Tony Sandoval has become a comic-book rockstar with his Eisner-nominated graphic novels DOOMBOY, A GLANCE BACKWARD, and his newest book, RENDEZ-VOUS IN PHOENIX, the true story of his crossing the US-Mexican border to reunite with his girlfriend. Lion Forge’s “FORGE FORECAST” recently asked Tony some questions about his beautiful books, available now from the Magnetic Collection at Lion Forge’s YA imprint ROAR!
You write a lot of stories about young characters – kids and teens – with a little dark side. Were you dark as a kid?
I don’t think so, but for sure I was a strange kid. But then all kids are mostly strange! But I was really curious all the time.
How did you get into making comics? Did you draw a lot as a kid? Did you take classes?
I never took drawing classes at all, but I drew all the time. I love stories and love telling them. I first discovered comics when I skipped school to buy comics downtown. I was so scared because I had never been so far away by myself, but I was with my best friend. I got Superman, and I loved to see so many drawings in a single page. Since then, I’ve loved comics.
Your characters like to find fantasy and adventure hiding in the middle of everyday reality – a thunderstorm in DOOMBOY turns into a war between Vikings in the clouds, etc. Do you imagine a lot of fantasy around you in real life?
Well, yes, I like to think like that, but then when I start drawing it’s like my hand has its own mind! So much of my universe happens once the pencil touches the paper — all kinds of epic things happen, while I’m having coffee in the front yard of my aunt’s house!
Doomboy becomes a rock god by playing doom metal on the beach to his dead girlfriend. How much are you like Doomboy? Are you into metal? Do you play guitar?
Yes, I can totally mix with Doomboy. When I was young, I played guitar in a band, and sometimes I’d get angry with those guys, and other things like that happened around the music fan guys. Doomboy has a lot of memory details from my life, and from others friends as well. It was so fun to write and draw that book while in Paris, so far away from where those memories happened.
Your most recent graphic novel, RENDEZ-VOUS IN PHOENIX, is a true story about the time you smuggled yourself across the border from Mexico into the United States. We hear a lot these days about this kind of illegal immigration in the news today, but you did it to reunite with your American girlfriend. Were you scared? What was the hardest part? And would you do it again today, with the change in politics these days?
I was scared as hell! And of course I’ll never do that again. The thing that scared me most was whether I was doing something bad for my future as a comic book author, by complicating my immigration status. Getting the papers to make a living in comics, which actually happened after a while, but I wasn’t as scared of the adventure.
The character of “Tony” in RENDEZ-VOUS doesn’t look much like how your fans know you – long hair, beard, etc. Is that really how you looked back then?
It happened like 18 year ago!! Of course I was young and looked completely different than I do now. I wanted to do a character that was easy to draw, not concentrate on how I look now or how I looked in the past, and I’m happy about that.
How does drawing a comic about your own history compare to drawing fiction?
It is out of my comfort zone, but it’s fine. I loved drawing it, after I figured out how. I just wish I could have spent more time on the storytelling.
Even though RENDEZ-VOUS is a personal story about your own reason for making that dangerous journey, what do you hope readers take away from the book?
I hope they have a good time reading about my adventure, but also to have a look at what is happening in our countries. I’m not just talking about in the U.S., but in Mexico as well. And why not other countries around the world? And why this is all happening.