Going back over the past 17 years has helped me relive some warm memories. I look at a lot of it as a combination of hard, diligent work mixed with some 'how did I get here' moments! But it all comes from one's desire to leave a mark, to leave your signature on that great landscape we all live through for any certain number of years.
El Muerto, and any work I do, any work anyone creates, is the result of making the effort to start a project or goal. To express an idea. We ultimately do it by ourselves and for ourselves, at least that's my initial starting point. But I've reached out to people for any number of my projects, sometimes for actual assistance, sometimes for feedback or advice. You form partnerships with individuals and organizations, you work with others in pursuing your dreams, and sometimes theirs.
Sometimes El Muerto comes back to me via someone else's hands, believe it or not. Over the years, I've had the good fortune to receive artwork of all kinds based on El Muerto: drawings, paintings, custom action figures, statues, etc. I'm always honored to be the recipient of such work. I like contributing my own interpretation of other artist's characters, so getting such work myself is inspiring. This past May I received an email from an individual informing me that he had made a fan film starring El Muerto, A DAY FOR THE DEAD. He was going to screen it at the Phoenix Comic Con, which I was actually scheduled to be a guest of. So I told Elijio Carlos Ramirez, the writer/director of the film, that'd I be attending the screening. The film was an exhuberant take on the character, one I found myself enjoying immediately. The amount of time and energy, not to mention passion, Elijio and his fellow filmmakers put into making it was charming. I was really flattered with the whole experience. The plan is to show it online eventually, but Elijio's taken it to several film festivals in the meantime.
Just the other day I was informed that a new book, TERRA ZOMBI (an anthology on zombies in pop culture) was just published in Puerto Rico from Editorial Isla Negra. The book features an essay on El Muerto contributed by poet and scholar Mauricio Espinoza. I haven't read the piece yet, but it's an honor to have the character written about in such venues. There's been other opportunities like that over the years, and it's no less humbling each time.
As for what you can expect from me next... As I mentioned in an earlier post in this series, I've got a new chapter of the El Muerto story on my drawing table. This will be published in the early part of 2016, as part of a trade paperback collecting the earlier El Muerto comics. So a lot, if not most, of the Holiday Season will be devoted to finishing this up, the long-awaited conclusion to DEAD & CONFUSED.
Here's a 3 page sequence from the new story. This is what the pages look like after I ink them, before I go in and erase any pencil lines, or digitally clean up the pages in Photoshop after I scan them:
And a page from another scene:
As an artist you create something, and you hope others like it as well. You become the custodian for that character. And over the years you find a lot of goodwill comes back to you because of it. I couldn't possibly thank everyone who's supported my work, embraced my comic book character, offered a helping hand along the many years and countless miles. But I appreciate each and every person. All of you!
Thank you for reading along here on THE 12 DAYS OF MUERTO. Lots more days ahead!
El Muerto and all related characters are ™ & © Javier Hernandez 1998-2015