Talking With ‘BlackHand & IronHead’ Creator David López About Empowered Youths, Superheroics, And Disenchantment

by Scott Redmond

Two sisters, one a superhero and the other a supervillain, met one another at their father’s funeral and inherited the Foundation, an organization their father ran that kept the super elements of the world under control. Things didn’t go so well. Now they are on the run. What happens next?

That is what is set to be answered as the second volume of the series BlackHand & IronHead has recently debuted through the creator-driven digital platform Panel Syndicate.

Series creator (scripting and art) David López answered some questions about the series, his workflow, and what is coming next for the sister duo.

Scott Redmond: While we’ve seen stories before that tackle corruption or abuse of power within superheroes/villains and how far that goes, it being done through the perspective of younger heroes doesn’t seem to be as common. What inspired you to not only conceive of and tackle this story but decide to tell it through the eyes of these two very different sisters?

David López: I wanted to speak to a certain disenchantment that I personally feel with those who rule the world.

In 2008, during the economic crisis, we saw the people who govern and watch over the proper functioning of the system fail to do the job we asked them to do. There were many things in the system that were not right, and that greatly affected me. I suffered a loss of innocence — a loss of innocence that’s comparable to the end of adolescence and the beginning of maturity, that’s what motivated me to portray the story through the eyes of young characters.

SR: That loss is probably something a great many can attest to similarly feeling after that event and others like it. Tied to that last question, capturing young voices is something that a lot of writers talk about being hard to do at times. Do you find it a challenge to try and capture those voices (which you do very very well) or is it a smooth process for you?

DL: Thank you! It’s very reassuring to hear that the perspective works because I was worried that I was like an old man trying to soundhip”. To be honest, the idealism of youth is what drives me, and I have to thank my D&D group (in which there are people of many ages), they keep me up-to-date.

SR: That’s great to hear. Tabletop and other forms of gaming really do seem to be bringing the generations together a lot these days. Panel Syndicate has been home to a lot of really great stories over the years and has a really interesting and different way of going about getting comics out there. What do you like about working with them?

DL: Everything. At first, I was attracted by the lack of editorial control. I wanted to learn how to do things my way and I could not afford to have someone pushing me with dates and deadlines. Marcos Martin understands very well that work made outside the publishing realm must carry an imprint of creative freedom, which especially means having flexibility when it comes to time. He encourages you to be more relaxed, which seemed crazy to me coming from the crazy deadlines, but I was able to embrace it right away.

There’s also something else that is very interesting, which is the relationship with the public. The public chooses how much they pay for the comic, if any, and sends you their comments—a very interesting collaboration evolves and is established, because they are not only paying for the comic, but also, they are offering up a trust in you and the work you produce. There’s a certain degree of involvement that generates the drive to make good comics, one that can meet or exceed the reader’s expectations.

SR:  That level of involvement you mentioned is very clear even by just visiting the site, and is quite welcome in this more social age. Speaking of levels of involvement, creators that both write and draw their stories are becoming a much more common thing to see across the comic book industry. Are there particular techniques or mindsets that you employ when doing both yourself as opposed to doing just one or the other?

DL: I try to be very organized because, paradoxically, this way I have more room for improvisation.

In the beginning, I used to separate the duties of cartoonist and scriptwriter, but now that I’ve become more confident, I’m mixing it up.

Before I start writing anything, I sketch production designs in which I try to capture the feel of what I want to tell, the flavor or the spirit or whatever. Meanwhile, I’m working on a more or less detailed pitch, but where all the arcs of each of the characters are clear and all the plot points are clear.

From there I work on a final script, quite conventional in terms of superhero comic standards, I don’t need to be very specific in the descriptions of the panels because I’m going to draw them myself—more like a theater play. Then I design all the spaces and all the characters, do all the pre-production of the comic before drawing a line of the final material.

Finally, I start drawing the layouts in which sometimes I introduce changes in the scenes but nothing important for the plot, at that moment I do the lettering because I’m constantly polishing the dialogues until I finish drawing, the dialogues are vital for me.

SR: Learning the processes used by creators is always very intriguing, so thank you for sharing that with us. It’s fitting that you mentioned changes there because, with this season’s volume, you brought about a new colorist in Kike J. Diaz. What has it been like working with him on these new stories?

DL: Kike has a very aggressive and very saturated palette that works perfectly with the many urban night scenes in this sequel, I can’t wait to share what he has been doing!

I was lucky to have met Kike when I learned that, unfortunately, Nayoung [Kim] could not take charge of the book due to deadlines. Kike was a fan of the comic and Nayoung’s work, and when we talked, we decided that there would be a certain continuity with the previous approach but trying not to restrict Kike’s creativity. The transition between colorists was perfect along with the change of tone of the story.

SR: Sounds like a perfect match. To wrap up, is there anything you can or want to tease about what future issues might hold in store for Alexia and Amanda?

DL: In BlackHand & IronHead Volume 2, we have political intrigues, media manipulation, betrayal, very very bad guys, not so good good guys, a big robot-crab, a bank robbery, and even more fights… because if something was missing from the first book, it was a little more superheroic action, now we have that part covered.

SR: Thank you for your time David López.

If you want to pick up the first volume of issues as well as this exciting new volume head on over to Panel Syndicate.

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