At the Super Comic Fest in Secaucus, NJ on Saturday, CBR News caught up with artist Rodney Ramos ["Batman," "Birds of Prey"]. The exhibition center at the Crowne Plaza Hotel hosted New Jersey's largest comic book convention August 19th and 20th. Comic fans were greeted by the sight of the original Batmobile from the '60s Batman series as they entered the exhibition hall. Celebrities included Julie Newmar (Catwoman) and Yvonne Craig (Batgirl) from "Batman" and members from the cast of "Three's Company." And a bevy of comic book artists, of course, including Ramos, Rich Buckler, Cliff Chiang and others. Ramos spoke with CBR News in a quick chat about his career, the many publisher's he's worked for and what it was like to be a Romita raider.
Hey Rodney, thanks for talking with us today. So, right now you're primarily working at DC, right?
Yeah. I'm doing miscellaneous things right now, nothing really concrete. I'm just filling in, helping out on certain books.
Over the years, you've worked on a number of Bat-titles. Would you say Batman is one of your favorite characters?
It's everybody's favorite character. It's an icon. You always want to work with an icon. It's like working on Spider-Man. I helped out recently on ["Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman"]. You know, that's Spider-man. You can't lose with an icon.
You've worked for almost every major publisher in comics, haven't you?
Right. You name the company, I might've worked there. The only company I haven't really worked for is Dark Horse. Probably that's the only one. I mean, Valiant, Acclaim, all the Jim Shooter ones, Marvel UK, Malibu. I didn't work for CrossGen 'cause you had to move down there and be a part of the company.
Considering how things worked out for CrossGen, that's probably for the best. Of those companies you have worked for, do you have a favorite and why?
I enjoy working for DC and Marvel. Generally, if its comics I like doing them. That's what comics is all about. You never know, dude. When Valiant first came out, people were like "Why do you want to work for them?" Because it's a brand new set of characters and you get to do whatever, you can have fun and play with it, because it's not established characters.
Rodney, where'd you get your start in comics?
At Marvel, as an assistant to John Romita Sr. [in 1987], as one of the Romita raiders, back when Marvel had a program for artists. That program is gone now. Now, there's no need because there are so many talented people out there - before it was all about whether you were gonna stay. Now, the artists are all over the world. They hire everyone from everywhere. With FedEx these days, they don't have to worry about talent. My first published work was around '87. I've been doing it a long time.
I was an assistant to Mark Texeria, and that's how I met John and became a raider. Back then, when you were a raider, you worked on art corrections. We were fixing things. If you look back at some of the Marvel Universe comic books, that you know, were basically a dictionary of comic characters, if you wanted information on them. We fixed all the art on that. That was the whole job back then. While you were there, you worked on your samples, talked to the editors and got to know everybody. It was a lot of fun back then, it was crazy. Marvel is very corporate now.
What was it like working for John Romita Sr.?
John is one of the sweetest, nicest guys around. That shows in John Romita Jr., too. Just like him, an amazing, wonderful person.
Do you think its harder for an artist to break in now than it was for you back in 1987?
Oh yeah. It's like anything else, though. If you're talented, they find work for you. I've seen it happen. It's like "you're the next Kirby, or the next [John] Cassady" and they'll give you a project and test you out. So, there's a lot of opportunity there. It's hard, but if you're talented, it's not that hard.
What advice would you give young artists trying to break into the business?
To draw, draw, draw. Study the guys you like the most and practice. You can't go wrong with practicing. Practice, Practice, Practice.
What's next for you, Rodney? What can we expect to see on comic shop shelves in the coming months?
I'm working on some stuff for DC and until it comes through, I can't really say what it is. And I'm doing some miscellaneous stuff. Some "Legion of Super-Heroes" stuff, some Batman stuff. That's it for now. I'm just kind of taking it easy right now. [laughs]
Any independent projects on the radar for you?
I did help a guy on a book called "Chopper" by Martin Shapiro. He's a movie producer who wanted to release his movie [about a headless motorcyclist seeking justice, kind of like a modern-day 'Sleepy Hollow'] as a comic first. That first issue came out already. And the other thing I'm doing is a bunch of projects for book companies. A lot of times, it's about waiting for the right project to come in. A lot of stuff is always in development.