Get Graphic: Willi Roberts Draws A Conspiracy in 'Antarctica'
May 22, 2023
Interview by Troy Allen
Stargate meets His Dark Materials in a new non-stop sci-fi action blockbuster! Artist
In the following interview, artist Willi Roberts takes us inside Antarctica from Top Cow! But did we mention that Willi also inks and colors this book as well? Get ready Get Graphic, reader. You're going to discover the multi-layered process and conspiracy of Antarctica.
Firstly, what is your name and where do you hail from?
My name is Willi Roberts. I was born in Mar del Plata, Argentina, I am 38 years old, I’m married, I have a nine years old daughter, and I have been a comic book artist for 12 years.
How did you get into art? What sparked your initial interest?
My first memory of art is when I was five years old in kindergarten. I was making a portrait of an Argentine hero - getting the attention of my classmates. The teacher recommended my mother to initiate me into an art school when I became older. From that moment I never stopped drawing.
It took me a long time to decide to make a career in art. As a child, I liked comics and the comic that marked me at 9 years old was Spawn with Greg Capullo on pencils. That blew my mind and made me meet these incredible artists. Many years later I decided to give my creative side a chance.
The beginning is never easy, although I had drawn all my life, the world of comics and visual narrative is a new world. After thousands and thousands of rejections, I got my first job as a comic artist and I never stopped.
What can you tell us about Antarctica? What is it about?
Antarctica is a science fiction story, with various components such as drama, mystery, and action, with very human characters with whom it is easy to connect and feel identified.
It is difficult to talk about it without generating spoilers because it has many twists and surprises, throughout the story you feel that for each unknown solved another 5 unknowns are generated.
Can you get into your character design process a bit? How do you know when the character has the right look?
I must admit that I have a soft spot for character creation. I spent some time studying character and environment design, so every time a new script comes my way I'm dying to start the process of bringing these characters to life.
From those years of study, I learned that the first thing you have to achieve in a character is [to make sure they are] not forgettable. The character has to get your attention from the first moment. Be it because of his appearance or his personality, the reader has to keep remembering him once the comic book is closed.
With Hannah, it happened to me from the first moment I read the script. Her appearance was already in my mind with her dark complexion, her white hair, and her hazel eyes, I felt a certain harmony in her.
I would have to show her from her childhood to her adulthood, going through her chaotic adolescence - touching on sensitive issues in adolescents such as abandonment, addictions, and even suicide. It seemed very mature and intelligent of [writer Simon Birks] to touch on these aspects from the beginning. In this way, it is a more human and complex character.
About the costumes: well it was my favorite part! I wanted to create something that was contemporary but attractive. At this point [in the process] the colors you use are crucial.
Having to create different designs in other realities, I had the challenge that they are different but that they have a certain harmony in them, that they would be part of the same story.
Tell us about your collaborators on the book. Who else is on the team?
Well, we are a small team, and my way of working and dedicating myself to pencils, inks, and color does not leave room for many members. But when I got the version of the first 3 [page] with the dialogue, everything came to life.
[Letterer] Lyndon White did a really amazing job giving a lot of character to the text. Recently, I was able to see the alternative cover that he did and I was amazed.
What tools do you use to draw?
My work is entirely digital, I work on a 16-inch Cintiq Pro, and I use ClipStudio paint for drawing and coloring and for references and design. I use Daz Studio for characters and Sketchup for environments and objects but generally for references. Many times, they are photos that I take myself to capture the most natural movements and expressions.
The sketch: This is the first and most important step. After carefully reading the script, it is where you shape the page, the composition, the narrative, and the rhythm. if it works here with undefined sketches it will work with all the details and color.
Inks: This is where the work in detail begins. The use of lights and shadows - and having approved the sketch - you can relax to place details without worrying so much about the general composition of the page. In any case, last-minute changes always arise, but here you should know that the important panel (in this case, the last panel) must contain more of the most visually attractive part of the page and be impressive for the reader.
Colors: And in this process, which I enjoy more each day, the color begins. Normally, someone else would take care of this, but at the same time, my art depends a lot on the color I use. In my way, seeing the mood of the page determines what color to use. For example: we are showing all the hard childhood and adolescence of Hannah, but if I used cold colors it would be reducing the impact of her arrival in Antarctica where everything is cold and gray...so I decided to show some sun and colors - a little brighter to highlight her youth as well. [Reader] will see that from a tragic event everything begins to lose color in Hannah's life.”
In terms of audience, who is Antarctica for?
I think Antarctica is for any lover of science fiction, parallel universes, and mysteries, you will have the constant sensation that you still do not have all the answers, that there are aspects of the universe that are beyond your control and mainly it will generate the following internal question: "If there was another version of you, who made their own decisions, would that person be the same as you?"
Antarctica is available to preorder now at your local comic shop from Top Cow! You can also reserve your copy with PREVIEWSworld Pullbox.
If you're looking for more from Willi Roberts, be sure to follow him on Instagram and ArtStation.
Keep an eye on PREVIEWSworld.com's Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram for more artist spotlights!
Stargate meets His Dark Materials in a new non-stop sci-fi action blockbuster!
Hannah's life imploded the day her father failed to return from the secretive Smith-Petersen Research Station in Antarctica. Alone and on the street, she's at her lowest ebb when a friend offers help. Retrained as an engineer, Hannah secures a job at the same Antarctic station to search for her father and stumbles headfirst into a conspiracy that threatens everything she's ever believed.
Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalypse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Award-nominated Magic Bullet.