Mahmud Asrar recently was interviewed on the Back to the Past website. The interview is mostly about his work on Supergirl and is well worth reading in its entirety although I have included some blurbs and commentary here. Here is the link: http://www.backtothepast.tv/mahmud-asrar-supergirl-interview/
Back To The Past: How did you happen to get to working on Supergirl? Did you lobby for this one, or did editorial come to you?
Mahmud A. Asrar: It started out with Wil Moss and Matt Idelson asking me if I’d be interested in doing some covers for Supergirl. I jumped on and soon they started to mention stuff about me drawing Supergirl, possibly ongoing. The proposal was pretty vague at the beginning and I didn’t know much starting off. After signing an NDA [non-disclosure agreement] I was filled out on most of the details and things started rolling.
I really liked Asrar's covers in the 'Good Looking Corpse' arc especially this one. The composition of Triplexx holding the heroes in the palm of his hand really pops. I'm not surprised if his work on these got him noticed by the Super-book higher-ups.
I do think it is interesting that he didn't have much info about the tone of the book initially.
BTTP: How does it feel to not only be working on a high-profile character like Supergirl, but to do so when the spotlights are brightest on the character in the midst of this relaunch?
MAA: It’s intoxicating! Before I got asked to do this assignment what I was personally looking to do next on my career was an ongoing book about a solo female character. So the stars couldn’t have aligned more accurately. Not only was I going to work on Supergirl as an ongoing artist but I was going to be a part of this huge relaunch event. The realization came slowly though, I have to admit. I realized how big this was for me as the release date drew closer in.
I do wonder if the nature of the DC relaunch had a similar effect on other creators. Or if this was just another month of life in comics for the more veteran staff. Of course, it is great to hear the excitement in this response as that usually equates with great work.
BTTP: What’s the biggest visual difference you are bringing to this title than your previous work? Something looks dynamically different, and I’m thinking it might be washes, but given the digital nature of things, I’m not completely certain what’s changed. So, what has changed?
MAA: DC wanted me to do this with my marker style, which I use on private illustrations and commissions. I was encouraged to use that style even though I was slightly anxious about it as I have not used that type of rendering for a page before. I started out with the covers and it worked. Then gave a shot to the pages and it turned out nicely. In fact I am so happy about it as I am almost in complete control of how the page looks like from start to finish. The process is much more enjoyable as it’s more like actual painting than just slaving on autopilot with pencils.
However, the schedule on first issues was pretty tight so we opted to get Dan Green and Bill Reinhold on board for inks. The first few pages of the first issue are done in this style and I’ll be returning to it fully on issue 4.
I am a sucker for comic process discussions. So I loved when I got to see these marker pages first, then colored in the issues. These pieces (and other commissions of Asrar's I have seen done in the same style) have such nuance and depth that I am interested in seeing what a whole issue of this style as the bedrock of the art is going to look like.
BTTP: Did you have much say in the design process for Supergirl and her supporting cast?
MAA: For Kara herself I’ve done quite a bit of design work. Not too refined but a bunch of concepts to start us off. Later Jim Lee stepped in with a new design. I’ve done some rather small tweaks on it here and there which ended up being the look you see in the book. Except for Supergirl, I’m doing all the design work that appears in this series.
So we keep hearing about a supporting cast ... but we haven't heard who yet. This Supergirl remains pretty much still a mystery. If anything, supporting characters means she can't be too much of a loner, too isolated.
BTTP: What do we have to look forward to in Supergirl?
MAA: I’m not good with teasing things but I can tell you this: you’ll love this Kara. She’s full of personality and attitude. We want to read fun and entertaining comics with soul and that’s what we’re trying to give the reader. Visually, I have outstanding collaborators that will please your eyes. As for me I think this will be some of my most bold work yet.
Full of personality ... fun and entertaining ... all that sounds very good. And Asrar's art is just fantastic.
With a decent opening issue and more and more optimistic statements coming from the creators, I am feeling better about this version of Supergirl.