Ringuet Makes Sparks Fly...
In June, new publisher Catastrophic
Comics releases the first issue of their first title, the
superhero noir book Sparks.
Yes, it's edited by myself (full disclosure)
but I only wish I could say I had something to do with how
brilliant the art is. Sparks' writer Chris Folino, himself
a fan of the book's artist, JM Ringuet, shot a few questions
over to Ringuet's home in China.
cover art -- available in June!
Chris Folino: How
did you start off in comic books?
JM Ringuet: I've always
been interested in doing comics since I was a kid. I remember
doing my own folded (but not stapled) comic when I was about
7; it starred a superhero with a mask that resembled the
Phantom with a cape and who had a dog as a sidekick. Unfortunately,
despite many tries, I didn't start for real in the industry
until very recently, first with coloring and then full art.
Chris Folino: How did you get involved
with Sparks? And what was your reaction when you started
JM Ringuet: By chance I
think and with the help of Derek McCaw. I was really excited
to have a chance to do full art for a story (And be paid
for it) and a bit scared by the task, because it definitely
is not easy.
Tell us about the world of Sparks? You've set a tone and
a mood that's very unique. And the characters...how did
you come up with the design?
JM Ringuet: Sparks
is a noir story, set in an unnamed city (which has both
European and American features), probably in 1948, but it
could be an imaginary 1948. It's Phillip Marlowe mixed with
Watchmen, the Spirit and maybe a bit of Sin
City. The tone of the world came out very organically
from talking to you and reading the script.
The characters were not easy to design,
we had a lot of back and forth on that, until (everybody)
was very satisfied. My first version of the hero, Ian Sparks,
was based on Orson Welles, because I thought it would be
different, but we moved away from this. I want to add that
one character is 'played' by (Catastrophic owner)
William Katt (as much as I can draw his likeness) and will
appear in Issue #3.
How long does it take you to draw a page, ink it, color
it and do lettering?
learns a lesson.
JM Ringuet: Anywhere between
8 to 20 hours, depending on the amount of details. Lettering
takes maybe an hour or more for one page, because there
are a lot of tries before I get something I like.
Who's your favorite character to draw in the story?
JM Ringuet: Ian Sparks.
Were you concerned Sparks was too dark?
JM Ringuet: Not really.
There is always darker, and dark is something people like
in modern comics, I think. It's not dark just to be dark,
the concept demands it. I quite like dark stories in general.
I'm a big fan of James Ellroy.
You are French and live in China? Is there any problem
get art supplies there compared to artists elsewhere or
does it matter?
JM Ringuet: Well my art
supplies are H and HB cheap pencils (from Muji), a Pentel
eraser, and my computer (which is an American made Alienware,
until I switch to Mac), so it's not hard to find in China.
It's not difficult to find art supplies in China in general,
except if it's esoteric stuff, and it's very cheap (including
oil paint or watercolor from Windsor and Newton for example).
I draw on photocopy paper and I ink everything in Photoshop
Chris Folino:What artists
have influenced you and which one did you look at when you
created the world of Sparks and the characters?
learns another lesson.
JM Ringuet: For Sparks,
and in no order, Mike Mignola, Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko,
Frank Miller and a few random Golden Age comics.
How is your working relationship compared to other books
JM Ringuet: Very straightforward
and trustful. So far all of my relationships with writers
have been very good and painless so I guess I'm lucky. You
know what you want but you gives me a lot of freedom on
how I can improve (as much as I can) on your vision.
How hard is it to draw, ink, color and do the captions
for each page? Do you enjoy that or would you prefer to
do only one or two things?
JM Ringuet: Lettering is
not as fun because I'm not a letterer and not very good
at it, I think. I just love to be able to do everything
though, and be responsible for the whole art thing. If I
fail, it's my failure and I can't blame anybody.
Have you snuck anything into Sparks that's an inside
private joke for you and your friends?
JM Ringuet: No, I don't
really do that, so I didn't even think about it. I tried
to put elements in certain panels that enhance the story
(like some numbers that have a meaning in numerology, or
symbols) but it's just regular comic book stuff, trying
to add layers and create resonance.
What's the experience been like working on Sparks compared
to other books?
JM Ringuet: Great experience,
but like I said I can't really complain about any project
I've worked on, so everything's fine.
know that look.
What's the appeal of Sparks for you?
JM Ringuet: Creating that
noir mood and doing a full superhero book, something I haven't
Why should readers pick up Sparks?
JM Ringuet: It is a great
story with a dark heart, and it doesn't look like anything
on the shelves right now. It's complex, very adult, smart