The one thing I remember the most about Greg was just how nice and kind he and his wife was and how amazing it was to talk to him. I was a young wannabe artist that was simply looking for some constructive critiquing and he was nice enough to provide me that. Even when a certain comic book writing icon by the name of Chris Claremont was patiently waiting next to me to introduce himself to Greg (and likely talk about the biz). Yeah, that happened. I was there when Chris Claremont, the most notable writer of Uncanny X-Men ever...first met Greg Land, the current regular artist of Uncanny X-Men!! No biggie. I had no idea Chris was standing next to me at the time, or else I would have surely let the guy that wrote all my favorite comics growing up go first!
Fast forward 15 years later or so to Montreal ComicCon 2016, and I get the chance, now as the comic journalist that I have become, to interview Mr. Greg Land, with his lovely wife Trish still by his side and they are STILL the nicest, kindest and most respectful people at the convention.
Greg opened up to me about his veteran career, drawing Marvel’s Merry Mutants and his journey in the comic industry. Enjoy.
FPB: So, I personally like to always hear an artist’s origins to start off. It’s always an interesting tale. How did you get your start in the comic industry?
GL: Art for me was always something I’ve done since I was a little kid. All the way back in grade school. I was always drawing. I had sketch books, I’d draw superhero stories, I’d draw football players in my books and stuff...I always thought I’d play football for the Green Bay Packers! That never worked out.
As time went on I’d go through school and I focused on art work. All the way through high school and into college and then I got a talent grant to go to Indiana State University. In my junior year I got a job at a screen print company. And I was doing screen print artwork for about 10 years. I’ve always wanted to do comics, and I sent in some submissions in college to no success, but I was turning 30 and just wanted to work in comics. So I gave it another go.
I put together a portfolio and went to small cons, got a little bit of small press work. I took a trip to Chicago one year...maybe ’94? And ended up getting in contact with one of the editors at DC. He called me and I got my first real big comic book project.
FPB: What was the first comic they assigned to you?
GL: The first published work for DC was a New Titans Annual.
FPB: What was the first real challenge for you when you got into the mainstream industry?
GL: The real challenge is getting someone to hire you. It’s really hard. There’s a lot of people that want to do it. I was fortunate enough to get in. And I did it for about a year, while I was still doing my full-time screen print job. I was working about 80 hours a week, which is a LOT.
A year into doing it I ended up getting sick with testicular cancer. So I had to have an operation and radiation treatment. All during that I was still working two jobs. I finished my last issue of Nightwing as soon as I finished my last radiation treatment. So, I decided it was time to take some time off and recoup.
I stopped at the screen plant for about a year, and then I decided I was going to get back into comics. But during that time period the editors that had been dealing with had moved on. So I basically had to break into the industry AGAIN. So, I went back up to Chicago and fortunately some of the editors at the “Bat Office” remembered my work and gave me another shot. Thankfully ever since I’ve been able to make my living in comics.
FPB: Was there a specific artistic influence you had growing up?
GL: My main artistic heroes were John Buscema, Gil Kane and Jack Kirby. I also really liked Ross Andru’s work on Spider-Man. Those were the guys I liked as a kid and I appreciate them even more now that I’m in the business.
FPB: You’ve done so much work on so many different titles, is there any comic you would one day like to revisit?
GL: I really liked working on Ultimate Fantastic Four. I would love to work again on Fantastic Four one day, and do some of the classic villains they had. All of those old Kirby villains were so great. If I could work on a project and go back to those types of stories, I would definitely do that.
FPB: Is there a specific writer you’ve really enjoyed working with?
GL: There were so many great writers I’ve worked with that I appreciate. I can’t say I liked one over the other.
FPB: Over the years you’ve become known as one of those go-to artists for the female heroes, was that just something that happened gradually?
GL: Well, it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it!
FPB: Is there any characters you enjoy drawing the most?
GL: Of course, I mentioned the Fantastic Four, but I also would love a go at Spider-Man too. I got to draw him in the Ultimate Power miniseries, but I would one day just love to work on a Spider-Man title.
FPB: Well, Thanks a lot! I’ve been loving your work on Uncanny X-Men, looking forward to more good stuff in the future!
GL: No problem! Thanks a lot!
Once again, it was great to once again meet Greg and his wife, and I urge anyone that spots them at a con to have a chat with them! You won’t regret meeting them.
Stay tuned for more interviews in the coming weeks! Bleed out!