Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by David LafuenteDavid Lafuente's table in Artist's Alley at New York Comic Con may have looked like any other artist's set-up, but the buzz behind the scenes had his name popping up everywhere.
Announced as the new artist on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man when the series relaunches in July, Lafuente follows in the footsteps of Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen, working on Marvel's original Ultimate comic about one of the company's most iconic heroes.
Lafuente's name was first mentioned to American comic book readers when he was among the talent discovered during Marvel Editor/Writer C.B. Cebulski's "Chesterquest tour" as he searched the world for new Marvel artists. After the Spanish artist shared his portfolio with Cebulski, the publisher immediately gave him some work for the X-Men Divided We Stand story, then put him on Patsy Walker: Hellcat with writer Kathryn Immonen.
It was his pencils on Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #3 -- the issue that saw Peter and MJ talking about you-know-what -- that established him as a talent to watch and won him the approval of the Spider-Man team. Soon after, he was offered the full-time gig on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.
Although he struggled to find the right words sometimes, his Spanish accent unable to mask his unbounded excitement, Lafuente spoke with Newsarama about this new opportunity and how it feels to work on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man.
Newsarama: How did you hear about the opportunity to do this book?
David Lafuente: Actually, it was Brian Bendis who called me and told me about it. He said Stuart was leaving and that he wanted to work on it with me. And all I could think was, "Man, I want this! I want this! I want this!" So I told him I would love to do it. Shortly after that, they confirmed that I was the guy for the gig. And I was so happy.
NRAMA: For people who haven't seen a lot of your work, what's your experience in comics?
DL: For Marvel, I did two short stories for X-Men, then I worked on the Patsy Walker: Hellcat mini-series, and then the Ultimate Spider-Man Annual. Before that, I was working for Spanish companies. I did a graphic novel called Qu4ttrocentro, written and drawn by myself in 2005. I did some work on French comics and Spanish comics. In Spain, the page rate was low, so my main job was being a freelance illustrator, illustrating books and also working for newspaper. I've been doing this since 2000. It was just two years ago that I could quit illustration and just do comics full time.
NRAMA: How did you get the chance to work with Marvel?
DL: It was a bit of chance. I went to the Dublin City Comic Con, and there I met C.B. [Cebulski]. I was already working for Marvel, but indirectly. I was working as an assistant to Kano. We did Spider-Man Family #2. I was doing layouts and colors. So when I showed C.B. my pages, he was like, "Hey! You're already working for us!" He took samples of a graphic novel I was working on at that moment, and he took the Spider-Man Family stuff and he showed it at the Marvel offices. Apparently, Nick Lowe was preparing the Pasty Walker: Hellcat mini-series, and he thought that I could be a nice fit. In the meantime, we did these two short stories for X-Men and... boom!
David LafuenteNRAMA: Were you a fan of Spider-Man, even living in Spain?
DL: Yes! I'm a big fan of Steve Ditko and John Romita Sr. I was very excited to be getting a gig in Spider-Man. I've had a lot of luck with the assignments I have been getting so far because I knew the characters and have been a big fan of the characters, especially in Spider-Man. I was a reader of this series. I was already reading Ultimate Spider-Man.
NRAMA: Was it translated? Or did you read it in English?
DL: I began reading it in the Spanish edition, but then two years ago, I moved to London, so I bought the entire series in English.
NRAMA: Do you live in London now?
NRAMA: So you just communicate via email and scan in your pages?
DL: Yes, I scan in my pages. I do pencil and inks. I work in a bit strange way, you know. I work on pages that are smaller. They are half the size of pages. And then I do a small montage of pages on the computer and send it through email. This is a bit weird to work for most people who see it, but it is faster and it keeps the editors and me and the colorist all talking about the book in real time.
NRAMA: You were reading Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Bendis before. What do you think of the chance to get to work with him?
DL: I was a bit nervous! [laughs] He's such a big guy and all that. I am not reading Avengers and his Dark Avengers comic. I was a big fan of Ultimate Spider-Man, but I began reading Bendis more with Powers and Jinx and the indy stuff. I've read a lot of the Marvel Universe stuff, but I have still in my mind "indy Bendis." You know?
I was a bit nervous with the Ultimate Spider-Man Annual. But we talked a bit, and he's so funny and supportive. So I just relaxed and we got along really well. Really well.
NRAMA: What do you think the biggest challenge will be drawing the characters in Ultimate Spider-Man?
DL: I love to draw Spider-Man. He is a very fun character to draw and obviously he is very important. But I think I am working hardest on drawing the supporting cast really well because I like a lot the way they interact with Spider-Man. So my concern is about the supporting cast. The girls in his life have to have their own special look and characteristics. They have to really look right for the series.
NRAMA: Is your style different from what we've seen before on Ultimate Spider-Man?
DL: I don't know. I hope people enjoy what I'm going to do in the series. But I know it's going to be like... a handicap? Yes, it's going to be hard. Because Mark Bagley and Stuart Immonen are so great. But I have to just do my best and forget about that. So I'll do my best. I promise to do my best.