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Talking With Man of Action: Duncan Rouleau

Updated: Jan 24, 2020

Duncan Rouleau has been a mainstay in comic books since he first came on to the scene many years ago. In 2001, he helped found Man of Action Studios along with fellow partners and comic book creators Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Steven T. Seagle

He's worked for every major publisher on books such as, X-FACTOR (Marvel) and ACTION COMICS (DC). He even co-wrote and illustrated a fantastic mini-series METAL MEN, which was one of the best takes on the characters. While at Marvel he co-created BIG HERO 6 with fellow Man of Action founder Steven T. Seagle.

While he hasn't been in the spotlight in comics as much, in recent years, he's been staying very busy in animation with his MOA partners. They created the highly successful BEN 10 series and have also contributed on the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and AVENGERS ASSEMBLE animated series as well. Remember BIG HERO 6? Well in 2016, like many of you know, it got turned into an animated feature that was adored the world over.

No matter what he's doing, whether comics or animation, Duncan brings an immense talent and joy to evert project. It's a wonder he even had time for this interview with such a busy schedule. Thanks again Duncan.

COMIC LOUNGE: When did you first get into comics as a kid ?

DUNCAN ROULEAU: My family would take an annual summer road trip from Chicago to Massachusetts to visit my Grandmother living on the Cape. We did this for many years. Circa ‘64 to ‘76. Waaaay back then there was little to do. No electronics to pass the time. Maybe a transistor radio. Mostly puzzles, tissue paper ghosts we’d fly on string from the back of the car…and comic books! Somewhere on the way home I discovered them. AVENGERS 115, the beginning of the Evil Eye series. Avengers vs Defenders! I really didn’t know anything about either group only that they were cool, and they were going to fight.

Once we got home my mom usually tossed out the ripped up, well used coloring books and comics. The issue stuck with me and I climbed into the garbage can and retrieved the comics. Ever since I have been a super fan.

CL: Who were some of your influences as a young artist?

DR: I loved Alex Raymond, Alex Toth, John Buscema, Frank Robbins, Steve Ditko, The King, Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, Gil Kane, Jack Ackerman. Wally Wood, Bernie Wrightson, Michael Golden … just to name a few, lol. But, most were already well-established before I got serious into drawing. So, when John Byrne hit the scene, wow. He was our generation’s superstar. I started picking up Iron Fist because of his art and followed him into the X-men, and beyond.

The artists I aped when first learning to draw were John Byrne and John Buscema. How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way was my bible.

CL: What was your first published work?

DR: Before comics I worked in Film as an actor. Had a few roles in a few movies. Nothing notable. I also worked in Production Design in the art department on many film and commercials. Worked on numerous Music Videos. Most prominently NWA’s Straight Outta Compton. Yea, those were my burning garbage cans and my map at the beginning of the video. Even did a little Directing. But it was as a storyboard artist for all sorts of commercials, IRS Record/Movies and Full Moon films that I started my professional life as an artist. It was at Full Moon I met Neal Adams’s Continuity Studios Art Director. Neal was doing some Creature Designs for one of the monster movies. They saw my storyboards and ask if I was interested in working in comics. A dream, up until then, I hadn’t even considered.

Soon after, I did a series entitled BILL THE BULL for Hart Fisher’s Bone Yard Press. Then started working with Daerick Gross on a book entitled THE REIKI WARRIORS. After that I got picked up by Marvel as a fill in artist for Adam Kubert’s run of WOLVERINE.

CL: You've worked on numerous characters of your long career. What were some of your favorite projects?

DR: When I started on my first monthly series, X FACTOR, I told Howard Mackie I was interested in creating new characters and storylines that added to the Marvel Universe Cannon. It was at Marvel I met Joe Kelly, Steven T Seagle, and Joe Casey. All of them Uber-talents.

Joe Kelly and I started working on an original creator owned project entitle MACHINA REX (the comic series that became Generator Rex for Cartoon Network.) While it was a short run, it was incredibly fun to draw.

Joe Casey and I worked together on his incredible Wildcats run. That was also a big bag of beauty to work on.

CL: Are there any characters you would like to work on in the future?

DR: I really loved working on the Metal Men, and there are a few other characters I’d love to get my hands on. Metamorpho, Challengers of the Unknown, Shade the Changing Man, Machine Man and Spider-Man. Indecently I made the huge mistake of turning down an offer to work on Spider-Man for some series work on a Wildstorm title. A decision I regret to this day.

CL: You and Steven Seagle created BIG HERO 6, where did the inspiration for that book come from? What was it like seeing brought to the big screen?

DR: Steve and I created BIG HERO 6 while on our run of v.2 ALPHA FLIGHT. Steve had started the book with the late great Scott Clark. I came in at issue twelve. He was using Sunfire (A character I fell in love with in the Avengers vs Defenders run btw). I asked Steve what plans he had for Sunfire. He said he didn’t have anything big in mind. I suggested we create a Japanese Super Hero team to break in and rescue the young prince…and BIG HERO 6 was born. They were meant to be an homage to my other great love, Japanese Anime, as well as be an homage to Alpha Flight, who made their first appearance in the X Men by coming down from Canada to “rescue” Wolverine.

Having Big Hero 6 be the title picked from the Marvel Library to be turned into a film was the honor of a lifetime. By the time we were informed of the decision we had already created "Ben 10". Based on Ben’s success, MOA had a life in animation. We were working on "Ultimate Spider-Man", and due to 20th Century Fox holding the rights, many of the villains in the Spider-Verse were unavailable to us. It had become a running joke on who we actually could use. I had made an off-handed joke that we should use Big Hero 6, because there was no way anybody was using it. To our surprise, Jeff Loeb and Joe Quesada’s went wild. Jeff asked how we knew about the team. Steve and I informed him we had created them. And, they pulled us aside to give us the news. The rights were held up.

CL: You helped start MOA, can talk a little about why you guys started the company?

DR: Joe Kelly and I worked on all sorts of titles over the years. Steve, Joe Casey and I all lived in the same area of LA. We worked on the X titles at the same time. Marvel was going through one of their bankruptcies, editors were dropping like flies making it a difficult time to be there. Eventually we all migrated to DC and collectively started working on the Superman titles. Soon after the Ratner Superman movie collapsed, and DC asked us not to do anything too disruptive with the character while they regrouped. In several discussion we decided we loved working together, and although we loved working for both companies they were going through some hard times. So, we decided to take our future into our own hands. We started getting work right away. Small independent movies. Image books. The X Men Legends video game. And Cartoon Network with our foray into animation Ben 10. After that we just started plowing forward.

CL: What have been some of your favorite projects from MOA?

DR: I know this is a real cliché answer, but it is honestly true…my favorite project is always the one we are currently working on. I love making up stuff, and it is what gets me up in the morning. I’m proud of our work, and even though some have not done as well as others each other had some element that moved me. I’ve had A LOT of careers, because I’m never able to settle on anyone discipline. MOA has provided me a host of opportunities – designing, writing, acting, and even writing and preforming music. So, if it doesn’t sound too lame my favorite project is improving.

CL: Are there any projects you're currently working on that you can talk about or tease?

DR: Hmmm, I can vaguely say MOA is breaking into live action TV and knock on wood, Feature Film. dates and projects, I can’t really say right now. Also, a few big announcements on original animation projects we are crazy excited about in the next month. Sorry for being so cagey, but or partners are very strict about maintaining radio silence.

CL: What does being an artist mean to you?

DR: Wow. That’s a big one. I guess, it defines almost every aspect of my life. I love taking the things I see around me and synthesizing those experiences into an artistic expression. I tell my kids the idea of being in front of a blank sheet of paper is, for me, the greatest feeling. All those possibilities. It is a great deal of work taking something from an abstract idea, pulling it from the ether and giving it substance. Attempting to capture people’s imagination is the greatest pursuit I can imagine.

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