Local Inker

Galloway's Bob Petrecca discusses his life in comics

By Raymond Tyler
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jul. 28, 2009

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Like Bart Simpson, who dreamed of working at Mad magazine, and every other boy I knew in grade school, I wanted to be a comic book artist. My fantasy of getting paid to write and draw comics and having an office that looks like the Batcave hasn't died yet, although its unlikely to become a reality. Galloway Township's Bob Petrecca, however, is living my (and his) dream. For more than 20 years, Petrecca has worked in the comic book industry as an inker.

An inker receives pencil drawings that will go on to become the images that we eventually see in comic books. The inker uses his artistic talents to finish the process started by the penciller. From there, the finished art goes on to the colorist.

Petrecca has worked on pages for Marvel Comics' and DC Comics' biggest names, including Batman, Superman, Spider-Man and Justice League Unlimited. We recently had a chance to catch up.

How did you get started in comics?

In 1982 or '83 I went to a comic book convention. Back then it was different; you didn't have hundreds of people with portfolios who draw "37 hours a day" trying to show their work to industry insiders. I was about the only guy with art there and I walked up to Don Perlin from Marvel Comics and we started talking. He liked my stuff, gave me a few tips and sent me on my way. My fiancé at the time, who is now my wife, said, "this is what you really want to do." With her support I enrolled in the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art right here in [Dover] New Jersey. Before I could finish my studies there, I got a call from Marvel and I started working for them doing art corrections.

How did working at Marvel change your style as an artist?

At Marvel I worked under the great John Romita Sr. Besides the physical stuff, John taught me that two-thirds of inking is thinking. Once the penciled pages are handed in to me, the art job is mine. I am not a glorified tracer. I support the pencil art but then I also fill in the space with my own vision.

Is that where the thick lines that you produce come from?

My lines follow the outer edges of the contour lines of the characters. The lines around the characters are thick and the interior lines remain thin. I actually saw how that worked on Nickelodeon, like [on the program] Danny Phantom. I decided to try that style with Carlo Barberi's pencils and it really worked outstandingly in the comic genre.

Since Justice League Unlimited (JLU) #27, I have seen a lot of artists borrow that style.

I don't mind. DC got a lot of mail praising how good that style was. I'm sure the editors left the other inkers notes to try and emulate that line technique.

I think that JLU -- both the cartoon and the comic book series -- will go on to become an icon.

It's funny because JLU (Petrecca's drawing, above) is supposed to be a book for kids and it has a strong adult readership. The stories are great, a lot of action. Here's what makes JLU a winner: The stories have all the elements that always made comics fun, but they wrap the whole adventure in 30-some pages. Working on JLU was my favorite DC stuff. I'm proud to be a part of that legacy.

You have children. How cool is it for them to have a father who draws for DC Comics?

It is cool, but tempered with reality. We all dreamed of doing comics as kids, but this is a deadline-driven business. Sometimes my kids do see me stressed when I have several deadlines to make, because to ink one page can sometimes take four hours or more.

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