This month I’m going to introduce an up and coming independent artist that caught my eye, and is producing interesting work.
He’s a penciler, inker, letterer, colorist and painter. He even dabbles in a bit of animation and graphic design. His name is Nicolas Faluotico and he hails from the tiny South American nation, Uruguay. A country not known for a large comic book culture. Despite this Nicolas has managed to helped grow comic book culture by teaching. He has many enthusiastic students that are young and have a passion for comics much like him.
I caught up with Nicolas Faluotico for a brief interview over Skype.
ZONE-SIX – Hi, Nico. Thanks for speaking to Zone-six. Tell me, being from Uruguay, what is the comic industry like there?
Nicolas – No problem. Thanks for having me. That’s a good question. Here in Montevideo( The capital city of Uruguay) It’s pretty tough because most of the content that comes out of Uruguay is limited to state wide contests or things like that. That in itself is a problem, but the bigger problem is that there isn’t really a ” market” per se. People don’t really think to read comics here much, therefore whatever material you do get, tends to be the same. By this I mean that, since most of the opportunities to publish something here are state funded, they require you to follow certain guidelines. Most of the content has to include Uruguayan history or political themes relating to Uruguay. This limits people to be able to produce the stories THEY want to tell. The themes are a bit restrictive. Not totally. There’s still a lot of great material that comes from this format as well and there is still people who are passionate enough to push through and do things on their own.
ZONE-SIX – So my follow up question is, How then, did you even become interested in comics at all?
Nicolas – I came across a lot of American comics when I was a kid. My Dad would get me some whenever he saw them. the typical DC and Marvel stuff like Superman, Spider-man etc. Not a lot of comics because that was hard to come by. My cousins were really big into comics and they would always FedEx me stuff from Canada which made it a lot easier for me to get into it. I always loved to draw and create my own characters , but it wasn’t until I saw a Uruguayan comic called “Sidekick” where I realized, I like this and I want to pursue it as a career. Sidekick was like a breath of fresh air because it had such a different voice. It wasn’t financed by the state so you had various different themes. Most of the issues contained 3 to 4 short stories that had interesting art to go along with the unique stories being told. I researched the names of the creators and found out that they taught art and writing. I ran into them at one of our comic conventions. They were very approachable and quickly told me about joining their classes. I was a quick study and I eventually made connections and began to work on small projects.
ZONE-SIX – So you could say that these classes are really where you honed your skills?
Nicolas – Oh yes. Totally. I learned anatomy, perspective, all the things you need to be taught and not necessarily rely on teaching yourself. Something as simple as standing there watching the artists work was hugely helpful.
ZONE-SIX – Eventually You and a few colleagues, managed to get your own graphic novel, Testimonios Obscuros ( Dark Testimonials) published and you got to work with some people who were now working within the DC and Marvel industry, correct?
Nicolas – Yes, releasing that graphic novel was important for sure. Not just the work itself but, the effort it took to get it released. A lot of sacrifice and self financing, which is not easy anywhere in the world but especially tough here. it was a good moment when it did finally come out.
As for your second question, I did get a chance to connect with a few people here in Uruguay that were working with DC and Marvel. Ignacio Calero, was working on Stormwatch and Green Arrow for Dc’s new 52 lineup. It was exciting to see him producing work for the big boys.
It was also good to see that there is still a lot of opportunity to work for the big companies in North America while residing here.
ZONE-SIX – Difficult but attainable?
Nicolas – I would say yes, but difficult for sure. The problem is that Uruguay is sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina. Those countries produce a lot of artists like Ivan Reis, Eduardo Risso, Ariel Olivetti, Ed Benes and so on. This means that the big companies tend to look there more for their South American talent. One positive thing is that guys like me can also attend Comic Cons in Argentina and be seated next to guys like Rafael Albuquerque. Most of these guys are very down to earth and are willing to chat and help you out.
ZONE-SIX – Hey, I love Eduardo Barreto and he’s from Uruguay. He had a great run on Teen Tians and The Shadow which I was a big fan of.
Nicolas – Of course. He’s a huge inspiration and legend for us here as well. Never got to meet him before his death, but a great artist for sure.
ZONE-SIX – Indeed. I understand that you are curently working on your own character, which you want to introduce as both a comic and as an animated short. Tell me about Eagle Boy.
Nicolas – When I was in my first year of my animation program I began thinking of creating a character I could use for some upcoming projects. Naturally my first thought was to create something to do with superheroes. At first I thought of creating some kind of superhero animal, similar to Batman’s dog, Ace. I tried a few sketches but it looked bad. Somehow I tried a few lines in different places and I came up with a rough draft of Eagle Boy. I thought it was interesting to have a kid be the main superhero.
ZONE-SIX – So do you want to release it as a Comic or as an animated short first?
Nicolas – Both. The idea is to put them both out simultaneously. The plan is to put out a 30 second preview that goes with the digital comic that will be released shortly after. Let’s say the next day. I’m thinking 22 to 24 pages per issue, and eventually create a long form animated short that has a substantial story and is of a high quality. The 30 second clips or previews are all going to be more action sequences rather than complete stories.
ZONE-SIX -That’s actually a very cool idea. I’d love to have an animated short to go with my newest issue of Green lantern or anything else really.
Nicolas -Me too! I know it’s ambitious, but I think it would be cool to do that. I already have a couple of preliminary shorts in the works so we’ll see how it goes.
ZONE-SIX -I notice it has a real Bruce Timm feel to it.
Nicolas -Definitely. He, and especially Genndy Tartakovsky( Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Lab, Power Puff Girls), were a big influence to me.I have 2 styles in a way. I guess what you would call a more ” realistic” style, but their stripped down style really appealed to me. I wanted to explore those avenues of art and try to develop my own style, especially in animation. While I love animation, I want to remain more focused on my comics work. Really It’s all about trial and error. Sometimes you just have to test the waters and see what happens. So far I’ve received a lot of positive comments about Eagle Boy. Why not take it far if people respond to it?
ZONE-SIX – Good point. Speaking of art styles,I have to ask you, could you name some of your influences in regards to your art?
Nicolas -Man, there are a lot but I’ll try to limit it to 5 haha. In terms of ” realism” I’d have to say Jim lee, Ivan Reis, John Paul Lean. I’d say John Paul Leon is the most under-rated artist out there. For a more ” Cartoony” style i would go with Genndy Tartakovsky, Bruce Timm. I’m a big fan of Phil Noto’s work too. Big influence. I named more than 5 so there you go haha.
ZONE-SIX – No worries man. I could go all day myself. Moving forward, if given the chance, what 3 characters would you love to work on other than your own?
Nicolas – Daredevil for sure. Space Ghost and Batman.
ZONE-SIX -Interesting. From a very popular choice to a very uncommon choice. Why Space Ghost?
Nicolas -I have a bit of a strange obbesion with Space Ghost. I’m not sure why haha. It’s weird because he doesn’t have any particularly good stories, he’s not really around much anymore. He’s kind of lame even, but I love the design he has. Alex Toth really did a fantastic job designing that character. Oh! I forgot to mention Alex Toth as a big influence. There’s always someone you leave out. Even Space Ghost’s villain’s and supporting cast look very good to me. I’d love to explore that world because there really hasn’t been much done with Space Ghost. DC published a pretty cool story in the 2000’s but that’s been it frankly. I feel like there’s a lot more stories to tell with that character. But Batman is THE ONE. I mean, my favorite superhero, so it’s hard pass up that chance.
ZONE-SIX – You and me both man. Changing gears for a minute, what do you think of the diversity we’re seeing in comics today?
Nicolas– I think it’s good for the most part. It kind of gives the industry a much needed face lift. I think it has a certain sense of irony to it too. For example Will Smith playing Deadshot. Here’s a character that I always considered kind of racist being played by a black man. I think thats interesting and ironic. There’s also some very drastic changes that are very cool too, like Thor being a woman now. I think her design is great and the idea works. An excellent move there. Not everything works though. For example Spider-Woman, I don’t get it. I understand it, but I don’t “get” it. She’s pregnant! It just looks unusual to me. Maybe it’s weirdly designed, I don’t know haha. I have nothing against pregnant women. All the power to them, but that’s one change for a character that I don’t get. Still I feel that Marvel is at least taking chances and doing it right for the most part. Don’t get me wrong, I love DC. In fact their stuff is a bit more tailored to my sensibilities but I think they have to work on having a constant voice. Maybe take a few more chances.
ZONE-SIX -Time will tell. Thanks Nicolas, For taking the time to speak with me today. I look forward to finding Eagle Boy and reading it. Don’t give up on that Space Ghost idea either!
Nicolas– ( LAUGHS), No problem. It was great talking to you guys. I appreciate it. It was a cool experience with some fun questions too. Thank you.