Art Whore

Art Talk – Edwin Vazquez + ‘Werewolf of NYC’

Edwin - logo

Mr. Edwin Vazquez loves his art so much, that he is willing to literally become the charecters he creates. A form of method-writing if you will. In this instance going without sleep, and gaining over 40 pounds, to become his comic creation, ‘The Werewolf of NYC’.

(Picture below of the cover for Werewolf of NYC #1, utilising Edwin’s unique line)

Werewolf of NYC - Comic No. 1

Edwin’s art utilises an extremely unique goopy line style – a style that has seen Edwin work for such established brands as ‘Bongo Comics’ and ‘Mad Magazine’. Mr. Vazquez is also an accomplished sculptor, and has worked with Mr Mike Kirchoff AKA ‘The Mark Ultra’ to bring his ‘Werewolf of NYC’ creation to life in a limited edition art toy.

Get to know Edwin Vazquez and his art, in the interview below…

Basics/Getting to Know

Name + D.O.B?

 Edwin Vazquez – January 21, 1980

City, State n Country you’re Repping?

 New York, NY, USA

(Picture below of a drawing by Edwin)

Edwin - police art

Describe a memory from three stages of yr life ….basically trying to piece together Mr. Vazquez’s pivotal moments. Concerts, art, action-figures, women, school, college… ANYTHING man.

* age 10 – pre pubes:

 My first comic book was given to me by my mother which she saved from the trash bin at work.  The comic was The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson.

* age 15 – pube rage:

 Inspired by Batman the Animated series I decided to venture into animation as a career goal. Eventually I settled with comic book art but retained the influence of animation into my work.

* age 20 – acceptance of pubes:

 After making a career of dropping out of college – I finally graduated with a Bachelors and Masters degree from the School of Visual Arts.  Guidance and support included David Mazzuchelli, Gary Panter, Joey Cavalieri, Klaus Janson, Seth Tobocman, Fly, David Sandlin, Marshall Arisman, Carl Titolo, Tony Palladino and Jerry Robinson.

Personal motto/quote?

 Make as many mistakes as possible.

Favorite band(s)?

 Currently my favorite bands are the Rolling Stones, The Ramones, AC/DC & Johnny Cash.

Favorite TV show(s)?

 The Simpsons has always been a favorite of mine, I grew up with it.

(Picture below of Edwin, Simpsons repping)

Edwin - pic of Edwin

Favorite sport(s) + teams?

 Boxing.  I enjoy watching the tournaments held at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, NY.

Favorite movie(s)?

 The Evil Dead series are one of my all time favorites.

Favorite books and comics?

 And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks, The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas and anything created by Jack Kirby.

Specifics on Art

Do you consider what you are making to be ‘art, ‘design’, re-hashed crap?

 Many people consider my work to be comic pop art with a fine art sensibility.  I see it as freedom from any type of labels or genres.  I incorporate so many aspects of design in book production, inspiration from Golden Age comics, illustration from Tattoo art and fine art from silkscreening and hand coloring I can’t imagine a definitive word to describe it all.

(Picture below of a page from Edwin’s sketchbook)

Edwin - page from sketchbook

When and why did you first start making ‘art’ (drawings, paintings, sculpture, anything)?

 Creating art runs in my blood. I come from a family of artists… my grandfather Luis Antonio Alcoser was a sculptor in Ecuador. He created many art pieces for churches and town halls for the city of Quito.  His art is a source of inspiration and ancestry.

Why + when did you decide to go in on the art hustle?

 I worked in many fields such as manual labor and office positions.  When the office opportunities presented great pay and security I could imagine how my life would pan out for the next 40 years (a house, a wife, kids and DVD Tuesdays).  I decided to give it all up and take a chance on a dream involving art.
 It is a hard career choice with many heartaches.  But it still keeps me excited, worried and constantly questioning myself.  As one of my inspirations said “If you don’t feel like your at the edge of a high cliff looking over with anticipation… it’s not worth it.”

Any formal art training? Or pivotal moment/influence?

 The greatest lessons I learned in formal art training were from Marshall Arisman, Carl Titolo. The greatest pivotal moment was from Joey Cavalieri. Joey introduced me to the scratchboard medium with the art of Thomas Ott.  From that moment on I dived into scratchboard and began a process of defining myself as an stand alone artist and not a “Farmer” like my friend/teacher Tony Palladino likes to refer them as.

Why the name ‘Werewolf of NYC’?

(Picture below of a page from the Werewolf of NYC comic)

Werewolf of NYC - comic page

 When I finally decided to create a Werewolf comic book I began to think of the story I would like to tell. At first the scenario would be based on the psychiatric evaluations made by Sigmund Freud’s ‘The Wolf Man’ case.  It was to be taken place during World War 1 and would involve a non linear story similar to my first self published comic ‘Johnny Is Dead’.   I created an extremely rare silkscreen accordion book (Edition of 10 only and sold out/unavailable) with just random scratchboard illustrations to get a feel on the design.
 When it came time to place a title on this silkscreen book I blurbed out ‘The Werewolf of NYC’. At first I thought this was a stupid name which eventually grew on me and from the title changed the direction of what I wanted to create.  It gave the project a more sincere focus, voice and connection with New York City.

Company motto?

 No company motto… just make as many mistakes as possible.

Favorite ‘other’ artist(s)?

 Jack Kirby is one my biggest influences.  When I was younger I never considered him as much as I do now. The shape designs of the figures as well as the panels themselves just scream great storytelling/art with no pretentious art making.   When I see comic book artists create “unique” panel organizations that look really great from a design perspective but the art inside lacks conviction it reminds me of the super expensive beautiful leather bound portfolio filled with really bad art. At least you can say the portfolio is great.

(Picture below of Marvel charactor Ant Man as imagined by Edwin)

Edwin - Ant Man drawing

Worst aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

 Corporate Process Template Junky Clone Addict Slaves

Best aspect of the contemporary art-hustle?

 Fusion Cracked Sleep Endorphin Incest Pet Dextromethorphan
 Artists that have sincerity, honesty and voice.

Toy + Art Toy Questions

Is the rise of ‘art’ toys an indication of the changing nature of ‘art’? OR just a bunch of nerds with too much $$$ and time?

 I don’t pay too much attention of why toys are on the rise.  They are fun and I don’t care about changing art scenes or any scene in particular.  I try to stay away from them in general.

Your recently released and sold-out figure – released in conjunction with Art Whore’s own Mike Kirchoff AKA ‘The Mark Ultra’ – is a great sculpt and figure.

(Picture below of the Werwewolf of NYC figure – by Edwin x ‘TheMarkUltra‘)

Wolf Toy - final release

–    what was the inspiration behind the figure?

 I always wanted to create a toy of one of my characters.  I tried desperately with one called EDO.  It was a complete failure.  When I saw Mike Kirchoff’s bootleg series I was inspired by that technique of cutting up arms and heads and collaging them together to make a new product.  I simply went a step farther slicing tiny details of toys to collage into Sculpty to have a combination of collage and original art.

–    what was the process involved in producing the figure – from initial sketches, your sculpting, through to Mike’s cast and mould, and final production?

 There were no sketches involved.  I simply looked for as many toys that mimicked the Werewolf look I wanted.  The body itself comes from an Incredible Hulk figurine. The head is a combination of the jaw from Louie Barra (TMNT), the eyes from Scumbug (TMNT), The ear details from The Beast (He-Man).  The rest of the head and hair on the body was all sculpted by be.
 I then presented the master to Mike and he created the mold which turned out great! He is extremely skilled and follows the idea to make as many mistakes as you can to learn from.

What are your thoughts on the whole resin-art-toy scene, as exemplified by artists such as ‘The Mark Ultra’, ‘2BitHack’, ‘Killer Bootlegs’, ‘Sucklord’ and others?

 They bring a fresh look on collage with pop culture.  Taking in what is shoved down our receptors and thrown back digested and mutilated… I love it.

How do you and Mike aka ‘The Mark Ultra’ know each other? And how has working with him affected your practice and art?

 I met Mike through an ex-girlfriend that worked alongside him as a tattoo artist.  We didn’t exactly become best friends right off the bat but eventually we understood each others personalities and became good friends.

Edwin Vazquez Art Questions

Describe the method of making a typical Vazquez/‘Werewolf of NYC’ piece? (dot point all o.k.)

–    your sculptural work

  1. Steal
  2. Destroy
  3. Smash
  4. Sculpt
  5. Mold
  6. Present

–    your paintings + drawings

  1. Read
  2. Think
  3. Stop Thinking
  4. Collage
  5. Sketch
  6. Scratch
  7. Cut
  8. Present

(Picture below of a Edwin hard at work on a mural)

Edwin - at work painting a mural

Are all your works by made by yourself? If you use collaborators; whom and in what capacity?

 So far all the work I’ve created has been by myself. Aside from Mike Kirchoff (The MarkUltra) he has been the only successful collaboration I’ve ever worked with.

(A finished mural by Edwin)

Edwin - mural

Do you use digital technology in your work at all? If so how, and what has it added to your practice?

 I use digital technology for many of my sketches and color studies.  For me I can quadruple the amount of mistakes before I get to work on the final piece.

You have recently completed a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to release your comic book series, ‘Werewolf of NYC’…

–    why the decision to use Kickstarter? And how was the whole process?

 Many of my colleagues used Kickstarter and I was curious on the whole process.  I think for me the best part was increasing the audience for my work.  The Kickstarter campaign couldn’t have been released in a worse time for me.  I was lucky it was a success. The initial release was set for the beginning of October to take advantage of the Halloween month.
 I didn’t get my act ready until the second week of October. Then Hurricane Sandy hit NYC and I backed away my efforts of promoting it.  Imagine that pitch… “Sure your house is gone… but how about supporting this new Werewolf comic!”  Having the campaign end the week of Thanksgiving wasn’t very smart either.

–    how has Kickstarter ‘changed the game’ for artists (sculptors, musicians, novelists, comic artists etc), in your opinion?

 I think overall it is a good game changer for art projects.  Not in the asking for money but the ease of asking for money.  I have no real opinion about it other than it is another outlet for an artist to get their work into the public.

–    BEST aspect of Kickstarter?

 They give you your money when you are done…. I guess?

–    WORST aspect of Kickstarter?

Hmmm, the constant automatic notifications from friends activity.

Please describe ‘Werewolf of NYC’ – the narrative, the art, and the production of it.

 Albert Shaw is an aged overweight Werewolf that has isolated himself from the world. By watching an illegal pornographic video his Werewolf persona creeps out terrorizing the streets of New York City. In the end of issue one Albert Shaw comes to terms with the lack of enthusiasm in his terror unleashed and decides to change his life in a drastic unwarranted idea.
 The production for The Werewolf of NYC took about two years of research and developing the character. At first it was meant to be a one shot but eventually the story grew to a 4 comic mini series in a set of a trilogy.  (Total 12 issues)

(Picture below of a cartoon by Edwin)

Edwin - marijuana drawing

You have worked within the mainstream comic industry – working with companies such as ‘Dark Horse’ and ‘Bongo’….

–    how and why did you enter the mainstream comic industry?

 I worked alongside Jerry Robinson (creator or the Joker, Robin and Two-Face) and studied with many legendary artists such as David Mazzuchelli (Batman Year One), Klaus Janson (The DarkKnight Returns), Gary Panter (Pee Wee’s Playhouse) and Joey Cavalieri (DC Comics).  I grew up with their work and it is what drove me to pursue a career in art.  It was a natural and an easy decision to become involved with mainstream comics.

–    what did you take away from your years within the mainstream comic industry?

 A lot of the art created has a very similar look to it because of the license they are held under. Their is a certain amount of forgiveness allowed in style but not much.  Many people always tell me that they would like to see more of my work in mainstream comics but since the odd quality I project in the line art the art directors shy away due to license restraints. But I get lucky from time to time.

(Picture below of Edwin’s take on ‘Adventure Time’)

Edwin - Adventure Time drawing

–    FAVOURITE comic you worked on, and why?

 Werewolf of NYC. This is the first time I ever felt I had control of a vision I wanted to project. After years of struggling to find at least one topic to use as a springboard for creating I stumbled onto the Werewolf of NYC.

–    MOST HATED comic you worked on, and why?

 Spy v. Spy/MAD Magazine.  Nothing against MAD Magazine which were unaware of the situation but mainly due to the decision of the artist Peter Kuper.  I was not given credit for the work I designed and created on about 8-10 issues of the Spy v. Spy series. The entire Mayan look and color work was designed by me.  I was specifically hired onto the Spy v. Spy series from my thesis project I created the effects for titled ‘The EGGHEAD CODEX’.
 MAD wanted Peter to have a new look and when he saw my work he leached onto it.  I was young and new to the comic book scene and he took full advantage of it.  He used the look in many of his projects and still to this day which makes me cringe.  I call that digital Mayan influence the “CHIPOTLE LOOK” – it looks good but not authentic. You live and you learn I guess.

Does your self-directed work all exist in its own ‘universe’? (Yes; I am basically asking if you see your characters all interacting in your head.) IF so, what do they get up to?

 All my characters have a sense of myself in them.  The Werewolf of NYC is a loose bio comic but not as boring as those whiny, straight forward, self important bio comics. I see when creating any type of story it has to have this idea of the absurd. It just depends on how high you place the volume on it.
 When I create a character I live out that character. The most recent being Albert Shaw (Werewolf of NYC) which I purposely gained 40 pounds for and used my natural pattern of only sleeping 2-4 hours a night.  I placed myself in a deep depression from the weight gain and inactivity which I struggle now to get away from.  I am using that mindset for Albert Shaw in the second issue.
 Overall I see the Werewolf of NYC universe as a 1980‘s action horror movie only available on VHS quality.  It is the kind of world I like to live in… as absurd as that may be.

(Cover of the ‘Aliens’ comic No. 1, as imagined by Edwin)

Edwin - Aliens drawing

The Future

Any collaborations on the horizon?

 Nope.  None are in the horizon at all.

Any major projects you want to hype man?

 I currently am working on the Werewolf of NYC #2.  This is a fun issue for me creatively where I can draw the MUMMY and a lot of New York City environments.  I aim for an August/September release for issue 2.
 The first issue will be available digitally through COMIXOLOGY and subsequent issues as well.   Hard copies are available now through my website

(Picture below of the cover for the upcoming Werewolf of NYC #2)

Werewolf of NYC - Comic No. 2


Edwin - yoda art

N.B – ArtWhore contacted Mr. Peter Kuper via email to hear his side of the ‘Spy Vs. Spy‘ issue, and was met with the following considered and polite response:

  “Wow. I will never understand why Edwin came away from working for me so wounded. I have had a dozen assistants over the years and this is the only time this has happened. I did the key coloring in all my Spy work that is then followed through on subsequent panels where that color repeated. When he did more than that-say color the sky, I often found myself recoloring work he did anyway. To give him joint credit would misrepresent it.
Did he mention the color work he did on The Simpsons jobs where he got full credit? Did he mention this in the interview? If not you might ask him. On those, I’d spend several additional days working on the color after he was done, but he received sole credit. I thought this all balanced out, but apparently he sees me as a rip off artist. I am really hurt by all this. I mentored him in the SVA masters program, brought him in on World War 3 (which by the way I paid him to work on at times since he was strapped–everyone else on the magazine works for free) gave him the opportunity to work on jobs he could never have gotten on his own and paid him more than I could afford.
Anyway  print what you will.
Thanks for giving me the chance to give my side.

..AND below is Edwin’s response to Peter (sent to me via email on July 31st 2013) :

 I find Peter Kuper’s response very uncomfortable and grossly misconstrued, especially for an artist that aims to support and represent Hispanic artists.
 1. I received credit on my part for Simpson work from Bongo comics. They have a standard that every artist involved no matter the level to receive credit.
 2. I never was paid for WW3 work as all the other artists aren’t.  Actually Peter requested to cut my assistant work pay aside from WW3 to incorporate it as if it was.
 3. Seth Tobocman and Nicole Schulman introduced and involved me in WW3.
 4. In terms of just painting the “sky” Peter is simply mud slinging. I personally asked for credit numerous times during our relationship and he refused to give me an answer. This is the first I ever heard of a response.
 5. My role with Spy v. Spy was a lot more than painting by numbers or painting the sky. The Mayan look I created for a project ‘The Egghead Codex’during my Masters program under the guidance of John Carlin… Not Peter Kuper. Peter was an advisor after the book was complete focusing more on paintings.
 6. In terms of “jobs” I would never have received or “contacts”… I personally had to reach out to them due to Peter not giving credit or introducing me. Most did not even realize I created the work. On ‘Alicia en el pais maravillas’ he simply forgot to honor design credit on that book.
 7. I believe Peter has never heard of complaints from his assistants because they may not be as vocal as I am.  This happens a lot in the comic business. Silent creators and huge egos.
8. In terms of do i think Peter is a rip off artist? I believe his conscious is creating that thought for himself.  I personally believe all artists in any medium are rip offs in general. It is not an insult if that opinion came from me.   What I do believe and question is Peter’s work ethic and denial of the assistance he acquires to help develop his vision… Which is sad.
8. If his feelings are truly hurt then my response would be to imagine a person who calls you pal and friend but once their employment is at an end due to a growth stunt and dealing with your mothers cancer, to never once hear from them again to write a simple “hello” would speak volumes on a persons sincerity and character.
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