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Exclusive Interview Part 2 with @RonMarz @LauraBraga_rt @TheThirdG for @TopCow's Witchblade @ImageComics



As I mentioned in Part 1 of my interview, I was fortunate enough to ask the new creative team behind Witchblade, Ron Marz (writer), Laura Braga (artist), and Betsy Gonia (colorist) a few questions about the comic industry, and the Witchblade. I now have Laura and Betsy's answers for your reading pleasure. And if you missed it also check out my Featured Review for Wichblade #170. You can read the interview by clicking Read More.


How does it feel working for a company like Top Cow?


LB: It's great! I definitely love to work with everybody at Top Cow. And I've always loved the characters of Top Cow universe so, as a fan, it's amazing to have the chance to draw them.

GB: In general, it’s quite enjoyable to work for Top Cow. I find working at a smaller company to be more enjoyable than to be another cog in the machine of a large company. I feel a stronger sense of camaraderie and success when something goes well, but on the flipside, more stress and anxiety when there’s a large project to do or something goes wrong. Altogether it’s a good experience.

Top Cow is running their Talent Hunt 2013, As the industry stands now, what are some tips for breaking in?


LB: The Talent Hunt is a fantastic opportunity for artist and writers. It's often difficult for artists to have a chance to show their talent to publishers. It's also a good exercise, because you work on a script by a professional writer and get the opinion of publishers or editors about your work. It's very useful to grow up as a professional, for sure I'd advice to take part in the contest.

GB: First and foremost, practice, practice, practice! Writing, drawing, coloring, and lettering are all skills that need to be refined and worked out like an athlete training for a sport. Be self-critical of your work; no matter how good you get any anything, there will always be something you can improve upon. Go to conventions and have your work critiqued by professionals, but don’t be pushy about it. While you’re at those conventions, get to know the creators and build a network of connections – we remember the friendly visitors that say hi at each show. Don’t abuse your network though once you've built one, or if you already have one. Lastly, be confident yet open to constructive criticism – don’t be cocky and defensive. As I said previously, there will always be something that can be improved upon, and someone else might be the one to point it out.

Have you experienced other peoples comments and suggestions alter the way you draw/color an issue, or do you already have the entire story planned out before you sit down at the drawing board?


LB: I read and listen to advice and opinions, but of course, before working on an issue, you have a clear and defined idea of the project and how you want to develop it. You can't change what you do depending on other people's opinion, that would mean not having your own style and personality. Of course you have to respect the characters, the script and the input coming from the writer and from the publisher, but then it's just you to decide how to render all of this.

GB: One of the best pieces of advice drilled into my head during school was, “Work smarter, not harder.” I strive to have my creative process follow that mantra, and for those critiques/suggestions that are relevant to my workflow, I definitely try to work in those suggestions that make my work easier and more efficient. I don’t see anything wrong with changing how my workflow, so long as it doesn't affect the final product negatively.

Do you consider the suggestions of other writers, artists, fans and editors as community building or interference with artistic freedom and independence?


LB: While working on an book usually you talk of it only with the other members of your team: writer, colorist and editor, so there's a profitable exchange of input and feedback with them. You cannot allow other people out of your team interfering in the project, because you'd loose your focus on it.

GB: I’m always open to feedback from other creators and fans. I know I won’t always be able to pick out the mistakes or weaknesses in my art, so I really appreciate having my work critiqued even if it bruises my ego for a while – that’s how I learn and get better. The caveat is discerning the constructive criticism from the flat out criticism, which gets easier to figure out the more my work is reviewed.

Can you talk a little bit about the artist, writer, producer collaboration when building new narrative worlds? Should creators be their own editor/producers?


LB: The work of the group that includes artist, writer, producer changes according to the people who belong to it. I think it's beautiful and inspiring when you can work constructively in a close-knit team, and for sure also the result of the work is better.

GB: That’s a pretty complicated question to answer, as there are so many different factors that go into building a narrative and fictional world. Insofar as Top Cow’s process, we try to leave as much creative freedom to the writers and artists as possible, although, all stories of course need to be approved by the company before moving forward into full development. From my experience, Top Cow typically has creators pitch their ideas for the title they’re working on, and once approved, they can move forward with it. However, they sometimes give more specific ideas of where they would like the narrative to go, but leave it to the creators to figure out how to get there.

I think all creators need to be able to edit their own work – to recognize what’s working and to figure out what’s not and fix it. It really depends from creator to creator though if they can edit themselves well enough to not need an editor. For me, I never mind having a second pair of eyes go over my work.

Witchblade is currently the longest running ongoing series with a female protagonist, and also Top Cows longest running series, How did you feel when you were asked to join the book? Were you intimidated, overwhelmed, ecstatic?


LB:  I've always been a fan of Sara Pezzini and Witchblade, it's been one of the first comics I've read, so I'm really attached to this series. When I got the offer to draw one of my favorite female characters I felt really enthusiastic and excited.

GB: I actually sought to fill the colorist job for Witchblade when I first learned Top Cow would be changing the creative team for the book. It was an opportunity to bridge the gap between production work and creative work, and I intended to at least try to make that crossover. Once Laura Braga was established as the artist for the book, I colored some of her test pages and sent them to her for her feedback and opinion. Working from her critique, I adjusted my coloring style, and we worked together to create a style that we both enjoyed. Once that style was figured out, I sent the pages to Matt Hawkins and Marc Silvestri for review, and they agreed to let me color Witchblade. It was, and still is, incredibly exciting and humbling to color Witchblade, especially knowing the long-standing history of the book. I’m very grateful to be working on it!

What does the character of Sara Pezzini and the world of the Witchblade mean to you?


LB:  As I've told before, Witchblade's been one of the first comic books I've read, and I really love Sara Pezzini's character. I think that every run has given something significant to the personality of Sara, making her grow.

GB: Sara Pezzini and the world of the Witchblade are to me a fun blend of supernatural and fantasy in a modern setting. In many ways, I think the Witchblade is an entertaining way to explore life’s questions of morality and the lines that can be drawn between right and wrong.

Who are some of your artistic influences?


LB: I read a lot of different comic and illustration books, and I like to learn from what I see. I think it's important for an artist to find always new inputs. That's why my artistic influences are so many that I couldn't think to reduce them to a list of names.

GB: In particular on Witchblade, aside from Laura’s art, is Dave McCaig. A few personal influences though are Jordie Bellaire, Fiona Staples, Rahsan Ekedal, and Ted Naifeh.

Witchblade and The Darkness are normally darker comics, What styles are you trying to go for in your version of Witchblade?


LB: It's my intention to find the right balance between consistency and personal style. Of course it depends also on the story, so the atmosphere may be darker or lighter depending on the script.

GB: It’s my job as a colorist to harmonize and compliment Laura’s artwork, so my version of Witchblade is largely based off of Laura’s style and what’s happening in the story. In general, I try to base my color choices off a mix of the emotional/psychological influences of any given scene and how the lighting would look in reality. I’m more concerned with amplifying the storytelling and the art than I am creating my own specific style.

Are you doing anything different to the look of the Witchblade?


LB: There are many new things coming and so many twists ... but I don't want to spoil the story!

GB: By nature of Laura’s drawing style, Witchblade has a significantly different look from Stjepan Sejic’s and Diego Bernard’s runs on the book. Together, our style is more animated, in a good way I think, with a bold voice.

You two will be providing art on the book, Ron Marz on writing duties, how did you three meet, and how easy was it to work with each other?


LB: It is very smooth and pleasant to work with Ron and Besty. We give each other input and it's inspiring to see the project grow from this collaboration. I hope to work with them as long as possible!

GB: Ron and I met via email through various Top Cow work stuffs, and when it was decided that he would return to Witchblade, he suggested Laura as a possible artist. I didn't have any direct communication with Laura until I finished my first round of coloring samples of her Witchblade test art and sent them to her. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to work with both Ron and Laura – I have no complaints! =)

You've both worked on some recent Cyber Force issues (Laura as an artist, and Betsy as a producer/editor). How is your approach different for Witchblade?


LB: My style is just the same, but Witchblade's settings and the atmospheres are very different from Cyber Force's. I just try to give the right tone to each story.

GB: Since I’m working as a creator on Witchblade now, I’m stepping away from any direct editorial work on it, unless I absolutely need to. However, having done some editorial work on other Top Cow titles has helped me edit and clarify my own work before I send it on to Ron, Laura, and Bryan Rountree for their reviews.

Betsy, you have done editing and production at Top Cow previously, what was that like?


GB: Most editorial work I do at Top Cow involves giving notes on the colors for various books, and helping to review all the lettering and printer proofs for the books. It’s a lot of checking for clarity of the colors, consistency errors, spelling errors, balloon placement errors, etc., etc.. It’s tedious but important work.

What made you decide to give coloring a shot?


GB: I went to school at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where I majored in Sequential Art (i.e. comics, storyboarding, and children’s books). While working through the Sequential program, I really fell in love with coloring comics, and knew it was what I wanted to do once I graduated. It’s like being a kid again coloring in coloring books, only the coloring is much more complicated and tells a story.

Are their any other Top Cow books you'd like to take a shot at?


LB: Right now I'm focused on designing the best Witchblade I can, and every day to improve my art, but I love all the Top Cow production and it would be very difficult to choose my favorite after Witchblade.

GB: Honestly, Witchblade was my first pick in Top Cow titles that I’d like to color. However, I’d like to take a shot at coloring Think Tank as well.

Any final thoughts?


LB: I have always followed the adventures of Sara Pezzini and I'm literally loving this beautiful new run written by Ron. I hope all the fans but also the new readers will love this new run like I do!

GB: I hope readers, new or regular to the series, enjoy Ron’s returning run on Witchblade, as well as the new look of the book Laura and I made!


Also visit their blogs to see more of their work;


Witchblade #170


Publisher: Top Cow/Image Comics

(W) Ron Marz
(A) Laura Braga
(C) Betsy Gonia

RON MARZ RETURNS TO WITCHBLADE!
Sara Pezzini has been a cop, a mother, a girlfriend, and a private investigator. She is none of those things anymore. The only thing tying Sara to her past and preventing her from forging a new chapter in life is the Witchblade. But with everything else gone, who will Sara Pezzini be if she gives up the Witchblade?

Check out the preview pages here below and prepare yourself for the next chapter in the Witchblade story.




Pre-Order Witchblade #170 (Save 20%)
Pre-Order Witchblade #171 (Save 20%)
Pre-Order Witchblade #172 (Save 20%)
Pre-Order Witchblade #173 (Save 20%)

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