I have always strongly believed in the power of illustration and color. There are a million (okay, maybe only 999,999) studies which have proven that shape does indeed make you feel things, and can grab your emotions by the wobbly bits and shake ‘em all around. It can translate things, convey messages that words just cannot do, and even poke your frontal lobe so much that your memory is improved. As a person with synaesthesia, color, shape, and texture is in every second of every day of my life and always has been. That is why I believe illustrators deserve the utmost respect and the best macarons delivered to their doorstep on regular occasions; and not just because those amazing female-anatomy resembling cookies are noms squared. Writing, no matter how ingenious, will fall flat in comics if it isn’t translated properly. There is one such woman who needs to be talked about a whole lot more because her ability to do this is simply insane in the best way.
Emma Rios is a Spain-based artist who has a distinctive style and approach to making funny books punch-you-in-the-eyeballs serious, without losing her unique whimsy of course. She debuted with Hexed in 2008, and worked alongside Mark Waid on Marvel’s Doctor Strange limited series. She has appeared on a few other Marvel titles such as Spider-Man, Cloak & Dagger and Runaways, but it wasn’t until she teamed up with powerhouse Kelly Sue DeConnick first for Osborn and then finally the amazing Pretty Deadly, that she started getting a bit of the recognition that she deserves. I’m saying a bit because this incredible woman’s career is far from over, I can feel it my paws.
If you’ve never read Pretty Deadly, get on that sh-stuff, man! A fairy tale-esque basis within a western setting may sound a bit weird, but it’s books like this where you can really see the chemistry within the collaboration. Emma’s illustrations coupled with Kelly Sue’s unique storytelling makes for one of Image’s best titles. Bringing it all together is Jordie Bellaire’s incredible color work, and let me tell you, it’s fa-law-less. You have to pronounce it in such a manner to really convey how bad ass it is, you know? Also, it’s important to note that this triple threat is a triple threat of all women.
Another great thing about Emma Rios is her character. She has a mighty fine belief in creator-owned content, which is a topic of both great interest and great controversy these days. Creative freedom is the way to get creative content, which doesn’t seem like such a hard concept to grasp. However, with the rise of Image Publishing catching up to, and beating out in a lot of reader’s opinions, the “Big Two”, it’s becoming more of a demand, with good reason. I mean, who wants to create something and then not even own it? Hell nah! Thus, the idea of Island was birthed from the hips of creative individuals and their spunky yet fun attitudes. Island is a roughly 100+ page anthology series that comes out about once a month. Inside it you will find artists and writers trying pretty much whatever they damn well please, and getting it published! Curated by Rios and Brandon Graham, it’s a breath of fresh goo, and I would strongly encourage taking an eye bite. Rios herself also has some pretty fantastic content in it, and damn can that woman do great things with some simple red ink.
So all I’m saying is, she’s awesome, she’s sharp, she really needs to come to the US for cons, other than Image Expo, so I can giggle nervously when I meet her. Her work is really a treat for the eyes, and she’s not afraid to put out weird stuff. She’s not one to shy away from different concepts, and executes like the pen-wielding goddess that she is, and we should all look forward to each piece of work she graces our Local Comic Shop walls with.