Welcome back, gals and pals, to another Comic Book Wednesday! Last time I did a spotlight piece it was on a fairly well known and popular artist. I wish that all talented female creators could be as famous as Amanda Conner or Gail Simone, but that’s simply not the case right now. I’d like to see more creators gain that recognition though, and the only way to make someone well known is by talking about them and supporting their work.
So, without further ado, I’d like to shine the spotlight on one of the most talented artists in the industry: the incredible Emma Ríos!
What has she done?
Emma Ríos is a Spanish artist who originated in the European comics scene and has crossed over to the American one. Early on, when she still had a day job as an architect, Ríos was working with the Galician comic collective Polaqia (their Spanish language website can be viewed here). She has done a lot of work with them, and still has a strong connection to the group. Her major works with Polaqia are contributions to the magazine Barsowia, which includes both cover art and interior work, and a very well-recieved sci-fi miniseries called A Prueba de Balas [Bulletproof].
Ríos began her career as a full-time comics artist when she landed a job with BOOM! Studios, illustrating the miniseries Hexed in 2008. The series was co-created with author Michael Alan Nelson, who continues to do work for BOOM!. The series was only four issues, but it was given good reviews, with no small thanks to the fantastic art by Emma Ríos. Her art had a fresh, unique feel to it, and it radically differed from the typical ‘house-style’ of American comics. Just the cover alone serves as an excellent hook for both the art and story inside. While the book reached a fairly small audience, it was enough for Ríos to get her foot in the door and begin her rise to the top of American comics.
After working with BOOM!, Ríos began working primarily for Marvel Comics. She has done lots of work for them over the past few years. Her artist credits include the Doctor Strange miniseries Strange, written by Mark Waid; the Spider-Island tie-in miniseries Cloak and Dagger, written by Nick Spencer; and the miniseries Osborn: Evil Incarcerated, written by Kelly Sue Deconnick.
Her biggest project for Marvel has been the OGN (original graphic novel) Doctor Strange: Season One, written by Greg Pak. The Season One line is a series of graphic novels that are meant to retell and modernize the origin stories of popular Marvel characters. For the most part, I’ve found them to be pretty mediocre. However, Doctor Strange was a beautifully drawn and written diamond in the rough, and was one of the most well reviewed Season One books. And while it is a good story, the book would not be nearly half as good without Ríos’ art.
So, let’s take a closer look at her art:
Why Should I Love Her?
There are many reasons to love Emma Ríos. A major one is her style. Ríos manages to mix chaos and precision in each page she draws. Her pencils are angular and detailed but her pages, as whole pieces, are full of busy activity and kinetic motion. Yet, despite all the activity, Ríos always knows how to draw your eye to exactly where it needs to focus. She takes your hand and guides you through the delightful and frightening insanity of her world, and with each step you are able to enjoy every last, meticulously thought out detail.
Ríos has worked with some really fantastic writers, but I’d argue that Ríos is able to tell a story all on her own without any help from a writer. She is amazing at conveying emotion, tone, and character just with a few strokes from her pencil. Let’s take a look at this page:
I love this page (from her Cloak and Dagger miniseries). What words are needed here? Just by looking at the page you can tell who these characters are, what they’ve been through, how it has impacted who they are now, and how connected they are. There’s a real sense of loneliness here, but the kind of loneliness that drives you to seek out another person who has been through the same thing. With her intricate details and complex compositions, Ríos manages to convey a story in a way that many of us would never have dreamed up.
One of the other really amazing things about Ríos’ art is her incredible mastery of motion. Motion and creating the illusion of movement is essential to a good comic. How else can you convey the wonder of flying, the power of a punch, or the excitement of a chase? A good comic creates a kind of mental animation, so that you forget that you’re looking at a series of still images. A good comic will take your brain from panel to panel and from page to page without you ever even realizing it. Not every artist has the talent to do this, no matter how beautiful their art is (sorry, Alex Ross). Emma Ríos, however, is a master.
I don’t know if it’s a combination of the delicate pencils and super bold inks or if it’s the super attention to how motion affects everything, but Ríos’ art has some of the best kinetic motion I’ve ever seen in a comic. Maybe it’s the architect in her, but every last little detail that conveys motion is present in her work (how hair and clothing is affected, how the environment id affected. For example, in these Captain Marvel panels you can almost see the motorcycle barreling down the road or feel the tension as Carol leaps over the banister. It’s really difficult to pull of these poses with such fluidity, but Ríos does it.
I am thrilled that Emma Ríos has entered the American comics scene. I think she has the capacity to be a total superstar artist in time, along with other foreign artists like Oliver Copiel (French), Francis Lenil Yu (Filipino), Gabriel Bá (Brazilian), and Fabio Moon (Brazilian). I’d argue that we need more and more creators from different backgrounds in comics, that’s the only way that comics will evolve and change as an art form.
So, f you’re interested in Emma Ríos I recommend starting with her Doctor Strange work (both Strange and Doctor Strange: Season One) as well as her work on Cloak and Dagger, which can be found in the Spider-Island Companion book. I also recommend putting a reminder on your calendar that Pretty Deadly will be making its way to your local comic shop on October 23rd. Trust me, you want to be on the ground floor for this book. I’ve got a really good feeling that this book is going to be huge.
For more Emma Ríos art, you can check out her personal blog here. There was also a great interview she did with Multiversity Comics yesterday, which you can read here. Also, if any of you have cash to burn, you can buy (or at least browse) Ríos’ original art at Cadence Comic Art.
I had a lot of fun writing this spotlight. Emma Ríos is one of my favorite artists, and I love seeing her get more and more attention each year. I’m curious how many people knew about her before this article. Also, who are some of your favorite artists (male or female)? Who would you like to read a spotlight on?
See you next Wednesday!
I would also like to give a shout-out to the colorist that Emma Ríos often works with, the fantastically talented Jordie Bellaire. Bellaire will also be working on Pretty Deadly!
Also, a big thank you from Mr. Fishnets for reading his article last week. You guys are the best!
This piece originally appeared on GroupThink under my username fightinginfishnets.