It’s not every day that illustrator Sandra Molina gets to chime in on Court of the Dead, and all things indie comics, so let’s do this, with relish.
Q: What’s it been like for you, being a colorist for Court of the Dead?
SM: Well, it was my first “important” role back when I started, and I got to work with the super awesome illustrator Carmen Carnero, so I remember Court of the Dead quite fondly! The editors were really cool too, and we worked together to polish the art as much as possible, so I had a great experience in all three chapters I colored!
Q: We love that you mentioned Carmen Carnero. Her illustrations are indeed super awesome, and her work with Dark Horse Comics (Dragon Age: Magekiller) is extraordinary. What is your preferred genre of comics to color? Sci-fi? Fantasy? Superhero? Other?
SM: Well, there’s a certain something to coloring fantasy that just draws me in, even when the art style is too detailed and complex… but sadly, in my experience, I haven’t enjoyed much artistic freedom with that sort of story.
So, I’d say that coloring superheroes is what I like the best! It’s a lot of fun, especially when I’m allowed to work with the artist to reach an understanding on what we want the story to feel like; there’s a big stylistic difference between my work in Batman and Robin Eternal 7 and 8, and in The Adventures of Supergirl thanks to that!
Q: What can you tell our readers about the Court of the Dead tale, without giving too much away?
SM: It’s like Game of Thrones, but in the underworld! Intricate conspiracies among the high ranks of the Court of the Dead and different factions. You’ve got to figure out the real motivations each character has. My favorite character is Oglavaeil the executioner, precisely because he tries to stay away from palace plots.
Q: It’s been said that the fascinating character of Oglavaeil possesses so much power, that he could turn the entire tale upside-down, all by himself, if he really wanted to. Many memorable characters from literature share this position, and it’s certainly a wild plot device. You mentioned Game of Thrones. Have you been watching? Have you been reading the books? What are your thoughts on all of that?
SM: My first job in the American comic market was Dynamite’s take on GoT! I began watching the series to know what the heck was going on as I worked on it. I still follow it, though I’m not the kind that goes berserk when a character dies like most fans I know. I just go “Hah, I told you this one was next,” having a laugh at both the characters and the fans’ reactions. The hate my fellow nerdy friends have for me is only second to the hate they used to have towards the people who’d read the books and spoiled deaths on social media.
Unrelated, people keep asking me if Daenerys is my favorite character for some reason and making weird faces when I ask why. That’s a mystery that I’m yet to solve, but, in the meantime, go Ser Davos, go.
Q: If you could enjoy a day, in real life, with any one of the characters from Game of Thrones, which character would you choose, and what would you do together that day?
SM: If I could just get Syrio Forel to teach me some Water Dance fencing moves for a whole day, that’d be great.
Q: As an artist, who are some of your biggest influences?
SM: Marte Gracia is definitely one of the colorists I admire the most, alongside Rex Lokus , but European artists like Miquel Montlló and their use of warmer, more pastel-like colors hold a special place in my heart.
Q: Which indie comics have you been enjoying most these days?
SM: Other than titles from Amigo Comics like Rogues, I mostly read indie European comics, such as Lincoln or Silas Corey, or webcomics such as Octopus Pie or Lackadaisy Cats.
Q: If you could enjoy a day, in real life, with any one of the characters from Amigo Comics’ Rogues, which character would you choose, and what would you do together that day?
SM: I’d absolutely love to hang out with Bram to watch him ramble endlessly about crushing skulls and making ladies swoon. It’s pretty much the equivalent of hanging out with any D&D barbarian after all!
Q: Octopus Pie is great fun, and its creator Meredith Gran does some truly awe-inspiring stuff with colors that every illustrator can learn from. What is it that you, being a colorist yourself, appreciate most about that little-known webcomic?
SM: Octopus Pie began being colored just around a year ago, so, I have to say, despite the fact the color’s really given the art style a lot more life it’s not quite what got my interest. The characters, however, are what makes a story for me, and over the nine years Octopus Pie’s been around, they’ve grown like real people. It’s just a delight to see them evolve so naturally, so much more cohesively than the comic characters we’re used to.
Q: We understand that you are both a LARPer and a tabletop RPGer. Tell us more about that?
SM: There’s quite nothing like LARPing, I tell you. I mean, it’s the only place where people congratulate me for stealing stuff from them! I personally love running around trying to do quests and become famous, and they’re kind of like summer camps: you see the friends you make here like once a year, but soon you’re friends with pretty much everybody, and it’s great to see people who’ve come from far away just to LARP together!
I love tabletop RPGs as well, though I must confess that sitting on a chair looking at a map and character sheet for hours isn’t quite as thrilling, haha.
Q: What’s the wildest thing that you ever witnessed at a LARP event?
SM: Oh boy, I have a thousand stories, but among my top ones are these:
So there was this group of elves trying to escape a town besieged by the undead. They wanted to do some weird spell to teleport away, but their players were nothing but cheapskates so they brought the bare minimum resources for the spell and still tried to negotiate to use fewer yet, so the GM got mad and told them to close their eyes. He led them away, left them alone, and yelled “OKAY, OPEN YOUR EYES.”
‘Lo and behold, they’re among the undead soldiers outside the city. All dead within ten seconds. Bless their hearts.
And there was also this one time I defeated a guy in single combat who had twice my health points and IRL size (I’m 5’ 2”, he was well over 6’ 3” and really muscular.) This I did by running in circles around a tree and ducking for my life, but the legend that I’m tough as nails for winning still continues until this day.
Q: Which indie comics would you recommend for children to read?
SM: There are really cute titles out there like Paola Crusoé (I’m not very sure how this one is called over there), and I’d also totally recommend Cucumber Quest for kids who love Nintendo videogames!
Q: Paola Crusoé looks amazing. Thank you for letting us know about that one. Do you happen to know if that’s been properly translated for English readers yet?
SM: As far as I know, it’s only been printed in Spanish. I only discovered the title and her author recently at the Barcelona Comic Con, as I happened to share a stand with her. I can only hope it’ll get translated into many more languages as it grows in popularity!
Q: How have you changed as an artist, from the time when you took your first steps as a colorist?
SM: I actually began just 3 years ago, when I was 17. My art has changed wildly since I began, as I started knowing pretty much nothing; I had zero formal education on art, never even stepped into an art academy, so I’m not quite sure how I even landed a job! However, my co-workers were so kind as to point me in the right direction every time I had made a mistake, until I finally learned to walk on my own. I still make mistakes every so often, and I make weird faces when someone says artsy things like “try using maroon,” but my flaws are way less noticeable now than they were.
Q: As an artist…to whom, to where, or to what do you turn towards during those times when it feels like some guidance is needed?
SM: I try and look for art the style of which resonates within me and inspires me to improve myself and try to test the limits of my skill! And when that fails I watch Youtube tutorials on how to paint, which have proven to be a mighty fine teacher.
Q: What are you excited to be reading this summer, indie comic or otherwise?
SM: I’m looking forward to reading everything on tapastic, as most webcomic authors tend to release extra updates during summer vacations!
Q: What do you predict will be the next big trend in indie comics?
SM: Going back to super gritty 90s style underground comics to distance themselves from the tone set by the big companies. It happens every decade!
Q: The 1990s gave us Battle Angel Alita, Bone, Concrete, Dark Horse Presents, Hellboy, Maus, Sandman, Spawn, and so many more. Being a colorist, which indie comics from that last decade of the 20th century would you say had the biggest impact on you?
SM: Mignola’s art on Hellboy definitely opened a new world of simple yet powerful art—but that’s the biggest influence they’ve had on me. I have to admit that I’ve read a shamefully tiny amount of comics in my life, but I did begin my journey of comic discovery in my early teenage years surrounded by fans of the underground comic culture who wouldn’t stop telling me about how anything before and after the 90s sucked, so they made sure that I knew how important they were in order to change the whole hero routine.
Then again I was 5 when the past millennium ended, so, whoops, can I get a free pass on this one?
Q: You’ll get a free pass on that one, youngster. You’ll just have to get out there and start reading more comics, that’s all. Which of the current crop of indie comics are you most curious to read?
SM: I’ve got my eye on Super Human Resources lately! I’m not sold on the art, but the plot sounds absolutely hilarious, so I can’t wait to get a chance to read it!
Q: What are you illustrating this summer?
SM: I’ll be working on my own comic, Coyote Bison. It’s a western comedy which I hope to be able to distribute in the European comic market—and hey, who knows, maybe one day it’ll even travel over the pond! But for now, I’m only just a couple of pages in, so it’s still a long way until then.