Interview with Artist Carla Rodrigues

July, 2008

Carla Rodrigues, also known as Cool-Slayer, is a comic artist from Portugal who also happens to be a pop-culture sponge endowed with extraordinary talent.

1)When did you first begin to draw and what influenced you to do it?

I donít remember the exact time when I started drawing, but I know I was very young, like 3-4 years old. Of course I use the word "drawing" very loosely, because I could do nothing more than scratch the paper with the pencil and scribble around. Eventually I moved on to drawing flying people with balloons that were actually heads, but thatís another story. My biggest influence to draw was my grandfather, he was an artist and he used to spend hours drawing what I asked him to. Unfortunately he passed away when I was 4. I have no doubt that I had much to learn from him, and it makes me sad I didnít get enough time in his company.

2)What sort of things were you into, drawing-wise?

I remember I used to ask my grandfather to draw whales a lot. So I guess I was into whales for some reason. Then, like every kid growing up, I started drawing stuff from the cartoons I saw on those lovely Saturday mornings, and that would be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, X-Men, and, later on, Dragon Ball. When I started buying comics I was heavily into Spiderman, so I drew him a lot too. Some things still remain a constant with me, I like to draw a lot of fanart and love to draw and focus on people instead of objects (which is really starting to be a weakness).

3)Popular culture seems to be important in your art.

Yes, a lot. I love pop culture. And by that I donít necessarily mean things that are mainstream, but anything that flows to me through music, comics, TV, movies, the internet, well, the media. When something strikes a chord with me, I just have to draw it Ė I almost canít fight it! If a song puts an image in my head, I draw it. If a scene in a movie moves me, or is really fucking cool, I draw it. And so on. Iím glad that itís something thatís easy to relate to for other people too, although sometimes I feel like a bit of a sell out for drawing popular things. Also I get unsure if people like my art because of the art, or just because itís a drawing of something theyíre also a fan of.

4)How much time a day do you spend drawing?

It varies a lot, really. Some days I donít draw at all, other days I draw since I wake up, till well into the night. Iíve been trying to keep a steadier pace though, and I try to draw something every single day, even if it sucks. Iím really scared of losing my touch or something Ė itís a bit of me being paranoid. But seriously, I need the practice.

5) What are your comics influences?

Well, I donít really have an influence per se, because my drawings and style has just evolved on its own and I donít think they resemble any of the artists I like.

That being said, I love Mike Mignola, for the apparent simplicity of his drawings, I mean, the angular lines, the solid blacks, all that. Anyone that picks up a Hellboy comic will know what Iím talking about.

Craig Thompson is unbelievable, and I mean, un-freaking-believable. I just wish someday I can convey in a drawing half the emotion he conveys on a single panel. His lines flow so well, his brush strokes are amazing, itís like poetry in a drawing.

Jim Mahfood is another artist that uses blacks in a way I absolutely admire. His style is funky and urban and so attractive, I can just drool over his stuff.

I really like all the work Cory Walker did for Invincible, I just adore his linework.

Roman Dirge and Johnen Vasquez are awesome dark-humour artists, they draw the most grim and freakish stuff in a damn funny way, and I love their psychotic characters.

As for the more classical comic stuff, I really liked Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane, Frank Miller, etc.

But I could stay here all day, just to mention all the artists whose work I admire.

6) What have you been reading lately?

Right now Iím reading Salingerís Franny and Zooey, and finished the 8th Walking Dead paperback over the weekend.

7) Your work consists mostly of single page illustrations of popular icons, do you have any plans for longer works or comic strips (which you have done a few times)?

I plan to keep doing the "Idiosyncratic Rants", theyíre just on hiatus now. And yeah, I occasionally have plans or ideas for comic strips, they just never take off. Iím kind of lazy, sadly, and procrastinate a lot. Also Iím scared to take on new things. I know Iím not very good at doing things on comic format, so Iím reticent to take on big projects. Iíd like to try though, so weíll see.

8)Rumors have it that you were working on a T-shirt for some Portuguese company, is that true?

It is true, and if everything goes according to plan, it should come out next autumn. Cross your fingers!

9)Are you really a biology student?

As of now, Iím actually a Biology graduate. Yep, I have a degree.

10)Outside of comics, what are your interests?

Oh, lots. I like and appreciate art in its various forms, not just comics.

Like I said before, I love movies and music. Movies always were one of my biggest passions, ever since the early times, when I started out on Disney animated movies. I love the mark a movie can leave on you, your favourite movies stay with you forever, thatís not something accomplished by just anything, you know? Music is the same, it can move you, cheer you up, make you want to bounce off the walls, inspire you, and just bring melody to your life. Itís like entering another dimension when you listen to music. I love it.

Also, I love reading. Iíve always read a lot, since I was a kid, and it amazes me how few people read these days. Itís sad. A book enriches your life in so many ways! It fuels your imagination, it improves your culture and vocabulary, it shows you worlds and lives youíd never know otherwise, it can even be a companion. If you let yourself be absorbed by the story, thereís nothing else out of that world for a while, itís fascinating and relaxing.

I have lots of other interests too, Iím really into some expressions of urban culture, like breakdance, skateboard, graffiti (which to me can be an amazing art form, when done well), stickersÖ

Photography is another thing I like, Iím nothing but a noob in it, but I try.

Iím heavily into Urban Legends (especially the real scary, freaky ones), the supernatural, UFOs and other sorts of mind-fuck subjects Ė I donít mean I *believe* them, but I find these themes utterly fascinating.

11) Are you a religious person?

No, I donít consider myself religious. I do think some aspects of religion are interesting, but I think the church is a corrupted ďauthorityĒ, and so Iím not into that at all. As for beliefs, Iím not sure where I stand, but I donít share the blinkered, dogmatic laws and ideals of the church. I guess Iím an agnostic or something along those lines.

14)Politically, where do you stand?

I have to confess Iím probably the most disconnected person ever, when it comes to politics, but Iíd say Iím a lefty.

13)You seem to be fascinated with zombies, care to develop on that?

Haha nice. Well, itís true, zombies kind of fascinate and appeal to me, but Iím not sure what are the reasons. I think itís the most savage of the horror expression, itís a plague that can turn your loved ones into dead, rotten, conscienceless monsters, that will start chasing you and craving your brains the minute they turn. The fear, lack of safety and paranoia that ensues is terrifying. The concept of the zombie is very scary, and that appeals to me.

The movies, most of the times, are not that scary, but are gory and fun (see Peter Jacksonís Brain Dead for an example), and thatís enough to entertain me. Iím reading a graphic novel at the moment, called The Walking Dead, that really exploits the human relationships and decay on a world plagued by zombies, and itís fantastic. I really like how it reaches into the drama of the situation, that is often not well explored in the movies. I donít know, that PLUS they are fun to draw. Seriously.

14)What material do you use?

Pretty much run of the mill stuff. I usually pencil with a mechanical pencil of either 0.5 or 0.7 mm lead, on my Moleskine sketchbook, or on printer paper (hey, itís cheap!). For inking, I use Staedtler pigment liners, 0.1, 0.3, and 0.5 mm. Then I scan the linework, and from then on I work on Adobe Photoshop CS2, with a small Bamboo Tablet. Occasionally, I color with markers or colored pencils.

15)I saw that you had begun painting, will you continue and go on to paint more ďclassicalĒ paintings?

If you mean traditional, yes. I recently started experimenting with acrylics on canvas, and I know NOTHING of traditional painting, but itís been an enriching experience and one Iíll definitely carry on. Iíll also keep experimenting with watercolours. Itís a learning experience, and with each piece I paint, I learn a different, valuable lesson.

To see more of Carla's art, check her online gallery