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Ron Lim has been everywhere in the comic book universe, from Marvel Comic to DC Comics, from big publishers to new independents, from regular artist to freelancer. Now, as he looks at creator-owned properties, PopMatters speaks with the prolific penciler and learns about what brought him into the superhero mainstream and where he feels these well-traveled ink rivers may lead.



PopMatters:

After that nice little intro, I’m here with the man himself. And, Ron, you’re . . . well, I can call you anything from a penciler to an illustrator to an artist. How do you describe what you do?



Ron Lim:

Primarily penciler. I do ink on occasion. I guess artist/illustrator — they all kind of blend together, you know? But, primarily, I’m a penciler. When I do the story-telling, I mainly just work with pencils, so that’s probably the most accurate job description.



PM:

But would it also be fair to call you a storyteller?



RL:

Sure. Yeah, definitely, that’s probably the primary part of my job: telling the story through pictures. And that’s the part I love the most. I mean, for me, that storytelling is the most important part of my job.



PM:

Now, I know you from your comic book fame — many people do. Could you give us some highlights (or lowlights) of what came before the comics? What did you have to slave through to get to comics?



RL:

[laughs] Well, I majored in commercial art Sacramento State. But, during that time, I was also working at the fabulous Pizza Hut.



PM:

You were working at Pizza Hut? Now, you weren’t doing art for Pizza Hut, you were working the register?



RL:

Three hard years, man — hard times! All I was doing was making the pizza.



PM:

How is working in the comics field like working for Pizza Hut?



RL:

[laughs] Hmmm . . . very similar! Nah, it was your typical minimum-wage job. And I got free pizzas, so I can’t complain, right?



PM:

What would you say was your first break? How did you first “get there?”



RL:

Well, what I did was start by sending samples like everybody else to the comics companies — got the rejections letters. The first thing really was when I started talking with Art Nichols; he’s an inker and an artist also. He showed me his work (he was working for Marvel at the time) and through him we met with a guy named David Campiti. And, that’s how The Ex-Mutants, the first release, came into being.



PM:

And that was just the beginning of a blossoming career. I mean, one can get a flavor for all the work you’ve done at the Ron Lim Collection.



RL:

Yeah, that’s a site my friend Ray runs. Most of my artwork is sold through him, and he does a great job. So, yeah, thanks for the plug! [laughs]



PM:

Well, I mention it because I saw Ex-Mutants listed there. And I also saw the dozens of characters you’ve work with — but, the list there was pretty exclusively “superhero,” many of which I recognized. Have you ever had the desire (or the opportunity) to do some non-superhero work for comics?



RL:

[pauses] Hmm . . . let me think. I’ve done a little bit. I’ve done Conan, so that’s not really a superhero, but it’s roughly the same thing, I guess. But, yeah, mainly I work in superheroes. I like the superhero comics the best — I do like science fiction and I do like fantasy type of stuff. Sometimes I jump around and do other stuff, but since the comics field seems to be focused on superheroes, that’s mainly where I seem to land most of the time.



PM:

Does that come from your own childhood, reading them?



RL:

Oh, yeah, yeah. I grew up reading all the Marvel and DC comics. I grew up reading the Fantastic Four, Superman, Batman — all of those sorts of things. That’s the stuff I really loved growing up.



PM:

Back to your impressive list, I’m familiar with the time you did on Silver Surfer, which was exceptional. And, also to be noted, June’s Wizard: The Comics Magazine lists the work you did on The Infinity Gauntlet around that time as “One of the Hottest Summer Cross-Over Events Ever.”



RL:

Really?



PM:

Yeah, and the one thing I know about The Infinity Gauntlet is that you only did a piece of that series. How did you come into to working on that and how the experience went?



RL:

Well, I had been working on Silver Surfer for several years and had hooked up with [writer] Jim Starlin on that. And we had been doing the Thanos storylines; we did Thanos Quest and stuff like that. But, then when we did The Infinity Gauntlet cross-overs, that was a big George Perez project. I love George and his work on it. But, for some reason I don’t know, he had to jump off the project. So, they called me up and asked if I wanted to continue it. Well — first of all, it’s pretty freaky following up George. And, second of all, coming in mid-stream is pretty strange, too. But, regardless, I got past all that, and it was really a lot of fun. It’s definitely one of the high points of my career so far.



PM:

And it’s success led to The Infinity War and The Infinity Crusade, which, I’m sure if Wizard had any more space that month, would have been included in their “Hottest Cross-Over” list.



RL:

All three of them I really enjoyed.



PM:

Now, I have to go back to this, since you’re so prolific with all the superheroes that you’ve done. Is there a character that you haven’t done yet which you’d like to, or is there a character you’d like to return to whom you felt was your high-point?



RL:

Hmm . . . I mean, I love the characters I have worked on. But, characters I haven’t worked on that I would really love to work on? I’ve always enjoyed Iron Man, but I’ve never worked on his comic. Also, Fantastic Four I love, but I had a chance to work on it with Tom DeFalco, but because I had so much on my plate, I had to pass, which I’ve always regretted. And, at DC, I’ve always wanted to work on Batman — I’ve jumped around and worked on The Flash and Superman, but not Batman yet. So, I’d really enjoy working on that book.




PM:

You mentioned Iron Man — Alitha Martinez, who was the current penciler on that book, and you have something in common. You’re both doing covers for a new comic book company, Committed Comics.



RL:

[laughs] Oh, is that what you heard?



PM:

How did that come into being, your being a well-established penciler and this being a start-up company? How did they woo you?



RL:

Actually, I was talking with a fellow professional about creator-owned stuff, and he mentioned to me Committed Comics. I got awfully curious as to what their deal was. So, when I was at San Diego last year, he introduced me to Tom [Doherty, Editor-In-Chief of Committed Comics] and the whole crew. So, that’s how we hooked up, and when they asked me to do a cover, I said yes.



PM:

What are some of your other projects going on right now?



RL:

There’s the usual freelancing, jumping around. I just finished a bunch of stuff at Marvel. There were the last few issues of Mutant X and the final issue of Generation X . . . [pauses] Actually, I guess I put both those series to sleep! [laughs].



PM:

Is that an honor or . . . ?



RL:

Well, both of them were slated for cancellation. So, that makes it a little bit better.



PM:

You got the parting shot.



RL:

That’s right. And that was a lot of fun. I mean, I haven’t worked on the X-titles a whole lot, so it was a nice chance to work on these as they were winding down.



PM:

Recently, you were part of Peter David’s new Captain Marvel series, which put you back in such company as Starlin and other cosmic comic artists.



RL:

Right, that was a blast. I’ve had a chance to work with Peter David a couple of times. Working off his plots is always great, especially because we both have a thing for the cosmic characters.



PM:

Right, right.



RL:

But mainly right now I’m just working on Randy O’Donnell Is the Man for Image Comics — the first issue just came out through Image Comics.



PM:

Good, good, plug them, too.



RL:

[laughs] Yeah, at Image Comics me and Tom DeFalco co-created it. It’s part of a series of books that we are working on: Tom and I working on The Man, and Tom and Ron Frenz working on Mister Right. So, it’s kind of our own little, mini-universe.



PM:

Sounds like you’re still working hard. People talk about whether this era is the downfall of comics or its new Renaissance, specifically superhero comics, but I think we can extend the discussion further. From your vantage point, as someone who makes a living off of the industry, is it in an up-swing, a down-swing, or something else entirely?



RL:

You know, that’s a hard question. It’s definitely in an era of change. In talking about downswing, in terms of business, we’re not nearly selling as many comics as we used to. But, on the other hand, we’re seeing a lot of new types of comics coming out now that I, at least, really like. If we’re to survive, we have to do different things — different genres, different styles, different readers. There’s definitely more of the adult-oriented comics these days, which is good, but I also think that we need to search again for the younger readers, since they are the one who will be growing up on comics into the future.



PM:

I don’t want to ask what comics you grew up on, specifically, because I don’t want to date you and give away your age too badly. But, given where you are now, where do you see yourself in five years?



RL:

I’m hoping to shape some creator-owned stuff and have fun doing that. Like I said, we’re trying to aim what we’re doing now towards younger readers as well. But, five years? I don’t know — so long as I’m working on projects I enjoy, that’s the main thing I’m hoping for.

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