|"Anyway, I would draw a picture of say, Spider-Man and run to show it to my dad with a big grin on my face, happy with what I'd drawn. He'd encourage me but would always end by asking if it was an original characterone that I had created. My answer was always no, and I got fed up with the same question all the time, so I decided to create my own character partly just to shut Dad up!
"The original concept for Marineman was that he was a superhero and he could breathe underwater; that was enough for me! I was only eight years old! I revisited the character when I was around fourteen or fifteen, which is when I started to re-think things. The concept evolved over the years, and the final parts fell into place about eight years ago when I was driving through the Scottish highlands on the way back from an old school friend's wedding."
And just what is the final premise??"Steve Ocean, aka Marineman, is a marine biologist and underwater documentary presenter much like Jacques Cousteau used to be. 'Marineman' is a professional nickname in the same way that Steve Irwin used to be called the Crocodile Hunter; to the general public he is an ordinary guy who just happens to be a minor celebrity. Of course, it turns out there's more to it than that!"
Did other aquatic heroes, such as Aquaman or the Sub-Mariner, influence the development of Marineman in any way??"I'd have to say he was more inspired by the TV shows I used to watch back then than by comics," Churchill explained. "To give you an idea of the some of the shows I used to watch and love: The Six Million Dollar Man,
The Gemini Man, The Champions, Petrocelli, The Professionals, Rhoda, The Paper Chase, The High Chapparal, Star Trek, Grizzly Adams, The Beachcombers, and the one that inspired me the most, The Man From Atlantis, which I almost never got to see! The original TV movie was aired at just after 9 o'clock in England, and I wasn't allowed to stay up that late when I was eightbut the night it was shown my parents were out, and my brother and I had a babysitter who let us stay up late to watch it!
|As for comics influenceswell, I only read Marvel comics back then, so Marineman's original costume was definitely inspired by the Sub-Mariner's; there was more costume than just swim shorts, but it was still scaly and green. For me, It was difficult to get DC comics where I lived as a kid. I was aware of Aquaman but I'd never read an Aquaman comic. Maybe that's subconsciously why I gave Marineman blonde hairalthough having said that, when I drew him in color I would give him blonde hair and when I drew him in B&W I would always give him black hair! And for some reason, I rarely gave him eyebrows either."
The concept doesn't sound like a traditional superhero book; does Churchill consider Marineman a superhero comic per se? "Thinking about it, I suppose he isn't a superhero in the traditional sense. He isn't a crime fighter as suchmore a super life guardand if you're after the 'grim and gritty' then this probably isn't for you, although it does get a little darker around Marineman #5.
"When you look back at the Marvel comics of the mid 1970's, you'll see they were written in a way that you could pick them up and enjoy them whether you were six or sixtyand that's what I'm aiming for. I 'm trying to produce a comic that I would have wanted to read when I was eight and that I would still read and enjoy today, one that I can read with my young nephews without thinking, 'gee, maybe they shouldn't see that bit.'"
To put it in more contemporary terms, "I'd like to think the tone is similar to Robert Kirkman's Invincible," Churchill said. "I want it to be a fun and enjoyable reada comic where characters smile instead of gritting their teeth all the time! So it will be light-
hearted in some respects, but in general it'll be a rollicking underwater adventure story."
Earlier, Churchill implied that Steve Ocean keeps a secret from his admiring public; what's the nature of that secret, and how will it impact his life? "It's not giving too much away to say; his secret is that he can breathe underwater without the use of mechanical means, and if that were to be revealed to the public at large... well, that's why you'll have to pick up the book and find out what happens!"
Churchill is well known as an artist, but Marineman "is the first series that I've both written and drawn. When I was working on The Coven with Jeph Loeb, I plotted the first story arc and contributed a couple of lines of dialogue here and there, but until now my involvement hasn't really extended past the pencilling duties."
Are there any advantages and/or disadvantages to doing the whole book solo? "The upside of being the sole creator is that it's my vision with no compromise! The down
|side is that there's only one of me and there just aren't enough hours in the day! That, and no page rate! As with any creator-owned book, all the work is done up front and on spec."
By any chance, does Churchill have any of that original Marineman art from three decades back, and if so, is there any chance he might share it with his readers? "Actually, yes I do still have some of that original work! Luckily for me, my mum is something of a pack rat; she kept pretty much everything I did from the time I started school until the day I left.
"I will be sharing that old stuff but I'll probably save it for the tradebut having said that, if anyone has a copy of Richard Starking's Elephantmen #25, they can flip it over to the Marineman preview you can see, albeit small, the original cover to Marineman #1 as drawn by the eight year old Ian Churchill!"
How did Marineman end up at Image? "I've always admired the achievements Richard Starkings, Paul Grist, Robert Kirkman, and others have managed with their characters, and when I decided to take the plunge with Marineman, Richard said nothing but good things about Image and how easy it was to work there. I had also worked with Image's publisher, Eric Stephenson, earlier in my career, so when I approached him about releasing Marineman through Image Comics, it felt familiar and seemed like the right place to be."
Marineman has been in active development for a while to ensure that the book appears on a timely basis. "One thing I was adamant about when I decided to go forward with the
project, was that I didn't want to solicit the book until I had at least three issues drawn and in the bag. I didn't want to fall into the trap of soliciting and having the books ship late for one reason or another, because I know how much that upsets readers.
"So as of writing this, I am currently finishing up inking Marineman #4; the first issue is complete, and I'm starting the coloring on the second issue."
So is it safe to assume that Marineman leaves little time in Churchill's schedule for any other comics projects! "Ha!" The writer/artist said laughed. "I don't even have the time to use the bathroom!"
Rather than committing to an ongoing series right out of the gate, Churchill is testing the waters by launching Marineman as a limited series. "Initially, it's scheduled for a six issue run. If it does well and people want to see more and I can make a living doing it, then to get it all out on a monthly schedule I would have to give up coloring it myself. That's what really slows me downcoloring with a mouse!
"I'm hoping that readers like what they see; I'd like nothing better than to continue working on Marineman. I hope everything works out so that I can!"
Marineman #1, a $3.99 comic written and illustrated by Ian Churchill, is scheduled for November release.
To find a comic shop near you, try the Comic Book Locator Service.
by Cliff Biggers
Follow CSN via Twitter at twitter.com/csnsider
Churchill Sends in the Marine
| Some comic book events are months in the making; some longterm storylines take years to fully unravel. But Ian Churchill may have set a record with his new limited series Marineman... because this title was more than three decades in the making!
No, Churchill is not the slowest creator in comics. It turns out that Marineman is the culmination of a concept that dates back to Churchill's childhood. "1977 was the year I created Marineman, and I would have been eight years old," Churchill said. "At that time I loved comics, drawing, superheroes, underwater stuff, and TV! In fact, that's still the caseand I'm 41 now! I especially liked the old Jacques Cousteau shows that I used to watch with my Grandad...