Artist Spotlight: J. Gonzo Designs
Updated: May 28, 2019
Hey everyone, Todd is here reporting for DroidsCanada.com. This week, we have been lucky enough to score an interview with J. Gonzo. We have been looking forward to completing this interview for quite some time and we hope everyone will enjoy it!
So lets get started. But let's start with the obvious question, Who are you and what do you do?
My name is J. Gonzo and I am the writer/artist of a comicbook called "La Mano del Destino"
Why do you do what you do?
I've always been a good artist - I even attended the Orange County High School of the Arts - and have wanted to make art for a living. I don't know that I want to make art, so much as I need to make art. I think my main motivation is always storytelling. No matter what the kind of art I am doing (illustration, graphic design, comics), conveying some sort of message is always paramount.
What got you into this industry?
I spent a lot of years on the periphery of comicbooks trying to get a gig, but ultimately it was my dissatisfaction with modern Lucha Libre comicbooks that lead me to create my own Lucha Libre comicbook - well, that and the encouragement from some people I looked-up to in the industry. I kept thinking "someone needs to do a Lucha Libre comic where the Luchador never takes off his mask, or a comicbook where the Luchadors actually wrestle, etc..." and then I decided that, in the absence of "someone" doing the book I wanted to see, I would have to do it myself.
Was there a specific comic book or artist that really stood out to you as inspiration growing up?
John Romita doing Spider-Man. All the other cartooning I had seen in my life was flat and boring until my parents bought me a Power Records' Spider-Man with a Romita cover and my mind was blown. I thought to myself "I have to figure out how to do this" Later on, I would discover Kirby and the kind of artist I wanted to be was forever solidified.
What role does the artist have in society?
I think that as an artist my job is to abbreviate reality and not reflect. Everything I produce is a synthesis of the world - far enough removed, but similar enough to allow the work to be commentary on the world by what I choose to discard or emphasize about it. This is more often than in the service of a narrative, but the process decisions are taken-in on such a visceral level that the can circumvent the preconceptions of the viewer - allowing me to make better meta-statements that being preachy in prose only. In short, my role is to show the world as I see and curate it - that point of view is itself a statement about the state of things - good, bad, or indifferent.
After 20 years in the industry what artist do you most identify with now?
I don't if I identify with them, but I love the things that guys like Jim Rugg, Ed Piskor, and Tom Sciolli are doing. They have a uniquely personal attachment to the work they are doing and the love for their projects comes through in their work. That's what I want for me - an audience that can sense how much love I put into my comicbooks.
What work do you most enjoying doing?
I love the entire process of making a comicbook. From pencils, to inks, to colors and beyond - I love doing every step and taking time and care to make it a complete realization of my thoughts. I guess the real answer is "solo" is the type of work I like best.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Aside from the few famous people who have given me praise personally and publicly, my favorite response was from a Latino fan who barely spoke English who told me how well I had gotten the Lucha Libre right and how much he enjoyed the book. When he walked away, I thought "That's the guy I made this book for!"
What is your favorite artist work that you have done?
The answer is always the latest issue. As I keep plugging away at the book, I feel that the storytelling and artwork is constantly improving. All artists love what they do for fifteen minutes and then only see what they would have done differently - the beauty of comicbooks is that there is always the next issue to better in.
What research does an artist do for their work?
Since my book happens in the 1960s in Mexico, I do a ton of research. Also, there is a ton of wrestling in the book and fans of wrestling can be sticklers for the intricacies of the sport - so I research moves and matches, settings and clothing all the time. I don't want to get any of it wrong since one of the impetuses of me creating the book was how wrong I felt the sport had been portrayed in the past.
Is there a comicbook character you always wanted to work on?
Spider-Man - he's the reason I do comicbooks now. I have a weird superstition about him - I rarely sketch or even doodle him because I want the first time I really sit down to draw him to be "for real" - like an actual Marvel project.
What is your dream project?
Aside from my own Spider-Man title? I have a B'Wana Beast story that I have been itching to do. I have the pitch all ready to go - I actually spoke to an editor at DC about it recently (he seem to dig it, but passed politely). That doesn't mean I'm not going to pester everyone I possibly can over at DC about doing it. - Someday I WILL DO the definitive B'wana Beast story/
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Done is beautiful.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
I just want to do nothing but comicbooks. I have 2 more arcs for La Mano del Destino and would love to only have to worry about getting those issues done instead of cramming them into my freelance schedule. I'd love to make a La Mano del Destino cartoon someday too - oh, and win the lottery - since I'm dreaming out loud here.
Where can our audience find you online?
jgonzodesigns.com and castleandkeypublications.com
Droids: It was an absolute pleasure sitting down with you! Congratulations on your continued success as an amazing artist!
We hope to see you at a Convention some time!