David Cabeza's Got It Covered: 'The Orville'

by Troy-Jeffrey Allen

As often is the case, there are numerous sci-fi properties being adapted into comics. Just because these are tie-ins to outside media, however, doesn't mean they are devoid of craft.

"I studied Fine Arts and my favourite thing to do was portraits," explains artist David Cabeza (Catalyst Prime Superb, Kino). Hailing from Spain, Cabeza studied in Europe. A background that helped prepare him for Dark Horse's The Orville: New Beginnings, a new comic book series based on Fox TV's The Orville. "The human figure and especially the faces are the most interesting subjects for me to draw or paint." In the end, his history with portraiture would be greatly utilized when depicting the real-life performers from the show. 

Cabeza came on board after the first full season of The Orville aired ("I really liked it, so I watched the entire season," Cabeza notes). Having twelve episodes of television to pull from gave David plenty of material to work off of. But first, he had to go through a vetting process. One that involved The Orville's Executive Producer David A. Goodman (Futurama) and creator Seth McFarlane (Family Guy). "My agent sent me an email [asking for] test pages," David told PREVIEWSworld. I wasn't the only artist in the [running], but finally, Seth MacFarlane and David Goodman picked my pages, so I was in."

You'd think getting the okay from two successful Hollywood producers would be enough of an ego boost, but Cabeza remains his harshest critic. Especially when it comes down to likeness. "It's been a bit of a struggle with certain characters," Cabeza admits. "Especially Kelly [played by Adrianne Palicki] and Gordon [played by Scott Grimes]. They're difficult to portray for me! [Sometimes] they really look like the actors and others not totally." He then adds: "You can imagine the [amount] of references I have to be able to [use]. "[You get to] see every angle of their faces, if needed. I practiced sketching the faces of [some of the actors] - trying to locate their facial features. But, overall, I'm more or less happy with the result."

As for inspiration, Cabeza looked to modern comic book artist Phil Noto for the way forward. "It was decided to feature all the main characters on [the first issue]," Cabeza explains. "So the challenge here was to do solid portraits of the actors in a nice-looking composition. The fantastic Han Solo cover that Phil Noto did for the first issue...you can see incredible portraits of the main characters. I really like his cover artwork!" Also on that shortlist of influences, the legendary Drew Struzan - the painter behind some of Hollywood's most iconic movie posters. 

David Cabeza's run on The Orville marks a lot of first for the artist. It's his first time working for Dark Horse, it's his first time working on a Hollywood property, and it holds an even bigger distinction career-wise: "It is my first American comic book ever!"

About The Orville: New Beginnings:

On their way to a fleet conference via shuttle, Ed and Gordon pick up a distress signal from a century-old buoy belonging to a Union ship and decide to investigate. Meanwhile, back on the Orville, Kelly tries to mediate when Bortus insists on enrolling Topa into school even though he is only a few months old.

The Orville: New Beginnings (MAY190214) is available July 17th at your local comics shop.

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Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes BAMN, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Awards-nominated Magic Bullet.

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