Juan Ferreyra is an absolutely phenomenal artist in the comic book industry. Largely known for a number of horror titles with Dark Horse Comics, he is a one-man revolution in visual storytelling. Having worked on such fantastic titles as Rex Mundi, Colder, and Kiss Me, Satan!, we are very fortunate to get a chance to speak with him about these terrific books.
All-Comic.com: Mr. Ferreyra, first off, it is an honor to speak with you. It’s relatively rare to find such a distinctive artistic talent in the wide world of comic books, and you are a master among masters. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions!
Juan Ferreyra: No Problem! And thank you for such kind words; I’m all red now…
To start with, let’s briefly talk about working in American comic books. Although you live in Argentina, you are mostly known for your work with Dark Horse. Are there any difficulties involved in working from South America?
Juan Ferreyra: Yeah, all my professional work, besides 2 books I did for France, was done in American comic books. Actually this June will mark 10 years since my first published book, Small Gods from Image, and 8 years since I started working at Dark Horse, damn I feel old!
I don’t find any mayor difficulties, maybe the biggest ones is that It’s hard for me to attend to comic conventions, so it’s hard to get to know fellow artists, writers, editors and of course, fans.
The earliest work you contributed to that I’m personally familiar with was the terrific series Rex Mundi. With Colder and Kiss Me, Satan!, you were involved from the first issue. Is it significantly different working on a series that has already been established, compared to a project that you are involved in from the beginning?
Juan Ferreyra: Yeah it’s totally different, although I can enjoy working on both, getting to be involved from the beginning makes it more interesting, getting to be able to design the characters and the whole world is really fun and makes a special bond to the material, a special connection to the books, that makes me enjoy working on them a lot more.
The overall style of your artwork is unlike anything else in comic books right now, and your art is immediately recognizable to most serious comic book fans. How do you generally work and what methods do you prefer? Do you use pen and paper, digital, or both?
Juan Ferreyra: Thanks! I started more traditionally, penciling and the inking my stuff, but now in works like Colder or Kiss Me, Satan! what I use is a mix of it all. I pencil all the pages, no inks, and sometimes I add watercolor, to give the pages more texture or a painterly look. Then I finish the coloring on Photoshop with a Cintiq 12.
Does your horror work draw direct inspiration from any artists in particular?
Juan Ferreyra: My horror work? Not intentionally, but in a subconscious level I guess from a lot of places. For the Hungry World in Colder, I had inspirations from favelas and MC Escher for example. For the monsters I create, I guess they are more mine, or personal.
Most of your work is oriented towards the macabre. Are horror stories your favorite to illustrate, or is it that you have become well known for this genre now and get hired for it more often?
Juan Ferreyra: I like to illustrate a lot of stuff, superheroes, sci-fi, crime, etc, but working with Dark Horse, and specially editor Scott Allie, who loves horror, has made me a more horror guy and I found out I have a lot of fun doing it and I think that I find myself very comfortable with it than what I would’ve imagined, so Scott likes to give me horror gigs!
Is there another genre you’d really like to work in?
Juan Ferreyra: I’m working on a sci-fi story right now, that has a lot of horror too, Prometheus, which links to Aliens, Predator and AVP books. For the young fanboy in me, I would love to one day draw some superhero comics, especially Superman, which I love.
Colder had some absolutely crazy designs! How much creative freedom did you have working on this series? Was Paul Tobin specific about what he was looking for, or did you have a chance to run wild?
Juan Ferreyra: Working on Colder has to be most fun I had in comics so far, it was great! Paul gave me a lot of freedom to come up with whatever I wanted, he hinted the idea so what needed to be on the page and I came out with something, like he said dogs and I gave him human hand bodies! That is the beauty of working on creator owned work, the freedom to come up what almost whatever you want and make a story with it is a great experience.
The villain in Colder had a very interesting design, but maybe not one that you would typically expect for a horror antagonist. Where did the overall idea for Nimble Jack’s appearance come from?
Juan Ferreyra: Paul, Scott and I, we all had ideas, the first ideas came from Paul, and he wanted him to be skinny and able to move like a cat or something. Then Scott suggested that he also could look like Joel Grey and his character form the movie Cabaret and then I added a bit of George McFly to him and I made him wear suspenders and a tie, Paul added that he should walk barefoot.
Recently, fans were delighted to hear that we could expect more Colder in the future. What potential do you see for more Colder? Do you think another mini-series would be the best approach, or do you feel that the story has the potential for an on-going series?
Juan Ferreyra: I’m really excited about more Colder, it’s going to be awesome I hope! I think it has potential to be an on-going, like maybe 30 issues, but I know that Paul wants it to be shorter, so our next approach will be another mini-series.
Your most recent project, Kiss Me, Satan!, just wrapped up and it was a wild ride to say the least. How did you get involved with KMS?
Juan Ferreyra: Right after Colder I was eager to take a vacation, but Editor Daniel Chabon asked me to replace an artist in an upcoming miniseries, I don’t know what happened but the artist left so I replaced him, I read the script and it felt like a really fun book to work on, so vacation was off and Witch Hunt (the original name ) was in!
The Kiss Me, Satan! characters are particularly interesting and creative; they are so varied with distinctive personalities and looks. There’s a big mix of the occult, westerns, and many other styles in this mini-series. What was the general inspiration for the overall character appearance in this book?
Juan Ferreyra: I think that there were like five characters designed already, I wanted to redesign them all, to make them feel ore mine, so I could relate to them more, but Barnabus was already drawn on the cover to issue #1 by Dave Johnson. But the rest are all my designs, with some directions from Victor Gischler, the writer.
For the Witches I wanted something to link the all, so all their clothes are a mix of black , grey and white with a touch of gold. the demons hunting Barnabus have black and red. The Bone Wrangler is all Victor, Malcom the wizard is my design, etc.
Did you know from the start you’d get to draw Barnabus in all his glory? I know I was really looking forward to seeing this for the whole series! The panels showing the true form of Barnabus were some of my favorite in recent memory. Was this a particularly satisfying or fun visual to tackle?
Juan Ferreyra: I think I found out I was going to draw him, when I was reading issue #3, and I couldn’t wait to start to draw him on the last issue, it was really fun to draw! That is why I added two extra pages to the issue, when he appears for the first time, it was a splash that I made into a double spread page! Then when he fought everyone in devil form it was 2 pages and I added a third, so yes I wanted to have fun with him!
There is another Ferreyra involved in the artwork for Kiss Me, Satan! What is your relationship to Eduardo and how did he get involved in this mini-series?
Juan Ferreyra: Eduardo is my DAD! so we know each other for a long time, ha! He taught me to draw and he is a great artist and he’s been helping me with the colors for a long time now in a lot of different projects! My sister Michelle and my wife Laura have also helped me from time to time.
I loved the characters in KMS. I understand you need to avoid any spoilers of course, but would you at least have an interest in doing more with the KMS characters?
Juan Ferreyra: I have a lot of stuff that I have to do, and I think that we have to see how well the trade does, but yes, I would love to see where Barnabus story goes!! I had a lot of fun with the book and I think the world Victor created is really good and we got just a little sample of it, he can surely tell a lot more interesting stories with it!
Thank you so much for your time, Mr. Ferreyra! Your artwork is truly inspirational and I’m sure we all hope to see many more projects with your name on them!
Juan Ferreyra: Thank you, I’m just happy that people like to read what I do, is always satisfying when I can hear feedback from readers, especially good feedback. So I’ll try to do more work as long as you guys let me, I’ll just try to get better each time.
Be sure to check out Juan Ferreyra’s most recent projects Colder, and Kiss Me, Satan! both from Dark Horse Comics. These are absolutely magnificent horror mini-series with mind-boggling visuals from this rising industry talent. You can also follow him on Twitter @juaneferreyra.