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Alfred Rodríguez

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Name: Alfred Rodríguez

Website: HERE

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Spider-Man and Batman.

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Death of The Endless and Emp, from Adam Warren’s Empowered.

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your writing style? What kind of writer do you hope to be?
Rodríguez: Well, the first question is a though one. I would say that I truly care for the dialogue as much as for the action shown in each panel. And I like to break the story down in rough thumbnails, in order to get a sense of the rhythm and space available to the artist.

As for the second one, that’s easy: I hope I could be a writer capable of conveying emotions in the reader. If they put down the book – or the device of their choosing for that matter – and keep thinking on the characters and the story they’ve just read… well, I think I could say it was a job well done!

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for writing?
Rodríguez: Comic books were always around since I was a little kid. My parents used to buy them for me to keep me busy while we were in the waiting room of a hospital, for example. In those prehistoric times, internet wasn’t around to offer hours of entertainment at your fingertips, therefore, reading comic books was the best way to make your imagination fly to strange and fantastic worlds.

As many kids, I also wanted to make comics, and I used to think that a single person did all the work I read in those pages. I wasn’t really aware of what the job of a writer was in terms of comics until I was maybe 12 or 13 years old, and I started noticing familiar names in the credits pages. Names like J.M. DeMatteis, Dennis O’neil, David Michelinie, among many others.

Then, I read my first Sandman collection by Neil Gaiman, and that’s where I truly understood what a comic book writer could do.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Rodríguez:Yes! I fell in love with all Spider-Man titles of the early 90’s. I loved that sense of a shared universe with other Marvel characters, and I felt the same way when I discovered Batman and the DC universe as a whole.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Rodríguez: The X-Men. I think Stan Lee described them perfectly: The Strangest Super Heroes of All. That’s what they are to me. Yes, they do some super hero stuff, but they are much more than that. They are family, and their adventures are a soap-opera as much as a super hero story.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is your greatest strength as a writer?
Rodríguez: I think I’m fairly capable of understanding the characters and finding behavioral patterns. That helps me to keep the characters consistent with their actions and their dialogue; and I think that is something the reader appreciates, perhaps even in a subconscious way.

TrunkSpace: You are stepping in as guest writer on the Neymar Jr. Comics series Social Monsters with the Day of the Dead Special, set to debut October 31. Did you feel pressure working on a title that has such a big, universally known talent involved in Neymar Jr.?
Rodríguez: Well, yes…and no.

“Yes”, because when I started typing Saber’s dialogue I went like, “Wait a minute! This guy is a Neymar Jr’s proxy! A proxy for the football star my dad watches on TV every week! I have to make him sound cool!” And that’s real pressure there, you know?

And “No”, because I knew I had the guidance and mentoring of seasoned comic book pros- like Head Writer and Editor in Chief Jason M. Burns – who are always taking good care of such an important IP as the Neymar Jr. brand. I knew that I could count on them to provide me with the best insights and direction for the story I wanted to tell.

TrunkSpace: What was your approach like as a whole when you started working on the issue? What did you want to achieve?
Rodríguez: Since it was a Day of The Dead Special, I knew I wanted to take our characters to my country, Mexico.

The “problem” was that we have hundreds of museums and items to choose from to create an entertaining and educational story, so I had to narrow my options down to those related to the “Day of The Dead” or “death” as a concept. And then I remembered that we already have a classic “monster” to fight with. One that our typical “super heroes”, the Luchadores, have fought before: The Mummies of Guanajuato. So in a way, I wanted to convey that feel of the classic Lucha Libre movies, with our heroes fighting the mummies; while paying homage to a city that means so much to me and my wife.

TrunkSpace: Although grounded in reality from a historical sense, the Social Monsters series is very much the kind where anything is possible. How much fun is it writing in a world where there are really no boundaries to what you want to put on the page as far as your imagination goes?
Rodríguez: It’s liberating! But at the same time, it poses quite a challenge, because in a world where not even the sky is the limit, it is tempting to “abuse” that power in terms of story, and there’s always the risk of making the story too far out, or the characters too powerful for the reader to even care for them and their exploits. And that’s also the fun part, you know? To find the best way to tell a fantastic story but keeping our characters close to the reader.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Rodríguez: The fact that I could have our heroes coming to Mexico, because that way, I was able to share a little bit of our culture with our readers, while keeping true to the essence of what Social Monsters is about: entertaining and educational content for readers of all ages.

TrunkSpace: You also run a podcast about all things comic books. Can you tell us about that and how it came into creation?
Rodríguez: Sure thing!

I started toying with the idea of hosting my own podcast while listening to the very scarce comic book-related podcasts in my country, back in 2012. One day, I was invited as a guest in one of those podcasts, and I took mental notes on how it was made. So, I started out recording audio on my mobile phone and mixing it (poorly) with a simple audio edit software I found online. That’s how El Café Comiquero (The Comic Book Coffee Shop would be the most accurate translation) came to be.

The first 10-15 episodes were… not bad, but far from “good”, since it was only me, talking non-stop for an hour or so. Until I found my partner in crime: my own brother, Raul. Not only did we grow up together (obviously), but we also grew up reading, mostly, the same comics and watching the same movies and TV shows. So, one day I asked him if he would be interested in co-hosting the show with me, he said yes, and 329 episodes later, I can tell you that this podcast have become an essential part of our lives.

In this podcast we talk about all kinds of comic books, movies, TV shows and pop culture-related topics. You can find us in almost all major platforms such as Spotify, iTunes or Google Podcast under the name “El Café Comiquero”. And, you can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as “El Café Comiquero” as well.

If you speak Spanish – or if you are taking Spanish lessons – and want to practice it a little bit while listening to some nice geeky content, give it a try and tell us what you think.

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Trunk Bubbles

Dustin Evans

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Name: Dustin Evans

Website:
www.neymarjrcomics.com
www.dustinart.net

TrunkSpace: You have visited us at TrunkSpace before, so we’re going to change up the format a bit and come right at you with questions. BAM! You’re spearheading the writing AND art duties on the Social Monsters: Halloween Special 2019 (Ghoul Slayers) for Neymar Jr. Comics, so we have to ask, did you feel any pressure going creative Kung fu on an entire issue by yourself?
Evans: Thanks for having me back! It’s great to be back in the Trunk! Honestly, I was having so much fun writing and drawing the Halloween special of Social Monsters, I did not even consider feeling pressured or stressed. I was familiar with the characters and it just felt very natural to put Saber and Davi in the middle of a haunting situation. The toughest part was trying to decide which creepy museum monster would be the star of the Halloween special!

TrunkSpace: As a series, Social Monsters is very episodic and reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons from the past. What did you hope to accomplish in the 8 pages you were working within, and when all was said and done, do you feel like you accomplished those goals?
Evans: I love that Social Monsters has that Saturday morning cartoon feel to it, so for me, I wanted to sort of pay homage to a few of my favorite cartoons from my childhood. In particular, there is a Scooby-Doo-esque style chase scene that takes place as well as some other Easter eggs in the story. I also wanted to capture the style and look of an animated show with the way I drew the story. I feel like I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do with the story while also staying true to the formula that makes up Social Monsters.

TrunkSpace: Which Dustin had more fun on this issue – Writer Dustin or Artist Dustin?
Evans: It’s tough to separate the two for me, because I tend to write with my sketches, if that makes sense. I will see the story in my mind, sketch it out like a storyboard, and then I find the words later. That is, unless I think of great dialogue as I’m sketching it out, then I just write it on the page. So, to answer your question in the most decisive of indecisive ways, I think writer and artist Dustin had the same amount of fun, which was a big ole’ trick or treat bucket full of fun!

TrunkSpace: We started our conversation talking about creative pressures. As an artist, can it be stressful taking on a character who is based on someone’s actual likeness – in this case, international soccer star Neymar Jr.?
Evans: Oh, absolutely! That is always tough starting out. You want to make the person whose likeness you are creating happy, but you also have their millions of fans that will be viewing your work and judging it. I feel very comfortable with it now, because we have worked with Neymar Jr. and his team for quite a while on multiple books that are coming up. I feel like we all have a good understanding of the look and style we need to pull off to achieve a comic book likeness of Neymar Jr. that everyone recognizes and enjoys.

TrunkSpace: You have done some amazing work for Neymar Jr. Comics both with interior art and cover art, always utilizing different styles based on the tone of the book itself. How much does artistic diversity help you in your behind-the-scenes role as Art Director?
Evans: As an art director you may be tasked with wearing a lot of different hats from concept artist to colorist to cover artist, so it really helps to be able to pull off a wide range of styles. It’s beneficial on so many levels including establishing a look and tone for a book. You may be working on a post-apocalyptic comic like Red Card one day and have to switch gears to the Saturday morning cartoon look the next for something like Social Monsters.

TrunkSpace: Again, you’re tackling the Halloween Special, so does that mean you’re a fan of the spooky holiday as a whole?
Evans: Halloween courses through my blood like the pink goo in “Ghostbusters II” flows through the sewers of NYC! Yes, I love everything about Halloween and the time of year it is synonymous with. Scary movies, haunted houses, pumpkin carving and fall-flavored treats are the things this guys’ dreams are made of! I’ve been drawn to Halloween ever since I was a kid, and I think at the core of it all, it’s because there is so much imagination that encompasses the holiday.

TrunkSpace: There are some great monsters in the series, which is a big part of what makes it so much fun. You’re tackling the infamous Moth Man, which is actually a bit different than most of the monsters in the series because, at least in theory, Moth Man is an ACTUAL monster. Did that give you more creative inspiration to pull from?
Evans: Oh yes, definitely! I knew we needed something a little different for the Halloween episode of Social Monsters, so what’s better than a folklore monster that has his own museum? I always find stories like this fascinating, because the mystery and story are rooted in real, factual events, but… it’s up to the individual what exactly to believe about the story. It sort of hearkens back to the “Unsolved Mysteries” era, and those always made me think and creeped me out at the same time! (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Beyond this one issue, you’ve also contributed colors and covers to the Social Monsters universe. What do you think are the biggest selling points of the series as a whole to readers both young and old?
Evans: I think it’s that this book is just so much fun! It has that great cartoon formula. You know you’re going to see your heroes duke it out with a monster each episode, and you know it’s going to have great puns and action with a bit of knowledge tucked away in there. And with Saber’s neural energy power, you never know what he will have to come up with, which is the coolest part. It’s like if a super hero could have a different super power when they needed it for a particular moment in the story.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Evans: Part of what I’m most proud of is actually the concept artwork of creating the Social Monsters. When I get the script from Jason M. Burns, he gives me the direction to go, and I have to find out how to create these monsters from actual artifacts. We’re giving life to inanimate objects, and that can be tricky at times, so it’s like a puzzle. It’s challenging, but when you get it just right, it’s very satisfying to see. Also…THE COVERS! ‘Cause you get to see all of the monsters and Saber and Davi looking cool!

TrunkSpace: Time machine question. If you could jump ahead 10 years and get a glimpse of what your career looks like a decade from now, would you take that journey? If not, why?
Evans: It depends on the time machine. If we’re talking a DeLorean time machine, I’m going, because who could turn down a ride in one of those? Joking aside, I know I would not go, because no matter what is on the other side, I would be a paranoid mess. If I was successful or unsuccessful, I would probably just be paranoid that every choice I was making in the present would lead to my rise or downfall… but then again, if they have floating skateboards in 10 years, and I could bring one back, I’m going!

 

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Trunk Bubbles

Sergio Ríos

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Name: Sergio Ríos

Website: sergioriosart.deviantart.com

Favorite Comic Book Character Growing Up: Batman/Spider-Man

Favorite Comic Book Character Now: Invincible

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Ríos: I like to mix some manga style with the classic American comic book art and add some cartoony stuff onto it.

TrunkSpace: How important were comic books in your life growing up and is that where you discovered your love and inspiration for drawing?
Ríos: I’ve loved comic books since I was a kid. Thanks to them, I started drawing and reading.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular artist or title from your childhood that you remember being drawn to and inspired by?
Ríos: I loved (and still do) Bruce Timm’s style. So simple, and at the same time, very cool and unique.

TrunkSpace: Is there a particular character or universe you always find yourself returning to when you’re sketching or doing warm-ups?
Ríos: When I’m doing sketches and warm-ups, I like to revisit some of my childhood cartoon characters like He-Man, Spider-Man, Batman, the Fantastic Four, etc.

TrunkSpace: Is there a specific title or character that you’d like to work on in the future and why?
Ríos: I’d love to work on cool characters that broke with the regular comic book standards like Squirrel Girl, Gwenpool, Invincible, Judge Dredd, etc.

TrunkSpace: What would you say is your greatest strength as an artist?
Ríos: I think that I’m fast and that I have a good storytelling.

TrunkSpace: You’re tackling a series that stars a character based on the likeness of international soccer star Neymar Jr. Did you feel pressure in having to deliver artistically on something where the lead character was an actual person?
Ríos: Well, not really. I studied a lot of Neymar Jr. pictures and interviews, so I try to put his personal mannerisms and likeness into the character.

TrunkSpace: What was your approach like as a whole when you started working on the series? What did you want to achieve?
Ríos: Well, it’s really cool stuff. I love to work on comics that the whole family can enjoy.

TrunkSpace: There are some great monsters in the series, all based on items of historical significance. How much fun was it to get to draw something that is so outside of reality, but at the same time, founded in these sort of snippets from the past?
Ríos: It is really very fun because I can play with those historical characters and give them a cool spin, turning them into big, giant monsters.

TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with your work on Social Monsters?
Ríos: That it’s something that my children can actually read, and enjoy. Sometimes I work with violent characters or things that they can’t see, but with “Social Monsters,” it’s very safe and cool that they can read it.

Social Monsters premieres today at www.neymarjrcomics.com.

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