Peter Pachoumis Interview

By Jim 'Captain Jim' Zimmerman
Posted at August 30, 1999 - 5:00 AM GMT

We're speaking with Peter Pachoumis, pencil artist for "Perchance to Dream," the first Star Trek limited series to be released by WildStorm Comics (beginning in December, 1999).

Pete, tell us a little bit about yourself. You recently did a ten page Hourman story for All-Star Comics 80-Page Giant #1 ("The 90-Minute Man"). Was this your first published comic book work? Where else has your art appeared (comics or otherwise)?

This wasn't my first experience working in the comic book industry. My first published work was an Acclaim Comics "Disney's Enchanting Stories" (No. 2) illustrating a "Hercules" story, which led to other assignments. These included launching the young Classics Illustrated line, where I penciled and inked "Pinocchio" and penciled "Cinderella", and also supplied the cover illustration for both of these. Other previous work includes working for numerous independent companies and doing work for Harris Comics on "Vampirella" pinups. I've also worked on covers for Marvel on "Star Trek" comics, designed graphics for a clothing company, and have done an assortment of small advertising jobs.

How long have you been interested in comics? Do you have any favorite titles? What other artists have influenced your style?

My interest in comics has been lifelong. As a child I'd always wanted to draw my favorite characters and work in this industry. Luckily, as an adult, or at least I think I'm an adult, I get to live out my childhood dream. Fortunately, my current project allows me to incorporate two of my favorite things, namely Star Trek and comics.

In terms of current books, I don't follow books with any regularity. Usually, the only books I will pick up are the new "Daredevil" issues by Kevin Smith, and the "Jay and Silent Bob" comics which are also done by Smith.

Some of my favorite artists are Drew Struzan, Andrew Loomis, and Alphonse Mucha, who have all heavily influenced me in terms of composition and illustration. Jack Kirby, John Buscema, Bill Sienkiewicz, Alex Ross, Alan Davis, Adam Hughs, Ryoichi Ikegami, and Steve Rude are my primary influences in the comic industry.

You've implied that you're a Star Trek fan; how long have you followed Trek? Which of its incarnations do you enjoy the most (TOS, TNG, DS9, VGR)?

I've been a Star Trek fan ever since my brother Alex got me into it as a child. My favorite incarnation of Star Trek would be the classic, although I've always really enjoyed The Next Generation and DS9.

Prior to your involvement with "Perchance to Dream", you did some covers for the Marvel Comics Star Trek line. How did you get this assignment? How many covers did you actually complete, and for which books?

Basically, what I did to get the Marvel cover assignments was actually sort of an interesting story. I went up to DC believing they still had the Star Trek license and showed my portfolio around, and they informed me that Marvel now had the rights. However, they did tell me that if they were still publishing, that they would give me cover work. So that was my inspiration to take the hike up to Marvel and find the editor and get a job. I ended up doing two covers, one for DS9 and one for Voyager.

Unfortunately, your Marvel work never appeared because Marvel gave up their license to produce Star Trek material. To the fans, this announcement seemed rather abrupt. How did you first hear about this development and were you surprised? Was any explanation offered? I'm sure it had to be quite a blow, after receiving the assignment and then doing the work, to find out it would never appear. Is there anything you'd care to comment on here?

I found out about Marvel giving up the license to Star Trek when I called up the editor asking him when my next cover assignment would come, and he informed me of the news. I asked him why the license was given up and I really don't recall being given any definitive answer. To tell you the truth, I was actually really upset that the work never came out. I felt I had done a good job and I was dismayed that my covers weren't going to be published.

Let's move on to "Perchance to Dream." Writer Keith DeCandido says he recommended you for the assignment, based on his fondness for your work. How did you first become acquainted with Keith? And what were the series of events which led to you receiving this assignment? Did editor Jeff Mariotte contact you and ask for samples of your work, had you already submitted samples, or what?

I met Keith through Howard Zimmerman up at Byron Preiss. I had known Howard for a few years and always enjoyed setting up appointments to show him my work and getting an honest critique. One day I went up there and Howard was genuinely impressed with my samples and set up a meeting to show Keith my work. Unfortunately, the project that Keith had planned for me fell through, but I asked him to keep me in mind for future assignments,

I never really expected to hear from him, but a few months later I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in penciling a book that he was writing for WildStorm. I told him that I was definitely interested and asked him what it was. He said it was a Next Generation story and my interest grew. I didn't know that WildStorm had the license and I sent my samples to Jeff Mariotte after he gave me a call requesting them. Fortunately, Jeff liked the samples and Paramount was already familiar with my work, so I landed the assignment.

Peter, you're definitely going to have to keep better track of who's holding this license :-) How much of the artwork for this series have you actually completed at this point in time?

So far I've completed about fifteen panel-to-panel pages and a pinup, which will also be used for ads for the first issue, as well as a double page spread for the second issue.

Sometimes fans have criticized Trek artists for renditions which, in their opinion, were not close enough to the features of the actual actors. How much of a concern should this be to comic artists, in your opinion? Have you received any guidelines from either WildStorm or Paramount in this regard?

In my opinion, capturing the likeness is one of my primary concerns. As a matter of fact, Patrick Stewart signed off on the model sheets and Jonathan Frakes wrote his own positive comments on the sheets after seeing the work himself. The guidelines I've received from WildStorm and Paramount are simple: make the actors look like themselves or redraw it!

Just what are these "model sheets"? Can you tell us a little bit about them?

I'd love to tell you about these model sheets - but if I did I'd have to kill you! Actually, model sheets are what Paramount looks at to decide if I'm capable of doing the work. If people are interested in seeing a sample of my model sheets, they can go out and pick up a copy of "Wizard: Special Edition - WildStorm", which contains a brief article on my project and a sample of my model sheets.

What is the nature of your collaboration with Keith? Does he provide a full script? Have you ever consulted with him in regard to the project, or do you work entirely independent from one another?

Keith and I work very closely together. We are in constant communication with each other, and just the other day I was on the phone with him attempting to figure out a way around a problem that developed in the layout of one of the pages. So, together we managed to come up with a solution that was time saving, effective, and creative. Keith provides me with a full script, dialog, and basic descriptions of the characters' expressions. After every page I draw, I fax it over to him for suggestions and critiques. Considering that this is his script, he has the best overall opinion of what it should look like, and I want to make sure that I follow through with his vision.

Some would argue that a problem with using a "full script" is that the writer is generally not an artist. Have you ever suggested changes in layout, etc., to Keith? And if so, has he been open to them?

Sometimes full scripts are difficult to work with, but fortunately, considering Keith was an editor and is an extremely skillful writer, it's not a problem. For the most part, Keith only provides me with a few pages of layouts, which I have complete control over. If I decide to change the layouts, I give him a call, tell him what I have a problem with, and we usually come to a quick resolution.

You've indicated that you work closely with Keith DeCandido, the writer. At what point does the editor become involved with your work? Do you submit the pages as you complete them, or only after an entire issue is done?

Jeff Mariotte has confidence in me and allows me simply to work at my own discretion. Jeff provides me with a large amount of reference material and, if I ever need anything from Paramount, he is the one I go to. Usually I submit pages in batches of five, once every ten days, and then wait for approval from Paramount on the likenesses. Fortunately, I have yet to hear a complaint. Let's hope it stays that way!

Drawing for Star Trek is unlike drawing for many other comics. What has been the most challenging part of this assignment to date?

Doing this miniseries is definitely the most challenging job I've had yet in my career. Some of the toughest things to accomplish properly are to capture a consistent likeness of all the characters, and laying out pages that have the feel of the TV episodes. I want this book to read like storyboards for an episode. I want this project to be something that, in years to come, I can look back and be proud of, and I also want the Star Trek fans to enjoy the miniseries and walk away feeling satisfied with the artwork.

Do you have any other comic projects in the works now or in the near future?

Considering that this is a four issue miniseries, my upcoming months are pretty booked, although I would like to continue working on the Star Trek line for WildStorm, and at the same time attempt to work on some of their other books. Since my "Hourman" project for DC was completed a few months ago, my career has really been picking up speed, which keeps me busy and happy, so I hope the fans have as much fun enjoying the work as I have had creating it for them.

Thanks Pete! We're looking forward to seeing your completed work and hope this leads to many more such assignments in the future. Thanks for the interview!

Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Jim 'Captain Jim' Zimmerman is the webmaster of the Trek Nation comics site.