By Jim Beard
YOUNG X-MEN artist Rafa Sandoval knew he was bound for comics practically from the get-go and took inspiration from a few legendary sources.
"After only a few years reading comics I knew that this was the kind of work that I'd love to do," says Sandoval. "Some of the books I loved were, among others, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN by Todd McFarlane and EXCALIBUR with Chris Claremont and Alan Davis.
"During that time, everything I read had a big influence on me artistically."
Sandoval gained his first professional work in an animation company, a job he describes as simply "paid art classes" for him. Then came his dream gig: Marvel Comics.
"Through a friend and agent, I was put in touch with a Marvel editor and sent them some samples I did with Captain America," Sandoval reports. "They liked them and gave me an opportunity to do IRON MAN ADVENTURES."
Following his all-ages debut, Sandoval got to explore his childhood interest in Greek mythology, most precisely the myths of that son of Zeus, the irascible Hercules.
"His is the wonderful adventure of someone wanting to be a hero," enthuses the artist, who illustrated the "Sacred Invasion" arc of INCREDIBLE HERCULES. "It was great news for me to find out I was going to work on Hercules' own book. What a coincidence!"
It's no coincidence that Sandoval's art impressed the title's readers. Fans can trace his Marvel career-to-date through the Hulk universe, and such projects as WORLD WAR HULK: AFTERSMASH, WHAT IF? PLANET HULK, and WORLD WAR HULK: WARBOUND.
"As an experience, the best thing has been to work with great teams, including the editors, and to work with some of my most favorite Marvel characters," he says of his time in orbit around the Incredible Hulk's world.
Interestingly, Sandoval claims humor as a prime motivating factor in what draws him into a project, the type of tone well-struck in INCREDIBLE HERCULES.
"Yes, humor is interesting," the artist points out. "I imagine that due to my working in animation it's something that I've developed and become aware of, that people like to have a good time and to laugh.
"I think humor is important but in a good measure. If a script doesn't give me that feeling of humor, I leave it out. For example, in Fred [Van Lente] and Greg [Pak's] INCREDIBLE HERCULES scripts they use humor well and it helps to bring something different to the book. In other more serious titles, humor wouldn't be right."
Sandoval definitely sees several Marvel costume designs as worthy of admiration, too, including the classic Spider-Man look and the current Iron Man armor. But he finds it a bit daunting to decide which ones he might like to redesign, given the chance.
"That is very difficult," he replies in regards to the question posed. "I think they all
have a great design, but I've always loved the character of Nightcrawler and would love to do a different design on him—but simply because I'm curious to see what I might come up with."
Following his HERCULES stint, Sandoval briefly migrated to the Ultimate Universe,
working on the ULTIMATE CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL with writer Jeph Loeb, before landing his current gig on YOUNG X-MEN with Marc Guggenheim.
As much as he has accomplished in a short time, the newly-minted Young Gun still has a lot to look forward to, if you ask him.
"I'd love to work on anything Spider-Man, as he's another one of the Marvel characters I've always loved."
You can check out some of Rafa's INCREDIBLE HERCULES on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited and keep it here for more Young Guns Spotlights!
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