Top Cow artist Eric Basaldua spoke with me over the phone as he literally walked through his front door after getting back from the Chicago Comic Con. The artist, also known as EBAS, talks about working for Marc Silvestri, his future with Zenescope and how he broke into the industry and much more.
Eric: *laughs* Iâ€™m pretty much self-taught. I just loved comics and stuff as a kid and my dad liked comics and he collected them. He always had them lying around, so it was only natural. I started copying them and drawing from them when I was like 7 or 8 years old. Pretty much I just did that my entire life. When I was 12 years old I made the definitive decision that this was going to be it, this was what I was going to do with my life and I just worked harder and harder at it. I just took all of my favorite artists and figured out what made them so cool, what made them so popular and pretty much just tried to do that myself and the rest is history. My background, I never went to art school, I never had any training and I also taught myself how to ink and I taught my brother how to ink and he now inks me.
Victoria: Wow, thatâ€™s amazing!
Eric: *laughs* Yeah, I just always loved comics and I just had a pretty good eye for whatâ€™s cool and itâ€™s kinda easy for me to figure all that out I guess.
Eric: Oh, absolutely. Iâ€™m a huge fan of artists and I still go into my comic shop all the time, in fact I was there two days ago. I still spend a lot of money on comics, checking out new talent, new inspiration. I do have like a top 5 favorite artists that have inspired me since I was 12. Do you want some names?
Eric: Well of course, Jim Lee, my boss Marc Silvestri, Adam Hughes, Joe Madureira and J. Scott Campbell. Those are my top five biggest inspirations.
Victoria: Thatâ€™s a very good list!
Eric: Yeah, like I said I took a lot of what they do best and kinda jumble it all together; the dynamics of Joe Madureira and facial expressions of Adam Hughes and J. Scott Campbell. Theyâ€™re masters. And the detail of Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri, itâ€™s not a bad combination and itâ€™s pretty much all I am is a weird substitute of all of those guys.
Eric: Itâ€™s really awesome; heâ€™s a very down to earth kinda guy which you donâ€™t expect from a CEO. He a massive man, heâ€™s like 6 foot 7. Heâ€™s defiantly a gentle giant. Iâ€™ve never really seen him loose his temper; Iâ€™ve never heard him raise his voice. Heâ€™s constantly buying us pizza and food and like I said, heâ€™s a genius to work with and itâ€™s so weird; at any moment he could be sharing pearls of wisdom, heâ€™ll teach you something and youâ€™ll learn and remember for years until you die and then the very next minute heâ€™ll be like:
â€œAll right letâ€™s play some Halo!â€ and whip out the XBOX. Itâ€™s actually really awesome and heâ€™s well grounded and like I said, heâ€™s a genus in his own right and very down to earth. Very easy going.
Victoria: What upcoming projects can you tell us about?
Eric: Uh none, it hasnâ€™t been released yet. Iâ€™m currently designing a universe, a whole universe that I have to draw but it hasnâ€™t been announced yet, I donâ€™t think so I canâ€™t really say.
Victoria: Okay, will you be doing anymore covers for Zenescopeâ€™s Wonderland series?
Eric: Yeah, they wonâ€™t leave me alone!
Eric: As long as they keep bugging me, I guess Iâ€™ll have to do it. They treat me very well; I have a good relationship with them. Like I said, as long as they keep bugging me, I will. Theyâ€™re good people.
Victoria: A lot of artists tend to use models to base their illustrations on. Do you do that?
Eric: Thatâ€™s funny. I get asked that a lot actually. I do not use models anymore, rather I stopped using reference. I never really use like live models cause you girls move too much. You do the whole pose, like whenever and I run into a problem like in a certain angle.Â I donâ€™t know how a certain joint would bend or fold, then I would ask them to pose very briefly but I always found it more helpful to use magazines; Victoriaâ€™s Secret, Playboy, things like that cause you can spend more time focusing on every single curve, the anatomy and lines of the body and things like that. I think I was maybe 16 or 17 years old when I took a magazine and drew every single chick, from cover to cover in a Victoriaâ€™s Secret magazine and Playboy and I learned a lot in just those two magazines alone. Psychically looking at it contained a lot of information. Iâ€™m visually studying every girl that walks by but I can come up with any pose that I can think of without using reference which comes in very handy at conventions with doing the sketches, coming up with all these poses and still maintaining my style. I stare at women for so long that I really no longer need reference which is a shame cause I would still like to do some photo shoots.
There are some angels you can never really master like foreshortening. Iâ€™m not sure if youâ€™re familiar with it but anytime something is coming towards the camera like their arm, if you raise your arm towards the camera thatâ€™s called foreshortening. All that anatomy changes and all the rules change itâ€™s the most difficult to learn.
Victoria: Thatâ€™s all very interesting. Who are your favorite comic book characters?
Eric: Iâ€™m a big Marvel fan, I grew up with Marvel. Thor would be my all time favorites; heâ€™s badass. Heâ€™s the God of Thunder and heâ€™s one of the stronger beings in the entire comic universe. Heâ€™s always a badass though it took him forever to get cool. He was such a dorky character for so long. Wolverine, thatâ€™s my second favorite for obvious reasons. I liked him before he was super popular. I have everything except for Origin which is like a $5,000 comic now.
Victoria: You can get the trade paperback.
Eric: Yeah, reprints but itâ€™s not the original. In the Top Cow universe thereâ€™s Angelus, I really like her a lot. Thatâ€™s about it.
Victoria: Are you done with the convention circuit for this year?
Eric: I will have a show probably in Baltimore and I have one in Pittsburg. I have another one in Atlanta called Dragon*Con. You would love that show! Everybody and their mother dresses up in cosplay. Seriously itâ€™s a big party show. Itâ€™s literally 24 hrs and thereâ€™s something going on every minute of the day; itâ€™s really crazy. Itâ€™s not a big comic book show but I donâ€™t care, I go just to have fun. I know a lot of the cosplayers, like yourself. You guys are always cool to hang out with. I go just to party.
Victoria: Sadly, I wonâ€™t be able to make it this year to Dragon*Con. Iâ€™m so bummed but Iâ€™ll be seeing you at other conventions! Do you have any plans to attend the Big Apple Con in New York this October?
Eric: Itâ€™s this October?
Victoria: Yes, it is.
Eric: No, actually I donâ€™t know any of the people there. I donâ€™t have any contacts over there. Usually a show will fly me out and set me up in a hotel and if I donâ€™t have that then Iâ€™m not going to go, so probably not.
Victoria: You have a huge fan following online. People love your artwork! Is there anything you want to say to your fans?
Eric: *laughs* Yes, I want to thank them for being understanding of the subject matter that I am continuously asked to draw. I want to say a big thanks to my female fan base, you guys are awesome. I do draw sexy women and half the time they are more than half naked and they still manage to never judge or get offended. In fact, you guys love it. I know why guys are buying the stuff and I appreciate that but you female fans, thereâ€™s a lot of you out there. You guys rock. Itâ€™s truly a compliment when you hear from another woman that I drew a very beautiful sexy, woman.
Victoria: Yeah, we love you Eric!
Eric: Yeah, you guys have always been nice to me. They bring me lots of gifts and itâ€™s very, very flattering.
Victoria: Oh they bring you gifts? Now Iâ€™m jealous! Iâ€™m going to have to bring you something the next time I see you!
Eric: *laughs* No, really you donâ€™t have to but itâ€™s pretty amazing. Iâ€™ve gotten all sorts of things; wallets, t-shirts, mugs, I got an action figure. I get baked cookies all the time. I even got a pair of shoes once. My fans are pretty awesome. I donâ€™t have a whole lot but the ones I do have are amazing!
Thanks again to my friend Eric and be sure to visit his official Deviant Art gallery: http://ebas.deviantart.com/