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This week, StormWatch: PHD gets a visual tweak as Mike McKone (covers) and Andy Smith (interiors) replace outgoing artist Doug Mahnke on the Christos Gage-penned title. With some nasty events about to hit the cast, Andy Smith stopped by for a talk on drawing Wildstorm’s most critically-acclaimed team book of today…

BROKEN FRONTIER: What led to Doug Mahnke’s exit, and your subsequent joining the title?

ANDY SMITH: I don’t know why Doug left the book. I never asked Ben, the editor, but can only assume he was offered the Black Adam gig and decided he’d rather do that. I got offered the job back in Dec. I just finished up week 39 of 52 when Ben called me to see if I’d be interested in working on it.

I had worked with Ben the previous year on the Claw: The Unconquered mini series and it was great. Plus, I like StormWatch, so it was an easy decision to make.

BF: Had you been on Wildstorm’s "next time a slot opens up, we need to give him a job"-list following your work on Claw?

AS: I think so. Ben and the rest of the guys up there were very happy with my work and my timeliness over the year and mentioned trying to get me on something else.

BF: On StormWatch, Doug had established a rugged look and feel that fit Christos Gage’s scripts perfectly. Have you tweaked your usually clean style and made it a bit grittier to fit the tone of the book, or will it be similar to where we last saw you, on World War III #2?

AS: I’m going with the same style from World War III #2. When I get hired for a job it’s because of what I do so I don’t feel comfortable changing up the style. To me that’s almost like a bait and switch. If I was asked to change something in my work for a job I would, but that wasn’t the case here.

BF: Does Christos make life easy for you as an artist?

AS: Oh yeah, his scripts are easy to work from. He lays down a good solid groundwork with enough room for me to play. Stuff like adding panels and such…

BF: Coming into the series, does it surprise you that it’s making so many waves around the industry, even though a lot of the team members don’t have any superpowers and weren’t really big players in the Wildstorm universe to begin with?

AS: Not really, the book is well written and Doug’s art is top notch. I’d be more surprised if it wasn’t receiving good reviews. My main objective is to keep the excitement and buzz on it going and maybe pull in some more readers that are fans of my work.

BF: In this month’s installment, your first, the PHD team pays a visit to StormWatch Prime—does that go by smoothly?

AS: Let’s just say there is a bump in the road that didn’t make the visit go as smooth as they would’ve liked.

BF: In July’s issue #9, a team member lies dying. Will that make this ragtag band even more dysfunctional than it already is, or will it bring them closer together?

AS: Now, if I told you that it would be telling wouldn’t it… you’ll just have to wait and see!

BF: Ok then, how long are you scheduled to be on Wildstorm PHD?

AS: Man, I’m there for as long as they’ll have me!

StormWatch: PHD #8 went on sale today through DC Comics.

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