By Kevin Mahadeo
Growing up, David Lafuente found himself surrounded by the things he loved: novels, classic movies, and piles and piles of comic books. Despite all this, the youngster discovered he wanted what all children desire: more. After exhausting his nigh-unlimited entertainment resources, Lafuente decided to remedy the situation. He picked up a pencil, put it to paper and started making his own comic books.
"At first it was another way to be entertained," admits Lafuente of his initial artistic aspirations. "Like playing with toys or video games. Then the fun morphed into something different, some kind of necessity. My interest
|ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #2 cover by David Lafuente|
Coming from an entire family of comic readers, the future ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN artist drew inspiration from Spanish artists such as Francisco Ibanez and Jan; French artist Herge's TinTin series; black-and-white editions of Steve Ditko's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and Jack Kirby's FANTASTIC FOUR; and Massimo DeVita, artist of Italian Disney comics. However, Lafuente really felt the power of the pencil through the art of his three older brothers.
"They used to draw comics a la exquisite corpse and 'Star Wars' parodies among other things," recalls Lafuente. "I did my very own parody of the first Star Wars-that didn't have much in common with the movie, as Leia rescued Luke in the Death Star-part of ['Empire Strikes Back'], and even started ['Return of the Jedi']. I did piles of comics; Mazinger Z comics, short stories for contests, loads of unfinished projects. As I said, all was done for fun back then, but it started my interest in telling stories with images rather than just focusing on illustrations."
Through the years, Lafuente began to develop a unique artistic style, one his current ULTIMATE COMICS collaborator Brian Michael Bendis refers to as "Spanish manga." The artist says he first honed his skills through homages to the various artists he liked, thereby enriching his "visual culture." But after a while, the creative scientist started experimenting and created a penciling style all his own.
"I stopped following the surface of [other people's] work and started following the attitude: try to do something new," explains Lafuente. "I do my best to come up with my own solutions to narrative problems, my own translations to lines of real life objects, my own way of presenting actions. I like to take chances."
At around 16 years old, Lafuente decided he wanted to draw comics for a living after taking a few comic courses taught by Javier Rodriguez and Igor
|ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #3 cover by David Lafuente|
"I've just found out," laughs Lafuente about the "try out." "I think it was a good call on their side, as my previous work, HELLCAT, was quite different and to know if one can do something he has to, well, do it. They saw that I could do it and I had the perfect training for series. From a technical point of view it was very important. Beginnings are very tricky; everybody knows this. New character, new workmates. It takes some time to know each other and function at 100%. But when I was handed the first script [to ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDR-MAN], I had already 30-plus pages of experience. I knew how Brian writes and had a very good idea of what elements I was going to face."
Working on ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN provides Lafuente with a number of challenges, each of which the artist tries to approach in distinctive and interesting ways. For action scenes, the London-based artist wants to pull readers right into the page and make them feel every blow of the fight as though it were real. When it comes to characters, Lafuente meticulously examines every aspect of the players' personalities, paying special attention to body language and even making sure their style of dress fits accordingly. The artist even calls out two favorites he especially enjoys to draw.
"Peter is one for sure," says Lafuente. "I enjoy drawing him a lot. He's a great character, the underdog that goes through hell telling jokes in order to save the day. What's not to love? The second is Gwen Stacy. Don't get me wrong, I love all the cast, but Bendis has given Ultimate Gwen a very nice, heartbreaking journey since introducing her back in ULTIMATE
|ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #4 cover by David Lafuente|
However, despite his love for the cast and subtleties of the art, Lafuente readily admits his favorite aspect of working on the title comes down to the people he works with, from the entire editorial staff and to his web swinging creative partner in crime, Brian Bendis.
"I won't hide [that] I've been a fan of his books for a long time," enthuses Lafuente. "I like his work from both a reader and professional point of view. And I love his attitude. I've said it a number of times, but I'll do it again: he's the [film director] Steven Soderbergh of comics-cares about storytelling as he cares about fireworks. He looks for new things too. New names like [writer Jonathan] Hickman or myself, or new ways of telling stories like the SPIDER-WOMAN series. That's positive at all levels, and being part of that is great."
As one of the rising stars in the comic industry, the entirety of the Marvel Universe lays open for Lafuente in the future. Although the artist has already hit a high point by working on one of his favorite characters, like his childhood self, Lafuente always wants more. Whether hoping to work alongside writers like Hickman, Matt Fraction, Peter Milligan and Ed Brubaker, dreaming of producing art for titles such as UNCANNY X-MEN or lending his unique styling to the mutant brother and sister duo of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, the artist desires to paint almost every corner of the Marvel Universe canvas.
"Let's not forget the fact that it's Marvel we're talking here," says Lafuente. "Everything is sweet. I would find as much joy in NEW AVENGERS as in Devil Dinosaur. Well, maybe a different joy."
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