For a new comics creator, just getting noticed is a major part of the battle in publishing, but that doesn't seem to be a problem for Ovi Nedelcu. He's got a new ongoing series debuting from Image Comics this January called "Pigtale" and already high praise has been heaped upon his work by the likes of Erik Larsen, Mike Wieringo, James Jean and a list of other respected industry creators. CBR News spoke with Nedelcu to learn more about "Pigtale" and to learn more about the background of this first time comics creator.
"'Pigtale' is a contemporary story that takes place in present-day Portland, Oregon," Nedelcu told CBR News. "It tells the exciting adventure of Boston Booth, an amateur Private Eye whose life is in financial and professional turmoil, when suddenly he runs into Clyde, an intelligent talking pig desperate to get away from his violent wolf stepbrother Taxx. Together, Boston & Clyde venture off into the face of danger to help one another overcome their fears, rescue loved ones, and save the city from Taxx, who's bent on destroying Clyde, getting his revenge, and using the 'Super-Plasma' device to conquer the city and reign supreme!"
Our hero, Boston Booth, is kind of a goofy guy says Nedelcu, but in a "cool way." He's the underdog we all like to root for. But Boston's travels take him down a road filled with troubles he never quite asked for.
"He's defiantly not your college quarterback (even though he's sizable to be), but he's not a coward," said Nedelcu. "In fact, he is the opposite. He is foolishly courageous and usually acts on instinct instead of thinking things through. But that's part of his advantage in the field of crime fighting/investigation. Sometimes if you think, you're dead. He's also a confused and frustrated fellow when it comes to love and relationships; both with his grandma, dead parents and of course his crush on Carmen, the girl of his dreams.
"I'm not sure where the history of his character really stemmed from, but I think it's a combination of character traits we all have in us. Dealing with financial problems, love, careers, etc. I'm just trying to take all of those and present them in a new, fresh and entertaining way to which hopefully people can relate to. I find myself in these kinds of situations each day, and sometimes I seriously don't know what to do with my intelligent talking pig! It's frustrating. (laughs)"
A while back Nedelcu was working on a handful of ideas for a new series at the same time, trying to put together multiple stories, but ultimately merged most of them together to form the story in "Pigtale."
"My original idea was about three housewives that were married to incompetent detectives," said Nedelcu. "The idea was that the housewives were actually superheroes by night and housewives by day, and the wives would always end up saving their husbands from the mess they would get themselves in, only to have the husbands later come home and brag about how good they were at their job by taking the credit of the superheroes. Anyway, there was a lot more to it, and I might end up doing that story one day.
"I also had another idea about an intelligent pig which I always liked, so… I thought, 'ok, drop the wives, stick to one detective' and then drop a talking pig into the story! All of a sudden things just started rolling and falling into place. And so, the birth of 'Pigtale.'"
The long-term goals for "Pigtale" are already outlined by Nedelcu. He said the full story of "Pigtale" should take around 30+ issues with a possible spin-off story that would keep the stories of Boston Booth going.
By taking a look at the preview art that accompanies this article you'll see that Nedelcu has a unique visual style that's not like much else in comics, something people mention to him a lot when they look at his work.
"The style is just my own, its just how I draw. It's evolved over time, as it should, but I just wanted to have a clear and rough retro animation look to it. That's why I did it in black & white. I like the look of it so I decided early on that that's what I was going to do. Not to say I don't love colored work, but as far as this story goes, I just saw it in B&W. Maybe one day I'll end up coloring it, but even then it will be very muted out almost to the point of B&W. The cover and back illustrations will be in color. So you get the best of both worlds.
"A big influence on my work has to be my background in animation, and how stories are told in that medium. I would say Brad Bird ("The Incredibles," "Iron Giant") is one of my biggest influences, along with Milt Kahl and the rest of the 'nine old men.' Chuck Jones is huge in my studies and some of the old UPA and Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I'm also into a lot of children's books.
"As far as comic book influences, I'd have to say Alex Toth, Will Eisner and Mike Mignola are on the top of the list. Anything they touch is probably either in my library or will be some day. Tim Sale is awesome, and I'm really liking what Ed Risso is doing in the '100 Bullets' and Batman books. Great stuff."
"Pigtale" isn't Nedelcu's first published work. He's done a handful of work within the industry for DC & Dark Horse, but has spent most of his time working for animation studios doing development, character design and story boards. "Pigtale" does represent Nedelcu's first foray into monthly comics and he admits it's been a learning process. The first issue he experimented with a lot of tools and methods to get the words and pictures on the page, finally settling on a streamlined system to keep him on schedule for the remainder of the series.
"The way I work now on the book now is I write a full script and then do thumbnails based on it," said Nedelcu. "I then take those thumbnails and start laying out the design and composition of the page, pacing, timing, staging, and how each panel will affect and/or relate to one another. After those thumbnails are done, I blow them up on a copier to the original art size, and start roughing out the pencils.
"I have a weird method I use that I guess I picked up from working in animation in that I separate the backgrounds from the middle and foreground objects in more/less each panel and draw those three elements on a separate sheets of paper," continued Nedelcu. "For example, if I have a panel set in a background city street and I have people in the middleground, and in the foreground I have a tree framing it all, I will draw the background on one sheet, the people walking on another, and the tree on another in a 'layering' fashion. I don't know why I started doing it that way, but I will say that it helps me focus on the 'one element' in the panel, instead of having this overwhelming panel of things to draw and stuff happening. It helps me focus on that one part of the panel and then when I do my clean up I will 'layer/draw' them all back in the same panel. Kind of 'putting the pieces back together' so to speak.
"After that, I scan in the page and use Photoshop to 'tone/shade' them. The last step is dropping in the word balloons and writing the copy. And voila! That's it."
Taking a look at early comments on the series, creators like Erik Larsen have said "This guy is, simply put, incredible…," with Mike Wieringo saying "I'm blown away by the style Ovi had created for this book-- it's like nothing I've ever seen." All this high praise has proven to be inspiration for Nedelcu.
"Right now, the only stress I have is coming from my wife, who tells me constantly that I don't spend enough time with her and my daughter, which is very true," said Nedelcu. "And I really do hate not being able to spend more time with them. If you've seen 'The Incredibles,' well that's what I feel like; caught between my creative world and my real world.
"As far as those comments go; I really do appreciate every one of them and I'm very glad fellow industry and public people alike are accepting the book. Some of those guys are my childhood and present day heroes, so it's just awesome to get that response from them. It really makes me feel like I'm not the only one out there that's interested in this story and also to know that my artwork and sense of pacing and storytelling I was trying to present is being noticed in the way I intended it to. So yeah it very much inspires and helps keep my spirits up when I'm up at 4:00 AM finishing up a page. It really is the 'X' factor."