A COMIC LIFE: ERIC MERCED INTERVIEW!

WELCOME TO A COMIC LIFE Episode 3!!

Eric Merced by Eric Merced(!!)

Eric Merced by Eric Merced(!!)

OUR NEW BLOG SERIES FOR MANGA BEGINNERS, A COMIC LIFE, COVERS THE BEST TOOLS FOR CONQUERING THE WILD WILD WEST OF SELF-PUBLISHING AND WEBCOMICS. LAST TIME OUT, WE ADDRESSED HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN COMICBOOK COVER WITHIN THE COMIC LIFE APP by Plasq.

Today, we interview comicbook artist and Comic Life/ Comic Draw user, Eric Merced!

 

Saturday A.M: From what I understand you were born in Puerto Rico. What town are you originally from?

Eric: I was, yes. I was born in Rio Piedras but was brought to the U.S. when I was still a baby. So most of my childhood and teenage years were spent living in Brooklyn.

Saturday A.M: What was it like being raised by a Puerto Rican family in New York?

Eric: It was normal. I mean, I never noticed a difference between me, my family and my friends and their family. We spoke Spanish mostly to each other but the majority of the time I spoke English with my friends and cousins.

Saturday A.M: Which of the two cultures do you most identify with and why?

Eric: I think because I was raised in N.Y., I identify more with the American culture. I know this because when I visit P.R., I stand out like a sore thumb. Not in a bad way, but they can easily tell I'm not from there, even though I was born there.

Saturday A.M: How did Walt Disney's THE LITTLE MERMAID influence you to become an artist?

Eric: That movie was incredible the first time I saw it. I had seen plenty of cartoon movies but that one was magical. I remember being awed and just thinking to myself, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to be a cartoonist. While I had dabbled in drawing on and off in the past, after seeing that movie I became dead serious towards working on realizing my dreams.

Saturday A.M: Did you ever consider a career in animation?

Eric: I did. Like I said, when I saw THE LITTLE MERMAID, I wanted to be a Cartoonist and work for Walt Disney. Later I found out what it takes and I chickened out. Lol. Drawing comics are not easy but they are way easier than animating. 

Saturday A.M: How did your love for Disney animation transition into a career in comics?

Eric: Disney, and in particular, the Little Mermaid, were my subtle introduction into story and style. I was able to see, feel and experience the power that the Artist has in capturing the imaginations of people. Comics were a more accessible medium to tell a story versus animation for me. I was already into randomly buying an occasional Comic here or there but, after my desire to become a cartoonist, I began to gravitate towards them, almost naturally and instinctively. That's when my focus towards becoming a cartoonist for Walt Disney shifted into becoming a comic book artist. The constant practice, sweating, and struggles have paid off time and time again when I've gotten the opportunity to do work professionally.

Saturday A.M: What is it like being a professional cartoonist? Is the job what you originally thought it would be?

Eric: It has been a mixed bag of nuts, to be honest. When you're young and starting you imagine so many things. You basically glamorize it all. And then, reality sets in. The constant struggle to remain relevant to clients, the bidding for work, the client demands, the pressure to deliver beyond expectations, these are things you never imagine or take into consideration when you're young. But, that sounds like I'm complaining and really, I'm not. It's been fun and rewarding and it's been more than I expected at times. It just never gets old to hold a book you've worked on in your hands. And it never gets old to read and hear about the impact your work has on others. It's a humbling experience that I do not regret being a part of.

Saturday A.M: Could you tell us a little about your career as a freelance comic creator?

Eric: Well, I started freelancing over 11 years ago really. I began working on small little projects here and there. As for major projects, that really didn't happen until I got the opportunity to draw two 150 page graphic novels for Zondervan Publishing. Since then I have had the opportunity to work on all kinds of different projects from comics to illustrations to character designs.

Saturday A.M: From what I understand you consider yourself a Christian...how does your religious beliefs influence your work?

Eric: I had to learn what it meant to be a Christian (which is basically a follower of Christ), and an Artist. When I began I thought that I had to categorize myself as a "Christian Artist", and I quickly found this to be very limiting and thinking within a box. I had to learn that this wasn't about categories but about living and being true to who you are. So as a Christian I have values that naturally show through my work. One compliments the other and one is not dominated by the other.

Saturday A.M: What are the pros and cons of producing exclusively family friendly content?

Eric: To be honest, I really don't see any cons involved in it. Only because, like I said, this is part of my core beliefs. Creating content that both adults and young people can enjoy is who I am. It wasn't always who I was, but this is who I grew up to be, speaking in terms of growing up as an artist and not physically in age. I'm by no means knocking anyone else that doesn't do family friendly content, but merely speaking at a personal level. You have to be true to who you are and who I am is a person that has grown to love creating content for everyone and not just a targeted group of fans. I don't do many shows, as a matter of fact, the only events I currently participate in is Free Comic Book Day, and I absolutely love getting the opportunity to talk to both adults and teenagers and younger kids about my work and the impact it has on them. I wouldn't have that experience if I did, let's say, rated R content.

Saturday A.M: What challenges do religious comic creators face in an increasingly secular world?

Eric: I think the biggest challenge to religious creators who want to exclusively work in that sort of material is actually showing their human nature. I think a lot of artists who want to work in comics and do religious comics, exclusively, are afraid to be human. To show that they too are no different and that they have the same struggles as everyone else. We have so many bad examples of religion in the world, people holding hateful signs or saying hateful things in the name of God, or people committing terrorist acts in the name of God, that's not it, that's not true religion. So how do we show what being a true believer is? That's the challenge.

Saturday A.M: Was it difficult transitioning from traditional art to becoming a full-time digital artist?

Eric: It was because I had to learn a whole new set of tools I wasn't used to. I had to learn about menus and how features were hidden in them and I had to learn how to properly export work for whatever I wanted to do. It was a new yet exciting world, and that excitement is what drove the desire to learn.

Saturday A.M: How did you develop your unique art-style?

Eric: Time. Lol. Seriously. I just immersed myself in artwork from artists I loved and a lot of their work began to rub off on me until finally, whatever it is I have now style wise, emerged. The style is something that takes time and patience. I didn't know this at first but learned it the hard way. I'm just happy to be at a place in where people realize there is something there that's recognizable.

Saturday A.M: What makes the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil your weapons of choice?

Eric: Everything! I hit this device so hard when Apple first announced it because, like so many other Artists, I was hoping they would follow in Microsoft's path and do some kind of iOS/Mac OS  hybrid. But the first time I tried that pencil, that was it. I was sold. I had already used apps like Procreate and Adobe Draw on an iPad mini before, and so once I experienced that pencil iPad Pro combo, my imagination lit up with endless possibilities. And I wasn't wrong. Keep in mind that before the iPad Pro, I was using a Wacom Cintiq and a smaller Windows Surface-like tablet. But none of those felt the way the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil felt like. It is such an amazing device, I can go on but I won't.

Saturday A.M: What makes the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil superior to other digital hardware? Is it the portability, fluidity or simplicity?

Eric: For me, it's pretty much all of those things. I wouldn't say it's superior to a Surface Pro or any other device in general because it's a matter of choice. What works for me, in this case, the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, may not work for another Artist.

Saturday A.M: What makes the Comic Draw App unique and how does it make comic creation easier?

Eric: Man, I love that app. It's one of those apps that you have to keep at it to really get. It has so many little, hidden nuggets and the developers (which are a really cool set of guys) are working hard towards making it better. I love Procreate, that's my main app for everything that's not related to drawing a comic. And before Comic Draw, I was using Procreate together with the Graphic app and Medibang Paint to draw my comics. So Comic Draw basically took over the job of all those other apps. That's how great it is. It's not the best app nor is it perfect but man, it's good. It's unique in that it's the first iPad app that allows you to compress a lot of the comic creating process into a single app. You can write out your script, Draw, ink, color and even letter your comic all within a single app. And as if that weren't enough, you can use it as a reader to flip through your comic at any stage. Highly recommend it.

Saturday A.M: What is your favorite feature in the Comic Draw App?

Eric: I love the way it divides all the stages into workspaces. But I'd have to say, the perspective tools are my favorite feature. Not so much the tool itself but how Comic Draw handles perspective on a per panel basis versus the way Procreate does it which is on a per canvas bases.

Saturday A.M: Thus far you have worked for many of the big names in comic book publishing, Is there any other company you'd like to work for if given the chance?

Eric: I did work for Marvel and D.C., on a small scale. I'd love to be able to do work for them on a larger scale. But I also dream of one-day publishing through Image comics.

Saturday A.M: What is the most important quality you believe all artists should have?

Eric: Kindness. It doesn't matter how amazing you are, if you're a jerk, that reflects on your work big time. Kindness elevates your work even higher. Remembering that, if you get the opportunity to draw for a living, it's not so entirely because of your skills, but because of people, who become your fans, come to love your work, and you owe it to them to be kind.

Saturday A.M: Thanks for your time, Eric!

WANT TO FOLLOW ERIC MERCED? Look below for his INSTAGRAM and TWITTER handles!

WANT TO FOLLOW ERIC MERCED? Look below for his INSTAGRAM and TWITTER handles!