Thursday, May 15, 2008

JM Ringuet - Artist - Interview

The people behind the forthcoming comic Sparks have been kind enough to subject themselves to our interivews. This time we get to hear from the artist of Sparks JM Ringuet, who is a talent that I hope we see more of in the future. Right now Transhuman from Image comics is already on the stands with JM's work and Sparks is next.

Jim: Who is JM Ringuet? What formal training have you had and what work have you done besides Sparks?
JM: Hey Jim. I have very little formal training actually. I went to an art school in France that was just terrible, so I learned most of what I know by myself, practicing and looking at books to learn anatomy, perspective and the rest. It's a long road, and I'm walking it.
I started doing some coloring for the comic industry about 2 years ago (Boom, Silent Devil) and I moved on last year to full art for an Image book written by Jonathan Hickman called Transhuman (in comic shops now) and for Sparks. I still do coloring for a variety of publishers (Devil's Due, Top Cow, Studio 407).

Jim: Was it a goal to get into comic book work?
JM: Yes it was always a goal since I was a kid. I always liked drawing and always liked stories, so comics were the best possible medium for me. It took me some time to get there, after spending some time in the videogame industry, but now I'm here for good. It's a dream come true.

Jim: How did you get involved in Sparks?
JM: Through Derek McCaw who did an interview of me about my coloring work on Warhammer 40K for Boom. When I heard he was looking for a sequential artist I sent him my stuff. I think my style was right for Sparks. The story has a very European flavor and a bit of a golden age style to it, and I felt I could do justice to the concept, since my influences were French comics and American superhero comics. I did some character sketches for Chritopher Folino (a lot of sketches actually) and he liked what I was doing with Ian Sparks. William Katt is very involved on how Catastrophic Comics is run and I think he also liked the direction of the art for this project. We went from there.

Jim: Yours is the only name for the art credit, so I assume it is all you. What is the process you do in designing the book? Does Chris give detailed directions, do you submit thumbnails firsts? Essentially how do you go from the blank page to the art that you have produced? It is so detailed at times and the look is just perfect for the story.
JM: I do everything including lettering, so I have a rare opportunity to control a lot of how the book is going to look like. Chris usually describes loosely what goes on the page and gives me some indications of key panels and the entire dialog. I then go on my own. He trusts me so I never show him any in-between stages. He just sees the 'finished' page. Then I do the changes he requires if necessary.
As for the method, I start with thumbnails on which I usually send quite a bit of time because the script is dense and I want the storytelling to be crystal clear. It's a complex story, so it has to be very well laid out, as well as I can do it. From there I do very quick pencils, trying to capture emotions on character faces and
rhythm for the action scenes, something rough and expressive. I then scan them and ink them all in Photoshop, because it's that much quicker. After inking I color also in Photoshop. A lot of the details are added during inking, and the mood is created during coloring.
Sparks is a dark book, with a lot of realistic violence, some sexual content, and a very noir feel to it – think Phillip Marlow meets Watchmen. The art needs to reflect that. This is the journey of a character going down to the heart of darkness and trying to come back, it's serious tense stuff, very thrilling, very adult.

Jim: Are the coloring choices yours? I think with today's production values coloring is a bigger part of the book today then it was years ago.
JM: Coloring is extremely important I think. If you look at an artist like Ben Templesmith, you can see how much his art is dependant from his masterful sense of color and lighting. Coloring in the past was hampered by too many technical restrictions and bad paper quality, but today with modern printing and tools like Photoshop it has become a real asset to a comic book. It would be dumb not to take advantage of that. That's what we are trying to achieve, giving another dimension to the story.
To me pencils create life, inks create the world, and colors create the mood.

Jim: Is this a paying job for you or more of a labor of love?
JM: It is a labor of love, because I love comics and sequential storytelling in general, but also a paying job because I'm doing freelance work fulltime and there are those bills to pay. I'm lucky that Catastrophic Comics is a very good and generous employer.

Jim: Chris says he loves you even though you are French. Are you local to Chris or is this an electronic relationship?
JM: Chris has a strange fascination for France I guess, I'm not sure why, I have not lived there in 15 years. I spent about 8 years in Southern California, and I'm now in China, so yeah the distance makes it an electronic relationship, through phone, emails and Google Talk. The communication is smooth; we both know what we have to do.

Jim: Are you interested in working for the big two (Marvel or DC)?
JM: Sure, I would like that. I was raised on John Byrne's XMen, Kirby's Kamandi and Thor, Ditko's Spiderman and some Neal Adams' Batman thrown in (as well as some Legion of Superheroes stuff if I recall well). Marvel and DC have such a long history and so many characters, it would be fun to be a part of that at some point.

Jim: What character would you like to draw?
JM: I mostly like kind of secondary characters, not the big ones, I like the loners, the characters on the fringes. In no order Ghost Rider, Kamandi, Martian Manhunter, the Punisher, Nick Fury (and the SHIELD), Iron Fist, Green Arrow. I think I could be good at doing any of those, they are close to my own inner world, but there are a lot of other cool characters I'm probably not thinking about now.

Jim: Do you have any other projects in the works?
JM: I'm finishing up Transhuman at Image (on Issue #3 now), a cool comedy book about the genesis of superhumans in our close future. I'm also working on a creator owned project called Supercharger that is about a man running away from his past in some supercharged Detroit muscle with bounty hunters from Hell closing on him. It's part Hellboy part Vanishing Point with some classic Western thrown in, with a lot of action, car chases and shape-shifting demons. I'm writing it and drawing it which means it could take me a long time to finish it. And I have some pitches I'm working on, stuff I would probably like to write too.
People can keep posted at my art blog: http;//

Jim: What would be your dream project?
JM: Any project can be the dream project, as long as it's really reaching its readers, creating a readership actually, as it becomes something important in people's life and not just forgettable entertainment.

Jim: Any short or long term goals in the comic field? Other areas? JM: Working on a lot of different projects while keeping a coherent voice and a coherent style, bringing new art techniques to comics, meld varied influences from Manga, European Comics, illustration, design... My long term goal would to be an agent in expanding the medium and expending the readership. As for other areas I'm already doing illustrations, game and tv/movie concept art, so I would like to develop those and also reach different people, different markets like Paul Pope or Ashley Wood are doing so well in fashion or toy design. I have a lot of ambitions.

Again a big thank you to JM for taking time out from his schedule to answer our questions and send along some of his art work.

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