Drawing the Future: Carlos Rafael on Buck Rogers

Buck Rogers #0

A week or so back, we told you about Dynamite Entertainment’s plans for revitalizing Buck Rogers with a new series written by Scott Beatty, illustrated by Carlos Rafael, and covers by John Cassaday. The series will feature a tweaked new look for the classic science fiction hero by Alex Ross and Cassaday.

We spoke with Beatty last month, and today, we caught up with Rafael, and Dynamite provided us with a look at Rafael’s work.

Newsarama: Carlos, first off, what got you on to this project in the first place, and how familiar were you with Buck Rogers before this?

Buck by Carlos Rafael

Carlos Rafael: I was told about the project and begun to do sketches of Buck from what Alex and John did, trying to get familiar with the new look. I was excited to get this new job with those two giants of the comics. I was familiar with Buck Rogers from when I was a child. I used to see the series from the ‘80’s - I had a toy from the series: his ship and Buck and his droid! Later I had discovered how important he was to the sci-fi world and comics. I’m very very proud to be part of his journey trough the history.

Wilma by Carlos Rafael

NRAMA: As you mentioned, the project at Dynamite features, among other things, a redesigned costume for Buck. While John and Alex worked on tweaking out the design, you’re the one drawing it every month on every page. How does it work for you, from an artistic point of view, and a practical one?

CR: Well, I found the new uniform amazing! Drawing it over and over will not be a problem for me - I think when you have a favorite character, or a world you like very much, things are easier to be done. Not in terms of hard work, but you get pleasure doing that. And for the artist it can be turned into a big incentive to keep working hours and hours at the desk and been always being stimulated by the job.

Buck by Carlos Rafael

CR: You're also doing some world building, along with Scott Beatty. Design-wise, how much of the future is yours to design?

CR: Scott tells me everything he wants to be done on his script, and I follow as close as I can. What he did not say is that it’s up to me to find references and create the look of Buck’s world (laughs), never getting far from the initial idea. The more objects and architecture come up in the comic... the easier it becomes to keep the same aspects of the world through the pages.

Wilma by Carlos Rafael

NRAMA: As we discussed with Scott and Nick, so much of how we view the future has changed from Buck's initial appearance, not to mention his Gil Gerard days of the television series in the '80s. That said, how do you go about designing the world 500 years in the future? What influences or even designers and architects do you pull from?

CR: We can see nowadays technologies that people in the ‘30s or ‘70s could not even imagine, so it’s always a problem to guess what will be used in the near future, not to mention a 500 years in the future! So I have to capture the style of the adventure. Buck’s world must be clean, with bright and round architecture, while showing that there’s a world at war, and the effects of that war. I also applied holographic screens to this retro futuristic world. I didn’t discard the ‘30s strips for this, because there is an essence for the character contained in them. Buck was born early last century, so much of his world carries part of what he is. So what I’m trying to do is make people see the name “Buck Rogers” when they look to the architecture or the objects, as much as people recognize them when they see the worlds of Star Wars or The Matrix.

NRAMA: Let's talk Buck -

Buck by Carlos Rafael

what goes into his look for you? What has to be there?

CR: I wanted to give him most of the classic look. He wears the trans-suit like most characters on the series, but he’s a hero, so there must be something more to him. Something that never changes trough the time that transmits his true heroic spirit. He is clever and courageous, and that must be reflected. But also, I think there is much less ingenuity today than there was in the ‘30s or even the ‘70s... things are getting more serious in their tone. So, as an artist, I think Buck has to go the same way.

Buck by Carlos Rafael

CR: There will be a mix of those styles. A little of forward-looking technology with some retro visual. Everything very clean and round, without pieces of machinery everywhere, but only those we have to see. And with all this, there will be probably a new world for this comic for us to recognize, with elements of other worlds and new ones.

NRAMA: Finally - what has Scott thrown your way so far that's thrilled you so far?

CR: Ah, everything! The adventure, the new worlds and races so different, like the paramecium-like creatures with their giant cellular ships...it’s just so strange and different, that makes me think totally new ways to draw on this comic. I like to create, to design objects and architecture, and here I will have to do a lot of that. I’m having a lot of fun with Buck Rogers!! And hope everyone feels that too.

Buck Rogers #0 is due in comic shops in May, and will carry a $.25 cover price.

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