In the world of comics, Viktor Bogdanovic is a relative youngster. Recently on his Twitter (@VikBogdanovic) he announced that he would be working on Action Comics! This is a huge honor to any artist, to work on the original comic character on the original comic! He wasn’t just lucky though, he worked extremely hard to get to where he is today and it shows!
He started his career at Image comics in 2013 working on Reality Check. The book focused on a writer who creates a love-sick comic hero who suddenly becomes real and forces the protagonist to help him find true love, while the villain enters reality and goes on a murderous rampage. Two years later, in 2015 Viktor was brought on to DC where he worked on the comic for Batman: Arkham Knight which furthered his skills in the medium before being able to create New Super-Man!
I reached out to Viktor on Twitter after finishing a review of New Super-Man to see if he would like to interview with us. I was fortunate enough the he had the time and was able to do so. Being a fan of his work myself since New Super-Man #1, I was extremely excited to see what he would tell us! There are so many intricate and small parts to New Super-Man that can be over looked because it reaches deep into the history of the comics. But don’t take my word for it, see what he has to say!
Q: What originally inspired you to get into comics and illustration? What inspires you today?
I watched a ton of Cartoons as a kid and then soon discovered comics and that was it. I was hooked. I started drawing my own Superman and Spider-Man stories at the age of 12 or so. I have never been more productive than I was at that time. I remember filling a bunch of large sized notebooks with sequential art in record time that my dad didn’t wanna buy.
Q: How did you originally get into the comics industry?
I did a few indie books and soon got the chance to work on my first mini series for Image Comics which was called Reality Check. I kept working on my drawing skills like a mad man and eventually brought up the courage to send a few sample pages to DC. It seemed unlikely that I’d ever hear back from them but two editors responded almost immediately. They gave me a test script to draw and about a week later I was working as the main penciller on Batman: Arkham Knight. It all went so fast, I didn’t even have time to process it all. So BAK went on for almost a year. Then came the next project with Deadshot and after that New Super-Man. I’ve been working pretty much non-stop for DC since the end of 2014 producing nearly 500 pages of sequential art which seems like a really crazy number to me when I see it written down like that, haha. Like I should go to a shrink or something to take care of my OCD (obsessive comic disorder).
Q: How did your opportunity to work on Superman come about?
My editor just called me up one evening and told me that they’d like me to draw Action Comics. I was really psyched about it and also a little bummed out because I really loved working on New Super-Man. But there are just a few books in comics you can’t turn down as an artist and Action Comics is one of them so I said yes.
Q: What persona and story are you trying to tell through your work?
It all depends on the script. First, I try to figure out the right tone, rhythm and atmosphere. Then give the characters some dimension and personality through facial expressions and body language. I mostly follow a gut feeling. It’s all very intuitive. No pre-concept.
Q: What inspired the looks of each of the three Justice League of China members?
As for the costumes: they’re all derived from Kenan’s outfit. That’s the first one I designed and the other ones had to be similar because they all work for the same secret government agency. Chinese Wonder Woman is probably a mix of Sailor Moon and that Street Fighter chick. Chinese Batman looks like a young chubby Mr. Spock when his mask is off. I thought that’d fit his personality.
Q: What were the most important things you wanted to show in New Super-Man?
When we announced this we got a lot of comments on the fact that the New Super-Man is Chinese, that it all takes place in China, etc. The whole discussion about diversity in comics and all that stuff. It immediately started a political debate. Some people were very skeptical and I don’t blame them. We’ve seen enough bad examples of diversity for diversity’s sake. But I’ve read some of Gene Yang’s previous work so I knew that it’d be a good story that I could work with. And in the end that’s all that matters. A fun story is a fun story, no matter who’s in it or where it takes place. And when the political discussion ends and people start talking about plot twists and they start talking about a character, not because he’s of this or that ethnicity but because he’s cool and fun – that’s when you know you’re on to something.
Q: What led to the decision to recreate the cover of Action Comics #1 in issue 5 and why did you decide to do that?
That’s all Gene. The script said something like “Kenan is holding up a police car… etc… similar to the scene on the cover of Action Comics #1” so I drew it. Fun stuff
Q: The “S” on Kenan’s chest is very unique from the Man of Steel’s in that it is connected to Chinese philosophy, was it originally conceived with that meaning behind it or did that come after?
No, Gene had the octagon shape and all that stuff worked out pretty early on. It’s a popular Chinese symbol with a lot of meaning so that’s why he used it.
Q: All of the heroes and villains in New Super-Man, such as the Freedom Fighters of China, are very flamboyant and interesting, what informed the choices of how to draw and color them?
They were all created on the fly, really (except the older characters from previous comics) so I’m glad people like them. I wish I would’ve had more time to design them. Not sure they’d look better tough, heh.
Q: What advice would you give to the artist who will next draw New Super-Man? And who would be your choice to take over if you could hand pick a team?
Easy. Just give Kenan puffy cheeks and make him likeable (actually that’s not easy at all, haha) and if I could handpick a team: I think Billy than did a great job with issues 7 & 8 and I hear he’s on the next issues as well so I’m really looking forward to that. + If we could clone Erik Larsen to do an issue or two that’d be cool to (because the real Erik Larsen sure as hell ain’t leaving Savage Dragon for some Chinese Superman – or any other book for that matter). Gene Yang is a given. Nobody can write New Super-Man like he does.
Q: When it comes to the details you show in the environment, fashion and the characters, you have done an amazing job at recreating China and how it feels. What research did you do in-order to include those details?
We had a few real locations from Shanghai, etc. But the rest is just me trying to remember all the Jackie Chan movies I watched as a kid.
Q: As one of the creators of this whole world and the characters that inhabit it, what were the most important ideas that you wanted to convey to your audience?
The idea of growing up, finding yourself and your place in this world and having some fun while doing it.
Q: What can we expect to be unique about your take on Superman?
Wow, that’s tough. I don’t know. So many artists have drawn this iconic character and you’d think we’ve seen it all. He looks easy to draw on a first glance but he’s actually not. He has to look both cool and a little bit old fashioned at the same time. He’s also a brute as well as elegant. So, a lot of contradictions there but I’ll try to bring them all together as good as I can.
Q: On Twitter you’ve recently posted a picture with Zod, can we expect to see him in your first arc drawing the Man of Steel?
Most definitely! We’ll all kneel before Zod.
Q: Is there anything you’d like to tell your fans?
Yes! You should all love each other! And then go buy New Super-Man and Action Comics before somebody else does! Cheers!!
Viktor, like Kong Kenan, is such a bright person, unlike Kenan, his is also humble. He has done, and continues to do, great work. He creates eye catching and memorable characters and brings them to life on the page. I have thoroughly enjoyed the work he has done on New Super-Man, I will miss his style in the adventures of Kenan Kong but look forward to seeing what he does with Clark Kent!