
All of my pieces follow the same general process. I'll do a small sketch (4"x5"), which I submit to he publisher. Once the sketch is approved, I transfer it, using an opaque projector, onto a piece of illustration board (in the case of the James Bond covers, 20"x30").

I begin painting by laying in the darks, usually with black acrylic paint. That gives me a rough underpainting that I can glaze/scumble paint over without losing the drawing entirely. Then I begin painting! The finish usually takes 3-5 days.

Any new forthcoming projects?
My newest project is called JLA Classified: Cold Steel and is coming out from DC Comics in December '05. I'm writing and painting, and it consists of 2 48-page books.

Official Blurb

Get ready for a thrilling 2-issue miniseries written and painted by Christopher Moeller (JLA: A LEAGUE OF ONE)! The JLA members find themselves caught between two warring factions in a deep space conflict that threatens to split the Earth's mightiest super-team down the middle! Time is of the essence, causing the group to quickly choose sides — which may be the heroes' first mistake!

As the battle escalates, the team realizes that it must amp-up its collective powers and abilities — leading to the first use of the JLA's towering battle-ready armor!

DC Universe
48 pages
On Sale December 14, 2005


Above: Art from Issue #1 of JLA Cold Steel

Above: The Quasimodo Gambit #3


00-Seven Questions

How were you involved in the Bond series?
I was working with Dark Horse regularly at that point, and they called me with the job offer.

What was your first ever Bond experience?
When I was a boy, I had a pair of James Bond flippers. They were black rubber with the 007 logo stamped on the front. I loved them.

What did you think of the last film, "Die Another Day"?
I've enjoyed all of the Pierce Brosnan films. I'm frankly stunned that they let him go.

What is your favourite Bond film?
Dr. No.

Who is your favourite Bond?
Sean Connery (of course).

Which Bond girl should come back?
Since at least half of them would be Bond-Old-Gals by now, I'll say Teri Hatcher.

What is your favourite Bond moment from the series?
When Bond finds his lover covered in gold paint.

Many thanks to Chris Moeller.

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