Less than a week before the Malta Comic Con 2012 – Emma Rios is interviewed about her career, her past projects and her plans for the future. Meet Emma Rios at St James Cavalier on the 8-9 December from 10-6pm and visit her exhibition brought to Malta directly from Orbital in London!
You started as an architect. How did you break into comics and become a full time comic artist?
I´ve been making comics for a while, but I started in small press and self publishing in Spain. I was lucky, Warren Ellis posted my work on his website and a month later, Matt Gagnon wrote me offering me a full miniseries at Boom! Studios. At that moment I have had a couple of interviews with American editors at Barcelona´s con, everybody liked the stuff a lot but it´s always very difficult to enter without any other reference than a kind of cool portfolio. And I decided to place my bet, I left my work as an architect to try to do what I liked most, comics. As Hexed, the mini I did at Boom!, worked great, before finishing it I had a proposal from Marvel.
You are a self-thought comic artist. How did you become interested in such a medium? What would you suggest to other self-thought comic artists who would like to have their break in the industry?
I learnt how to read by reading comics, and I always liked drawing. Ending up making comics feels quite natural to me.
I suggest to newcomers to use internet as much as they can, and to self-publish their own books. When I started I was a lot into fanzines, photocopies, local distribution… now it´s much easier to show your work to the whole world.
Your flickr. album attracted the attention of Warren Ellis. Do you think his public praise of your work helped boost your career?
Yep, totally. He was the one who made my work visible out of Spain. I probably owe him my career.
Your website and flickr. album are constantly updated with sketches of various pages and covers that you’re working on at the time. Do you think that it is important for comic artists to be as much present ‘online’ through web 0.2 tools (such as twitter, facebook, flickr. blogspot etc…) as it is to be on comic book shelves?
Sure, I think it´s very important. Nobody is going to knock your door to offer you work.
Your artwork can be described as dynamic with a lot of attention to detail. Your colour palette is varied and there is a lot of contrast. Do you agree with this description and how would you describe your artwork?
Yes, I guess I agree. But I think I try to adapt to each book, so maybe inks can become less aggressive or colours less bright. But yup, in general I think I tend to work with those elements a lot.
How do you go about plotting your work?
There is a professional printer close to my city, I´ve been working with them for several years already, since my first self-published book. So when I want to prepare prints, mini comics or zines I always go there. They are quite good.
Have you always used the digital medium to draw comics?
I always do digital colour but I´m not attached to digital ink. I enjoy so much the traditional process for that.
Your work on issue 26 of Prophet has been wildly discussed. Your artwork was remarkable and it was one of your early attempts at co-writing too. How did you find this experience? Do you intend to write more comics?
It was incredibly fun, I can´t thank Brandon enough for inviting me. Of course I didn´t expect such reactions, it was so encouraging, really.
I used to write my own stories before starting in the American market, while studying and working. And I love to write and draw , it´s a completely different process, and pretty addictive.
I don´t see myself as a writer alone though, I wouldn´t be able to, for example, write 5 comic books per month for a living. My writing is pretty attached to how I work as an artist, to the layouts and storytelling, it´s more visual maybe. I think that happens a lot when artists write their own stories, and I believe, for better or worse, it´s a different kind of result.
And yes, I hope I can end up doing my own stories from time to time, starting this year.
Some writers come up with very detailed scripts while others prefer to allow more creative freedom to the artists. Which type of writer do you prefer to work with and why?
I need freedom on the scripts. I tend to change things to adjust the tempo to the way I work, and fortunately, all the writers I worked with, were comfortable with that.
Actually, Kelly Sue and me, are working by the Marvel Method right now in Pretty Deadly and it´s very organic, I really love it.
Dr. Strange and The Amazing Spiderman, were two series that you worked on for Marvel. What can you tell us about your experience?
Well, both are extraordinary characters. As a fan of Steve Ditko´s suff, working with them is always overwhelming, I just try to show my vision of them, respectfully.
I specially like working with them because they are so different. Stephen is more solemn, Peter probably is happier… but both of them has strong personalities that can be easily reflected by their acting, something that is very important to me when I work. It would have been nice to do a crossover.
How does working with a major publisher differ from working with a smaller publisher? Do you have any preference?
The difference to me is more between working alone or working with somebody.
Regarding teamwork, besides, obviously, the money, and that at Marvel you use to work with franchises, I didn´t feel any difference. Honestly, I always had a lot of freedom.
Have you ever considered working on a Graphic Novel instead of a series?
I´d love to.
You have worked on both interior pages and covers of comic book. How do these types of work differ? Do you prefer one over the other?
I like drawing but it´s the layouts what I really enjoy the most, so , probably interior pages.
One of your future projects for 2013 is Pretty Deadly. The artwork you shared so far is amazing. What can you tell us about it?
It´s a western, but one of the weird kind.
Kelly Sue and I are very excited about this project, we’ve been talking about it since we worked together in Osborn and it´s great to be working with her on this at last.
I love the depth she always gives to the characters, how each one is able to have a very different voice. I really don´t even need to read the names in the scripts to understand who is talking… to me that´s like magic. I really think she has a natural ability for that.
Also, we tend to like the same things, I remember our first conversation was about Meiko Kaji and Japanese movies from the 70s, violence, vengeance haha… We became sisters immediately.
Pretty Deadly is about all those things we share and a kind of homage to the surrealism in Leone´s movies. But we don´t want to tell much about it yet, sorry. I already started drawing it but we want to have several issues done before doing announcements, it will be out around spring.
This year you are going to have an exhibition of your artwork at the Orbital in London and then have the same exhibition set up in Malta during the Malta Comic Con. What artworks can we expect to see in this exhibition? What can you tell us about it?
I included some of my favourite pages on it. Since Osborn, which is the gig that made me change a bit my inking style, till the latest, like Prophet and Strange. A lot of them are double spreads, like C&D that, I think, reflects some kind of evolution in my layouts.
I think It shows how I try to adapt to each book in a different way. From the dark horror prison stuff from Osborn, till the super heroic kind of sense of wonder in Spiderman and Captain Marvel.
Do you tour conventions often? What are you expecting from the Malta Comic Con?
Not very often, honestly. I´m not fond of the big ones but I love this kind of festivals like the one you have. I´ll do sketching for free and bring a couple of prints, and some original art to sell.
I´ll prepare a guided visit for the exhibition and also attend an interview with Chris Thompson.
Do you have any projects in the pipeline you’d like to share with us? What can you tell us about them?
Besides Pretty Deadly there is nothing else I can talk about yet , sorry.
Would you like to add anything else?
Thanks so much for inviting me.