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Ever heard anyone describe Soylent Green as Sparkly? Check out the unique perspective of comic illustrator and writer Jules Rivera in this week's Indie-On-Indie Spotlight!
Indie on Indie Spotlight on Jules Rivera
Neck of the Woods: Los Angeles, CA
Personal Stuff: Puts the independent back into indie
Day Job: Former Engineer turned comic illustrator and writer
Years in the Comic Biz: 1
Only one year in the comic biz? That doesn’t seem right. Based on the work I’ve seen from Jules Rivera, I’d have guessed a few more years under the belt. Her future-set war epic webcomic, Valkyrie Squadron has a more seasoned look than I’d expect out of an artist who until recently had been an engineer for a living. (Like RM Rhodes from a couple weeks ago, a defense contractor, to boot. How did THAT become a recurring theme among Indie-on-Indie spotlights? Its enough to shake me to the core of my little lefty bleeding heart.) This experience as a defense contractor helps lend some authenticity to the military aspects of Valkyrie squadron.
But that’s the tale of the tape from the interview and my research. From what i can tell Jules’ first published work is art for Action Lab entertainment’s “Princeless: Anthology” in July of 2011. Valkyrie Squadron’s first post in early March of 2011. It was only as recently as May of this year that Jules took the leap from the relative security of being a contract engineer for the uncertain world of being a freelance artist.
Valkyrie Squadron started as a response to the lack of material being produced for young women and minorities. Jules feels that the focus of the Big Two leaves a market vacuum in the form of underserved audiences. Specifically Jules tells me that kids like her niece have largely been left behind by the mainstream industry in terms of spotlit female protagonists and stories written with social and cultural touchstones for young female readers and minorities.
Just as her work experience as a defense contractor has given her unique reference points to her comics, Jules’ life experience aids in the realistic delivery of her material to her target audience. As she pointed out to me in the interview, there just aren’t many Puerto Rican female ex-engineer comic artists out there. Born in New York City, raised in Florida and transplanted to California as an adult, Jules uses her professional experience, heritage and upbringing to great effect, hitting her target audience without hitting anybody (target audience or not) over the head with over the top girl-power, ethnic tokenism or sad stereotype.
“I do sci fi without being dour or gritty about it.”
That little quip is one of my favorite responses to the Indie-on-indie survey so far. So often comic creators (and in fact any artist) confuse being serious about their work with taking a serious tone with the world and their art. Just take a scan through twitter avatars of young comic creators and you’ll see what I mean. Most of them are trying to look so darn serious. Cheer up kids, you’re makin’ comics!
One of Jules’ big science fiction influences is the sci-fi of the 70s. Not so much the grim descent of Dick into madness or the dark dirty future presented by Gibson, but the glittery optimistic and/or campy view of science fiction presented in film and on TV. From the light hearted Star Wars inspired space operas like Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers to the unintentional camp of Soylent green, with its borderline absurd set pieces and Chuck Heston’s over the top whole-hog-ham approach to the cannibalistic distopian yarn. A self described contrarian, clown and wisecracker, Jules ably and naturally takes a step backwards into the past to draw on the bubblegum sensibilities of these influences.
“I aim to reach another kind of audience with a different set of taste buds. In my case, I do crazy character expressions, intense color schemes and sci fi design.”
Whether you start by reading through the first three chapters of Valkyrie Squadron, go digging for a copy of the Eisner nominated Princeless Anthology or go looking for her upcoming work by buying a copy of the recently kickstarted Oxymoron hardcover Graphic Novel, I recommend you taking a look at the work of Jules Rivera!
Brian John Mitchell is a DIY cyclone who has been putting out mini-comics, records and zines since the mid 90s. The only reason I’m not giving him the full Indie-On-Indie treatment is that I’m giving him a nice couple paragraphs in an article I’m writing for (cough...) another website and I don’t want it to seem like I’m playing favorites.
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Written or Contributed by Ken Eppstein
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