What prompted you to become an artist?
V: I was born with it. Age 4.
How long was it before you perfected your craft by your standards?
V: A decade ago.
What is the most challenging aspect of illustrating?
V: I’m two times the artist. Taking someone else’s story and recreating it. Or the reverse: my own ideas and having them drawn by others.
Go back to the studio.
V: Certain artists are better at doing their own thing. Translating words to images is difficult. One has to mesh with another. Scripting, plotting is its own thing. Discussing with Nick, we bandied ideas and improved on them. We’re independent.
There is no editorial interference.
V: That’s the beauty of it.
Nick is an artist but in this role he’s not. You’ve never dabbled in writing.
V: I know that I’m not a good writer.
Explain to me the process.
V: It takes one day to do one page.
The layout is always the longest. There’s a flow to it all. I have to look at line art, direction, colouring, B&W, lettering.
Your particular work is B&W.
V: That, with red all over. [no joke!]
Is it deliberate to stick with the simple colour scheme?
V: It’s somewhat cliché. Black is a combo of line art and ink wash. It’ll add more depth to the overall illustrations. Red is definitely blood. It’s not nonsensically violent. It’s significant for the character’s journey.
As a reader, it kind of irks me when I see things in colour but then they turn to B&W. Case in point: Ares, how she has purple hair. If I had no foreknowledge, I’d have to imagine it.
V: We have done prints. They are for merchandising at our table in the cons. Lidia excels in colouring. She draws beautiful women. B&W defeats her own style.
Speaking of Victory, I visualize him as the typical red, white, and blue. Am I right?
V: More towards Superman but he’s in blue and white.
You have created this unique universe but you have allowed others to colour your prints or have them drawn their interpretations.
V: I always want to see how someone else will do what I’ve done. Every artist has his/her own expression.
You’re very sharing that way. That must be from your affiliation with Spent Pencils. Who has contributed?
V: Lidia (Mejia-Figliomeni) and Oliver (Castañeda).
How many issues do you have planned?
V: 16. It’ll stop there.
I don’t want to spoil it for the readers but give me a brief overview of the series.
V: It has a multiversal approach. Loathe travels between worlds.
Why does he do that?
V: He is escaping Victory.
Is he an anti-hero? Why such a cool name for a bad-ass character?
V: He won’t save the day. He wants revenge against Victory. He and Victory are the last warriors standing. He is of Shaolin descent and took it to the next level. The name fits his nature. I don’t want him to be forgotten, ignored, neglected. I have a martial arts background.
Explain to me the Shaolin. What do they embody?
V: What if one were to be extremely pissed? How far would he take the ability of man? Between gods and/or super-heroes, humans are always the victims. Ancient Japanese martial artists. They believe in peace but also the flipside of fighting to defend their beliefs.
What have you done to kick butt?
V: Ju jistu, aikido, tae kwon do.
How many issues are drawn so far?
V: Number one is almost done.
I do have your sketch book from FANeXpo. I admire the simplicity of his design. It doesn’t need to be flashy nor complicated. You absorb a lot from looking at it.
V: It’s a challenge since he’s faceless. How to portray emotions. One has to be observant with his eyes.
What is your forté? Action sequences? Background? Minute details? Character interaction? Body language?
V: Fighting scenes. Brute force and graceful kung fu.
Will we get to the secret origin of LOATHE in the first issue or that will unravel over time?
N: There is one particular scene at the very end of the entire run. It’ll be proper closure for the series.
That’s very different!! I asked your collaborator. The ballpark of 16-20 issues.
N: Depends on the page count. 30 pages mostly. The last 3 issues I wanted them to be giant-sized. 72 pages each!! Vince told me to divide them.
How many characters have you created? How much individual input?
N: 15-20. We met on the same page [literally!] I added a lot of extra scenes to the overall arcs. Knowing how Vince draws, I can write whatever I want and how he’ll work with it. He gives his own suggestions.
How many did you make up on your own versus him?
N: Even split. There’s a group of underground individuals that we discussed at great length. Ragnarok I fleshed out quite a bit.
How many main characters?
N: Loathe is all Vince. The stain-glassed window rendition nailed it.
Therefore you have your own trio of characters: Loathe, Ares, Victory. Is Ares evilly inclined?
V: She’s Loathe’s saviour. She’s bringing back humanity. She’s a tough little girl who’s friends with this mass murderer.
N: Ares is the focus of the story. Loathe is silent. She is his voice. There are very few scenes where he’s alone.
He doesn’t talk?
N: Well, maybe.
V: Something happened with Victory that’s so intense. The power of speech is overwhelming for him.
How long have you two been hammering out this?
N: When was Jen going to that show? It was the cosplay one.
V: Unplugged (Expo 4).
N: It’s like an uncle-nephew relationship but very weird. I’m silly with Vince.
N: Nine months. July of last year.
That’s quick :0
V: Once we really conversed, we didn’t stop.
It’s ideal that you two are in such synchronicity. Have you were always aspired to write or more so draw?
N: I’ve been writing since I was in my early teens. In high school I was writing scripts when I wasn’t supposed to. This was the perfect opportunity to dive in head first. As an artist, I want to improve. Nothing is more fulfilling than to illustrate my own inventions. I have the best of both worlds. Vince gives me such amazing feedback. I have a lot to improve. I’m paying attention. I’m intently seeing him draw.
It’s not always one role going into the other.
N: We have a student-teacher relationship. It’s extremely beneficial. There are those with ego. Passion is key. Be a better person while doing all this.
Since you brought up ego, do you ever clash? Be honest!!
V: Everybody likes me. [laughter]
N: The biggest thing is that we can exchange ideas. Criticism is professional. Nothing is taken personally. Originally, we only had 19 pages and nothing else.
V: I think it was 12. The original original.
N: No, no. We produced 32 in total. Vince told me he wanted to extend the action. We went over new scenes. I added 2 new pages and one more scene.
Are you really wordy? Too much dialogue or narration?
N: It’s all about balance. You have to be the character. What would s/he say? What is s/he like? Loathe is tons of body language. Half the time he’s standing there. [laughter] You see a change in his character that comes through his actions. That’s extremely important because when I pitched those scenes to Vince, he told me “Now you’re finally getting this character.” Especially the one where’s he’s dancing. [laughter] Vince told me “You’re fired!”.
Comics have evolved immensely in the last two decades. I’m turned off by exposition.
N: I’m the director. Vince is the cameraman. When I met him at FANeXpo 2013, it was the first time I really saw his artwork. I saw his prints and bought them. I had just joined Spent Pencils a few weeks prior. I’m still fam. The biggest thing is reading the final product.
Do you need an editor in the near future? [pointing to myself]
N: Yes, most definitely.
V: That’s good to know.
Vince, I recall meeting you at Gotham Central in 2012 when you and a few others were doing the Sketch Sundays.
V: [frowns] Oh, yeah!!
See how far that is? The second I saw your art, what actually caught my eye was your Wolvie drawing. I saw that it was a cross between Jim Lee and David Finch.
V: Correct!! You are very observant. I’m a fan of the 90’s.
I don’t know how else to describe it. I call it ‘clean art’. Is there a better term for that?
N: It varies on style. Vince’s is very 90’s and energetic. I use the word ‘sharp’. Literally ‘on point’.
Judging on appearances, you seemed to be very intimidating. You’re buff with tats, and always seemed to have a frown.
N: Same! When I first met him, I was just as scared. He had hurt his arm and I kept apologizing. [laughter] Now we’re partners. In all seriousness, Vince is an extremely hard worker. He’s super-focused. He just has that look.
We have to keep some intensity to his image. From the personal POV, it’s fantastic. Nick, my memory of you is at GC, when you had this media project to promote the store. You interviewed Carlos and I made it on camera. That’s how I met Arnold Trinidad.
Dare I ask if you two break away to work with others?
N: Arnold is the one who pushed me and kept praising me, even before I joined Spent Pencils. I feel indebted to him. He just wants others to work hard. He’s one of my best friends. I trust him more than anyone.
V: Oh, yeah!!
V: It’s crucial to explore other venues as well. You can’t always do the same thing. LOATHE is going to stop here. There will be other threads. I had my vision. I can’t see myself carrying on with him. Nick will have his other projects.
It has a finite run.
You as creators are very wise to see this as limited.
N: It’s unfortunate when a creator gets stuck in his ways and doesn’t want to change. You have to need that drive. Otherwise, it’s a constant loop.
What are your future projects? They relate to LOATHE?
V: Yes. They will tie into that universe. We want it to generate more interest to get on board other writers and artists. The aftermath is too massive for me to deal with personally.
N: We have cool stuff in the near future. They will come when necessary.
V: I wouldn’t mind going back to sculpting. It doesn’t pay the bills.
N: Vince is thinking of writing a script. A separate one-shot. He will ask me for advice :0
V: It’s a character I came up with years ago. He’s pretty comedic.
N: I’m doing some horror shorts with a friend. We’re both writers. Vince will be illustrating for each of them. I’m focusing on my own series of novels that put a spin on Dracula. Vince will done the pin-ups?
How often do you do commissions and/or conventions?
V: Seven to nine shows a year. Coms are almost weekly. Some I refuse because of scheduling. Two years ago, I was doing two a week.
N: Cons yes. Different approach. As a writer, I want to grow in my own time. I’m a stronger writer than artist. Vince has told me to expand on that.
You have your own social media for this?
N: Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr. My personal FB page. Instagram is the biggest one. I’m becoming CCO or rather overseer of the studio. Vince sits in the throne and tells me to “get out!” [laughter] It’s easier since we have separate things.
Tell me your secret origins.
V: I don’t want to go there!! [laughter] Damn Canucks!!
Oh, you’re a foreigner!!
N: I don’t know how to follow up that statement. I’ll just say for both of us that we’re Canadian.
I don’t think so! [chuckle]
This terrific twosome is truly trying to get the crucial first issue published. Please support them on Patreon. I’m chomping at the bit for LOATHE!!! The name alone rolls off the tongue and it’s one of the wickedest [pun intended!] character designs ever!!
They are regulars at my local comic shop, just like yours truly 😉