Bill Nichols’ Prescription:
Comics
10ccs of Rod Espinosa

What inspires you to create and keeps you going?

I thought I was actually finished with comics when I got done with the Courageous Princess series of books. Having finished the two sequel books almost side by side, it was my biggest challenge to that date. That was 2015 and I thought well, it’s time to hang up the gloves. 

I often say the most dangerous time for me is when I am done with some long series of books. 

That’s when I begin to think about bowing out at a high moment.

The many people who follow me on Facebook will no doubt be familiar with my occasional rant about just wanting to be a cook for a restaurant because of my struggles with comics. 

It’s a love/hate relationship that’s been with me for 20 years. 

I suppose, in the end, new ideas and inspiration hits me and they keep me fueled to make more stories. 

I will confess that as a consumer of entertainment myself, I am often frustrated by the movies and stories being shown to me out there. I often like to think: “why did they do that?” “If I was the writer of that story I would…”

And that’s how most of my stories are.

They are my attempt at writing what I perceive as scripting wrongs I see out there, if that makes sense.

I suppose that’s why Adventure Finders was born. 

It’s the desire of mine to make a story my way. 

And to share with people that this is how real heroes act. So in some fashion, there is also a desire there to share my life’s philosophies. Because the world is inundated right now with anti-heroes. Nobody is good anymore. The heroes that we are presented with are almost as bad as the villains.

I do see some comics still hanging on to those same noble ideals of honor and integrity. I suppose this is my attempt to try to bolster their dwindling numbers.

 

Do you have a set routine?

I don’t, actually. 

I’m also a part time caregiver now to my parents. So anytime they need me for anything, work has to be put on pause for a bit.

We just try to get as much work as possible whenever we could.

 

What kind of output do you try to achieve?

The ideal is 20 finished pages a month.

With my current series Adventure Finders, my page counts blow past that routinely. They go anywhere from 24 pages to 32. So my general speed is an issue per 6 weeks.

So that’s my speed. Writing, drawing, inking, coloring, lettering.

Not a lot of individual creators do everything.

So in a way, it feels like a badge of honor to be included in a very rare group of creators who do it all.

 

What inspires you WHEN you create? Music? Noise? Silence?

I usually have YouTube playing. It’s sometimes a distraction because if the video ends, I have to fiddle around and look for another video. I just have documentaries playing. Or debates –stuff I can listen to because there’s a lot of narration going on. 

Sometimes, I play an audio book.

Music quite often plays too.

There is a part in Adventure Finders where one of the main characters takes control of the Automatic Crossbow. Essentially, “ho, ho, ho… Now I have a machine gun” moment. So I had Rambo playing all the while when I drew, inked and then assembled the pages on those scenes.

 

Who was the first comic book creator that influenced you to pursue this?

I would say it is the Image founders. 

Their impact on so many young artists is immeasurable. We all made ourselves into artist gangs and styled ourselves after the founders. They proved you can go at this and make a living promoting your own creations.

Because, drawing existing company characters was never one of my dreams. 

My one wish is that I can create something for Marvel or DC .. some new offshoot characters which I can freely explore. Someone new. Some superheroes’s bratty, wild kids. 

 

When did you realize you could follow this path yourself?

It was a slow process. 

I was a part time Editor at Antarctic Press as I did my comics in those early millennial years. 

One day, due to budget cuts, I was let go and before I realized it, I was earning purely as a freelance artist. Kind of like not realizing you don’t need the training wheels on your bike anymore. You look down and all of a sudden you realize…. hey, I could do it, after all! 

That was a revelation.

There were a lot of mistakes back then, though.

I was also not a very enlightened person during those beginning years. 

Nowadays, I notice that the only people who survive at this are those who want it badly enough. 

There are thousands better at this than I am. And many of them quit or stopped due to many factors.

I think the only ones who survive are those who can withstand the pain. 

It often feels like the old Kung Fu master is still putting you through hellish training now for 20 years. 

Everyone else has quit. But these few battered padawans are still hanging around despite being made to suffer!

 

What do you find to be a challenge in creating?

I find story writing the most challenging part. 

I often forget to include important things like establishing motivation and such.

That’s still a challenge for me. In my current webcomics, I keep adding in what I call “deleted scenes” to already public work… The Patreon subscribers get extra treats when I re-upload an episode with new scenes. 

It’s easy to do these days with computers and with a bit of additional hand drawn art.

 

What else do you have to learn?

More anatomy. I have been quite good at hiding my deficiencies but I need to fill those glaring gaps in my knowledge. And I would love to be able to digitally paint faces accurately.

if you mean personality-wise, I’d say I need more patience and understanding.

 

What keeps you motivated to get better?

I suppose seeing a 20-year-old coming out of college far better in colors and painting than I am! 

Hey, I can do that too! I must do it to remain competitive. 

I have to say that maybe my one saving grace is that yes, I can take a lot of punishing schedules and I crank out pages faster than most. And I can do the thing I described below…

 

Can you turn your brain (creativity) off (and on)?

Yes.

I’ve always believed that once you can work regardless of how you feel that day, or turn the creative side on and off like a faucet, then you know you’re a true professional. 

 

Booster Shots

What advice do you have for aspiring creators?

Do you have a tough stomach for a life of hardship, pain and financial humiliation???

Seriously, though.

The most important thing is, you have to know deep in your heart this is what you were put on this earth to do.

Once you know that, everything else is just details. 

Due to my current life circumstances, I live now with a lot of old people. And I attend a LOT of funerals and see a lot of dying folks in hospitals. Whenever you hear their stories, it is always with deep regret about things they did not do in life. Yes, they were a successful businessman or whatever. But too many people do not live their passion in life. They have created this comfortable existence surrounded by their family and children, sure… But if they led a life without risk, or without doing what they love, most folks just sleepwalk through their entire lives. Before you know it, you’re in a hospital somewhere dying and full of regret.

At the end, I always see glittering caskets, grandiose funeral rites, but unfulfilled dreams. 

It’s such a waste, if you ask me.

And it’s not just artists I am talking about here. There are doctors, engineers and lawyers who snooze their way through their professions as well. The truly passionate doctors you also see work in mostly deplorable conditions where they get low pay and the most number of poor people to heal daily. Teachers are the same way. The most brilliant ones often go unnoticed and underpaid. that’s just life. But they live their lives to the fullest. Look at all the videos of animal rescue people and those volunteer vets. They’re not getting rich off of rescuing strays. The money is in being a vet for rich people’s pets. And yet they do it because they love what they are doing.

You only have 100 years on Earth if you’re lucky.

And you can’t take 5 cars or that fancy house to heaven, anyway. 

 

If I can expand a little bit about the spiritual/metaphysical here. 

If you are one of those who believes in an afterlife where you live a billion years… and you will live as a spirit who will live so long that you will be able to witness suns, galaxies and stars be born and go supernova in death, you got nothing to worry about in this life. What is 90 years as a mortal being??? That will pass in a split second in Galactic time. Enjoy these 90 years! None of your diplomas, titles, accolades and doctorates are applicable at the pearly gates. You might as well have fun on earth. 

Time will pass really fast.

And oddly enough, the same is true if you don’t believe in afterlives. 

All the more reason to live your life well because you only have 90 years!

Make them count. 

Make your life matter.

Do you want to spend what little life you have working a job you hate?

You might as well do what fulfills your inner longing.

 

Do you ever worry about running out of ideas?

I don’t know. Something always comes up. I thought I was finished when I concluded Courageous Princess in 2015. That was a huge relief for me to be done.

It was some time before I came up with the thought of doing Adventure Finders. Which was based on: “What if all my favorite action scenes in medieval fantasy and movies were re-enacted using sassy girls instead which may result in alternative endings?”

 

How do you handle the slow times?

The slow time is when I do regular life things like getting the car washed, looking for a new phone/tablet/pc. That kind of thing. I suppose I also take vacations when the action slows down. 

I see a movie, get a body massage… do maintenance. I learn a new dish to prepare.

 

It’s counter-intuitive, I know. But like I said above, if you have cultivated this calm zen about life, the things that most people worry about are not even a concern for you.

I am sure you’ve heard the adage that the less you worry about money, the more it will come to you. 

It is true, in a way. 

If you are creative enough and flexible enough, something always comes up.

 

How do you feel about the industry?

I’m more excited for the newcomers. So many talented youth out there. 

And it also feels good to hear they read my past How to Draw Manga series that was serialized repeatedly over the years.

There are so many new ideas out there. I was in a comic shop recently and there is so much talent out there right now. 

It’s actually intimidating because a lot of the competitors’ cover designs are pretty good.

I am happy many newcomers don’t have to suffer as much. Especially those who get deals with Simon and Schuster or Scholastic on their first try. So many of them don’t have to go through hardship. So in that sense, I feel good about the business.

Maybe just not where I am in it! 

And so occasionally, I still rant about just running away and being a cook. 

I know there’s others who have spent more years in this business than me who are still slogging away. I don’t know how you guys keep it together. My entire life from the age of 33 onward has been one long midlife crisis because of my insistence on staying in this business!

But I guess it still goes back to where else am I going to? I am too old to learn something new, except like I said, if I go off and cook for some restaurant. I think I could do that.

Now, businesswise, I am trying new things.

Which is why I am out here in Asia attending the conventions here. 

Trying out new markets. I hope to go to France to Angouleme soon.

Another thing I tried was when I made a board game to sell. And I thought making comics was hard!

Making board games is doubly difficult and so hard to get any kind of sales out of it. 

But once I demo it to folks, people seem to like how it plays. 

I made that board game the same way I made comics: I want something I would play personally. Something that won’t bore me but also something you can play with children but won’t be too simplistic or stupid.

Now, I rant a lot about my dissatisfaction online, but I have to remember the positives. That one of my milestones is receiving my first royalty checks a couple of years back. And seeing that for real and to have that small recurring income made me think “Well, you’re real author NOW!”

I only rant because I still haven’t fully removed the shackles of materialism in my life.

I still wish I had a brand new Prius in the driveway, that kind of thing.

If you like my work and don’t mind subscribing $1 or $2 per episode and to gain access to my digital archive, I am over at:

https://www.patreon.com/RodEspinosa

also at:

https://www.deviantart.com/rodespinosa

 

If you are curious about my creator-owned boardgame called “Adventure Kingdom”, go see it at:

https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/adventure-kingdom

It’s a delightful game for young and old players alike. I made it with families in mind so Mom or Dad won’t go crazy playing Candyland with their kids. 

 

Finally, if you just wanna chat and connect, I am on Facebook and Twitter:

https://www.facebook.com/rod.espinosa.92

https://twitter.com/rod_espinosa

 

Thank you for reading!

Hope you get some inspiration and I haven’t scared you off too much

To comment on this interview, you can head to the ShoutFyre forum

http://shoutfyre.com/community/billsnicholsprescription/rod-espinosa/#post-42

Bill Nichols

Author, Artist, Editor for ShoutFyre.com
Bill is the creator of Arteest & Ursula comics, writer for Ringtail Cafe, co-creator of Savage Family, writer and inker of HellGirl: Demonseed. Editor for ShoutFyre and Sketch Magazine. Co-author of Camelot Forever novel series.