Today we’re welcoming the super cool Claudia Leonardi and Andrea Izzo, the esteemed artist and colorist of our incredibly popular Life is Strange series – and the upcoming release of Life is Strange: Partners in Time #1! This time-bending comic series was developed from the world of the multi-million selling Life is Strange video game taking it in incredible new directions. The new series launches in mid-October so we thought we’d get the extremely talented creative team to tell us a little bit about working on such an esteemed saga!
TITAN COMICS: Hi guys! So great to speak with you both again and I’m glad to hear you’re both coping well during this strange time. Let’s dive straight in and pluck all the juicy info from your wonderful minds! My first question has to be – how did you both end up working on the Life is Strange comics? Were you fans of the game?
ANDREA IZZO (A): I am a big fan of the video game, and I have to thank Claudia for this. She recommended the game to me as soon as it came out, and I also have to thank her for asking me to color the cover of the first issue of the Life is Strange comic. After that Titan made me the colorist for the whole comic. So thank you Claudia!
CLAUDIA LEONARDI (C): We were both fans of the game. The fact that I ended up working on the comic is still kind of funny to me. As soon as I finished the game I had the idea to make a short fanart/fan made comic that followed the ‘sacrifice Arcadia Bay’ ending with Max and Chloe working through the pain and trauma. I couldn’t believe it when my agent, Klebs Junior, asked me if I wanted to make some test sketches for the Life is Strange comic. So of course I took the chance! For a month I thought that I didn’t make it! But here I am. (And you can’t imagine how exciting it was to read Emma’s first script! It was like she was reading my mind!)
That’s so awesome. You’re living the dream so to speak! Did you both start out as a comic artist and colorist or was it something you came to later on in your career?
A: I have always been passionate about comics and video games. I did a degree in programming to get closer to the video game industry, and I continued drawing and coloring as a side hobby. After some jobs as a programmer and graphic designer, I decided to try coloring and a few years later it became my main career. I hope I’ll be able to make it in the video game world too one day!
C: It’s what I wanted to do since I was a child. It took me a while to realize that being a comic artist was even an option for me, I had no direct contact growing up with people that made a living with an artistic career. So I tried different things including some traditional jobs, before I reached the conclusion that I had limited energy to spend, and it was better to spend it on what I really wanted to do. And here we are!
I’m sure you’ll get the chance to work in the videogame industry one day Andrea, though we’re sure glad to have you in the comic world! I completely agree Claudia, there’s no point wasting your time in professions that don’t suit or match your passions. It’s all about finding the work you click with most. Speaking of the job itself Claudia, what would you say is the first step in your artistic process when putting together new comic strips?
C: I read the script and try to see in my mind the scene and the frames that would work best with the dialogue and the feel. I always try to keep the game in mind and go for a similar atmosphere where possible. I’m lucky really because the scripts Emma Vieceli writes are massively in tune with my own imagination and, apart from some scenes where she gives specific directions, she leaves a lot of space for my creativity to spread its wings.
Fantastic. Sounds like you’re all in sync! Similarly Andrea, where do you begin when coloring new strips? Do you start with a set color palette or do you dive in and see what works as you go along?
A: I first try to imagine the mood and feeling I want to give to the panels, then I start with the flat colors on characters and backgrounds, and I finish with lighting and shadows to try and reach the mood I was going for. After two years working on the Life is Strange comic I created a color palette that I’m still using and it expands with every new issue.
That must keep it fun and exciting! The series has really taken off, what do you think it takes to make a comic successful, illustration wise? Do you think certain styles have an impact?
A: I think every type of comic has a style that works best with it. Of course being a fan of the project you’re working on affects the final result in a positive way too: you know the product and its aesthetic and what will work best to keep that authenticity. I hope people can tell that Claudia, Emma and I are Life is Strange fans.
C: Like Andrea said, there is a certain style for every comic. In this case, I think what we did was successful because we made something that was in tune (even if slightly different) with the source material. For example, I left a lot of space for the color, which is very important in the game to create the atmosphere. This choice probably wouldn’t work that well with a horror or a noir comic though, as they rely a lot on the contrast and mystery created with the use of heavy black and white.
I think fans of the comic can definitely tell you guys are fans, what you’ve created just fits so well alongside the game. Now, tell us a little more about the new comic itself. In the next chapter of this series, Partners in Time, there are two versions of the character Chloe. What was the biggest difference between them you implemented to help readers tell them apart?
C: I’d say mainly the hair length and color! I tried to give them a different wardrobe too, but the two Chloes have a similar style, and I feared the differences were too small to notice.
A: We changed the style and the color of her hair. I also use a slightly muted color palette compared to the main timeline, but the hair is the more noticeable thing.
Yes of course, Emma Vieceli told me about how she’d looked up stages of hair color fading to help you guys get a good sense of what type of color the Chloes’ hair should be. Which worked out perfectly. You could almost say one Chloe is a dimmer, shadowy version of her counterpart. Claudia, what was your favourite scene to draw?
C: It’s difficult to pick one! I loved to draw the scene where Max and Chloe go back to Arcadia Bay and they ‘meet’ Joyce, but I also loved to draw the first issue of this coming second season, with the natural settings and all. As a fan I have to admit that I have a special place in my heart for Max and Chloe’s kisses. I also love to draw Chloe with longer hair. And Rachel! I love to draw Rachel. I love it all!
Similarly Andrea, who is your favourite character to color?
A: difficult question! I’d like to answer all the main characters, including the High Seas. But if I have to choose I’d say Max and Chloe, I’m very fond of both of them. I can’t decide which one I like the most!
Who isn’t fond of them, they are the perfect power couple! But as you previously mentioned Claudia, in the upcoming release, there’s a lot of new and pretty locations. Did you take any inspiration from real life places for them?
C: Yes! I use a lot of references. One of the first things I do after reading the script is take a Google maps tour in the places the girls are traveling. When it’s a man made environment, if I have the time, I create a basic 3d model to keep the proportions coherent.
Wow! That actually makes a lot of sense. A genius way of getting a good feel for the setting, and of course getting a good sense of the mood. And on that note, Andrea, how do you use color to create mood and atmosphere in the scenes?
A: I usually choose one or two dominant colors and then build up from there, trying to choose colors that strengthen the feeling of the scene when it’s possible.
We’ve heard some great stuff from you both that I’m sure both comic and video games fans, will absolutely adore. My last question is for all the aspiring comic creatives out there. What advice would you give to budding artists and colorists who want to “make it” in the comic world?
C: Practice a lot and create your own opportunities to “make it”. Put yourself out there and try! And don’t be a perfectionist, don’t wait to be the best at what you do, you’ll get there with time. Basically: “Just do it!”
A: My advice is to keep trying and not be put off by the initial rejections. Keep on drawing and coloring, don’t get discomforted. Social media is a great tool, use it to help people get to know you. Also, don’t be like me: eat healthy and play sports, it won’t help you make it in the comic word, but it will help you feel better!
**That’s some brilliant advice guys, though you won’t catch me playing sports any time soon, I fall over just thinking about exercise nevertheless actually participating! It’s been so good to talk to you both, and we at Titan are so happy to have you both working with us, your talent knows no bounds! All we have to do now is wait for the next instalments! Exciting stuff indeed!
If this interview isn’t enough to get you excited for the next instalment,
Below you can find the buy links for Life is Strange volumes 1-3 and the pre-order links for Partners in Time #1.
Pre-order Life is Strange: Partners in Time #1
Life is Strange: Dust: Vol 1
Life is Strange: Waves: Vol 2
Life is Strange: Strings: Vol 3