Chico Comics Page Sunday Series Presents:
Skully’s Artist’s Spotlight:
Frank D’Armata is currently working at Marvel Comics (2003-present) & In My Head (1993-present). He has also worked for Image Comics, Malibu Comics and Top Cow.
Frank D’Armata Quote: Been working in industry forever . always busy, but look out when i get free time!!! That means sleep!!
Frank D’Armata’s favorite quote: Alcohol. The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s many problems…
- When did you first get into comics? Who were your initial favorites?
I got into comics as a kid, and the Saturday morning Marvel cartoons were a favorite of mine as well. I think I was 6 when they came out. So my favorites were Spider-Man, Captain America, and Hulk as well. And Hulk is probably still my favorite, as one of my cats is named Banner.
- Hulk & Spidey were a couple of my initial favorites too. When did you first start drawing? What were the first things you drew?
I started drawing when i was young as well. Nothing really tangible. Just sort of scribbling on things, mostly inside cabinets. My mom really loved that. Just simple geometric, still leaning motor control.
- Did you, 1) go to school to learn how to draw, 2) did you teach yourself, or 3) was it both?
As far as formal art education, I took classes in high school, and some in college, but nothing really formal. I wish i had, I could be a much better artist today, as some of my peers seem to do things so effortlessly. It’s sometimes a struggle, especially when you have a deadline looming, and have only so much time to make decisions and try to make the work adequate as well.
- I hear you. Choosing between punctuality and the desired quality of work is a tough choice to make sometimes. Deadlines, while necessary, can hurt a project. Who have been your greatest influences as far as your artistic style goes? Who has had the greatest impact on the artist you are today?
Steve firchow, was my major influence, and still is. For a while i kinda mimicked his style while i was still trying to find my own legs in the industry. I was lucky enough to have him take me under his wing. He is a artistic genius! He was my biggest influence to start. but moving to Florida, and working at Crossgen, introduced me to so many others who are phenoms in their own right. Laura Martin, Jason Keith. Morry Hollowell, my good friend Justin Ponsor of course, who is too talented, I’ve always envied his ease of understanding art. I also had a lot of help from Dean White, Richard Isanove. J.D. Smith, and countless others. i thank them all for teaching me and making me try harder.
- That’s awesome that you’ve had such a variety of mentors and influences! As they say, there is wisdom in the multitude of council. When did you decide you wanted to start pursuing art as a career? What was the catalyst for this decision?
I was floundering at college, studying to be an interior designer, when i met a friend who owned a local comic shop. Austin Howell. I started working at his shop eventually, and started doing marker and pencil color over b&w ashcan stuff from image. People wanted to buy some of the stuff I did, so off I went to see where this could take me.
- I’ve heard many artists talk about being leery of just stepping out like that. That’s respectable courage there. What was your first gig as a comic book artists? How did you get the job?
I first started work at Malibu, again doing color guides. I was working as a bartender, and doing portfolio work with all of the spare time I had. I ended up meeting Al Simmons, who was doing the Spawn tour a long time ago. He helped me to meet Todd Mcfarlane. and get some tips from other professionals. So i went to Dallas Fantasy Fair in the mid 90’s, showed my stuff to Hank Kanalz, and they offered me some work. It was very tedious and low paying, but I was finally in.
- Pardon my ignorance, but, Al Simmons? The music-comedy guy?
Al Simmons, is the friend of Todd’s who I the met that Spawn is named after – also a real guy like Wanda and Cyan. Al Simmons was spearheading the cross country promo tour for Toss. Wearing the costume, bringing out the funny car, etc.
- Have you got the chance to work with any idols since becoming a professional artist? Any big geek-out experiences for you?
I have gotten to work with many artists that I loved, and would still love to in the future. Marc Silvestri was great, super dude! Dave Finch was another great guy I always wanted to work with.Dale Keown was fun . Steve Epting and I have worked together for a long time, as well as Salvador Larocca, Greg Land and countless other greats. every artist brings a new set of challenges, and trying to figure out a style and palette that works is sometimes tedious, but that’s what we do.
- Are there any publishers or titles that you would like to work on that have eluded you thus far? Any “dream jobs” still waiting out there?
I really like working at Marvel. the people at the company are truly awesome, and I’ve worked on almost all the characters so far. There are always things I wish I could go back and redo again, now with a better skill set, but that’s like Lucas and Spielberg going back and retouching classic movies. You just have to move on.
- I see you’re working for Marvel and have been for a while – How has that been? You’ve worked on many titles, are you a fan of a particular one or two of the various title’s characters – like mutants for instance?
I’ve been there 15 years now. I hope to be there at least 15 more. They are a second family to me, and I don’t get to see them often enough due to working all the time and trying to have a life,outside of deadlining. The Hulk is still one of my all time favorite. and I love all the X books as well. Glad to see Logan coming back again.
- You’ve also done work for many indie publishers including some Image, Top Cow, CrossGen & Malibu. Have you had a favorite project so far among them?
The only real long term projects I had before Marvel were Crux and El Cazador. I did a lot of side work and one shots for various companies. The Darkness / Pitt crossover was one of my favorites, and when other artists come to do a crossover, like Silvestri. those are always fun.
- Have you ever done any writing? Or perhaps some creating of new characters or universes? IE Do you have characters &/or stories of your own?
I have done character creation, and outlining for plots, but never published any. I did help a lot of guys in sales at Crossgen with brainstorming, and Chuck Dixon with a lot of funny things, but as a whole, writers are usually really busy, and when i try to collaborate with them, it usually never works out with schedules and most of my stuff is in a different realm, more comedic, than superhero. but we’ll see one day, if I get some time. Never say never.
- Are there any projects you have coming up in the future that we can look forward to?
I’m still doing Weapon X, Hulk, and wrapping up the last issue of Rogue/Gambit. There are a few gigs kinda in play right now. They are big books, with great teams, but I can’t say anything yet. I need to see if there will be time to fit it in my schedule, and if everything doesn’t change. In this industry, everything is always very fluid & apt to change direction at a moment’s notice.
A Message From Frank D’Armata
If you like comics, as I do, please help support your local shops and publishers. We are a historic industry, and have helped create characters that have become international legends in this world. As movies sometimes do well, the core is in publishing. And so many seem to be passing on the visceral experience of holding and reading a comic book. We all want this dream to stay alive. So please share your fondness for comics with others, and let them feel and see what you have for so long. and experience the adventure.
Well said my friend. #SupportYourLCS and #SupportIndieComics is a regular mantra around here. But, I agree that the love of comics needs to be shared. I call it the Gospel of Comics. Spread the word (and pictures)!