At New York Comic Con, there were plenty of great creators tabling in Artist Alley and it would be hard to not find at least one person you were a fan of. Amongst all the wealth of talent assembled, was Nick Robles, artist of such series as Alien Bounty Hunter and Euthanauts. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy convention schedule to talk to Comicon.com about his art and his current series on the Black Crown imprint of IDW.
Gary Catig: We were speaking earlier and you said this is this your first time tabling at New York Comic Con. What are you looking forward to most at this year’s show?
Nick Robles: Mostly the experience. This is my first time. I came here last year just to walk around and it was a lot to take in. Artist Alley wasn’t in the best place, but I was so happy to see friends and everyone tabling. It really made me miss tabling. I said that this year, I definitely had to get a table. I’d be much more comfortable here and I’d connect better. It has all been very much true.
GC: Looking at your comics and a lot of your drawings for leisure, you have a beautiful but dark aesthetic to your art. I was curious: who out there inspired or influenced your current style?
NR: I come from a background where I used to paint digitally. I do enjoy the darker stuff. Brom, a dark, gothic painter was a huge influence to me growing up. I also like the flip side, like Leyendecker, and he was pretty much the Norman Rockwell type. Ever since moving into comics, I’ve been influenced by Adam Hughes, pin up artists, and such. When I started to focus on story telling more, I found myself really being compelled by artists like J.H. Williams III. Artists that took layouts and the medium, and twisted it to be something unique and beautiful. J.H. Williams. Bill Sienkiewicz. Mike Mignola is a huge influence too. You nailed it. Just dark and beautiful. If I can capture that, that’s my dream.
GC: You’re currently working on Euthanauts for the Black Crown imprint of IDW. It seems that it is a break out series for you, with a lot more people noticing your artwork more than your previous stuff. I know that you’ve done covers before and had a series with Vault. Was there a time where you realized that you could make a career out of this and make comics full-time, or do you think you’re still trying to reach that point?
NR: I think everyone is going to be continuously trying to reach that point. I am making connections now and friends with other peers. People are noticing me and coming up to me saying, “Hey, I love your work.” That is insanely new and very welcome. It brings a smile to my face when anyone shows up and knows who I am. The first comic convention I attended, I kept introducing myself to people over and over and they asked, “Is this a test? I know who you are, Nick.” That’s just nuts to me.
I think this past year, I’ve started to really focus on making it a career and drawing in what I need to know besides just the drawing aspects of it. There’s the business side, which is a new ball game but there are friends who are kind enough to tell you how to approach that and what to do, and I am so grateful for them.
GC: I understand. As an artist, you just draw pictures. You don’t consider the business side. It’s cool that you have people that can take you under their wing to help you get into that side of the business.
NR: Very much so. Tess Fowler is amazing. She took me under her wing big time. She called me up out of the blue and laid into me like, “Why aren’t you a professional yet? You need to do this. Your work is too good. I’m going to send your work to editors.” I was just dumbstruck because no one just calls me out of the blue. She texted me, “Hey, is it okay if I call you?” Sure. You’re amazing, I love your stuff. She just grabbed me and ran, and hasn’t let go. She checks in on me and makes sure I’m doing okay.
She’s the one that got me the Euthanauts job. I did fan art for Kid Lobotomy and she had been showing my work to Shelly Bond, the editor. I did the fan art and Shelly’s like “Oh, this is the guy you’re talking about”. I then got brought into Black Crown to do Euthanauts. I get to do that with Tini Howard, who is amazing and currently blowing up. She has been a dream to work with. Both she and Shelly. Shelly is another one who’s taken me under her wing and tells me what I need to do and how to do it, though not in a bossy way. She’s been very kind and I’ve been wanting that kind of guidance for a long time.
GC: Moving along those lines, you’ve mentioned earlier that Euthanauts is published by Black Crown. I think they have a really independent rock label vibe to them. How is it working with them and how do you think Shelly Bond and company have helped develop your ability as a storyteller?
NR: Oh yeah. Everyone says Shelly has an old school type of editing process, and I’m not so versed in the old school comics industry or what goes on behind the curtains. She sat me down on our first issue and we went through each layout page and dissected it. I’ve never had that before. It was just fascinating and I learned so much going through each panel. She was so kind to offer me advice and give me tidbits, and she offered her years of experience in the field to me and continues to do so. I just owe her a lot and am very thankful that I get to work with her. When I am done and if I go somewhere else, I am going to miss her dearly because she has shown me so much of what I’m capable of. She offers much more than I have ever seen or experienced before. My style probably didn’t vibe with hers until I found out what I was doing. You’re right, she does the old school rock. I’m going to butcher it so I’m not going to try to explain it, but she has a distinct style that she is in love with. I came onto Euthanauts and I loved the story. She gave it to me first and I was so happy to have a creator-owned project. I really got to be a creator. Tini draws me in and lets me create with her and that’s amazing.
GC: For Euthanauts, the series is themed around death and what may follow after one’s passing. I know you follow Tini’s scripts and her descriptions of scenes, but do you also implement your own beliefs about what you think happens in the afterlife as well?
NR: That is a big question because Euthanauts poses difficult questions to us all. That’s the whole process of it. It’s taking you to the end and telling you, in this story, pseudo-science has found a plane between the end, and the final end, I guess you would say. In my own beliefs, I’m very close to not remaining ignorant, but I love the possibility that there are endless possibilities. I love it to be a personal thing, and that’s huge thing for the Euthanauts suits. I try to give each character, the three main protagonists, forms that they will have while there in that space, in that plane. Each of them is different and this depends on their beliefs. The main character, Thalia, is very scientific and modern. Another character is the actual scientist and she’s the voyager, the one who reaches out first. The third is much more of a naturalistic pagan and nature-based character, so they are very organic in their suit. I really like that. I like that each person can have their own belief and follow that. If that’s what they follow through to in the end, that’s perfect. That’s where your hope takes you.
GC: It’s like they have three different motives but they are working towards the same goal, kind of.
NR: Yes. That’s the thing. You’re traveling with the protagonist who’s learning all this new stuff while the other ones have experience with it. You’re walking with Thalia. You’re not guiding her, but you’re working with her, reading her, and seeing how she receives all this information.
GC: Finally, so far, you’ve mentioned Thalia is still learning about this whole new world after death and settling into her new role as a euthanaut. Can you tease a little bit of what might be coming her way in the following issues?
NR: Issue three just came out, and they all end on some great cliffhangers. Especially on that one. I can’t really tell what goes on after that. There are endings, and there are non-endings, and I can’t really spoil too much. There are only two issues left and I’ll leave that for the reader to find out.
We appreciate Nick taking the time for the interview. If you like his art, check out his page here and definitely read Alien Bounty Hunter or catch up on Euthanauts.