Monday, February 19, 2018
Home  >  Features  >  Mighty Artist Spotlight: Ruairi Coleman



Ruairi Coleman may be a name you're unfamiliar with, but that's all going to change soon. The Irish artist just came off a stint on Dynamite's Turok: Dinosaur Hunter and is heading into IDW territory with a variant cover to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Amazing Adventures #2. We caught up with Ruairi to talk influences, history, hero turtles, dinosaur survival, and the road to "what's next." 


MightyVille: What got you into comics?

Ruairi Coleman: I've loved comics since as far back as I can remember.  When I was a kid, on Saturdays my grandmother would buy my brother and I The Beano and The Dandy, two really popular kids comics in the UK, when she was buying my grandfather his newspaper.  That was a bit of a tradition for us.  Then, as I got older and discovered characters like Batman, Spider-Man and the X-Men I started to bug my mum for those comics which I'd read, collect and copy the art from for months after.

How long have you been drawing?

For as long as I've loved comics I guess.  I was one of those kids who would draw on walls if there was no paper around: another childhood story is when I once peeled the top layer of the wallpaper off my bedroom wall to get to the backing paper and I drew pictures all over that.  I doubt anyone remembers when Snap, Crackle and Pop of Rice Krispies fame were depicted as super heroes but, for some reason, that's what I drew all over my bedroom wall. My mother was less than impressed at the time... 

Who are some of your favorite characters to draw?

I enjoy drawing Spider-Man, that's always a lot of fun.  Also Batman, Wolverine, and Deadpool in terms of comics. As much as I suck at playing it, I also love drawing Street Fighter characters and I'm a massive fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise; I'd give my left arm (the right one's the money maker) to draw adaptations of each of the Metal Gear games.




Those are all a lot of fun but my most favourite characters to draw are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is top of my bucket list for books to draw.  I got to do a variant cover for issue two of the new Amazing Adventures series which was a massive honour, so my next goal to get my art inside one of those books. 




You've recently provided art for Dynamite's Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. What was that experience like? 

Wow, it was such a surprise and an honour to be offered the work.  It was Will Sliney who recommended me to the editors, Nate Cosby and Tom Brennan, when they needed a last-minute, fill-in artist to get issue #9 in by deadline, so I'm extremely grateful to all those guys for the opportunity.  I got to work on scripts by Greg Pak and Paul Tobin, and I got to draw dinosaurs so it was all as surreal, mind blowing and immensely fun as it sounds! 





Would you say that you'd be a capable dinosaur hunter?

If the gun-to-dino size ratio is in my favour then yes!  Well ... no, actually.  Then I'd be a more of a dinosaur bully than a hunter, wouldn't I?  Nobody would want to read that comic... 




What are the origins of your Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles love?

I still remember the first episode of the '80s cartoon airing over here.  The kids' TV presenter had been hyping it up all afternoon and when it finally came on and the theme tune started playing and I saw those characters, it was "Game Over" for He-Man, ThunderCats, all those guys...




My brother and I used to love to play fight with our uncle when he came to visit and he was well-used to being Skeletor and I was He-Man, until the day he called and was told, "Uncle Malachy: you're the Shredder now.  I'm Raphael, and Dwyer's Donatello.  Okay?  FIGHT!!!" 

That Christmas, it was all TMNT, or TMHT in the UK because some brain-dead censorship meant we had "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles", and my mum told me years later that it was hell trying to get those action figures because Playmates hugely underestimated the success of the cartoon and there was a massive shortage of the toys in stores.  Yet and still, she got me all the Turtles and Splinter so I was over the moon.  She also made me and my brother Turtles costumes, complete with shells! They were so good she ended up having to make them for all our friends, too.  Now that I think about it, I doubt she remembers my Turtles phase as fondly as I do...




To lead; To do machines; To be cool, but rude; To be a party dude ... which do you most relate to?

Playing as kids, I was always Raphael.  That might lead you to believe that I'm extremely cool, and somewhat rude, but in truth I've always been more of a goofball like Michelangelo




Who are some of your artistic influences?

You could probably guess from looking at the way I draw: Joe Madureira, Chris Bachalo, Humberto Ramos, Mark Brooks ...  Roger Cruz's work on X-Man, 10th Muse and Arana was amazing ...  All my life I've been drawn to that Manga/Anime style artwork.  When Manga Entertainment localised and colourised Masaomi Kanzaki's Street Fighter II adaptation, I might have been ten or so, but I saw the art and just had to have it.  Likewise I was trying to read Akira when I was waaaay too young to know what the Hell was going on (I might maybe have finally figured that book out when I re-read it again last year after turning 30...) but I couldn't stop looking at the artwork; the dynamic figure work juxtaposed against those technically drawn backgrounds is something I still aspire towards.

It was hard to get US comics over here when Joe Mad blew up on Uncanny X-Men so, while I caught some of it when I could, I mostly missed that whole period in comics where the Manga influenced art reigned.  It's not as popular now, and maybe even begrudged a little? I dunno.  I don't think I've seen an art style I dislike and while there are a lot of other artists I look at am just dumbfounded by their brilliance, I'm still as drawn to that Eastern-inspired art as ever... 

What does your drawing table look like now?

Right now my drawing board is sporting a pretty nifty splash page from a creator-owned book I'm currently collaborating on: it features a bad-ass looking cowboy jumping through the air with dual revolvers in his gloved fists and it's something I'm really excited to share.  We're still in the early stages of developing a pitch for the book and looking for a colourist but we're planning on teasing out information and Work-In-Progress art in the next week or two.




What are you working on now that has you excited? What’s coming up for you down the road?

Most immediately, there is volume three of Turok: Dinosaur Hunter coming out from Dynamite which features art by Stephen Downey, Felipe Cunha, Lee Ferguson and myself (all coloured by Luigi Anderson) which people should check out, and also look those other artists up as they're all amazing. [Editor's Note: In stores now!]





Then there's my Variant Cover for TMNT: Amazing Adventures #2 which comes out in a few weeks.  It's a subscribers variant, but some retailers might have copies for anyone interested: if so, hit up your local retailer or check for retailers online.  If you like it, be sure to tell IDW and mention that you'd like to see me draw an issue or two while you're at it... 

Coming up next, it's all about the previously mentioned creator-owned project.  We'll be starting up a Tumblr soon to begin teasing out art and information, and trying to get a little support built up so I'd encourage anyone interested to follow me on any of my social networks and I'll share the link to said Tumblr when we have it ready to launch. 

Coming down the road, I have a couple of things lined up with ComixTribe: Nothing I can talk about right now but will be talking about in due course.  I also have something pretty big that'll be hitting shelves around May 7th, 2016 but, again, nothing more I can say right now. 

Do you have any rituals that get you in the creative or artistic mood?

Not really. Working on Turok, I found that I'm most productive between the hours of 5AM and 2PM so I get up at 5, drink a couple cups of coffee and start drawing before my brain has time to procrastinate. 

I like reading comics, creating fan art or practicing new drawing techniques to unwind but, when it comes to starting work, I kinda just throw myself into it.

What comics are you currently reading that you’d recommend to our readers? 

Without sounding like a broken record, IDW's TMNT series is probably the most consistently well-written book I've read in the last few years. 




I'm also excited for Peter David and Will Sliney's Spider-Man 2099 to return after Secret Wars. I was really enjoying what they were doing on that book before the break so I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when it starts back up again. 

Stephen Mooney has a run coming up on Midnighter and his art is just phenomenal so I'll be adding that to my pull list.  

Coincidentally, Turok co-writer Paul Tobin recently collaborated with another Northern Irish artist, P.J. Holden, on Gunsuits for American Gothic Press. It's a Mech Vs Monsters 4-issue series that's wrapping up this month and the name alone is worth the price of admission so go track down the back issues and check that out! 

And finally I want to give a shout out to my friend Sam Read's upcoming book, Exit Generation: It's a really fun 4-issue Sci-Fi series and I can't describe it in a way that does it justice.  It's unlike anything I've read before, but I loved it.  I actually did an Exit Generation pin-up (coloured by Timothy Brown) to celebrate it going into Previews earlier this year and I've recently been informed that there's a good chance that image will be included in issue #3 when it comes out.  If you go to Sam's blog you'll find a free preview of issue one so check that out and, if you like it, pick up the issue when it comes out later this month! [Editor's Note: Stay tuned for our advanced review of Exit Generation #1!]




Thanks for your time, Ruairi!

Readers, be sure to pick up Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles: Amazing Adventures #2 and shoot IDW an email letting them know you want to see Ruairi's work on the inside. Then keep your eye out for all his amazing work to come! 


More Spotlights on MightyVille:

"I Am Howard" - Six Questions with Joe Quinones

Mighty Artist Spotlight: Sam Bentley

Mighty Creator Spotlight: Sean Fahey and Black Jack Press


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