Interview with Dave Alvarez
Conducted by Lisa Alexander
DAVE: I got used to Dave. It’s different. I grew up listening to the name “David” attached to a “clean up your room!” way too many times.
LISA: You did a beautiful variant cover for the first issue of Muppet Robin Hood. How did that come about? Did someone approach you to do it, or did you wave Semaphore flags around until someone noticed you were interested?
DAVE: Why, thank you, I’m glad that you like it! I was “waving flags” like you said way before that to see if I could fit with their “Muppet Show” series at first.
Eventually, BOOM’s editor saw my Muppet fan-made- comic strips and asked me if I could do a variant cover for “The Muppet Show” and then they asked one for Muppet Robin Hood.
DAVE: They came about the same way. Disney liked what I did for Muppet Robin Hood so they asked for variants as well. These were very limited since they were used for some specific stores but at least I got a couple of copies.
LISA: How much did you know about the content of those issues when you did the covers? Obviously you knew Kermit and Sweetums were in Robin Hood… (Not that Kermit was much of a surprise…)
DAVE: BOOM sends me all kinds of visual references and the script as well. I saw one cover sample of Kermit fighting with Sweetums on a bridge and it brought my attention. So I decided to go with that.
DAVE: It’s way different. I’m only in charge of pencils and inks. Colors will be provided by another artist. It’s interesting because the story demanded the intervention of many “generic” Muppets, so I made my research and drew some obscure characters from way back. Let’s see how many of them can you recognize.
LISA: Who picks the “camera angle,” so to speak, of any given frame in the comic? Do the writers choose, or do you decide what’s in the “shot”?
DAVE: Although the writer gives you a guideline, like for example, “establishing shot of town” or “wide shot of castle”, sometimes, one as the artist needs to modify certain angles in order for them to fit the page.
DAVE: I got a free hand in that. Sometimes the writer wanted certain obscure characters as well. Others I just chose by my own.
LISA: Any chance we’ll see Angus McGonagle the gargling gargoyle?
DAVE: Aaaah, maybe! Who knows?
LISA: King Arthur requires a lot of period clothing, even for characters who don’t usually dress at all (i.e. Kermit, Fozzie…). Kermit’s, Fozzie’s, and Gonzo’s armor all look fantastic. Do you decide what the characters wear? Or do Benjamin and Storck say, for example, “Give Kermit a red cape, and put a chicken on Gonzo’s shield”?
DAVE: Although I also got a free ticket on some of those many of them were beautifully rendered by Amy. Some sharp-eyed readers will notice the Disney reference that I chose for Kermit’s first clothes.
LISA: Clothing aside, there’s a huge style difference between the cover art you’ve done and the comics you’ve posted on DeviantArt and Muppet Central, and even between King Arthur and your other covers. Was that your choice, or someone else’s? Do you prefer drawing one style more than another?
DAVE: The cover arts were done entirely by me but the interiors will be colored by another artist so you might find a slight difference in style. In the covers I combine many composition elements and was given more time.
DAVE: It’s easy once you know the characters. You just think of a situation and how the characters will react to them. I’ve been working on my daily comic strip Yenny since 2003, so it’s easy to think how Yenny or Zacha will react to certain situations.
With the Muppets is basically the same. I grew up with them so I sort of know what Kermit will say to a burned Gonzo.
LISA: Do you look at anything as a reference when you draw the Muppets? Does what you look at vary for different styles?
DAVE: I have a lot (if not all) of the Muppet movies, videos and books. The internet is very helpful when it comes to obscure characters. You can easily detect which Muppets have the Don Sahlin touch and which not.
DAVE: Sweetums was the most…uhm… I won’t say difficult, but tricky. I doodled a lot first before choosing a final design. I will add myself to a list of people who say that Muppets were not meant to be drawn. That’s why I decided to go very cartoony. Just to feel as if I was making a parody of them.
LISA: Drawing aside, who is your favorite Muppet?
DAVE: Kermit the Frog. He always knows what to do and has the nerve to deal with millions of mentally impaired Muppets. LOL
LISA: What’s your favorite Muppet production?
DAVE: I would say The Muppet Movie because Jim Henson made magic when computers were not around. But somehow I love “Muppets take Manhattan” mainly because I was a small kid when it came out. I remember that my grandma used to keep all the newspaper movie reviews and pictures for me. There was even a headline that said “La Rana René por fin se Casa” which means “Kermit finally got married” and had a picture of him and Piggy in bride and groom clothes.
LISA: You’ve done a lot of non-Muppet work, too. Tell us about some of that. What’s your favorite group of characters to draw?
DAVE: I’ve been working in the Looney Tunes comics for 12 years now. I’ve also worked on other characters like Tomb Raider and some Paul Dini creations. It’s difficult to say which characters are my favorite to draw. I like it when I can have a free creative input on them.
DAVE: I don’t know. My psychiatrist says that is a good therapy. It keeps me from bungee jumping in Greek robes.
LISA: Any suggestions for other fan artists who want to actually work for the Muppets?
DAVE: Find your own style and show what you can do by just being yourself.
LISA: Thanks again for taking the time to do this interview with us. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
DAVE: I think that’s all that we have for today so we’ll see you next time in The Muppet Show!! YAAAAAAAAAY!!!!
Thanks again to Dave Alvarez for this fantastic interview! Check out Dave’s work in Muppet King Arthur #1, on shelves now!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier