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New Phantom Artist Profile - PAUL BULMAN

In his interview with us in Episode 85 of X-Band: The Phantom Podcast, Frew Director Glenn Ford introduced a new Phantom artist - Paul Bulman.

ChronicleChamber sat down with Paul to find out a little more about him...

Paul Bulman

Name: Paul Bulman

Age: 34

Location: Adelaide

Other occupation: Nightfill worker (shelf stacker), Dad

CC: How long have you been drawing?

PB: Professionally about 4 years, but I’ve drawn on and off from an early age. I did have about a 12 year gap where I didn’t really draw in my late teenage years into my 20s, just based on some bad life advice, but decided to get back onto the creative wagon when I wasn’t enjoying other career pursuits

CC: Who would you say are your artistic influences?

PB: I have many. Too many, one could argue. A lot of my initial influences were the typical for the time - Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, Joe Madureira, etc. Back then, I was collecting X-Men, Spider-Man, Batman, Superman and Phantom; so in some ways, all my interests were bundled up in this superhero package, and I didn’t understand, when I talked about Phantom with other kids in conversations about Superman, how they didn’t really know him.

Over time, my interest and style changed from those more gritty artists, and I began looking at different styles such as Freddie Williams, Adam Hughes, Terry Dodson, Mike Mignola, Chris Sprouse and Trevor McCarthy (to name a few). Currently, I’m basing a lot of my style on some of these, while trying to forge my own look and feel to what I’m drawing, and as a result have a very precise clean line method, which I’m slowly shaking up with textures and grunge for some visual variation.

All that said, my style remains very superheroic. I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to experiment with a different style on a book it’s more appropriate to in the future, but for now I’m making strides with my big shoulders and square jaw approach to art - so it shall be for now!

Paul's work area

CC: What medium do you work in?

PB: I mostly work digitally at this point. I prefer the speed I can get, especially smashing the undo button. Unfortunately that means a lot of my work doesn’t have any ‘originals’, however I do have plans to do traditional inks on some later work that will be available for those who want to buy some art of me.

That said, I do also draw traditionally- such as for commissions and sketches and sketch-covers, etc. I have no problem drawing with pens and paper, it’s just a preference to work on the computer. So anyone hesitant to contact me about some commission work, don’t worry I do traditional pencils and inks also!

CC: What other characters or stories you have worked on?

PB: I’ve managed to work on a licensed DC Comics book, titled The World According to Wonder Woman from Insight Editions, which I got through some art submissions and a really generous introduction from a good friend Freddie Williams (currently rocking the TMNT/Batman series).

I’ve also worked on some creator owned properties, which I’m hoping will gain some traction and be available to a wider readership next year - one of which is Echo Realm, and is basically a supernatural detective story involving a young woman who can glimpse into the echo realm, where time can be distorted and crime scenes analyzed, as well as some other things like seeing the victims leading up to deaths, etc. That one is written by another good friend, Josh Southall.

I’ve also got some projects in the works with some pretty awesome (and high profile) creators that I can’t really talk about at the moment. But I’ll be making sure to keep interested comic fans up to date as I can!

CC: Where can phans see these?

PB: The Wonder Woman book is currently available anywhere you can order books, and also in stores [CC: try if it's not in your LCS]. It’s a nice 64 page history about the Nu52 Diana, filled with combinations of information and splash-page illustrations. It was really neat to have the chance to draw her and the other heroes/villains of the DC universe. The Echo Realm had a limited print in a small prologue-type comic, where it showed a snippet of the story and characters, and there might be a few copies around at Josh’s place.

CC: What is your history with The Phantom? Are you a casual reader? A phan?

PB: I’d say my classification would be something along the lines of ‘a long-time casual reader’, in that I’ve had my stack of Phantom comics (in the Phantom storage boxes that look like chronicle tomes - with the MXMI on the spine) for a very, very long time. Since my early teenage years. While I couldn’t recall exact issues or story events off the top of my head, I have read each one several times throughout the years and have always had an appreciation for Phantom and his world.

Paul's Glenn Lumsden original

Funnily enough, one man in particular - Glenn Lumsden - was basically single-handedly responsible for my interest in both drawing comics as a profession and an increased interest in the Phantom. Back when I was around 12-13, and was starting to get serious about drawing (or as serious as a kid could get), I took a drawing course in Adelaide (I didn’t live there at the time, so my folks drove me from Port Augusta). The course was for 2 days, and was meant to focus on life drawing and different methods of art, but on the first day I heard Glenn introduce himself and mentioned he had drawn some Phantom… and everything else kind of faded out and I just focused on the fact a real life comic artist was in front of me. I literally cannot remember anything he taught (sorry, Glenn!) and only thought about the Phantom and comics. I’m sure his lesson was amazing, and I wish I could have focused, but I was a kid who loved comics and that was that.

Prior to that, I’d been lightly introduced to the Phantom with some odd issues from grandparents and uncles, but meeting Glenn and getting bit by that creative drive to do comics too, I started working hard on copying layouts and hero forms and poses from that day on. I even approached Glenn at the end of the lesson on Saturday and asked if he would be able to sketch a Phantom for me - I recall even mentioning “Just a few lines is fine, I know you’re busy.” - and he indulged and drew an awesome head sketch, though he did say he probably shouldn’t just in case others wanted one, too.

I still have it. It’s been on my desk for the last 21 years (yikes!), and it’s worn, the paper yellow, and some edges torn, but it was definitely the start of comics and collecting Phantom issues for me.

A sample Paul sent to Glenn

CC: That's an awesome story! So, how did you come to be working on The Phantom?

PB: It was a combination of the right people seeing my art, some fortuitous introductions, and being available at the right time, I’d say. I’ve been doing the local Adelaide comic con circuits for 4-5 years, and over that time I’ve managed to become friends with some awesome people - and those people aren’t afraid to talk about prospective artists or creators to others. Which is one of the things I love most about Australia’s comic cons, there’s an underlying level of care for others who are genuinely trying to climb the comic hill and do work.

Around the time I was introduced to Glenn Ford, he had seen some of my work, and liked it enough for us to start talking about doing something. I provided some art to show I could draw some of the main characters of the Phantom ensemble, and then it came down to having a project to work on before things kicked off. And not long after that, I was told that a story was being written by Andrew Constant, which Glenn was interested in having me work on.

So, as you’d expect, both inner-child me and adult me jumped at the chance!

CC: What can you tell us about the story you are working on?

PB: The story is a sequel to the Black Fire part 1 and 2 issues, which pits Kit against some new foes and continues with some of the plots from the previous stories. Without giving too much away, there’s action, intrigue and a villain I absolutely adore - he’s really fun to draw in expression and posture, and I’ve taken to thinking of him as a bad guy mirror-version of a popular hero icon from the 80s (with all those heroic traits completely reversed).

Andrew has definitely given me a lot to work with, and all I can do is draw the heck out of it so we’re both - and the phans - are happy!

CC: Have you worked with Andrew before? What’s the history of your relationship?

PB: The first time I met him was in Adelaide at Oz Comic Con 2013. At the time, he was signing at the Gestalt booth. I approached with some portfolio samples (which weren’t great, looking back), and somehow managed to get his interest and we began an acquaintanceship that turned into a friendship.

More recently, we’ve had some opportunities to work together, which has resulted in this particular project and hopefully more to come!

CC: When is your story due for publication?

PB: I believe Glenn (Ford) mentioned on X-Band #85 plans for Supanova next year. Since he’s the man with the plan, I’ll defer to him on that specific info, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his guess was accurate.

A Paul Bulman "Phantom" doodle

CC: Do you have any links where phans can find your work?

PB: They can check out my social media accounts:

CC: Anything else you’d like to share with eager phans?

PB: I’m really looking forward to getting involved and stepping up to be part the Phantom legacy, and I hope that my style suits the stories I’m working on, and that the phans can feel that appreciation and joy I have in drawing Kit and his colleagues through the work I’m doing.

And in the end, I’m really glad the Ghost Who Walks found me.

CC: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us Paul, and we're really looking forward to seeing your story when it comes to print!

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