Thursday, June 28, 2012

Boston 2012 — Gwen Stacy

Gwen Stacy. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

I had the privilege of seeing The Amazing Spider-Man last night, courtesy of Marvel, and I loved every minute of it. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were seemingly born for the roles. I was weary of the reboot coming so soon, but they won me over and I look forward to seeing more from this cast.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 181

Daredevil #14 Cover. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.



Digital Layout and Composite

Sunday, June 24, 2012


—not sketches of bongs

Despite my wordy announcement last week, there were some glaring omissions. I also wanted to respond to some of the comments (and commentary) on the end of my exclusive contract. While it's all been overwhelmingly supportive, I would like to clarify a few points.

First of all, (this is the most embarrassing) I should have thanked Ellie Pyle for making my job possible,  Joe Caramagna for lettering Daredevil (as well as the majority of my work), and Javier Rodriguez for coloring the entire run. Not only does this team do an amazing job, they do it under enormous pressure with the little time I leave them. They are at the end of the assembly line, and so face "deader" deadlines than I do.

Also absent from my ravings was the issue of time. Aside from ownership, what I really want is a larger degree of freedom with my professional schedule and a chance to concentrate on my oft-neglected personal life. I am a slow artist by nature, therefore every project tends to dominate my life until completion. I simply want a more balanced approach.

As for my creator-owned project, it's terribly far away—I'm probably more than 3 years from coloring the last page, let alone lettering, so I beg for your patience. I've never written anything this big before, so I will probably be honing the script until the end of the year. I won't concern myself with publishers until I have something worthy of print. In the meantime, I will try to keep new work on the stands.

As for crowd-sourcing, I plan to use Kickstarter (or its equivalent) for 2 smaller projects that are more art instruction than comics, and tailor made for digital distribution. They are experiments, but ones that have evolved organically out of my creative process. They save me time, and I hope they can do the same for others.

Finally, without going into too much detail, I wanted to address my remuneration. I may have roughly the same page rate as when I started, but my annual income is 4 times (!) what I made those first few years. My productivity has increased, as well as demand for my original art (a third of my total income), and I have been compensated accordingly. Marvel did not take my copyrights, I sold them, and I continue to receive incentives for reprints of my work.

In other words, my "departure" is in no way a commentary on Marvel's (or any publisher's) business practices. The truth is that less comics are sold today than when I started. Couple that with a "Great Recession," increased commodity prices, inflation, and rising transportation costs—and one might expect to see a reflection in annual income. Yet I've done better every year for a decade. My choice is a personal one and shouldn't be construed as anything else. After all, this may turn out to be a cautionary tale.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

NYCC 2011 Commissions — Daredevil

Daredevil. 2012. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

I forgot to mention that Daredevil #14 came out on Wednesday (with the Dr. Doom cover). I actually haven't read it yet, but I've seen all the art, which is amazing. Chris Samnee is crazy-talented—but he's also crazy-hard-working. And you probably already know about Mark Waid.

In other news, if you happen to be near Brooklyn on Saturday, R. Kikuo Johnson is reading his new book, The Shark King, at Greenlight Bookstore. Sounds like fun, especially if you know any budding cartoonists. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 180

Spectacular Spider-Man #14. 2004. Oil on masonite, 16 × 24″.

We are nearing another landmark for this series, which is the perfect excuse to host a contest for readers of this blog. Wacky Reference Wednesday No. 200 falls the week after Halloween, which lines up rather nicely with what I have planned. It's very simple: you send me pictures of yourself, your costumes, props, toys, 3D models—whatever it takes—and I'll choose one lucky winner as the basis for a painting.

The Rules:

1. one entry per person, 2 characters at the most
2. entries must be submitted to WRW200 at
3. they're due on or by October 24, 2012
4. submission of photos grants permission to post them here

The Prizes:

1st Place: an original painting based on your reference
2nd Place: a Daredevil #1 blank variant with DD sketch
3rd Place: a signed print
Runners-Up: photos will be posted here

It's open to everyone. I'm looking for originality (not just a pic from last Halloween), perhaps some humor or narrative (all in good taste), and great lighting and composition. Basically, make me want to paint it. Good luck!

Monday, June 18, 2012

End of an Era

I started working for Marvel when I was barely old enough to drink (legally). I’ve never written a résumé or curriculum vitae. I’ve never gone on a job interview. I’ve never been unemployed. In short, I’ve been very, very lucky. But I’m 31 now... and I’m calling it a decade.

I have decided to leave Daredevil and end my exclusive contract with Marvel after 10 years of work for a company that I can only describe as family. From the moment that Joe Quesada hired me via email, I have gotten nothing but the best treatment from the most dedicated editorial and creative talent in the business.

So why am I leaving? The short answer: ownership. With the exception of just a few published pieces of art (which belong to other companies), Marvel owns the copyrights to my entire professional portfolio. And why shouldn't they? I was, of course, compensated fairly for it, and for that I’m grateful — but the sum total of that work is not enough to support me in the distant future. My page rate is essentially the same as when I started at 21, so I've decided to invest in myself. What I create in the next decade needs to pay dividends when my vision gets blurry and my hands start to shake (and who knows what else). Now is the time to make that choice, while I’m still young, possess "great power," but have few responsibilities.

And yet, I’m not done with Marvel by any means. They've been nothing but supportive throughout my decision, as has been the case throughout my career. I will continue to do covers for them and occasional projects as I see fit, just not exclusively.

So what am I going to do with my time? In the short term, I plan on clearing out my commissions list, which dates back to 2008. That will keep me busy while I plan more daunting endeavors. I’m not accepting new names at the moment, but I will in due time.

In the long term, I may scour my old emails. I’ve had to turn down some amazing opportunities in the past decade, so I may finally accept some non-Marvel work — it all depends on the creative team and the property.

Regardless of what new opportunities come my way, my main focus will be an ambitious, creator-owned project: an original story, sci-fi in nature, with primal themes and a compact cast of characters. It’s far too early to give any details, but it's something that's been trickling into my mind (mostly in the shower) for the last 5 years.

I also have some smaller, tangentially comic-related projects that I hope will serve as experiments in both distribution and funding — think Kickstarter. The site is already proving its worth to the industry, and I think it’s the future for creators who have something novel to offer fans. I hope it can work for me.

Finally, I’d like to apologize to my readers and my collaborators. I made many promises that I haven’t kept and I feel pretty awful/stupid for leaving such an amazing book, just when we were hitting our stride. A special thanks/apology goes out to Mark Waid, Steve Wacker, and my Dad, all of whom went out of their way to support me on Daredevil. I promised them more than a measly 6 issues. 

I apologize as well for the long-winded announcement. I have very mixed feelings about my decision and I wanted to explain, as best I could, the many factors that went into my leaving the single greatest job on the planet. Daredevil will continue to shine without me. Trust me, I've seen the issues.

Marvel will continue to shine as well, just as it's done for generations. They've given me much more than money can buy: a devoted fan base. As valuable as that is (roughly, 4 billion), it comes not from the company, but from my creative predecessors — it's what Disney really bought in 2009. The reason you’re reading this now — the reason I have a career — is that I have played a privileged part in stories and characters that predated my birth and will long outlast my life. As an artist, my reputation — my fame, in blunt terms — is what makes this a profession, and not a hobby. And while I take great pride in the originality and craft of my Marvel work, I never forget that the audience who funds my living was lured into those seats by creators who worked under far less cushy conditions. My only hope is that some of you will follow me to the next theater when I attempt to create something from scratch.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

NYCC 2011 Commissions — Bride of Frankenstein

Bride of Frankenstein. 2011. Watercolor on paper, 9 × 12″.

Scan courtesy of Justin Leiter. By the way, Comic Art Fans is a great site if you're looking for original art. There's even a "Paolo Rivera" tag.

Happy Father's Day!

Daredevil #1, Page 9. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel Board, 11 × 17.25″.

To the best (and fastest) inker I've ever had. Here's one of our earliest "collaborations."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daredevil #18 Cover

Daredevil # 18 Cover. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera)
with digital color on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Marvel's September solicitations are up and this is our cover for Daredevil #18. Kinda crazy.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 179

Daredevil #10, Page 13. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera)
with digital color (by Javier Rodriguez) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Quick post today, folks! I'm heading to Providence for RISD ICONS. It's a monster of a show, so if you're in the area, it might (might) be worth a visit. My Captain America movie poster will be on display. In a frame, no less!

Also of note today, the 2nd volume of our Daredevil run has hit shelves (which includes the page featured above). You can find it at your local comic shop, or from my Amazon store.

Without further adieu, here's me "extracting reparations."

Inks and Pencils

Digital Layout and Composite

Monday, June 11, 2012

Paolo Rivera Signs Exclusive Contract!

Official Press Release

Sorry ladies, but Marvel's Hunk of the Month (April 2006) has signed an exclusive deal with his longtime girlfriend, April Kuo.

"I feel wonderful!" says Rivera, reflecting upon his new deal with the House of Kuo. "April's a girl I've always loved, and she's one of the best in the business."

Rivera first met Kuo at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in May of 2007 when he was wearing his "lucky yellow shirt," which has since been retired. Introduced by a mutual friend (Thanks, Kim!) and chaperoned late into the night (Thanks, Jeff!), Rivera made his move by hanging around until everyone else in the party left, sharing whiskey at Williamsburg's Barcade, then lingering yet longer as the group wandered down the block to Alligator Lounge—you can't beat a free pizza with every beer! Seriously.

Kuo, best known for her graphic design work and texting skills, seemed an odd match at first, but she entered her phone number in Rivera's phone, against all odds. Rivera was actually pretty slick about that whole encounter, I have to say, pretending like it should have been there when really it was just a clever ploy to get her digits while eating phở at a Vietnamese restaurant. Niiiice!

Her father, when asked for permission (after the fact), replied via Skype,"It would be my honor," while close friends said "Finally. Haha!" Joe Quesada could not be reached for comment.

Excited about the future, the couple attempted to celebrate at a bar in Manhattan's Upper East Side. Rivera, being a comic book artist, was wearing cargo shorts and sneakers, and so didn't meet the dress code. "Story of my life," he said as they walked, painfully sober, down Lexington. They eventually found a more welcoming establishment.

When pressed for plans about the future, the couple was annoyingly coy, but did say they would attend the Eisners in San Diego. Even if Rivera doesn't win any awards, he will surely be comforted knowing that he "liked it" and "put a ring on it."

This is Rivera's second exclusive contract, the first of which was announced in 2005.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Suzanna Worthington Haney Hadley — 1935-2011

Life Drawing ~1996

Mrs. Hadley, my art teacher for all 4 years of high school, passed away over a year ago. As soon as I heard the news, I knew I had to record something to acknowledge her dedication, but my own life seemed to get in the way. Better late than never.

I met Mrs. Hadley for the first time on the baked-white asphalt of the Mainland High School parking lot. While the institution survives, her classroom was, along with the rest of the school, demolished to make way for a new, admittedly nicer, campus. I remember it being hot, which does nothing to pinpoint the time of year in Florida, but it was probably the summer after eighth grade. My mom brought me and an armful of my artwork—mostly meticulously rendered copies of Venom and The Tick—to prove, in a sense, that my skills (if not my tastes) were advanced for my age, and that I was serious enough to pursue it of my own accord. She took a good look through my "portfolio," the culmination of my 14 years on this planet and, as it turned out, the apex of my aesthetic taste. I'll never forget what she said: "Oh, we'll cure him of that."

The Tick and Venom (after Ben Edlund and Mark Bagley, respectively).
1995. Expresso Pen and Sharpie on copy paper, 8.5 x 11".

The comment stuck in my mind. She wasn't just undermining my skills—I was never satisfied with my own work and was capable of accepting the occasional criticism—she was dismissing my taste, the very goal to which I aspired. But despite that initial meeting, we got along well enough once the school year began. Having Drawing I, first period, every day probably helped.  I am not a "morning person" by nature, so while my body was present for roll call at 7:25 am, my mind was not always in it. I would eventually come to enjoy those 50 minutes as a "warm-up" for the day, but I felt like we didn't really connect until I attended her after-school sessions, organized in part for the upperclassmen who were art-school-bound.

Mrs. Hadley's emphasis was on life drawing, as mine would soon become. Looking back, she must have known what she was doing: using her own money, she would hire girls from Mainland's esteemed dance team, the Lady Bucs, to pose for us (we were the Buccaneers). If one thing can outstrip my love of superheroes, lithe ladies are it (again, little has changed since my fourteenth year). The girls—previously aloof juniors and seniors—would hover above my freshman eyes while I recorded every seam: royal blue satin shorts atop black spandex leggings atop black laminate table—the very table upon which my drawing rested. Not the most ideal of angles, for sure, but there was limited space, I was nearsighted, and I didn't exactly mind the distortions in perspective. This made the "optional" sessions quite mandatory.

Time passed. I got glasses. I dated a Lady Buc; we broke up. I got braces, learned to drive. Got my braces off, tried to grow a goatee. I was rarely absent, nor was Mrs. Hadley, so I'm guessing we must've spent pretty close to the state-mandated 720 days together over the course of 4 years—1,440 hours, probably, as most years I had her for 2 periods, if not more. After reading her obituary, I realized that I never really knew much about her. She studied in Paris? Her father was a brigadier general? She shared a surname with Archangel? Every hour we ever spent together was focused on one thing: creating a portfolio worthy of acceptance to a prestigious art school (RISD, as it turned out) with a scholarship to match (a damn-near full ride). She knew how the system worked and what they looked for, and was determined to put me on the right track.

The "right track," in this case meant no superheroes in my AP portfolio, but she came to understand what I saw in it, and I came to understand that we really wanted the same thing: the substance beneath the style. My goals were still valid, but they would be achieved on the longer journey to the goals she had set for me. In essence, she taught me how to see through things, whether a single hand or an entire genre. I still had much to learn after high school, but it's tough to say where  my studies would have taken me without her guidance.

We kept in contact over the years, so she saw the full scope of my career, and my inevitable return to comics. "Oh, happiness is," she would say whenever I gave her a newly-published comic, followed quickly by a "thank you." She flipped through them excitedly, lamenting the ads, the CGC grade falling with every page turn. I've never been so happy to see my art crushed.

Thanks for being a fan, Mrs. Hadley.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ray Bradbury — 1920-2012

Mythos: Fantastic Four, Page 4. 2007. Acryla Gouache on bristol board, 11 × 17″.

"Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there." — Farenheit 451

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Wacky Reference Wednesday, No. 178

Amazing Spider-Man #638, Page 12. 2009. Ink on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

When faced with a complex scene, I often find it helpful to draw a crude plan of the setting from above, complete with notes and directions for the major players. In this case, I had to match a scene from Amazing Spider-Man Annual #21, in which Electro and his gang have just been caught by the police.

To be completely honest (with myself), I probably didn't need this level of accuracy since it's doubtful that anyone would take the time to compare the sequences (even when featured on a blog). Nevertheless, I not only drew the plan, but curated a 3D scene in Sketchup using existing models.

While not all the details from the issue matched up exactly, I did my best to arrange them in a similar manner. Joe Quesada provided me with the buildings, which he commissioned Jason Christiansen to build, along with many other models for Marvel. You can see the model used from a different angle in a previous WRW, No. 164.

Sunday, June 3, 2012