Working on the Injustice 2 comic book, artists Brundo Redondo and Daniel Sampere are sometimes shocked by what they are asked to draw in Tom Taylor's scripts.
The digital-first comic book, which serves as a prequel to the Injustice 2 video game, has been plenty of shockers to readers as it continues to explore the alternate world created for the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game.
The artists, who are both part of Nutopi@ Agency, have been working for DC on various projects, with Redondo spending several years on previous volumes of Injustice. Newsarama talked to both artists about their work on the Injustice 2 series.
Newsarama: Before we talk about your art now, let's back up and talk about the genesis of your interest in art — or at least, your interest in this type of art. How and why did you become a comic book artist?
Bruno Redondo: I never thought too much about it. I just loved to draw ever since I could remember, and once the first comic book I ever had fell into my hands, I fell in love forever with the medium, and all the incredible artists I meet, and the infinite ground of creation it means. I just kept knocking on doors until I found my place.
Nrama: What about you, Daniel?
Daniel Sampere: I've been drawing all my life. My grandfather was a great illustrator, and I grew up surrounded by art and paints. So I was really interested in art in my early childhood.
At the age of 14, I saw a documentary talking about the history of superhero comic books. I saw people like Alex Ross, Jim Lee and Neal Adams talking about how great superhero comic books are and I saw them drawing and I was so shocked that I immediately knew that I wanted to work doing the same thing as them.
Nrama: Well, you've dropped some names of some pretty great artists there. What artists are your biggest influences?
Sampere: I love artists like Olivier Coipel, Stuart Immonen, Greg Capullo, R.G Guera or Fiona Staples among many others. I look at what they do and try to add my own style and ideas that I think could fit well.
But my biggest source of influence and inspiration are my friends Bruno and Jorge Jimenez. We talk everyday, we share our work with each other, we give advices when we need them – that's a really good way to keep improving and stay on point with the work.
Nrama: And Bruno, who would you say are your influences?
Redondo: Well, mostly, like Dani, I keep studying the works of Immonen, Coipel, Ron Garney, Kevin Maguire and Lee Weeks. There's also some less obvious references such as Darwyn Cooke or Akira Toriyama, who keep giving me storytelling lessons every time I open their books.
And I'm not saying this because Dani did, but I learn a lot from my closest friends in the business: Dani, Jorge, and Javi Fernandez, artists with way different styles — there are many different resources to learn from each.
Nrama: You're both doing work on the latest chapter of Injustice. Why do you think your style fits with this story?
Redondo: I guess many kind of styles could fit in Injustice, but in my case, I guess I'm not far from some kind of classic DC style. I try to give the Injustice universe a believable and familiar background. The storytelling is conditioned for the digital first template; every page must work either as a complete page or split in two halves, for the digital publication. My style changes depending on if I’m creating for a digital series, or a print-run series.
Sampere: My style fit with Injustice because I have a more realistic reference that could fit in with any superhero comic.
When I started, however, I had to adapt to the style of Injustice. Tom Taylor puts a lot of care into the characters, to make them feel like real people with a lot of emotions and feelings, so I had to work hard on the expression of the characters to try to make them feel real.
Also, as Bruno said, the digital format is different, so you have to learn to make pages that work as two halves for digital format, but that also work as a main page for printed format. It can be kind of hard.
Nrama: Looking back at your work on Injustice over the years, of what page or character creation are you most proud?
Sampere: I really enjoyed creating Zod's design. I created the main base for the character and then added some ideas Bruno had for it and I think the final result was really cool. I wish we could have more time with him, but this is Injustice.
Redondo: I have always enjoyed working with Harley, with our specific version of her, with all the layers that Tom gives her. I really think he does the best take on this complicated character.
I'm also proud of what we did with all the gorillas in the Gorilla City "Civil War" chapters.
Amazo has been something special too. I wasn't quite in love with the character at the beginning, we even had some discussion about giving him a face or not because I was not a fan of the skull look. But you know what? I was wrong. Tom and editor Jim Chadwick knew that. The cold-merciless machine look, with no expression in his eyes, gives him an awesome and terrific look, which surprised me.
Nrama: What would each of you say is the biggest challenge of drawing Injustice?
Redondo: I guess that'd be to deal not only with a character or a group of characters, but an entire DC universe. Over the last five years — man, it's been a log ride — we have been playing with many DC Universe perspectives, which is cool and hard at the same time. But I'm happy, because this allowed me to work with many different characters such as the Green Lantern Corps or John Constantine, all under the same tittle, which is way funny.
Sampere: Injustice is a big challenge, probably the biggest in my career. It's a story full of characters from all of the DC universe, and you have to try to give every character their own personality, their own style.
Also, it’s a comic book with really cruel or really funny moments so you have to try to reflect all those environments and situations. Also, as I said before the expression is really important and is another great challenge. Working on Injustice is very funny and challenging and I feel like it’s great training for my art cause it allows me to work on so many characters and situations.
Nrama: I think one of the strengths of Injustice is that it really pushes boundaries of what can be done with familiar superheroes. Have you ever been surprised by what happens in the story? Can you describe something that surprised you that you had to draw?
Sampere: I love Injustice because the story is unpredictable and you can be laughing and then crying in the same chapter. Tom is a master at playing with people's emotions and I think my biggest shock is when I read what was going to happen to Tim Drake when Zod made his entrance. I was thinking wow… people are going to freak out over this.
Redondo: Reading every one of Tom's scripts becomes an experience, and not always a pleasant one! Sometimes I finish reading and catch myself smiling stupidly because of what happened to the characters.
Conner Kent having Superman's suit was a great moment. And sometimes I'm reading and I think, "Seriously, Tom? That's the worst thing someone can do in a DC comic!" I felt that recently between chapters 51 and 52, which I'm working on right now. Every time is a new experience, and ends up being completely different than what I was expecting (and we have been working together for more than six years).
Nrama: Yeah, that is a long run. How has your style evolved as you've drawn Injustice?
Redondo: As I said, I have been doing Injustice since early 2013, with some work outside like Earth 2: Society. I feel my style remains similar, just maybe a little better, as I'm trying to try new texturing, tools, and being more self confident in what I do.
When I started doing most of the character designs in Injustice 2, it was truthfully more to adjust the videogame designs into comic book style rendering, rather than just doing new designs in most of the characters. I also had to learn the path of the cover artist, which has been a new challenge in my career.
Sampere: I think my style has evolved a lot since the beginning. At first my work was more realistic and detailed versus now — I'm trying to make characters and movements more flowing, with better movement and expression. I also started to play with more tools such as sprays or textures that I didn't use before.
Nrama: It's interesting to hear about the evolution of your work on Injustice. I feel like going back and looking at it. Is there anything else you want to tell fans about your work on Injustice or anything else you're doing?
Sampere: Well, first I want say thank you to all the Injustice fans out there. It's great to receive this feedback about the series and see that readers are enjoying it.
Then I would like to say that if you are already a fan of Injustice 2, please keep supporting the series — many great things are coming and if you never read Injustice 2 before, give it a try. The whole team is working really hard on the series and you will not be disappointed.
Redondo: Feel the same, grateful for all the support that Injustice readers gives us since we started it. And I love to see readers reactions about all that happens in the series. There are some twists and new plots coming in the future that I think people will enjoy, and also some terrible things. Just remember this: Tom did it, he's the monster, ok? (Nah, I'm kidding Tom, you are awesome... but also a monster.)