Interview with Esad Ribic, part l: Catching the Silver Surfer

by deborah on 12/30/2008

OK, comic geeks, where are you hiding now?! I’m getting you here comic book author Esad Ribic for an interview.  I’ve met Esad at Funny Comics Show in November and he told me some comics’ secrets you gotta know, if you wanna stay the ultimate drawing_super_but_not_hero geek…

Silver Surfer by Esad Ribic (c)

For about fifteen years he’s working for the American market, mainly for DC/Vertigo and Marvel. People involved deeply into the comic industry describe Esad Ribic as one of the best Marvel’s author ever.

Loki, Silver Surfer, X-Man, Wolverine, Sub-mariner, Spiderman are the most famous series he was working on…

Esad Ribic finished School of Applied Arts and Design in Zagreb (Croatia); but he claims that he had learned much more by working in Animation studio – Zagreb film.

Esad Ribic’s art is ‘awe-inspiring and this is an absolutely amazing book. It’s just flat-out incredible. The artwork is jaw-dropping, and the writing captures the Silver Surfer in a way that Stan Lee would be most proud of.’
Adam Chapman of ComiXtreme.com on Silver Surfer: Requiem #1 by Michael Straczynski & Esad Ribic

Hello, Esad! I would like to talk with you a little bit about your drawing technique… considering the fact that we have this ‘digital issue’ in the comix industry… but you have an ‘analogue’ approach…

ER: OK. Well, there is no technique. But I mix everything together based on the fact what is for a particular thing most efficient, because you always have a problem with deadlines. I think some technical purity is simply to slow for that. I don’t use acrylic and oils cause these are very slow techniques; and oil stinks to me, so… what is left are: gouache, tempera and aquarelle, and that’s it.

Do you think to reconsider the use of some other technique, maybe digital?

ER: No.

Wolwerine in Paris by Esad Ribic (c)

You do care a lot about story, a kind of hooked up more to narrative in comics than to characters…

ER: Yes. Characters are not important to me. This character that I’m working on now, for instance, I’ve never read anything about him in my life. I mean, doesn’t matter who the character is, because I liked the story. Sometimes you do something cause, I mean… this last thing I did was Surfer and I’ve read it when I was a kid. But because it was a story about his death, it was a very interesting story for me. Well, fuck, I care about the story not about characters. Every character can be good or bad, but it depends on who wrote the story and how.

Do you have full freedom when working on comics or…?

ER: When I started to work I was working in a small publishing company, an independent company. Then, I was working in a big ‘depended’ publishing house Vertigo DC, which has an aura of freedom and all that. But at the end, the only place where I can actually do whatever I want is Marvel. So, all these stories, at least in my case, happen there. Of course, if you start to work on stuff they find important like X-Man, Spiderman and so, then you will have 4 or 5 people on your back to watch what you are actually doing. But if you don’t work on that stuff, then you can be pretty comfortable to freely work.

Uncanny X-Men by Esad Ribic (c)

Do you read the stuff you work on after it’s launched?

ER: Naw. I don’t want to. You know, this would be like magician who is watching on himself after performance being surprised with his own skills.

Yeah…you’re drowned heavily in the moment when you’re creating it, so it’s pointless to explore it later…

ER: Yeah. I can’t get into that again and again. Generally speaking, I don’t read too much comics. When you spend all day working on it, you certainly don’t have a desire to look at the same stuff, you know. When I want to take a break, no chance for reading comics, especially not my own work. OK, possibly I can look at it when I want to check how some stuff functioned in a particular context. A kind of a quality control, but that that I would ‘read’ them again, NO.

Silver Surfer Requiem by Esad Ribic (c)

Can you describe me a little bit the whole process of working… considering that you work from Croatia for the American market…

ER: See, today it doesn’t matter. When I was starting with my career, I was sending my stuff with registered mails and then I was just eating my nails that the package got to the right address and so. Today, I scan everything and send. Thereby, it doesn’t matter if I got this e-mail from Croatia or over the road.

OK, the whole process starts with the scenario, with the story which was made by scriptwriter, and then we have some discussions about it. I can have some input if I have some good idea, then the scriptwriter finishes his work and I start with drawing. So, this is straight-forward stuff. I don’t have a special connection with scriptwriters I’m working with, because I find that everything that a comic book author needs should already be in scenario.  If, accidentally, something happens and misses in the scenario than you can contact him, but this is not a standard in my case. If I’m introduced to scriptwriter, usually it happens after the whole thing is over. So, when pages are done, I scan them and send them, then they enter the text and that’s it.

Is there some scriptwriter left that you would like to work with, for example Alan Moore…

ER: Well, there are many of them. I like many stuff by Alan Moore, but considering his latest projects I don’t think that my drawings would fit into that. I mean, non-selectively picking up some things by some author whose work you like in general, just to work with I find pointless. You know, there is no sense that I draw The Smurfs for example, I don’t fit in, fuck. The same stays for scriptwriters, there is no sense to work with scriptwriters who work on some stuff if there is no need for drawers like myself.

Regarding your question, on the first place it would be Jodorowsky. There are a lot of people whose stuff I haven’t even seen but they did a scenario that I liked. I’m not connected with the ‘names’, I care about that what I have in front of me, especially if I’m blasted with it.

To be continued…