CBS series “Limitless” — based on the 2011 movie starring Bradley Cooper, who has reprised his role on the show and serves an executive producer — has been a solid success for the network in its first season. In next week’s “Sands, Agent of Morra,” the backstory of Sands (Colin Salmon) will be revealed — through flashback sequences told through comics panels, illustrated by a group of high-profile and stylistically diverse comic book artists.
“Limitless” enlisted artists Robbi Rodriguez, Annie Wu, Babs Tarr, Andrew Robinson, Joe Suitor, Mark Bright and Nick Pitarra to illustrate the flashbacks, which in the episode will be envisioned by as series lead Brian Finch’s (Jake McDorman) NZT-fueled brain. CBR has an exclusive interview with fan-favorite “Spider-Gwen” series artist Rodriguez on his contribution to the issue, plus a look at his illustrations that will appear on the episode.
CBR News: Robbi, for as many strides as comic books and comics culture have made in the mainstream in recent years, art by actual comics artists appearing on a network prime time show is still a big deal. What does it mean to you for your art to appear, alongside many of your industry peers, on “Limitless”?
Robbi Rodriguez: It was one of the reasons I took on the gig when I had “Spider-Gwen” #6 on my plate as well. I knew it was going to be two weeks of hell. It’s unheard of that a network show, let alone one on prime time, and one that’s built as one of its flagship shows this session, would even give screen time to our work. I give [credit] to the director and art department for reaching out to us, as they could have easily just handed it to someone in the art department to create “faux” comics images that don’t look right, as they may not come from the same storytelling training they we come from. So, big props to the show respecting what we do and giving us us such a large stage to show our craft on.
What type of research went into drawing illustrations in the “Limitless” world? Did the established visuals of the series inspire you?Â
Not much, outside of actor and location research. This project had to have a quick turnaround, so time for studies were out the window. Yet, one of the first notesÂ given to me by the show and art director was that they want my own take on the show. So that’s what I did, developing my takeÂ and just “guitarÂ jamming” till I found the parts that I needed to make a pop song.
How did your approach to the “Limitless” illustrations compare to your comic book work? What did this opportunity offer that’s different for you?
Not much different besides doing my own coloring again, outside of my covers. The system was still kinda that same. I treated John Lopez [comic scene coordinator for the episode] as an “editor” of sorts. I would send my layouts, have the director get the OK and start cracking on the work. It was a heavy load. As I said before, I had to finish “Spider-Gwen” #6, which was due on the same day as this project. So I guess the biggest difference was, I got two hours of sleep, [rather] than a normal week where I get three to four hours a night.
Your art appearing on a TV show is just one example of the notoriety you’ve experienced since “Spider-Gwen.” Obviously, you were a known commodity in comics before, but how much has “Spider-Gwen” changed the direction of your career (and life)?
Honest, it really hasn’t. This was great opportunity, and it would have never come about without my exposure on “Gwen.” If another comes across, I would be up for it was well. That girl seems to open new doors for me, but I still plan on retiring in a few years. This is will be another crazy story I can tell people when I’m restocking “Spider-Gwen” bed sheet sets.Â [NOTE: Rodriguez, 32, has stated in interviews he plans to retire from comics at age 40.]
“Limitless” airs 10 p.m. Tuesdays on CBS. “Sands, Agent of Morra,” featuring illustrations by comics artists including Robbi Rodriguez, Annie Wu, Babs Tarr, Andrew Robinson, Joe Suitor, Mark Bright and Nick Pitarra, airs Feb. 23.