This is an excerpt of an interview Rich Schepis conducted with Mike Deodato, Jr. in August 2015.
Catching up with Mike Deodato, Jr., the Brazilian artist reminisced about this 13-issue run on Wonder Woman from the mid-1990’s. He spoke via video from his studio and sets the record straight on who created her new uniform during his run and why she appears so sexy in some people’s opinions. Today, besides his regular work for Marvel Comics, Deodato is also spending time on creator-owned projects in his native country.
WHY DO YOU THINK WONDER WOMAN HAS ENDURED?
I think it’s because she’s a strong woman. It was rare back then to have a strong, powerful woman in comics. I think that’s her appeal, she was a pioneer in a world inundated by males.
WHAT DOES WONDER WOMAN MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY?
She is everything. She was the one that ignited my career, made my art famous to the world. She was so strong and I was able to do anything I wanted, so I made her even more powerful than she was written. It was the 90s, everything was exaggerated. I was younger, full of energy. I have a lot of fondness for the character.
DESCRIBE YOUR TIME WORKING ON WONDER WOMAN.
It was the 90s, and there was Image Comics. I was very, very impressed with the work by the Image guys; that energy, sex appeal. Also, I am trying to explain why my Wonder Woman was so sexy, because I am asked about that a lot. I have been trying to understand why I did what I did. We had this freedom in Brazil at the time and we wanted to enjoy. It was not like I was doing something different or trying to be provocative. It was just my reality. I’m asked a lot about this.
I draw different today. I’m a different person, I’m older and learned more about storytelling. I know that the story is more important than the drawings. Drawings exist to serve the story. I know all of that. I’d do it differently today, but I don’t regret what I did. I just try to analyze it, to see why I did it that way. It doesn’t mean that I regret anything.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE YOU FACED ON WONDER WOMAN?
Everything was a challenge because it was my first big book. Not a big book actually, because the book was not selling good. It was my first work for DC, a big company. I had to prove myself. The challenge was I didn’t speak English. When I got the scripts, they had to be translated. It got easier as soon as I got myself familiarized with what was going on in DC Comics. In Brazil, the chronology of what was published was 10 years difference. I had no idea, for example, there was a scene where William Messner-Loebs described a guy wearing Lobo-type of armor, so I drew the character like a wolf. I thought he wanted wolf; kind of stuff like that. I was eager to show my art to the world. It was the biggest challenge.
WHICH ISSUE OF YOUR WONDER WOMAN RUN IS YOUR FAVORITE?
By issue 93, I was getting used to the character and my style. I like some pages on the very last page, the battle page where Artemis dies; I thought that was very good. I liked the cover I drew for that issue, where she was wearing the new uniform.
Everybody think’s it was me that created the uniform but it was Brian Bolland actually.
WERE YOU DISAPPOINTED NOT TO GET TO DRAW WONDER WOMAN IN THE ICONIC UNIFORM?
It didn’t matter, actually I was excited to do something new. I liked that I was in charge of creating Artemis. They just said the name of the character, and let me free. I had a lot of freedom as you can see. The book wasn’t selling so whatever I wanted (laughs).
HOW DID YOU AND LOEBS WORK TOGETHER? DID YOU HAVE STORY OR LAYOUT INPUT?
Never, never. Especially back then, I didn’t speak English. I actually only met Loebs almost 15 years later. It was at a convention. I had never met him in person, except for a few years ago. I worked a lot, I had no time. The 90’s were crazy. Now I know how to balance more things. I’m old.
WHICH WONDER WOMAN COMIC WOULD YOUR RECOMMEND FOR A CHILD TO READ?
Mine of course, mine is good. I think I like the ones in the 70s by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, they were more for kids than mine.
WHAT WAS THE FIRST WONDER WOMAN COMIC YOU REMEMBER READING?
It was probably Mike Sekowsky from the time she was dressing like a normal girl. Probably something drawn by Dick Girodano, Mike Sekowsky or both. It’s hard to analyze those stories because it was another time. I really liked the drawings. Dick Giordano is amazing. I cannot judge the stories really. I think I kind of liked it, but I was more into Swamp Thing, Jonah Hex, Neal Adams’ Batman. I collected everything, including Wonder Woman.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WONDER WOMAN STORY?
I have a great memory of reading Superman vs Wonder Woman by Garcia Lopez, I think it was a giant size. I loved it, mostly because of the drawings actually.
WHO WERE YOUR ARTISTIC INSPIRATIONS?
Jose, especially on hands, perfect anatomy. Mostly it’s Neal Adams and Dick Giordano.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE WONDER WOMAN COLLECTIBLE THAT YOU OWN?
(looks around his studio) I have a poster that I did that’s on the wall that I did back then. I am not much in collecting. I’m too cheap to buy stuff.