Q): Hi Aaron, thank you so much for joining us for this interview on Hyper Epics. I’d like to jump right into the magnificent series, Conan/Wonder Woman, and get your thoughts on crossing over these two legendary characters. Does the artist’s imagination run wild with a paring such as this?
AL: When I got the email from Kristy Quinn asking me if I would be interested in drawing this series, my immediate reply was: “Wonder Woman/Conan? As in Conan the Barbarian? Are you kidding? Of course I want to do this!” When I saw Gail was writing, I knew she would find a way to make this really interesting and not just a lame cross-over stunt. I grew up reading comics in the 70’s when Sword and Sorcery was big so it is still one of my favorite genres. Once I found out the series took place in Conan’s time and not some ridiculous scenario where Conan was thrust into modern NY City was excited to get going. Perhaps the two greatest warriors of all time pairing up, my imagination went nuts!
Q): Can you comment on the need for subtlety when telling an illustrated adventure that has a larger scope to it? Certainly, there are breathtaking, epic scenes that resonate, but what struck me were the smaller touches that really makes these issues engaging.
AL: To be an effective artist, you have to be able to convey emotion in your characters. There is a lot of subtle emotional moments in this story. There are no actors providing the lines in a comic book so the acting has to be done in your art. It becomes even more essential with intimate scenes of dialogue. Raging battle is one thing, exploring the depths of a character’s emotion is another. It’s something that I have always tried to pay close attention to.
Q): We see Wonder Woman presented in Conan’s world here, and the way you crafted her so seamlessly was quite interesting. Is there any type of additional pressure when it comes to illustrating iconic characters in new dimensions or is that just part of the deal when it comes to working in comics?
AL: Coming up with a design that works is the only real pressure. Digging up reference when needed to help create an environment or costumes is a must, especially when dealing with a period piece. You want the audience to “buy in” to the story and the characters. Even though the Hyborian age is fictional, it still has elements of actual history in it. Getting the look of the book to feel right, even though there isn’t a regimented historical look to the time period is essential. I looked at what Barry Smith had done on Conan, looked at the films “Gladiator" and "Prince of Persia” to get some ideas.
"Perhaps the two greatest warriors of all time pairing up, my imagination went nuts!"
Q): The entire team is really on top of their game here. Can you talk about the importance of the creative unit working in sync and the trust each needs to have in one another to fulfill their roles?
AL: With me, having your creative team in unity is essential to making something work really well. If I don’t have the right inker or colorist, or I don’t find the writing especially engaging, it is hard for me to do my best work. But when I read a script and get excited or get pages back from the inker that I think are terrific, it really inspires me to do my best work. Getting the printed version and seeing that the colorist has pulled off their job as well, makes the entire project really gratifying. This series is a perfect example of what happens when everyone involved is really clicking.
Q): Generally speaking, just tell me. How awesome is the world of comics to you in how it can propel the imagination of creators and readers alike? For me, it’s an endless source of inspiration and possibilities that film cannot match - no matter how hard it tries.
AL: The old joke in comics is there is no budget so you can literally do anything. You are only held back by the limits of your imagination. It is a great medium to get stories out with minimal risks (as opposed to producing a film) and you can see what a fertile ground it is by all of the comic properties being adapted for film and TV. With such a wide variety of writing and artistic talents now, you can take any concept and get the right people on it and create something really special and unique.
Q): What are some other creative areas you explore that might help to fuel your artwork. For example, when working on a Conan series, does the music of Basil Poledouris (composer of the film scores) emerge in the background?
AL: Most of my outside comic influences are film related. I try and watch films that get me feeling the inspiration I had to create amazing things as child or teenager. Raiders, Star Wars, Star Trek, Superman, Close Encounters, Pirates (first one), Lord of the Rings, etc. I’ll also go pop open one of my Frazetta or Wrightson books quite frequently when working on something like this. Reading some Burroughs or Robert E. Howard always gets my creative juices flowing.
Q): Can you tell us about some of your upcoming convention appearances and also briefly describe how enjoyable this fan interaction is for you?
AL: I will be at Wonder Con, C2E2, the first annual Arctic Con in Alaska, SDCC, The fast growing Rose City Comic Con in Portland and NYCC. Maybe more along the way. It will be a busy year for sure. Without the readers, none of us as creators have anything. It is very important to get out and meet the people who support your work. I am always appreciative of the opportunity to spend a little time with comic fans because I am one myself!
Q): In closing, what advice might you have to offer to the independent artists/writers of the world for finding fulfillment in the highly competitive entertainment arena?
AL: Perseverance is as important as talent. You usually can’t succeed without both. That being said there is more opportunity and outlets for comics in today’s digital age than ever before. Fear of failure is not an option. Find an outlet and get your stuff out there and see where it lands. You can’t succeed if you don’t put the work in and at least try!
Special thanks to Aaron Lopresti and Michael Shelling (DC Entertainment) for the interview.
Visit the official Aaron Lopresti website at this location: http://www.aaronlopresti.com
Music courtesy of Zaalen Tallis.