George De Leon is a new comic book creator based out of Portland, Oregon. His new book Luchadores In Space is a self published effort from his company Palooka Press. De Leon has been making the rounds promoting his book and Ariel Carmona, Jr. caught up with De Leon recently in an effort to get a better idea of how a young artist/creator develops his comic from idea to publication.
Ariel Carmona, Jr.: What was the inspiration behind Luchadores, can you take us through the genesis of the book?
George De Leon: Basically I knew I wanted to do a book, the premise of Luchadores being involved sparked after seeing the movie “Nacho Libre.” I really liked the comedy aspect of it, so rather than doing your average wrestling book, I decided to take them into space.
AC: What are some of your influences? Art-wise and also storytelling-wise?
GL: As far as inspiration goes, I tend to pull from everyone from Robert Crumb, Jack Kirby, the big names, that’s more or less where I can pull from. I’ll never be as good as them, but you always want to shoot for that. As far as storytelling, I really go back to what I consider the Bible: Drawing Comics the Marvel Way. It really teaches the fundamentals of drawing comics. It’s something that if anyone were to ask me if there was a fire, that is the book I’d definitely pull out. Everything’s there from the art perspective to the story.
GL: I actually have for a long time strayed away from the Big 2, it’s just that now I decided to do my own book and found myself engulfed in the indies. Even as a youngster I had a subconscious draw to independent comics, I pull inspiration from a lot of indies, just today I ran into Matt Hoffman, an all around very talented person. It’s amazing to me he hasn’t been picked up. He’s up there with Mike Mignola, as far as young up and comers, I’m hearing a lot of feedback about the gentleman that did Secret Invasion, also Skottie Young, he’s doing a different style of art, not so much the American manga mishmash, he’s definitely got a cartoonish style.
AC: I know it’s a very personal thing but can you talk about your decision to have proceeds from the first book go towards breast cancer research?
GL: Everybody that knows me knows I was raised by my mother, this is not any slight to my father, he was a hard working person so he wasn’t around as much, so I grew attached to her. In 2003 I lost her to breast cancer. That was a devastating blow all around. That was a big loss — my whole world came crashing down. It wasn’t until around 2006 that I started to venture back into the conventions. That’s what guided me to do this. It was something she was always proud of and something she always wanted me to do. I found out it’s a lot more difficult to give away money than I thought it would be. I ran into a lot of hurdles, so it became really difficult, finally the decision was made to take those funds and donate them in my mom’s name, in fact, no one at the show knew about it.
GL: It’s still a challenge that’s going on now, you do something that’s this labor intensive, there’s definitely a big sigh of completion when you’re done. I found out that doing the work is not the hard part; it’s getting the word out, that’s where I’m struggling — the networking and just getting used to the industry. I heard this in a podcast once and it really rings true: “breaking in is akin to breaking out of Alcatraz.” I’m finding out that to be so true.
AC: I heard the book was well received at the show, can you tell us more about that?
GL: This was my first show ever, so this was all pretty new. The show really gave me a sense that I had something there. The book was received very well; it ended up being an “all ages” book. I found that by having it be that way I could attract more of a crowd. It won outstanding debut and outstanding effort from a small press and it went up against 10 to 11 contestants, guys who have been doing this for a long time, so to beat them out, getting out of the gate says a lot. I didn’t expect to win anything, this industry can be very cliquish so you can feel like the odd man out; it’s one of those scenarios where your work speaks for itself.
AC: What does the future hold?
GL: This title could go on literally forever, everything is all new, I’m just starting to form a fan base. Kind of like George Lucas, I have all these things in my head that I want to put down. I would love to do something in a Jack Kirby style, just to mix it up. At this time it’s an open palette, anything is possible.
For more info on Luchadores In Space, or to contact George De Leon, send an email to [email protected].