Five questions for artist Tone Rodriguez

Sept. 10, 2008 | 12:00 a.m.

Tone Rodriguez is a journeyman artist, having drawn for many companies over the years. He’s a fixture at many of the local (L.A.) comic book shops and gatherings and is an approachable, affable guy. A guy looking for love! In our Times video feature, ICU, he talks about a chance encounter, and then a not so chance encounter, on a bike path.

We wish him luck with his biking pal. He was also cool enough to answer five quick questions:

How much of your day is spent drawing when you have a deadline project, and does that affect your personal life (ICU-related)?

When I’m working — I’m working all day  — I’ll get up around 9 or 10, get to it, spend all day at the drawing table, and get to bed around 1 in the morning or so.  Now, breaks are real important — take a break about every two hours or so.  I’ll head out on a 7-mile bike ride just as the sun is starting to set.  It’s still light as I get back — that lasts about an hour and a half.  So it’s a good day.  Right now I’m being lazy — playing Scrabble online, waiting on a phone call.  Tomorrow I’ll take off all day, and the following …  I have two days to catch up on, so it’s full speed then. My personal life takes place around my working.  My pals will drop by, the door’s always open.  We might grab some eats, watch a DVD.  I’ll excuse myself back to the table while they’re still watching the flick.  I might even watch from the table.  As for the women in my life, well that’s not really a go at the moment.  I was in a relationship — it ended while I was still under the impression it was still going on.  So I guess you can say I’m single. I’m not really putting any effort into looking, to be honest.  This last relationship really threw me for a loop and I guess I’m not really looking to start a new relationship all over. Heck, what will probably happen is that I won’t be expecting to get into a new relationship and one day I’ll look around and boom, that will be the day I realize I’m in a new relationship.

You’ve worked with lots of companies, do you have a favorite and why?

Bongo! I love those guys! I can honestly say that at no other company, (maybe Shadowline) have I ever really felt as if I was respected by them, as [Bongo]. The fine gents and ladies at Bongo have always treated me like an asset, and I cherish my involvement and respect them immensely.

What’s the most difficult thing about being an artist in today’s climate, especially in light of the CrossGen debacle?

Is this interview from 2005?  So many comic book companies have started and failed since CrossGen went under, but when we all think of a comic book publisher falling apart we always fall back on CrossGen.  Maybe because the guy that started that company was a bit too outspoken and made it easy to use his company failure as the benchmark that all comic book failures will be based on.  Actually I’m thinking that it’s not too bad — not yet, at least, not for an artist.  But I think things will start to eat up just as soon as Michael Straczynski, Joss Whedon or Nicolas Cage start drawing their own books.  On that day, I think I’ll have an interesting opinion about the climate of today’s comic book artists.

Who’s the best artist in comics today, and what’s the best storyline?

See this question I always have an answer for, but I need to define my answers.  Who is the best comic book artist today? Man, that is a hard question to answer. There are so many books, so many styles.  Man, now that I think about this it’s a lot harder than I originally thought.  I have always dug Jim Lee’s stuff, and the work he’s doing on that "Batman/Robin" book is awesome!!!  Feeling a little odd about the story, but the art is great. So now I’m feeling that even mentioning Jim Lee’s work is me being lazy. We all know Jim Lee kicks ass.

I always liked what John Romita Jr. does … solid designer … never disappoints. George Perez is another guy that falls into the ‘best artist in comics category’.  But to be honest, I think I would have to say Mark Brooks.  That guy is an amazing artist.  I love everything he does. He’s one of those guys that has consistently made me go ‘ wow’, and I figure if he keeps it up … he’ll be a big gig name in this industry (bigger than he is at the present).

I guess what I’m saying — now this is my second part to this question, and I know that there’s another part to your question — who is my favorite comic book artist ever.  That would be Michael Golden.  Ever since my first Golden Comic Book (Micronauts #1), I have always been impressed with the draftsmanship of Michael Golden. You name any issue of any book that he has drawn and I will tell you that those issues are boxed up and underneath my drawing table now. I’m always impressed with his work, it never fails me.  His work is always at the top of my favorites list.  Now, the best storyline — well I hate to admit it, but aside from looking thru the books, I can honestly say the last full series I read was "Identity Crisis."  That was a great read.  I’m waiting to have the Miller/Lee run wrap up so I can base a real opinion about the book. I was trying to read the "Brave and the Bold," but when certain characters pop into the book it just made reading it difficult.  You know, I’ll have to get back to you on this one.  Too many books, too many stories … too many.

Name five characters that you haven’t drawn that you’d love to draw

I have a short list …

Thing 5) would be The Thing.  I love big, sensitive Ben Grimm.  He’s my favorite Fantastic Four character and by saying that, I mean that I hate the other three.  The Thing in his own book again — maybe he’d open a bed and breakfast in Rhode Island.

4) I figure it might be a Judge Dredd book.  He’s always been fun — always thought that he had a fun world to draw.  Yeah, he would be fun.

3) The Demon is another I always had some fun with.  Another of Kirby’s more interesting-looking characters.  Maybe him in the future, like "Jason X" the movie only with Etrigan (I’m so kidding about the "Jason X" thing, but the future might be a cool place for him).

2) Maybe I would say Frankenstein.  Not like Bernie Wrightson’s book.  Have always been a fan of Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein, but not … it’s hard to describe.  But I love Frankie.  He would be fun to get ahold of, maybe opening a bed and breakfast in Rhode Island.

1) Now my top character is and will always be the Batman.  What else is there to say really?  It’s Batman.  Hell, when I’m just sitting at a table and put a napkin in front of me, well when I’m scribbling, I’m telling you, it’s going to be a Batman scribble.  Man do I love Bats — he’s my favorite character of all time.

— Jevon Phillips

Photo: 20th Century Fox

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