Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Golden Campaign by Cristian "Crom" Ortiz

While browsing Reddit I discovered a post by someone who said that he had just finished the first issue of his book the Golden Campaign. I was really excited by the artwork and bought up both issues #1 and #2.

 I then asked it's creator, Cristian "Crom" Ortiz, if I could do an interview with him for the Great Comic Book Heroes. He graciously agreed.

The Golden Campaign is a sci fi/fantasy work about a young man who joins the army of the Key-Lords Empire.
They are fighting mechs which attack them from a more technically advanced neighboring kingdom.
Cristian has created an interesting world with it's own history, politics and customs where they all drink carrot gin and their rings and tattoos signify their rank and honors bestowed upon them for valor.
 He says that the story is loosely based on his own experiences so I talked with Cristian to find out more about himself and his work.

-Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I'm a 27 year old Illustrator/comic book artist living in London with my wife working on many projects including 2d art for indie games, comic books and art collaborations. I draw with biro (ball point pens) since I was in school and to this day I keep sketchbooks where I draw on everyday.
Cristian posing for a reference picture.
I'm a sucker for recognition of my work and I'm still trying to find my style and a spot in the valhalla of comic book artists.

-When did you first get interested in comics? What are your most fondly remembered works? Who are your greatest influences?

I didn't read many books when I was a child so instead my mom used to get me this monthly little comic books with the ducktails adventures and mickey mouse as a detective. I used to read those things all the time and found the format fascinating. I went through different phases of comic books, from tin-tin to spandex DC/marvel kind of thing and autobiographical graphic novels....during College I started my way through all the now very popular titles, Blankets, Maus, Palestine etc.

My current biggest influences are Gipi(italy)
Tayo Matsumoto (Japan)

and Bastien Vives (France)

oh and Cyril Pedrosa (France)

-Where are you from? How long have you been drawing/drawing seriously?

I'm from Bogota, Colombia in South America. Drawing has always been a pretty serious part of my life but I only started doing comic books as a series project 2 years ago when I started chapter 1 of Golden Campaign.

- What are the general steps that you take to bring the comic from inspiration to completion? Do you do sketches first and then map out an outline? Do you work in biro and upload it onto the computer to finish?

For comic book pages I usually draw scenes on my sketchbook and then I do a really rough lay out on paper to see what works. once I feel like its working, I clean the lines by tracing on a lightbox and then scan it to colour it. I use biro (ballpoint pen) for all the roughs and sketches but use fineliners for the lightbox part.

-You use a very restrained pallet. How did you come up with this? When you have so many color options why restrain it so much?

I wish I could tell you it was a very specific decision to improve the mood of my pages or to make it look gritty but in reality is one of those thing that happened as I did the first page of my comicbook. I chose a palette I thought was simple enough and wouldn't take too much of my time so I could focus on the lines and the narrative of my work.

-Once you got into making comics what surprised you / What was the biggest challenges about making comics?

I think the biggest chock for me was to see that there is a big gap between what you think you re capable of doing and what you can actually do. Comic books can be very big and long projects that I always seem to have under control in my head but when it comes down to it I realize I need more practice and to learn more about narrative and gesture.

- After you published your first comic what surprised you?

Well mainly that people were really into my stuff. I thought I'd do the first book as a project to keep myself happy, but as time went it was a pleasant surprise to find people who genuinely got into my work and my stories.

-You say that the story is based on your real life experiences. We know that you came from Columbia and moved to England. Were you in the English army like your character is?

The story is loosely based around my life where fiction replaces many things in an attempt to make metaphors of the real thing. I didn't join the army as the story may suggest but in order to survive in London as a 16 year old I had to get a job as a Rickshaw rider in Central London which introduced me to a whole new world with its own hierarchy, slang, characters and heroes. Back then it was a very tight circle of people and was divided in many groups depending on nationalities and methods of working. it was a truly unique experience in my life.

-What are your future plans?

I plan on getting more involved in indie games as a way of making a living and I also want to finish the other 2 volumes of Golden Campaign. I want to improve my work and I think the only way to do it is through practice so I'm planning to work on as many projects as possible.

Thanks a lot Cristian for taking time to answer some questions and sharing your great work!

If anyone is interested you can check out the first issue on his web site the Golden Campaign.

You can buy the first and second issue and other things on his Crom Shop.

He started doing livestreams of his work here showing the steps that he goes through : http://www.ustream.tv/channel/character-design-session

you can check when the next book is on twitter:



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