Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Meet a Local Cartoonist: A Chat with Chris Artiga-Oliver

Artiga-Oliver and son at Smudge
by Mike Rhode

Chris Artiga-Oliver attended the Smudge Expo 2015 last weekend selling his self-published comic book Coll: Yondering. Coll is a barbarian warrior, perhaps a Viking, who excels in combat in the three short stories in the comic book.

What type of comic work or cartooning do you do?

I write screenplays for a living but had always intended to direct films. As a result many of the stories I create pass through many other hands before be translated into images and the results can be frustrating. Comics has always been my other love so a couple of years ago I created the character of Coll and began making comics.

How do you do it? Traditional pen and ink, computer or a combination?

I draw out my Coll layouts in pencil and then finish them in traditional pen and ink and watercolor wash.

When (within a decade is fine) and where were you born?

I was born in 1970 in Burlington, Vermont to an artist mother who later married my stepfather who is a primatologist. We traveled a lot throughout my childhood and I was exposed to many different types of comics in many different languages.

Why are you in Washington now?  What neighborhood or area do you live in?

I moved to DC in 1989 to attend the Corcoran School of Art and Design where I met my wife. We settled in the Mt Pleasant neighborhood where we still reside.

What is your training and/or education in cartooning?

I studied photography at the Corcoran but left to pursue film. I am not trained as an illustrator but I have always drawn things since I was encouraged to start by my mother. Every day's work drawing Coll sees me trying something new and pushing the level of my ability and creativity and I love the challenge.

Who are your influences?

I was drawn in by the work of artists like Vaughn Bodé, Moebius, Philippe Druillet, John Buscema and Frank Miller.  I have been lucky to meet (online and in person) local talent like Nick Liappis, Jason Rodriguez and Andrew Cohen who are very supportive and encouraging. The online community has been supportive as well having received encouragement from Tony Moore, Aaron Conley and Grim Wilkins. It's nice to plug into a community of creators that are so generous with their time and support as I move forward into untested waters.

What local cons do you attend? The Small Press Expo, Intervention, or others? Any comments about attending them?

Through attending and showing at SPX I've been able to meet childhood heroes like Los Bros Hernandez and strike up friendships with Alexis Ziritt and Brandon Graham, two people who's work I admire. 
What monument or museum do like to take visitors to?

The American Art Museum is also a great place to go for inspiration and solitude. I've also mined the collections of the Freer and the Sackler museums for inspiration for the Coll stories. 

How about a favorite local restaurant?

I frequently thumbnail stories in my sketchbook in my favorite DC restaurant Zorbas in Dupont Circle. I have been going there since my first week in DC and in that 26 years the owner has become like a second mother to me. I lament the loss of another great hangout, Heller's Bakery, I hope the Duni brothers can find a new location soon.

Do you have a website or blog?

Currently if you want to follow along with work on Coll I post a lot of process work at @artoli70 on Instagram as well as pen-monkey.tumbler.com - there will be a dedicated Coll website soon.

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