An Interview with Legendary Comics Artist Vicente Alcazar

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“Ziegler Box” is a comic series created by Chaka Brown Freeman, Greg Gallagher, Nouri Zander, and the legendary comic artist, Vicente Alcázar—the visionary behind Jonah Hex. Installments of the series appear in Oneshi Press Anthologies 8 – 10. And soon, the series will conclude in Anthology #11 – BECOMING! “Ziegler Box” introduces readers to a world where vampires hunger for more than just blood…and veterans walk the line between addiction and (un)death. We talked to Vicente about highlights of his long career in comics, his creative process, eschatology, and more.

You have had a long career in comics, Vicente! How did you originally start drawing comics back in the 1960s?

My first professional works were published in England by Fleetway Publications. They were small size books with stories about WWII, of which I did many during that time. Then I teamed up with my friend Carlos Pino to work on series like The Saint or Star Trek for TV21 magazines.

With this background, I landed in New York lucky enough to meet Neal Adams who introduced me to Archie Goodwind of DC, my first American publisher. Neal also rented me working space at the old Continuity offices at 48th Street [in New York City], and that was the door to American publications. There I met the young and not-so-young talented artists of the time, as well as some writers, some of them to be famous in time.

You’ve worked on many series and for many publishers over the years. What were some of the highlights?

What I consider [that] my best works of the time [are] more a matter of personal taste for the use of greys in depicting a story. Warren Magazines and later Marvel Magazines made possible this experience, so I guess I would put the highlights on any of the stories of that period. Marvel´s Satana, Planet of the Apes, Swamp Thing, Dracula…and most of my Warren works. Among them, one [Max] Schreck chapter that Neal inked himself. Also my works with Grey Morrow’s Red Circle and Space 1999, which he edited for Charlton.

How did you come to work on “Ziegler Box” with Chaka Brown Freeman, Greg Gallagher, and Nouri Zander?

I have kept my friendship with Neal since those days, and every time I visit New York, he allows me working space at his offices. There I met Nouri, my only personal contact with the group. He even designed one of the covers for M3, a story written by Erica Shultz that we published together.

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What has the experience of working on “Ziegler Box” been like? What inspiration did you draw from for this story?

“Ziegler Box” has been an opportunity of working color tones in washed inks, an experiment I was longing to do for some time. “Ziegler” was the best opportunity for it, given its gothic story feeling.

Who are the other artists (whether in comics or elsewhere) who have inspired you?

I started my romance with comics inspired by those now-classic artists like Alex Raymond, Milton Caniff, John Cullen Murphy, Jose Luis Salinas, etc. All of them worked in daily strips. Then I came to know the works of Frank Bellamy, Gino D’Antonio, and many Italian masters like Sergio Toppy, Dino Battaglia, Mario Uggery, and a long list that would end up in Hugo Pratt and Urugay’s Alberto Brescia.

When I came to the States, it was Alex Toth that most impressed me. His disposition of black and ways of storytelling are so daring that [even] today they are open lessons to the trade.

Who have been some of your favorite writers to work with, and what makes for a strong collaboration between a writer and an artist?

My only personal experience with a writer has been with Erica Schultz when we did M3 together. The rest of the times, I had no contact with the writers beyond the editors for whom I have worked.
Working with Erica was quite a new and happy experience that brought us a Best Comic Book of the Year award at the Burbank Film Festival in 2012. I must say, four eyes see more than two.

I also have to mention my friend Juan Bravo. Together we’ve been carrying a work in progress for years, hoping to get an editor interested in it.

What comic book character do you identify with most, and why?

Maybe Jonah Hex. To work with a character who deep down is a SOB, who does good deeds, was very amusing. [At] once far away from all the good-hearted heroes and closer to my own humanity.

What does the world need now, that comics can provide?

I guess it is the same we have been needing for the past that we can remember: A little more affection among us and with ourselves. Can a comic book do the trick? I guess they already do when bringing joy and dreams to the so many that need them.

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What are you currently reading?

Jacob Taubes. An essay on western eschatology. A very recommendable book for those interested in that matter.

What is your creation process like? How do you get “into” a project?

While reading the script, I make very rough little drawings that work as a preliminary storyboard, (I learned that from Neal, although mine are not as good or precise as his). This tells me what references I shall need and help [me] define the phenotypes of the characters. Then I blow up this roughs and make changes if necessary. Clean the pencils and start inking them. Scan the originals, edit color, and work on final sample to send to the editor.

What are some other projects you’re working on now?

I am currently working in a black-and-white WWII story with Nazi zombies for DC Thompson in England.

Where else can our readers find you online?

Gotta check that in Google.

[Editorial note: Vicente Alcázar can be found on Facebook, and readers can learn more about him on Wikipedia. His gorgeous work is spread across the internet and comics collections around the world!]

Check out “Ziegler Box” by Vicente Alcázar, Chaka Brown Freeman, Greg Gallagher, and Nouri Zander in Oneshi Press Anthology #11 – BECOMING, coming soon from Oneshi Press!

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