Wednesday, November 2, 2011

NYCC 2011: Spotlight On Comics Artist David Marquez!

Thanks to indie publisher Archaia's disturbing graphic novel "Syndrome" (Blake Leibel/ Daniel Quantz/ R.J. Ryan, David Marquez/ Bill Farmer/ Dave Lanphear) about the minds of serial killers, Red Dot Diva got to know young artist David Marquez, when she was at SDCC in 2009.

She had a lot of fun wavering around the dark side reading "Syndrome" and fell in love with David Marquez's artwork. The drawings were sharp with clean lines and there were some creative angles on buildings and landscapes. She also liked how he drew the figures in a rather realistic way in terms of their body language.

It was also then that something suddenly clicked in Red Dot Diva's brain. The art-style was unique and quite recognizable. Where has she seen this before?

She had to solve this piece of mystery. After a few clicks on Google, Red Dot Diva realized that she has seen David's work before in "A Scanner Darkly" - one of the trippiest and coolest scifi movies based on Philip K. Dick's novel. David had worked as an animator in that movie, which was directed by Richard Linklater using a process called 'rotoscoping'.

David's artwork has created a lot of attention since then, and he has worked on another of Archaia's book "Days Missing: Vol 2", and for Top Cow and Image as well. He has also managed to snag a gig with Marvel and is currently working on "Fantastic Four: Season One", written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The comic is due out on hardback version in February 2011!

And to top it all, David was nominated for this year's Russ Manning Most Promising Newcomer Award.

On a busy Saturday morning of NYCC, Red Dot Diva managed to hunt down David at his Artist Alley booth. In the midst of all that buzz and noise from the crowds, they had a fun and easy chat about his career. Mainly because David was quite animated when talking about drawing and was also very open about sharing his own experiences.


Red Dot Diva: When was the first time you realized you’ve fallen in love with drawing?
David: I was drawing since I was a little kid and I've already started reading comics in second grade or so. I specifically remember sitting in one of my classes, and I was doing a drawing of Robin. One of my classmates saw it and I had a lot of responses to it from the rest. So I went 'Wow! I get a lot of positive attention when I draw things that are pretty!' And that was kinda the beginning of it. And I just kept drawing and drawing, and never stopped I guess!

Red Dot Diva: What have been the weirdest things or scenes you've ever had to draw?
David responded immediately: "Syndrome". No doubt about it.
Red Dot Diva laughed: Oh, really??!
David: Some of the things those guys had me draw....(he shakes his head) there were headless corpses and mutilated animals. And I don't like drawing those kind of things, but I'll do my *best*. I will do my damnest to do a good job.

Even in the "Fantastic Four" book I am working on right now, there was a scene, when a character was sadly reminiscent about how his dog died. And I had to draw this dog that got hit by a car.. and this boy crying, cradling his dog's broken body. I have two dogs, and so I had to put the saddest music I could think of. And put it in repeat. And I was crying and drawing....

Red Dot Diva: Awwww........
David: And hopefully that emotion comes through when people read it. Whenever I have to draw an animal that has been hurt, that has always been hard for me to do. But I had to do it several times. And in sometimes macabre and nasty ways.

Red Dot Diva: And what are the most boring kind of scenes to draw?
David groaned: Crowd scenes. I hate drawing crowd scenes. Phil Hester who wrote "Days Missing: Kestus" that I worked on, loved to send me these seven-eight panelled pages of crowd scenes. He loves crowd scenes so there was once where the entire scene is on the street of New York City... ... at New Year's. I had to draw every single, unique little face. I am getting better at it and having more fun with it. But it is tiring.
Red Dot Diva: Maybe you could add faces of people you know in them.
David: Oh, exactly. Again, now when I'm working on this "Fantastic Four" book with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa who's writing it. Fantastic guy.. *loves* crowd scenes!
Red Dot Diva: Oh no!
David: So, over and over I am thrown books with these crowd scenes. There are these spectacular vistas of New York City, at a specific location at specific time of day with hundreds of people milling about. And thankfully, I work digitally. In the foreground, you have to add the detail. But for the middle ground and background, I copy and paste the same dude like 300 times. So I find ways to get around it.

Red Dot Diva: What did you learn from working for “A Scanner Darklythat has an impact on  your artwork?
David: When we worked on the movie, we all worked digitally. And it trained me how to use a digital workflow which is more efficient, for me anyway, than doing it with traditional media. I actually hand-inked a page for "Fantastic Four" recently and it took three times as long. My work is very precise. In order to get the same effect as what I get digitally, I have to work very slowly and very deliberately. So, the most obvious beneficial thing that I learnt from the movie was that I *love* working digitally.

Red Dot Diva: When it comes to facial expressions in telling a story, how to you nail those? Do you people watch a lot?
David: If someone were to be recording me as I draw, it would be like watching some person whose face is out of control. I am always making these faces and trying to feel the way the character is feeling. I can feel my muscles move and I learn how to more accurately draw the expressions. For example, when I'm angry, my brows scrunches up... (David produced his 'angry face').
Red Dot Diva couldn't help bursting out in laughter.
David: Some of the artists have a little mirror right next to their table. I don't have that and I've thought of doing that. Anyway, I really get into the story and the script, and act it out inside, and hopefully that comes across when I draw.

Red Dot Diva: How has social networking helped in your career?
David: That's a really good question. The only reason why I'm working in comics is because I made a concerted effort to put myself out on online forums, where a lot of amateur and professional artists get together and critique each other's art. For "Syndrome", R.J. Ryan saw a Batman sketch that I had posted on one of the smaller online forums, and that led to my first working gig.

And more recently, on deviantart, Twitter and on Facebook, I've managed to develop a small following. At least, it is one of the ways to get people to see my work. Utilizing online marketing has been a huge draw and benefit in getting my art out to the people when my career is still at his young stages.

Red Dot Diva: What are some of the advice you could give to aspiring artists in Asia who are still hoping to work for one of the top comics companies?
David: The most obvious thing is constant practising and drawing. If they want to draw comics, they should practise comics art. And if they want to do concept art, draw concept art. A lot of artists are not sure what they really want to do and so when we look at their work, it could be a smattering of five or six different styles. They all look OK but none of them are really good. They should concentrate and focus on one of those styles, and then they can improve much faster.

Those are the suggestions one can do to improve one's art. But talent does not guarantee work. And there's a saying that I really like. 'Talent, luck and persistence. But you don't need all three. You just need two.' There are a lot of artists working in comics who may not be the best out there, but they were lucky and they were persistent.

Part of that is putting yourself out there online. Especially for the artists in Asia, where a lot of publishing companies are currently in the USA. You'll never know whose eyes you'll catch. Online, geography doesn't matter. A publisher in HK may see my art and loves it.
Red Dot Diva: Yes, the digital age has definitely narrowed geographical borders.
David: I believe so, personally. That said, there is no substitute for meeting somebody face to face. So, if there are industry conventions that they can attend, it is a great chance to meet someone. My first work for "Syndrome" came about online, but I am working for Marvel now, because I was walking about the San Diego Comic Convention show floor and bumped into C.B. Cebulski the talent scout.

We exchanged cards and then I'd email him every 6 weeks. A year and a half later, he emailed me back. So, actually all three factors that I mentioned as there. Luck - I bumped into him on the show floor; Persistence - every 6 weeks I emailed him;  and hopefully Talent - I improved enough over that year for him to actually pay attention to me.


Red Dot Diva: Let's go on to a couple of fun questions now. Tell us, what are your guilty pleasures?
David: Alcohol. But besides that, I like trashy music. And I really like bad scifi. And really bad '70s and '80s low budget scific. I love Kelly Clarkson. There you go.

Red Dot Diva: You practise Aikido. How is that going on, and does it help you with your art?
David: I've been practising Aikido for 5 years and my next test is for black belt. A lot of times my work in comics take me away from being able to practise, which is frustrating. It is always a good way to clear my head. Whenever work is slow, I practise a lot and it keeps me mentally and physically in shape. It is a nice balance. I spend so much time sitting at a desk on my own drawing, that it's also a way to get out and be around and interact with other people.

If one was at NYCC and got a hold of a copy of Marvel's mini freebie booklet, you would notice that a preview for "Fantastic Four: Season One" is within, featuring the recognizable artwork of David Marquez.

Preview pages from "Fantastic Four: Season One"


Here's David doing the introduction for the upcoming Marvel "Fantastic Four: Season One" comic ... just for the fans out there!



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To keep up with what David Marquez is up to, visit his website. Preview art pages of "Fantastic Four: Season One" are also available there.

Or, one could follow him on Twitter!!

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