Interview with Providence Colorist Juan Manuel Rodríguez

Providence colorist Juan Rodríguez – photo courtesy of Rodríguez

Juan Manuel Rodríguez is the colorist for Providence. Rodriguez lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He lives with his wife Maria and their two daughters Sofia and Camila, and a brand new baby boy who just arrived this week.

Rodríguez studied Graphic Design at Interamerican Open University (UAI). Earlier he studied Cartoon and Illustration with Marvel and DC illustrators Juan Bobillo and Marcelo Sosa and studied Multimedia Design and Web and Digital Art at the Argentine Institute of Computation (IAC).

Juan Rodríguez illustration for Bastion

All of Rodríguez’ professional career is related to design and comics. He taught Graphic Design, Multimedia, and Digital Art classes for eight years and also worked for advertising agencies for several years. His art was frequently published in the science fiction magazine Bastion.

Bloodrayne comic cover by Juan Rodríguez

He started coloring comics professionally in 2005 for Image’s Noble Causes, then for the IDW series Zombies!: Feast. He colored Digital Webbing’s BloodRayne, Boom Studios’ Hunter’s Moon, and Devils Due Publishing’s Jericho comics continuation of the television series. He also did some covers and projects for Marvel and Image Comics with Rob Liefeld.

Rodríguez began coloring for Avatar Press in 2008, where he colored Gravel: Combat Magician, Chronicles Of Wormwood, Wolfskin, Crossed (including Badlands and Wish You Were Here), Neonomicon, Night of the Living Dead, Lady Death, God is Dead and now Providence.

The interview took place over email in early 2017. Rodríguez’ original Spanish language text appears below the English translation.

Facts Providence: Do you read a lot of comics? What were your favorite comics growing up?

Rodríguez: When I was a kid I read a lot of comics, I read everything. Thanks to my Uncle Carlos, who was a comic book fan, I started reading old comic strips from DC and Marvel, then many European comics (especially Metal Hurlant [Heavy Metal] magazine), and national magazines like Fierro, Scorpio, Paturuzú. My favorites include Batman and Justice League by Keith Giffen, The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland, [Moore’s] Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, Watchmen, Miracleman, and Arkham Asylum by Grant Morrison and Dave Mckean.

Did you read a lot of H.P. Lovecraft before you started doing the colors for Moore and Burrows’ Lovecraft comics? What are some of your favorite Lovecraft stories?

I have read some Lovecraft books. The stories I remember most are: “The Colour out of Space,” “The Call of Cthulhu,” “The Whisperer in Darkness,” and “Dagon.” 

What do you use for coloring – what computer program/s? Is any of your coloring done by hand?

I use Photoshop. Sometimes I make my own textures or brushes (which I scan to use).

How long does it typically take to color an issue of Providence?

The process takes more time than the rest of the projects I have worked on previously. Each issue is different and contains very fascinating visuals and narrative.

Alan Moore is known for his long comic book scripts. Does he specify the colors much? Does Jacen Burrows give you additional specifics? How interactive or iterative is the coloring process?

There is a stage of preliminary notes that are in the script and also notes from the artist, including visual references which are very important. After coloring the whole issue, there is a second stage of adjustments and corrections to get the visual results closer to the one imagined by Alan and Jacen.

You’ve been working on colors for Moore and Burrows’ Lovecraft stories since the early days, coloring The Courtyard, Neonomicon and Providence. How has this saga evolved? How different is Providence compared to The Courtyard?

It has been a long time since The Courtyard. Providence is undoubtedly the largest and wonderfully complex project I have ever had to color.

 

Providence #1 page, art by Jacen Burrows, colors by Juan Rodríguez

How is coloring Providence different from the other Avatar Press titles you’ve worked on? Or other coloring you’ve done at other publishers?

Working again in collaboration with the genius Alan Moore and the great artist Jacen Burrows is totally different from everything. It’s the best thing that has happened to me professionally.

Does the 1919 setting affect your choices for coloring?

There are lots of visual references in every issue, provided by Alan and Jacen. I try to soak in a huge amount of reference material for each issue.

The ultraviolet images in Providence #9 are very striking. How did you come up with the color palate for those?

Many of the observations I receive in the script or in notes sent to me by Jacen. That was one of the details where that particular color was specified.

Are there any other Providence sequences or covers that you are especially proud of your coloring?

I am very critical of my work and I find it hard to praise myself. But I have really enjoyed coloring Providence, especially the covers. Attached [Rodríguez’ Tumblr] are some of my favorite covers.

Providence #8 Dreamscape variant cover - art by Jacen Burrows, colors by Juan Rodríguez
Providence #8 Dreamscape variant is among Rodríguez’ favorites  – art by Jacen Burrows, colors by Juan Rodríguez

How do you navigate communications with Moore and Burrows given that your first language is Spanish and their first language is English? Does this ever cause confusion?

All the communications are coordinated by the editor. I manage in English with help, in some cases, from a friendly translator.

Anything else to add?

Thank you very much for your interest in my work and collaborations as illustrator and colorist, and a big greeting to the readers, who I hope will continue to value the great ideas and great authors that make the comic industry big!

Providence #2 page, art by Jacen Burrows, colors by Juan Rodríguez

(Below is the original interview in Rodríguez’ native Spanish.)

¿Lee usted muchos cómics? ¿Cuáles eran sus cómics favoritos cuando era pequeño? ¿Cuáles son algunos de sus cómics favoritos ahora?

Cuando era pequeño leía muchos comics, leía de todo. Gracias a mi tío Carlos, que era un fan de las historietas, comencé leyendo viejas historietas de comics de DC y Marvel, luego mucho comic Europeo (en especial la revista Metal Hurlant), y revistas nacionales como Fierro, Scorpio, Paturuzú. Batman y La Liga de la justicia de Keith Giffen, La broma Asesina en el Batman, de Moore y Bolland, La cosa del Pantano, V de Vendetta, Watchmen, Mr Miracleman y Arkham Asylum de Morrison y Dave Mckean han sido de mis favoritas.

¿Leyó usted mucho sobre H.P. Lovecraft antes de empezar a crear los colores para los cómics Moore y Burrows? ¿Cuáles son algunas de sus historietas favoritas de Lovecraft?

He leído algunos libros de Lovecraft, las historias que más recuerdo son: El color que cayo del cielo, La llamada de Cthulhu , El que susurra en la oscuridad y Dagon.

¿Qué usa para colorear – qué programa de computadora? ¿Colorea a mano?

Uso Photoshop. A veces hago mis propias texturas o pinceles (los cuales scaneo para utilizar).

¿Cuánto tiempo se toma normalmente para dar color a una edición de Providence?

Es un proceso que lleva más tiempo que el resto de los proyectos en los que trabajé anteriormente, cada numero es distinto y muy fascinante en lo visual y narrativo.

Se conoce a Alan Moore por sus largos guiones de cómics. ¿Especifica él mucho los colores? ¿Sabe si Jacen Burrows le da instrucciones adicionales? ¿Qué tan interactivo o iterativo es el proceso de coloración?

Hay una etapa de notas preliminares que se encuentran en el guion y notas del Artista( son muy importantes las referencias visuales), luego de colorear el numero entero, hay una segunda etapa de ajustes y correcciones para obtener el resultado visual mas cercano al que se imaginan Alan y Jacen

Usted ha estado trabajando los colores para las historietas Moore y Burrows de Lovecraft desde sus inicios –coloreando The Courtyard, Neonomicon y Providence. ¿Cómo ha evolucionado esta saga – cuán diferente es Providence en comparación con The Courtyard?

Ha pasado mucho tiempo desde Courtyard… Providence, sin dudas, es el proyecto más grande y maravillosamente complejo que me ha tocado colorear.

¿Qué tan diferente es colorear Providence que los otros títulos de Avatar Press en los que usted ha trabajado? ¿O qué otro trabajo de colorista que usted haya hecho para otros editores?

De por si trabajar nuevamente en grupo con el genio de Alan Moore y el gran artista que es Jacen Burrows es totalmente diferente a todo, y de lo mejor que me ha sucedido profesionalmente.

¿El trabajar en una escena establecida en 1919, ¿afecta sus opciones para la coloración?

Hay mucha referencia visual en cada numero provista por Alan y Jacen. Y yo trato de nutrirme de la mayor cantidad de material en cada número.

Las imágenes ultravioleta en Providence # 9 son muy llamativas. ¿Cómo se le ocurrió el esquema de color?

Muchas de las observaciones las recibo en el guion o en notas que me envia Jacen , esa era uno de los detalles en los cuales se pretendía ese color particular.

Providence #10 Dreamscape variant cover, art by Jacen Burrows, colors by Juan Rodríguez

¿Hay algunas otras secuencias o cubiertas de Providence de las cuales se sienta usted especialmente orgulloso de su coloración?

Soy muy crítico de mi trabajo y me cuesta mucho elogiarme a mí mismo.
Pero he disfrutado mucho colorear Provicence , en especial las portadas.
(adjunto si necesitan algunas de mis portadas preferidas)

¿Cómo navega las comunicaciones con Moore y Burrows dado que su lengua materna es el español y la de ellos es el inglés? ¿Causa esto confusión en algunos momentos?

Todas las comunicaciones son coordinadas por el editor, me manejo en ingles con ayuda, en algunos casos, de un traductor amigo.

¿Hay algo mas?

Muchas gracias por haberte interesado en mis trabajos y colaboraciones como Ilustrador y Colorista, y un gran saludo a los lectores, que espero que sigan valorando las grandes ideas y los grandes autores que hacen grande a la industria del comic!

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One thought on “Interview with Providence Colorist Juan Manuel Rodríguez

  1. Cool interview!

    I can’t think of a comic I’ve read in which color plays a more important role than in Providence (from ultraviolet creatures/lenses to yellow panel borders to intricate carpets to green ties), and Rodriguez is doing a phenomenal job.

    Whenever the moon shows up the visual is quite powerful – with its spherical depth and phosphorescent glow.

    Good stuff.

    Like

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