Did I make it on time?
Paul Shipper: indeed you
are on time.
Hugh Fleming: whew. Thought I was gonna
bugger that up.
Paul Shipper: you ready?
Hugh Fleming: Yep! I just popped my 'Raiders'
Laserdisc on to inspire me as we talk. Satipo
just got speared. heh he.
Paul Shipper: cool. are
you looking forward to the Indy DVDs?
Hugh Fleming: Yeah, I'm looking forward
to Indy DVDs. I am a little petrified that the
new 'kinder gentler' Spielberg who gave us the
'E.T.' special edition will make a few cuts and
superfluous additions. But hell yeah. Let's get
Can we start
with finding a bit more about your background
regarding your art career that led up to doing
the dark horse comic book covers - amongst other
things - where did it all begin?
Aw jeez. This is the question I
get most of the time from artists eager to get
into this line of work. In essence... I went to
the 'San Diego Comic Conventions' in the early
nineties and began to get some work (painting
cover art) with smaller publishers. Then in '93
my best friend Pete Ford and I took a proposal
for a four issue Indy mini-series to 'Dark Horse'.
The story was tentatively titled 'Indiana Jones
and the Lost Horizon'. That's how I came to first
meet editors at 'Dark Horse'.
Pete and I co-wrote the story and I created some
colour art for the document to sell it. We ended
up getting a gig out of it. Unfortunately, the
series was canned before we could begin because
sales on the Indy comics were not that good at
Will we ever
get to see it do you think?
Naw. I don't think I could face
the prospect of drawing 96 pages of comic these
Can you give
us an idea of the story you used to create the
The Story was set in 1926 and featured
Indy and Abner Ravenwood travelling to Tibet where
they eventually recover the headpiece to the Staff
of Ra from a Chines Warlord's treasure trove.
read that if it was on the shelves!
Yeah, we thought it was pretty
fun. We couldn't believe the stuff they were going
to let us get away with.
Indy & Abner sketch.
Well, telling how the Headpiece
was found by both Indy and Abner. The fact that
we 'cast' Abner very deliberately in the likeness
of actor Wilfred Brimley and LFL went for it.
It also would have been fun to play with the idea
of Indy as sidekick and protégé
to another character.
Ha. the Laserdisc has just told me that 'Abner's
We even intended to write in an 'explanation'
of sorts why Indy's attitude to the supernatural
is inconsistent between 'Raiders' and 'Temple'.
You know, the 'superstitious hocus pocus' stuff
when a year earlier he'd seen Mola Ram ripping
some dude's heart out his chest while still alive.
I see what
you mean... so can you tell us a bit about your
Well, we were gonna have it that
Abner taught Indy to keep a 'sceptical' point
of view when in professional company. You know,
'keep this stuff under your hat, people will think
We also had a young Belloq in the opening teaser.
It was set on a skyscraper in NYC and the treasure/macguffin
was a bogus Shroud of Turin.
didn't use your ideas on the project, but you
still got to be a part of the deal though... with
the cover art.
Yeah, that's the best thing. While
that project was in development I was approached
by my editor to paint the Indy cover for 'Thunder
in the Orient'.
I loved those
covers. had they seen your artwork and thought...
hey this guys good!
Thanks man. I look back on them
and I'm thrilled they hold up. Even better than
many of the later things I did.
My editor Ryder Wyndham was also the editor on
'Thunder' and he was in a pinch to get these covers
finished. Dave Dorman had painted the first but
as he was so in demand at the time they thought
it would be better for me to take over. For the
sake of expediency.
You did the 'Thunder' cover and you also did a
few others... 'Spear of Destiny'?
Yep. 'Indiana Jones and the Spear
stands out in my mind was the film poster'esque
Hey, this brings to an interesting
subject topic. Digital tampering with of an artist
were a godsend for all the indy fans out there.
I did notice something. Was there a pic of an
exploding car with Indy running from it? was that
the part that was doctored?
Original vs. edited.
Yep. Indy is supposed to be running
from the exploding car but on the printed cover
(without notification) Indy was removed entirely
from the vignette. You might have seen the un-doctored
image in 'Star Wars Galaxy' magazine.
decided to omit it?
Yep. I never found out why. It's
not the first time they did that either.
occasions did it happen?
Aaaah! I was absolutely horrified
when they did that. The first time was on 'Thunder
in the Orient' issue 4. I think. Indy and his
companions are surrounded by a bunch of mask-wearing
bad guys. It was only a small omission but they
digitally removed the bullwhip hanging at Indy's
side because it was apparently phallic.
I was more pissed of because, as a die-hard Indy
fanboy, I didn't want anyone to think I forgot
that costume detail. Willies are in the eye of
the beholder I guess. No accounting for art director's
I mean why couldn't they mention it to you and
you could perhaps do something about it?
Well, it would take 3 days Federal
Express to get it back to OZ and then three days
back. I guess I should be thankful that they didn't
actually maul the original painting, assign another
artist to repaint it, as is their contractual
right to do so.
I know there
has been quite a bit of tampering by the art directors
to works once completed by an artist. Not just
to particular parts of the image, but to the entire
image, like changing the colours through out.
Oh God. It's a nightmare. The stories
Struzan had to tell about that...
What do you
think about the power that art directors have
to the image once the art has been passed. its
got your name on the final work too!... so its
like its your vision...the A.D doesn't get a little
credit for the world to see does he?
in the Orient
issue 4's original cover.
Exactly. especially with the digital
technology that is available. Not that they're
always wrong. An art director may offer a personally
reasonable objective analysis of an image when
your objectivity has disappeared after staring
at the painting for two weeks. It's just that
Art Director's are typically "un" reasonable
I was a real bloody recalcitrant sumbitch in my
early days at 'Dark Horse'. Used to get up in
arms over the atrocious printing.
I think if you hire and artist to do a job based
on his/her abilities and reputation then you put
the job in their hands and should therefore accept
the work they turn in. Got into a fight or two
with Ryder of tampering issues and bad repro.
his response to that?
Ryder's response was to tear into
me. Which he was actually well within his rights
to do at the time. My response was, however justified,
completely out of line. That's what a hot-headed
passionate young pup I was about my art. So if
Ryder's reading this- sorry mate. We sorted everything
out a few years back anyway. We're pals.
So anyway, the printing was still a disgrace and
a cover got flipped around which shouldn't have
been. You know how you're work look weird in a
mirror? So you're loathe for the printer.
got asked to do a cover for dark horse what kind
of creative freedom were you given throughout
the process of creating a cover?
I got heaps. Mostly because I'd
demonstrated with the Indy proposal that I knew
my way around the character.
Were you given long to complete a cover, and what
kind of reference were you supplied if any?
The only reference supplied was
interior art- photocopies of the pencil art. Then
I would work with Ryder to select the most dramatic
scene to illustrate for the cover. Sometimes Ryder,
who is quite a good artist, would supply his pictorial
suggestions. Which I resisted. Heh.
I would get something like a month from receipt
of assignment to complete a cover. Get the job
on the first of a month for example- turn it in
first of the next month.
As far as photo reference is concerned. I was
totally on my own. Fortunately I already had a
respectable stash of Indy paraphernalia and Harrison
Cool! It pays
to be a big fan sometimes doesn't it?
For some reason LFL were more generous
when providing 'Star Wars' reference. I would
get really neat packages of colour xeroxes direct
from LFL. They even took requests.
library at your disposal. Not something you have
everyday is it. I wonder why they were not so
helpful for the indy projects?
Well, we've seen so many rare 'SW'
pics surfacing over the years to fill fan demand.
I would love to see the stills the have from the
You're probably the same as me,
but when I was younger I knew every damn still
there was available and the moment I saw something
different, even a familiar scene but a slightly
dissimilar pose, I would freak out and pounce
on it. That was where I got the Indy portrait
for Spear of Destiny no 1. Some miscellaneous
Last Crusade still that turned up as a pull out
poster in a local tv guide. Never seen it before
I think that
was a part of the appeal with your work. You would
take something and twist it into the way you needed
it. Like a scene... wonderful!
Thanks. I took great pride in creating
scenes that didn't look directly pulled from well
known photo ref.
I too look
for that when choosing images to work from. Can
be a time consuming task.
The audience's belief that this
'a whole new story' is blown away when you see
the same old image obviously nicked from one of
What is on
the horizon for Hugh Fleming at the moment? Any
Indy work in the pipelines?
Nope. None what so ever. No artwork
on the horizon either. Although I did a 'Star
Trek' Triptych quite recently though which came
out pretty good. they are for sale through my
Currently I am working on a couple of film projects.
Not as artist but as writer/director. we'll see
how that goes.
Can you tell
us a bit about these?
My interests are, and have always
been, in film. Safe to say the first couple of
'Star Wars' and Indy films inspired me as a teenager
to want to make films. It's just taken a hell
of a long time to get my act together to pursue
that goal. It's been way to easy to get side-tracked
by illustration when you're getting to paint 'Star
Wars', Indy, etc.
I won't say too much about the projects themselves.
One is a low-budget feature comedy, another is
a short that I'm writing now that I'd like to
shoot next year.
I'm also aiding my friend Pete Ford (the guy I
did the Indy proposal with) with his film and
tv projects. One of which is a sci-fi action adventure
TV show. I'd be co-writing on that and maybe even
doing a little acting. If he can talk the investors
into keeping me.
exciting. When can we expect to see your first
project out and about? How do you intend it to
be released? will it be touring the indy film
circuit? Indy as in 'Independent' film!
The feature I should hope would
be released theatrically but I'd settle for a
straight to DVD. Yes, it will be an extremely
INDYpendant operation. I have no idea how long
it will take to get any of this stuff off the
ground. These things typically take years to evolve.
ASAP, I hope.
I wish you
all the luck Hugh and I am sure you will have
the support of all fans of your previous works
Oh man. The truck chase has started!!
Do you have
a favourite Indiana Jones moment?
It's probably coming up right now.
You know the bit where Indy gets back on the truck
grabs the big Nazi and is just bashing him around
the inside of the cab. hahahahaha. It's happening
I wish I could watch it right now too... but there's
no video in this office!
Other fave Indy moments... 'Raiders':
the Flying Wing fight. 'Temple': the Spike Chamber
and Rock Crusher scenes. The way Spielberg constructed
those action scenes. They're awesome. Very rarely
do writers and directors pay that much attention
to telling a story with an set piece.
shown in the Indy movies is certainly amazing
and somehow timeless. It still thrills me when
I watch them now.
Of course. It's good storytelling.
Man, I'm watching this movie in between the sentences
and it just freaking rocks... Captain Katanga
got a couple a questions here from TheRaider.net
"Explain a day in the studio with Hugh Fleming.",
"What, if any, art school did you attend?",
and "What's your personal definition of art?"
Er, well, I ain't
doing any painting at the mo'. So a day in my
studio is pretty lonely to the casual observer.
I'm busy at the computer writing. Maybe I'll write
you a 'Memoir of a Day in the Studio'.
The only art school I attended was a commercial
art course for five months back in 85. That was
just after leaving high school. I'm basically
self taught as an Illustrator.
As for what is art... Every film, every book,
every painting, every movie. They're all Art.
Commercial Art is art. Though commercial art is
by definition created mostly for profit. The more
art is created for the purposes of pure expression
and not to satisfy ones ego or bank balance- well,
that's the good art.
Art in my mind is a greater communication. It
makes us think and feel and can influence us all
in many ways. Art is for the good of people. Animals
cant appreciate it only man.
You got it. but some people say
that 'Raiders' isn't art. It's "pure escapism"
and serves no loftier agenda than to keep people
mindlessly diverted for two hours. 'Raiders' is
a spectacularly well crafted film, a brilliant
entertainment and an inspiration to people to
perhaps behave more heroically in the course of
I would say that 'Raiders' doesn't deal with huge
existential dilemma's. Sure, it's a simple tale.
But it's still damn good art.
Indy is a character who does inspire. when I was
a teenager I wanted to be Indy Jones. I'm sure
most of the guys reading this will identify with
I even have a fedora of my own!!
Who doesn't? I'll show you mine
indy's was made down under.
Oh, yeah. bullwhips. I bought a
bullwhip once. Used to practice in the back yard.
Put a few dirty great welts on my neck with it.
Have you seen those Indy whips yo can get? Like
identical? 800 Aussie bucks. Was Soooooo tempted...
'Raiders' just finished.
you keep a record of all the work you create?
in the Orient
issue 3's original cover
Yes. Transparencies. I still own
most of the originals I have a 'Raiders' poster
which you would have seen in the 'Star Wars Galaxy'
interview. It's full one sheet size.
George Lucas purchases original art related to
'Star Wars' and he's bought a few of my works.
Which I expect are hanging up in 'Skywalker Ranch'
A Pretty big honour!
'Skywalker Ranch' Is a total spinout if you are
a 'SW' fan and an illustrator. I saw things on
the walls that I'd been studying in miniature
The original John Berky novel cover, Struzans
'Lucas the Creative Impulse' cover, the freaking
Tommy Jung Original one sheet art. Gaaahhh. It's
amazing to me to imagine my work hanging near
them. So 'Indy 4' that's a "go"?
So far, yeh.
I am optimistic. any thoughts on what story line
you might like to see? They have said it will
be set around Harrison's true age which brings
them into the late 1950's early 60's?
Mmmm, He can't get away with playing
younger than 55 or so. So it's gotta be set in
the fifties. It can't in any way be set in the
60's for my money. I mean, the 50's was the last
time fedora's were in fashion. the last time there
were serials. Stylistically, it has to be the
50's to remain somewhat consistent with the spirit
and tone of the other movies. A period when there
were still dark, undiscovered mysterious places
to jet to in the world. I mean, jeez, what would
Indy do in the 60's? Go to vegas and rub shoulders
with the Rat Pack?
As for an actual story... I don't much care for
them revisiting other characters. As much as I'd
love to see Marion or even a grown up Short Round...
Marcus and Sallah suffered horribly in 'Last Crusade'.
Became totally undignified buffoons
Look, every Indy fan loves 'Raiders'. It's the
first, the best. etc. then you've got the fans
who dig both sequels. Then you've got the two
camps of fans split between loving or hating either
'Temple' or 'Crusade'. Despite Temple's abrasiveness,
poor plot, delirious pacing and all that, it's
still a balls to wall adventure movie. Technically
an equal to 'Raiders'. Stylistically as tight,
I think, as anything Spielberg ever shot. when
I first saw 'Crusade' I felt it was terribly flat.
As flawed in different ways, as 'Temple', but
unfortunately kind of mechanical and weak. Anyway...
I'm not going out of way to piss off 'Crusade'
buffs. I'm just a 'Temple' kind of guy. We can
all get along I'm sure. So long as we agree that
'Raiders' is King.
entitled to an opinion. Fear not, we are ultimately
all on the same side.
Amen. Bring on 4! You know, something
else just occurred to me. It's a strange quirk
of Indy fans to want Indy clothes... I'm not talking
about the same urge that grips costumers for 'Star
Wars' and other film franchises either, Not saying
it's weird... cause I was gripped by it also.
Just wandering what the deal is. You know, there's
that website with links to every damn place on
earth you can get exact replica Indy shit.
He just looks so cool. His outfit is as rugged
as his character.
I mean, I spend years obsessing
over finding 'the right hat' What is up with that?
I found it by the way. I've gone through about
five of them.
I've had three.
I think we are all of the mindset that if we wear
the same/similar clothes as Indy we will have
the adventures we dream about?
When I was 20 I took a design for
a leather jacket to a woman that made custom bike
leathers. This was in the 80's when you couldn't
get ANYTHING like Indy's jacket. I got excited
when I found one of those gas mask bags 2 years
ago on sydney. I should be over this by now HA
Maybe we are
a little wierd but its just natural... or at least
it feels like a natural 'want'.
So I think I've cemented my Indy
nerd credentials with those revelations, eh?
wondered if you had any advice for a beginning
in the Orient
issue 2's original cover.
Tough question. Illustration is
a very difficult area to get into these days.
In the 'olden days' they'd use Illustrators for
everything. Any advertisement was painted. Now
it's all 'Photoshop'. Illustration is I hope heading
for a renaissance. But budding Illustrators need
to cast their net's wider. Wider into areas other
than poster and comic illustration, maybe.
I recently used the example of Jamie Hewlett.
He's the co-creator and artist of 'Tank Girl'.
Wicked comic. Shit house movie. Anyway, Hewlett
is friends with Damon Albarn and through this
association he came to be the designer of 'Gorillaz'.
I would say, without a doubt, that his "brilliant"
design sense is being appreciated by more people
now though 'Gorillaz' than from his exposure with
the relatively underground phenomenon of 'Tank
are endless. It's just a matter of what opportunities
you make for yourself that enables more work to
So, yeah. get into animation. flash
or whatever. Hang with musicians and draw their
gig posters or CD covers. Go where the cool is
at. Because old skool Illustrators like Struzan
are not adaptable to where media is taking illustration.
I think anyway.
Keep in with
technology too. Computer illustration is in prime-time
at the moment.
Drew's work is thoroughly classical.
But, you know, times are changing.
we haven't seen the last of traditional work,
so keep your hand in. Do what makes you feel good.
That has always been my aim.
Absolutely. Follow your Bliss.
I try to recreate
feelings that I had when seeing art I love, music
I love... an urge to make others feel the way
If you work hard and are the at
the top of your field there will always be a market
for you. Do or do not. there is no spoon. Yadda
yadda yadda. All good advice
for all your time Hugh. As always it has been
a pleasure chatting to you.