BACKSTAGE - MARVEL ANIMATION AGE INTERVIEW - ARTIST NUNO PLATI
An artist with an energetic streak and an eye for design, Nuno Plati has been making a splash on the new Marvel Universe - Ultimate Spider-Man monthly comic series. The series - the third issue is set to hit shelves this Wednesday - features stories based on the new Ultimate Spider-Man Marvel Animation series airing Sundays on Disney XD. Plati agreed to participate in a Q & A concerning his current work on the new animated Spidey title and much more. Please click on the thumbnails below for a closer look at Plati's work from Marvel Universe - Ultimate Spider-Man #2.
Marvel Animation Age: First off, can you tell us about yourself, particularly your past work and how you came on to Ultimate Spider-Man.
Nuno Plati: My name is Nuno Plati and I'm a Portuguese illustrator and comic book artist. I've worked for many years in the illustration field - from editorial work for fashion magazines like Elle or Cosmopolitan here in Portugal, to newspapers and all sorts of magazines, book covers, etc. I've also done bits and pieces with EA games, Axis Animation, and storyboard work for advertising agencies.
In comics, I did a short story for Image Comics 24seven volume two through Ivan Brandon, and written by C.B. Cebulski. After that I've been working for Marvel Comics on a semi-regular basis. I worked on The Avengers Fairy Tales Issue #2, written by C.B. Cebulski, a Pepper Potts story in Iron Man: Titanium written by Mark Haven Britt, a X-23 one-shot written by Marjorie Liu, a Shanna the She-Devil story in Women of Marvel 2 written by Mary H.K Choi, a Marvel Girl one shot by Joshua Fialkov, and some of the pages of Amazing Spider-Man #657, the Human Torch tribute by Dan Slott.
After all this stuff I managed to get a good working relationship with the Spidey Editor Stephen Wacker - with whom I had worked previously with on a cover for Amazing Spider-Man Family #8, and on the Amazing Spider-Man #657 issue and a yet unreleased Spidey one-shot - who gave me the opportunity to work on the Marvel Universe - Ultimate Spider-Man book, and rest is history!
MAA: Now, before the interview, you told me that you’ve been a visitor to World’s Finest for some time. How does being actively interested in these comic cartoon help when you actually get to work on the properties themselves?
NP: I love animation. As much as comics if not more. I grew up with a steady diet of TV animation that ranged from Future Boy Conan by Miyazaki, or the World Masterpiece Theatre, to all the classic Saturday morning cartoon stuff, Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbara stuff, Space Ghost, The Herculoids, ThunderCats, Ulysses 31, Transformers, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, Batman: The Animated Series, Gummi Bears, Dogtanian, and many many more. After the revolution that was Batman: The Animated Series, I got hooked on all the Bruce Timm/DC Universe related shows - Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Justice League / Unlimited, Legion of Superheroes, and so on. I obviously also love animated movies - from all the Disney classics, to the Don Bluth stuff, the Studio Ghibli stuff, the Pixar stuff, Dreamworks, Sylvain Chomet stuff, Henry Selick, Satoshi Kon, etc!
So - to answer the question - it helps a lot, especially because my artwork is very influenced by animation, and since I also love the characters, it's all very easy. It is a dream come true to be able to draw Spider man for a living. And to top it off, my favorite hero as a kid was Iron Fist, and now i get to draw him too!
And as a side note, usually comics aimed at kids or an all-ages crowd are kind of frowned upon at the comic book shops. Usually and unfortunately, the artists that work on these same books are not really taken that seriously, certainly not in the same manner as the artists that draw the "grown up " books. That is a great shame because people will miss amazing artists, like the late great Mike Parobeck - who could draw circles around most of the big names in comics, and do with a line or two what a lot of fan favorites can´t do with hundreds - or artists that do really great work, like Ty Templeton or Chris Jones.
MAA: Somewhat of a follow-up, were there any cartoons or comics that particularly influenced your art style? You have a great, expressive art style that’s really unique and pretty stunning in the design work.
NP: First of all thank you for the very kind words, and the answer would be 'yes' and 'no.' What I mean by that is that I haven't been influenced by a show or an artist in particular, but by the sum of all this information I took from all the TV shows, movies, comics, and art that I've been exposed to all my life. There were periods when some cartoons had a big influence. I love Chuck Jones, so a lot of my more angular stuff came from there. I loved Aeon Flux and Peter Chung stuff in general, so I guess the elongated thing could come a bit from there. The Hanna-Barbara shows with Alex Toth designs, who is one of my favorite artists, showed me the simplicity and clarity I aim for. The artbook from The Prince of Egypt and the stuff by Marcos Mateu Mestre, really made an impression. The Miyazaki stuff I love more than anything!. There's also loads of artists that go from Iain McGaig to all the comic artists I grew up with - from John Byrne, John Romita Sr. and Jr., Gil Kane, John Buscema, Uderzo, Franquin, Hergé, Moebius, Frank Frazetta, Mike Mignola, Wendling, my friend Ben Caldwell, Robert Valley, Tadahiro Uesugi, Otomo, Eric Canete and hundreds of other amazing talents!
Nowadays I probably have to say my biggest influence is Animation in general. I really identify with the fact that things can look deceptively simple on the surface but in the end are able to convey emotion, movement , and form much better than the over-complicated art we sometimes see in comics, art that is all finish and no foundation.
MAA: A couple issues of the Ultimate Spider-Man comic are now on shelves, featuring your artwork. Is it a challenge to work on a comic meant for an animated series that you didn’t see when actually working on these stories? What type of challenge does it present.
NP: It would be a challenge - especially if there was no info at all on the series - but pretty early on, just by looking at the trailers, you get the vibe and the look of of the show. Besides, Marvel - through the wonder trio of StephenWacker, Ellie Pyle and Tom Brennan - always gave me all I needed. They gave me the comic book adaptation of the first episode (which is made with stills from the show), model sheets, and episodes for me to watch. That gave me a good notion of what I had to do and what they're going for looks wise.
MAA: As a semi-follow-up, what kind of changes did you find you had to make to make your artwork look like the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, or at least resemble it? Is it a challenge to balance your own style with something else?
NP: My style is pretty animated to begin with, but yes, it is a challenge to tweak my style a bit to fit a bit better with the show. For example, my characters are usually a bit elongated, so I had to tone that down a bit. Or the way the character themselves look on the model sheets - the way the eyes or the noses, or even the musculature, is drawn - I had to sort of adapt my stuff a bit. I'm still trying to find a happy medium where you can see the look of the show, but also a bit of me.
MAA: You have other comic works outside of Ultimate Spider-Man. If someone wanted to take a gander at some of your other titles, which ones would you point them to and, well, how would you prepare them?
NP: Well, to be honest, this is my first monthly gig, so my comic book career is a bit patchy and all over the place, but I think you can get a good sampling of what I've done comic book-wise if you check the Marvel Fairy Tales TPB. It features my first story for Marvel in The Avengers Fairy Tales #2 written by my friend and mentor C.B. Cebulski. Also, check out the Marvel Girl one-shot, featured in the X-Men: First Class: Class Portraits TPB written by the great Joshua Fialkov, which I think is my best Marvel work, or my short but proud participation in The Amazing Spider-Man # 657, written by the wonderful Dan Slott.
MAA: Whether working on Ultimate Spider-Man or another title, can you run us through quickly how you, well, basically draw the whole story. You system, how you prep and actually work, and how long it takes.
NP: Well, after I get the script and read it, I do small rough thumbnails in a sketchpad of all the pages. To me this is the most important part of the work, establishing the foundation for all the bells and whistles I'm going to put afterwards. I then do the roughs digitally in Photoshop and send them to my editor to be approved. After that I start the drawing process, and since I work digitally the penciling and inking is sort of simultaneous because of the base rough sketches I did previously. Nowadays. I've been doing all the shadows in greys to help me out in the color stages later on. I'm lucky that I've been able to color all my work since I began working at Marvel. In fact, all my work has always been colored by me. A friend of mine and great artist himself, Ricardo Venancio, usually helps me out with the color flats and then I finish the whole thing.
MAA: The animated titles are a great stepping stones into a bigger comic world. Writers like Dan Slott or artists like Rick Burchett started out on the ‘animated’ books before working on high-profile titles. Does this ever come to mind – that this could lead to bigger projects – and does that have an effect on your work?
NP: Not really, no, as it is, this gig is is by far the best I've ever had. I really enjoy working for an all- ages audience, and i really enjoy working on this kind of fun, old school superhero stories. Obviously it would be cool to work to a greater audience, but I'm always hopeful that this kind of comic will find new venues to reach it's intended crowd. The thing only I fear is that when I finish my tenure on this book, portfolio wise it's going to be a bit more difficult getting new work because of the pigeonholing that certain kinds of artists can only work in certain kinds of books. But I'm always hopeful that these perceptions will change over time, but as I said previously I'd love to work on this book for as long as it´s published.
MAA: As you wrap this up, can you tell us what we can expect from you (and perhaps the stories themselves), in the upcoming months on Ultimate Spider-Man?
NP: Well, I think the third issue (on shelves Wednesday, July 6th, 2012) brings us Spidey meeting a new incarnation of an old school foe, the Kangaroo. And if I'm not mistaken, the fourth issue Spidey and the gang butting heads with Juggernaut!
MAA: Also, is there anything else you’d like to give the readers a heads up on, such as other work or events you may have in the works! Let us know so we can keep an eye out for you!
NP: Well you can always check what I'm up to at my blog http://nunoplati.blogspot.pt/ and check some more of my work at http://nunoplati.deviantart.com/. As for my future plans, I want to work on Ultimate Spider-Man for as long as they let me and get my creator owned project Mia, Tales from the Lost Islands moving. There´s some illustrations and some other stuff in the blog on this project.
One thing I never did and always wanted to do is to work on an animated series as a character designer, so if anyone´s interested feel free to reach me at email@example.com. Feel free to reach me with any other job offers too (laughs)!
Marvel Animation Age would like to thank Nuno Plati for his participation in this Q & A!
Check out much more at Marvel Animation Age.
Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man: Web Warriors, Ultimate Spider-Man VS. The Sinister Six and related characters
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