Exclusive Interview With Ender’s Game Comic Illustrator

Exclusive Interview with Sebastián Fiumara

Sebastián Fiumara is an artist who has brought faces to Ender, Bean, Achilles and many more in the Ender’s Game comics. His illustrations have been included in Ender’s Shadow: Battle School, Ender’s Shadow: Command School, and the cover of Ender in Exile.

Alea, from our partner Philotic Web, conducted a nice lengthy interview with Fiumara exclusively for our collective readers. You can read the full interview and see a few of his illustrations below after the jump. Note the drawing of Bean (aka Ender’s Shadow) which Fiurama drew specifically for our interview; to see a much larger version click here. If you would like to see more of this work click here; he even has a neat section with more drawings of the Rotterdam kids.

Ender’s Ansible/ Philotic Web: How did you get involved with the Ender comics?
Sebastián Fiumara: I was finishing my previous book, Marvel Illustrated: The Picture of Dorian Gray and the editor told me Marvel would be developing a couple of mini series based on OSC´s novels and asked me if I was interested in participating. I was not familiar with the book by then, but after he told me what it was about, I was in. It was also appealing for me to do it because I had never been involved with a Sci-Fi book before; it would be a good artistic challenge.

EA/PW: Have you spoken or interacted with Orson Scott Card at all in the process?
SF: I’ve always interacted through the editor. He was the one who talked with Orson, showed him the work I was doing and then passed me his notes. I was told Scott Card himself selected me for this project and that he was really happy with my work but I never spoke with him directly.

EA/PW: How much interaction did you have with the writer, Mike Carey? What forms of communication did you use most often in your interactions?
SF: We communicated all the time by e-mail. Very often during the process first the editor would send me the script and after I read it, I’d write to Mike with some notes or questions and he would respond to me on everything. Every time I finished a comic page I’d send it to him and to the editor for approval and we’d discuss any comments about my drawings. He was always a gentleman, a very professional, nice guy to work with.

EA/PW: How much of the character and setting design did you come up with and how much was based on previous work by Pasqual Ferry, on the Ender’s Game: Battle School series?
SF: As Ender’s Shadow tells almost the same facts that occur in Ender’s Game novel but from Bean’s point of view, I needed to follow Pasqual’s designs in everything that was related to Ender’s story: of course Ender, the rest of the crew, the technology, the Formics, etc. It was very cool and really fun to do; Pasqual is very talented and gave a perfect futuristic feel to the series. I only had to make sure to follow him but with my own point of view, i.e. Bean’s point of view. In the case of Bean and all the other characters and the sights of Rotterdam that appear in the first issues, it was my own doing.

EA/PW: How much liberty are you able to take in the design process? Are you given strict guidelines to follow or given freedom to do as you wish?
SF: I had total freedom with this book, except of course following Pasqual Ferry’s designs. Although, in the creation of Bean in particular, Orson Scott Card sent a picture of a boy he thought could be a good model from where we could start building Bean’s look. It was the only case. With the rest of the characters, I imagined them after reading the novel and draw a sketch and sent it to the editors. They approved my ideas and initial concepts in almost all cases.

EA/PW: For those of us who are unfamiliar with the production side of comics, can you shed some light on the creation of a comic; that is, what stages does a comic go through from concept to printing?
SF: I don’t have the detailed info about the whole process, but generally speaking, the editors bring the first concept or idea for a comic book. When it’s approved they hire the creative team, a writer, the artists (penciler and inker) and the colorist they think could take care properly of the story they want to tell. When the writer has the script done and approved the artist starts drawing. After this stage, the inker starts doing the finishing. Sometimes the penciler is also the inker. Anyway, when all inked pages are approved by the editors, they go to the colorist and the letterer. And then, the production crew of the company takes care of the design of the book before sending it to print.

EA/PW: What part of that process is your favorite?
SF: Artistically, the part I enjoy the most is the inking. I love to do the pencils but the inks generally are more relaxed and enjoyable. I also have a great time reading the script; as an artist it is difficult to see the printed comic book as a whole when you were part of the process to make it. So when I get the script at the beginning I can enjoy it more or less as a reader would do.

EA/PW: I assume you read the comics in the process of doing the art. Do you read the entire issue before you sit down to draw or do you read it as you go along?
SF: I read the whole issue several times before I start sketching the layouts of the pages. And then I read it along while I work over the pencils. I want to get the right feeling and idea the writer wants the story to have.
In the case the story is an adaptation of a novel like this, I also read the original book alongside the script of the comic book. Just to have some additional help in trying to the get the characters as close as the original source as possible.

EA/PW: Did any of the characters stand out as either being relatable to you or more interesting than the others?
SF: Not that I found him relatable to me in any way, but Bean is easily the most interesting of all. I love him. He is very breakable at the beginning of the story but also a little brain mixed with Dirty Harry. It’s difficult not to fall in love with a character like him. He is fragile but he can also be deadly only by staring at you. Poke and Achilles, that triangle relationship with Bean was very intense for the main story too and truly attractive.

EA/PW: Was there a character, panel, or entire issue you did that you were especially proud of?
SF: The first issue is special for me, I loved this part of the story where all the action takes place in Rotterdam and we get to know Bean, Sister Carlotta and the other kids. I had a blast working on this chapter. The scene where Bean finds Poke’s dead body on the last pages is one of my favorites. It was a challenge artistically but I think it turned out pretty well.

EA/PW: Were there any parts that were especially challenging to do?
SF: Issue three is where the transferring between earth and outer space starts to happen. Bean is sent to the school and here is when Sci-Fi explodes. It was my first time drawing technology and starships and it was difficult. Luckily, I was following most of Pasqual Ferry’s designs so I had half the job done.

EA/PW: One of the great things about the Ender books and thus, the comics, is that the story they tell can be enjoyable to a wide audience, from young teens to adults. What stories were influential in your life, as you were growing up?
SF: Any story that had a hero in it. I’ve always loved heroes or superheroes tales. I remember when I was a child being a huge fan of characters like Zorro, Tarzan, or the Super Friends TV show. They were very influential to start drawing superheroes and to become a big comic book lover.

EA/PW: Did you read comics when you were a child?
SF: I read some comics when I was a child but very few, only occasionally. I started doing it more often as a teen. I think that was when I really discovered the medium, and started loving it.

EA/PW: What led you into art in general?
SF: I had always being drawing, like any other kid I guess. I started copying the drawings my father used to do. I remember drawing all the time. As I was growing up, it always stood with me and was a very important part of my life. I didn’t go to any art school but I never stopped drawing either. Since the beginning I always knew no matter what, I would draw all my life. I only didn’t know how to make a living out of it.

EA/PW: What ultimately made you decide to pursue a career in comic books?
SF: When I finished high school I didn’t know what to do, if I would keep studying or what to do with my future career-wise. By then, I already was a big comic book fan and as always I still loved to draw but it never occurred to me that I could actually become a comic book artist. Then I found through the newspaper there was a comic book school in my city so I thought it could be cool to go there and see what happened. As it turned out, I studied there for three years. It was there I realized I wanted to be a comic book artist. It guided my drawing skills and also drove me into the path of my comic book career.

EA/PW: Where can we see your work next, be it Ender related or not?
SF: I’m not working in any Ender-related book right now. My last contribution for the series was the covers I did for the adaptation Marvel did of the Ender In Exile novel. I had a blast doing them.
I don’t know, maybe someday in the future it could be cool to return to Bean and the Ender myth. These are wonderful characters to work with.