Artist Robert Marzullo is an independent comic artist with a lifetime of experience drawing and creating comics and other illustrations. The majority of his work these days is generated digitally, using a multitude of image creation software. He currently works on a Mac and has created some amazing artwork throughout his career. I first noticed Robert’s work about two years ago, and I’ve been following him and corresponding with him via social media for some time now. In recent months, I’ve really noticed an increase in the quality of his artwork and thought it would be an excellent opportunity to interview him and get a more in-depth sense of his workflow, inspirations and general outlook on comics and art.
Here’s the interview:
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?
RAM – I really just love everyday that I am drawing but if I had to pick one aspect I would say the progression of the work. I love to see where I was at months or years ago and I get excited when I figure out a better way to draw something.
What inspired you to start drawing and eventually to create your own comic book?
RAM – I have always drawn. My mother put a pencil in my hand for as long as I can remember. Cheap entertainment I guess. lol. But it was Spiderman #1 by Todd McFarlane that made me want to be a comic book illustrator. So the journey began! 🙂
What artists influence you and why? Who is your favorite living artist today?
RAM – So many artists influence my work and inspire me. A lot of the 90’s comic guys but if I had to pick my top favs it would be Todd McFarlane, David Finch, Dale Keown. They each have different styles but that is what I enjoy about each of them. McFarlane throws stuff in wherever he thinks it looks cool and it works. Finch has a masterful command of shadows and perspective. Keown’s anatomy and design of his work is flawless. Yeah, I know….I sound like a fan boy. I am!!
You’re a creator of your own comic book, Blackstone Eternal. First of all, Congrats on that bud. That’s a huge accomplishment in itself. So many artists “wish” they could create comics, but few actually get the opportunity, and I’m sure that in itself is a reward. If you would; please describe the process you go through when sitting down to work on a comic? How were you able to complete a whole book, on your own, when so many artists fail to start?
RAM – Don’t get me wrong. It is hard. I am always getting caught up in parts of my stories. Book #2 is almost done but being a bear right now but I just keep pressing forward. The main thing to remember is that we are all our worst critics and to just produce something. Yes we should give it our best but always remember, “Done is better than Perfect!” At the end of the day the runner who finishes the race wins. If you hit a mental block, look for inspiration. But whatever you do produce something each day and you will have a book in your hands before you know it. And if you are lucky enough to find a good team. Stick it out. Don’t break up the band dude!
Being both writer and artist for your books, how do you develop new story arcs, and character backstories for your worlds? Can you talk about that a bit?
RAM – I wish I had some gems of advice here but to tell you the truth I just fake it till I make it. Still working on the making it part. I don’t have a bunch of fancy techniques here. I am just a visual story teller. I draw little thumbnails of what I see in my head and then I squash them all together in a book. Is it a perfect science…..hell no!
Which part of the creative process do you enjoy more, writing or drawing? And why?
RAM – Definitely the drawing. I am a amateur writer at best but I do it because I think I have a few good ideas. I think we all do really.
Have you collaborated with others, or do you plan on collaborating with other creators for future projects? If so, what are you looking for in a collaboration partner?
RAM – I don’t collaborate on many ideas unless it is ran by an editor or someone in charge. I got out of business because I got sick of holding people accountable. Now I can only blame me when something fails.
Who’s your favorite comic book character, other than your own, 🙂 and why?
RAM – Spiderman. No contest. He is my favorite hero to draw and even create pages of in my spare time. I think he is the most dynamic and interesting character type out there. IMO. Other than Blackstone of course! 🙂
Do you prefer superhero comics over story based comics? And what’s your favorite comic book?
RAM – I just enjoy superhero stories. I am a huge fan of good prevailing over evil. If I had to pick a favorite book it would be Spiderman but only the classic stuff.
You give back so much to the creative community, through YouTube tutorial videos and your Livestream on Twitch, plus the many free resources you develop and give away to your followers. What motivates you to continue devoting so much time to helping others, and do your efforts yield a return on your investment? In other words, is it worth the effort and what, if anything do you get from it?
RAM – I share as much as I can to help the community and I remember how tough it was for me to figure this stuff out and get going. And I do it from a marketing stand point as well. When I give someone a free sample of what I can do they might be more likely to buy something from my digital store or pick up one of my books down the road. But I do just like to share just to share!
I’m guessing that most people who know of your work, are familiar with your comic art, but what methods did you employ early on to start building your audience? Have those strategies evolved now that your audience has grown?
RAM – Back to the giving and sharing thing. That is really the best way. People will follow your art if you share the work. And don’t just share the success. Share the mistakes along the way. It makes you more human and then aspiring artist can see that you make mistakes too. No ones perfect but too many people try to pretend that they are and people can see right through that.
How important is it, and how soon should artists seek representation for their work?
RAM – It can be huge in the right field but you have to get to a certain level where people will pick you up. Agents are picky and they have to be. If they put you on a job and you don’t deliver that is their name on the line. First make sure you can deliver on a deadline and compare your work to other professionals in that industry before you try to get an agent.
How would artists go about finding representation and what should they look for for in an agent?
RAM – You just have to pitch your work to the agencies you find online and be ready for some rejection. I got twenties no before I got a yes. Sounds like my dating life too. :/ And at first you are going to have to just get started. Beggars can’t be choosers so just get working and look around later if your not happy but don’t jump ship until you have a flotation device. Sorry for the cheesy metaphors. lol
Do you agree with these statements? Please rate them in order of importance.
- Get good at drawing! 1
- Build relationships with industry insiders by going to cons and meeting the people who may someday give you a job! 2
- Surround yourself with artists who are better than you! 3
- Stand out from the crowd! 4
- Rejection is simply invitation to try harder! 5
- Submit your work! 6
What additional advice would you give artists looking to get into the industry?
RAM – Produce something every day and enjoy what you are drawing or it will show in your work and your energy. Don’t work for free or for credits in a book!!!
Anyone interested in following Robert’s work can do so on social media and his personal website:
Comic Art Gallery of Robert Marzullo’s Work