Since many months ago we’ve been discussing with all our artists how to give Corner4art friends and collectors a different perspective of them and their artwork. We’ve been having conversations with many of them as an open interview.
With Mike Ratera we start these new interview issues were we would like you meet them a litle bit better.
An interview with Mike Ratera
How do you see the comic panorama today?
On the other hand, more and more comics are being adapted into movies, TV or video game formats, to the point that – especially in the USA – many comic series are created, with the idea to be offered for adaptation to other audiovisual media and creation of best art books…
That’s it! the comic as a multimedia base product, or as one of the parts that make up the multimedia pack.
What is not so bad in the end is that if we remember that a few years ago it seemed that the comic was on its way to extinction due to the mass production and sales of the video games.
What is your latest work? What are you working on now?
Since the beginning of the 2000s I have been doing creative series on the French/Belgian market, specialized in Fantasy and Sci-Fi.
For two years I have also been commissioned for the French publisher Idées Plus, with whom I have participated in a couple of collector’s books about aviation and motorsports considered best art books about it…
I have just finished working with them on an album within the collection “Histoires de Pilotes” which tells the biography of Georges Guynemer, a legendary ace of the French air force of World War I (1).
For the Anglo-Saxon market, I have recently drawn series for the Space Opera “Stalag X” which was created by Kevin J. Anderson (the current writer of the saga of the “Dune” novels) & Steven L. Sears (the screenwriter of the TV series, “Xena Warrior Princess”) which will appear in the USA before the end of this year in form of a graphic novel, edited by Vault Comics.
Which of your works are you most satisfied with?
I have artwork published from the early 80’s up to today. If I look back, in the 90s I worked on several series which were created by me that many people still consider to be the best.
Maybe because at that time we could practically do what we wanted considering the Spanish market, magazines like for example Totem, Creepy, El Víbora, Zona 84 … are quite representative of comics barcelona enviroment…
I really have very good memories of my series such as: “Hunter “,” Hamramr”, “Broadway”, “Witchfinder “… all of them are wild and free, without being censored nowadays there are a lot of boundaries which perhaps is the reason the editors of that time were more courageous and less conforming than now.
That was a massive change. I couldn´t really say that a certain series seemed better than the other but some of them contain scenes of which I am really proud, like for example the trilogy of the Fantasy “Le Chant des Elfes”, which was made for the French editor Soleil.
What are your referents? Are they from comic and/or cinema?
Of course, I have had and still have references to many cartoonists and storytellers, from Harold Foster to Frank Miller.
There is no week without discovering new people in comic or illustration whose work interests me to follow. Anyway, from the point of view of composition and storytelling of page / panel I think I have a rather cinematic vision as in my pages I tend to use the widescreen-equivalent of cinema screen.
I always try to have each scene have the most appropriate visual rhythm, depending on what is counted in it.
I do not necessarily make any page the same as the previous one, because it is not the same thing to narrate a scene of dialogues than a scene of action.
I like to choreograph (visually) the scenes of action, of fights or battles. It’s something I always ask the screenwriters to let me do (and I almost always get it!).
What is a hero for you?
As a reader, I’m not much interested in comics of superheroes.
Or at least, common stories of heroes. Maybe because I am more interested in the conflict than the characters that lead it. I am interested in universes, worlds about which we can tell things, I place arguments … whether historical or real or purely imaginary, the “multiverse”, as Michael Moorcock defined it.
In any case if it is to draw famous characters like Marvel or DC Comics, I prefer those characters that have a certain dark tone, halfway between the hero and the villain … which corresponds quite well to the duality of human nature.
Conan, Wolverine, Punisher, Deadpool or even Batman conform to this definition.
How do you conceptualize them?
If it comes to drawing characters, that’s something else, because this part is almost what I like most in a comic work: pure creation, the search for visual and conceptual ideas.
All the previous tests that end up concratenating a specific main character.
Something that the reader has never seen before when he had the published comic in his hands.
Fortunately, nowadays the internet allows us to show all that, and publish it in Artbooks, which are for a more specialized audience, for collectors.
As for the way in which I conceptualize a character of creation, that always depends on the ideas of the writer (because almost always works with a writer).
I like to exchange ideas with the scriptwriter, which often allows a character to be richer in nuances, or to evolve into something better than originally planned.
There is also the issue of documentation or references that are used to give entity to a certain character. Even when it comes to fantasy characters, I usually use real, historical references … which gives the character more solidity.
What techniques do you work? What is your favorite?
I’ve always been a pencil-drawing artist.
For many years I have made the inking of my pages and illustrations myself, then I went through the stage of working with inking machines (for works on the English-speaking market, like for example Marvel comics).
Finally, I work without the inking, due to the technological advance that has represented the digital printing against the previous limitations of printing on paper.
In the pages as well as in covers or illustrations I take my pencil to finalize art, using different hard mine pencils, so that the digital colorists who work with me, colour the work from the scanning in high resolution, strongly retouched by my black and white stroke / pencil.
When I have time to think about painting for myself, I always prefer traditional techniques: watercolor, tempera, or a mix of various techniques, though I never choose the digital technique.
What do you think of digital vs. traditional work?
Today digital color is a fundamental complement in the comic production.
Around 80 or 90% of what is published work has a digital part and there are more and more young authors who draw directly choose the digital technique rather than physical.
But as advanced as technology may seem, there is a counterpart: the original physical disappears, and with it the value that it could have, since the electronic original lacking physical entity, only has value as a reproduction, which in Terms of the collector is practically of no worth.
Tell us about your collection of original works ...
Apart from my own work, which I am storing in my more and more overflowing drawers, I am not a collector of original work by other authors.
But it is tradition to exchange pages or illustrations with friends, when you are on art festivals together.
What is your relationship with corner4art?
I met Sergio Rincon and Mafer on the “Salon del Comic Barcelona” where I had a small stand in artists area of the festival, precisely to sell my original work, something I usually do at the festivals attend.
There was interest on both sides to do business together, in terms of sale and original work charges.
It was very easy to agree on all the details, because in addition Sergio is a very creative guy who is constantly coming up with innovative ideas.
It’s been a while since I was looking for something like that, someone with enough international contacts, who knew how to handle orders properly and how to boost my activity in the sale of original artworks.
Since I have been working in the French/Belgian market (for more than 15 years now) I regularly go to many festivals as a guest author.
It is at festivals where collectors contact you to buy or order original artwork.
Over time I have been creating a circle of regular customers that place orders, which brings the problem that I have less time to manage the everything with the customers and less time to deal with the shipments and collectors issues…
What gives you corner4art?
At Corner4Art I found precisely everything I needed: to expand the network of potential collectors interested in my work (but without losing my own clients, with whom I continue working), enter into the subject of auctions of my original work on the internet,
Greater output for original work that I want to sell, etc. And besides Sergi and Mafer are people with whom I can have a personal interaction.
I prefer to be able to deal face to face with who buys or sells my work rather than in an impersonal way like for example via e-mail.
Your experience with them ...
Very easy to define: excellent.
And in progression, in the sense that we are going to increase the volume of my work that Corner4Art is going to introduce in international markets in the upcoming months.
And, at the same time, we are going to see what artworks are the best as a theme or in terms of artistic technique or format of the original.
I think I’m learning a lot from them…
My experience with them is excellent. We use to work as a team and there’s no better way to learn both together.
A message for corner4art collectors!!!!
Under my personal opinion, I think Corner4Art guarantees quality of the artworks they introduce in international markets, and also in terms of management of orders and shipments to customers takes a lot of care of my available artwork…