While attending this year’s Comic-Con International I was able to sit down with the nearly endless talent, Gabriel Rodriguez.
UTF: So from what we know about the comic, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland, it’s a pseudo-sequel to the ones done by Winsor McCay. And I want to ask, as an artist, how was it approaching it with that kind of source material?
Gabriel Rodriguez: Well, as a friend back in Chile told me, ‘how does it feel to be working with the Citizen Kane of comics?’ And at the beginning it was a bit intimidating, because you had to honor the legacy of Winsor McCay while also trying to do it in a refreshing way to make it appealing toward a new audience.
Our idea with Eric Shanower is to bring Slumberland back again for new kids to visit but also for the adults that want to relive that same universe. We want to give it a fresh approach, introducing a new Nemo that’s going to visit this world and see familiar characters from the original.
For me, it’s been an enduring project because I’m a huge fan of the original Winsor McCay work. I think it’s one of the milestones of comic books in general and to visual storytelling in a way I think it’s one of the most imaginative and bigger-in-scale works ever created. It’s a great place to get lost and create your own new stuff with that sort of vibe.
After finishing Lock & Key, I wanted desperately to work on a new project that I could dedicate to little kids, so when they offered this to me it was like the perfect one to do as a followup. It’s equally as visually ambitious but with a completely different vibe.
UTF: From the Princess to King Morpheus, the characters are vivid and memorable but according to the original press release, they’ve now changed. Can you tell us anything about that?
Gabriel Rodriguez: Well, in a way this comes a lot from the view that Eric Shanower, the writer, has to approach the original Nemo in Slumberland strip differently as a monthly comic. The characters changed a bit in their personality or in the way in which they were depicted in the newspaper, so what we are trying to do is make a synthesis of their characteristics and he’s done a great job in the way he’s written them.
He finds the key aspects of their personality and turns them into fully-fleshed counterparts for the new cast. We are going to see the Princess, King Morpheus, Flip, Dr. Pill and the Candy Kid in the first few issues of the series, you’re going to meet them all again. I think it’s going to be a very fun way to revisit this universe through these characters that are going to be a new doorways to this dream world.
UTF: Well, that sounds great.
I have one last question for you. As an Eisner-recognized artist, there are plenty of people that frequent our site that want to draw in the comic industry. Do you have any advice for them if they want to pursue that as a career?
Gabriel Rodriguez: I think that the main advice that I could give them is: do your own stories. Make a team with friends that want to write or people that want to draw, because I know that currently publishers are looking for new stuff but they want to see comic books done. They want to know what you can do as a storyteller, what kind of universe you want to explore, what kind of characters you want to create, so if you have that stuff done and published it’s easier for them to see. I think the best way to learn this is working in the field.
You need to understand group effort and dealing with people that have their own ideas and you can only learn that if you actually do it. I think that the best advice is: don’t get intimidated, do your own stuff and learn a lot about the work of other creators. The only way in which you can learn about comics is in comics, so study, read and get out and do it.
It’s an industry with lots of people working in it already and you think there’s no space for you, but they keep growing. There are lots of potential readers that are not reading comics and they may get into this if they find the proper story. So just do it and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t because anyone can if you have patience and you’re willing to do the hard work.
I want to take the time to thank Mr. Gabriel Rodriguez for chatting with me. It was a great pleasure and I think I can speak for the staff when I say: we can’t wait to go back to Slumberland.
So what did you think of the interview my fellow fanboys and fangirls?
Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!