An Interview With Comic Book Artist  David Alvarez

David Alvarez, the main artist behind the modern Looney Tunes comic books, has been kind enough to answer my many questions regarding his work and the comics. Below are my questions, in bold, and his answers. Also included are some examples of his work.

-Matthew Hunter

 

1. When did you first begin drawing? Did you have any particular inspirations or favorite things to draw?
- Well... I've been drawing since I was five, (Ask my parents about the "1984 room wall grafitti incident"). By that age I used to watch EVERY Disney video available so I could learn to draw the "right way". I remember that I liked to draw the characters not in their "traditional" poses, but making unusual expressions on their faces.
 

2. How did you become an artist for DC's Looney Tunes series?
 
-I read in an Animation Magazine that Warner Bros. was cleaning and reviving the Looney Tunes characters by updating their looks and making new projects. Among those projects was "Space Jam" so I saw that as great oportunity to get inside the cartoon industry. I decided to try my hand on the comic books, so I asked for  a submission guideline, (HINT: Hey kids...never aproach an angry editor with your drawings without that piece of paper first. He or she might bite), I sent samples of my work and I waited for 365 days....(sigh!)...and voila! I received a call at 8:35 pm from WB that night. I tought it was a joke at first...but then I realized that my uncle wasn't that good in english, so It couldn't be him.
 The first story I drew was an Animaniacs story, (very rare to find, indeed), then the next one was a Sylvester story called "Frankentweety"...that's when I stayed with the Looney Tunes.
 
3. Who is your favorite writer to work with?
 
- Every writer is distinct in his own way. All of them are Top Notch! But I really enjoy working with Dan Slott. If there's someone who knows about the Looney Tune Universe is that man! He knows how to take a laugh out of the reader. And he has an extreme knowledge about "timing" in a story. That's a wonderful thing!
 
4. Who's your favorite character?
 
- Bugs Bunny. In order to draw him, you have to understand his moods. I love Daffy too, because he allows me to work with new expressions a lot, but is that delicate line between coolness and wisecracking that Bugs have that challenges me.

alvarez2.jpg (588615 bytes)

from Looney Tunes #83: page from "Munchie Madness", in which Bugs battles a malfunctioning snack machine. Writer: Keith Giffen, art by David Alvarez.
 
5. Have you ever worked on other comic book series?

 
- Not in the US market yet. Altough I did some original work in Dark Horse's 911 books last year. I had the great privilege to work with writer Gail Simone.
  I used to self publish a comedy comic book in Puerto Rico named "Changuy" a Batman-like-cartoon crow with a super suit  and super-“jerk-iness”
  I’ve also published many comic strips in local newspapers.

CHANGUY.jpg (339041 bytes)     JULIE.jpg (31770 bytes)KIKE KOKI (COMIC STRIP 1).jpg (118944 bytes)

David Alvarez's 'Changuy' characters

 
6. When you draw, say, Wile E. Coyote, do you draw using a model sheet as an animator would, or do it completely from memory? Do you use the same methods with every character?
 
- Warner Bros is very aware that the characters have to look right, so they supply us with every visual reference that we need so we can meet those standards, say model sheets, books…etc.
 
7. Do you ever assist the writers in coming up with a story or ideas?
 
-Sometimes Dan Slott calls me and tell me what he has in mind and we come up with some gags. But usually the writers come up with all the story lines. Every now and then I add or delete some panels for comedy timing.
 
8. What is your favorite story you've ever drawn?
 
- I had a lot of fun with “Who killed Bugs Bunny”. It took me over a month to watch a big pile of Bugs Bunny videos looking for all those old Bugs Bunny villians and a week to throw darts at a picture of Dan Slott for writing that!! (Joke..he-he).
- But seriously, I really enjoyed that story a lot. It was a big challenge for me.

 

 
9. I have noticed a number of great cameos of obscure Looney Tunes characters...are those your idea or the various writers?
- I started that gag  back when Dana Kurtin was still the editor. She had a great sense of humor , so she allowed me to draw weird cameos of old Looney Tunes characters every now and then.  Joan Hilty, my actual editor, have that humor also. I don’t know, I just found funny that for no particular reason Michigan Frog’s owner was standing near a newspaper stand  meanwhile Daffy Duck was leading the story in the foreground. It’s a way to make the panel less boring. I’m crazy, don’t mind me.
 
10. Has there ever been a story or a drawing within one that the editors didn't like?
 
- I remember a Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot story that I drew and Dana Kurtin looked at it and called me before faxing the corrections and these were her words: “David… the story looks great, but we have to work on certain details….don’t worry… we’ll work it out together”. When she faxed the corrections I saw that I had to draw the story AAAAALL OVER AGAIN!
-  That day I learned the importance of visual gag timing and the virtues of caffeine.
 
12. My favorites in the LT comics are the Road Runner stories. In comics originally, the Road Runner actually talked, in rhyme, and had multiple kids...but I think the classic cartoon approach is much better. What do you think?
 
- I remember those stories. It’s kind of weird how they worked comics by that time, so they won’t look like the original item AT ALL. They had their innocence and particular charm. I LOVE the new Road Runner stories because it’s all up to the cartoonist to make the reader understand what is going on without using words. You can spot a good artist by looking at his or her sequential art without any confusions.

from Looney Tunes #88. Writer Jesse Leon McCann, art by David Alvarez.

 
13. Who was your favorite of the classic Warner Bros. cartoon directors? Favorite cartoon by that director?
 
- The master of timing and expressions, Mr Charles M. Jones. He, along with Tex Avery and Bob Clampett are my greatest inspirations.
 
14. What do you think of all the recent controversy over Speedy Gonzales?
- With all due respect, that was a very unnecessary  controversy. I mean…come on!! We all grew up with that little Mexican mouse! Leave him alone!!! Let him run free and let him shout: “ARRIBA, ANDALE!”
 alvarez 3.jpg (468957 bytes)

Cover art to Looney Tunes #82. While Alvarez handles the cover art here, the actual feature story is handled by Frank Strom and Walter Carzon.

15. I'd love to see a story with Speedy, Daffy Duck and Sylvester in the same story, ala "A Taste of Catnip"...do you think that could ever happen?
 - If some writer has that Friz Freleng touch, I’m sure that it will happen.

 
16. Have you ever considered doing animation? You know, some of the stories in these comics are worthy of screen adaptation. I'm serious.
- Thank you. Some people have approached me with that question too, and to be honest, my training has been more animation-oriented, but I love the comic book media because you can have total control of  the scenes  and  at the end the story has a very personal touch.
 
17. What do you think of  Warner Bros. making new theatrical shorts and "Baby Looney Tunes"?
- I think it’s great! Reviving those theatrical shorts and the use of the Baby Looney Tunes  is not only fantastic, but it’s a way of pumping new blood and gags  to the classic cartoons.
 
18. What can we expect to see in the Looney Tunes comics in the next year? Any issues or stories of note?
 - The books are more comedy-oriented than before. Way back when they were starting, the humor was more child-like but right now, the Looney Tunes writers are creating hefty comical stories that can be compared to any humor book on the market.
 
19. I saw a story a year or so ago with Claude Cat in it...was that fun to do? I'd love to see more with him.
 
- I’ve drawn Hubbie and Bertie before , but I’ve never drawn Claude.  Are you sure it was mine?
 
20. When I interviewed Dan Slott, he mentioned the "Who Killed Bugs" issue as one of his favorites. What did you think of that one?
- Like I said before, to me, “Who killed Bugs Bunny” is the best Looney Tunes book up to date.
 

"Who Killed bugs" cover art

21. Do you have any advice to aspiring comic book artists?
- Don’t ever give up! This is a very competitive market and if you are strong in your artwork and most of all, strong in your will, You can make it! God bless you all!

 
22. Did you ever meet any of the Warner Bros. directors, like Chuck Jones?
- Aaah… Sadly I never got to meet Mr Jones, or any of the classic directors. But I had the great privilege to illustrate a short Chuck Jones tribute story written  by Dan Slott  using Mr. Jones’s style. Another big challenge for me.

The first page of the upcoming Looney Tunes #93.

 
.23. Anything else you would like to say, about yourself, about doing the comics, about Looney Tunes, or anything?
- Working with the Looney Tunes books have not only shaped and strengthened my drawing skills but have also teached me a lot about the comic book industry. I’m looking forward to take my characters to the US market and get them published, so be on the lookout for more stuff!
- I thank Warner Brothers and DC Comics for all the trust that they have deposited in me during this years and years to come. There’s nothing better that to work on something that you like and really enjoy it. God is good!
 
-Matthew Hunter and David Alvarez

_____________________________________________________________________________
For more comics information, visit the Toon Zone Comics page. If you'd like to subscribe to one year (12 issues) of Looney Tunes for just $19.95, call the DC Comics subscription service at 1-800-887-6789. And to find a comic book store near you, visit the Comic Shop Locator Service.

article:©2002 Matthew Hunter and David Alvarez. Images: all LT comic images © DC comics, from Matthew Hunter's collection, except image from "One For the Road", courtesy of Toon Zone. "Changuy" images courtesy of David Alvarez.

Comic Shop Locator Service.

article:©2002 Matthew Hunter and David Alvarez. Images: all LT comic images © DC comics, from Matthew Hunter's collection, except image from "One For the Road", courtesy of Toon Zone. "Changuy" images courtesy of David Alvarez.