I did a little Q & A with PRM, and I will get a photo of him holding one of the beautiful poster prints later on this week when we visit his local comic shop, Arsenal Comics & Games, 2333 Michael Drive, in Newbury Park, CA....
1. How did you come to work with Neil Gaiman? Did you know his work before this?
It was the early 90s, and I was probably about 12 years old going to my local comic shop. Alongside Batman, Superman, and Swamp Thing, I found this crazy Sandman comic with even crazier covers. That was the first time I picked up anything by Gaiman, and I think he showed everyone what comic book storytellers were really capable of. To be doing any kind of project with him is definitely a dream come true, thanks to running into Cat at San Diego Comic Con this year. Although, even being at San Diego Comic Con with my own comic was already a dream come true. Oh no, my life has become a crazy Vertigo comic!
2. How did you approach these Calendar illustrations to combine into one big piece? Are you formally trained as an artist? Process?
The stories the illustrations are based on come from very unique worlds and have little crossover with each other, so I wanted elements to climb out of the stories as if they were published in the same book. Characters and objects bleed into the pages where they don’t necessarily belong. I have almost no formal art training and only a little graphic design training, but I’ve spent years working on my craft, and I’m constantly pushing myself to do better.
For the calendar, I began by reading the stories and drawing very rough sketches of what the illustrations could be. Then I reread them and made changes to my drawings to better match the writing. I approached these pieces in a very comic book way, meaning sketches first, line art, flat color, and then final color. And throughout the whole process, I kept looking for subtle ways to get the illustrations to overlap, constantly rereading the stories to make sure they really connected to the sources.
3. Tell us which was your favorite month to illustrate and why?
Looking once more at the illustrations, I can’t say any of them were my favorite. At some point in the process, I was staring at each one separately from the others just trying to find that magic element in the piece I was working on. For March, I love the blank stare of the woman holding the ship. Her eyes are so pale, they’re almost not there.
For October, I love the animals floating around the genie and the simple two-color scheme that helps put them in such an otherworldly place. For November, I love the contrast of the simply-colored fire on the black and purple sky. You can never tell one of your children you love them the most!
4. Can you talk about your deck of cards you produced?
Sure! Probably the biggest thing I learned during that process was how passionate the playing card collecting community is. They have a voracious appetite for new decks, and they have very strong opinions about what they want! I even submitted early concepts to some playing card collecting groups and got some serious feedback on how the cards should be designed. I don’t usually do that, but I’ve also never had a group that eager for a project before it even came out!
To date, that was one of my most successful endeavors on Kickstarter, and it even sold out through my distributor several times. I had card distributors asking me to do reprints so they could sell the decks. But for me, I have to find a new challenge to revisit that world. I always have a few projects on my desk, so to spend time merely reprinting a deck for money doesn’t seem very exciting. The first series featured real aviators and airplanes from the golden age of aviation. I even got to speak with Charles Lindbergh’s daughter about the project, so it would be hard to top that!
**Cat's note: I somehow see a Neil card deck in our future...
5. What are you working on now? Future plans?
Right now I’m working on five or six different projects at various levels of completion. My main work is always my ongoing graphic novel series, The Adventures of the 19XX. And while I work on that, I’m also producing artwork, shirts, messenger bags, and anything else I can think of to carry the art and story of the series right off of the page and into the third dimension. The story is set in the 1930s, between the wars, in a world where supernatural mixes with retrofuturistic machines, which gives me the best imagery to play with for any medium! In the next year, I’ll be releasing the fourth book in the series, and a new release always comes with another round of exciting challenges! The series is set to be six books long. So, for the foreseeable future, I will be spending a lot of time in the Dieselpunk 1930s.
more info on PAUL!
Paul Roman Martinez self-publishes his own graphic novel series, The Adventures of the 19XX, and produces art linked with history, often from a time removed from our own. His goal is to tell stories through his art, his writing, and his graphic design, no matter what format or medium.