James Reitano is an artist and comic creator that we should be watching. His latest work is the graphic novel “Nineteen Eighty Five“. This comic feels like the cool, underground type of Indy book that you would see Fantagraphics publishing.
You may have seen Reitano’s work and not even realized it, his clients range from Santa Cruz Skateboards all the way to the Wu-Tang Clan. He is currently creative director for the design/animation shop TFU Studios based in Los Angeles. Recently James wasted some of his time with us and answered our 5 questions. Thank you James.
1. Tell us about your comic. What’s it about? Why is it cool?
The story centers on my teenage years as a graffiti artist in Santa Cruz. It was something I was obsessed with at the time, and really was the first thing I was actually good at. So much of what we did back then informed my career as a commercial artist. I think the point of interest is getting inside the head of a young street artist, and delving into the motivations of these activities, without necessarily defending it.
2. Who are your biggest influences?
All sorts graphically, but, Herge and the European school of art/storytelling is what influenced me most. The idea that, with comics, you’re creating a immersive, realistic experience through art, and adding simply drawn characters, to enhance the story. Folks like Moebius, Hernandez Brothers, John Byrne and Osamu Tezuka have mastered this technique.
3. On a more personal note: how did you end up where you are today? What lead you to comics?
Comics are something I keep coming back to, almost like a vice. My trade has taken me to mostly illustration and animation, but comics still work their way into my time. in 2006, I was asked by the Wu-Tang Clan to create a graphic novel, and this got the ball rolling of me doing Nineteen Eighty Five, which was a story of my own. I’ve been collecting comic books since age 6.
4. What advice would you give to someone trying to break into comics?
Best advice is to sit down and start drawing and writing. You HAVE to have that work ethic to do this job, as, it’s time consuming, and can be mercilessly tedious. After that, take your comics, and show them to the world, in all ways possible. Someone, somewhere out there will connect with what you’re doing. And give yourself some time to make all of this happen.
5. What’s your all-time favorite movie?
I can’t answer this question, I’m a film buff, so, my pick would involve David Lean, Hitchcock, Lucas or Coppola somehow, but that’s all I got.