Monday, May 24, 2010

Deep Discussions with Decapitated Dan: Gabe Rodriguez

Welcome back kiddies. This time I have lured Gabe Rodriguez back into the depths to pick his brain about everything he is working on. I personally have to suggest that everyone reads Locke & Key and The Great and Secret Show, of which Gabe was the artist on. So sit back and relax as we learn all about the man, the myth and the soon to be legendary artist, Gabriel Rodriguez.

Decapitated Dan: Hey Gabe thanks for taking the time to talk to me about Locke & Key.
Alright so lets start out simple. Who are you?

Gabe Rodriguez: I’m a Chilean architect, born in 1974, that always loved to draw and to read comics, and whom by a miraculous turn of fate, ended up working in my dream job….

Decapitated Dan: Comic wise what have you already done?

Gabe Rodriguez: I started working professionally in comics back in 2002, drawing IDW’s early CSI: Crime Scene Investigation comics. I did 5 miniseries published right now as graphic novels, written by Max Alan Collins, Kris Oprisko and Steven Grant, and a 48 page special issue named CSI: Thicker Than Blood with Jeff Mariotte. After CSI, came the comic adaptation of George Romero’s Land Of The Dead, with Chris Ryall, which was also my first collaboration with Jay Fotos in colors, with whom I keep collaborating until today. After that, with the same team, we did the graphic novel adaptation of Clive Barker’s The Great And Secret Show, which was for me the first opportunity to design and develop with total freedom the visuals of a story. It was a 12 issues run that ended as a graphic novel. After that, I did another movie adaptation, Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf, again adapted by Chris Ryall from the script by Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary, and while I was starting that book, I was contacted by IDW with a guy named Joe Hill, that has this idea for a dark fantasy epic called Locke & Key….

Decapitated Dan: Alright so what do I need to know about Locke & Ke
y up to this point?

Gabe Rodriguez: That you should be reading it!…..haha. Well, seriously, you should know that all started when the Locke family was torn apart by the vicious murder of the father, Rendell Locke, by the hands of a vicious couple of teenagers from the school in which he worked as a student counselor. The widow, Nina, and her three children, Tyler, Kinsey and Bode, crossed the country from San Francisco to Lovecraft, Massachusetts, to live in Keyhouse, an ancient property of the Locke family. While trying to mend their broken lives, the Locke children found out that they have not just deal with their trauma, but also with magic powers that wait for them, hidden in the old house, waiting to be “unlocked” with mysterious magic keys….

And that’s not all, since there’s also the presence of a mysterious boy that seems to be the mastermind behind the murder of Rendell Locke, Zack Wells, also known as Dodge. He approaches to the kids as their best friend, while plotting and manipulating people and events to find where is a specific key, the Omega Key, which was hidden by Rendell decades ago….

In a couple months, simultaneously with the launch of the fourth part of the Locke & Key saga, Keys To The Kingdom, IDW will be publishing a special edition of Locke & Key: Welcome To Lovecraft #1, as a 40 page book that will include the 32 pages of the first issue, plus an 8-page recap of where the series has gone before… and all this for just $1.00! Can you believe it?

Decapitated Dan: How did you come on board to draw this series?

Gabe Rodriguez: It was a curious process...It all started when, Ted Adams and Chris Ryall contacted Joe Hill after reading his famous short stories collection, 20th Century Ghost. The original plan was to do comic adaptations of some of this stories, but guess what… Joe Hill was a hardcore comic book fan, and has already conceived an idea for an original comic book series, about a family facing their tragedy while dealing with magic events in their old Victorian mansion in New England….

They loved the idea, and with Joe they checked samples of several artist to find someone for this project, and Joe saw some potential for the story in what I did in the adaptation of Clive Barker’s the Great And Secret Show. So, Chris Ryall set up the team, and we started working with Joe in the first design stages, based on his notes and ideas, and there started an incredibly fluid creative relationship that let us create the Locke & Key universe as a vehicle for this amazing and charming story….

Decapitated Dan: Was there any inspiration to the character designs?

Gabe Rodriguez: In this case, just an attitude inspiration for Nina and Bode Locke, from my wife and my first son, but all the other characters just popped out from my head while reading the scripts. Which is weird, considering for example that for The Great And Secret Show we defined a complete reference cast to design the characters.

In this one, they were all so vividly written in Joe’s scripts, that just appeared in my mind as I read the first chapters.

Decapitated Dan: How much fun are you having creating this universe?

Gabe Rodriguez: I can’t have more…This really is a dream project, a fantastic world to explore with visual creativity, and also with the tremendous luck of having the chance to work with such a talented writer as Joe. It really is a one in a million opportunity to be involved in an original project with whom I think it’s one of the best comic writers right now.

Decapitated Dan: What is it like when you get the script from Joe? Can you walk us through your process?

Gabe Rodriguez: I receive the script one or two months before I would start drawing. So that gives me the chance to read it 3 or 4 times, just to start shaping images in my head, trying to imagine alternatives for the different scenes before drawing a single line. If necessary, I use that time to research references, or to develop new designs for characters, objects or locations. So then, when I finally face the white page, I’m pretty much decided of how to start, always aware that sometimes it’s just when you’re drawing that you discover unexpected alternatives that worked better than planned.
I also use to discuss scenes and ideas with Joe, to solve doubts or explore new ways to deliver a better story. I must admit also that he is absolutely generous as a creative counterpart, always insisting that I must consider the script as a guide, giving me room to change sequences or panels if I think we should do it to benefit the story. And he’s also a compulsive detail freak, that’s constantly revising the script and dialogues. I use to receive the 4th or 5th draft of the script to start working with, and the final version of the dialogues comes up over the drawn page…

Decapitated Dan: Seeing how you get to read the issues before the rest of us, are you often shocked at what Joe can come up with?

Gabe Rodriguez: Not often,…. ALWAYS! And not always surprised with the turn of events in the story, but also amazed by how aware is Joe about the potential of comics as a narrative tool and as a reading experience. His use of the medium is as amazing as his skill to develop the story.

Decapitated Dan: Do you find it difficult at times to depict what the story might call for?

Gabe Rodriguez: Just check every single issue of Crown Of Shadows, especially the last three…. Or wait ‘til the first one from the next arc!
Joe is constantly challenging my storytelling and drawing abilities, and though hard at times, it really helps to tell this story as it deserves to.

Decapitated Dan: Can we expect you to stay on board until the end of Locke & Key?

Gabe Rodriguez: That’s the plan, so help us God….

Decapitated Dan: Do you have any other projects in the works?

Gabe Rodriguez: Just Locke & Key so far… I’m completely devoted to the series. Maybe just some covers here and there from time to time, and the chance for any other project should wait until we finish this epic.

Decapitated Dan: In general how have fans responded to the Locke & Key so far?

Gabe Rodriguez: Much better than we expected at the beginning… we don’t have a huge fan base yet, but the people following the series is EXTREMELY loyal and enthusiast about it. And also we’re having the pleasing experience that being constantly contacted by people telling us that they didn’t use to read comic books, but they started loving them with Locke & Key.

Decapitated Dan: Any moment from a convention or show in particular since you started that just stands out to you?

Gabe Rodriguez:  My only convention so far was the San Diego ComicCon in 2008 (not easy to attend living so far), in which I had the chance to depart with the awesome IDW and also finally meet in person with Joe Hill.

Decapitated Dan: Can we expect you to be at any upcoming shows? 

Gabe Rodriguez: Hope to be there in the next New York Comic Con in October, I think… Fingers crossed!

Decapitated Dan: So what are you reading these days?

Gabe Rodriguez: In comics, just ended Y The last Man (finally!), which I loved, and just purchased the Ultimates Omnibus by Millar-Hitch, and the first volumes of Planetary, by Ellis - Cassaday. But I must admit that since I started working in comics, I have such few moments to read. I’m also reading a freaky science-fiction novel named Ygdrasil, by Chilean author Jorge Baradit.

Decapitated Dan: So lets sum it all up, why should people go out and get Locke & Key?

Gabe Rodriguez: Because the story is SO good, that even if they hate the art, they will love it….
Decapitated Dan: Thanks so much for your time Gabe.

If you want to learn more about Gabe and how awesome his work is go to

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