Rafa Sandoval: Facing the Ultimate Enemy With the Strike of a Pencil

A comics interview article by: Charles Webb
Rising Marvel superstar Rafa Sandoval joins Brian Michael Bendis as artist for this month's Ultimate Enemy. The series penciler was kind enough to sit down with us and answer a few questions about his work, the Steranko influence, and drawing for the Ultimate Universe.


Charles Webb: How’ve you been since we last talked? It seems like you’ve been working steadily.

Rafa Sandoval: I’ve been well, working on some very interesting series. Last we spoke I was working on Avengers Initiative, with Christos Gage. I have to say it was a real pleasure to work with him. It was really fun getting to work on Initiative, and getting to draw so many different superheroes and some not so famous villains.

CW: What have you been up to in the last couple of months?

RS: I’ve really been immersed in Ultimate Enemy. I’ve been working with the series since November and I’m still working through the pages even today. Actually, today I’m working on Ultimate Enemy #3.

CW: How were you approached with Ultimate Enemy?

RS: After my work on Young X-Men and Avengers Initiative, I think the guys really thought this project was something that I would really fit well with, giving the characters and tones of action a younger touch. In the last two series I’ve drawn, a lot of the characters have been younger characters, and the most of Ultimate Enemy’s characters are young too. So, I keep moving forward within this young “dynamic,” and I feel good working within it.

CW: Were you into the Ultimates line before working on this project? If so, what stood out to you?

RS: Well, I did Ultimate Captain America, and that gave me new perspective. Within the Ultimate Universe you can develop the story with less restriction than within other titles. This brings a new level of freedom to the artist and invites him to give that little extra point you wouldn’t be able to put into other series.

CW: The Ed McGuiness covers seem to be selling a book with a bit of humor in it -- but the solicitations make it sound pretty sinister. Could you give a little detail about the tone of Ultimate Enemy?

RS: It really includes everything: humor, action, thrill… It has all the components of a large scale series. Humor may not necessarily be the most prevalent characteristic of Ultimate Enemy…but it definitely has its funny moments.

CW: You mentioned in our last conversation that you were into the works of Steranko. Given the espionage flavor of Ultimate Enemy did you get a chance to engage in some Steranko-style visuals?

RS: I would love to do the things Steranko did, but if I want to do those kind of things I have to give it some time. Deadlines are really hard, but I’m sure I’ll do mine once I truly have the opportunity ;)

CW: There’s a big difference between tackling the “regular” Marvel U and the more “realistic” Ultimate Universe. How did you approach it in terms of costumes, characters, and design?

RS: I really like the Ultimate Universe, and I use to buy a lot of comics within it. In fact, I really have no problems adapting my work to the Ultimate Universe. Even when I had no idea about some detail, my editors just sent me all the information I needed. It’s a real pleasure to be working in the Ultimate Universe with some of my favorite characters. ;)



CW: Did you get the chance to make any drastic changes while working on this project? How much leeway did Bendis provide when working with him?

RS: I didn’t make any drastic change in Ultimate Enemy, but I have to thank Brian for giving me total freedom to do the changes I did want to do. It’s really good for an artist to have this kind of freedom to do a good job and enjoy drawing the story.

CW: What’s the process like -- working from home and communicating with New York-based writers and editors?

RS: I work from my studio and I’m in touch with editors, writers and my representative by e-mail. I’m pretty use to working this way, so I don’t really have any issues. When I finish the pages, I send them to the editors who give the OK. If there are changes, I make the changes. If I get the OK, then I go on with the next page.



CW: Any tricks or tips you’ve picked up during your stints on these high-profile projects?

RS: An example would be, on one of the Young X-men issues I misunderstand the deadline, so I had to do 14 pages in one week. Since than, I really take care with deadlines and I’m always sure I don’t delay the delivering. Another example happened in Ultimate Enemy. I didn’t remember Spider-Woman shots her webs by her fingers. When I was reviewing my work, I notice the mistake and I correct it, but I’m not sure if the corrections arrived on time. If not, I hope readers understand… ;)

CW: Will you be doing anything else in the Ultimate Line in the coming months?

RS: As of today, I’m not really sure what’s to come after Ultimate Enemy. I suppose I’ll have an update once I hit Ultimate Enemy #4.

CW: What other projects do you have coming up?

RS: Like I said, I’m not really sure yet. I’d love to keep working with Brian and/or within the Ultimate Universe. Either way, whatever it may be, I’ll always try and do my best.



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