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Monday December 6, 2010 12:03 am

Q&A: Neil Vokes And Dr. Strange #1




Posted by Tom Mason Categories: Interviews, Marvel Comics

Dr. StrangeOne of my favorite comics back in the 1980s was an independently produced gem called Eagle from writer Jack Herman and artist Neil Vokes. Neil’s carved out quite a career for himself since then working for all of the big publishers and becoming a fan favorite.

Coming up in February, Neil teams up with writer Roger Stern (Amazing Spider-Man) for a Dr. Strange one-shot called Doctor Strange: From The Marvel Vault #1.

Going back into the continuity archives, this issue tells the story of Dr. Strange’s first night in the house that would become his Sanctum Sanctorum for many years (the weird old brownstone at 177-A Bleecker Street in Manhattan).

Marvel’s solicitation copy says “But what eerie secrets does the building hide? What lurks within its walls? Is it...haunted? Now, at last, the full story of Doctor Strange's first night in his Sanctum Sanctorum stands revealed.”

Hopefully, Dormammu will make an appearance behind one of the doors!

Vokes has a nice, spooky style that’s perfect for Dr. Strange and since the story is set back in the Manhattan of the 1960s (the Ditko version of Manhattan), I wanted to find out more.

I reached out to my Facebook pal Neil for a little inside baseball. You can see some of Neil’s pages for the project at his blog.

Tom Mason: You seem like a natural for Dr. Strange. How did the project originate?

Neil Vokes: I was working on an Untold Tales of Spider-Man special with Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern back in 1998. It became one of my absolute favorite projects ever. Roger enjoyed our collaboration and asked if I was interested in doing a one-off story with the good Doctor for the comic Marvel Universe (a kind of Untold Tales of other heroes). Roger had a tale in mind from when he was writing the Dr. Strange series about when he acquired his Sanctum Sanctorum.

Tom: Sounds like a great peek into Dr. Strange’s earlier life.

Neil: I had a ball with our UTOSM story, so with inker Jay Geldhof in tow, we embarked on another Ditko-drenched romp.

Tom: But it didn’t make it to print...

Neil: The downside to this was that Marvel Universe got canceled right after we finished the art on the story. That was 12 years ago now and I never thought it would see the light of day.

Tom: How fun was it to research the "continuity" of Strange's brownstone?

Neil: As a lifetime fan of Ditko's work, I always look for a chance to reference his stories, most especially for use with actual characters he had a hand in creating. With Doc's home I just imagined what it probably looked like before the "Strangeisms" were added. It wasn't too difficult actually. I kept the basic structure and made it more "realistic" in appearance and also in a couple flashbacks in the story.

Tom: Should I look for nods to Ditko?

Neil: I could no more draw a Spidey or Doc story without nods to Ditko than I could eat a meal without putting the food in my mouth, if that makes any sense! It's the same with any Kirby characters I've drawn through the years. When I have to draw characters that were so very iconic in my memory - so attached at the hip as Ditko's and Kirby's creations are to their creators - there’s no way the original artist's work doesn't creep into my work.

Tom: What do you have coming up after this?

Neil: Well,this coming year I have a short story (written by my Eagle writing partner, Jack Herman) appearing in the 2nd issue of the Bela Lugosi's Tales From The Grave book, published by the Monsterverse folks.

Tom: And I hear that Eagle’s coming back too?

Neil: I hope to have a reprint of the first six issues of Eagle out in May from Moonstone. Then around Halloween of 2011, Bob Tinnell and I have a horror graphic novel called Flesh & Blood coming out. There are a few others I can't go into right now, but let's just say I'm very busy and very happy to be so. You can check out some of the art for these projects on my blog.

Thanks Neil. Now I hope Marvel will do one of these about the FF’s first day at the Baxter Building!

Look for Dr. Strange in February (and think seriously about placing an advance order for it through your LCS; it’s one of the $2.99 titles).

And be sure to bookmark Neil’s blog for news about his upcoming stuff.

Neil will also be appearing at the comic book store Captain Blue Hen on December 11 to sign stuff, sketch stuff and meet with fans.

[Artwork: An interior page from Doctor Strange: From The Marvel Vault #1 by Neil Vokes and Jay Geldof, © Marvel Characters. Man, that looks awesome!]

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