Joel Gomez is an independent comic book artist who has worked on licensed books, hero books, independent books, and even Kickstarter projects. I had a chance to talk with him about working as a freelancer in the world of comic books along with his thought for other trying to break into the industry.
How did you know you wanted to work in the in comic books?
Joe: I didn’t get into the comic book industry till I was 28, and I wasn’t absolutely sure this is what I wanted till I realized how exciting creating new concepts/ideas to tell a story can be.
Alex: Are you partial to superhero books or do you venture into other genres? Why?
Joe: I occasionally dip my toe in the superhero books mostly for the art, occasionally for the story. Comics can offer so much more, so I’m always on the look out for something new.
Alex: You have worked on licensed and original projects. Is there one you prefer of the other? Why?
Joe: I guess it boils down to how big of a fan am I of said licensing project. I remember while at Wildstorm when Gears of War was announced as a project we would be publishing, how excited I was to try out for it. I was such a huge fan of the game and the world created by EPIC Games. I really wanted to draw the hell out of Marcus Fenix and some Locusts hordes.
That being said, working on an original concept for a project can be just as exciting, albeit more challenging and rewarding. Working on something original, if your lucky, will have you try things you’ve never done before or look at something in a way you normally wouldn’t. It’s hard to imagine these things wouldn’t help make a more well-rounded artist and a better professional.
Alex: You mentioned you are a fan of Gears Of War. Are you a big gamer? What other video games would you want to see turned into comic books?
Joe: I occasionally play video games, but am not as avid a gamer as I used to be. Uncharted 3 was probably the last time I was super immersed in a game and it was amazing!
I think Far Cry would probably be a great comic book to adapt considering its fan base and success.
Alex: What licensed projects would you like to see a comic book for? What would be your dream licensed project?
Joe: I would LOVE to see a licensed comic book for TRON. My dream licensed project, though…as in, what I would want to draw the hell out of…Alien. Not the James Cameron marine battling Action Adventure Alien, but the Ridley Scott eerie, hiding in shadows Alien. Would absolutely love to work on something like that.
Alex: You’ve worked on Kickstarter projects recently. How different are they from working with a publisher directly?
Joe: Working on a KickStarter project is a very exciting thing for me. I imagine there are many similarities between how comics were done in their earlier years and collaborating with a creator on a KickStarter. For me, it’s been a fun and super-creative process. A yin and yang of putting out your best effort and ideas and extracting the best effort and ideas from your collaborator. All in the efforts of creating new material that make a compelling concept or tell a new story. It can be a very creative & rewarding process.
Working with a publisher can be very similar, only at an accelerated rate with more volume. I think having successful collaborations with other creators on something like a KickStarter project prepares you, somewhat, for the gauntlet you go thru working for ‘big publishers’, who may have years of experiencing what works and what sells their concepts. You have to be that ‘special’ kind of person or creator to get asked to change some of the ‘toys’ in the ‘big publisher’ sandbox…generally, they just want to see you do fun stuff with the things they’ve created.
Alex: What are you currently working on?
Joe: Currently, I’m working on Attica for Beyond Reality Media with writers Christian Gossett (creator/artist on Red Star) and William Geradts (founder/writer Beyond Reality Media).
Attica is the story of Pollux, the son of Zeus, once feared as one of the ancient world’s bloodiest conquerors now walking the modern day world, as it’s greatest prophet.
I’m also working on the KickStarter project Jason Coffee’s WarHawks. WarHawks introduces us to a world of two cyborg armies, both good and evil in a battle for the fate of the earth. Jason Coffee creator/writer of WarHawks was a writer’s assistant and script analyst who read scripts for James Cameron. Sadly, in 2008, Jason passed prematurely due to health complications. I was brought on board to help bring Jason’s vision of WarHawks to life.
Alex: What is your dream project?
Joe: At the moment, my dream project is to create concepts/stories/worlds that are exciting/entertaining without the notion of a cape or tights. The idea of telling a story with a beginning, middle and end and moving on to the next is exciting and challenging to me. I also love the idea of approaching each story/idea with an art style to reflect the mood or tone your trying to create.
What is the difference of how you tackle a project like Attica and how you tackle Warhawks and something like the Matt Miner’s Liberator? They seem very unique and different from each other.
Joe: For me, what attracts me most to a concept/idea is the story or experience we’re trying to convey to the reader…working this way has led to some fantastic collaborations and artistic growth. It’s an amazing thing to work with someone in achieving the same goal and pull the best from each other at the same time. I find it makes me a better collaborator as well.
Alex: What are you currently reading in the comic book world?
Joe: I really enjoy American Vampire and can’t wait for that book to come back from its hiatus. Indestructible Hulk has been pretty fun. Dark Horse’s Lobster Johnson mini-series was great, as is The Goon, IDW’s Parker graphic novels are always pretty awesome.
Alex: What is the biggest challenge, in your opinion, to breaking into the comic book industry and what advice do you have for people trying to become part of this industry?
Joe: One of the biggest challenges of breaking into comics, in my opinion -is that it’s easy for someone to recognize your talents in this industry, but it can be very challenging to sustain a workflow you could be happy with. My advice: The entertainment business can be loads of fun, but at the end of the day, it’s still a business. Work hard, be accountable & be professional.
You can follow Joel on Twitter at J0elg and find him on Deviantart.
Art featured: Page 5 of Warhawks. Pages 3 and 5 of Attica #8.