Rey Arzeno, the artist behind this stunning homage to the LGBT characters of Marvel. has contributed a poster-size print to Geeks OUT. It will be raffled off tonight at the Mighty Mutant Marriage Extravaganza! We asked him a few questions about the process of creating the piece and about his life as a queer geek.
How long did it take you to complete?
I drew the characters last summer. They were all flatted by the spectacularly amazing Lauren Perry by August 2011. At the same time I was dealing with a bit of a health scare. For the next eight months I made the decision to make my health my top priority; art took had to take a back seat. It's a big part of who I am and I love doing it, but it isn't a very physical or social activity. To improve my health I had become more social and active. The life styles change was drastic, but very needed.
In that time I made myself more available to new experiences, new people and just lived more.
I came back to it in April 2012. To get myself motivated, I began posting the progress of the characters on facebook. The positive response from close friends and new friends was just the boost I needed. The timing was perfect because Pride was right around the corner.
What's your background as an artist?
I came to the US from The Dominican Republic when I was 3 years old. I was placed in kindergarten when I was 5 knowing very little English and somehow started drawing to communicate. Thankfully, that was nurtured and encouraged by my family and teachers.
In High school I was lucky enough to get involved in a college credit program at Fashion Institute of technology. There I was able to build the portfolio that would get me in to the School of Visual Arts where I majored in Illustration.
Through the process of making this piece, did you have a favorite character?
I really enjoyed Rogue and Northstar's interaction during the Asgardian Wars crossover. That put him on my map. He's been one of my favorite characters since. Then he came out, That took him up a few notches.
Did your opinions or thoughts about any of the characters change while you worked on it?
My Opinion of Xavin was the most changed. I wanted to include more women in the piece. That's when My partner in crime, Eric Guerrero, introduced me to The Runaways. Originally I was going to depict Karolina alone because I wasn't clear on Xavin's situation. After some talking, and considering that fact that she can choose her gender, and decided to live as female to be with the woman she loves, I realized that she should be included.
Who was the biggest challenge to get right? Why?
There were a few challenges here. As individuals, Karolina was the most challenging to color because I had to fight my impulse to shade and tone her body. I didn't want her to look flat or out of place with the rest of the characters. That's were the other challenge came in; making them look cohesive. Coloring was integral in that; dressing them all in the same tones, applying the same warm highlights and cool shadows to all of them; yet still trying to convey their different personalities.
What other projects of yours can fans check out or look forward to?
I'm going to be attending the Baltimore Convention in September with Eric and we're both beefing up our portfolios for that. In production, I have pieces that include X-Men, Star Wars, Battle of the planets and possibly Rainbow Brite. Water-coloring is a medium I've taken up, so not all will be digital.
What does it mean to you to be a queer geek?
Being a queer geek means being a diamond in the rough to me. A special needle in a fabulous haystack. It's great that just gay isn't enough to define me. I love the clubs, I love the dancing and the divas, but aside from that I also love and appreciate the creativity, out-side-the box and forward thinking that keeps geekdom going. Where else but among gay geeks can you discuss Louis Vuitton and the Ultimate Nullifier in the same conversation. It makes us special among an already wonderfully special group. There is so much variety to us also; I find it really amusing to be asked "What's your geek?"
Anything else you'd like to add regarding the artwork?
What you see here is "my geek". I am in total awe of how much this piece has been welcomed and embraced by what I can now call my community. I started this piece much like the way I drew the characters, as an individual, and by the the time I was done, just like this piece, it all came together. I am part of something bigger.
Thanks so much, Rey!
Be sure to attend tonight's Mighty Mutant Marriage Extravaganza for your chance to win this poster!