Several weeks ago I walked into Breckenridge Brewery in LoDo for a networking event. It was roughly 4:30 and the place was dead. As I walked up to the counter I saw an amazing piece of hand drawn artwork being worked on by the man behind the counter. It was shocking. Like finding a walrus in the back seat of your car. You just donâ€™t expect it. At all.
He was working on a comic book page. It was already divided up and he was adding the artwork inside the boxes. I asked the man behind the counter the following question:
I know what youâ€™re doing, but . . . what are you doing?
He replied that he was working on his latest comic book. I replied â€œHere?â€. He then told me that creating comic books was a lonely job and that he needed to get out and see people. Fair enough. He showed me the cover art for his latest work and the quality was amazing. Realizing that these things donâ€™t happen every day, I asked him if heâ€™d be willing to be interviewed for my blog.
Fast forward to today, and I finally got to sit down with Ozzy Longoria to talk about art, comic books and the future of the medium. Letâ€™s keep this conversational . . .
Me: How did you get into creating comic books?
Ozzy: I loved art and comic books since I was a kid. I collect them and have been since I was eight years old. The artwork is amazing.
Me: When did you begin to earn your living from comic books?
Ozzy: Iâ€™ve been doing this for 9 years and have been able to earn a living for the past 4 years. After high school I started a degree in communications and quickly realized my love for art and my passion for comics was where I needed to be.
Me: How did you get started?
Ozzy: I offered to do comics for free for several companies but was turned down. I believe in paying your dues and wanted to build portfolio work. Most companies turned me down. Never forget that this is a business and youâ€™re someone with no experience. Finally I was able to get a create an 8 page comic for Blue Moon Comics and that was the start.
Me: It would be tough if you were awful at it but loved to do it. Donâ€™t you think?
Ozzy: Iâ€™ve seen people do it though. My flag says: â€˜ Do whatever you wantâ€™ and I support them.
Me: Do you use digital technology to create your comics?
Ozzy: Only to color. This process started in the 80s and it lessened the art for a while. Then the artists got better with the technology but itâ€™s still not the same. I grew up reading comic books and technology is changing everything. I draw by hand but many draw using Wacom tablets.
Me: What do you think the future of the comic book medium is?
Ozzy: Obviously, everything is going digital. In the early 2000s the comic industry was making millions. Now theyâ€™re making almost nothing. Many give their product away for free online. Once they get you hooked then they charge.
Me: Are you moving to the online medium?
Ozzy: Yes. My next release Sails of Blood featuring pirates, vampires, zombies and Mayans will be released first as an online comic. This is something Iâ€™m doing on my own and when itâ€™s up I will send it to publishers and see who wants to distribute it.
Me: What do you think of pushing the comic medium to the big screen?
Ozzy: Sin City has been the best representation of a comic on the big screen. Films like 300 and The Spirit have done a good job of telling the story. With a movie the pace is very different (just like a graphic novel). You have time to tell the story you want. Comics are very fast paced. You have 24 pages to communicate the story and thatâ€™s it.
Me: The only graphic novel Iâ€™ve read is Frank Millerâ€™s The Dark Knight Returns (a million years ago) and the artwork was pretty rough. Did you like that?
Ozzy: I did and Frank Miller is an amazing storyteller. I donâ€™t think of him as an artist but an amazing storyteller.
Me: Do you think of yourself as an artist or a storyteller?
Ozzy: English is my second language so it has been harder for me to tell stories. The picture is where the stories are. Iâ€™m now much better with dialogue and feel comfortable communicating my story.
Me: Where do you see yourself as the medium changes?
Ozzy: I will continue to use new tools as the medium evolves. I’m not an early adopter and I need to be sure the tool works before I consider using it.
I think of this as the Kevin Smith dichotomy; He is not a director. Heâ€™s a screenwriter.
I had to put by geek-businessman hat on and told him it would be cool to release the lines from Sails of Blood a line at a time; a page a day up until itâ€™s release. I’d like to see Ozzy base a story on a location and then include a QR code in the comic that takes that person to a map of that location. For hardcore fans, they could go visit the site and get a real feeling for the story that took place there.
We also talked about augmented reality and Iâ€™d love to see it used in comic books to breathe some life back into the medium. Think of the Avatar AR (shown below) for specific story frames of the comic book.