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mike1

 

GENERADO POR ORDENADOR

Pioneros del Cómic Digital

Alberto J. Silva

Hace 25 años los ordenadores eran unos trastos muy caros que hacían beep y llevaban pegada una televisión mala. ¿Qué problema hay? ¿Por qué no le pueden poner una televisión normal, con colores y con sonido? ¿No sería mejor? Los listos decían que iban a cambiar el mundo y los demás nos preguntábamos cómo demonios podía cambiar el mundo una pelotita que rebota. Pero ellos sabrán. ¿Son listos, no?

Hoy día estamos acostumbrados a crear toda clase de documentos desde nuestro PC. Desde la circular de la comunidad de vecinos hasta la nueva revista de moda, todos salen de un ordenador personal. Salen de un escritorio. En alguna parte. Pero hace 25 años nadie entendía qué era eso del Desktop Publishing. Ni siquiera los que parecían entusiasmados con la idea tenían muy claro de qué se trataba o cómo funcionaba todo aquello.

Hoy quienes hacemos cómics (profesionales o no) tenemos en nuestras casas scanners, tabletas gráficas y pantallas táctiles que utilizamos para dibujar. Tenemos software para pintar, software para rotular, software para componer. Hace 25 años los ordenadores eran tan caros y el software estaba tan limitado que a nadie se le hubiera ocurrido nunca utilizarlos para hacer cómics. O a casi nadie.

SHATTER

Peter Gillis venía de guionizar series como Micronauts o What If? para Marvel Comics, mientras que los dibujos de Mike Saenz aparecían de forma más o menos regular en las páginas de Epic Illustrated y las revistas de Warren. Los dos tenían el proyecto de poner en la calle un cómic realizado íntegramente dentro del Macintosh. Juntos prepararon algunas muestras que presentar a Mike Gold, por aquel entonces editor de First Comics, que quedó impresionado por la calidad del trabajo de Saenz con la computadora. Así fue como Shatter comenzó su publicación en Junio de 1985 como un número especial de 48 páginas, para seguir luego como complemento dentro de las páginas de John Sable. Pero el éxito de la serie y las sucesivas reediciones del primer especial hicieron que en diciembre de aquel mismo año, Shatter pasara a contar con su propia cabecera mensual.

Todo el contenido de Shatter estaba creado dentro de la computadora a excepción del color, que se seguía aplicando a mano (el color digital era técnicamente posible, pero demasiado laborioso para poder seguir el ritmo de publicación mensual). Saenz dibujaba con un ratón, utilizando el primitivo MacPaint, una herramienta de dibujo monocromática, precusora del posterior Photoshop, a la que muy pronto se uniría el nuevo MacDraw, para ayudar con la rotulación y los efectos de sonido. Durante la primera etapa del cómic, los creadores de Shatter no podian permitirse una impresora matricial y tenían que imprimir las páginas en el trabajo de un amigo. Cada ejemplar del cómic contaba entre 20 y 24 páginas, que ocupaban unos tres discos floppy, es decir, en torno a unos 1200Kb en total.

shatter002

Pero Saenz abandona el título después de solo dos episodios y deja Shatter sin un ilustrador capaz de dibujar con la computadora. Durante algunos meses, First utilizó páginas de dibujantes como Steve Erwin o Bob Dienethal, dibujadas manualmente y pasadas por el escáner, que más tarde eran tratadas en el ordenador para darles el característico aspecto computerizado. Para la última etapa del título contactaron con un nuevo artista digital, Charlie Athanas, que volvía a producir los dibujos directamente dentro de la máquina. Se incorporaba además la ayuda de un nuevo colorista: Steve Oliff.

El cómic continuaría su publicación hasta alcanzar los 14 números, cuando finalmente fue cancelado por First Comics. Pese a todo, Shatter ha pasado a la historia como el primer comic dibujado íntegramente con la sola ayuda de un ordenador.

IRON MAN: CRASH

Pero Saenz ya estaba preparando su siguiente proyecto. El editor Archie Goodwin se había puesto en contacto con él para discutir la posibilidad de crear un nuevo comic digital, uno dentro de la línea Epic de Marvel Comics para el que el dibujante ya estaba planeando una técnica perfeccionada que lo haría todavía más ambicioso y sofisticado. Al menos sobre el papel, porque de momento era imposible poner el proyecto en marcha con la tecnología que tenían a su disposición. Sin embargo todo eso podía cambiar en 1987 con el lanzamiento del nuevo Macintosh II. Por primera vez una computadora iba a manejar 24 bits de color verdadero y tendría la capacidad de mostrar imágenes con calidad fotográfica.

Para dibujar Crash, Mike Saenz contó con la ayuda del programador William Bates, encargado de escribir una aplicación a la medida de las necesidades del dibujante. Un nuevo software pensado para colorear y maquetar las páginas de Crash al que dieron el nombre de Litographer. Junto a él estaban Michael Miller, experto en I+D que ayudó a escribir el guión del cómic, y el español Pepe Moreno, que trabajó aquí como asistente dibujando fondos para algunas viñetas.

Para dibujar Crash, Saenz se sirvió de ComicWorks, una herramienta de dibujo que él mismo había ayudado a crear para la empresa MacroMind (luego Macromedia). Con ella fue capaz de dibujar la mayor parte de las imagenes. En total, cerca de 10Mb de mapas de bits en baja resolución (72dpi). El cómic también incluía por primera vez algunas naves y vehículos renderizados en 3D, así como distintas viñetas y elementos vectoriales para los que se usó un primitivo Adobe Illustrator.

Todas esas imagenes en blanco y negro se importaban después a Litographer, donde gracias a las nuevas herramientas programadas por Bates era posible componer, colorear, rotular y dejar las páginas listas para la imprenta. Litographer podía preparar por sí mismo la separación de colores y generar cuatro archivos por cada página (uno por cada uno de los colores de cuatricromía).

Esta vez sí, Crash había sido creado de principio a fin con el ordenador, sin trabajo manual ni originales de ninguna clase, pero aún faltaban cinco o séis años para que aquellas nuevas técnicas digitales se popularizaran entre los creadores de cómics de todo el mundo. Hasta entonces aquellos cómics, Shatter y Crash, no eran más que rarezas. Pero eran rarezas que por lo visto se vendían bastante bien. De modo que si Marvel había puesto en la calle su propio cómic digital, entonces sus competidores de DC Comics no podían quedarse atrás.

PLUSINFO

Anónimo, (1993) “Cyberserk: The Making of Donna Matrix”, en “Donna Matrix #1”, Reactor.
Athanas, Charlie “Comic Books: Shatter Issues #9-14”, Burning City.
Michael Gold, (1985) Introducción en ‘Shatter Special”, First Comics
Michael Saenz, (1988) “The Making of Crash” en “Iron Man: Crash”, Marvel Comics.
Michael Gold, (1990) “Intro”, en “Batman: Digital Jusice”, DC Comics.
Wayne Markley, (1993) “An Interview With Mike Saenz”, en “Advance Comics #56”, Diamond.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shatter_(digital_comic)

All text is copyright © 2009, Alberto J. Silva. All images are copyright © their respective owners and appear here with with informative purposes only. All rights reserved.

Steel Raining: Laquelaq

Laquelaq, la nueva actualización de Steel Raining, es un experimento corto con el formato slideshow donde intentamos trasladar al cómic el lenguaje del videoclip. Aunque lo tienes disponible aquí en la web, está pensado para ser leído en tu tablet o escritorio.

Laquelaq is a very short experiment in comics, trying to replicate the language of videoclips using the popular panel-to-panel format. You can read the story here and open them with your favorite .CBR or .CBZ reader (I.E. CDisplay). I did my best to provide an English translation, but keep in mind that isn’t my first language, so let me know if you find some typos or mistakes. Laquelaq works best with music.

An Interview with Rick Leonardi

(La versión en español de esta entrevista está disponible en Kekorto.es) In the course of the last Expocomic Madrid 2011, and thanks to the wonderful chaps at Kekorto, I had the chance to spend a couple minutes with Spider-Man and Star Wars artist Rick Leonardi. The whole Marvel 2099 universe and Leonardi’s work in particular have always been a favorite of mine and one of the main influences for the kind of stuff We try to make over here. So make sure you check Rick’s amazing work and enjoy this transcript of the interview: rickleonardi Steel Raining: We wanted to start by talking about your begginings as a comic book artist. Rick Leonardi: My first job… I think my first one was actually 1980. That was Thor #303 SR: So, how did you break up in the industry? RL: Well, in 1979 I graduated in university and decided I wanted to work in comics, so I wrote a story, I pencilled the story and I Inked the story. I put word balloons on the story and took It down… this is in the days before professional copying, so I had to actually photostat the stuff. A very expensive process to reduce giant boards to comic book size. But I did It, because I wanted It to look like a comic book. I sent It off to Marvel. Waited months. In December 1979, I finally got a phone call back from New York that said: “We can’t tell. You say you want to be a penciller, but We can’t tell what kind of pencils you do, ’cause this is covered with ink, and It’s too small, and It’s got balloons. You might be a good writer. We don’t know, but your writing is pretty good”. So I said: “Aw!” (Leonardi slaps his own forehead). So I went home and did like three pictures, three pages of drawings in pencil, of Conan the Barbarian, turning and posing… and that was It. SR: Through your career, you’ve drawn almost everything. From Marvel, to DC. Almost every character… RL: Except Batman. My Moby Dick. SR: Really? But I’ve seen drawings of the Batman by you. RL: Yeah, I’ve had him in a lot of stories that I’ve drawn, but never in one of the main Batman books. SR: Oh, that’s a shame, that would be awesome… So, You spent a long time working for Marvel… RL: Past 20 years, yeah. SR: … working in books such as Cloak and Dagger. At the time, that was a story that touched on some sensitive themes such as drug dealing or child offense. How did you approach that as an artist? RL: Well, Bill Mantlo, the writer, was at the time putting himself through law school and He was a socially aware person to start with. So those are the sort of stories that appealed to him. Cloak and Dagger, I think It was always gonna be focused in that direction, rather than superheroic adventure. So my brief as a penciller was to make that as real as possible. Do researching: New York City, the back alleys, the dark places. I remember actually walking through New York at the time, taking a long walk down through Hell’s Kitchen. SR: Another of your better known works was Spider-Man 2099, as part of the 2099 universe. RL: It was the longest time I’ve been on a book. 25 issues plus the graphic novel. SR: How did you land on the book? It looked like a pretty complicated project…. RL: It was a complicated thing, but I think They were looking for people who gave a little bit of a thought to what they were gonna draw. SR: A lot of concept work, I suppose. RL: Exactly. We were four teams for four different books, who met as teams in a hotel conference room, away from the office. We had a secret meeting to talk about how We were gonna do things, brainstorming a couple of the original ideas. I think the whole idea of New York City being built on top of the old city, with magnetic levitation roadways, riding from top to bottom… I think that came out of me. SR: And you’re also remembered for the design of the popular black costume Spider-Man wore, back in the 80’s. The one that would ultimately become Venom. RL: Well, the original black costume… I mean, Mike Zeck did a very quick drawing for Jim Shooter as a concept, and then Jim Shooter contacted me and said: “Can you refine this? We need a three-view. We need a real sheet that our artists can work from”. I don’t think I did much. I separated the legs (in the chest logo). I put an extra joint in the legs. I think I may have done the wrist thing. SR: We were researching for the interview yesterday when we found this series called The Rampaging Hulk and there you’re credited as a writer in a couple of the issues. Tell us a bit about It. RL: Well. My version of the story? SR: Sure. rl RL: There’s always been the Incredible Hulk. It was written by Peter David and Peter David had taken the Incredible Hulk in an interesting new direction. The Incredible Hulk had been green, now It was grey, It wasn’t very smart, but now he was really smart, remember? A very interesting reading experience, but very different from the Hulk that was, so I think Marvel said: “We need to go back to what the Hulk used to be. We’re not gonna change Peter David, cause Peter David… (Leonardi makes a gesture of bowing, when He mentions Peter David). So, We’ll do a separate book called The Rampaging Hulk“. The stories would be standalone. He’ll be angry and He’ll smash stuff. He’ll be like the old one. I think that was the Idea, trying to appeal the people who used to like the way He was rather the way He’d become. So, by issue six or so, We were selling so many of the Rampaging Hulk the Incredible Hulk people said: “hey, wait a second, We’ll make our Hulk go back”, so they cancelled our book. SR: You spent quite some time at Marvel, but come the late 90’s, you decided to move to DC. RL: Well, Marvel went into… It had It’s financial difficulties. It’s first round of financial difficulties. One day, all this mid level editors that I’d been working with would let go. Fired. So I followed them to DC. It was a difficult time. SR: A difficult time, indeed. Whether It’s Nightwing, Batgirl or Vigilante, you seem to be very comfortable working in stories set in the city. Lonely characters in an urban environment. Is that a personal taste of yours? RL: I think that’s a sort of story that comes my way. They all tend to be, again, maybe a little bit of a typecast. I wind up in the darker, shadier stories. Back alley stuff. Specially Vigilante. They were fairly explicit there to say: “We need someone who can do gritty”. SR: Being a longtime comic book artist, We wanted to ask you about the way comic book art and people’s taste for comic book art have changed over the years. RL: Well, there’s a lot going on in what I what I would call “post-production face” now, that I don’t really understand so well. Actually, I saw a video that someone uploaded to the internet, just the other day, of a spanish artist, drawing a pin-up, and I was surprised that very very quickly, I mean sooner than I would have, He went to the scanner and then into Photoshop . That, I don’t have any contact with. I’m still… SR: You still haven’t moved to digital tools. RL: Yeah. Exactly. SR: Recently, We’ve seen you working on some movie tie-in books. Things like Alien Versus Predator or the Darth Vader: The Lost Command miniseries. RL: That’s Dark Horse. Dark Horse has that license. SR: How is it different working on that kind of movie franchises from drawing the average superhero book? RL: It’s not terrificly different, although two issues into the Darth Vader’s story, for Star Wars, I got some feedback from Lucas (Books). I was doing this… there’s that triangular grill right here (on Vader’s face), and there’s another triangular grill right here underneath (on Vader’s neck). This was wrong (Leonardi points the lower grill in Vader’s mask). I was doing It wrong. We had to go back and fix It. SR: Tell us. Do you still read comic books regularly? RL: No, not regularly. I follow artists. SR: Really? ‘Cause We wanted to ask you about your influences. What you like and what you’ve enjoyed over the years. RL: Well, as a kid I looked at a lot of reprints of really old stuff. Prince Valiant by Hal foster, Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Will Eisner… all the grandfathers of comics. But the guy who really got me interested was Jim Steranko. The Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff he made and Captain America. Awesome. Awesome stuff. He was really the first… you know, OK, there’s Jack Kirby (Leonardi makes a gesture of bowing again when He mentions Kirby)… but Jim Steranko was the first rock star penciller, and I thought: “wow, this guy’s number one”. SR: Are you interested in creating your own stories or putting out your own creator owned suff at some point in the future? RL: Well, I think your next question is going to be “what are you working on, now?”. Yeah, I think there’s where I have to head. You know, Marvel’s been bought by Disney and I don’t know what kind of bussiness They’re in right now. DC, in reaction to that purchase is all confused… I don’t know. I don’t know who to call anymore, so It’s time to work for independent publishers and possibly do something on my own. SR: Well, I think that’s all. Thank you very much, Rick and We’ll be looking forward to your new projects. I’ve done my best to transcribe Leonardi’s words faithfully, but there might be something wrong here and there. Just let me know and I’ll address any mistakes. I was really happy to talk to Rick and I have to thank him again for his patience and the time he spent with us. My gratitude goes to the Expocomic organization too, their press department and obviously Kekorto.es, who makes a huge effort every year to report from the halls of the con. I hope to see you all soon, guys! All Images are copyright ©, their respective owners, and appear here with informative and promotional purposes only.

Generado por Ordenador

 

mike1

 

GENERADO POR ORDENADOR

Pioneros del Cómic Digital

Alberto J. Silva

Hace 25 años los ordenadores eran unos trastos muy caros que hacían beep y llevaban pegada una televisión mala. ¿Qué problema hay? ¿Por qué no le pueden poner una televisión normal, con colores y con sonido? ¿No sería mejor? Los listos decían que iban a cambiar el mundo y los demás nos preguntábamos cómo demonios podía cambiar el mundo una pelotita que rebota. Pero ellos sabrán. ¿Son listos, no?

Hoy día estamos acostumbrados a crear toda clase de documentos desde nuestro PC. Desde la circular de la comunidad de vecinos hasta la nueva revista de moda, todos salen de un ordenador personal. Salen de un escritorio. En alguna parte. Pero hace 25 años nadie entendía qué era eso del Desktop Publishing. Ni siquiera los que parecían entusiasmados con la idea tenían muy claro de qué se trataba o cómo funcionaba todo aquello.

Hoy quienes hacemos cómics (profesionales o no) tenemos en nuestras casas scanners, tabletas gráficas y pantallas táctiles que utilizamos para dibujar. Tenemos software para pintar, software para rotular, software para componer. Hace 25 años los ordenadores eran tan caros y el software estaba tan limitado que a nadie se le hubiera ocurrido nunca utilizarlos para hacer cómics. O a casi nadie.

SHATTER

Peter Gillis venía de guionizar series como Micronauts o What If? para Marvel Comics, mientras que los dibujos de Mike Saenz aparecían de forma más o menos regular en las páginas de Epic Illustrated y las revistas de Warren. Los dos tenían el proyecto de poner en la calle un cómic realizado íntegramente dentro del Macintosh. Juntos prepararon algunas muestras que presentar a Mike Gold, por aquel entonces editor de First Comics, que quedó impresionado por la calidad del trabajo de Saenz con la computadora. Así fue como Shatter comenzó su publicación en Junio de 1985 como un número especial de 48 páginas, para seguir luego como complemento dentro de las páginas de John Sable. Pero el éxito de la serie y las sucesivas reediciones del primer especial hicieron que en diciembre de aquel mismo año, Shatter pasara a contar con su propia cabecera mensual.

Todo el contenido de Shatter estaba creado dentro de la computadora a excepción del color, que se seguía aplicando a mano (el color digital era técnicamente posible, pero demasiado laborioso para poder seguir el ritmo de publicación mensual). Saenz dibujaba con un ratón, utilizando el primitivo MacPaint, una herramienta de dibujo monocromática, precusora del posterior Photoshop, a la que muy pronto se uniría el nuevo MacDraw, para ayudar con la rotulación y los efectos de sonido. Durante la primera etapa del cómic, los creadores de Shatter no podian permitirse una impresora matricial y tenían que imprimir las páginas en el trabajo de un amigo. Cada ejemplar del cómic contaba entre 20 y 24 páginas, que ocupaban unos tres discos floppy, es decir, en torno a unos 1200Kb en total.

shatter002

Pero Saenz abandona el título después de solo dos episodios y deja Shatter sin un ilustrador capaz de dibujar con la computadora. Durante algunos meses, First utilizó páginas de dibujantes como Steve Erwin o Bob Dienethal, dibujadas manualmente y pasadas por el escáner, que más tarde eran tratadas en el ordenador para darles el característico aspecto computerizado. Para la última etapa del título contactaron con un nuevo artista digital, Charlie Athanas, que volvía a producir los dibujos directamente dentro de la máquina. Se incorporaba además la ayuda de un nuevo colorista: Steve Oliff.

El cómic continuaría su publicación hasta alcanzar los 14 números, cuando finalmente fue cancelado por First Comics. Pese a todo, Shatter ha pasado a la historia como el primer comic dibujado íntegramente con la sola ayuda de un ordenador.

IRON MAN: CRASH

Pero Saenz ya estaba preparando su siguiente proyecto. El editor Archie Goodwin se había puesto en contacto con él para discutir la posibilidad de crear un nuevo comic digital, uno dentro de la línea Epic de Marvel Comics para el que el dibujante ya estaba planeando una técnica perfeccionada que lo haría todavía más ambicioso y sofisticado. Al menos sobre el papel, porque de momento era imposible poner el proyecto en marcha con la tecnología que tenían a su disposición. Sin embargo todo eso podía cambiar en 1987 con el lanzamiento del nuevo Macintosh II. Por primera vez una computadora iba a manejar 24 bits de color verdadero y tendría la capacidad de mostrar imágenes con calidad fotográfica.

Para dibujar Crash, Mike Saenz contó con la ayuda del programador William Bates, encargado de escribir una aplicación a la medida de las necesidades del dibujante. Un nuevo software pensado para colorear y maquetar las páginas de Crash al que dieron el nombre de Litographer. Junto a él estaban Michael Miller, experto en I+D que ayudó a escribir el guión del cómic, y el español Pepe Moreno, que trabajó aquí como asistente dibujando fondos para algunas viñetas.

Para dibujar Crash, Saenz se sirvió de ComicWorks, una herramienta de dibujo que él mismo había ayudado a crear para la empresa MacroMind (luego Macromedia). Con ella fue capaz de dibujar la mayor parte de las imagenes. En total, cerca de 10Mb de mapas de bits en baja resolución (72dpi). El cómic también incluía por primera vez algunas naves y vehículos renderizados en 3D, así como distintas viñetas y elementos vectoriales para los que se usó un primitivo Adobe Illustrator.

Todas esas imagenes en blanco y negro se importaban después a Litographer, donde gracias a las nuevas herramientas programadas por Bates era posible componer, colorear, rotular y dejar las páginas listas para la imprenta. Litographer podía preparar por sí mismo la separación de colores y generar cuatro archivos por cada página (uno por cada uno de los colores de cuatricromía).

Esta vez sí, Crash había sido creado de principio a fin con el ordenador, sin trabajo manual ni originales de ninguna clase, pero aún faltaban cinco o séis años para que aquellas nuevas técnicas digitales se popularizaran entre los creadores de cómics de todo el mundo. Hasta entonces aquellos cómics, Shatter y Crash, no eran más que rarezas. Pero eran rarezas que por lo visto se vendían bastante bien. De modo que si Marvel había puesto en la calle su propio cómic digital, entonces sus competidores de DC Comics no podían quedarse atrás.

PLUSINFO

Anónimo, (1993) “Cyberserk: The Making of Donna Matrix”, en “Donna Matrix #1”, Reactor.
Athanas, Charlie “Comic Books: Shatter Issues #9-14”, Burning City.
Michael Gold, (1985) Introducción en ‘Shatter Special”, First Comics
Michael Saenz, (1988) “The Making of Crash” en “Iron Man: Crash”, Marvel Comics.
Michael Gold, (1990) “Intro”, en “Batman: Digital Jusice”, DC Comics.
Wayne Markley, (1993) “An Interview With Mike Saenz”, en “Advance Comics #56”, Diamond.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shatter_(digital_comic)

All text is copyright © 2009, Alberto J. Silva. All images are copyright © their respective owners and appear here with with informative purposes only. All rights reserved.

Steel Raining: Laquelaq

Laquelaq, la nueva actualización de Steel Raining, es un experimento corto con el formato slideshow donde intentamos trasladar al cómic el lenguaje del videoclip. Aunque lo tienes disponible aquí en la web, está pensado para ser leído en tu tablet o escritorio.

Laquelaq is a very short experiment in comics, trying to replicate the language of videoclips using the popular panel-to-panel format. You can read the story here and open them with your favorite .CBR or .CBZ reader (I.E. CDisplay). I did my best to provide an English translation, but keep in mind that isn’t my first language, so let me know if you find some typos or mistakes. Laquelaq works best with music.

An Interview with Rick Leonardi

(La versión en español de esta entrevista está disponible en Kekorto.es) In the course of the last Expocomic Madrid 2011, and thanks to the wonderful chaps at Kekorto, I had the chance to spend a couple minutes with Spider-Man and Star Wars artist Rick Leonardi. The whole Marvel 2099 universe and Leonardi’s work in particular have always been a favorite of mine and one of the main influences for the kind of stuff We try to make over here. So make sure you check Rick’s amazing work and enjoy this transcript of the interview: rickleonardi Steel Raining: We wanted to start by talking about your begginings as a comic book artist. Rick Leonardi: My first job… I think my first one was actually 1980. That was Thor #303 SR: So, how did you break up in the industry? RL: Well, in 1979 I graduated in university and decided I wanted to work in comics, so I wrote a story, I pencilled the story and I Inked the story. I put word balloons on the story and took It down… this is in the days before professional copying, so I had to actually photostat the stuff. A very expensive process to reduce giant boards to comic book size. But I did It, because I wanted It to look like a comic book. I sent It off to Marvel. Waited months. In December 1979, I finally got a phone call back from New York that said: “We can’t tell. You say you want to be a penciller, but We can’t tell what kind of pencils you do, ’cause this is covered with ink, and It’s too small, and It’s got balloons. You might be a good writer. We don’t know, but your writing is pretty good”. So I said: “Aw!” (Leonardi slaps his own forehead). So I went home and did like three pictures, three pages of drawings in pencil, of Conan the Barbarian, turning and posing… and that was It. SR: Through your career, you’ve drawn almost everything. From Marvel, to DC. Almost every character… RL: Except Batman. My Moby Dick. SR: Really? But I’ve seen drawings of the Batman by you. RL: Yeah, I’ve had him in a lot of stories that I’ve drawn, but never in one of the main Batman books. SR: Oh, that’s a shame, that would be awesome… So, You spent a long time working for Marvel… RL: Past 20 years, yeah. SR: … working in books such as Cloak and Dagger. At the time, that was a story that touched on some sensitive themes such as drug dealing or child offense. How did you approach that as an artist? RL: Well, Bill Mantlo, the writer, was at the time putting himself through law school and He was a socially aware person to start with. So those are the sort of stories that appealed to him. Cloak and Dagger, I think It was always gonna be focused in that direction, rather than superheroic adventure. So my brief as a penciller was to make that as real as possible. Do researching: New York City, the back alleys, the dark places. I remember actually walking through New York at the time, taking a long walk down through Hell’s Kitchen. SR: Another of your better known works was Spider-Man 2099, as part of the 2099 universe. RL: It was the longest time I’ve been on a book. 25 issues plus the graphic novel. SR: How did you land on the book? It looked like a pretty complicated project…. RL: It was a complicated thing, but I think They were looking for people who gave a little bit of a thought to what they were gonna draw. SR: A lot of concept work, I suppose. RL: Exactly. We were four teams for four different books, who met as teams in a hotel conference room, away from the office. We had a secret meeting to talk about how We were gonna do things, brainstorming a couple of the original ideas. I think the whole idea of New York City being built on top of the old city, with magnetic levitation roadways, riding from top to bottom… I think that came out of me. SR: And you’re also remembered for the design of the popular black costume Spider-Man wore, back in the 80’s. The one that would ultimately become Venom. RL: Well, the original black costume… I mean, Mike Zeck did a very quick drawing for Jim Shooter as a concept, and then Jim Shooter contacted me and said: “Can you refine this? We need a three-view. We need a real sheet that our artists can work from”. I don’t think I did much. I separated the legs (in the chest logo). I put an extra joint in the legs. I think I may have done the wrist thing. SR: We were researching for the interview yesterday when we found this series called The Rampaging Hulk and there you’re credited as a writer in a couple of the issues. Tell us a bit about It. RL: Well. My version of the story? SR: Sure. rl RL: There’s always been the Incredible Hulk. It was written by Peter David and Peter David had taken the Incredible Hulk in an interesting new direction. The Incredible Hulk had been green, now It was grey, It wasn’t very smart, but now he was really smart, remember? A very interesting reading experience, but very different from the Hulk that was, so I think Marvel said: “We need to go back to what the Hulk used to be. We’re not gonna change Peter David, cause Peter David… (Leonardi makes a gesture of bowing, when He mentions Peter David). So, We’ll do a separate book called The Rampaging Hulk“. The stories would be standalone. He’ll be angry and He’ll smash stuff. He’ll be like the old one. I think that was the Idea, trying to appeal the people who used to like the way He was rather the way He’d become. So, by issue six or so, We were selling so many of the Rampaging Hulk the Incredible Hulk people said: “hey, wait a second, We’ll make our Hulk go back”, so they cancelled our book. SR: You spent quite some time at Marvel, but come the late 90’s, you decided to move to DC. RL: Well, Marvel went into… It had It’s financial difficulties. It’s first round of financial difficulties. One day, all this mid level editors that I’d been working with would let go. Fired. So I followed them to DC. It was a difficult time. SR: A difficult time, indeed. Whether It’s Nightwing, Batgirl or Vigilante, you seem to be very comfortable working in stories set in the city. Lonely characters in an urban environment. Is that a personal taste of yours? RL: I think that’s a sort of story that comes my way. They all tend to be, again, maybe a little bit of a typecast. I wind up in the darker, shadier stories. Back alley stuff. Specially Vigilante. They were fairly explicit there to say: “We need someone who can do gritty”. SR: Being a longtime comic book artist, We wanted to ask you about the way comic book art and people’s taste for comic book art have changed over the years. RL: Well, there’s a lot going on in what I what I would call “post-production face” now, that I don’t really understand so well. Actually, I saw a video that someone uploaded to the internet, just the other day, of a spanish artist, drawing a pin-up, and I was surprised that very very quickly, I mean sooner than I would have, He went to the scanner and then into Photoshop . That, I don’t have any contact with. I’m still… SR: You still haven’t moved to digital tools. RL: Yeah. Exactly. SR: Recently, We’ve seen you working on some movie tie-in books. Things like Alien Versus Predator or the Darth Vader: The Lost Command miniseries. RL: That’s Dark Horse. Dark Horse has that license. SR: How is it different working on that kind of movie franchises from drawing the average superhero book? RL: It’s not terrificly different, although two issues into the Darth Vader’s story, for Star Wars, I got some feedback from Lucas (Books). I was doing this… there’s that triangular grill right here (on Vader’s face), and there’s another triangular grill right here underneath (on Vader’s neck). This was wrong (Leonardi points the lower grill in Vader’s mask). I was doing It wrong. We had to go back and fix It. SR: Tell us. Do you still read comic books regularly? RL: No, not regularly. I follow artists. SR: Really? ‘Cause We wanted to ask you about your influences. What you like and what you’ve enjoyed over the years. RL: Well, as a kid I looked at a lot of reprints of really old stuff. Prince Valiant by Hal foster, Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, Will Eisner… all the grandfathers of comics. But the guy who really got me interested was Jim Steranko. The Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff he made and Captain America. Awesome. Awesome stuff. He was really the first… you know, OK, there’s Jack Kirby (Leonardi makes a gesture of bowing again when He mentions Kirby)… but Jim Steranko was the first rock star penciller, and I thought: “wow, this guy’s number one”. SR: Are you interested in creating your own stories or putting out your own creator owned suff at some point in the future? RL: Well, I think your next question is going to be “what are you working on, now?”. Yeah, I think there’s where I have to head. You know, Marvel’s been bought by Disney and I don’t know what kind of bussiness They’re in right now. DC, in reaction to that purchase is all confused… I don’t know. I don’t know who to call anymore, so It’s time to work for independent publishers and possibly do something on my own. SR: Well, I think that’s all. Thank you very much, Rick and We’ll be looking forward to your new projects. I’ve done my best to transcribe Leonardi’s words faithfully, but there might be something wrong here and there. Just let me know and I’ll address any mistakes. I was really happy to talk to Rick and I have to thank him again for his patience and the time he spent with us. My gratitude goes to the Expocomic organization too, their press department and obviously Kekorto.es, who makes a huge effort every year to report from the halls of the con. I hope to see you all soon, guys! All Images are copyright ©, their respective owners, and appear here with informative and promotional purposes only.