I thought it was about time we learned a little more about one of our founding members, penciler, inker, painter, guitarist and all-around nice guy, Dave Gutierrez!
Let’s get to it!
Where are you from, where did you grow up?
Was born in NY but moved to NJ when I was 5 or 6.
What’s the first thing you can remember drawing?
I have a scan of it somewhere; it’s a sorta alien baby in a baby carriage. I hafta see the date on it to tell you how old I was. I’m guessing 3 or 4. [He was only three!]
How many artists have their VERY first work? This is too cool. Dave was about 3 years old when he drew this!
Do you have any “formal” art training?
Nah, just been drawing all my life, picking up things as I went along. Later on I attended plenty of figure drawing, sculpture, painting classes, etc. at local colleges and art programs.
Tell us about your relationship with Gene Colan. For many years you were pretty much his exclusive inker. How did that come about?
Well I believe it was 1993 or 1994 and I was working at Blackout Comics, penciling, inking and coloring different books, when two covers came in. I just happened to be at the office picking up or dropping off, just pure chance that I was there at that moment. I was offered to ink one of them and that’s where it began.
I think I wrote to him or maybe eventually called but we started writing letters back and forth. I would send him stuff I was working on and he would give me some pointers. He was always so kind and would concentrate on my strong points as opposed to ripping my weaker ones.
As I’ve noted in the past, it was the Colan’s, both Gene and his wonderful wife Adrienne, who helped make Wednesday’s Heroes a reality. Dave was very close with them and worked as Gene’s inker for a great many of his later works.
After a short while we would write or talk about family or our dogs. He was an amazing human being (and of course a true master). I was really blessed to call him friend for all those years. I considered both Gene and Adrienne to be my biggest fans. We helped each other over the years and it became a true friendship that I will never forget.
Do you have a preference between inking and penciling?
Not really. I can do both, so I’m comfortable taking on whatever is needed. I’m mainly penciling and inking my own stuff these days.
Tools of the trade…what are your favorite “go to” tools. Pencils, pens, inks, paper, paint, etc…What are we guaranteed to find at your drawing table?
There are always brushes around, all different sizes, Raphael’s are my favorite, I beat the hell outta them and they will hold a fine point for quite a while. Then they get allocated to filling large black areas once that fine point is gone; lots of black magic ink and cheap inks for wash and a literal mess of different watercolors.
Good Bristol is always on hand. Cheap paper will only lead to a headache eventually so I buy large sheets and cut what I need, as I need it. I also have some cheap pens for any mechanical work or when a ruler is needed. I beat the hell outta those too so I don’t waste the money on expensive sets (they NEVER last very long).
Who are your art heroes? Whose work do you pull the most inspiration from?
Well, there’s a long list of artists I like from fine art to pure cartoonists but I don’t feel like I’m channeling any of them in my own work, not these days anyway. Ya know all the greats are always in the back of my mind and I’ll use a trick or two when its appropriate. People see so-in-so in my work and I’ll take it as a compliment but I can assure you I wasn’t thinking of Al Williamson or Roy Krenkel while I was working.
Here’s a short list because I know I’ll inevitably leave someone out. Escher, Dali, Picasso, Kirby, Buscema, Colan, Windsor-Smith, Sienkiewicz, Jae Lee and on and on. Buscema and Colan were both monsters, churning out copious amounts of top notch stuff, just amazing. Windsor-Smith always does such beautiful stuff, such incredible attention to the details. Aahhh and Sendak, brilliant!
Here’s a quick look at some of Dave’s many influences!
A similar, but different question, what artists have had the most influence on your own work?
When I was younger I would have said Windsor-Smith, but I think artists go through phases, so Buscema, Colan then some of the newer guys were all being looked at closely. Not just the drawing but the layouts and pacing etc. It becomes a warehouse in the back of your mind when you need something for a certain job or illustration. Gene probably most only because we talked so much about art in general. I never strove to draw like him, don’t think I could anyway, but he is always with me telling me to “do my best, you’re only as good as your last job”. That’s my inspiration.
Besides being a brilliant artist, you’re also a musician. Tell us about that.
Well yes, I was always drawing from an early age but when I was 11 or 12 and got my first electric guitar it was over, ha! Yeah artist/musician…my life. I’ve done a lot with both and have had incredible opportunities because of it. Playing in rock, metal, hardcore and punk bands have allowed me to travel around the world and express myself musically with a group of friends/band mates but with art, obviously I’m alone with myself (scary), I’ve been allowed to create characters and worlds right out of my head and also travel and meet some of the most incredible people. In both fields I’ve made life-long friends and will continue to do so as long as I’m asked. I can honestly say I’ve probably had too much fun and leave it at that!
Do the two arts (music and drawing) ever influence each other?
Not really, I’ve drawn stuff for the music scene along with things for the different bands I’ve been in but otherwise I don’t think so. Maybe if I thought about it more there might be a closer connection but I really don’t think so. Seems to me its all just art and expression…(shrug).
What work are you most proud of?
Some of the covers I’ve done; the painted one for “Hothouse” I enjoy. I hadn’t painted anything in years and I was very happy with the effort. When I used to do comic panel work I thought I was really onto something but haven’t done that in quite some time. Inking Colan will always be a highlight. This dune poster I’m doing now is going to be a favorite. I’ve put a lot into it for several reasons, I guess we will see…almost done, ha! [It’s acutally finished now!] Over the last few years I’ve done a series of Wizard of Oz illustrations that stand out.
Are you working on any projects now?
The dune (movie) poster and a benefit/auction piece of avengers #16, the cover for the new Ill Content record (hardcore band from the east bay), and a wrap-around cover for a book about the NY hardcore band Agnostic Front. I’m also working on a 3-5 page piece for the Death Shriek comic by Legacy of Death. I’m juggling a few things at the moment (“scrambling” as I say)…story of my life. Now let me get back to it!