On Hadrian’s Wall: Talking to Artist Rod Reis

My goal when creating our version of the future was to combine a 1980’s feel with noir overtones, while still keeping things relatable.

Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis’ Hadrian’s Wall has weaved a complex web for fans. The mix of cold war tension meets noir murder mystery set in a retro futuristic landscape offers a lot for fans. Arguably, the project relies on Rod Reis’ evocative art. I spoke with Reis about his artistic inspirations and the  world of Hadrian’s Wall.

Hadrian’s Wall evokes a future world spinning out of Cold War tensions. A big part of bring that world to life is your art.  Can you talk about the process of creating artistic template?

Well, first of all, I always try to create something different from what we’re currently seeing on the stands. In this case, other sci-fi comics. So, with that in mind, this book started as our love letter to science fiction movies from the 1970’s and 1980’s. I started looking for inspiration in films like Outland and Aliens, trying to understand what the vision of the future was at that time. I realized that the concept of the future wasn’t very different from the present– during the 1980’s, that is– but it was very dark and pessimistic. Even with the addition of space travel, technological breakthroughs, human, social, and moral progress, the problems of the world remained very similar. My goal when creating our version of the future was to combine a 1980’s feel with noir overtones, while still keeping things relatable.

More specific influences I should mention are Jean Jeunet and Terry Gilliam. I like the surrealism of their work and I think this aesthetic fits perfectly to my approach.


Your work harkens back to a 1960s paperback and magazine style. I’m thinking of someone like Richard Powers or Ralph Brillhart and covers from Penguin and Signet Publishers?  What is it about that style that works for you?


I always loved artists like Bob Peak, Robert Mcginnis , Coby Whitmore and pulp covers in general. I was able to explore this 60’s retro style while illustrating C.O.W.L. Now, with Hadrian ‘s Wall, I continue to work from this retro style, but with more of a focus on pulp, sci-fi, and noir. Covers from Penguin and Signet publishers are a good example, in addition to the aforementioned 1980’s influences.


You are handling cover, interior art and coloring in this project. Talk about the time and effort it takes to bring this story to life?


It has been a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding. The process is all digital, which makes it much easier, but I still work seven days a week, without much rest. For me, it’s very important that I also handle all the colors. That’s where I’m able to create mood and it’s another aspect of the storytelling.   I handle all the covers because, as a reader, I like and prefer that the artist of the cover is the same one who draws the interiors. If someone likes the cover, I want their expectation to carry through to the main story.


Rich Bloom handles design and Troy Peteri lettering in this project, what was it like working with them?  How did their work elevate the project?

These guys are amazing. When I talked to Troy about my approach, and the 1980’s influences, he understood perfectly and knew exactly what to do. He took a lot of inspiration from European comics for the lettering.    I never talked properly to Rich about the design, but in C.O.W.L. as well as Hadrian’s Wall, I feel like we have a connection and his work complements what I do quite well.

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I study the real and imagined city. From comic book adventures across media to classic books and magazines, the interplay between imagined and real landscapes offer an opportunity to explore culture, identity, and community in the United States.
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