Friday, June 15, 2012

Interview In The Dark With Comic Artist Mark Torres

There's always a first time for everything.

This was the Red Dot Diva's first face-to-face interview with indie comic book artist Mark Torres. Young and energetic Mark, who seldom sleeps and slurps bottles of Jim Beam Coke, owns the biceps behind the artwork of IDW's "Infestation 1 and 2: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Zombies vs Robots".

(For more background information of Mark Torres, check out a previous Red Dot Diva interview post right here!)

The forces seem to sense that this is an unconventional interview held with an edgy personality. For in the midst of Red Dot Diva's interview with Mark at Invasion! Toys & Collectibles store, the lights decided to just go =POOF=.

Blackout.

Interview in the Dark.

Another Red Dot Diva first.

Please be alarmed assured. Nothing pervy happened. :(

Here's Red Dot Diva's nosy Q&A with Mark Torres. Conducted in the romantic (or is it horror-creepy?) glow of an iPhone flashlight app.

Red Dot Diva: What's your favourite thing about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)?
Mark: They are my childhood favourites and I have always wanted to do something about them for the longest time. They are crazy! Who would have thought turtles would be so cool? They are a special bunch and each one has his own unique personality.

Red Dot Diva: How deep are you in the TMNT mythology?
Mark: Just like most of people, I was introduced to TMNT mostly from the cartoon series. It was fun and wholesome and kiddy at the same time. Then, I started reading the original comics, the one by Mirage. It was a bit shocking because in the cartoons, they looked so "pretty". The comics were nothing like the cartoon.

Red Dot Diva:When you were doing "Infestation", did you learn something new while working on the project?
Mark: Not really. I was already reading the original Mirage comics and following the mythology quite closely. So the Turtles were familiar and felt like brothers or good friends to me. I was also lucky to be working with Tristan Jones. He was part of the original team at Mirage. Being able to work with Tristan was a privilege and it was a very collaborative effort. I really enjoyed working on it.

Red Dot Diva: The Turtles are going on this horror-adventure in the sewers-- which are dark, wet, (horrible?) places. How do you bring out that effect in the drawings?
Mark: I felt that this project was tailor-made for me. Not only because I love TMNT, I am a big on the horror genre. If you look at the kind of books I collect and movies that I love to watch, I tend to favour those in the horror genre. There's something about scary atmospheres that I like. And I am a big fan of Mike Mignola. His style is different from more commercial artists and he plays a lot with shadows and moods and settings. Drawing horror is quite challenging because it is not always about movement or action. Mike Mignola has taught a bunch of people how to tackle the genre and how to draw horror effectively for story-telling and print. The other master whose work I admire greatly is HP Lovecraft. Through a mix of these various reasons, horror-type visuals were natural to me and I could easily imagine what the panels would look like when I first read the script. This project was a labour of love for me.


Red Dot Diva: TMNT is known more as a kid-friendly brand. So how did you and Tristan Jones manage to balance the horror in this series and yet still remain kid-friendly?
Mark: As I mentioned just now, it was a pleasure and privilege to be working with Tristan on "Infestation". He already had a script on hand but he talked and asked me how we could make this project cool and fun, and what other interesting things we could do with the Turtles. We are thankful that our Editor Bobby Curnow guided us throughout the project. Also, Nickelodeon for entrusting us with this property. They have big plans for TMNT for this year, like an upcoming CGI animation series and the live action movie by Michael Bay next year. And new toys coming up.

We had to balance a lot of factors for "Infestation", and we played around with a suitable the mix of the original Mirage TMNT and the feel-good cartoon series, so that it was palatable to people of all ages and gender. And we've heard good and supportive things from TMNT fans who were there from the start with the Mirage comics, and we are really thankful that we are on the right track.

Red Dot Diva: Are turtles easier to draw than the usual superhero comic characters?
Mark: I am not very much of a mainstream superhero guy. Of course I love the geeky things and movies and some superhero characters, like Batman. But, I am still more of a Turtle guy. I loved drawing the TMNT characters, and I like creating my own niche. And perhaps, this will give me more opportunities to draw different things.


Red Dot Diva: Are there any more art styles that you'd like to experiment in?
Mark: I like to experiment in mixed-media styles. It makes things more interesting for readers, and I also do not want or like to get bored. Important considerations to me - artistically speaking - are thoughts like, "Are you feeling personally fulfilled with how things worked out?", "What kind of challenges does each project bring me?". And I really want to keep challenging myself and enjoy and have good memories of the projects that I do. Otherwise, there could be a danger of losing the passion for the work that you do.

Red Dot Diva: Do you desire to indulge in any other types of artistic pursuits?
Mark (rather cryptically): The next project I will be doing is something special because it's creator-owned. And I have a bigger opportunity to infuse graphic design and illustration. I hope this project will be something special and different for everyone.


Red Dot Diva: You have been in Singapore for about a week now. What's the most memorable artistic thing that you've seen/ experienced so far?
Mark: The first day we were here, a few hours after we arrived, we walked around near our hotel and we noticed the statue of Melting Superman ....
Red Dot Diva: Oh! The one at the Singapore Art Museum!
Mark: Yeah! It's one of the most craziest things that we saw. So far.

Red Dot Diva: What's the secret to having eye-popping artistic biceps?
Mark (with amusement): For me, I just keep having tattoos. Because I don't have the frame to show off hunky biceps. Tattoos are the way to go for me. Each of the design have a meaning and reason and I like collaborating with tattoo artists. Skin is not an easy canvas to work on - artwise. And I have so much respect for the patience and skill of tattoo artists.

Artistic tattooed biceps - Torres style!
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Check out Mark Torres' deviantart page and follow him on Facebook!

Sspecial thanks to Andre aka Red Dot Dude for taking the photos,
And Edward for his ever-ready and illuminating Flashlight App.

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