I didn’t use to think about Latin culture very much when reading comics as an American. I knew that the Latin genre existed in the comic universe, but I didn’t come across it much. (Mi español es muy malo). Luckily for me I discovered an incredible artist named Macoatl who changed all that. He is 41 years young, living in Guadalajara, México where he runs his own animation studio. He produces a wide variety of works, including comics. His series, Restaurante Macoatl, is one of my favorite online comics (available in both Spanish and English). It’s bright colors and snappy humor keep me entertained strip after strip. To learn more, read our interview below to get the details on this talented artist!
TAC: Did you go to art school? If so, where?
Macoatl: Yep! A mayor in Architecture and a master in animation both here in my city.
TAC: Is art your main job? If not, what do you do for a living while doing art on the side?
Macoatl: Its my main job, I have a small animation studio (Haiti.com.mx) and do some illustration and animation work on the side.
TAC: How long have you been an artist? Is it something new, or have you done it since you were young?
Macoatl: All of my life? I started really young doing clay figures of dinosaurs and cartoons, but I got into drawing/comic making when I was in junior High (caring a pencil and notebook was easier than carrying clay) and I [have] been doing this as a professional for nearly 20 years by now.
TAC: What inspired you to be a comic artist? What makes you still do it to this day?
Macoatl: I always loved telling stories, and comic is like the perfect media for me as it marries both image and dialog and is not as time consuming as animation which allows me to produce content constantly
TAC: What is your current project?
Macoatl: I have two ongoing webcomics, Macoatl, a webcomic about a Mexican restaurant in the prehispánic world of Coatlan. It’s about the struggles to keep said restaurant afloat the people who work there and the weird characters they call customers. I also have Rayah the genie, an interactive webcomic where readers leave their wishes and Rayah grants them hilariously bad.
TAC: What were some/all of the major projects you worked on leading up to your current project?
Macoatl: I worked on two Mexican animated movies, “Nikte” and the “Revolution of Juan Escopeta” and I still work making illustrations for a Mexican youtube channel called “Curiosamente” and many other minor things, mostly for publicity or internal affairs on many enterprises. I also have an animated movie project “Faust of the extreme earth” which is on hold due to the lack of funding, you can see some pre production art at my gallery.
TAC: Do you have any other comic artists that you look up to and admire? Why do they inspire you?
Macoatl: I admire Scoot Macloud for his way of deconstructing comics, Jeff Smith for using comic character for serious storytelling, Akira Toriyama for its hilarious comedy, Eichiro Oda for his world building, Raven Perez for [how] honest and dynamic and full of detail his stories are, and Mike Mignola (creator of Hellboy) for his unique style.
Many things inspire me, but my mains are Pre Hispanic art, Dinosaurs and videogames as you can probably see from my current projects which are a mix of all those things.
TAC: What are your future plans for your comics? Do you have any big ideas in the works? (Comicons, merch, books, cartoons, etc).
Macoatl: Right now I’m planning my next big story for Macoatl, but I will be taking it easy for a while with self contained strip. I would love to have more time to make more comics, I have many ideas but not enough time. If I could actually earn a living from my webcomics the first thing I would do is hire some help to start some of my other ideas. Also making animated pilot for either Macoatl or Rayah would be nice. Or, a Macoatl platformer, I got plenty of ideas there. But as always time, the little I have, I need to focus on my projects. I got a few merchandise items (A comic book, some plushies) but Shipping is way too expensive from my country. I guess that will remain in the backburner for a while.
TAC: What advice would you give to young, up-and-coming comic artists just starting out? What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time?
Macoatl: Just keep going. Draw what you like. Don’t listen to the trends, and study both life drawing as well as perspective. Just practice is not enough. One must understand why one does things.
TAC: How long does it take you to draw a single strip/page? What are the general steps in your process?
Macoatl: From 6 to 12 hours depending on how complex they are. I usually start with a basic script, a bunch of sentences that tells me what will happen on the comic. Then I break it into panels, making really rough drawings just to see if everything works. Next I use that as the basis for the sketch, and from here I do a second sketch detailing the drawing and moving elements to fit everything I want. Then clean, then color, Shadows, lighting and effects, and finally a second pass of the script to get the final dialog.
TAC: What tools do you use to create your strips? (pencil, ruler, paper type, brands, software, etc).
Macoatl: I used to pencil and ink on paper and then color and effects on Photoshop, but these days Im more digital than anything, mostly Photoshop and Clip Studio paint.
TAC: What is the hardest part of being an artist for you? What challenges do you face on a regular basis, or maybe a specific problem you dealt with in the past or are dealing with right now?
Macoatl: Mostly balancing the work and the comics, I which I could be making comics all the time, but that’s not what brings the money, so I have do other illustration work to get income. Also since I work drawing all the day trying to keep my personal projects fun so I don’t get bored of them. So far I have managed to do it but each day the artist blocks are more often due to overwork, but that’s why having a nice backlog helps.
For more of Macoatl’s work, check out the links below!
TAPAS: MACOATL https://tapas.io/series/macoatl
And In Spanish https://www.macoatl.com/
My most active social media is Deviantart https://www.deviantart.com/flintofmother3
But I am also at TWITTER https://twitter.com/Checomal
And FACEBOOK (this one is in Spanish) https://www.facebook.com/macoatl