In the last two and a half years, Coral Martinez has been receiving credit for her work inking Rafael Ruiz' Phantom stories.
She has worked with Rafael on five Team Fantomen stories at the time of this interview. Three have been published by Frew in English, the story details are below:
"The 22nd Phantom, Part 3: The Man in the Shadows"
Frew #1794 (2017) Fantomen 2-3/2017
Frew #1845 (2019)
"The Pit of Doom"
Frew #1853 (2019)
"Eldkraft" (Swedish Title)
"Den gyllene burens fånge" (Swedish Title)
Chronicle Chamber has been lucky enough to interview Coral and learn more about Coral, an inker making a name for herself in a male dominated Phantoms world.
Chronicle Chamber: Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? What country are you from?
Coral Martinez: I am from Galicia, a northern region in Spain, where I can enjoy the frozen waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
CC: And where did you Study art?
CM: I studied Art at Universidade de Vigo, and one year at Universidad de Barcelona. During those five years learning “art” (mainly conceptual art) not one of the teachers encouraged me to keep drawing cartoons or comics, because as you would know... this is not real ART.
In my opinion, it is more important to work on your own path, focusing in the area you are interested about (inking was mine), and work very hard on that area.
Fortunately I found some very good comic professionals who helped me become a better inker, by sharing their experiences, knowledge and advice with me.
CC: That’s wonderful. Is there anyone in particular who has inspired you and influenced your work?
CM: Well, I don’t know if these artists have influenced my work, but they really inspire me. They are Bruce Timm, Mike Mignola, Taiyou Matsumoto, Sandra Hope, Jonathan Glapion, Jordi Tarragona, Kevin Nowlan, Matteo Scalera and Dino Battaglia.
CC: What made you wanting to be an artist? and an Inker?
CM: Wow... This is very difficult to know!
This is not going to be the perfect answer as we are used to reading that since a very young age I knew my future was to be an artist”.
When I was a child I instead dreamed of becoming a great ballet dancer (despite not taking ballet lessons) or maybe an archaeologist. I was very good at drawing, and working on creative things.
I decided go to University and study Art, but my teachers did not value my drawings and accurate strokes. Teachers and students prefered flowing paintings... more chaotically techniques and fresh drawings, directly from the soul to the paper, less academical.
So I thought “there may be a field where I can apply all that accurate strokes made with brush”, and a good friend of mine talked to me about the inkers of the comic industry.
What a discovery!
CC: We’re pleased you made that discovery. Are you able to work full-time as an artist now? What other jobs have you had in the past to supplement your career as an artist?
CM: Today I work as a comic teacher, illustrator and inker.
It is a personal decision, because I really enjoy sharing my knowledge in the comic field with people. I still enjoy day to day work as an inker and illustrator. I published my first book in October 2018. In the past I have worked in fashion and sports stores while I was building my career. CC: What other comic work have you done (prior to The Phantom) that we should become familiar with?
CM: I started working as an inker at 26 years old with some pages to DC Comics on titles like Smallville, Battlestar Galactica and Dynamite Enternainment on titles like HeMan and the Masters of the Universe.
CC: Your work with the Phantom has been as an inker for Rafael Ruiz. Can you tell us about how that happened?
CM: After four years working on these titles, I decided to move to Barcelona, where I started working as an inker in a comics studio called “Comic Up”. Mainly we inked Disney stories, like Donald Duck magazines.
During the first few months at the studio they started working with The Phantom comics for Egmont, with pencils done by Rafael Ruiz.
They tested all the inkers on staff to decide who was better suited to ink The Phantom and the rest is history.
CC: Your published work proves they made a good choice. Do you like working on the Phantom? Did you know of the Phantom before you started work on those stories? Did you ever read the character?
CM: Yes, I like working on the Phantom, he is a good character to ink, and is a very dynamic drawing as well.
I knew the Phantom, of course! But just in a physical appearance, the costume, the colors etc. I never had read the character (shame!), because I thought he was a classic character, with lots of BAM! CRASH! and that kind of stuff.
Sorry about that, fans! I’m not proud about that.
CC: We’re sure the phans can learn to forgive you! What do you enjoy most about inking?
CM: I love inking, most people think it is a technical process without artistic value, in my opinion and experience, I disagree.
I have the responsibility of the final lines, the final lines that are going to be printed and published. I have to understand the drawings, the personal style of the artist, in this case, Rafael Ruiz, absolve it, respect it and, if it is possible, bring new nuances to his lines and movements.
It’s very important to keep the drawings as clean as possible, to help the readers differentiate what’s happening in every single scene with the foreground and background.
I personally prefer inking main characters and nature backgrounds (trees, plants, organic stuff) than city landscapes or big buildings. Ships, cars and bicycles are my worst enemies, hahaha!
Of course the first 4 hours inking are better than the rest, I will not lie.
CC: You will love the Phantom then, especially if you can work on more of his jungle adventures! How do you find the challenge of inking someone else’s work - are you able to bring your own flair or style to the drawings? Are you able to make your own inking decisions to his pencils?
CM: Well, it is a big responsibility! You can bring your own style, but not you cannot change the main character including his face - that has to stay in the pencillers style! Hahahaha!!
The areas where you can make decisions and leave your personal print are mainly the backgrounds, different surface textures and the way you apply the shadowing lines (soft, fast, aggressive, thick, splatter etc).
Pencils always come very clear and with no doubt on how to ink, but sometimes characters and backgrounds can get a little bit confusing. in these cases, my work is try to add some order in the scene.
CC: Professional comic book creation is a notoriously male-dominated industry and The Phantom is not immune, with precious few female creators in the past. What has your experience been like in this area as you have established yourself in the industry and the Phantom world?
CM: This is a personal point of view based on a personal experience.
When I started working as The Phantom inker I was in a comic studio based in Barcelona, where there were 8 inkers and 5 of them females. That was a very nice place to work, without any kind of sexism at all. Unfortunately, it is not always the case.
For example at a Manga Convention, where fandom and artists are on average 50 / 50 between men and women (if not even more women) there is greater respect. Compare that experience to a generic Comic Superhero Convention where while you still find plenty of women, in my experiences, you can feel a little bit awkward, with people staring at you, and adding stupid comments or sexist behavior.
A sad example was from my first comic agent who told me on a phone call: “Hello! My name is XXX, I saw you in the comic con last week. The first thing I noticed, was your legs... So, you are an inker right?”
Few years ago that kind of conversation would have left me completely shocked, without words trying to answer or make sense of what just happened. Nowadays society is changing and thankfully behaviors are also changing in a positive way.
I hope we will reach the point of call us “artists” and not male artist or female artist. We are people, human beings, that’s all. let our work tell the tale.
CC: Wow, that is horrible! I am glad the experiences are getting better. As we finish up, what is the best way for someone to contact or look at your work?
CM: The best place would be my Instagram account.
CC: Thank you, we thank you for your time and we look forward to more of your artwork in our Phantom comics and seeing some Phantom commissions from phans around the world.
CM: Thanks for that interview! I really enjoy share my experience with fans, readers and everybody who wants listen to me talking about my work and my personal world.