Paolo Rivera is an Eisner Award-winning American comic book artist. He is known for illustrating the Mythos series of one-shots, several issues of Spider-Man and his collaborations with writer Mark Waid and inker Joe Rivera on Daredevil. Although he began his career painting in oil, he has since moved on to penciling, inking, and coloring (with some occasional sculpting).
Hi, thanks for joining us at Lospaziobianco. You jumped into comics market at 21. Was it your first goal to became a comic book artist?
Most definitely. I don’t know what else I would’ve done. I probably could’ve found other things to do, but comics was where I wanted to go.
Which are your favorite comic book artists? And, if there are, doo you like and follow more artists not necessarily involved in comic books?
There are too many to name. I started my love for comics with a healthy dose of Jim Lee, JoeMad, AdamHughes, and AlexRoss. I was never tied to a particular style, I just cared about draftsmanship. As I got older, I gravitated more towards Kirby and Toth, but there’s a whole world of artists out there. I look at a lot of painters too, but not as many as I used to, mostly because I don’t paint as much anymore. H.J. Ward is probably my favorite, though.
By giving a look at your blog we discovered your love for sculpture; do you want to to talk about that? Are there different arts you would like to handle?
For me, it’s all related: if you can’t sculpt, you can’t really draw, either. I think it would be tough for me to make a living at it, though. I tend to be a perfectionist, and dealing with 3 dimensions multiplies the amount of work, while they pay stays about the same. You can also reach more people with 2D art, not to mention tell more complex stories. Sculpture will always be something that I love and respect, but for me, it serves as a means to an end.
How did you started working at Marvel?
I met JimKrueger at MegaCon in Orlando when I was still in high school. I was a huge Earth X fan and he was kind enough to hire me for a few of his creator-owned projects. Fast forward a few years, and he introduced me to some editors at Marvel with the portfolio I had built with his characters. While the initial response was less than promising, JoeQuesada swooped in and hired me on the spot. I’ve been working with the same crew ever since.
Your first jobs (Spectacular Spider-Man 14 and Mythos series) were painted. How long it took to complete an issue in that way?
There’s a lot of variation from one to another. Spec Spidey 14 took 3.5 months. I painted Mythos: Spidey in about the same amount of time, but Mythos: X-Men took about 10. It depended on what medium I was using and how hard I was working. For the books that took the least time, I barely left my apartment or slept (or showered).
Do you like more to work on a full detailed script or do you prefer a script that leaves you free to organize panels, etc.?
I love having the freedom to do whatever I’d like, but at the same time, I can appreciate when a writer knows exactly what they want. There’s always wiggle room for creativity, even in the most detailed of scripts.
How would you define your working experience on Daredevil? How it was to draw the charachter and to work with Mark Waid?
Dare I say it was the defining moment of my career? I’ve been a fan of MarkWaid since I first got KingdomCome at the age of 15, so it was a true honor to work side by side with him. I love giving SteveWacker crap, but I really do respect the books (and people) he puts together. Creatively, I’m not sure it gets any better than that.
Which were your graphic references for Daredevil? Miller, Mazzucchelli (that was also one of your teacher) and Wood seem to be the first ones…
I’ve read only 3 DD arcs, BornAgain, ManWithoutFear, and GuardianDevil. If I had to narrow it down, I’d say Mazzucchelli and Colan were my biggest influences, but RomitaSr. and Wood probably couldn’t help but creep into my brain. But my first introduction to the character will always be Quesada. He drew DD the way Wood established, with the mostly black costume. I don’t care for the costume when it’s just all red. I think the original costume’s pretty great too.
Do you usually read again your comic books after they get printed? Which is the comic book you made that gave you more satisfation?
Usually as soon as they’re printed, then again from time to time. It’s strange to read stuff I did 10 years ago. I know what creative challenges I was facing, and I just want to go back in time and tell myself what I need to hear. Who knows if I’d listen, though…
Is there a comic book writer you would like to work with?
MarkWaid, again. I hope to do a small project with IvanBrandon this year. We’ve known each other for several years, but never worked together.
Would you like, at this point of your career, to work with different Editors? Maybe by putting apart superheroes and capes and by trying to complete a graphic novel or a book for the Frech market?
Well, I love the editors I have, but right now I’m only doing covers for them. In my spare time, I’m writing a sci-fi graphic novel that I hope to start drawing before the end of the year. Probably won’t be done for a couple years, though, especially if I keep taking on freelance gigs.
Do you have time to read comic books? If yes, which are your favorite ones tight now and why?
Not a lot, but it’s getting better. When I quit Daredevil, I suddenly had tons of time. I immediately bought and read Akira, which I had been waiting years to read. I also read Paying For It by Chester Brown. I read the first 99 issues of The Walking Dead, and now I’m making my way through Ghost in the Shell and Love and Rockets. Comixology has changed my reading habits quite a bit. I’m reluctant to buy books because I hate having junk, but now that it’s all digital, I’ll actually buy books. Sometimes I wish I were supporting my local comic shop, but the truth is I never bought much to begin with. I’m one of the worst comic fans out there.
You are no more exclusively working for Marvel. Would you like to tell us something more about your creator-owned project?
Just that it’s coming along very slowly. Since this is my first time writing, I’m doing a full script first and vetting it amongst my creative colleagues. It’s an epic journey of 5 robots and the woman who created them. If it does well, I’ll turn it into a trilogy. If it doesn’t, I’ll cry myself to sleep.
Which are pro and con of a creator-owned comic book?
I’ve kinda got the best of both worlds right now. I’m supporting myself with cover work and freelance gigs featuring established characters, all the while creating something that I hope will strike a chord with readers — something I can truly call my own. No downsides yet. But ask me again in 3 years.