#Tweetfolio Reviews 1.2: Amancay Nahuelpan

Welcome to the second installment of Season One of #Tweetfolio Reviews!

If you’re new to this column and want to get up to speed, check out the intro column here.

I’ll be reviewing the work of Amancay Nahuelpan (@annbonline), available at his art blog.

I was familiar with Amancay’s work from my time as Marvel’s Talent Coordinator where we exchanged several emails, with Amancay sending in his latest work and me providing feedback. We’d lost touch but I noticed his work popping up at the Ashcan All-Stars blog and was delighted when he reached out to me over twitter for this column.

Amancay’s work is the kind I always liked seeing: a unique, defined and daring voice. That poses challenges when few titles in the so-called “mainstream” of American comics are welcoming of such styles. His latest samples though show a movement toward meeting the mainstream halfway, which as I’ll get to below has its pluses and minuses.

BON ALIMAGNO: Yours I think was some of the first art I reviewed when I first came to Marvel and I’m really happy we got to connect again over twitter. I was impressed by how well defined and unique your style was. And from what I see from your latest work, you’ve been honing that style even further, closer and closer towards one that mainstream comics ought to embrace.

I’ve been seeing your work on the Ashcan All-Stars blog as well. Can you tell me a little bit behind how you got involved with that, what your favorite pieces were and how you changed up your style depending on the subject?

AMANCAY NAHUELPAN: I got involved with Ashcan last year, posting pinups of the themes they were doing, and retweeting the link to the blog’s twitter. After a few posts, Paolo Belfiore (who runs the blog) showed interest in my stuff and invited me to be part of it. It’s been a really fun challenge. I had never done weekly sketches before so this has been a very good exercise.

It’s hard to say which is my favorite. I think the Cerebus piece could be one of them. Haunt got a lot of hits as well. Those are probably my top 2.

BA: I’d also like to tailor your review to your personal goals: can you let me know what you think your weaknesses are and what you think your strengths are?

AN: My weaknesses might be anatomy in some points. It’s something I’ve been learning to notice more and more recently, which makes me sometimes go over one drawing over and over again. Sometimes I never know when to stop adding details, which I think is good and bad at the same time. I love detailed work, but sometimes I go over the top and spend too much time detailing stuff. In terms of storytelling I know that’s not good, but I’ve learned also in the last months how to go over that, and spend more time telling the story rather than spending too much time on one panel, detailing it so much.

My strengths I’d say are, first of all, dedication: I really want to be a comic artist, and I’ve had many professionals review my work that have told me I’m not wasting my time here and I’m on the good path. That keeps me working and working. I spend many hours every day working even if it’s a professional work or just some personal stuff. I’m currently working on an OGN, CLANDESTINO, I want to publish in the following year. If I’m not working on something paid I’m working on this, so I’m somehow involved with comics 24/7.

I believe I have a good sense of perspective, and establishing pages and panels. I manage backgrounds. I’m good adapting to different styles, as you’ve seen at Ashcan. I experiment very often there with different styles. That has been a great exercise for me, letting me play with different techniques, colors, etc. And later on, I’ve applied that to projects I’ve worked on.

BA: Where do you see your career in comics in five years?

AN: In five years I’d like to be working full time in comics, either as a freelancer or hired by a publisher. That’s my goal and that’s what I’m working towards. I also want to have published my OGN. (I love what Image does, I’d actually like to send the OGN I’m working on to Image, that’s one of my goals.) Lately, I’ve been reducing the 5 year period to a 3 year one, for some reason I see 5 years as too far now, especially for the amount of years I’ve been working in comics.

BA: Too often while at Harris Comics and then at Marvel, I’d find art that while excellent was too similar to artists we were already using. So often I’d ask myself, why use the poor man’s Barry Kitson or Mike McKone when we could just use Barry or Mike themselves. But your style is DIFFERENT — it’s a style that’s very dissimilar from a lot of artists in the industry now and therein lies your biggest obstacle. If for the sake of argument I was an editor at Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Image, IDW, etc. I’d love to hire you. I’d just not know where to put you. 

Your style would fit well on something like Scalped, Northlanders, Punisher MAX related miniseries and the like. But the market is gradually squeezing more of these titles off the racks, with the bigger companies refocusing towards more traditional superhero comic art styles. I still see projects like Spaceman, Dial H, and the American Vampire and Hellboy/BPRD franchises which allow for less traditional but still powerful styles to flourish. But those opportunities are growing fewer and far between and being reserved already for some of the better known stylists in the industry.

So there’s three paths I think you can take: 

First, you can go even more towards a highly abstract style. Think of folks like Eric Canete, Chris Bachalo, Nathan Fox, Riley Rossmo who’ve all become known for their signature styles, work recognized instantly as distinctly theirs. You lean in that direction already with your manga-esque speed lines, forced perspective at heightened moments of action and hard, angular faces. But it’s an interesting mix — perhaps too much of a mix and one that could confuse the reader as to the flavor of the story they are reading and throw them out of their suspension of disbelief at the most crucial story beats. But perhaps if you went even more stylized, pushed the perspective even more, made the anatomy even more angular and abstract you’d carve out an even more distinctive voice. You could trade on that uniqueness if it catches on and be the go-to guy for that particular style. Problem is, will there be a frequent enough need for it?

Second, you can also rein in your style: make the perspective more realistic, hold back on speed lines or do away with them altogether, pull back on heavy detail so your pages are cleaner and more readable, and make faces rounder, softer, more organic feeling. You’re already doing this in the most recent batch of pages in the May 11, 2012 posting. I see shades of guys like Robbie Rodriguez and Julian Totino in that work, guys who’ve had recent gigs on Uncanny X-Force. This style is the closest I’ve seen from you that employs an accessible to the mainstream style. Your Uncanny X-Force sample pages you did for me a while back, and appearing in the June 27, 2011 entry, are good but are still too much of a hybrid between your highly stylized work and your more accessible work. And being a hybrid, it actually diluted the power of your style. But here in these May pages you reign all that in and in a way that still speaks with your distinct voice. Makes me wonder how the X-Force sample pages would’ve looked similarly drawn. I like how the May pages are just clearer to understand, more organic in feel. The dynamic splash page at the end of the sequence is a good mix of detail and readability. I think if you pulled back on breaking panel borders and maintained more consistent realistic perspective (the car looks like it’s already jumped off the page) you’d really nail a style that would open more doors for you across the industry and at the highest levels.

The third option is to try something entirely new. As I mentioned, I’d really liked your work on the Ashcan All-Stars blog. I’ve seen pieces there that show very, very different looks to your work. You say your favorite is the Cerebus piece. I like that too, but I’d say my favorite of yours is the Spirit piece. That right there, with its energy, it’s attention to detail, it’s iconic cleanliness — if you can employ a style like that through sequential pages, that would be something very, very interesting for me to see.

AN: Wow, thanks very much for such a complete review. It really helps to clear out my ideas when I hear words like these.

Usually the most frustrating part of being, or wanting to be a full time comic artist is when you wonder: “Why haven’t I been able to get there?”, “I’m so close, yet still far from there”, “Is that opportunity just around the corner?” A lot of times I wonder if I’m actually good enough for this business or should I turn around and think about something else.

But as I said, these words help a lot, especially when it’s someone like you who knows what you say and knows the business.

I guess right now I’ll focus on the second path, as it’s the one I’m feeling very comfortable with, and as you said, aiming too much to the Vertigo, MAX style with such a shrinking market may not be so good.

I also feel like experimenting a lot with perspectives and anatomy like path 1, but it requires more time to define the style, and right now I feel I have a bit more control over the style in the latest pages you see. And the 3rd path is very interesting for me as well. Yeah, I had forgotten the Spirit piece, something like that also works great, but it usually works better for me when it’s a single piece, or pinup. When I have to work out panels on a page it feels harder to find a composition that will end up looking as good as a pinup.

So that said, I’ll keep going in the line of the latest pages of my blog and see how that evolves.

Really looking forward to keeping in touch. I’m working on issue 1 of CLANDESTINO, some of the pages you’ve seen on my blog. When I have it ready, I’ll send you a copy so you can take a look and let me know what you think.

BA: Looking forward to it, Amancay!


Thanks for reading! As usual, feel free to hit me up with questions and comments on my twitter @karma_thief as well as in the comments below. Hope to see you again in two weeks for another #Tweetfolio Review!


  1. very sean murphy