SPOTLIGHT!! An Interview with Gabriel Bautista

Series artist for The Life After and current Kickstarter creator of Jupiter: An Illustrated Microfiction Artbook

Roshawn for Red Headed Mule – First off, I’d like to thank you for doing this interview with me! It’s been a pleasure seeing your works for the past several years in ‘Albert the Alien’, ‘All-Star Western’ ‘Elephantmen’ and more. Let’s start with your current work, ‘The Life After’. What inspired you to take this job?

Gabo – What inspired me? Fialkov’s TUMOR book. He had given me a copy years prior when it came out, and the book absolutely blew my mind. Then I read ECHOES by him, and I was sold, the second he asked- I was drooling at the mouth. That and he was a super nice guy, I’m a sucker for those types <3

The cover for issue 2 of ‘The Life After’

Roshawn – Besides the art and color, what other input have you had in the title?

Gabo – Josh, James Lucas Jones, and Ari Yarwood (my editors at Oni) are super easy to work with, so whenever there’s been something that I thought would look/work better I make the suggestions and 9 out of 10 times they’re totally game for it.

It’s made the whole experience really enjoyable! For the most part, any character designs that I do I get free rein on- though there are a few here n there that Josh has given me a seed of an idea to water and watch grow.

Roshawn – With the first volume of ‘The Life After’ out in stores now, can you elaborate on your process for creating all of the trippy characters/creatures in the story?

Gabo – One of the things I enjoy the most when doodling is just drawing random things, people, places etc. A lot of times when reading the script, and a new character is introduce, my mind scrambles to create what that person would look like, based on the things they say or do in the story, and that usually fuels what they’ll look like.

When it’s a character, or characters- like the horde of kids the Consultant bumps into – I really just reach in the back of my mind and pull out the stopper and let all the ideas in my head pour out on to paper. The great thing about the Life After is that it takes place in a realm that is inhabited by people of ALL places, ALL times, ALL realities, so I’m given free rein to draw talking birds, slime dudes, arachnid folk, and even lil astronaut babies with jetpacks!

In later issues you’ll see that I hand pick some of my favorite designs and keep using them as Essie’s main crew. The thing that really gets me excited is that there is a story behind each and every one of them, stories that you’ll probably never see, but can always imagine.

Roshawn – Jude is obviously the second reincarnation of Jesus in this series and his story is just getting more and more interesting. The other characters, like Ernest Hemingway, Nettie and Esmerelda all have a unique story as well. Who is your favorite character to bring to life so far in this series?

Gabo – The second reincarnation? Is he? I can’t say if he is or not. And not because I’m sworn to secrecy, but because both Josh and I literally don’t know who he is yet haha. I think he has an end game somewhere, but I have no idea. If you ask me, potato god is just a slut and likes to leave his offspring all across the universe. Sorta like Zeus.

I think my fav character so far has been Essie, you’ll see in later issues what I mean. She’s so full of energy and just so rad to draw. She’s literally like a lil Ernest Hemingway, but with less reasoning, she’s angry and ready to fight.

Roshawn – I’ve seen you use a variety of mediums over the years to include a lot of watercolors, mainly at conventions and on your Facebook page. Which is your favorite to use and why?

Gabo – Watercolor and gouache (a sort of acrylic type paint that acts like watercolor) are my go to mediums because of how unforgiving they are. Watercolor in particular is just so unforgiving, if you make a mistake you have literally one or two seconds to erase it, and even then it still leaves a mark.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that oils are the hardest medium to work with, but in my opinion, hands down its watercolor. That and not a lot of people use it at conventions, while people lug around their crate full of markers, I’m over here with my lil lunch bag of tubes and a bottle of water, ready to make you the most vibrant wolverine eating a hot pocket you’ve ever seen.

I think to boil it down, my love for watercolor started with the necessity to have a portable color option that wasn’t going to break the bank. The same amount of money someone might spend on say 50 markers, I spend on a few tubes of watercolor paint that will last me YEARS. I’ve got tubes and cakes that are about a decade old in fact.

Roshawn – Your current Kickstarter titled “Jupiter: An Illustrated Microfiction Artbook” is an amazing statement of your work. What enticed you to collect these pieces and bring them together for a collected set of short stories?

Gabo – Initially the project started when Kenneth Rocafort had challenged me to do a daily drawing, and as I would draw these scenes I began to come up with sentence long stories for each, over the following weeks those stories started turning into paragraph long micro fictions, and over time I began to feel like all of them could belong on a planet somewhere.

At the same time that I was doing these, my dreams began to be more vivid. I would visit worlds in what seemed to be the body of an ancestor or perhaps a great, great, great grandchild, but eventually I settled on the fact that these dreams could simply be my brain accessing memories from the very core of the atoms inside my body. The idea that perhaps at some point in time, Jupiter was close enough to the sun to sustain life then became the heart of what Jupiter was all about.

One of the many gorgeous pages that is incorporated in the Jupiter Kickstarter

Roshawn – Having seen your work up close, I can tell everyone with great certainty that it is some of the most thought provoking art in the business. Where have you drawn the inspiration to come up with such a powerful history for the planet Jupiter?

Gabo – I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from everyday life. I’m not much of a reader, so when I want to immerse myself in things other than comics, I turn to NPR. I typically have it running in the background while I work, and listening to the diverse ideas and stories that the world and the radio have to offer drive me to wonder how cultures on other planets would react to what we’re dealing with on Earth.

There are a few stories in the book that I can pin point exactly what was going on in the world when I wrote/drew, it’s almost like a secret coded diary for me haha.

Roshawn – Having read the examples available on the page, I have to ask, what are your plans for the series after Kickstarter?

Gabo – The future of Jupiter is bright my friend- I’ve got a second book drawn already. Volume 2 will be slightly different though! I’m hoping to print it in color, as most of the pages in the book are paintings. I also plan on having guest writers for it, I want to see how other writers perceive my art after its been created!

Roshawn – That is excellent! I’m sure everyone that’s backing the project will be extremely happy to hear that. Now, having met your goal within a week of opening your project, do you feel that you will be more open to releasing more original projects via Kickstarter in the future?

Gabo – I’ve always been open to doing my projects on Kickstarter. Since the inception of Jupiter I was already planning on going through Kickstarter, saving up the funds needed to print it on my own would have been a long and arduous ordeal. I like to compare it to pre-ordering a book from a comic shop, only in my case, if I don’t get enough pre-orders- I can’t print the book.

I’m super grateful for the amazing response the book has gotten and it’s fueling my passion to get it in people’s hands as fast as possible so I can get started on volume 2.

Roshawn – If there was one writer or artist, with any character you could team up with for a book, who would it be and why?

Gabo – Brandon Graham + Spider-Man 2099. or Dredd. I mean I know the guy, I could probably just con him into writing something quick and silly and just do it- but honestly, I want a Spider-Man 2099 that actually takes place in the future, like the original. Or a Dredd book, but not Dredd. Unless its him when he’s WAY old as hell, and he’s in the desert dispensing law. With like a robotic leg he salvaged from some old ass abc warrior he found.

Roshawn – What’s your favorite cd/movie to get you pumped for tackling a page?

Gabo – Honestly that changes from month to month, I’m not ashamed to say this (maybe a lil) but Taylor Swift’s 1989 has been getting me through some pages, some Big Sean thrown in with some Hippie Sabotage, and daily NPR to keep my head out of the clouds. There’s actually a site you can see everything I listen to, I like to visit it sometimes when I’m tired of what I’m listening to, helps me remember some favorite albums:

Roshawn – What’s your absolute favorite book of all time? It doesn’t even have to be restricted to comics.

Gabo – Full disclosure: I read less than 10 books a year. It literally took me like a year to read Ender’s Game, I’m trying to fix that though! Reading more books this year I promise! So with that said, my list of books that I’ve actually read is like SUPER tiny. I’ll have to take it back to what really inspired me and still does, and that’s the first volume of the Dragon Ball manga. I’m talking baby Goku. Akira Toriyama’s character designs and vehicles were on point back then. I bought that book at a Japanese market like 20 years ago, it’s probably the oldest book I have, and it was all in Japanese, so I had no idea what they were saying- but it all made sense to me.

Watercolor Killer Robot by Gabo
Watercolor Killer Robot by Gabo

Roshawn – Who would play you in a movie?

Gabo – Kevin Smith? With a tan though I guess, we’d have to get him into the gym and some platform shoes, but I guess he looks enough like me haha. If it was up to Hollywood though they’d probably get someone like John Leguizamo or Benjamin Bratt. My dad though- hands down, Demian Bichir (The Bridge), that dude looks JUST like my dad.

Roshawn – QUICKLY! A man steps out of a Delorean wearing a long coat and some Converse and says he’s your son from the future and you now have to save his mom from the evil Emperor Zurg! What do you do?

Gabo – The bad guy from Toys 2? I’d probably tell him to come back with a future sports almanac and I’d fix that problem from here. WITH MONEY.

To follow Gabo and his many projects, click on these social media sites:
Twitter – @galvosaur

Another example of beloved characters created in Gabo's style
Another example of beloved characters created in Gabo’s style
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