Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Ernie Colon - Cartoonist Survey #252
Legendary comic artist Ernesto "Ernie" Colón was born in Puerto Rico in July of 1931. During his long career, starting back in the Sliver Age of the late 1960’s, he has worked on children’s, superhero, horror and nonfiction comics. He’s worked for almost every major and minor comic publisher including, Harvey, Marvel, DC, Gold Key, Broadway Comics, Star Comics and Eclipse. Ernie got his start in the comics field as a letterer at Harvey Comics. Soon he began drawing Harvey’s best known characters such as Casper the Friendly Ghost and Richie Rich. While at Harvey he met Sid Jacobson who would become his editor, lifelong friend and creative collaborator. Unfortunately Harvey never gave its many talented artists and writers credit for their work, so the almost 15,000 pages that Ernie drew went unsigned. He left Harvey after 25 years before they closed in the early 80’s.
During the mid 1960’s and through the 1970’s, his artwork regularly appeared in Warren Publishing’s black-and-white horror-comics magazines Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. Some of my favorites from these classic monster comic magazines that Ernie drew include; “To Save Face”, “Beyond Nefera's Tomb” and “Escape into Chaos” for Eerie; “The Mind of the Monster” and “Strange Expedition” for Creepy and “Room Full of Changes” and “The Survivor” for Vampirella.
From 1982 to 1985 Ernie was an editor for DC Comics where he penciled the historical fantasy Arak, Son of Thunder (which was written by Roy Thomas) and Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld. He worked on Marvel titles as well, including Red Sonja, Damage Control, Doom 2099 and the Bullwinkle and Rocky series for Marvel's children's imprint Star Comics. He also wrote, drew, lettered and colored 1988’s science-fiction graphic novel Ax for Marvel. In the early 1990’s, he returned to Harvey along with his friend Sid Jacobson and worked on such projects as Monster in My Pocket and Ultraman.
Recently, Ernie has been working with Sid on non-fiction work. The team produced the graphic interpretation of the 9/11 Commission’s 2005 report, “The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation” and a couple of years later they created “After 9/11: America's War on Terror.” The pair also worked together on three biographies, “Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography”, “Che: A Graphic Biography” and “Vlad the Impaler.”
Just a couple of weeks ago Ernie’s book “Inner Sanctum” was released through NBM Publishing. Returning to the mystery and horror radio shows of the 1940’s, this book re-creates four of the shows stories, The Horla, Death of a Doll, The Undead and Alive in the Grave. His next project with NBM, which is still in the fact-checking phase, will be “3/5ths of a Man”, the historical account of slavery in America. Ernie has recently started blogging for NBM, which you can read here.
What is your favorite pen to use?
Ballpoint. Bic is best.
Do you draw in pencil first and if so do you use a standard pencil or a mechanical one?
Mech pencil, light lines. But mostly I sketch on the comp, then all the rest as well.
Do you do your coloring by hand or on the computer?
All on the comp. Afraid I don't have time for hand coloring.
If you do your coloring by hand, what do you use?
Prisma pencils and acrylics.
What type of paper do you use?
Whatever's in the closet
What thing(s) do you hate to draw?
Buildings, steps definitely.
Do you buy your supplies from big chain art store catalogues/websites or a local one that you physically go to?
Local stationery--they have more than enough Bics in stock.
Are there any rituals that you do before starting to draw?
Turn on TCM. If a really lousy movie is on, I'm grateful so I can get to work without distraction.
Do you listen to music while you draw and if so what genre?
Brazilian jazz, then a motley array of decades. Rarely classical--makes me think.
Did you read comics as a kid and if so what was your favorite?
Yes. Captain Marvel was great--sense of humor--lost when the brains at DC acquired him and turned him into another snarling brute.
What is or was your favorite comic strip?
Noel Sickles' and Milton Caniff's Terry and the Pirates.
What was your favorite book as a child and do you still own a copy of it?
Too many. Permanent resident at the library--they still threaten to charge me rent.
Did you have any formal art training and if so where did you receive it?
None. Self-taught--if you don't count all the art books I bought and occasionally stole.
Do you feel that the Internet is a blessing or a curse?
Me and Google are very close. Almost all my reference is from Goog. E-mails I write and receive by the hundreds--something I never did with U.S. mail. It's only a curse when one becomes a victim.
Did either of your parents draw?
Who in your life is/was the most supportive of your art?
My mom and Step-dad.
Do you keep a sketchbook?
I tried--many times. I only succeed in filling a few pages, then putting them up with all the other mainly empty ones.
Have you ever taught cartooning/drawing and if so did you enjoy the experience?
No, and I wouldn't. I have given talks at schools, but they were to encourage kids.
Do you feel that talent or passion is more important in drawing?
If by passion you mean obsession--it can get you far--else how to explain the plethora of mediocrity.
Do you collect anything and if so what?
At times, ceramic pigs, little owls. But well-meaners started gifting me awful examples--some of them expensive--which was never my measure of worth, Lovely sculpting, by some anonymous artisan somewhere in the world and turned into a cheap souvenir was more my interest.
If you were an animated cartoon character who do you think you would be?
Is Bugs taken?
Are you a righty or lefty?
Righty. Left hand is useless.
If you weren't an artist what would you want to do for work?
Lordy--what wouldn't I do?
In one or two sentences describe your drawing area.
TV on the left, comp with a drawing board in front. Couch in back, littler box in bathroom for our devil's spawn, Phoebe.
Do you play any musical instruments?
The ukulele once. I got too good at it and quit.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wants to pursue drawing as a career what would it be?
None--too many variables.
Who is your favorite artist?
Too many. But I see you interviewed Roz Chast. Would it be possible to forward a message to her? Just tell her I believe in polygamy.
As you can tell, Mr. Colon is quite the busy guy; and because of that I want to give him a heartfelt thank you for taking the time to participate.
I also want to thank my buddy Bill White (Cartoonist Survey #1) who was nice enough to contact Ernie and ask him if he would be interested in answering the Cartoonist Survey.