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Baker's Dozen
Original short interviews with notable, rising or overlooked
figures from comics or the larger entertainment field by Bill Baker.

Current Installment >> Installment Archives | General Forum

BAKER'S DOZEN for 07/28/2004
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As you can see, I am not your regular host, Bill Baker, but I am controlling transmission! And I had so much fun with the Mike Deodato, Jr. interview when I last took the spotlight here at Baker's Dozen, I thought I'd take it again! This time I am presenting an interview with Will Conrad.

Justin

******

Master of All Trades, Jack of None

An Interview with Witches Artist Will Conrad

Many fans of superstar artist Mike Deodato's Witches mini-series for Marvel may not have noticed that issues #3 and #4 were actually pencilled and inked by Marvel newcomer Will Conrad, not by Deodato. WITCHES #4, especially, channelled Deodato's style so well that "Some pages look so much like me, it makes me wonder for a moment if I didn't do them," says Deodato.

But who is Will Conrad, and where did he come from?

Born Vilmar Conrado in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, the tall, boyish artist looks like an interesting combination of Keanu Reeves and a young Jerry Lewis, with qualities of both. Will has studied martial arts and is a natural comedian, prankster, and caricaturist -- and he plays guitar and sings, as well. "I used to be in a band," he says, "so I know all the American classic rock and pop songs."

Will and Isabella Conrad

Brazilian Portuguese is his native language, but you'd never guess he'd learned English as a second language by his free-flowing jokes and spirited humor. He nearly bounces around the room during the interview, doodling and goofing with props, pausing to show great affection with his lovely raven-haired wife Isabella -- with whom he is having a baby, their first. They've already named her Alice, and she's due in September. He couldn't be happier, feigning knocking on Isabella's tummy, going, "Hello, are you awake?"

The baby kicks, hard and fast. "Wow!" he exclaims. "I have that affect on women whenever I'm around," he jokes. His wife laughs, her eyes sparkling. She may just be his biggest fan.

Witches

WORLD FAMOUS COMICS: You've been working in American comics for close to six years, but you've been under the radar until just a few months ago. So how did you get started in comics?

WILL CONRAD: Well, In the beginning there was the blackness... or something close to that. Imagine a boy living in Brazil from a traditional Brazilian family. My father is an accountant and lawyer and my mother is a housewife. I used to spend most of the school time drawing in my notebooks. Spider-Man, Superman, Conan, ROM... I loved superheroes, but drawing comic books was nothing more than a shade of a dream.

WFC: Why is that?

WILL: First, because my parents didn't approve of the idea, because I should have a "respectable" job. Second, was the distance of everything. There was no Internet at the time, there were the language and geographic boundaries. Despite that, I was eager to learn how to draw and I was hungry for every bit of information about art techniques that I could lay my hands on.

Witches

WFC: So you learned English while in high school and college?

WILL: Oh, yeah, I had to. If America was the big superhero comics market, I had to communicate! But then, I was attending the Administration University and working in an insurance company when I started to get little illustration jobs. I worked during the day, studied at night and did these little jobs when I got home from college. Soon, I was getting a fair amount of these works, and I left my "regular job"... and the Administration College! My father wanted to kill me, but it was a no return path. I wanted to be an artist. I tried submitting to and through a number of sources, but... no luck.

WFC: Clearly, you didn't give up.

WILL: Naw, I'm too big a moron ever to give up. Suddenly, there was the light... I met David Campiti and Glass House Graphics. I had already learned English, and I discovered that I could be a comic book artist. From there, it was a straight line. I started to get every bit of information and advice I could get from Dave and I met other great artists and friends: Cliff Richards, Mike Deodato, Luke Ross and others. I got little jobs for small companies: Web design, color jobs, inking. I inked a ton of stuff.

Witches

WFC: Didn't you ink Buffy for about three years?

WILL: Yeah! I was known primarily as an inker. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, The Scorpion King, all for Dark Horse. The upcoming Galaxy Girl for Galaxy Graphics. A story in the 9-11 book. And lots more.

WFC: And now you're pencilling.

WILL: Doing both, actually. Here's what happened: Dave told me I should dive back into pencilling, because Buffy was ending and a lot of editors were switching over to printing books from the pencils. I listened. I spent the better part of a year doing pages and pages of samples in various styles I was comfortable with, getting advice from Dave, from Mike Deodato, from Cliff Richards -- and Dark Horse had me draw at least a dozen pages, considering me for Conan. I didn't get that job, but it paid off. I got to pencil and ink and color a Star Wars story for Dark Horse.

WFC: So the Force was with you! It must have been great to work on Star Wars, but to do pencils, inks and color... wow.

WILL: It was nice to do, but the combination of those took longer than I thought. I'd never missed a deadline until I had to do that Star Wars comic, and I plan never to miss one again. I then drew several stories for Rob Zombie's Spookshow, for MV Creations, that were shot from the pencils. And y'know, I got a fanboy's dream after that -- I pencilled several issues of Elektra for Marvel, then some Outsiders and Teen Titans for DC. Then Dave and Deodato recomended me to finish Witches, and I adapted to do Deo's style to pencil and ink the second half of that mini-series. I flew to Deodato's house and spent days learning carefully his techniques so I could do as good a job as possible.

WFC: It turned out nicely.

WILL: That's what they tell me, though I'll never give up trying to get better. Right now, I'm pencilling an issue of Emma Frost for Marvel since regular penciller Carlo Pagulayan slipped a little behind, and let's see what else the future will bring. I keep learning and trying to improve, and I believe that I still have a long road to run.

Elektra

WFC: What's a day in the life of Will Conrad like?

WILL: Like hell! [*Laughs*] Always deadlines, but I'm used to it. Soon it will include a life of bringing up a baby! Plans are for Isabella and I to move to the U.S. at the end of the year with little Alice, at the same time ol' Mikey Deodato packs up his pencils and his art table and his one big eyebrow and moves there. Deodemento and Davey and I are the three Musketeers -- or, more likely, the Three Stooges -- and we all want to live in the same town! Here in Belo Horizonte, my house is pretty ordinary. I like everything to be practical and clean, since I work at home. My studio takes one room, where I put my computers, drawing table and phone. I try not to get out of there too much, so I can keep the pace of the work.

Will Conrad's Studio

WFC: Talk a bit about your trip to Wizard World Philly last year and your upcoming convention plans.

WILL: I've been to a few conventions in the U.S., with my great friends Dave and Mike. I've already been to Motor City, Columbus, Chicago, San Diego and Philly. I loved all of them. The best thing about Philly, is that I was already pencilling, thus I was more known to the fans. It's a great feeling when you discover that people are looking and appreciating your work. There's no money that could pay that.

Outsiders

WFC: Who are your favorite artists, editors and writers? Who inspires you?

WILL: My favorite artists are: John Buscema, Neal Adams, Will Eisner, Mike Deodato, Jim Lee, among others.

The editors that I most liked to work with so far was: Scott Allie, John Miesegaes, Eddy Berganza.

Favorite writers: Bruce Jones, Frank Miller, David Campiti.

WFC: When you're not drawing, what are your hobbies?

WILL: I like to play guitar, do funny things, go to the movies, stay with my wife.

Outsiders

WFC: What's your home life like? Describe a typical day for you. Talk about life as an artist with your wife and family.

WILL: My day starts at 7:30 am. I take a shower, have breakfast with my wife and go check my e-mails. I start to work about 8:30 am, and go until 1:30 or 2:00 pm, when I'm off to have lunch. I get back to work by 2:30 to 3:00 and I usually go until 11:00 pm, depending of what I'm doing. Sometimes I stay working until later, like 1:00 or 2:00 am. I usually have a few quick brakes during my work time to stretch or eat a snack. I use to play squash three times a week, from 7:00 to 8:00 pm to keep the good shape. My wife helps me a lot in the studio, so we manage to spend a good time together.

At the weekends, I work on the Saturday, and try to take the Sundays to rest (when the deadlines allow).

My wife is attending college, and she studies close to my home, so I take a few minutes to get her there and to take her home when the class is finished.

Now that our baby is coming, we are spending a little time arranging everything for her arrival!

Witches

WFC: Before we wrap things up, add any anecdotes and stories about your work, your adventures, fellow artists -- with humor :).

WILL: Although my life is very funny, I don't recall a special anecdote. Usually when I'm with David and Deo, all the time we spend together is a great unique anecdote. I think we should record it and sell it to a movie company :).

The most funny episode in my career was in Philly with friends and artists. In Glass House's booth there was me and my wife, Mike Deodato and wife, Luke Ross and wife, Cliff Richards, David Campiti and wife. Man, it was a happy time!!!! We did so many funny things that people were stopping at the booth just to watch us!!

Glass House in Philly

WFC: Sounds like it was a lot of fun, just like this chat! Thanks for talking with us!

WILL: Anytime! It certainly was fun!

******

<< 07/21/2004 | 07/28/2004 | 08/11/2004 >>

Discuss this column with me in World Famous Comics' General Forum.
Read my weekly blog, Speculative Friction, on my website BloodintheGutters.com.


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