Now that The Wielder vs. The Ideal has wrapped, enjoy a special dark interlude introducing a mysterious figure who's interests create "special dilemmas" for the Angry Universe! Also be sure to scroll down after this special 2-pager to read an interview with the artist Erick Cruz.
Erick, why don't you tell us about a few of your influences outside of comics and within the medium as well?
Well, early on it was cartoons for sure. Transformers, GI Joe, He-Man, Voltron were it. Then the second wave of cool cartoons hit like Silverhawks, Bravestarr and finally The X-Men cartoon and Batman The Animated Series. I dont know if i can say I drew influence from them though. Yeah, visually they all had impact on me but as an artist since these were the years i was still growing, I had no skill to properly interpret what I was seeing. Perhaps in the back of my mind, they might subconscously, yeah. I think a bigger influence on me as far as storytelling goes are movies, particularly Michael Bay (shut up, haters!). Say what you will but Bay goes for eye candy (in more ways than one) in every shot. They're stylized and never boring and that's what keeps you interested visually. And that's what today's artists go for, especially the original Image guys. I'm sure Silver and Golden Age artists didnt go for boring shots but it's no accident that when movies started to become more stylized, so did comics. Guys like Hitchcock and Kubrick started this trend. Compare their movies with others from the same era and you can see a jump in visual storytelling in movies.
As far as influences inside comics, it's definitely the Image guys, particularly Jim Lee, Whilce Portacio and Todd McFarlane. When you mention "the Image style" to most fans they immediately think pin up style poses and crazy page layouts but Lee and McFarlane used the grid layout but took it to the next level. Portacio and Liefeld were more loose with their panel layouts but Whilce was still able to tell a coherent story.
So, the script called for a small but dark interlude with one lone character seemingly having a conversation either with himself or someone off camera, what was your approach to this 2-pager?
The script offered the opportunity to try something different than i normally do. It called for a guy alone in a room watching a monitor. My mind immediately went to Frank Miller Sin City and Jim Lee Deathblow. I dont know how succesfull I was in pulling it off but can't be afraid to fail, you know?
The process itself was a work in progress as well. I do most of my inking digitally, so the way i did the two pages was draw it on paper (Strathmore 400 series), scan it and invert the image like a negative and go from there. So it was like inking with digital white out.
What are you working on now? Any new stuff on the horizon from Erick Cruz?
Right now I'm working on a preview book showcasing my four main creator-owned projects. I'm hoping to have it ready in time for San Diego Comic Con 2012; I'm taking my time with it but I dont want to let it sit too long. The book consists of four 5 page stories featuring 4 projects which are Ms. Amazing, Marvolis, T & A and Unnamed #4. Along with the 5 pages of stories, I'll use some pages to include bonus material like on DVDs with sketches, tossed ideas and designs, etc.
Ms. Amazing is a character I've been developing since 2004! She's my #1 so it's the project I would like to get off the ground and going first.
Marvolis will be my attempt to take the "super-man" concept and take it to the next level, if that's possible.
T&A is a project that came about while developing Ms. Amazing way back when, it started out as a large roster a la Avengers but I decided to scale back to the two characters I fleshed out the most.
Unnamed #4 is just the current working name because I haven't given the character a final codename. The only way i can describe this project is that being a hero 24 hrs a day will be tough for this guy.