Esad Ribić is one of the Comic Con Portugal guest artists. Born in Croatia, nowadays he works for the American comics industry. Loki, one of the comics he illustrated for Marvel, is going to be republished by G. Floy at Comic Con. RIBDA interviewed the artist.

ribic_05What comics did you read when you were a child and a teenager?
I started with Italian Bonelli comics and then moved on to french/belgian stuff, mostly at about 10 years old. Lot of that stuff wasn’t easy to get, so I didn’t see most of Moebius stuff till I was 15. I was a big fan of John Buschema and Frank Frazzetta. I even thought for a while they were the same person 🙂

How did your graduation as a graphic designer influence your comics work?
Apart from having a lot of kids with similar interests in my class, and discovering a lot of new stuff that way, I’m not really sure there was so much influence from graphic design. Pretty early, I saw that too much designed pages took me out of the story, so I started avoiding overdesigning stuff.

Tell us about your experience as a film animator.
Animation was a totally new thing, with a separate set of problems. Since the studio I worked for, mostly did art animation, non-commercial, I was able to try out all kinds of stuff, like backgrounds and special effects. Unfortunately, the studio stopped producing just as I was coming into my own as an animator, so I never got to put some of my ideas on film.

Tell us about your comics published in Croatian and German magazines.
Most of the stuff that got published at Croatia was underground gags with 1 to 2 pages. I was doing some mainstream stuff but, at that time, we didn’t have any magazines, only fanzines, so I couldn’t really publish longer stuff in a professional manner. The only professional work I did at that time was for a German publisher, doing 4 to 6 pages horror stories, along with a couple of friends. I guess we were cheaper than German artists. It was a challenge because they required us to do horror comics without using black!

Can you describe us how the Croatian comics market is nowadays?
There’s no comics market, only a comics scene. If you achieve a professional level, you have to look for a work abroad. There’s more published stuff than ever but it relies on state subsidy, not on sales, to survive.

Your first USA works were written by Miljenko Horvatic and published by Antarctic Press. What do you recall from those works?
At that time we were collaborating on everything and started sending portfolios around. We couldn’t really publish any of that stuff at home, anyway. Antarctic Press was simply the first one who wanted to publish our stuff. I wasn’t really happy with our material, because what we send them was me approximating ‘American’ style. But they wanted to publish that, so we finished it and started working with them. It was a tough time for them. I think they were close to bankruptcy at the time. But the comic books got out and that gave me the opportunity to aim for better projects.

And what can you tell us about your experience at Vertigo?
It was where I ended up next. It was a big step up, but at the time it was a struggle. Most of what they did was magic/fairy stuff, which didn’t really blow my skirt up. I was into fantsay, but into a different kind. I did meet some people there, with whom I did a lot of work later.

Then you moved on to Marvel. Were there any differences working with Robert Rodi at Vertigo’s “Four Horsemen” and at Marvel’s “Loki”?
The approach didn’t really change a lot. The tools (characters) were different and we had a much more favorable situation with “Loki” to do the comic book as we want it.

How was the experience to work with J. Michael Straczynski at “Silver Surfer: Requiem”?
Straczynski has a different approach. Rodi comes from literature and theater. Straczynski got a media/televison background, so a different kind of thinking was involved. It was a high-concept book, but I don’t know if that many people, at the time, got the concept.

ribic_06_metabaronWhat did you enjoy most regarding your work at “Secret Wars”?
Finishing it, definitely! I already worked with Hickman and I think we’re a good pairing, but dadlines, size and situation around the event book meant I was running like crazy to finish it for almost a full year. I was exhausted when it was done. Some reasons for this was that I wanted to avoid fill-ins, we started late, and almost three issues of pages got added. This meant I just worked and slept for whole time. Still, I can’t wait to do something with Hick again; with better deadlines, preferably 🙂

What can you tell us about your next projects?
Currently, I’m doing a book called “VS” with Ivan Brandon at Image and a Metabarons book with Les Humanoïds associées in France. I also finished an ilustration book for Louis Vuitton publishing, which was refreshing, because it was something totally different from my regular work.