Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cream City Conversations with Alberto Rios

As promised, I'm back with another interview.

Alberto 'Ponbiki' Rios is up this time around. I've known this artist for nearly a decade. We've worked together on several different levels. Years ago, we were co-members of two studios... One Milwaukee-based and the other Chicago-based. My reason for interviewing Alberto has little to do with our shared artistic paths, though. Alberto is being courted by major publishers and animators. in short, he's a creator you should know.

Editor's note - In my interview with GALVO, he mentioned being published by a Milwaukee-based studio I co-founded with two other Milwaukee creators. The books containing his works were volumes one and two of my own Cream City Comics. AR

And now...

CCC: For those who don't know, Name and location?

Alberto Rios a/k/a Ponbiki, Milwaukee WI

CCC: How did you become interested in creating comics?

Well... I was young and ill, at age 9 or 10, my mom introduced me to comics from the drugstore. It was a reprint of the Avenger when they found Captain America in the ice... from then on I was hooked.

CCC: What was your first published work? Did you self-publish that work?

Well, I did get published a few years ago by a studio in Milwaukee... which I'm not gonna mention due to a certain owner of the studio... hahahaha.
And, no, I did not self publish at first.

*Note: The last answer was edited down to the essentials.

CCC: If you self-publish, what do you gain from that experience?

Two years ago I self-published a book called Running On Empty. It was my first real solo venture into the world of comics. It's really tough to do the promoting and convention hopping by yourself... especially if you don't drive. You learn self respect and you feel like a real comic artist... also you can say you have a comic you can call your own.

CCC: If you've been published by other publishers, compare the experience to self-publishing.

Being published by others is nice too. All you really do is [produce] the art and story and turn it in... don't have to do so much work. Also, you get more exposure... well... sometimes. So far it has been nice for me so I can't complain.

CCC: Give us a list of your published works (self-published or otherwise).

Self-published... Running on Empty, Pulpo 1 and 3 by Void Studio, Muscles & Fights 1 and 2 by Bud Burgy/Cream City comics, Lo-Fi Punk as F***! and Zudacomics Web comic Ponbiki Z.

CCC: Describe the art scene where you live. If you've lived elsewhere and were producing art there, compare those scenes.

The art scene in Milwaukee is pretty ok. I don't do much art in the terms of , like, fine arts... even though I can. But I just don't have the time and space. I would really love to paint a few masterpieces.

CCC: Do you belong to any online or 'real world' art groups? If so, list them and describe how that/those group/s benefit you.

Yes. I belong to one of the coolest art groups in the world, EnterVoid. Let's just say that being with them is a real learning experience... if you want to draw comics. They run online art battles -- where you face off other artist in sequential art to see who would win. I can honestly say without them I would not have taken comics as seriously as I do now.

CCC: What is your ultimate or immediate goal in creating comics?

My ultimate goal is to become a known name. I don't want fancy cars and lots of money... well money... that could you know pay the rent and, maybe, have a nice dinner. But I don't want to let it get to my head. I really just want to enjoy drawing comics for life. And in creating a comic... well it's hard to create something groundbreaking. But I'll try no matter how many times I fail at it... you have to keep moving forward.

CCC: What do you think is lacking from the underground art scene? If you had the power, what would you do to address that void?

Well, I don't see much lacking from the underground scene except exposure. But, I guess, being underground and not being known is what it's all about. It's cool because it's underground... low key... but, then, if someone starts to get famous or whatnot everyone considers them a sellout. I don't understand this... hyprocrites. Everyone, at one time, started at the bottom and if you want to stay there good for you. But I like to evolve and become something better as bad as that sounds. I don't mean it as better than everyone out but in a manner of living.

CCC: Do you blog? MySpace? ComicSpace? If so, what kinds of things do you communicate through it and what is your ultimate goal in using that site?

Well, I just started working on my blog. I'm not sure what I'm gonna do with it.
here it is if you want to check in from time-to-time.

CCC: Do you read any other creators' blogs? If so, what do you think of them?

Well, it's rare that I read anything on the net. I do read this blog but it's on occassion. I'm usually drawing and not on the computer. I think that blogs are ok.

CCC: What kinds of books do you enjoy reading?

Really... hmmm... I don't read much except for comics. I really need to read books to tell you the truth.

CCC: What kinds of standards and/or expectations do you place on a comics purchase?

First, I used to look for the art. Nowadays, I look for story... to tell you the truth... I look for both because I realized I hate looking at bad art with good stories.

CCC: What is your favorite indie publisher?

Hmm... me, you and bud... and EnterVoid... and, of course, LuLu.

CCC: Who is your favorite creator/writer/illustrator?

Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Geoff Darrow, Otomo and Jack Kirby.

CCC: Give us a short list of indie creators you believe are sort of shaping the future of comics (indie and/or mainstream)?

To tell you the truth, I don't see that happening anymore... it's been done years ago. The only [new] thing I see happening that indie will become the next mainstream.

*Note: This answer calls to mind Nirvana breaking through from the underground into the mainstream (in the early '90s).

CCC: If you could change one thing about the modern comics 'industry' what would it be?

What I would change would be to give more of the little guys a chance to work on their book and give 'em some life... in writing and in art.

CCC: Give a shout out to any site and/or underground comic you think people ought to be checking into.

Yeah to my boys in to my homies... anywhere else, sorry, I don't know links by memory but you can find their stuff through mine at

CCC: Thanks for your time, Alberto!

No. Thank you. Later

And that wraps up interview two. Keep checking in every few days, folks. I'll do my best to keep the new interviews coming your way... info-superhighway style.