If you have been to a comic shop in the past year, chances are you managed to pick up one of Bengal’s covers. He has been working for both Marvel and DC and he took a little bit of time to let us know about his quick rise to the cream of the crop and all his many projects.
Ryan Mount for Two Headed Nerd: As an artist working internationally, how has the discovery and collaboration process been?
Bengal: Living in France, I would say it made it less easy (or at least, I assume). Without the opportunity to travel to any American conventions, I was not able to meet any publisher or even other artists. When I finally managed to present my work, thanks to a few artist friends already in the industry, they forwarded my folder to the right people. Around the same time, I had also done some fan art of the recently revealed Spider Gwen. This fan art received a good response, and some people working in the comic’s industry got in touch. It was pretty crazy, I went from having barely any work, to being rapidly booked full time! I’m very thankful.
RM: You seem to be THE artist when it comes to drawing younger, next generation heroes. Batgirl, Supergirl, Wolverine (formerly X-23), and Spider-Gwen are now all on your resume. What about your style lends itself so well to these characters?
Bengal: It is true, I work better with female figures, in general. I’m not sure why… I always try to have some elegance in my work, I’m not a big fan of anything vulgar, so I guess it’s only natural I’m portraying elegant women – or at least, trying to. One might suspect me of doing sexy stuff, but that’s really not my goal. I really like strong, sassy and elegant characters, and those you named above fit the description entirely, at least in my opinion. I also love to work on action scenes, that’s probably what I prefer when I do comics!
RM: Most people who are following you discovered you because the fantastic work you put in over with the Batgirl team at DC Comics. What did you enjoy most about working on that character?
Bengal: When I discovered the ‘new’ Batgirl, created by Brenden, Cameron & Babs, I immediately fell in love. Fresh, strong, modern, fairly in tune with her time, surrounded by other deep characters, set in a new environment (Burnside), and with a super cool new suit… What’s not to like? Of course it’s the suit I saw first, and I really liked it. When I was asked to do a variant cover, I was absolutely honored. When I was asked to try some pages, everything fell in place in my mind. The team trusted me with the script, trusted me to do my own narration, and I usually work best when I’m not ‘too directed’, when I can film my own way. And so, it worked well!
RM: Let’s talk about Adventures of Supergirl. Which was more intimidating? Working with Sterling Gates who was coming back to the character after a fantastic previous run or working with a character that millions are tuning in to see every week?
Bengal: Both! I knew she was a very high profile character and the recent tv series put her in the spotlight in a very big way. It also put Sterling in the spotlight, and I assume he was under pressure too! But he has a gift for Supergirl, he grasps the character so well, everything feels obvious when he writes the script. Again, it was a pleasure to work on those pages, because everything was crystal clear and nothing hindered my process.
RM: Is there any difference between the creative process of a digital book and a paper version?
Bengal: This was the first time I worked this way. But frankly, there was only one difference, pay attention to divide the pages into two. You have to be able to display one half at a time to fit the tablets’ horizontal screens. Aside from this obligation, which can be worked around with some proper thought put into the storyboard, I did everything as I always do. Same paper, same mechanical pencil, same inks, and same digital colors.
RM: You are one of the hardest working on people in comics right now it seems. You seem to at least be turning out at least one full interior and a different cover per month with no signs of taking a break. How do you work at such a pace and keep the art consistency so high?
Bengal: The pace has changed immensely in less than a year! At first, I did not want to refuse any work. After all, it was a big opportunity for me to work for the American market. It was fine at first, but I got offered more and more gigs, and I tried to take them all on. To be able to do it all (because, to be honest, I’m still very new, and SLOW, at inking), only one way, working many more hours every day! In the past few months, I’ve really only worked. But don’t get me wrong, I love it! I’ve been waiting for this for a long time, I wouldn’t dare slack now, right?
RM: So what is next for you? Where should we be looking for your work coming up?
Bengal: I’m in a transition phase at the moment, some projects are being developed, and I should be able to tell more soon!
Make sure to follow Bengal at @bengal_art to see all his amazing upcoming projects and make sure to visit your local comic shop to pick up some of his work on stands today!