Artists have been at the core of everything we do here at Betty and Veronica, as Archie Comics have been wonderfully brought to life by many artists throughout the past several decades (since the 1940's to be exact!).
So, we have decided to launch a series of interviews with Archie comics & Betty and Veronica artists! Whether you are an aspiring comic book artist or just a huge Archie Comics fan, you can read our first interview below with illustrator Thomas Pitilli. Stay tuned for more artist interviews to come!
Betty and Veronica: What is your creative process when working on artwork for Archie Comics?
Thomas Pitilli: If I'm working on interior art, I work very closely from the script that has already been written. After I read the script, I make simple sketch versions of each page, called a 'layout'. These layouts are where I choose what angles and compositions I'm going to use to best tell the story. These are meant to be clear enough so that the editors can see exactly what is going on visually, but rough enough so that changes any adjustments can be made very easily. Once those layouts get approved, I will move on to final artwork. I draw all the black and white artwork, then it gets sent off to a letterer and a colorist who make the whole thing come to life. I draw all my comic pages digitally, using Photoshop as my software. Because of the tight deadlines that often come along with comic work, digital definitely saves me a certain amount of time.
For covers, the process is somewhat similar, although the objective is to tell a story with one image only, as opposed to a multiple panel page. For most illustrators, covers are a lot of fun because we get to put all of our energy into one piece of art. I will sketch up a few different ideas for a cover which I send to the editors and after they pick which one they like the best, I go on and complete the final artwork (including the colors, when I'm working on covers.)
BV: Being a comic book artist sounds like such a dream job! What is your favorite part about drawing comics in general?
TP: I think that most artists are storytellers at heart and for me, comics gives me another opportunity to sharpen my storytelling skills. Illustrating a comic can be a large undertaking, but the more I do it, the better an artist I feel it makes me. So, I would say my favorite part is working through the artistic challenges that comics can present and watching myself grow creatively. Also, because I grew up loving the whole Archie Comics universe, to work on these characters is a real thrill!
BV: Ah, yes! We are sure it must be such an honor to draw such iconic characters! Who is your favorite character to draw from the Archie/Riverdale universe?
TP: Jughead has become a favorite character of mine after drawing him so much in the Riverdale comics. His style of clothing is really fun to draw, as well as his beanie, which is the modern interpretation of his crown. I also love drawing Veronica. Maybe I just love drawing people with dark hair!
BV: Any advice for aspiring comic book artists out there?
TP: I encourage young artists to become a student of whatever field they're embarking on. Like me, I think many artists grew up being big comic book fans, but I think growth starts to happen when you go from simply being a consumer of comics, to a student of the craft. So next time you're looking at a comic, try and reverse engineer how the artist might have created that artwork. You may be right, you may be wrong, but at least it will get you looking in a different way. Experiment with different styles and see what works best for you. Also, don't shy away from the things that aren't fun to draw. Things like backgrounds, cars, people talking, etc., that's what makes up 80% of comics! In order to tell a complete story, you have to know how to draw a wide variety of things. Also, seek out guidance! Get feedback on your work as much as possible. It's hard to improve if you exist in a bubble. This is something I have to remind myself of as well.
BV: Such great advice! And lastly, our signature question! Would you consider yourself a Betty or a Veronica?
TP: HA! Let's see... I'd probably have to say Betty. She's a simple chick from Riverdale and I'm just a simple dude from Brooklyn :)