We recently had the exciting opportunity to sit down with colorist of the newest X-O Manowar series at Valiant, Ruth Redmond! Check out the full interview below for a look at how Ruth got started with the project through their experience with Heather Antos, inspirations from flashy car videos to documentaries on coral reefs, and even what to look forward to in upcoming X-O Manowar issues!
Comic Watch: First, thank you so much for joining us here to talk about your work on the current X-O Manowar series at Valiant. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started working with Valiant as well as the X-O Manowar project?
Ruth Redmond: You’re very welcome, thanks for having me! Sure thing! I started working for Valiant in 2019 (actually on a preview for X-O) when the delightful Heather Antos approached me about working with her on the project. She had been an editor over at Marvel overseeing a lot of my work on Deadpool and other X-men titles for years, so when she asked if I’d hop over to Valiant and continue working with her there I couldn’t resist!
CW: With Valiant in the midst of bringing back many of their flagship characters like X-O Manowar, what sort of inspirations did you bring into the project to make sure the series felt both familiar and fresh?
RR: Well as soon as I mentioned to my husband that I was asked to work on X-O he went out and got me the X-O Manowar: Retribution reprint trade, cause he’s an even bigger nerd than I am haha. So with that as my source material I could see where Aric started and take into account the direction that the original colourist, Jorge Gonzalez, took with the series. I liked the bold colour choices of the 90s so I wanted to bring some of that brightness while also incorporating more modern rendering techniques to bring X-O into the 21st Century. In this wonderful new take on the character by Dennis Hallum we are introduced in issue 1 to an Aric who is trying really hard to establish himself as both a hero and a citizen of this modern age. So I try to make him look shiny and polished while times are good. These are our old friends Shanhara and Aric but they are in a totally new place in their journey together.
CW: The coloring that we see in X-O Manowar sets the bar high not just at Valiant, but in comics in general, and that was even more apparent when we got to see the new suit revealed in X-O Manowar #3. Can you give some insight into some of the design decisions that went into this new suit and what freedoms you had when executing it?
RR: A huge portion of the credit for the suit redesign has to go to Emilio Laiso, Dennis Hallum and Heather Antos! They came up with the layout of the suit and I just brought some razzle with the bright as stars lights and shiny alien metal. I wanted to keep a lot of the original vibe of the suit in the colours since as far as I was concerned this was the same living armor but she’s taken down her ponytail and removed her glasses.
CW: X-O Manowar isn’t exactly a character that has been known to be overly dark and gloomy, but your color palette choices bring a vivid pop that explodes from every page which has helped to distinguish this vision of the character. What can you tell us about your approach to capture the superhero and sci-fi elements in your colors that bring both Aric and Shanhara to life?
RR: Haha Thank you! Yeah I’ve always been a lot more keenly interested in art and media that depicts the future as vibrant and colourful, as opposed to just sanitized and white. A lot of my inspirations for most projects I work on comes from animated films and real life. For X-O I gleaned inspiration from watching flashy car videos, documentaries on coral reefs, the 2009 Astroboy movie and Disney Pixar’s Cars movie to name a few. From comics I was also quite inspired by Marte Gracia’s work on House and Powers of X around the time I started working on X-O.
CW: You’ve worked on a few different Valiant properties like Livewire, Quantum and Woody and now X-O Manowar, but Valiant has a whole universe filled with exciting characters. Are there any in particular you would really like to get a chance to work on in the near future?
RR: Oh sure! I would honestly love to get to work on a title like Faith or Shadowman someday! Not that I wanna steal anyone’s job haha but yeah those would be fun titles to work on. Really any Valiant project is a good one in my book.
CW: You’ve had an extensive and exciting career as a comics colorist so far, working with many different publishers like Marvel, TKO Studios and more. What do you feel separates Valiant from other publishers in the industry?
RR: I like the kinds of stories Valiant tells. All the titles I’ve read or been lucky enough to work on have an emotional maturity and willingness to explore complicated and oftentimes messy characters without being overly dramatic. There’s a tone of realism intertwined with fantasy and whimsy that really draws me in. Valiant also doesn’t fall into the trope of realistic means excessively gritty and grim. Things are often hard on the heroes but it’s not all dead girlfriends and cataclysmic conflicts all the time haha
CW: Without spoiling too much of course, is there anything you can tell Valiant fans about what they have to look forward to with your upcoming work on the X-O Manowar series?
RR: Oh gosh yes. If you’ve been following along with X-O things are really starting to ramp up! Aric is facing an absolutely enormous challenge in this first arc and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better! I just got to see the script for issue 5 and am SO blown away by the clever and thrilling twists and turns Dennis has written. And as if that weren’t enough of a draw Emilio’s absolutely incredible work is only getting better with every issue! His pages regularly blow me away. It’s exhilarating seeing new pages pop up in my inbox! And I colour inside the lines pretty good.
That’s all! Be sure to head over to your Local Comic Shop and add X-O Manowar from Valiant to your pull list today to stay up to date on this exciting series!
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