For a while now, I have been saying that one of the best comics out there is Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil. Besides the great writing, Daredevil has some of the best art for any comic from any publisher for each and every issue. The team that helped capture the magic and make the comic the great success it has become was Waid and artist Paolo Rivera. Rivera recently stepped away from full-time art duties, but he continues to astound with his covers. Chris Samnee had some big shoes to fill and so far he has done an outstanding job. I was lucky enough to get to ask Mr. Rivera a few questions about Daredevil and some of his future projects.
CBT: About a month ago you won two Eisner Awards for your work on Daredevil. First off congratulations. What was it like to have a book so well received by fans and the media and to get that type of recognition?
Paolo Rivera: Thanks! I don’t know if I’ll ever be so lucky again, but I really felt like I was part of something special. And to top it off, the readers seemed to agree. It helps that I was working with the dream team of comics.
CBT: Speaking of Daredevil, I was reading something from Mark Waid that said the cover to issue 10 took you over 70 hours to complete. That’s one of the best covers I’ve seen in many years, I even bought a poster of it. Could you talk on the process of making that cover? All of your covers have been exceptional, but is that one of your favorites that you have done?
Rivera: It’s true. I inked that over Thanksgiving week, alternating between that and THE TWELVE #12 cover, which took about the same amount of time. When I got tired of working on one, I’d just switch to the other one for a “break.” It’s definitely one of my favorites, though. Mark Waid had suggested something inspired by Doré and I could not have agreed more. I had a lot of fun researching his style and trying to tailor to my own ends.
As for the process, the first step was to do a grayscale study to get the lighting right. I penciled the whole thing in blue-line, trying to organize every surface into parallel contour lines. Once that was done, I just inked line after line until the whole thing was done. I used a bit of acrylic to white out highlights, but not much. I removed the blue pencil in Photoshop and added some color and texture to complete the look.
CBT: One of the things that was unique about Daredevil was the fact you worked with your father. You both worked so well and gave the art a classic look that helped make the book as much fun as it is. What was that experience like and can we expect to see you two working together again in the future?
Rivera: It was great working with my Dad, especially because it’s not something either of us ever planned on. But as soon as we got a few practice pages behind us, things went perfectly. Now I just send him a blue-line file, he prints it out, and I’ve got a finished piece the next day. He had never inked professionally, but he used to do caricatures, and he’s been airbrushing my entire life. Now he splits his time between inking and custom motorcycles.
We’re just doing covers right now, about one per week, which gives me plenty of time to pursue other projects. Eventually, I hope to enlist his help in my creator-owned story.
CBT: Marvel recently teased the villain the Coyote. You were the one that came up with the initial designs and named the character. Is there anything you can say about the character or tease about what’s coming up?
Rivera: In a word, no. All I can say is that this was my first time designing a villian (or any character) from scratch for Marvel. He’ll be a huge challenge for Daredevil, so I hope he has some staying power. It would be a real honor to be associated with a character who stands the test of time.
Rivera: Most definitely. I’m currently doing a few Spidey covers, and possibly some other titles as well.
CBT: Was doing linework a refreshing change to painting?
Rivera: Without a doubt. I still love to paint, but working in ink forced me to pare down my strokes and really make each one count. The same goes for my compositions. The best part is that I can use those lessons whenever I go back to painting. It’s a different process, but each informs the other.
CBT: You stepped away from doing Daredevil full time to work on some creator-owned projects. I know that you’ve said it is still a few years out, but can you comment any on your plans? The teaser you posted a few months back really piqued people’s interest.
Rivera: I’m just now getting to the script-writing phase, so there’s still a lot of work ahead of me, especially since I haven’t really done anything like this before. As for the story, it’s a sci-fi themed exploration of hunger. On the face of it, it’s about a band of robots, led by their creator, who find themselves in desperate need of fuel for the first time in their “lives.” As tends to happen, things don’t go as planned and subtle variations in programming snowball into major conflicts when pressures increase.
CBT: You also said on your blog that you planned to do some crowd-sourcing for two smaller projects that are more about art instruction. Can you comment on that any, or are you still contemplating what those will be?
Rivera: Those are still in the very early stages, but roughly speaking, one will be a perspective template and the other will be an anatomical resource. Though the latter is so expansive, I may never finish. But it’s fun to dream.
CBT: Are these projects and your cover work the big thing on your radar now, or is something else in the works you’d like to share so we can be on the lookout?
Rivera: My main focus is the sci-fi story, but I’m spending much of my time on covers. I have some work for other publishers on the slate, but I can’t say for sure when they’ll hit the stands. I’ve got a couple poster projects as well that I’m pretty excited about. And the rest of my time is spent on commissions.
CBT: Is there a dream project you’d like to do or a certain writer you’d like to team up with now that you’re doing some different things?
Rivera: My sci-fi project is my dream for the moment. I’ve never written for myself before, but I’ve been trying to develop my critical eye over the last 10 years. If it’s well-received, I’ll do more. Otherwise, there are tons of writers I’d love to work with, either on established characters or new creations.
Rivera’s new sci-fi story sounds really intriguing, and I personally really look forward to that project’s development. Besides his creator-owned projects, we have a lot of covers to look forward to. Each is worthy of a spot in an art gallery, or at least on your wall at home. I proudly display my poster of the cover of Daredevil #10. Thanks again to Mr. Rivera. You can check out what he is up to on his twitter account @PaoloMRivera and his blog, paolorivera.blogspot.com, where I snagged some pictures of the art you see in the article.