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Interview Today's Date:

Waiting For The Warhammer To Fall - In Color
an interview with artist JM Ringuet

In stores on December 20.
This past summer, we picked up a book from Silent Devil Press called Death Comes To Dillinger. The artwork was what really caught our attention, Mark Teague and I spent a lot of time poring over it, debating different aspects of the pencils by Se7enhedd, but it was the coloring that really had us.

I freely admit that I'm more of a story guy than an art guy, so when a coloring job has me paying attention, I think the guy must be really good. And so, it turns out, he is. In this case, it was JM Ringuet, and when a couple of months later I saw his name attached to Boom! Studios The Savage Brothers (doing the covers), I thought I had to talk to this guy.

So here you go -- a conversation with JM Ringuet. Pay attention, because if you don't know his work already, you're about to be dazzled. And you're going to be seeing a lot more of him -- starting tomorrow with Boom! Studios new Warhammer 40K book.

Derek McCaw: So you tell me "I don't use flats, I mostly paint." How would you
explain that to the average comics fan and how that makes your work
stand out?

JM Ringuet: I think most colorists in the business use what they call 'flats', which means on computer making clean selections of the different elements of a page and then fill this with colors, usually using the airbrush tool. It's almost like classical airbrushing, making masks out of paper to isolate the spots you want to color and spraying paint on them. That technique results in a very clean but a somewhat cold coloring in my opinion, something that can feel overly digital.

I come from a traditional approach and I like a more organic feel to my coloring, something that looks like oil paint on a canvas, gouache or watercolor on a piece of paper. It comes a little bit from my training but mostly from my tastes in art. I don't like things that are too clean, too careful. I like accidents, spontaneity. I think that makes my coloring stand out somehow.

Derek McCaw: Any expounding on your process you want to share is great.

JM Ringuet: The way I approach a page is basically the same a traditional painter will approach a canvas: lay out a base color with some texture in it, then paint directly over it emphasizing brush strokes, rendering textures and light effects (values), usually in several layers more or less transparent (when I say layers here I don't mean 'Photoshop layers' but 'coats of paint'). I slowly build up the shapes, sculpt out the form out of the shadows with expressive brustrokes. That does not mean I don't like Photoshop effects or some digital techniques that I gladly use but I try to mix them in with a very traditional method.

I think that works well (most of the time) with my style that I want gritty, organic, realistic and dramatic. I'm don't really like the subdued tones and delicacy that other artists are good at. I'm a bit more brutal, contrasted and should I dare say theatrical.

Derek McCaw: What kind of training do you have?

JM Ringuet: A few years in a bad art school where I did not learn anything useful and years upon years of practicing, trying things, agonizing, looking at painters' work, reading art books and discovering the tricks of Photoshop. Basically a lot of self training, which is good but also frustrating at times.

I think it's becoming easier now to self train if you look at all the resources on the Web.

A page from Death Comes To Dillinger.
pencils by Se7enhedd, colors by JM Ringuet
Derek McCaw: What attracts you to a project? Is it trust in the company, or
subject matter -- for example, the Dillinger books versus your work for Boom!

JM Ringuet: What attracts me are basically two things: the trust I have in the people who are doing the project and the trust they are going to put in me. Working with people who want to hold your hand and tell you how something should be colored (and I'm not talking about the color of something but about the shade of that color – true story) is useless. I like to work with people who want me to bring something to the plate, to add to the art according to my own sensibility.

Coloring is mainly about making the work of the penciller/inker three-dimensional and creating the mood the writer wants for the scene. It's almost like being Director of Photography on a movie. I want to be able to create while respecting other people work and making it stand out.

I had the chance to start coloring professionally on Death Comes to Dillinger (from Silent Devil) with James Patrick, the writer and creator, and he totally believed in me. He told me the kind of style he wanted and let me go crazy with it.

The Death books are very organic, very expressionistic, with a lot of shadows and half seen objects. Working on that kind of project allowed me to experiment a lot and just be very theatrical (too much in some cases). It's an awesome experience, mostly because all the people involved in the project are creators and stress creativity above all else.

At Boom! I started work on the Warhammer 40k monthly miniseries that should be out at the end of this year and this is a different kind of project in many ways. It is based on a license (the famous tabletop and PC games) which means a lot of attention has to be given to what has been established before by other artists. This is also a more realistic looking universe than the Death series, with less emphasis on dramatic effects and more on realistic lighting.

Thankfully the people at Boom (Ross Richie, Marshall Dillon and Mark Powers my editor especially) completely trust me and never interfered with the way I approach things. They liked my painting from the get go and just wanted me to do it in my own way. Games Workshop, owners of the Warhammer 40,000 license, also preferred an oil painting feel to the coloring which works perfectly with my style. I think the art on Warhammer 40k is going to please fans of the original games as well as any comic fans of epic sci-fi and gritty action.

a page from Warhammer 40K
Derek McCaw: How do the individual projects affect your approach?

JM Ringuet: I really think coloring has to create texture and mood for a story. Texture means using visual elements that will pull the reader in the story.

For example on Death it's about creating that dusty, sepia, dirt-under-your-fingernails Italian western look. On Warhammer 40k it's that hard edge metal, muddy, smoky, cold and scarred feel.

Mood is what the script commands, and color has to show it, express the internal conflict of the characters, underline the action… it's what music would do in a movie.

I plan each project in that way, read the script carefully, immerse myself in the universe it creates and then focus on ways to build texture and express mood. Each project is completely different in my mind.

Derek McCaw: I've heard rumor you live in Europe somewhere. If that's true, what
kind of challenges does that pose for work in the U.S.?

JM Ringuet: I'm from Europe but I actually live in China, in Suzhou, the Venice of China, for no other reason that it is a beautiful place to live in. Chinese traditional art is also starting to have a big influence on me.

I lived before that all over the place, including eight years in California. The only challenge I have working for US publishers is the time difference: when you get up in the morning I usually go to bed. That makes me feel like I'm living in your future!

Derek McCaw: What other forms of art are you interested in?

JM Ringuet: I'm interested in all forms of graphic art and by extension about all arts ranging from architecture to film making to calligraphy or industrial design. Besides coloring I also work as an illustrator, concept artist and even cover artist. I am very interested in graphic design.

Derek McCaw: Who are some of your influences in comics?

JM Ringuet: In no order Simon Bisley, Ashley Wood, Mike Mignola and Frank Miller (for their use of light), Bill Sienkiewicz, Ben Templesmith, Katsuya Terada. I forget a lot of people in that list.

All Ringuet.
But let's hope that's not a
Derek McCaw: Do you have plans for penciling or inking a book? Why focus on coloring?

JM Ringuet: I do. I definitely do. I plan to pencil, ink and color. I recently did two submissions for miniseries that are still out there floating in the ether of mail piles or cast in the netherworld of rejections. I am also preparing new submissions with no less than three writers that should happen in the very near future, and I have something going with B. Clay Moore but he is a busy man.

I am also in my free time (what free time?) working on my own story ideas. So I'll definitely do a book sooner or later, but I love coloring so I can see myself doing it for a long time even if I draw at the same time.

For update on my coming projects don't hesitate to check often my blog at www.jmringuet.blogspot.com

Derek McCaw: Where do you see the art of coloring going?

JM Ringuet: The first thing I see is coloring being seen as important and relevant. Too often colorists are ignored and not properly credited in previews or even in books. My publishers are great: they always put my name on the covers.

I think also publishers, including the big two, are going to be a lot more careful about the quality and style of coloring they want for a given title. Color has to complement the art and enhance it, not be a quick fix so the book 'is not in black and white'. I think styles are going to become much more important, and the lazy cookie cutter type of coloring we see in too many titles is going to disappear.

Nobody would like to buy different titles all drawn exactly in the same way so why people buy titles that are all colored the same? I think there is a lot of room for newcomers and young artists with a clear strong style. We need it; we need style and cool art. How many penciller names do you know? How many colorist names do you know? This has to change.

So we start with this one: JM Ringuet. Remember that name.

Derek McCaw

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