Monday, January 31, 2011


Wolverine #5.1 Cover. 2010. Ink with digital color on bristol board, 11 x 17".

I'm getting the poster treatment! This Wednesday, a 24 x 36" version of my Wolverine #5.1 cover will be available at comic shops across the country. So if you've got 6 square feet of free space on your wall (hopefully in the proper proportions and orientation), this may be just what you need.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Fan Expo 2010 Commissions

Black Cat. 2010. Watercolor and acrylic on paper, 9 x 12".

I had a nice weekend down in Philly celebrating a friend's 30th birthday. Now it's time to get back to work. But before I do, here's another commission from Fan Expo. That leaves just one more from the Toronto batch—Captain America—and then we can move on to the New York Comic Con set. By the way, there are just 3 of you who are still waiting for your commissions, so I'm nearing the end. Thanks again for your continued patience.

Also, if you missed it on Twitter this weekend, I posted my dad's contribution to Speed 2011 (photo courtesy of my maw).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Speed 2011

Mythos: Ghost Rider. 2006. Acryla Gouache on masonite, 16 x 24".

The cover from 2007's Mythos: Ghost Rider will be featured as part of Speed 2011, an exhibition at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens. Ormond Beach is not too far from my hometown of Daytona Beach and the local paper was kind enough to include me in their article about the show. My Dad's also got a piece in the show—his first foray into oils in many, many years—but I haven't seen it yet.

The cover is actually a revised version of the original, which wasn't "up to code," in my opinion. I'm still not completely happy with the final, but it's decent for something painted during one all-nighter. In the Mythos hardcover collection, they printed the original version, which can be seen in my post about switching to full-color Acryla Gouache.

In other news, I've definitely started to get preferential treatment at the hospital: one of the doctors said he didn't realize I was "The Paolo Rivera" (apparently, Rivera is a pretty common name in Brooklyn). Most people have heard of Spider-Man, but he knew what Mythos was. It could just be me, but I don't seem to sit in the waiting room for as long now.

And finally, for those of you who have been racking your brains in order to legitimately tie last week's Panthro post to MLK day, look no further than Billy Penn's explanation in the comments section. Thanks, Billy. You rock.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 137

Four Fantastic Villains. 2010. Acrylic, gouache,
and watercolor on bristol board, 11 x 17".

Here's the rest of the reference from this group of misunderstood misanthropes. Our pepper grinder made for a decent approximation of Doom's armor, while my trophy gave me ideas for specific reflections. Posing for the Mole Man was by far my favorite, as is probably evident. I also spritzed myself to see what kind of reflections I could get for Namor, but in the end, I just went with a more stylized reflection: single-stroke, well-defined highlights.

These pics were taken at various stages during the painting process. I usually begin with burnt umber watercolor or gouache that is fairly watered-down and thinly applied. This provides the basic structure upon which I can add bolder color, the final strokes being the most opaque. In this case, the background was simple and graphic, so a large quantity was pre-mixed in order that the entire expanse could be painted at once with some left over in case revisions were necessary.

Color Study over Digital Print, 8.5 x 11"
Pencil Layout, 4 x 6"
Digital Color Study

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Vitruvian Flamingo. 2005. Pencil on paper (with digital effects), 11 x 14".

I've upgraded and added a few things to the blog. First of all, I've redirected all traffic directly here—something I should have done a long time ago. For those of you who miss the hot pink portfolio pages, they can still be accessed via the link near the top of the page. I hope to someday revamp that whole site into a comprehensive gallery of my work, but until then, the blog format is much easier to update.

I have also incorporated Google ads into the blog feed... so I can retire at 30.

In all honesty, I don't expect much revenue to be generated, but it was easy to set up and I was at the very least curious. It's a pay-per-click model, as opposed to my Amazon store, which provides me with a commission on sales. The ads are automatically generated based on the content of the blog, but I have ultimate control over what can and cannot be displayed. However, I will not be monitoring every ad, so if you find something offensive (or even just annoying) feel free to let me know.

If you haven't been to my Amazon store yet, I've got links to all of my work (including Spectrum annuals) as well as all manner of recommendations, from art supplies to books to hardware and software. I'm still organizing everything into categories, and—with the exception of the Comics and Graphic Novels section—I either own or have used every product listed.

I've removed the blogger navigation bar from the top of the blog, replacing it with a customized search box in the sidebar which provides tabbed results from the blog and/or any site to which I have linked. I have also added 3 labels to the post categories: Spider-Man, Photoshop, and Digital Color. Clicking on these search terms will filter results accordingly. The full list of labels can be found to the right.

Also, I've added a new Twitter widget in the sidebar—nothing fancy, just better looking. In addition, I'm considering a link between my Twitter account and the comments on this blog, but I wanted to get some feedback first. Would you Tweeters out there want blog comments automatically posted? I respond to all blog comments, but the conversations are only accessible from each post's individual page, so I don't think most people get a chance to read them.

Otherwise, life is good. I recently got word that my art will be used in a non-traditional way for a potentially large audience. I'll reveal more as soon as I am able. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tag Team, Back Again

Spectacular Spider-Man #1000 Cover. 2010. Paternal ink on bristol board, 11 x 17".

Some situations call for teamwork, and if Spider-Man and the Punisher can work together to achieve a common goal, then I think just about anyone can—including my old man and myself. This cover is the first taste of what I hope to be an ongoing collaboration: Joe-inks over Paolo-pencils.

Since my earliest days with the publisher, Marvel has consistently offered me amazing projects, to the point where I've had to struggle to keep up, even turning down fantastic opportunities in order to keep on schedule. While I have gotten slightly faster since 2002, I remain a fairly slow artist. And even when I made the expedient switch from painted work to line art back in 2008, I still couldn't relinquish control over the inking stage. This has limited my options to short story arcs and one-shots. I hope to change that this year.

Last summer, when discussing my speed issues with my 'rents, we slowly came to the same idea at the same time. And the more we talked, the more it seemed to make sense. For those of you who don't know, my Dad has painted custom motorcycles in Florida for 16 years, and has been drawing and painting for much, much longer than that. He uses an airbrush for almost all of his work, but he's also quite comfortable with a kolinsky sable. In fact, he can even use an airbrush to mimic an inked style (not an easy task) as evidenced in the Nightmare Bike, a trike based on the work of Bernie Wrightson (who wholeheartedly approved when I showed him the pics).

For now, my Dad will be inking as my assistant (which, to be honest, is a little weird) so his name won't be appearing in the credits. This is mostly to make the transition easier and faster, and to make sure everything runs smoothly for all involved. We're right at the beginning here, so we've still got to prove ourselves on something long-term, but he's been practicing for a few months now, painstakingly retracing blue-line prints of my pages, over both pencils and finished inks. I couldn't be more proud!

Inks (by Joe Rivera). Pencils. Layout, Pencil on paper, 1.8 x 2.7"

This was the first inking kit I sent to my Dad, organized, coincidently, on the
custom light box he made for me. It included supplies, as well as penciled
pages with finished inks for comparison.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 136

Amazing Spider-Man #577. 2008. Ink on Marvel board, 11 x 17.25".
Original art available at Splash Page Comic Art.

KRAK! TEK! EEEEEEEEE! CHOOM! I love drawing sound effects. In this scene, Punisher knocks Spidey out just before an angry Moses Magnum explodes onto the scene. Magnum had been using the dockside warehouse as an arms smuggling base. The Punisher, of course, uses that fact against him.

For those of you who are curious, the shirt reads "Spring Break 2006."
I was having a dry t-shirt contest.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Wizard Cover... Almost

Panthro Wizard Cover. 2002. Pencil on bristol board, 9 x 12".

Happy MLK Day from everyone's favorite Thundercat! Was that appropriate? Probably not. But here's an anecdote about competing dreams.

This piece was drawn for Wizard's cover contest back in the days before I worked for Marvel (but just barely). Getting on the cover of that magazine had been a dream of mine ever since I started reading it with issue 41 (to this day, I have far more Wizard magazines than I do comics). But I had another dream: to work for Marvel Comics.

Years later, long after the Marvel dream had come true for me, I told my editor, Tom Brevoort, about my failed attempts at a Wizard cover (Panthro was just the last in a long line of unsuccessful entries). To my surprise, he said he remembered the cover well. Apparently, I had been one of 2 finalists from the contest and Wizard had sought Marvel's expertise in choosing the winner. Tom informed them that Marvel had just hired me, automatically disqualifying me from the contest, which was not open to professionals... not a bad way to lose.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Fan Expo 2010 Commissions

Black Cat. 2010. Watercolor on paper, 9 x 12".

This is the first of 2 Black Cat commissions from Fan Expo, though to be honest, the second wasn't finished until I got back home to Brooklyn (I think I already posted that one to Twitter). If I remember correctly, I finished this piece in my hotel room since I just wasn't working fast enough on the convention floor. I had suddenly become "Mr. Popular" since they reprinted Amazing Spider-Man #638 as a con-exclusive for Stan Lee's appearance, compete with an Olivier Coipel cover. Not that I minded all the attention—I just didn't realize what I was signing at first.

I'm currently in the midst of my super-secret project and should be done by the end of the month. I'll give a couple hints: it's a single image, I'm painting it at 16 x 24", and there is a superhero involved. That's enough for now. After that, I'll finally (finally!) get back to sequential work.

Have a great weekend, and keep in mind that the Spectrum deadline is looming.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wacky Reference Wednesdays, No. 135

Amazing Spider-Man #640, Page 23, Panel 6. 2010.
Ink (with digital color) on Marvel board, 11 x 17.25".
Original Art available at SplashPage Comic Art

In this scene, Doctor Strange is leaving Peter alone with MJ as he proceeds to the astral plane. The photo reference is rather mundane, but sometimes this is a faster way for me to work. Not pictured is the paper towel I often use for drapery, which was simple enough to hold in one hand and draw with the other.


By this point in the project, friends were helping me to ink, filling in blacks and ruling panel borders. It worked pretty seamlessly for the most part, but there were some hiccups. I had intended to leave a glow around the good Doctor, but neglected to indicate that fact in the pencils, pictured below. I had to go back in with white out (Holbein Acryla Gouache, titanium white) to salvage the panel.



Monday, January 10, 2011

I Feel Better Already!

Maris Wicks. Get Better Paolo. 2011.

How friggin' cool is this?!? I was pleasantly surprised to find these pin-ups in my inbox today and couldn't help but share. Maris and Joe have been amazing friends for going over a decade now and I count myself lucky to be the subject of their considerable skills. The accuracy of these drawings is—dare I say—uncanny.

Joe Quinones. WeaPaolo X. 2011.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

(My) Life Imitates (My) Art

Amazing Spider-Man #639, Page 8, Panel 1-2. 2010.
Ink with digital color on Marvel board, 11 x 17.25".

The good news is I'm all right and—most importantly—my vision is intact. For those of you who didn't catch the news via Twitter last week, I have been out of commission. Last Saturday night, I was in the Upper West Side, about to head home to Brooklyn. As my friend and I approached the subway stop, we came across a domestic dispute between a couple. Both my friend and several passersby called the cops, but I decided to intervene when things got too heated. I turned away for a split second and the guy punched me from the side, breaking my cheekbone in 3 places. Not realizing the extent of the damage, I didn't go to the ER until the next day. I had surgery on Monday and have been taking it very, very easy since. All things considered, I was very lucky. My eye looks horrendous—the white of the eye is blood red—but I can still see (thank goodness) and should make a full recovery. I also have a pretty rad haircut right now due to surgery... it kinda looks like the one I had circa 1995.

The Wolverine references throughout the ordeal would have been unbearable had they not been coming from my own numb mouth. The doctors said there should have been much more swelling; I said it was my "mutant healing factor." My gurney had the name Stryker emblazoned on the side, letting me know just who was pulling the strings. My first words after surgery had something to do with metal claws. Some in the room thought I was still drugged. I couldn't have been more serious: they bonded metal to my skeleton. While not indestructible, titanium is much cheaper, easier to install, and more real than adamantium. Now all I need is some memory loss, peppered with rage.

In all seriousness, I'm recounting the story here for my own benefit. I have told it countless times and am ready to move on. In other words, this will be the extent of my comments on the subject. While I didn't need this experience to know what amazing friends (and fans) I have, it will nonetheless serve as irrefutable proof to others. Thanks so much for your continued support. Time to get back to work!