The Sun City Scifi COMICON happening in Downtown this weekend (June 13 & 14) will feature three (3) pro comic book artists who are all El Paso natives as well as a plethora of local talent. Among the field of illustrators at the convention, Carlos D’anda stands out as having a prolific career in an industry that expects work quickly, and in great volume. The only real wealth being earned is the feedback by fans and producing art in a medium you have to love in order to succeed.
We sat down with Carlos to find out what caused that spark and how a local boy made it in the big world of comics.
Q. How did you get your break in the comic book industry? The people of El Paso would love to know how one of their own made it in such a niche profession.
A. I’ve been drawing as far back as I could hold a pencil, but I didn’t really start taking my art seriously until around the 10th grade or so… a good friend of mine showed me an issue of X-Men that was drawn by Jim Lee, and it FLOORED me! That was the moment that I realized “THIS is what I want to do,” and at that point, I took learning and practicing a LOT more seriously.
I broke into the industry back in the mid 90’s, so the internet was still dial-up and MUCH too slow to be able to send art (or any large image-attachments) efficiently… so, everything was still done the old-fashioned way; going to Kinko’s, making a bunch of copies, and sending them to editors, THEN waiting months to hear back and hoping you’d get some feedback from a studio/publisher.
I remember it was around the time I graduated high-school (Bel Air) that I saw a “Talent Search” advertised in one of Wildstorm’s comics. (Wildstorm being Jim Lee’s studio in San Diego) Jim was one of my biggest influences growing up, so I decided I needed to work my butt-off so I could send a worthwhile art submission to Jim’s studio. I had just started going to Art school, and I was also working pretty diligently on my submissions. I’d try and send submission packages to different studios every 4 months or so. After the 3rd submission, I got a call from Jim (Lee) himself, asking me if I wanted to come and join them in San Diego, and I’ve been in this crazy business ever since.
Q. What are some of the projects you’ve been most proud of over the years?
A. I’ve been a very, very lucky Dude… my very first comic was written by Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Killing Joke), then after that, I’ve had the honor of working with John Arcudi, Brian Azzarello, Peter Milligan, Paul Dini, Bryan Wood (among others)… my run on Star Wars with Bryan Wood was a TON of fun to work on, and it was a blast getting to be on the ground floor of the “Batman: Arkham” game-series (I designed most of the characters in the 1st game, and about half of them in the second)
It’s tough to pick a favorite one, they’ve all been incredibly rewarding experiences for different reasons.
Q. How has your art evolved since you got your shot in the industry to your latest work?
A. Comparing my early work to my current stuff, I see improvements, but there’s always new “chinks in the armor” that need to be worked on. It’s a constant learning experience, especially in something as complex as comics. Ironically, comic art is seen as “low” on the totem pole by the “art inteligencia”, YET few visual art forms require knowledge of anatomy, architecture, direction, story-telling, composition, gesture, etc. to all come together in order to complete a page in a fairly short amount of time.
Q. Finally, being a native El Pasoan, how do you feel about the changes happening in the Sun City? If you aren’t aware of the Downtown revitalization, do you plan on checking out how things have changed?
A. I think it’s awesome! To be honest, when I come to visit El Paso, I spend most of my time with my parents and I don’t go out much, but I drove around Downtown during a recent visit, and it was pretty damn cool seeing all the new development and effort being put into what is essentially EP’s Cultural center.
For more information visit SUNCITYSCIFI.COM