Chris D'Lando writes for Bleeding Cool:
In one of the smaller panel room near back corner of the convention center, Daredevil artist Chris Samnee took the stage for his very first spotlight panel. Introduced by his Daredevil and Rocketeer collaborator Mark Waid, the Eisner nominee dove into a retrospective on his career and his influences – from his early work with Oni Press to his Marvel and IDW collaborations with Waid himself.
Samnee says his love of comics started at an early age. Although he had never heard of comic books – he was a big fan of DC's SuperFriends. By the time he saw a Batman comic around age 5, he knew that this was what he wanted to do. Fast forward to age 15 and he was already submitting samples to editors. Waid pointed out that Samnee's storytelling is so accessible because of his love of those Silver Age stories by the likes of Gene Colan and John Romita Sr.
Before long he had found work at Oni Press, producing Capote in Kansas (which is being rereleased at SDCC in hardcover, for those interested). While holding down a variety of menial jobs, he eventually got more comics work at Vertigo in the form of Area Ten with Christos Gage. His work at Vertigo would eventually snowball into more steady work at DC, Marvel, and IDW. He shared an amusing anecdote about a samples he sent to Dark Horse seven years ago which was only opened recently.
As the conversation moved toward his recent work with Waid, both had nothing but wonderful things to say about collaborating with one another. Waid could not speak more highly of Chris's storytelling skills – saying he often catches inconsistencies in Mark's scripts, such as the layout of Matt and Foggy's office and more.
Though Samnee is known for turning out pages very quickly, he says he's slowed down since the birth of his second child. Whereas he used to produce two or three pages a day, his paternal duties have reduced him to about one per day. According to Waid, both Marvel editor Steve Wacker and his Rocketeer editor at IDW had both paired Waid & Samnee together at the same time without knowledge of the other. When Mark eventually called Chris directly to find out which book he had chosen, he was astounded to learn he'd handle art duties for both. It's extremely rare these days for an artist to handle two monthly books on top of the covers he does.
Moving over to Daredevil, both creators were very proud to be credited as "Storytellers" on recent issues instead of individually as "Writer" & "Artist." Waid added that it "just seemed like the right thing to do." It was very apparent from their conversation that they really work as a team – and their collaboration certainly shows. Samnee has been known to occasionally add to the scripts – and Waid usually backs up the changes made. The recent Daredevil/Ikari fight scene in issue 25, for example, gave him a chance to flex his muscles.
Rather than choreograph the entire fight scene panel-for-panel, Waid laid out the main story beats and let Chris have fun. What finally made it to the page was an fun, kinetic, action sequence that really shines. Samnee jokes that he was glad he got to add in the bits about Stick. Though he may occasionally drop in an addition here and there, he could not speak more highly of his storytelling partner. Apparently, it's been hard to get a phone number out of previous collaborators – whereas he and Mark speak frequently about Daredevil.
When the panel turned over to audience Q&A, the biggest question on everyone's mind was what's next for the popular artist? Creator owned comics are definitely in his future – it's just a matter of finding the time to put his ideas to the page. For now, we'll get a few more Rocketeer covers for IDW and he'll be handling the art on Daredevil for the foreseeable future.
"As long as Mark is writing it, I'm drawing it", he added, which was met with much applause. I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief.