Sam Salama: Until Dimensions had been published, your career as a professional artist had mainly developed in the French comic book market and the animation field. Even if nowadays you are working in various comic-related projects both in the US and in Spain, would you say that Dimensions is your greatest work?
Nacho Arranz: Dimensions is my greatest work, without a doubt. Dragon Ball’s Akira Toriyama’s influence infinitely multiplied my desire to pencil. I mean, it was because of the Dragon Ball series that I decided I wanted to pencil characters like Son Goku as a living. With that magic, that power…I dreamt of penciling characters that lived those kinds of adventures. But always with that erotic touch that represents the Manga style.
Salama: With Dimensions you have created your own style, mixing action, humor and eroticism in equal doses. Seeing the great reception it has had among readers, do you plan on going back to this style in the sequel, as well as in other upcoming comics?
Arranz: Of course. That’s my dream. Touching people the same way I was when I was reading Dragon Ball. Having people travel through time to other dimensions, and enjoying the ride.
Right now I’m working in the Dimensions 2 script, and the thing’s looking promising, [Laughs] because I just can’t stop laughing at every turn.
I have also done 7 pages of a Zombie story in that style, for PulpComics, which you’ll be able to enjoy very soon.
But yes, it is a style with which I am able to really transmit what I have inside. One of my dreams is to see the X-Men and Spider-Man penciled in that style, because I believe that the strength super-heroes (both Marvel and DC) have, could have a different feeling to it, without losing that personality that makes them so special.
Salama: From what we’ve discussed up to now, I have met a Nacho Arranz who loves juggling with five different projects at a time. Could you share with CB readers which projects you are working on right now?
Arranz: Well, Dimensions 2, of course….as well as finishing a “How to Draw Comics with Nacho Arranz” book, which will see the light of day this May. I’m also finishing pencils on the first of a four-issue mini for Bluewater, a story where Zeus and his four little girls live a series of adventures. And I have one or two projects on hold, with Spanish and French writers, which I’m working on at a slower pace.
I’m also a comic-book art teacher at the ESDIP academy (a professional arts studio), in Madrid, which leaves me with limited time to work on Dimensions 2 and all my other projects.
Oh, and I’m about to finish the design for two Dimensions figures (for characters Okan and Cristal) which will hit the market as part of the Dimensions marketing strategy. I hope they are only the first two of a lot more to come!
And I’m not ruling out working for Marvel or DC, someday. I’ve done some art tests for them and things were looking good. They liked me, but at that moment I wasn’t able to be as constant as both publishers demand.
But I’ll keep going for it…promise!!!
Salama: Like any penciler, your style has been influenced by the artists you looked up to as you were developing your career. On the “special thanks” section of Dimensions you mention some of them. Who have influenced you more deeply, and why?
Arranz: Joe Madureira with Battle Chasers, Humberto Ramos with Crimson and Out There, Carlos Pacheco (to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for taking part in Dimensions with a pin-up), Scott Campbell, Bachalo, and Spanish artist Carlos Javier Olivares, who was my art teacher once and one of the reasons I am a penciler today.
I should mention that my working in the animation field was very important for my development. Juan Diaz Canales — Blacksad’s writer — and his wife Teresa, taught me a lot about perspective, anatomy, but above all, about what it was working 8 to 11 hours a day just penciling…I learned what having a deadline means, which I believe any good penciler should know before starting to work as a pro for any publisher.
Salama: Nowadays there are still a lot of people who believe that comics are just for kids. What do you think about that?
Arranz: That they know nothing about the field. I’m really sad about how the comic-book genre is seen in Spain — it’s still full of people who know nothing about comics.
Too often I meet people whose comment when they hear about my job is: “So you draw kiddy stuff”. Like it only took a second to do an illustration; like if deciding to pencil comics as a pro meant you’d end up without a dime.
In this regard I have to tip my hat to the French and American markets; because there one can make a living out of doing comics, and do well. I believe that Dimensions’ publisher, Dibbuks, and its EiC, Ricardo Esteban, are fighting hard to change the current perception of comics in Spain. I hope this bears fruit and the current perception changes for the better, leaving behind the old clichés.
Salama: Over the last two years you’ve done art tests for Marvel and DC, and there have been some very recent contacts. What attracts you most to the Big Two, and to which characters would you like to give your style?
Arranz: strong> Give my style? [Laughs] …it really is a style I would love to see on any Marvel or DC character. The characters with the unusual proportions that I give them would be able to adapt to any kind of character and look spectacular to people.
If you take a look at Dimensions, there are plenty of different creatures and one doesn’t get bored of seeing such variety… That style has creatures looking good and girls looking smoking hot. Even when these characters are pissed off they have that brutal yet elegant touch. I would love to pencil Storm with my style…which, by the way, reminds me a lot of one of the main characters of Dimensions 2, Alkisha.
I know both Marvel and DC want almost exclusive artists, so they are sure we are going to make the deadlines, and give 100% of ourselves to each project.
Right now, I’m regularly getting in contact with both of them, sending them samples of my art and meeting with them at the big Spanish Comic Con, in Barcelona. But until I have a signed exclusivity contract, I don’t want to think too much about it. The moment that happens, I would have to reorganize all my professional planning. But I’d love to be at Marvel or DC, no doubt.
Salama: Okan, Dimensions’ protagonist, goes around in his motorbike (until he reaches his true potential), just like you. The story takes place in a strange and futuristic Madrid City… How much more of the real you is in Dimensions? That you can tell us about at this point, of course.
Arranz: Sam [Laughs] …you know I am a biker, and Okan as well. Cristal is a brunette, with long hair…with sooo many curves that you might want to take her and…well; let’s just say that when I introduce you to my girl you’ll tell me she reminds you of someone… [Laughs]
I believe we all have something in our daily lives that we would like to put on the page in some moment of our professional career. My dream was to publish. But not just anything, I wanted to publish a story where I could show who I was when I started, and how I got that energy to start drawing non-stop. And that story is Dimensions.
An explosive mix of erotism (which always sells), energy balls, transformations and lots of Dragon Ball-like creatures with a fun and easy to get hooked style (big heads!).
I thought: to be able to play with all of that in the same comic would be amazing. And it was. First penciling it and then seeing how readers enjoy the result. And that’s how Dimensions was born…
Salama: Dimensions has been a huge success in Spain thus far, mainly because its genre mix makes it a fun and entertaining read. How did you believe this kind of GN would be received in the international market?
Arranz: Well I thought they’d love it!!! [Laughs]
No, seriously…I believe that people, both in France and the US, perceive the big-heads as a children product. I believe that in order to get a win, you have to take risks, and when I decided to pursue a career in comics I followed that belief, which has been working for me until now.
That’s why I invite everyone to read Dimensions, and if after doing so, you still think this style is for children, then I’ll have to accept what people believe drawing in this style entails.
By the way, Sam, I told you this already, but…when you readDimensions, you better look around you, because your life “will never be the same again”.
Salama: On a final note, do you have anything else you would like to share with the Comics Bulletin readers?
Arranz: Thanks a lot for your trust, and thanks a lot for this chance to let people know a bit more about Nacho Arranz and Dimensions.
I only hope that you enjoy the story and that the time you spend reading Dimensions is a great one.
A big hug to everyone!