Comic book giants Marvel and DC may dominate the field, but there are a number of up-and-coming independent companies looking to make their own mark in the industry, including one right here in Miami.
Creature Entertainment, founded by John Ulloa and Julio Alvarez, has tapped into the creative pool of area artists, writers, animators and filmmakers who are combining their talents in new and innovative ways to publish graphic novels and produce films of short and feature length.
For Ulloa, the publisher, who was raised in South Florida, it’s not a job but a labor of love.
“Comic books are like comfort food, something from your youth that makes you feel good when you read one, and by bringing that comic book to life on film it lets the audience relate to it on a whole new level,” Ulloa said.
“I loved comic books since a very early age but the calling to create one came later in life. I knew I had an active imagination and had a knack for writing stories, but lacked the ability to draw.
“One day working as a comic book dealer I met a young artist that had the same desire as I did so we got together and created our comic book called Double Impact which did very well during the ’90s,” Ulloa added. “We sold over 50,000 copies of our first issue, putting us in the Wizard top 10 comic books.”
Editor-in-chief Juan Navarro, a Hialeah native, has been writing, drawing and painting much of his life. He attended local magnet programs and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New World School of the Arts at the University of Florida. Navarro is co-director of the CS Gallery in North Miami, the art director for the Oliva Cigar Company, and the creator and artist of the Web comic series “Zombie Years.”
“I’ve always been drawing since I was a kid,” Navarro said. “I learned to read with comic books. John started the company about two years ago. A lot of the time its crime noire and the horror genre, but we also deal with graphic novels and film.”
Jose Varese, a South Miami High School alum, has been doing comic related artwork since the late 1990s, mostly small comic strips and some small independent Web comics from time to time, but he says he really got serious about it in mid 2009 when he started working with Creature Entertainment.
“It is an amazing vehicle for storytelling,” Varese said. “The visual images help the readers to really immerse themselves into the storyline. Each illustrated panel is like a movie frame and the artist acts as both the director and the cinematographer.
“Is it any wonder why movie studios still hire storyboard artist to illustrate an entire movie script before they even pick up the camera? Working on comic books has given me a deeper perspective of the craft and appreciation for sequential artists.”
Varese has finished two titles, graphic novels called The Gun and Killswitch Billy, and currently is working on a brand new title called Ravenous. He said he thinks the CE crew is great.
“I am very fortunate to be working with so many talented individuals who share the same love of film, writing and comic art,” Varese said. “But the most important thing is that they are all really good-hearted people and that’s rare to find these days.”
Also onboard with Creature Entertainment are other local talents — Anthony Dones, Al and Rene Quesada, and more. Ulloa is enjoying the ride and is excited about the future, spreading the word about their enterprise at shows, special events and online.
“I want people to know that we want to create great stories that can be enjoyed in two medias,” Ulloa said. “Hopefully one day we’ll be big enough to win an Academy Award…but we’ll settle for a Golden Globe.”
For more information, visit www.creatureentertainment.com/ or find Creature Entertainment on Facebook.