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Interview with Topps and Upper Deck Marvel and Star Wars Artist: Freddy Lopez, Jr

GNN: How did you get started? Were you always an artist? 

Freddy Lopez, Jr: I’ve been drawing since childhood. My parents are both pretty creative and encouraging so when they saw me taking an interest they helped me enter school contests and got me drawing books. My dad was very technically minded so he encouraged my interest by showing me how to do things correctly. Along with the comics and games, he also would buy me books on anatomy, perspective, drafting, drawing animals and cars, etc.

My initial love was fantasy art. I always wanted to be the next Boris Vallejo or Frazetta. Over the years my network of artist friends grew, eventually leading to opportunities to collaborate with them on projects. This led to project with Image’s After the Cape book, Femme Noir, and others. I worked as a cover artist, colorist and pinup artist for several titles and got to work with some really great names in the comic community.¬† I’ve always loved working on smaller canvases and boards and eventually sent sketches to several card companies and eventually with Topps and Upper Deck.

Recently I’ve started making my way back to fantasy art. I still do cards for my fave projects but most of my time is spent working on fantasy pieces for companies working on gaming supplements and games that are compatible with WOTC’s Dungeons and Dragons game.¬† I do work as a concept artist, cover artist and interior illustrator for several titles including “Dungeon Crusade”, “EarthDawn” and “BattleStations” , “Dwarven Epics” and the new “Taloc Mayan”.

GNN: What was your reaction when you heard the news that you would be working for TOPPS and Upper Deck? How did it feel? 

Freddy: It was great. I’ve always been a big fan of the companies and getting to work on projects for them was definitely a bucket list item. Through them I’ve been able to work on a variety of properties and licenses. I’ve worked on card sets for The Walking Dead, Clerks, and more. My inner geek was super excited when I was asked to join the sketch teams for Marvel and Star Wars. I’ve done quite a few sets for them and was a featured artist on several projects. Getting to draw characters I grew up with like Luke Skywalker, Vader, R2, Spider-Man, Wolverine and others is definitely a high point. I also got to work on some of their side projects like Dinosaurs which was named a “Top Summer Toys Award Winner” by The Toy Insider.¬† Being a licensed artist on these projects has definitely opened a lot of doors for me professionally and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity!

GNN: Is there one piece of work you feel you truly “nailed it”? And is there one you truly struggled to complete?¬†

Freddy: I think most artists can relate to feeling like you never truly nailed it.. Looking back you always see things you may want to¬†change or might have done differently. The ones I struggled with the most are the likenesses. When working with celeb likenesses for cards, I tend to want to avoid cartoony caricatures so I stress about getting a likeness that is creative but also that will get approval by the actor *and* their agents.¬† What makes it tougher for sketch cards is each one is a small canvas. So there’s no do-overs once it’s sketched, inked, colored or painted. It’s done. If you mess up, that’s one card wasted and you need to start over on another card.

GNN: Do you ever worry about the way women are portrayed in fantasy/comic book art? Are they over-sexualized, is this catering to a mostly male audience, is it empowering to women, or something else entirely? 

Freddy: Absolutely! I grew up in a family surrounded by mostly women. My mom’s side of the family is mostly women and after my father passed, it was my mom, sister and my niece. So, I’ve always strived to paint women in a strong, beautiful and empowered light.I think a lot of artists do tend to draw the sexier tropes and it’s always hilarious to me. Women don’t need broken backa, perfectly round anti-gravity breasts, etc.. they’re beautiful the way they are. Even with any pin-up work I try to draw them as beautiful but not overly sexualized. Like my Mayan princess piece is a throwback to all the black velvet paintings we saw as kids. However mine is the warrior princess standing on the steps of a pyramid with her pet¬†Quetzalcoatls. I did Mexamericon¬†recently where I showcased the painting and received¬†lots of praise for making an empowered, fierce and still sexy image of a latino woman.

GNN: Which member of the Avengers would Elvira go bar hopping with….and why?¬†

Freddy: I think Elvira could definitely hold her own with any Avenger but I think her and She-Hulk would be the most fun!¬† The sarcasm and laughs as they shut the bars down is something I’d love to be a fly on the wall for.

**As a licensed artist for Topps and Upper Deck, we are given artist’s proof cards. Essentially blank trading cards from each set we’ve worked on. If anyone is interested I can do custom commissions or they can buy some original art cards from various sets direct from me.¬† They can visit my website to see what’s available or catch me at a show.**

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