Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Amin Amat is the new artist on Moonstone Books' BUCKAROO BANZAI series, based on the classic cult film. I had a chance to catch up with Amin and discuss Banzai, Kolchak The Nightstalker, and more.
Were you a big comic book fan as a child?
Yeah I was. My first comic books were the Marvel GI Joe comics. Loved those. From those I ended up getting Conan and Transformers. Years later, I transitioned to Avengers which got me to view comics as a possible career but I didn't take that seriously until much much later. I still read the occasional issue here and there, although most of the time I may just pick up a graphic novel instead.
Who are your artistic influences?
My top tier influences are Klaus Janson, John Romita Jr., Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, Travis Charest, Moebius, Dan Barry, Alex Toth and Alex Raymond. Of course this list expands depending on what project I'm working on and my mood and could include Amedeo Modigliani, Tiepolo, Edward Gorey, Toulouse Latrec, John Singer Sargent, to name a few.
What was your first professional comic book work?
My first pro work was doing a graphic novel for Cyberosia Publishing called "Second Soul". It was also my first real world dealings on what one can and cannot do as an artist and my limitations at the time in terms of achieving particular goals within a set time frame. That little novel taught me a lot about myself as an artist. Yet all in all it was a lot of a fun.
Acclaimed inker Klaus Janson taught you at SVA -- what was that like?
One of the best experiences of my life. Hell I'm still learning stuff he taught me, that's how good he is. Learning form someone with the professional and artistic caliber that is Klaus Janson was and still is incredibly rewarding. Even now when I draw I can feel him looking over my shoulder and making me question my decisions on design, composition, line work, why is this here and that there, layout, everything. I also owe a lot of my persistence and motivation to his brutal honesty when it came to improving one's work.
What brought you to Moonstone Books?
Well I had been doing smaller projects and pinups for sometime with Dave Ulanski at Moonstone. I did a short story for them that ended up being unpublished and I kept in touch with them over the years. After I came back from my 2 year sabbatical, they were doing a talent search for Captain Action. I sent in some pages I recently did for a local magazine and instead of getting Captain Action they offered me to tryout for Kolchak which I did. A short time after I became the
new Kolchak artist. While I was waiting for an approved script, Joe Gentile Moonstone's Editor in
Chief emailed me and asked if I'd be interested in doing Buckaroo Banzai. And, of course, I said "yes"!
You have worked on adaptations of TV & movies like Kolchak and now Buckaroo Banzai. Do you have to draw the original likenesses of those characters? Is that hard to do? Is there an approval process involved?
For any type of project where there is an established likeness, look or style you need to be true to the source. On both Kolchak and Buckaroo I kept all my sketches and studies using the actors as my main guideline. There is some room for one's interpretation but that room is very small. I personally don't find it hard, it's just a matter of drawing and sketching until you find your own click and everything makes sense. For both projects I have to get everything submitted for approval. On the Buckaroo Banzai book I'm working on, the character designs as well as every page has to be approved by not just my editor (Joe Gentile again!!) but of both the writer and director of the Buckaroo Banzai film, J.D. Richter and Earl Mac. I actually enjoy the approval process so if they
ask for changes or not, it's ok with me and besides they really like what I'm doing.
What advice would you give an aspiring young comic book artist?
I would say draw/sketch like there's no tomorrow. Study not just anatomy and other comicbook artists but artists from other fields/mediums. And be open to criticism. I've seen and heard of artists whose ego's were so inflated that any criticism made to their work was treated as an act of aggression against said artist. I guess I'm lucky enough to be able to separate myself from my art and look at it from another point of view other than just my own. Always keep an open mind and to not cease learning or questioning every decision you make when it comes time to draw.
What is your impression of the industry at the moment, in terms of opportunities for artists?
From where I'm at, it depends. The industry is definitely not able to offer a lot of work to artists as in the 90's. Then again a lot of the talent has maintained a higher level of quality than a majority
of the published work from the 90's. It's also a cutthroat industry as is any industry related to
entertainment. Your best bet besides talent is to be persistent, consistent and have good human relations (knowing how to communicate and work with others). All in all there are opportunities it's just realizing that each one is unique and what one did may not be the best for another to utilize.
Do you do other work besides comics?
Yes I work as a full-time web designer with a small design boutique in Ocean Park, Puerto Rico. Most of the time I'm swamped but I do sketch a lot during the day which has helped me to work better at night since my brain and hand have been in sync all day. Yet as those like me and those that came before me I do plan on illustrating comicbooks full-time in the near future.
If you could draw any character, who would it be?
Batman or anything Gotham city related, if DC asked; Spider-man, Cloak & Dagger or Power Pack if Marvel asked; and anything from the Valiant universe.
What's next for Amin Amat?
Right now, I'll be finishing up A Tomb with a View, the new Buckaroo Banzai book for Moonstone. Then hopefully some Kolchak and after that whatever
You can check out more art at http://aminamat.blogspot.com/