Interview with Illustrator Charly de Anda

Artist Charly de Anda, the creator of the custom Red Sonja action figure, speaks to The Nemedian Chronicles about his work. The graphic designer from Mexico talks about comic books, artistic influences, action figures and dream projects.

Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I’m a 31 year old Graphic Designer and Illustrator from Aguascalientes, Mexico. I’ve been in love with comic books, cartoons, movies and toys since I was a child.

I’ve been working for some local companies doing graphic and character design and commercial illustration since 2002 and have published a couple of indie comic books in Mexico and the USA. One of them is Arcana Obscura, a series of short stories about Nix, my main character. You can take a look here and over my deviantArt gallery.

What were some of your favorite comic books and cartoons growing up?

I grew up reading Archie, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, Richie Rich and stuff like that. But I always loved the Tarzan comics they used to publish here in Mexico, and I remember reading Superman, Batman, some Spider-Man and Spider-Woman issues in my early childhood. Then I discovered the McFarlane- Erick Larsen era on Spider-Man and the John Byrne run on X-Men (they reprinted those here in Mexico in the early 90s) and became my favorite comics! Then I stared collecting American comics, the X-Men, and almost anything Jim Lee and McFarlane and Silvestri released on Image.

Speaking of cartoons, I used to like Thundarr, Masters of the Universe, Spider-Man and Friends, the Super-Friends, Mazinger Z, the Thundercats, Voltron, and almost everything from the 80s, being He-Man and the Thundercats my all time favorites.

Who are your favorite artists? Do any particular artist or artists influence your own work?

John Byrne, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Mike Mignola, Frank Cho, J Scott Campbell, Arthur Adams and Josh Howard are top on the list. I feel influenced in a way or another by all those.
Thor by Charly de AndaValkyrie by Charly de Anda

What is your favorite medium to work with?

Pencil, ink and Photoshop are my most used tools. Sometimes I do vector stuff too. Corel Draw is a cool tool for me too. Sometimes I feel the need to make non-digital stuff. I like the inkwash technique, but that’s not my best.

How long have you been making custom action figures? Who was the first character you did?

I’ve been making the for a year, more or less. I always liked to improve or retouch existing action figures like replacing the rubber claws with real metal ones to my wolverine figures and maybe repainting some figures I didn’t like at all.

My very first custom was a Caitlin Fairchild, from Gen13; it was like 1995. I used my vintage Cheetara figure. It was very poorly done. I had no idea on how to make a custom figure. I didn´t have the tools. I just used to watch the “home made heroes” section from the Wizard magazine those days and I wanted to have a Fairchild figure. Now I miss my Cheetara!

I would do a lot more custom figures but it is very expensive to buy new action figures here in Mexico, and they don’t sell everything that was released on the USA. So I use to buy cheap, loose ones on ebay, mercadolibre and flea markets.

Custom Lion-O action figureCustom Red Sonja action figure

How long does it take for you to do a custom action figure? What is the process in making one and what tools do you use?

The time varies depending on the character and the base figure. The first thing I do is to study the character. Sometimes there are many versions of the costume, like it happened with the Red Sonja figure. Each artist draws the shoulder pieces on a different way, so I had to find out how to make them. On that figure I spent like a week, sometimes giving it 2-3 hours a day on my spare time.

Once I have the base figure, I sand it to remove the outfit likenesses and to add the sculpting. It is hard in Mexico to find art materials like Sculpey so I use epoxic clay. If I have a piece from another figure that fits the design on the one I’m working on, I use it. I have a stock of loose figures intended to be used for customizing. I usually don’t take pieces from the ones on collection on display.

Then I give it a gray base spray paint (called “primer”) so the final painting will stick better to the figure. I then use acrylic paints and about 6 regular brushes. I add water to the paint in order to make it thinner, and give it like 3-4 paint layers to the figure.

When the painting and detailing is finished, another acrylic transparent spray paint is used to make it last. It tends to polish the brush marks too and gives it a plastic finishing to the figure.

Why did you choose to make a custom Red Sonja action figure?

I love the looks on her! I’ve always liked barbarians and vikings and medieval stuff, and there are not so many cool figures about all that. So I decided I had to have a cool barbarian lady on my display!
Custom Red Sonja action figureCustom Red Sonja action figure

Have you read any of the Red Sonja comic books published by Marvel? Are you currently reading any of the new Red Sonja comic books published by Dynamite Entertainment?

I have some issues of the current Dynamite series. The art is outstanding and I love all the cover variants. So many cool artists have done a great job on Red Sonja!

I also have that cool Marvel Team-Up issue drawn by John Byrne. It is simply amazing for me!

Red Sonja by Charly de AndaRed Sonja Jam

What are you currently working on now?

I’m currently working on some figures like Savage Land Rogue, Ultimates’ Valkyrie (Frank Cho version), Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye and DC’s Lobo. I guess it will take me like the rest of the year to finish all those!

I’m also developing concepts for my comic Arcana Obscura. I’m also helping a friend with some candy brands and illustrating a Bible!

What is the one dream project or character you want to work on?

My main project is to get Arcana Obscura published by a big company. I’d love to work on something about Hellboy and Thor is my all time favorite character. I’d kill to be on a viking age Thor project.

The Nemedian Chronicles like to thank Charly de Anda for taking the time to answer our questions. You can check out more of his work on his blog and deviantArt page. He is also offering affordable commissions. Go here for a list of prices.

One Response to “Interview with Illustrator Charly de Anda”

  1. Alejandro Rojas Says:

    A good artist and better friend!

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