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1. INTERVIEW: ARCHIE’S Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

Anyone who has ever worked with Fernando Ruiz or benefitted from his teaching skills knows what a seriously impressive contributor he is to the future of comics. From his personal work as writer and artist on ARCHIE comics and a range of other freelancing projects to the intense mileage he puts in as an instructor at The Kubert School training young artists, Ruiz is all about comics. His own passion for the medium bleeds through every aspect of his life and erupts into casual conversation, whether he’s flipping through large format reproductions of the art of Wally Wood or he’s reflecting on the life of one of his personal heroes, the much-missed Joe Kubert whose presence is still felt daily at the school he founded.

IMG 3788 300x225 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Fernando Ruiz in front of some of his ARCHIE work at the Kubert School]

I had the good fortune to make Ruiz’s acquaintance when I enrolled in some evening classes at the Kubert School and got to witness his virtuosity as a teacher first-hand. From the solid instruction in basic art techniques to student-prodded asides into the vastnesses of comics history, Ruiz displayed his trademark versatility in all aspects of the medium. Delving into his portfolio, particularly, is bound to prompt stunned silence as his sketches vault between styles and genres with a flexibility that seems almost impossible. If it weren’t for his engaging demeanor and unassuming attitude, his students would probably slink away quietly, intimidated by his abilities as an artist. The two sides of his life, private work and public teaching, are clearly driven by an overwhelming commitment to comics, matched only by his work ethic. I knew it wouldn’t be the easiest thing to get Ruiz to talk about his life and work, since he’s a modest person, but thankfully he agreed to field a few questions for us at The Beat.

IMG 3782 225x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

Hannah Means-Shannon:  I know that you attended the Kubert School and now teach there. What courses do you teach and how long have you been teaching?

Fernando Ruiz: I was invited to teach at the Kubert school in August of 1995. I’d graduated from the school a year earlier in 1994. I started by teaching the school’s Saturday Morning Sketch class, which is largely teaching cartooning to little kids. In 1996, I joined the full time faculty teaching during the week. Over the years, I’ve taught many different classes including Story Adaptation, Design, and Human Figure Drawing. Currently, I’m teaching Narrative Art to all of the First Year students and Basic Drawing to the Second Year students. In addition, I’m also teaching the school’s evening Basic Drawing class and after all these years, I’m still teaching that same Saturday morning class.

IMG 3776 225x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

HM-S: What do you think are the most essential qualities for someone teaching aspiring comics artists?

FR: Obviously a certain amount of proficiency and knowledge in the area you are teaching is required. Beyond that, a teacher needs patience, flexibility and imagination in order to deal with the particular situation each student might present. Communication skills are also important. It’s not enough to be able to do what you are teaching. You have to be able to clearly explain what you are doing and verbalize it in such a way that your explanation is understandable to a beginner.

IMG 3779 225x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

HM-S: What’s the most challenging thing about teaching aspiring comics artists?

FR: Each student is an individual and can represent a unique situation.  It can be a challenge to gauge a class’ proficiency and tailor my curriculum to my students’ needs.

LWA16 228x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

HM-S:  What projects are you working on as an artist currently? What projects are you most excited about right now?

FR: Currently, I am penciling the LIFE WITH ARCHIE magazine for Archie Comics. This is a fun project in which Archie and his friends are adults and Archie is married to Veronica. The stories are serialized in a soap opera-like style and written on a more sophisticated level than your average ARCHIE story with more mature themes and sometimes very shocking twists. In recent issues, we’ve seen Archie’s gay friend, Kevin Keller, get married, his partner get shot, and Archie and Veronica very nearly get divorced! It’s a very crazy ride.

Recently, I took over as regular penciler for the U.S. Army’s PS Magazine. This is a magazine that has been worked on by Will Eisner, Murphy Anderson, and Joe Kubert. I’m very honored to follow them with this assignment.

In addition, I’m currently penciling a story for Image Comics’ HOAX HUNTERS. This is a short back-up story that will appear in their next trade paperback. It’s a different type of story than I usually work on so it’s a lot of fun and exciting.

Avengerspg3 191x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz draws The Avengers]

HM-S: How did you decide to become an artist? What influenced you to attend the Kubert School?

FR: I’ve always enjoyed drawing, comic books, and cartoons. I read comics from a very early age and almost immediately made my own with crayons and notebook paper! As I grew older, I knew I wanted to try for a career in comics but I wasn’t sure how practical or feasible that was. I attended Caldwell College in Caldwell, NJ where I became a Fine Arts major. After graduating, though, I was still attracted to the world of comics. I really wanted to give it a shot. I learned a lot about the fundamentals of art at Caldwell, but I didn’t feel I knew enough about the technical aspect of producing commercial art suitable for reproduction. This led me to enroll at the Kubert School, the best learning institution around for comic book art.

Ultimatespg2 192x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz draws The Ultimates]

HM-S: What comics have you found inspirational in your work? What creators have influenced you the most?

FR: You can’t be an artist for Archie Comics without studying the work of all the great artists who came before you. I looked at guys whose work I enjoyed as a kid. Even before I cared to look for their names in the credits, I was studying and copying the art of guys like Dan DeCarlo, Samm Schwartz, and Harry Lucey. When I first started at Archie Comics, I was very fortunate to live close enough to their offices that I could deliver my work in person. Victor Gorelick, Archie’s Editor-In-Chief and the guy who hired me right out of the Kubert School, would ask Dan DeCarlo to sit with me and go over my pages, and give me pointers on how I could improve. Dan was a kind, generous guy and I can’t state enough what a helpful experience that was.

I also learned a lot from other guys who’s work I was reading and copying from as a kid. Among these guys were Steve Ditko, George Perez, Alan Davis, Kurt Schaffenberger, and the great Curt Swan, whose Superman remains my favorite comic book character.

Novapg5 195x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz draws Nova]

HM-S: What motivates you to commit your life to so many aspects of comics creation?

FR: I love comics. They’re the perfect storytelling fusion of writing and art. I’ve enjoyed comics ever since I was a kid and nothing makes me happier than being able to make a living creating them. I not only get to draw comics all day but I also get to spread my passion for the medium in my classes.

EPICS 198x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz's work on EPICS]

HM-S: Are there any upcoming projects you want to spread the word about?

FR: In addition to my work on LIFE WITH ARCHIE and PS Magazine, I’m working on a self-published project called EPICS. This is an anthology comic I started with three of my fellow instructors at the Kubert School: Anthony Marques, Bob Hardin, and Fabio Redivo. We each wrote and illustrated our own original six-page story. The first issue was published in September 2012 and we will be publishing our second issue later this year. Working on a completely original story like this where it’s my own creation and I’m handling both the writing and the art makes it extremely satisfying and personal for me. I’m having a great time working on it. We got a lot of praise and attention for our first issue and we can’t wait to put out our second!

Epics2 300x179 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz's work on EPICS]

HM-S: Where can comics fans find your work?

FR: Folks can check out my work at my website.

Epics3 300x159 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

[Ruiz's work on EPICS]

HM-S:  How can readers find out more about your classes?

FR: Visit the Kubert School’s website to keep up with upcoming courses and events!

HM-S: Do you have any advice for new artists who wants to work professionally in comics?

FR: Be versatile. Learn how to draw everything in every possible way. Don’t just learn how to draw Batman because you’re a Batman fan. If those very few Batman jobs out there are taken, you’re going to have to know how to draw something else. The more you can draw, the more employable you become!

IMG 3787 225x300 INTERVIEW: ARCHIES Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School

HM-S: Ruiz is a tough act to follow, but he inspires his students to approach comics with respect and a certain amount of grit when it comes to pursuing personal success. He’s an asset of the highest caliber in the classroom, and I wasn’t surprised to learn, asking around, how many comics artists I know who have studied with him and gone on to influence the direction of comics. We wish the best of luck to him on his upcoming projects, hopefully showing off that range of style that makes such an impression on students. If you happen to see him at The Kubert School open house coming up on April 20th, feel free to embarrass him by praising his work and contribution to teaching!

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress.

 

 

2 Comments on INTERVIEW: ARCHIE’S Fernando Ruiz on Life and Work at The Kubert School, last added: 3/7/2013
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2. One Fan’s Ecstasy: Fantastic Four Annual #33!

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Last Thursday, during my lunch break, I headed over to the rebooted Forbidden Planet.  DC had reprinted four Wonder Woman stories from “Adventures in the DCU” as “DC COMICS PRESENTS: WONDER WOMAN ADVENTURES #1“.  Sure, I would get a copy as part of my monthly box of comp copies, but I couldn’t wait to read it, and I’ll pass on the extra issue to my super-smart niece in Colorado.

ff annual33 197x300 One Fans Ecstasy: Fantastic Four Annual #33!So first I checked the back wall of recent releases, and scanned every title.  That’s when I discovered something unexpected, and, ultimately, amazing and fantastic:

Now, Fantastic Four was the first series I followed after getting hooked on Spider-Man.  I knew that Marvel usually did a decent job with Fantastic Four annuals, presenting fun, done-in-one stories!  So I picked it up, and flipped it open.  Here’s why I bought it, and why I recommend it to you:

  1. It’s drawn, and WRITTEN, by Alan Davis, so you know the art and story are gonna be good!
  2. It’s Ben and Johnny, housesitting the Baxter Building (or whatever it’s called now) while Reed and Sue go on vacation.  (If that were the only story, I’d still read it!)
  3. It features Davis’ ClanDestine.  Don’t know who they are?  Short form: a human and a genie fall in love and sire a family of paranormal humans who live separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe (although they have encountered the X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Silver Surfer on occasion.)
  4. It’s got time travel, famous people, and Doctor Strange!
  5. And…something I didn’t discover until I turned to the last page, where the digital code is found: it’s the first of THREE Alan Davis annuals!  The story continues in Daredevil, and finishes in Wolverine!  (Hmm… it looks like the variant covers form a complete image.  Might there be a poster in the future?)

ff annual33 variant 197x300 One Fans Ecstasy: Fantastic Four Annual #33!Daredevil Annual Vol 3 1 Alan Davis Variant 197x300 One Fans Ecstasy: Fantastic Four Annual #33!

3 Comments on One Fan’s Ecstasy: Fantastic Four Annual #33!, last added: 8/7/2012
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3. Graphic Novel Friday: X-Man vs. X-Man

As if the title weren’t enough of a clue, X-Men: Schism spotlights a pivotal moment in X-Men history: a rift in ideology from its two biggest guns--Cyclops and Wolverine. In the wake of a mutant extinction-level event, perennial team leader and wet blanket, Cyclops, rallies the X-Men to an island dubbed “Utopia” in order to establish a sense of community. His plan, however, doesn’t account for any villain who might want to wipe out mutantkind in one fell swoop and who possesses enough skill to hit a target the size of a giant island. And that’s exactly what happens in Schism.

As danger looms, Cyclops sends the usual heavy-hitters across the globe to stop various enemies, leaving the island’s defense up to him, Wolverine, and the latest batch of young mutants who came to Uptopia to train to be X-Men. Therein lies the issue: Cyclops declares the new recruits fit for battle, while Wolverine declares the very idea to be ludicrous. Writer Jason Aaron presents both sides of the argument with equal footing, but it’s still difficult to take Wolverine’s position seriously. This is Wolverine, after all—the hot-tempered Canuck with the beserker rage and fangs; he’s the runt who’s always spoiling for a fight. Yet, here he tells Cyclops that maybe the better idea is to evacuate the island, because someone needs to think of the children. Really, it’s all an excuse to get Cyclops and Wolverine to clash, and Schism definitely delivers. This isn’t a shoving match or a harsh exchange of words soon mended by standing against a common enemy (although there are plenty of verbal barbs, especially on the subject of Jean Grey). No, here are two classic X-Men at each other’s throats. It’s an extended, bloody fight that ends a friendship and divides an entire race.

If that weren’t reason enough to get fans in the ring, the chapters are each illustrated by marquee names: Alan Davis, Frank Cho, Adam Kubert, Carlos Pacheo, Billy Tan, and Daniel Acuña. Cho’s depiction of Wolverine is reminiscent of the mid-to-late 1980s (before the films influenced his look). He’s hunched, hairy, and his perpetual scowl leaves grooves in his face that even his healing factor cannot fix. Acuna’s pages are stylized and flashy (if not a little stiff), while Davis does what Davis does best, which is everything.

The hardcover collection is oversized, giving readers an opportunity to sit front-row at a title bout, and with artists of this caliber it’s very much worth this grand scale. Two variant covers, a promotional pinup, and a team roster by Frank Cho (from pencils to finished page) comprise the supplemental material. It’s a package that gives fans a believable answer to “Who would win in a fight..?” and X-Men: Schism certainly lives up to its title.

--Alex

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4. Shadow Ops, X-Men and Combat Oh My!!!!!!

Hi all,

It's The Wandering Library Ninja Bill. I 've been walking in the waste lands and dry and dark places. Fighting evil wherever it rears it's ugly head. It's mighty strange living in the shadow lands, but good reads always pull me through. So let's see what's on this dish today?




 
 
Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole - Imagine if in the real world people started to exhibit strange powers and magical abilities. This is what I hope is the start of a great series about how things would play out. In this world created by Myke Cole some of humanity has started to develop magical powers. Some people are born and exhibit these abilities early in life while others are well into their adulthood when they exhibit magical powers. In this world, very much like ours, when this starts to happen governments around the globe try to control these individuals for their own agendas. In the United States people who manifest magical gifts are either incorporated into the military or kept under constant supervision. Those who try to run, termed Selfers, are hunted down by the military and "handled." Some powers are considered okay by the government, while other are not. Some of the "good" powers are: Physiomancer (the power to heal) but if used to harm it is called Rending and prohibited, Pyromancer (the ability to generate fire and control in many ways), Aeromancer (ability to control storms and lightning, also can use wind currents to fly), Hydromancer (ability to generate and control water) and others I will leave you to find out about. Those that are prohibited and individuals exhibiting them "supposedly" helped  or taken down are: Elementist (the ability to make fire, water, earth, etc. self aware and act on the person's behalf without taking away from the user's focus), Necromancy (the ability to control the dead), Portamancy (the ability to open and close gates to different locations and dimension), Whispering (the ability to control animal life) and also many others that you can find out about if you read the book.

This story focuses on Lieutenant Oscar Britton part of the SOC (Supernatural Operations Corps). The SOC is made up of servicemen without magical powers and those with to serve The United States Government. One of there duties is to hunt done Selfers and capture users of outlawed magics. It is during one of these missions that Britton manifest the ability of Portamancy. He runs because he does not understand what has happened to him and is just plain scared. He is pursued by the SOC under the command of the mysterious Aeromancer known only as Harlequin.

He is caught and taken to an Operations Area in another dimension known as "The Source" (it seems to be the place where magic originates and has broken through to our dimension to endow certain individuals with different powers). This is all top secret and all knowledge of it kept under raps by the military and government. The Operations Area is used for multiple purposes. One is to wage a war in The Source with the indigenous populat

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