First Im­pres­sions

A strong fam­ily art con­nec­tion helped de­velop this comic artist’s nat­u­ral skills

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents -

Paolo Rivera talks comic art.

Where did you grow up, and when did you re­alise you had a tal­ent for paint­ing?

I grew up in Day­tona Beach, FL, sur­rounded by mul­lets, NASCAR, mo­tor­cy­cles, Catholic school, rock and rap. My par­ents opened an art sup­ply store when I was a year old, and I started draw­ing at two (so they tell me). I used mostly pen­cils and mark­ers – not a whole lot of paint­ing un­til much later.

Did your up­bring­ing in­flu­ence your style of paint­ing?

I didn’t try to paint se­ri­ously un­til high school. I be­came ob­sessed with Alex Ross’s art, who prob­a­bly had the big­gest in­flu­ence on me, stylis­ti­cally. But I was in love with comics and car­toons as well, so it was a pretty broad spec­trum. My mom did fram­ing and sold posters at the store, so I was sur­rounded by more clas­si­cal in­flu­ences as well. With her de­gree in tex­tiles, she made sure I had some un­der­stand­ing of colour the­ory and de­sign (and am­ple Hal­loween cos­tumes). My dad, who cur­rently inks my work, would prob­a­bly have liked to be a fine artist, but air­brushed to pay the bills.

Did you nat­u­rally grav­i­tate to­wards the comics in­dus­try?

There was never re­ally any other op­tion for me. We were about an hour away from Dis­ney World, so peo­ple would al­ways ask if I would work for them when I grew up. Although I had no in­ten­tion, fate had other plans for me. My dad scared me away from an­i­ma­tion (tons of work, not enough glory) but didn’t scare me enough to keep me away from pen­cilling (tons of work, glory to match).

How has the field of comics changed since your time in the in­dus­try?

I con­sider my­self very lucky when it comes to tim­ing. I had the ben­e­fit of the in­ter­net to get me a job, but the field wasn’t so crowded, es­pe­cially when it came to comic book pain­ters. Nowa­days, it’s never been eas­ier to get your work out there – and be­cause of that, the com­pe­ti­tion has never been higher. I started at Marvel a year be­fore I grad­u­ated from art school. I’d like to think I could still break in now on my own merit, but I think it would’ve taken much, much longer. But aside from some very sur­face-level tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances, the fun­da­men­tals haven’t changed. The best part is up­load­ing art in­stead of mail­ing it. I can re­send a cor­rupted file, but there’s one Doc­tor Doom paint­ing that I’ll never get back.

What’s been the high­light of your ca­reer so far? Any low points?

It’s pretty tough to beat the whole ex­pe­ri­ence of be­ing on Dare­devil. The whole team was amaz­ing, I got to work with my dad, and we all got a ton of recog­ni­tion for just do­ing our job. I’ve had great ex­pe­ri­ences since then, but that was a per­fect storm (the good kind). No low points… yet!

What’s been your most chal­leng­ing com­mis­sion or as­sign­ment?

I’d have to say my first is­sue of Spi­der-Man (Spec­tac­u­lar #14 with Paul Jenk­ins). I’ve done more tech­ni­cally de­mand­ing work since, but at the time, that was the hard­est I’d ever worked for an ex­tended pe­riod of time. I can count on one hand the num­ber of times I went out­side dur­ing that three-and-a-half month pe­riod. I stopped shav­ing, stopped show­er­ing and sur­vived on Oreo cook­ies. I also got fat. “A bit roly poly,” as my editor later told me.

How regularly do you pro­duce your sculp­tures?

Not enough! The last real sculpt I did was my wed­ding cake top­per back in 2013. Prior to that, I did a Mary Jane ma­que­tte in 2010. Now I seem to only do dig­i­tal ma­que­ttes, and they’re never very de­tailed – just enough to get the pro­por­tions right as a draw­ing ref­er­ence.

What ad­vice would you give to your younger self?

“Just wait. You’ll find the girl of your dreams. Here’s her ad­dress.” Ac­tu­ally, maybe that’s a bad idea. Pro­fes­sion­ally speak­ing, I’d tell my­self to con­cen­trate on draw­ing rather than paint­ing… but I prob­a­bly wouldn’t lis­ten.

How would you sum up your work, in un­der 10 words?

I’d like to think the best is yet to come.

Paolo spent over 10 years at Marvel, be­fore leav­ing to be­come an in­de­pen­dent comic artist. He’s won Eis­ner and Har­vey awards for his work. www.paolorivera.com

I had the ben­e­fit of the in­ter­net to get me a job, but the field wasn’t so crowded

MARVEL 75TH AN­NIVER­SARY “Tom Brevoort, who was my first Marvel editor, gave me the idea for this one.”

WOLVER­INES PLAY­ING POKER “This was part of the Wolver­ine Art Ap­pre­ci­a­tion month. I wish I could do more.”

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