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Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz

Transformers News: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz

Thursday, August 15th, 2013 4:14AM CDT

Categories: Comic Book News, Interviews, People News, Site Articles
Posted by: Va'al   Views: 39,880

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This time round, fellow Seibertronians, we have a special treat for you all in our interview series. We were approached by an old acquaintance of the franchise who is now back for more with IDW. Please read on for a full interview with artist James Raiz!

Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz


Va'al - With Dark Cybertron about to happen in the IDW Transformers universe, we are very proud to present another interview with one of the creative talents behind the event. James, thanks for thinking of us and agreeing to do this also to mark your return to Transformers comics - but before we get to that, the usual opening question: How did you discover our favourite transforming robots? Where did it all begin for you?

James - Thanks so much Alex! Great to be back and talking comics and especially Transformers after my time away. I have been a fan as long as I could remember!
I was introduced mainly by the cartoon - I was a huge fan of the old G1 series back in the day! My parents bought me the smaller toys, like Bumblebee, Cliffjumper, Warpath, Gears, Cosmos, etc... and of course go-bots because they looked like transformers and were lots cheaper - I had a lot of those... But I remember one day, my mom splurged for my birthday and I got Metroplex! I was floored! I immediately put all my Go-bot toys inside! One toy that was special to me was Topspin - I loved that toy so much, I actually sat down and drew it - my first ever transformers drawing. I wish I still had it...

Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz


Va'al - A lot of the current batch of creators seem to have grown up on the G1 cartoon and toys (though there are exceptions); I was going to ask about your first toys but you pre-empted me! But you say that it was actually a toy that got you into the artistic side of the franchise - did you pick up any of the comics back then, too?

James - Honestly no, I actually didn't get into comic books until high school - so I wasn't really looking for them. I was more into card collecting at the time - baseball cards, hockey cards, but my best friend was deeply into comics - so I started following him to the stores. I'd say it was actually the start of Image Comics that turned me into a gigantic comic fan, so most of my collecting was Image stuff and some X-Men at the time - didn't really look for the Transformers comics.

Va'al - The collecting bug was there from the start though, it seems! It took me a while to even consider picking up a Transformers title, Marvel or IDW (or any other iteration), I'm quite the late bloomer too - and it's all because of JP Bove. How did you eventually get into the Transformers comics? If you did at all, that is!

James - Now that's quite a long story! So I might as well go into it. I was working at a company called Dreamwave Productions - I was Pat Lee's primary assistant, his main background artist. He really liked me because I put so much detail into my work. Because of my schooling background (I have a technical illustration diploma), my backgrounds - buildings, landscapes, and especially cars, looked great! My human figures however... well Dreamwave was known for their "Anime" style, and it's a style I wasn't used to doing - I was more the Jim Lee clone if anything, so they were hesitant to let me fully pencil any of their books at the time.

Fast forward to Wizard Magazine contacting Dreamwave - they had an idea for an article about 1980s toys possibly being current comics - they picked an artist who they thought would be good for each franchise - J. Scott Campbell for Thundercats, Joe Madureria for TMNT, and Pat Lee for Transformers. They then contacted Pat Lee to do an image for the magazine.

The article was a gigantic success - everyone loved the art Pat produced. So from there, the wheels started turning. We all thought "wouldn't it be cool if we actually got the license???". From there, Dreamwave started their quest to acquire it. I actually helped the pitch by putting together a three page Transformers RID sample, written by Chris Sarracini. It didn't get done yet. A few months down the line, enter a business man named Adam Fortier. He worked with Pat in making a deal with Hasbro. Next thing I know, we now have the license!

Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz


Right away I expected to be doing backgrounds for Pat, which I was ecstatic about. However they sat me down and informed me that they were going to do two titles - Pat of course was going to do G1, and they have another title based on the current cartoon at the time - Transformers:Armada - and they wanted me to pencil it! I was over the moon!

So yeah... quite an introduction to Transformers comics!

Va'al - Wow, that sounds all pretty fast, looking back. This next part is going to be a bit tricky, as Dreamwave is still quite an issue for a lot of Transformers fans, and especially artists. Did you have any particularly bad experiences while working for Lee, or were you one of the people who made it through unscathed?

James - Pat gave me my start in comics - he gave me a job when no one else would - he gave me my start in the industry. However what he did to all of those guys was just wrong. For me personally, I left Dreamwave at two points in time, but I encountered the financial trouble mainly at the end of my tenure with Dreamwave.

When I left Dreamwave in 2003, it had nothing to do with not being paid - Dreamwave was flooded with cash at that time - I left because they kept promising me work on multiple titles, and for one reason or another they fell through - it was even to the point where they told me to wait 12 months before I can get back onto the flagship Transformers title, and that they'd find me work to do in between then.

Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz


At that time I was getting married, and I needed money, I didn't know when the work from Dreamwave would come, so I left for a job at Wildstorm/DC Comics. I returned back to Dreamwave in 2004 - Pat asked me to come back and help him with some movie and television projects - I didn't have any work at the time, so I agreed. At that time you could tell Dreamwave was in trouble. People were complaining about not getting paid in full. I helped out with a Transformers Sourcebook and did an issue of Transformers:Energon - and I did get my money... but it did take a while. So when they offered me a chance to do War Within volume 3, knowing that deferred payment or even possibly no payment at all was inevitable, I declined, and I left for the final time.

Va'al - That's a good, honest, direct answer - it can be hard when something as big as the Dreamwave issue happens, and you're involved both professionally and personally. So thank you, we really appreciate it! How did you end up getting back into the comics with IDW, after your second leaving? You did some cover work for them, but how did you get chosen for Dark Cybertron?

James - Well, it took a while. After I left Dreamwave the second time, things were actually pretty good for me. I received regular consistant work in the comic industry - did work for Marvel & DC on various titles. I also got the opportunity to help my buddy Joe Ng out doing pages for the Transformers/GI Joe crossover from Devil's Due/Udon. Honestly, my work was horrible in that issue - mainly because I was working on two other projects at the same time - one for Top Cow doing City of Heroes and one for SPIN Toys - I just didn't know when to say no...

From there, the Transformers license ended up with IDW. They contacted me, asking me if I'd like to be involved. I actually did a tryout page for them to be the first penciller on the Transformers:Infiltration series - they presented the potential pencillers to Hasbro and Hasbro picked E.J. Su to be the first penciller so he got the gig (and honestly I do feel Hasbro made the right choice - he did an amazing job! No complaints here!) But, I did get to do covers for quite a few issues of that series. I also got to do covers for the different Spotlight issues (Shockwave, Hot Rod & Six Shot) as well as covers for the first two issues of Beast Wars.

Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz


In 2006, after hearing stories about good friends from my Dreamwave days going back to school and getting into video games, and with the freelance hours really starting to drain me out, I decided to change directions in career - so I went back to school to study animation. From there I spent six years working in film and videogames - I got the opportunity to work on films like Watchmen, Percy Jackson, Battle LA and Underworld to name a few.

During that time, I've always stayed in touch with IDW - they've been SO good to me. I did stuff for them on the side like images for the beast wars sourcebook. There was a time when I was actually offered to be the penciller for the first Transformers live-action movie sequel - the Search for Starscream - but unfortunately there was no way to handle a full time job plus a regular penciling gig. So they still gave me the opportunity to do covers for the series - some of my favorite work ever! In between film jobs I even got the chance to fill in on Maximum Dinobots - there I realized I was faster and more disciplined - and I was much more happy with the work than my last interior Transformers stint.

Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz


Fast forward to late 2012 - we had an unfortunate injury in my family, and I decided to let my contract run out at my current job (I was a storyboard artist for Ubisoft), so I could stay home. I contacted Chris Ryall to see if they had any work available - and he and John Barber gave me my first full interior Gig in a long time - Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #22, which will also be inserted with the Skids toy!

After that issue I went on vacation, and when I got back, editor Carlos Guzman contacted me and asked me to be a part of the armada of artists who will be working on Dark Cybertron! I was more than happy to accept. I really owe a lot to Chris Ryall, John Barber and IDW.

Va'al - I keep reading excellent things about Ryall and the IDW crew, I'm pleased to see more of it artists with different backgrounds and experiences, too. And I'm sure we'll be more than happy to see you work on both MTMTE and Dark Cybertron! Do you have any teases you're allowed to give us about the coming storyline?

James - Sure! Dark Cybertron debuts in November with DARK CYBERTRON #1 and then continues that same month with MTMTE #23 and RID #23 and then alternates between MTMTE and RID until issue 27 of each. Everything is written by John Barber and James Roberts - both amazing to work with! Phil Jimenez will be doing the artwork on Dark Cybertron #1.

Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz
Exclusive to Seibertron! MTMTE #22, page 4 - Art by James Raiz


Because it will be alternating books, instead of one artist per book, an armada of artists will be working on it! You'll see the amazing work of Andrew Griffith, Atilio Rojo, Brendan Cahill, Casey Coller, Alex Milne, Robert Gill and Nick Roche. As for myself, I'll be handling most of the artwork taking place on the Lost Light.

I actually can't say much at all, but as a tease, how about this:
Shockwave's got a plan, millions of years in the making, goes all the way back to Nova Prime and Galvatron era...

Va'al - That's expanding a little on what we know, and it's just making me want to read it more than before! It'll be good to see your work again too. Speaking of which, I hear you've been busy artistically with other giant robots in the meantime - care to tell us more about that?

James - Sure thing! I have started a YouTube channel up for fun a few months back. At first it was a hobby, but now it's something I'm taking much more seriously. It's called "The Box Office Artist". At first, I was doing previews of upcoming blockbuster movies (or ones I thought I could draw something cool with). I did one for Iron Man, Fast and Furious 6 and Man of Steel among others. The response was very positive, however, most people who watch actually want me to teach them draw.

So, I'm starting some tutorial videos, and what better way to start than showing people how to draw, than what I pretty much draw best - Giant Robots! I'm doing a four part tutorial series on how to draw a Pacific Rim style Mech. I concepted and drew an image of a giant mech, inspired by the movie and recorded the entire process.



It will be split up into four different videos:

1. Concept/Layout
2. Pencilling in Ink
3. Detailing
4. Final product

A timelapse version of the entire piece from start to finish is already up, but the entire series will come out the last week of August. And I would love to chat with all of you to find out what you'd like me to teach you how to draw next - I think a Transformer should be next in line, don't you?

Va'al - That's some amazing work right there, I hope more people get to follow your artistic endeavours! Also, Seiertronianas, feel free to talk to James in this thread - he'll be reading your responses and answering when he can. James, it's been a pleasure to talk to you, and I'm really looking forward to seeing more of you in the pages of MTMTE, especially after that sneak preview. Any last words?

James - It's been a great pleasure Alex, thank you so much for the interview, and thank you to ALL of the Transformers fans out there, and everyone who kinda remembers me a little bit. I will be active on the boards, so feel free to ask me any question you'd like!

Also feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram (both @jamesraiz). And you can send me messages through my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/theboxofficeartist
Also if you're liking the tutorials (and even previews) I've been doing, and would like to see more, please let me know, and please subscribe to my YouTube channel:http://www.youtube.com/theboxofficeartist

Being in the Film and Video Game industry was a lot fun, but now being back in comics, and especially drawing Transformers again, makes me feel like I'm back where I belong. Thank you so much to all of you for making me feel welcome. And I hope you enjoy the art I'll put out for all of you!


You heard the man, get in touch! Thanks again to all of you for reading, and stay tuned for another interview soon, here at Seibertron.com.
Credit(s): James Raiz, Va'al
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Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1511873)
Posted by njb902 on August 15th, 2013 @ 4:31am CDT
Awesome interview Va'al :APPLAUSE:
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1511900)
Posted by jamesraiz on August 15th, 2013 @ 8:08am CDT
Yes Va'al did an amazing job! Thanks everyone for checking the article out - if you have any questions for me, feel free to ask right here :)

My schedule is crazy over the next few days, but I'll do my best to answer any questions you guys have!
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1511976)
Posted by El Duque on August 15th, 2013 @ 1:36pm CDT
Amazing art! Really look forward to seeing what else you have is store for us. I wasn't all that familiar with your previous TF work since I wasn't actively collecting during your last stint, but I've always loved this piece:

Image

Thanks for taking the time for the interview!
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1511977)
Posted by Go-Faster-Wings on August 15th, 2013 @ 1:44pm CDT
As soon as I heard you were returning to Transformers I got excited!! So far, who is your favorite MTMTE character?
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512063)
Posted by jamesraiz on August 15th, 2013 @ 8:53pm CDT
Thanks so much :) Hopefully I'll win you over with my new stuff :) Glad you liked that piece - so many people thought Pat drew it, because when it was first published, they didn't include the version with my signature - though they swore it was an accident, to this day I'm not so sure lol!

My fb page is full of my old Transformers art if you wanna head down memory lane ;)

El Duque wrote:Amazing art! Really look forward to seeing what else you have is store for us. I wasn't all that familiar with your previous TF work since I wasn't actively collecting during your last stint, but I've always loved this piece:

Image

Thanks for taking the time for the interview!
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512064)
Posted by jamesraiz on August 15th, 2013 @ 8:55pm CDT
Go-Faster-Wings wrote:As soon as I heard you were returning to Transformers I got excited!! So far, who is your favorite MTMTE character?


Thanks so much! Hope I won't let you down :)

Right now, there are a few I can't mention ;) I'll say Rung!
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512194)
Posted by Seibertron on August 16th, 2013 @ 2:24am CDT
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512120)
Posted by Dead Metal on August 16th, 2013 @ 5:16am CDT
Aw yea, I loved Raiz's covers back in my idw floppy collecting days. And I've always really liked the look of his artwork. The lines where always much thiner, neater and cooler than on Don's or Lee's work. I'm happy to see interior work by him once more. :D


And now a question to James Raiz:

What's your favorite Transformers character to draw? As in which one is the most fun and rewarding?
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512263)
Posted by Magna Prime on August 16th, 2013 @ 11:28pm CDT
I also always loved that cover. I bought one from Seibertron when they first came out and got it CGC'd a year or so ago as a 9.6 quality. I'll be thrilled to see more of James' art again.
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512296)
Posted by Banjo-Tron on August 17th, 2013 @ 7:08am CDT
Superb interview Va'al! :BOWDOWN: I'm looking forward to seeing some more awesome artwork from the extremely talented Mr. Raiz!

My question for James would be, will you be coming to the UK for any conventions/signings soon?
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512484)
Posted by jamesraiz on August 18th, 2013 @ 8:03am CDT
Dead Metal wrote:What's your favorite Transformers character to draw? As in which one is the most fun and rewarding?


Thanks so much for the kind words :) And may I continue to give my props to my boy Don - that dude's work ethic is unparalleled :)

The most rewarding has got to be the first time I drew Movie Starscream with the TF Movie: Search for Starscream cover. I felt it was the first time I really got to be myself when drawing TFs - one of my favorite pieces to date :)

Though I also did love drawing Armada Megatron as well - though not 22 pages of him (those darn treads!) lol!
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512485)
Posted by jamesraiz on August 18th, 2013 @ 8:04am CDT
Magna Prime wrote:I also always loved that cover. I bought one from Seibertron when they first came out and got it CGC'd a year or so ago as a 9.6 quality. I'll be thrilled to see more of James' art again.


Thanks so much! It's so much fun drawing for you guys again :) Hope you like it :)
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512486)
Posted by jamesraiz on August 18th, 2013 @ 8:06am CDT
Banjo-Tron wrote:Superb interview Va'al! :BOWDOWN: I'm looking forward to seeing some more awesome artwork from the extremely talented Mr. Raiz!

My question for James would be, will you be coming to the UK for any conventions/signings soon?


I would love to, but this year is turning out to be a bad one for conventions - my schedules keep conflicting!

But I am planning on hitting all the major Transformers Conventions next year, so you'll have to be patient for now - and hope the public still likes my art then lol!
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1512904)
Posted by quickmixed on August 20th, 2013 @ 12:56am CDT
Another enjoyable read Va'al. I'm enjoying your interviews.

I'm looking forward to seeing James' take on the crew of the lost light. I really enjoyed his interpretations of the monsterbots back in Maximum Dinobots years ago. The pages in issue four between Repugnus, Grimlock and the Dinobots are still some of my favourite pages today.

Welcome back to the franchise James. :APPLAUSE: Looking forward to it.
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1513169)
Posted by jamesraiz on August 21st, 2013 @ 2:11pm CDT
quickmixed wrote:Another enjoyable read Va'al. I'm enjoying your interviews.

I'm looking forward to seeing James' take on the crew of the lost light. I really enjoyed his interpretations of the monsterbots back in Maximum Dinobots years ago. The pages in issue four between Repugnus, Grimlock and the Dinobots are still some of my favourite pages today.

Welcome back to the franchise James. :APPLAUSE: Looking forward to it.



Thanks so much for the warm welcome and Applause! Hope I don't disappoint!
Re: Seibertron.com Interviews James Raiz (1513320)
Posted by Dead Metal on August 22nd, 2013 @ 9:51am CDT
jamesraiz wrote:
Dead Metal wrote:What's your favorite Transformers character to draw? As in which one is the most fun and rewarding?


Thanks so much for the kind words :) And may I continue to give my props to my boy Don - that dude's work ethic is unparalleled :)

The most rewarding has got to be the first time I drew Movie Starscream with the TF Movie: Search for Starscream cover. I felt it was the first time I really got to be myself when drawing TFs - one of my favorite pieces to date :)

Though I also did love drawing Armada Megatron as well - though not 22 pages of him (those darn treads!) lol!

Not saying he's bad, he's amazing, just stating that I like your stuff more.

I can totally see how finishing off a Movie TF that looks good is rewarding, the amount of detail and shapes needed for the parts insane.

Yea, Armada Megatron is damn fun to draw, but I gave up on trying due to never being able to get those stupid shoulder threads to work properly. Everything else is fine and dandy, but those damn shoulders :lol:

A shame I will have to wait till it's collected in TPB form to enjoy your TF work again.
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