Coloring Between The Lines: Mat Lopes

We-Are-Robin-7-Cover

Hello Revuers! It’s time for another exciting segment of Coloring Between the Lines. Where we interview a Color Artist who is making an impact in the industry today. This time we have the fantastic Mat Lopes with us. Mat was gracious enough to answer some of the burning questions we here at Deja.Revue had for him. Mat is among the elite in the game today working on such titles as Star-Lord annual and Batgirl. So without further ado.

 

  • How long have you been a colorist?

Well, if you mean as a professional, the first time I published was in December of 2011, but my first paid, regular job was only in July of 2012, so I guess that makes a five years old career now. However, I think I’m coloring on my own since 2009.

 

  • Was it what you wanted to be when you were a kid?

No, I wanted to be soccer player, hahaha! As a Brazilian guy, I can say we’re not all soccer fanatics around here, but I most definitely am. Art came a little later in my life and for a long time I just thought of it as a hobby. I didn’t even know my job existed until I was 17 or so!

 

 

  • What’s the first comic book series you really got into?

You know, I started reading comic books later than usual for a comic professional. I’m a 90’s kid and, in my childhood, mangá was so much popular and easier to find here that I only discovered comics as a teenager. I can’t remember exactly which series I got into, I just remember being blown away by a whole new universe and all those colors, so I just started read everything I could. But if I have to name some titles, definitely Spider-Man, X-Men, Batman and such.

 

  • Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?

Hard to say. I think right now I’m reading more other genres than superhero, but I love them both!

 

  • Who is your favorite superhero?

Batman.

 

  • Who is your favorite non superhero character?

That’s a tough one! I actually don’t think I have one.

 

  • What’s your favorite series that’s not a superhero series?

Hahah, that’s a little lame, but I gotta go with a comedy mangá called Love Hina. So funny!

 

  • What is your process like for coloring?

First I get everything I have available and take a really good look at it. And by that I mean script, notes, concepts, references, pages etc.

After that, it depends. If we are starting something new, I really like to talk to the writer and artist and discuss about the book itself and everything that goes in it. It’s great to chat about the story, the genre, the rhythm, the approach of the art. I really try to understand what the artists and writers will be trying to say and find out how can I help to make it even clearer. That way I start to build my palette , my style of render and my whole approach in my head.

Once everything is clear to the whole team and me, I’ll send the pages to my flatters and after they’re done I start to work on the pages.

Of course many times we can’t have this whole process because of the deadline, or because it’s a fill in or just a one shot. In that case I’ll just see some references and go with my feeling.

 

  • How do you choose a color palette?

Complementing last answer, I’ll have to consider the specificities of the scene: If it’s day or night, if it’s natural or artificial light, what’s the mood of the whole scene, what’s important to emphasize, the planes I have to separate. After figuring this all out, I have my palette!

 

 

  • What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?

Hahaha, I can’t choose that! One of the great things about being a colorist is to work with so many artists with different styles on different projects! So for me often is apples and oranges, and I love all of them.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite colorists in the industry today?

Wow, there are so many great people out there, but I think some of my favorites today would be Dave Stewart, Justin Ponsor, Matt Wilson, Nathan Fairbarn and Elizabeth Breitweiser, not in any particular order!

 

  • Is there anyone you draw inspiration from?

Of course! But not just one person or even one medium. I get inspired by a lot of things, such films, paintings and illustrations of any kind or style. And of course, comics as well.

 

  • I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on Batgirl. Color plays an important role in that book. How did you build the aesthetic for that book?

Thank you!

I tried to match Chris Wildgoose’s style for the render, so nothing too detailed. And since it’s a light, teen kinda of book, I keep a light and colorful palette for the most part of the story.

 

  • What’s the biggest difference between working for the big two and on your indie titles?

I don’t see much difference, to be honest. I mean, the editors who contact me know what kind of styles I usually do, and after we sort which directions we’re going, I have a lot of freedom on the book. Of course sometimes they ask for changes on certain things here and there, but I’d say that in 90% of the times their suggestions works very well and make my work look better!

 

  • You have a very distinctive visual style, how did you cultivate that aesthetic?

I don’t know. I never tried to cultivate one style specifically; I always trained and studied very hard to match my colors with as many different art styles as possible. First because of the necessity: since I was trying to be a professional, in my head my chances would be better if I could color “everyone” in the industry. So while I practiced over artists like Ivan Reis and Eddy Barrows, I also tried to be a good match for guys like Rafael Albuquerque, Matteo Scalera and others. I think I learned a lot from never repeating the same style over the same artists. “My style” definitely came after I started to work regularly. With the experience I was acquiring I started to discover more about me as an artist, which things I was better at, what I liked doing the most, and that kind of thing. After that I think I just focused more on my “interest area”.

But you know, I still love coloring a lot of different styles! It’s like ice cream: my favorite may be chocolate, but that’s no reason not to taste all the other flavors! Hahah.

 

Next I’m going to ask you a series of Either Or questions. Ready? Ok, go!

 

  • Star Wars or Star Trek

Star Wars.

 

  • Coffee or Tea

Coffee every day.

 

  • Batman or Superman

Bats!

 

  • Wolverine of spider-man?

Our Friendly Neighborhood Spidey.

 

  • Noir or Horror comics?

Horror

 

  • Burritos or coneys?

Burritos

 

  • Where’s your favorite place to pick up a burrito or a coney when you’re at cons?

I’ve never been on a US convention, so I can’t really tell! Hahah. In here they don’t usually have them.

 

  • What’s your favorite convention?

Comic Con Experience, which happens in Brazil and it’s amazing!

 

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

I have some artist’s I’d love to work with, like Sean Murphy, Chris Samnee, Rafael Albuquerque, Olivier Coipel and Bilquis Evely. These last two I already worked with, but only on small stuff! I want to color so much more of them, hahaha.

 

  • If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?

I would probably work with technology, since that was what I was studying before my career on comics started to get on tracks. Programming, most likely.

 

  • Who are some of your favorite artists to work with?

Luckly I already worked with a lot of great guys like Bilquis Evely, Felipe Watanabe, Martín Morazzo, Chris Wildgoose, Olivier Coipel, Leonardo Romero, Niko Walter, Vic Malhotra…

 

  • Who are some of your favorite writers to work with?

William Prince , Hope Larson, Sean Mackiewicz, Matthew Rosenberg, …

 

  • Who’s your favorite character to color?

Probably Robin (Damian) or Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), they have such cool costumes!

 

  • What would be a dream series for you to work on?

I think the creative team speaks louder to me than the series itself, but it would be really cool to work on Batman.

 

  • As the comic book industry moves more digital do you feel like there’s been a shift in the industry to recognize the importance of Color Artist?

I think that more than tools for coloring, our digital age has given voice to the professionals behind a comic book. Suddenly  it’s a lot easier to hear from creators so it’s easier to follow them and their work, especially if they are united for a cause, like cover credits and royalties . I think it’s only natural to recognize and respect someone once they are not in the shadows anymore. But yeah, I’m not doing this for that long, but I can already tell the difference from when I started coloring, from fans to editors and even reviewers. Things are not perfect, but there is definitely an improvement regarding color artists (look, we are artists too, now!).

 

  • Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?

Yes! In fact, the only thing I’m working regularly that you can read right now is Batgirl, from DC. But a new series for Skybound just got announced, it’s called Gasolina and it’s written by Sean Mackiewicz with Niko Walter on the art duty and it will be coming out in Setember ! Also, I’m working on new project with the creators of The Electric Sublime, William Prince and Martín Morazzo. Finally, I’m also coloring a book for Marval that I cannot talk about it, but keep your eyes open, you’ll hear all about it very soon.

 

  • Thank you for your time Mat, I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Looking forward to your great work in the future.

Thank you very much!

 

 

Writers Block: David M. Booher

Hello Revuers! Welcome to a new segment called Writers Block. In this segment or, block dare we say, we will be interviewing comic book writers that are making an impact on the industry. Today we have the great pleasure of welcoming David M Booher as our inaugural guest. David has writer such great comics as Powerless and Alien Bounty Hunter. Both of which as published by the fantastic Vault Comics. David was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk with us about everything from his process to weather or not he likes Star Trek more than Star Wars. Without any further delay let’s dive right in.

  • Hello David! Thank you for agreeing to this interview.

My pleasure! Thanks for letting me ramble on!

  • Tell us a bit about your background?

By day, I’m a mild-mannered lawyer…by night, I write comic books and fight crime (well, just the first one). I grew up in a small town in Ohio and ended up in Los Angeles by way of Miami. In between I learned I loved writing and comics. I also met and married my husband, who has found a way to put up with me for 16 years. He’s the real hero.

  • How long have you been writing?

I started writing in college but didn’t really get serious until about ten years ago. I realized lawyering wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, so I started creating worlds much more exotic and exciting than mine. It took me a long time to even begin to wonder if others might think those worlds were just as awesome as I did.

  • When did you become interested in writing comic books?

I actually didn’t know I wanted to write comics until I started writing them. I wasn’t even really that into them as a kid. I know, I know. I’m still trying to catch up and make amends for that. But once I discovered that unique blend of art and words, I couldn’t look back. And when I hooked up with the guys at Vault Comics—my publisher—they showed me what the comics medium could really do. It’s exhilarating to look at the blank page and imagine the thousand different forms it can take.

  • What’s the first comic book you remember buying as a kid?

Like I said, I’m late-comer to comics, so I didn’t read many as a kid. But I read the hell out of Mad Magazine. They’d come straight to my house in a brown paper cover over the newsstand cover. I’d spread out on the floor in my bedroom and read that thing from cover to cover. Then read it again. Then flip through to make sure I didn’t miss any of the margin cartoons. And I’d never crease the back cover fold-in (if you don’t know what that is, Google it because it’s awesome!).

  • What from your life influences your writing the most?

Probably growing up in a small town. It was the 80’s, and I know life wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns in rural America back then, especially for gay kids like me. But I was eight years old and I didn’t know any of that yet. To me, my hometown was magic. Riding my bike to outrun the streetlamps. Hiding from the summer heat in a cool, dark corner of the library. Listening to the sounds of the Cleveland Indians games my dad watched on TV as I fell asleep. And exploring our urban legends: Gravity Hill, where a car actually rolls uphill in neutral (not really); a church with an upside down cross over its door (almost certainly an accident); and the creepy deformed Melonheads that prowled the surrounding woods (hmm…maybe?). Thirty years later and I still remember every detail. I was also an inappropriately young Stephen King fan, so I was always on the look out for the clown that was definitely living in our sewers.

  • What’s your process like for writing?

I’ll sit down for 6-8 hour stretches and just grind away. It takes time to get into the groove, and once I’m there, I hate to get out of it. Even my husband keeps his distance during those marathons (love you, honey!).

  • How do you develop your stories?

I have the worst—WORST—habit of starting a new story based on its title alone. I wish I could enter a story through a cool character or a unique setting. Nope. I’ll hear a great title word or phrase and my mind will race with story possibilities. It’s a double-edged sword—a good title can inspire a great story, but if the title is taken, there’s a good chance I’ll abandon the idea and move on. That said, I haven’t yet turned away an awesome character if she came knocking, even if she didn’t bring a title with her.

  • How has being a gay creator impacted your comics?

For better or worse, for me being a gay creator is about being different…having people perceive you differently…perceiving yourself differently…and sometimes choosing how you present yourself to the world. I force my characters to grapple with those same insecurities and secrets all the time. My comic Powerless is a great example—a world filled with people who are literally all super-powered and a handful who are not. How the powerless choose to present themselves and how other people perceive them become life-or-death propositions.

  • Do you have a secret skill?

Does crippling self-doubt count as a skill?

  • You have a series out from Vault comics called Alien Bounty Hunter #1, tell me a little more about that.

ABH was created by Stephen Levinson and FJ Desanto, and when they approached my co-writer Adrian Wassel and me to write it, we jumped at the chance. It’s a fun twist on the familiar sci-fi and adventure stories we all love—everything from vintage pulps to Star Wars and Indiana Jones. It follows bounty hunter Ben Madsen (from Arcadia, California, believe it or not) as he chases down a vicious fugitive, only to discover his newest mark isn’t at all as advertised. Madsen finds himself forced to navigate an alien prison hidden under the Alaskan tundra, where at every turn nothing is as it seems. Part Men in Black, part Blade Runner, and all fun. I should mention artist Nick Robles has been face-meltingly spectacular on the series. And maybe the coolest part is that the series is being produced by Mark Wahlberg.

  • On Alien Bounty Hunter #1 you work with a co-writer, what’s that like?

Adrian Wassel is the editor-in-chief for Vault Comics, my publisher, so we spent lots of time on Powerless together, my other series from Vault. We hit it off from day one, so when he asked me to jump on board to ABH, I didn’t hesitate. Working together, he and I have created something I’m not sure either one of us could have created alone.

  • How did you come up with the premise of Alien Bounty Hunter?

As I mentioned, Stephen Levinson and FJ Desanto created the story and concept. When they brought me and Adrian on board, they gave us a huge amount of freedom to help develop the world and the characters. Then our artist Nick really took all of our ideas and ran with them. It’s become a love letter to the adventure and sci-fi stories that have so heavily influenced the entire team.

  • The main character, Ben Madsen, seems like a bad ass with a heart of gold. What was the inspiration behind his character?

Our inspiration came from lots of different places, but right out of the gate we wanted to create more than just an action hero. We didn’t want readers to root for him because we told them to; we wanted readers to root for him because they like him and want him to succeed. That meant giving him depth beyond being a motorcycle-riding badass bounty hunter. That said, he’s also a motorcycle-riding badass bounty hunter.

  • From the introduction we get in Alien Bounty Hunter #1 it looks like Ben is a somewhat complex character. You do such a good job of developing him and giving us part of his background in just the first issue, it really makes us want to root for him.

Hooray! Exactly how we wanted you to feel.

  • Your other series, also published on Vault comics, is called Powerless, can you give us an elevator pitch for what that story is about?

Powerless is a gritty sci-fi take on superpowers, set in a world where all 7 billion people have some superhuman ability. But when a contagious virus starts to take those powers away, the government institutes a brutal quarantine to stop the spread while the infected begin to fight back, violently if necessary. A big shout out to the entire team that made Powerless spectacular: Nathan Gooden (art), Mike Spicer (colors), Deron Bennett (letters), and Tim Daniel (design). And a huge thank you to Oliver Ridge and Blood Moon Creative, who are producing Powerless alongside Vault and have supported the series from the start.

  • Powerless kind of flips the script from what we would think of when it comes to super powers, when did you first think of the idea?

I’ve been developing the story for Powerless for years. I love the idea that having a superpower could make you an outcast, but really, if you’re the only person who can shoot laser beams from your eyeballs, how much of an outcast can you really be? Now imagine if everyone else could shoot laser beams from their eyeballs, but you couldn’t? You’re still the outcast, but you’re also less powerful than everyone around you. That’s the question that fascinated me. So yeah, Powerless is about outcasts, but it’s also about how and where you find power when you seem powerless next to everyone else.

  • The powers of the main characters are interesting and so unique. For example, Billy Bannister has the ability to travel back in time 37 seconds. Was there a special reason behind 37 seconds?

Yes, there is. But you’ll have to stick around to find out. 😉

  • Do you have a favorite comic con?

I love going to Geek Christmas at San Diego Comic Con every July. I’m also really looking forward to going to Baltimore Comic Con in September. I’ve never been, and I hear it’s awesome.

Next I”l ask you some either or questions. Ready? Go?

  • Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars although I do love me some ST:TNG

  • Coffee or Tea?

Coffee. ALL the coffee.

  • Superheroes or Noir

Can I say noir superhero?

  • Coney Dogs or Burrito

Burrito.

  • Movies or Books

Don’t…make…me…choose…

  • Floppies or digital copies

Floppies. Nothing like that new comics smell.

  • Trades or single issues

For series I love, both!

  • If you could work on anything, what would be a dream series for you to work on?

Firefly. Anything related to Firefly. I’d also love to write an X-book. Something subtle and quiet that brings a new dimension to a character we think we already know. I have some ideas…

  • If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?

Writing comics is already my second career, but I had to choose a third one…hmm…probably musical theater. When I wasn’t poking around urban legends as a child, I was singing and dancing.

  • What would be your dream collaboration?

I’ve already gotten to collaborate with so many unbelievable talents. But if I have to choose, writer: Tom King. Artist: Too many to list!

  • Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?

This fall I have a Twilight Zone-esque short story in an anthology called The Strip from Red Stylo Media. Powerless will start its second arc in 2018. And I’m developing a couple of very cool series with some great creators I’ve met along the way that will hopefully see the light in 2018. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, readers can check out Powerless and Alien Bounty Hunter at www.vaultcomics.com and at comic shops everywhere.

You can find David on Twitter