Ric Estrada: Grounded in reality

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I love the form; I’ve always have a, always had a love/hate relationship with comics: I love the form, but some of the content are not to my liking.

Yeah, I’ve read you’re not a big superhero fan.

No, I’m not. I’ve done a lot of superheroes, but basically I’d rather have more uh, less fantastic stories.

I read — I read also that you, um, prefer war stories over other types because of the Cuban Revolution? Would you agree with that?

Well, not really, what I said is I prefer war stories because having been raised in the 1930s in Cuba and having seen a lot of fighting, a lot of terrorism around me. The first memory of my life was my house being surrounded by a mob —

Oh dear.

— and shot to pieces by a mob.

Mmhmm.

When I think of war stories, of the children, I think of the grownups going through all that horror and it is very real to me; and superheroes flying in the air are not very real to me, frankly.

I can understand that.

Yes. So, you know, and, uh, also, during my teens, that was the time of World War Two, and the movies and the newsreels and the air just sizzled with the idea of winning the war against the Nazis.

Mmhmm.

And so so that’s very much in my consciousness. And the two kinds of stories that I like are either war stories where you see an ordinary person become a hero —

Mmhmm.

— or stories of uh human relations.

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In Memoriam: Ric Estrada

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Ric Estrada passed away the morning of May 1, 2009. I will continue posting the remaining four parts of my six-part series beginning next Wednesday, but I felt it would be more appropriate this week to pause and recognize his contribution in silence.

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Mormon Couple-Creators

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Back when William first approached me about guesting on AMV, he offered this as a possible topic:

A guest post on you and your wife and your creative processes (and even how family impacts them). How do you find time to write? What helps you write? Where do your creative processes and ambitions collide/feed off of/interact with/entangle with your wife’s creative processes and ambitions? (and this even if your output her output of work isn’t huge — certainly family dampens things).

I think he asked because I had approached him about us, my wife and I, possibly doing a comics story for Popcorn Popping. We hadn’t started working on it yet, but I thought PP might be a venue for such a work, if the work tasted Mormon enough. William then had the grim responsibility to tell me PP had been shut down (two days later, the announcement appeared on the site).

Everyone has a list of someday-I-wills and one Lynsey and I share is creating a graphic novel together. But as William hinted in his suggested topic, things like family (to say nothing of desperate poverty) have prevented some of our more ambitious planned projects. Continue reading “Mormon Couple-Creators”

Ric Estrada: The beginnings of MORMON comics

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    Recently I wrote a short monograph about Mormons who work in comics.
    Yes.

    And you’re probably the best known of them.

    Yes, I am.

    And I just wanted — there is — I’m working on — for instance I’m thinking about putting together an anthology of Mormon artists and I was curious what you think Mormon comics should look like in the future

    Oph! Is that a question? What Mormon comics should look like in the future? Well, I tell you: because I worked for commercial publishers, DC comics mostly, for DC Comics for sixteen, seventeen, eighteen years, and for other New York publishers because I lived in New York at the time.

    Right.

    But the comics I did usually followed the stories they gave me to illustrate, which were superheroes, war stories, romance stories, detective stories. I used, you know, in the late, oh, 1940s, early 1950s, western stories, cowboys and Indians.

    Yeah.

    So as far as MORMON comics, I don’t know that there’s anything like MORMON comics.

    I don’t think there is.

    No, I think it’s a, you know, it’s a nice thought, but it’s a misnomer.

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Ric Estrada’s mentor when he first arrived in New York was a, “what do you call him, a Jack Mormon . . . he came from a Mormon background and he told me a thing or two about the Church, but he was disconnected with it.” Needless to say, this man was was not making “Mormon” comics. And outside of Church publications (mainly The Friend), there has been very little done in that respect. A thing here, a thing there. Gags in Sunstone, Mike Allred’s Golden Plates — but not much. So I asked the man with the experience why he thought that was. He offered two reasons.
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Ric Estrada: Call me the “Trailblazer”

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Hello? Hello, is this Ric Estrada?

This is Ric Estrada.

Hi, my name’s Eric Jepson. Sal Velluto gave me your phone number, I hope you don’t mind.

No, I don’t mind.

Oh, great. I work with a Mormon criticism site called Motley Vision and Sal and other people call you the Father of Mormon comics. I was wondering if I could talk to you about that a little bit. I don’t know when a convenient time would be.

Who calls?

Oh, Sal does. Sal Velluto?

He calls me?

That’s what he calls you: the Father of Mormon Comics.

Oh my goodness! Wow. Another honor.

When I wrote my seminal much heralded totally awesome somewhat overhyped survey of Mormon comics for Motley Vision last year, all I had to say about Ric Estrada was that he had written a Mormony story for a national comics publisher. I said: “‘The “Mormon” Battalion’ was a six-page sequence in Our Fighting Forces #135, 1972, by Ric Estrada (not LDS, presumably).” Ends up this was incorrect. As DC and The Friend artist Sal Velluto wrote me the same day, “Ric Estrada is the first LDS artist in the history of comics. His story needs to be the heart of your piece.” So I did a bit of research and, well, my original comment would have been somewhat like saying “The Journal of Discourses includes many sermons by Brigham Young (not LDS, presumably).” The grossness of this error requires some serious restitution, even if Brother Estrada himself is a marvelous person who doesn’t seem to hold my sins against me.

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A Survey of Mormon Comix by Theric Jepson

When I asked Theric Jepson to write a bit about Mormon graphic novels, I didn’t expect that he would launch a full on bibliographic project. But he did — and even though the results make for a very long post, it’s very much worth a read. Indeed, it’s quite the amazing project and must have taken quite some time to put together. Thanks, Theric. ~Wm Morris

I’m also going to make you click through for the full post because the “more” tag seems to be causing some problems with the special formatting for the post.

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