[Interview] Barbara Ciardo’s True Colors
If you haven’t been reading DC’s Wednesday Comics then you’re either stupid or crazy. Provided you’re not both, go to your local comic shop right now buy as many of them as you can. Yes, they’re that good.
Those of you who have been picking up this weekly treat have probably already decided which strips are worthwhile and which aren’t. To me, the only real toss-away strips are Metal Men (apparently DiDio writes an interesting story about as well as he edits), Teen Titans, and (until last week, anyways) Caldwell’s Wonder Woman. Other than that, we’re talking straight-up comic-book masterpieces.
One of these masterpieces is Superman. The story is simple enough — Superman is having some sort of existential crisis and he travels about while trying to figure out what it all means. The execution, however, is perfect. Arcudi’s writing and Bermejo’s pencils depict Kal-El as both iconic and humanly relatable. Kudos to them.
But what I find most breathtaking about this comic are the colors. When I fold open the newspaper-style strip, my eyes explode and nearly knock the lenses out of my glasses. I don’t even know what to write…the colors of this Superman strip are just perfect. Vibrant, warm, welcoming, heavenly.
So once I realized that I was in love with the colors, I decided to contact the woman responsible: Barbara Ciardo.
Despite being literally across the globe, not speaking English as a primary language, and the daily workload required of a full-time colorist, Barbara Ciardo agreed to answer some interview questions. So, without further adieu…
Rendar Frankenstein: Reading through your blog, I discovered that you are actually an Italian artist. Are there any challenges about working for American-based companies like Marvel/DC? Any benefits of being on another continent (like being that much further away from fire-breathing editors)?
Barbara Ciardo: Well, the distance doesn’t prevent editors from following your work and making you respect deadlines. So…no benefits. 🙂
RF: At what age did you realize that you wanted to pursue art professionally? How did you come to this realization?
Ciardo: I’ve always loved comics and cartoons and everything related to visual arts, but I never imagined doing this kind of job. Now I couldn’t love it more.
I started quite late (after secondary school) attending a school for comics artists where I met a lot of young talents. Together we planned to work as a team for some time. We produced a good amount of independent publications and went around for Italian conventions. There, I got in touch with most of the artists and editors with whom I’m actually working.
Most of my colleagues were born “with the pencil in one hand” and therefore had natural and instinctive artistic growths. For me, however, working in this field has been quite a recent choice, influenced by a strong passion that pushed me to study, follow artists’ careers and work hard to accomplish something I didn’t know to exist. And there’s still so much work to do…
RF: Is there anything about comic books/sequential art that you find especially attractive? In other words, you’re obviously a talented artist — why comics?
Ciardo: I discovered to love art thanks to comics, I’m artistically growing on comics and I really, really love being a comic artist.
Sequential art gives you the opportunity to afford so many different situations in setting and time, a new challenge on each page, and (the finest) thing is that you mostly work in teams. Working as a colorist, I always face an already written and penciled page; but every time, I still need to find the best solution to enhance it and make it live while remaining faithful to the preexisting work.
From a bunch of minds you have to obtain one unique, satisfactory, thing at the end. A fascinating process, I feel.
Anyway it would be nice for me to try also working in other related fields in the future…I’m studying…
RF: Your work with Lee Bermejo in Wednesday Comics is nothing short of breathtaking — with no disrespect to John Arcudi, the Superman strip is clearly all about the art. Can you take us through the creative process of this collaboration?
Ciardo: I don’t think there’s such a gap between story and art. In my opinion, Arcudi managed to perfectly represent Superman’s personality, going back over the fundamental stages of his existence, in a mere twelve pages.
Arcudi shows us Supes’ childhood, the approaching on Earth from Krypton, his relationship with his parents, the feelings for Lois Lane, the contrast with Batman, the Daily Planet…and the struggle against an alien threat. That is Superman and this story gave Lee and me the opportunity to render different situations, characters and settings while having fun on each page and, I hope, giving the readers something equally fun to read. It’s a unique thing for me, as I said previously.
Back to your question now…Working with Lee on those pages has been really stimulating. We talked on each page craft something we’re both pleased with. Additionally, I’ve had the chance to try a more pictorial coloring to follow his detailed, rich in shades, style. He had a clear idea of what he wanted with the color and I’ve been happy to embrace it – adding my taste and my ideas while I can.
I appreciate when I’m given so much freedom and trust -the enthusiasm is stronger and it’s visible at the end.
RF: As of right now, what is your proudest artistic moment? On the flipside of this coin, is there any work you did that you regret? Does the finished product validate all of the blood, sweat, and tears?
Ciardo: Though I’m truly satisfied with each work I’ve done until now, I must say that working for DC on Wednesday Comics with Lee Bermejo, John Arcudi and the editor Mark Chiarello has been such an incredible thing for me. The final result is absolutely worth the hard work done by every one.
RF: Is there anything you’d like to promote? Anything on the horizon for Barbara Ciardo that readers can look forward to?
Ciardo: At the moment I’m finishing a new book for Marvel with penciler Marco Castiello (I can’t say more on the story…) and at the same time I’m working on a book for the French market.
I’m going to start working soon (with Marco again) on Daybreak, a mini series for Jeff Katz’s American Original written by Brian Lynch and Gary Whitta.
Also in the air is the possibility of a (new) collaboration with Lee for the next year and some other interesting projects that are still to be confirmed.
That’s all I can say for the moment but you can always find updates about my work on my blog – barbaraciardo.blogspot.com
Feel free to write comments and ask for news!
RF: Lastly, what advice can you give to those who are contemplating a career in the world of art?
Ciardo: I’d suggest attending a school as to have a guide, continuity in exercise and mostly a place who meet people with the same interests. Look at the work of other artists and professionals of every fields, photography, fine arts, cinema, comics, animation and so on. Attend conventions and every day draw, draw, draw…and color, of course! 😉
And there it is. Sick. Seriously, make sure you go to Ms. Ciardo’s blog. And buy Wednesday Comics. And, if you can, go to Italy and visit her.