Interviewer: Anthony Andujar Jr

Interviewee: Rick Lopez
Q1. You’ve worked on various projects such as Image: Grand Design/Grand Disaster, and a couple of other projects with the cartoonist kayfabe ringside seats crew in between it all. What got you into comics, and led you to becoming a comics creator? 

RL: Yes! I was very fortunate to have worked on both Image Grand Design and Weapon Ecch with the CKRS crew met so many friends and led to the creation of Next Panel Press. Honestly, I can’t really remember a time where comics weren’t around in some fashion, albeit the Marvel comics were pretty much nonexistent when I was young due to the early 90’s speculation boom (something I’d realize later) but I have been drawing the majority of my life. For a period of time, I was pretty down on my art, wasn’t drawing, and eventually figured I’d just write and have others illustrate my ideas. Initially had someone else in mind to draw The Power. After starting to sketch again, I ended up working on the first page and it snowballed from there. After already scripting and thumbnailing all four issues it seemed obvious to just do it myself. Meeting everyone from IGD helped me learn so much when I finally came back to wrap up my first issue for print, it honestly changed my life.

Q2.  You recently put out a book titled, The Power. What is it about and what was the development process like in regards to writing, illustrating, coloring and lettering the book? 

RL: The Power is a four-issue series, about a boy creating a comic only to discover a realm beyond space and time.. within his own mind! It’s the whole ethereal plane we kind of go to while working on our creative endeavors. Everything else just melts away and you’re in another world entirely. It’s a lot of playing with the comic medium as a whole. Whether it’s fourth wall breaks or experimental page layouts, I try to show what makes the comics medium so special. It’s very personal but I feel (and hope) it’s also very relatable for any other creative out there too. It’s certainly unlike anything else I have ever made. 

Q3. As an illustrator, what are the challenges that you face when drawing comics? 

RL: I think time is always my biggest adversary. Constantly fighting sleep to get just a LITTLE bit more done. If I could naturally opt out of sleep, I would. The balance between trying not to be complacent while also knowing it will never be “perfect” is tough as well. Cosmicat helps with having a deadline and just knowing it needs to be done above all else. Trying to always get better is a constant struggle with deadlines and a revolving door of projects but I’d like to assume it’s inherently happening, you just don’t see it when you’re so close.

Q4.  You’ve also worked on Rocko Jerome, Craig C.K., and Eli Schwab’s G.H.O.S.T Agents, particularly issue 3. What was the process like working on that book? 

RL: Rocko is so easygoing and a great collaborative to work with. He gave me a basic idea of what’s happening with my page in the third issue of Ghost Agents but told me to do it however I want. I went with a play on a biblically accurate angel and funny enough it is by far my best-selling print. Ghost Agents was a great experience all around and exciting to see the GA family grow with each new chapter. Craig, Eli, and Rocko have all become some of my closest friends and I hope to always be tied to them as time goes on.

Q5. What did you learn from working on G.H.O.S.T Agents issue 3. And will we see you return for another entry of the series down the line? 

RL: I learned that I definitely prefer a more open script than one more specific, for lack of a better word. That fluidity grants me a creative freedom that isn’t always possible with certain scripts, and I greatly appreciate that. I have a six-page story coming soon to Ghost Agents which is a bit more involved than previously but still fluid enough for me to really do what I like with it and add my stamp to the GA mythos.

Q6. Cosmic Cat is your current project that you’ve been publishing through Next Panel Press. What inspired you to create and develop the Cosmic Cat strip? 

RL: Between Eightball by Daniel Clowes and Heavy Metal magazine as a whole (especially the 70’s-80’s years) they both left me wanting to make my own anthology/comic strip of some kind. I came to Craig CK with the idea and we quickly recruited David Grom to join us. Over time we have gathered more artists on Next Panel Press with their own ideas too. Now we have over a dozen members with original strips that you can binge on our Instagram story highlights. When I first pitched Cosmicat initially, “Fritz in space” was the idea but quickly it evolved. After 50 strips it’s so much more than I had ever planned and this next year is going to be immense!

Q7. Was the process of writing and illustrating Cosmic Cat different from your previous projects? 

RL: Cosmicat is like playing with toys. Being in a strip format, the updates are more compressed than the typical serialized comic books. With only eight panels every page/update I try to bring a full story to each one even if they all connect to a larger narrative at play. I have pit stops on the way towards my ultimate goal with Cosmicat but it is a bit more fluid when I can just change a strip idea at any given time. The Power, on the other hand, being so personal and again, such a different project than anything else I’ve ever worked on. Smaller vignettes and sparse with wording, The Power is more art driven and heavily relies on the comics medium. With Image Grand Design I really tried to make every image tell a story in and of itself, I very much attempt to do the same with Cosmicat.

Q8. You’re currently working away on the final issue of The Power, correct? Looking back, is there anything that you would do differently for this mini-series? 

RL: It will be four issues altogether but I will be finishing colors on the third issue after some other commitments first. That being said, I have over half of the third issue colored and over half of the fourth penciled ready for letters and inks. Stay tuned.

Q9. Will there be a follow-up to The Power?

RL: Without spoiling anything, The Power is very much a self-contained series. Once all four issues are done, that will all become much more clear. I have some other ideas that will call back to the series in different ways but there is no sequel to The Power.

Q10. What other projects should readers keep an eye out for down the line?

RL: Definitely keep an eye out for the third issue of The Power, once I finish these other obligations. I’m about to put out the 50th Cosmicat strip which is nuts to think about as it is but the 53rd strip will start the third year of Next Panel Press. We have huge plans this year with our syndicate going forward and a handful of new members in the hopper soon to be revealed as well! Once I finish colors on that third issue, I’ll get Cosmicat ready to collect the first year; new pages/panels, the whole nine. I’m wrapping up the last bit of a 6-page story for another unannounced book that should be right around the corner as well. Look out for that announcement and more on my Instagram and everywhere else @doomdazed to keep up to date!

By Anthony Andujar Jr.

Anthony Andujar Jr. is an NYC cartoonist and lover of comics and music. So much so that it led him to writing comic book reviews in between it all.