An Interview With Comic Book Artist David Alvarez
David Alvarez, the main artist behind the modern Looney
Tunes comic books, has been kind enough to answer my many questions
regarding his work and the comics. Below are my questions, in bold, and his
answers. Also included are some examples of his work.
1. When did you first begin drawing? Did you have any particular inspirations or favorite things to draw?
Well... I've been drawing since I was five, (Ask my parents about the
"1984 room wall grafitti incident"). By that age I used to watch
EVERY Disney video available so I could learn to draw the "right
way". I remember that I liked to draw the characters not in their
"traditional" poses, but making unusual expressions on their
2. How did you become an artist for DC's Looney Tunes series?
I read in an Animation Magazine that Warner Bros. was
cleaning and reviving the Looney Tunes characters by updating their looks
and making new projects. Among those projects was "Space Jam" so I
saw that as great oportunity to get inside the cartoon industry. I decided
to try my hand on the comic books, so I asked for a submission
guideline, (HINT: Hey kids...never aproach an angry editor with your
drawings without that piece of paper first. He or she might bite), I sent
samples of my work and I waited for 365 days....(sigh!)...and voila! I
received a call at 8:35 pm from WB that night. I tought it was a joke at
first...but then I realized that my uncle wasn't that good in english, so It
couldn't be him.
The first story I drew was an Animaniacs story, (very rare to find,
indeed), then the next one was a Sylvester story called "Frankentweety"...that's
when I stayed with the Looney Tunes.
From Looney Tunes #83: page from "Munchie
Madness", in which Bugs battles a malfunctioning snack machine. Writer:
Keith Giffen, art by David Alvarez.
3. Who is your favorite writer to work with?
Every writer is distinct in his own way. All of them are
Top Notch! But I really enjoy working with Dan Slott. If there's someone who
knows about the Looney Tune Universe is that man! He knows how to take a
laugh out of the reader. And he has an extreme knowledge about
"timing" in a story. That's a wonderful thing!
4. Who's your favorite character?
Bugs Bunny. In order to draw him, you have to understand
his moods. I love Daffy too, because he allows me to work with new
expressions a lot, but is that delicate line between coolness and
wisecracking that Bugs have that challenges me.
5. Have you ever worked on other comic book series?
Not in the US market yet. Altough I did some original work
in Dark Horse's 911 books last
year. I had the great privilege to work with
writer Gail Simone.
I used to self publish a comedy comic book in Puerto Rico named "Changuy" a Batman-like-cartoon crow with a super suit and
I’ve also published many comic strips in local newspapers.
David Alvarez's 'Changuy' characters
6. When you draw, say, Wile E. Coyote, do you draw using a
model sheet as an animator would, or do it completely from memory? Do you
use the same methods with every character?
Warner Bros is very aware that the characters have to look
right, so they supply us with every visual reference that we need so we can
meet those standards, say model sheets, books ...etc.
7. Do you ever assist the writers in coming up with a
story or ideas?
Sometimes Dan Slott calls me and tell me what he has in mind
and we come up with some gags. But usually the writers come up with all the
story lines. Every now and then I add or delete some panels for comedy
8. What is your favorite story you've ever drawn?
I had a lot of fun with “Who killed Bugs Bunny”. It
took me over a month to watch a big pile of Bugs Bunny videos looking for
all those old Bugs Bunny villians and a week to throw darts at a picture of
Dan Slott for writing that!! (Joke..he-he).
But seriously, I really enjoyed that story a lot. It was a big challenge
9. I have noticed a number of great cameos of obscure
Looney Tunes characters...are those your idea or the various writers?
I started that gag back when Dana Kurtin was still the editor. She
had a great sense of humor , so she allowed me to draw weird cameos of old
Looney Tunes characters every now and then. Joan Hilty, my actual
editor, have that humor also. I don’t know, I just found funny that for no
particular reason Michigan Frog’s owner was standing near a newspaper
stand meanwhile Daffy Duck was leading the story in the foreground.
It’s a way to make the panel less boring. I’m crazy, don’t mind me.
1>0. Has there ever been a story or a drawing within one
that the editors didn't like?
I remember a Marc Anthony and Pussyfoot story that I drew
and Dana Kurtin looked at it and called me before faxing the corrections and
these were her words: “David… the story looks great, but we have to work
on certain details….don’t worry… we’ll work it out together”. When
she faxed the corrections I saw that I had to draw the story AAAAALL OVER
That day I learned the importance of visual gag timing and the
virtues of caffeine.
12. My favorites in the LT comics are the Road Runner
stories. In comics originally, the Road Runner actually talked, in rhyme,
and had multiple kids...but I think the classic cartoon approach is much
better. What do you think?
I remember those stories. It’s kind of weird how they
worked comics by that time, so they won’t look like the original item AT
ALL. They had their innocence and particular charm. I LOVE the new Road
Runner stories because it’s all up to the cartoonist to make the reader
understand what is going on without using words. You can spot a good artist
by looking at his or her sequential art without any confusions.
From Looney Tunes #88. Writer Jesse Leon McCann, art by David Alvarez.
13. Who was your favorite of the classic Warner Bros.
cartoon directors? Favorite cartoon by that director?
The master of timing and expressions, Mr Charles M. Jones.
He, along with Tex Avery and Bob Clampett are my greatest inspirations.
14. What do you think of all the recent controversy over Speedy Gonzales?
With all due respect, that was a very unnecessary controversy. I
mean…come on!! We all grew up with that little Mexican mouse! Leave him
alone!!! Let him run free and let him shout: “ARRIBA, ANDALE!”
15. I'd love to see a story with Speedy, Daffy Duck and
Sylvester in the same story, ala "A Taste of Catnip"...do you
think that could ever happen?
If some writer has that Friz Freleng touch, I’m sure that it will happen.
16. Have you ever considered doing animation? You know,
some of the stories in these comics are worthy of screen adaptation. I'm
Thank you. Some people have approached me with that question too, and to
be honest, my training has been more animation-oriented, but I love the
comic book media because you can have total control of the scenes
and at the end the story has a very personal touch.
Cover art to Looney Tunes #82. While Alvarez handles the
cover art here, the actual feature story is handled by Frank Strom and
17. What do you think of Warner Bros. making new
theatrical shorts and "Baby Looney Tunes"?
I think it’s great! Reviving those theatrical shorts and the use of
the Baby Looney Tunes is not only fantastic, but it’s a way of
pumping new blood and gags to the classic cartoons.
18. What can we expect to see in the Looney Tunes comics
in the next year? Any issues or stories of note?
The books are more comedy-oriented than before. Way back when they
were starting, the humor was more child-like but right now, the Looney Tunes
writers are creating hefty comical stories that can be compared to any humor
book on the market.
19. I saw a story a year or so ago with Claude Cat in
it...was that fun to do? I'd love to see more with him.
I’ve drawn Hubbie and Bertie before , but I’ve never
drawn Claude. Are you sure it was mine?
20. When I interviewed Dan Slott, he mentioned the
"Who Killed Bugs" issue as one of his favorites. What did you
think of that one?
Like I said before, to me, “Who killed Bugs Bunny” is the best Looney
Tunes book up to date.
"Who Killed bugs" cover art
21. Do you have any advice to aspiring comic book artists?
Don’t ever give up! This is a very competitive market and if you are
strong in your artwork and most of all, strong in your will, You can make
it! God bless you all!
22. Did you ever meet any of the Warner Bros. directors,
like Chuck Jones?
Aaah… Sadly I never got to meet Mr Jones, or any of the classic
directors. But I had the great privilege to illustrate a short Chuck Jones
tribute story written by Dan Slott using Mr. Jones’s style.
Another big challenge for me.
The first page of the upcoming Looney Tunes #93.
.23. Anything else you would like to say, about yourself,
about doing the comics, about Looney Tunes, or anything?
Working with the Looney Tunes books have not only shaped and strengthened
my drawing skills but have also teached me a lot about the comic book
industry. I’m looking forward to take my characters to the US market and
get them published, so be on the lookout for more stuff!
I thank Warner Brothers and DC Comics for all the trust that they have
deposited in me during this years and years to come. There’s nothing
better that to work on something that you like and really enjoy it. God is
Matthew Hunter and David Alvarez
article:©2002 Matthew Hunter and David Alvarez. Images: all
LT comic images © DC comics, from Matthew Hunter's collection, except image
from "One For the Road", courtesy of Toon Zone. "Changuy"
images courtesy of David Alvarez.