ENRIQUE FERNANDEZ lives in a fantasy world of his own design.
His graphic novels have dazzled readers across Europe with their stylized, storybook-like fancy mixed with dynamic — and often surreal — elements of design and color. And now he’s getting ready to dazzle audiences here in the US with the upcoming release of his dark fantasy epic, BRIGADA, a tale of Dwarven warriors lost in a world haunted by an evil mist that bridges multiple realities seemingly at random.
Much like Enrique’s imagination.
You were born in Barcelona, Spain in 1975. How old were you when you started drawing?
As many people in this industry (maybe everyone?), since I was just a kid, copying my favorite cartoon characters, and trying to create my own new ones. I didn´t consider it as a professional career until I was around 16 years old, but I did many comics and illustrations for local contests, and some illustrations for friends’ fanzines.
What were your influences?
I started with ASTERIX and TINTIN, which are internationally well-known, but also with local Spanish comics like MORTADELO, ZIPI ZAPE, and SUPERLOPEZ. Later, I loved John Buscema´s CONAN and started to read many adult comics like DEN from Richard Corben and others from that golden generation. Fortunately, at that time, there were some comic magazines such as ZONA 84, 1984, CIMOC, and METAL HURLANT where you could discover a lot, if not all, of the most important artists.
Years later, I was shocked by BLACKSAD, SKYDOLL, HELLBOY, and Claire Wendling´s work, and that was the turning point where I decided to focus more on creating comic books and to put the animation industry on second priority.
What was your first “big break” as a professional artist?
I started to work in the French BD market with an adaptation of THE WIZARD OF OZ, which was also published in the US by Image (Editors Note: this out of print edition was released prior to Marvel’s adaptation by Eric Shanower and Skottie Young). This book brought me a large audience, being an adaptation of a classic novel. It was great to work on that book for many reasons, and I really enjoyed developing my own vision of the characters. It was a light and colorful adaptation and being targeted for all audiences also helped to spread my work.
What other projects followed, and and which were your favorites?
The most important ones, during my work in animation, were two feature films titled EL CID and NOCTURNA, where I worked as storyboard artist.
The books I´ve published since are LIBERTADORES, LA MÉRE DES VICTOIRES (“The Mother of all Victories”), L´ILE SANS SOURIRE (“The Island without Smiles”), AURORE, LES CONTES DE L´ERE DU COBRA (“Tales from the Cobra Age”), and most recently BRIGADA. There are also short stories published in collection books such as SKY DOLL and BARCELONA TM, as well as some illustrations in TOTORO FOREST PROJECT and SKETCHTRAVEL.
I´ve also worked on videogames, and I´ve collaborated with Tequila Works on RIME (coming to PS4 in 2017) and THE SEXY BRUTALE (coming in 2017), and with Second Gate games I did the art for the board game B-SIEGED.
I can´t say which one is my favorite job of all these. Each one started the same way, with huge inspiration and motivation, and all of them have taught me many things. I love to try different approaches to each project, on the technical side.
What was your inspiration to create BRIGADA?
It´s one of those stories that you keep in a box for many years, evolving a lot since the first day you think about it. The first ideas came after reading the novel “The Witcher”, by Andrzej Sapkowski. I loved the mood of the book, and it was a great inspiration to make a dirty and crude world. As well as characters who don´t follow a classic “hero” path in their behavior.
What are you working on now?
I´m currently working on NIMA. It´s a story of a water nymph that reaches her adult age, and has to follow the nymph tradition: to find a human to procreate with, then to kill the human after that. But something goes wrong when she falls in love with the human and considers breaking the tradition. It´s a teenage love story for all audiences.
What is your normal technique? Do you work with traditional materials, or on a computer (or both)?
My usual technique is full digital. I started my first comics with traditional pencil work and then digital color, but most recently all the books were made fully digital. But now, I´m considering going back to traditional. My first attempt at this is working on NIMA with traditional pencil and gouache , avoiding the computer as much as possible.
What will you work on next?
I want to finish what I started with BRIGADA. It was conceived as a three volume story (Editors Note: the first two are collected in the new Edition released by Magnetic Press in November), and the third and final one will be crowdfunded next year. NIMA was a book I crowdfunded on the Spaceman Project platform, to test its viability, and it became necessary to make it at that point, leaving work on BRIGADA on standby for a moment. And I´m glad I made it this way, as it helps me think more relaxed about BRIGADA v3 , giving me some fresh air and distance.
What do you want to do some day?
Many things come to mind, and very few are related to comic books! I´m more and more attracted to illustration and childrens books, but there’s always the feeling I would love to draw some CONAN or HELLBOY story. Apart from that, there´s a project I would like to develop some day with my wife, combining illustrations with dolls/toys. I would also like to find time to learn a bit of music, just for the pleasure of doing it.