David Rubín burst onto the scene with innovative work - but in almost every case, he did it by following in the literal footsteps of artistic giants like Paul Pope, James Harren, and Dean Ormston. But for the Spanish artist, he's not afraid of the comparisons.
The final issue of Rubín's Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion of Evil hits shelves January 24, while his next project - the second volume of Rumble - has already began. Then there's talk of a sequel to Ether.
With so much to talk about, Newsarama caught up with Rubín to talk about his path to comic books, following in others' footsteps, and carving his own path.
Newsarama: First question’s first, David…. what are you working on today?
David Rubín: Currently, I am working on two series: the second volume of Ether, with Matt Kindt, for Dark Horse; and Rumble, with John Arcudi, for Image.
Today Ether is on the table.
Nrama: Your volume of Rumble just launched, and your recent Dark Horse series Sherlock Frankenstein & the Legion of Evil is currently going as well. How are you balancing doing multiple books at once like this?
Rubín: It’s not easy, but if you’re organized, you can do it.
The first thing I do is negotiate with my editors realistic deadlines for both series, so I am able to carry out this amount of work without losing my life along the way. I also don’t want to lower the quality of my work because of the rush.
As an artist, I appreciate that both series are thematically very different. When I’m a little tired of one, I can jump to the other, and vice versa, and never get jaded or bored.
The very important thing is to always work with enthusiasm.
Nrama: How long does it take you to complete a page of comic book art, usually?
Rubín: It depends on the page, the storytelling, and the things that you have to draw on it; every page is different from another.
I think that three or four hours per page is my average.
Nrama: When I interviewed you back in 2016, you said you primarily color your own work - but I've noticed recently you began working with others including Dave Stewart. What led to this change?
Rubín: When John Arcudi offered me Rumble, he asked me if I wanted to color myself, but I declined because it’s impossible for me to do two series at the same time and do all the art on both.
I love to do the colors on my own work, but Dave Stewart is, for me, the best colorist in the business right now, and Dave was avaliable to return to Rumble’s universe, so…what the hell! He’s the best! And I’m so lucky that Dave puts his amazing palette on my inks on that series.
But, at the same time, I still really love working on color; I do the color for my covers for Rumble; and on Ether and Sherlock Frankenstein I still do all the entire art process; pencil, ink, color, and lettering.
Nrama: With these two current projects on shelves, you're taking the baton from past artists - Dean Ormston with Sherlock Frankenstein and James Harren with Rumble. How is that for you, as opposed to starting on your own like with Ether?
Rubín: I love the work of Dean and James so much. They are two of the best artists at the moment.
But I’m not afraid or worried about comparing myself with them. I think that I have my own artistic “voice,” and I can bring something different to the series. And that is something that can enrich that series, I think.
Besides, my first work for the U.S. market was the Aurora West books, from Paul Pope’s Battling Boy universe. So, if you draw a series that follows Paul as your first work for the U.S., and you survive it, the rest is easy, believe me.
Nrama: Let's talk about your introduction to art- what is the first comic you remember reading?
Rubín: The first that I remember is a Jack Kirby issue of Fantastic Four; the villain of the issue was Annihilus, a kind of dictator of the Negative Dimension. I don’t remember the number of that issue.
Nrama: How did you get into drawing comic books?
Rubín: I’ve loved comics since I was a child. I first started getting work drawing in that medium about 15 or 17 years ago, in Spain and Europe, and now here in the United States.
I always dreamed of a career in the comics medium. I worked so hard for years and years, and finally achieved my goal.
Nrama: What was the point in which you began to take it seriously?
Rubín: It was in 2010, when I started to work on a graphic novel in two volumes titled The Hero - currently published by Dark Horse Comics.
Those books were a success in Spain, and gave me the opportunity to begin a serious career in comics, to actually make money. It opened a lot of doors for me and my work in Spain, and in other countries.
Nrama: Did you go to school for art? If so, can you tell us about it?
Rubín: Yes, I was going to art school, but I studied graphic design there because when I was a student, the art schools in Spain didn’t teach anything about comics. The comics, at that time, were seen negatively in art school.
But in school I learned a lot about composition, color, and storytelling in my classes for graphic design, cinema, and illustration.
My specific comics education were the comics that I read.
Nrama: You've told me previously you're a big fan of science fiction, but I have yet to see you draw any futuristic-style projects. Is that something you hope to do someday?
Rubín: I had a graphic novel published at the end of 2016 for the spanish market called Grand Hotel Abismo - with writer and artist Marcos Prior - it’s a sci-fi graphic novel. It talks about the fight against dystopian power, with riots, violence, and advanced technology.
I think that Grand Hotel Abismo is very possible and powerful.
Grand Hotel Abismo is available in Spain, France, and soon in Italy, but not in the U.S. yet.
Oh! And yeah, of course I want to do more sci-fi stuff in the future, I love that genre!
Nrama: You've written your own comics before in Spain - is this something you hope to do again?
Rubín: Yeah, I hope so.
Right now it’s difficult for me because all of my time is occupied with my work as an artist, but I hope, in a few years, I can start writing my own comics again.
But I love to work with other writers, people like Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, and John Arcudi who are very talented. I learn a lot working with them, and they are always a pleasure to work with.
Nrama: What are your big goals for yourself professionally in the next five years?
Rubín: Whoa… I don't know
I’m happy if I could still be working on Rumble with John in the next few years. I want to finish the second series of Ether with Matt Kindt.
I want to work again with Jeff Lemire on something new, maybe something different from the Black Hammer universe, if it’s possible and our schedules allow it.
I’ll also confess, my golden dream is to work with Frank Miller some day. But it is impossible, I think. Too big.
Let me have that dream, please.