Comic Book Artist / Rocker, Don Marquez, has been producing an absolutely incredible series of Horror and Science Fiction paintings of late. Goblinhaus was lucky enough to have Mr. Marquez answer a few questions.
GOBLINHAUS: First off, thank you very much for taking the time to discuss your horror and science fiction series of paintings. How did you become an artist, are you self taught?
DON MARQUEZ: I am, for the most part, self taught. When I was about fifteen years old, many years ago, I enrolled in the Famous Artists correspondence course (as advertised on the back covers of comic books). The course focuses on commercial art techniques, but touches on just about all facets of graphic art. I didn't complete the course. I think I was too young to be self motivated enough to work on my own and keep up with the lessons. Later, I was an art major in college, but dropped out after a couple years. The art classes were OK, but the rest of the experience was not to my liking. Eventually, I found that I hand to un-learn most of what was taught in school, in order to pursue comic book related, and fantastic illustration art.
GH: Who/what are your main influences?
DM: My main influence is by far and away Frank Frazetta. Other artists like N. C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle and the others of the "Great American Illustrators" also employ all of same techniques as Frazetta, but he combines the classic illustration approach with a comic book sensibility, that sets him apart from everyone else. Jack Kirby, and Wally Wood are my other two favorite artists. Another huge influence on my art was the Harvey comics like Casper, Hot Stuff, Stumbo, Wendy The Witch and the rest. I used to love to draw all of those characters when I was very young.
GH: Give a bit of history on this series of paintings, and what your plans are for it.
DM: The monster portrait series of paintings that I'm working on is inspired by the covers of the magazine Famous Monsters Of Filmland. I bought a stack of back issues at a flea market and was hugely impressed by the cover art. What impressed me was the way that Basil Gogos could take a photograph and while staying true to it in most ways, use it as a springboard for creating a unique work of art. I'll never be able to meet and get pointers from artists like Gogos and Frazetta, so the next best thing for me is to study and emulate some of what they've done, to learn what I can. I initially planned to do a dozen or so paintings of some of my favorite movie monsters and genre actors, but by now, I think I've done probably about three or four dozen paintings, and my enthusiasm for the project is growing. Besides the better known monsters from Universal, Hammer and American International, I'm also doing paintings of many of the more obscure creatures. I'm always trying to improve as an artist by bettering my command of technique. Since I'm using photographs as reference material on this series, most of the problems of composition such as line, tone, and form are already figured out, so it gives me the opportunity to concentrate on color and the simple mechanics of applying paint.
GH: What process goes into selecting your subjects for this series, and can you give us a hint on some we might be seeing in the future?
DM: I like to vary the subject matter as much as I can, within the genre. For instance, I'll do a couple paintings based on Universal Studios creatures, then a couple from Hammer Studios, a couple aliens, a werewolf, a female horror figure or a giant-monster. In my mind, there are a lot of different sub-genres of monsters and horror movie figures that I like to jump around in for variety. I have about three or four hundred old monster movie magazines and a stack of books on the subject that I like to look through for ideas. Sometimes I'll make a note about a picture that grabs me. I suppose that the main thing is, I like to paint what ever subject I naturally feel like doing at any given time. I do my best work when I'm spontaneously prompted by whatever creepy muse it is that inspires me.
GH: Do you have an all time favorite character and/or monster?
DM: My all time favorite movie and movie monster is King Kong. For me, that film succeeds on just about every level.
GH: I couldn't help but notice that your subjects are all "classics". What is your opinion on modern horror and sci-fi, and would you ever include anything modern in the series?
DM: The "classic" movies are all lodged in my imagination because I watched them at such a young age- back in the 1950s and 60s on TV and at theaters. I like a lot of modern horror and sci-fi movies. "Alien," "Predator," "Pumpkin Head," "Evil Dead," and "Near Dark" are a few the come to mind, right off the bat. For me the "classic" monsters just seem better defined as characters, and the stories centered around the monsters instead of the personal problems of the human characters. An example is the big budget remake of "Godzilla." In that one, Godzilla's depredations seem like a sub-plot in the story of Matthew Brodrick's failed marriage. Also, I prefer the original Godzilla, even though it's obviously a guy in a rubber suit. The original just has more personality. I do plan to eventually get around to painting some of the modern and more recent film monsters, but every time I think about doing so, I remember another old one that pushes the new guy out of the way.
GH: Do you do commissioned work if someone had their own idea they'd like to see you do?
DM: As a rule, I don't accept any commission work. It's difficult enough to satisfy myself that I've done the best job that I can on a given piece of artwork. Figuring out what a client wants to see, or complying with their instructions can be exponentially more taxing.
To learn more about Don Marquez and to see more of his work, visit his home page:
Also, be sure to check his current auctions if you are interested in purchasing a piece of your own.