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Age of Perez Interview with Josh Perez

Colorist and artist Josh Perez has been one of the mainstay colorists for the Transformers comics for nearly a decade. During that time he has worked on multiple Transformers titles for both IDW and Dreamwave. Outside of his Transformers work, Perez has colored such titles as Godzilla, A-Team, and Fathom to name a few. In 2013, Perez showcase his artwork on Bravoman for UDON. A fan favorite at both BotCon and TFcon, Josh Perez is a fan living the dream. CBNAH staff writer Panagiotis Drakopoulos interviewed Josh Perez to talk about growing up a Transformer fan, working for Dreamwave and more.

CBNAH: Did you watch the first episode of Gaming Well Wasted with Daniel and Wendel?

Josh Perez: Yes, I did watch that.

CBNAH: The main title card was weird because Wendel doesn't have hair in the card and then when watch him on-screen he has hair. 

JP: (Laughs). I did the title card and the images I used were images I had from previous cons and I noticed that too. I'm actually thinking about maybe doing a quick fix on that. Maybe that could be a gag with Wendel's hair.


CBNAH: How did you get into drawing and coloring?

JP: Getting into drawing was something I did as a kid, when me and my brothers were very young. We watched the old 80's line-up of Transformers and He-Man. We would always bother our mom to draw the characters for us. I'm not one hundred percent sure exactly why we would but once the show ended you wanted more. I think the need to draw kinda of grew out of that. I'm sure we were drawing ever since we put crayon to wall. We wanted to do it ourselves and stop pestering our mom. I have a twin brother and he's always kind of better at me in drawing. That was more of my push, was watching how good he was and then wanting to catch up to that.

CBNAH: What were your first impressions of Transformers and G.I. Joe?

JP: With G.I. Joe, I had Joe toys. For the life of me I couldn't remember any of their names, but I remember one of them was a journalist or something. I think in the episode he was a spy and had a green and yellow outfit. I remember that being my first Joe toy, um--

CBNAH: Was that the Rivera parody character?

JP: No, no. It was -- I know who you're talking about. But you know, maybe it was, but I don't know. I think I know who you're talking about, the one who has been in Jem and Transformers.

CBNAH: Pretty much in all of the Hasbro shows.

JP: No, it wasn't him, it was an actual character who was a spy on the Joe team but I could be completely wrong. (Editor's Note: We're referencing Hector Ramirez. A character that has pretty much appeared in Jem, Transformers, G.I. Joe and Inhumanoids. But he's not the character that Josh is referring to.) G.I. Joe has always been in the background, I loved the vehicles in G.I. Joe. I don't remember actually owning any of the really big ones, I had a couple of the flat ones but that's kind of what Transformers did because I love the vehicles in Transformers but they were robots, I didn't really have that much... I think I liked Joe a little bit because my dad was in the military and that kind of connection I had with it, but beyond that G.I. Joe was the other show that wasn't Transformers. Transformers I gravitated to very heavily. I don't remember how early it was that I started watching it, I was born in '83, so a lot of Transformers that I could remember started after the movie. I loved Bumblebee, obviously he was the bright yellow kid appeal character, so that kind of hit me hard. He was also the smallest Transformer and I've always been a short guy. So I always tend to gravitate towards short characters and I like the idea of  a character that "Hey, I'm small but I can also be cool too. " He wasn't quite the Wolverine of the group, but I like Transformers a lot and Bumblebee was kinda one of those guys that influence me to do some pretty crappy things.

CBNAH: Art wise who were your main influences?

JP: The list is constantly added to, right now Sarah Stone. She was the artist on Transformers: Windblade and I vaguely knew of her stuff before she came to Windblade but once Windblade hit, I'm finding myself really inspired by the stuff that she's doing. My longtime friend Alex Milne is a strong influence in what I do because he has a nice technical grasp of anything he draws Transformer wise is amazing. There's a Japanese artist Naoto Tsushima, I like his stuff, he's done a lot of Transformers the cool stuff and for the collectors' club. Growing up, a lot of American comic artists like Joe Madureira, Jim Lee, Transformers artists like Geoff Senior and Andrew Wildman. A lot of those guys, Transformers was a strong influence -- Japanese animation more but I couldn't  name the artists that influence me without a list. 


CBNAH: What was the best advice you got about art?

JP: It wasn't technically advice but it was something that happened. It was in high school, every kid draws comics or wants to draw stylize and you have to get the basics down. I had an art teacher and I remember we were doing live drawings and I was just not sticking to what we're suppose to do. It wasn't me trying to be a jerk, it was the only way I knew how to draw. I wasn't quite scolded on it but I was just told that I couldn't draw comics style and have to draw real life, this was early on in high school. It's such a small thing but it really punched me in the face because I realize that I was getting  all of my know-how from looking at comics and seeing what they were doing there and not looking at real life seeing how things work. It kind of taught me that stylization is fantastic but you have to know the basics of anatomy and how things work in real life before you can start stylizing it. 

CBNAH: Was your first published work the Transformers: Energon series from Dreamwave?

JP: It was actually Dreamwave's More than Meets the Eye series, it was like a profile book. It was issue seven, I think it was, it had Wheeljack and Terrorcons and those were my first printed work.

CBNAH: How did it feel to have first your work publish?

JP: When I first got the job to color those profile pieces, my family was kind of excited when it came out to print. I think they went a little too excited when they went out and bought every copy that the comic book store had. Now is the same thing, they get very excited when my work comes out. I don't live in Texas near my family anymore. So I can't say "Hey, I got some comps if you want." They're genuinely very excited -- my twin brother has been really excited because he's a lot closer to me on a scale of nerdiness. Whenever he sees something of my work, he's very excited about it and it makes me happy.

CBNAH: Speaking about Dreamwave, you know I'm going to ask this question. Can you tell us the work environment of Dreamwave and working for Pat Lee?

JP: In all honesty, at the time working at Dreamwave was really no different than it is working now with IDW. The only difference is that Dreamwave instead of  having an editor -- with publishers like IDW, you have an editor and the creative team. With Dreamwave you had an editor, a project manger or director and an art director. A lot of edits would come through those two and not so much from the editor. But the project manger or director a lot of times you would communicate through MSN. It was pretty fun and relaxing, they tended to have multiple colorists on a book, so I would do about six to eight pages. Aside from the whole pay issue, it was really not bad.

CBNAH: I heard different stories about Pat, ranging from him keeping his expensive car to living in Hong Kong.

JP: I certainly didn't like Dreamwave's practices but in all honesty if I ever meet Pat Lee I like to have a drink with him. I wouldn't grill him or anything like that. But I would love to just chat about Dreamwave because Dreamwave did a lot of really good things for Transformers.

CBNAH: How did you wind-up at IDW?

JP: When they were doing their profile book series, I guess a lot of line art was coming in and they needed it to get it colored fast. My friend Espen was already working with them. The story I'm told is Espen threw my name in the hat and said "Hey, this guy is good with colors too." And they just sent work my way, which pretty much what happened. The work I gave them for More than Meets the Eye profile wasn't really that impressive. So when they did a series for Armada that was pretty much the same idea. I think Espen had to really push my name in there to do some more work. I guess after that I impressive them enough that I started to get more work.

CBNAH: What's it like to work on the Transformers franchise?

JP: It's really amazing. By default when I go to places like a Target or Wal Mart, I gravitate to the toy section and just look at or buy some Transformers. It's different now, you look at a toy -- whenever you have a character that you worked on the comics, you don't look at them so much as a toy. Now you look at them as a character. For me I look at them and I'm seeing all the places I have to pay attention when I color. They become more reference material than toys for me. But it's fantastic. I've been with the brand for a decade now. It's interesting to see where a franchise goes in a decade. When I started it was Armada and they were a lot of fun. I still stand by the fact that I think Armada is the best Transformers toy line we had, just on playability. When you flashforward now and there's so many characters that I never thought I would see in toy form. I never thought I'd see Bumblebee on the shelves so much and for me having that connection with Bumblebee and Transformers makes it just really exciting. I know a lot of people wanna blow stores up when they see a lot of Bumblebee and stuff on the shelves. But for me it's really nice to see the little guy on the shelves after such a long hiatus. 


CBNAH: You did a one-shot A-Team comic at IDW, how did you get attach to the project?

JP: There was a huge work slowdown and I think I emailed them and said "Hey, you guys got anything new for me to work on?" Because I had nothing. And I think they were like "Hey, we've got this A-Team story if you want to work on." I said, "Yes." I thought I was going to do more of the movie book but more work came in immediately after that.  

CBNAH: You also did some Godzilla work at IDW. How did you get involved with these Godzilla projects?

JP: When my friend Matt Frank, who does a lot of the art for the Godzilla books now. He had met me at a convention, I think it was Wizard World Austin. They had this big thing they were doing with the Godzilla books where they would draw Godzilla stomping on different comic book stores who would buy these comic book stores exclusive covers. We talked a little bit at Wizard World Austin and he kept my name in his head. I think I did a couple of print colors or commission colors for him before this. He was very kind enough to threw my name in the hat to do the cover colors for the retailers incentive covers. From there he just like what I did, when he started to working on Godzilla he was like "Hey, would you like to come over here and help me with this book?" I was hundred percent for it. It was a lot of fun, I'm not really a big Godzilla fan. I used to love Mechagodzilla a lot as a kid when Trendmasters did a small Godzilla toy line. I've never really been one hundred percent Godzilla. I'm excited to work with Godzilla but it's not the same rush as I get with Transformers.   

CBNAH: What's your thoughts on the new Transformers film?

JP: I one hundred percent appreciate what the movie does for the franchise. A lot of people watch the movies regardless if their good or bad, their pretty bad.

CBNAH: I'm really excited about Transformers 4 because it's going insane with all of the Dinobots and Optimus carrying around a massive sword like something out of the manga series Berserk.

JP: Don't get me wrong, there's one thing Bay movies can do for me it's that they get me excited to see this Bay movie when it comes to the Transformers. After Transformers 2, in all honesty I was done and not watching these movies anymore. Then the trailer for the third film came out and I was like "This looks really fucking good, I'm going to watch it." Good as in eye candy action sense like fast food. In Transformers 4 I wanna see how the Dinobots factor in this and are they even going to be called "Dinobots." I wanna see how Bumblebee goes from being this beyond the run to his upgrade mode and where Prime goes from looking like classic Prime to going to where he is now. I'm very interested in the story of Transformers 4. It's suppose to set up a new trilogy, I want that and do hope that focus is pulled away from being Prime. I would like to see a focus on new characters. 

CBNAH: I'm more interested in seeing Mark Wahlberg as the main lead instead of Shia LaBeouf. Shia's character -- The first film, was a good film but after that, his character was just annoying to no end and pretty much was unlikable for the rest of the series. 

JP: What annoyed me about Sam Witwicky is that he had no character development. Every movie he was the same character. He was a person who didn't know where he wanted to be in life and at the end of the movie he figured out where he wanted to be in life. Rinse and repeat when the next movie started. It's frustrating. It's the same with Bumblebee. I love Bumblebee but in the movies he does things that are maybe exciting but he doesn't do anything as a character. That can be said for everyone -- The only characters that really had development were the Decepticons. Megatron was the only one -- When Megatron was killed in the third movie, I felt bad for him because he actually had more of a reason to do what he was doing than anyone else. Everyone else was just killing people because they were angry really. That's over oversimplifying it but that's how it felt.


CBNAH: Can you tell us about Bravoman?

JP: Yes! Bravoman is an old arcade in TurboGrafx-16 video game that starred Bravoman. He's actually kind of like a lampoon on a lot of what was big in superheroes and protagonists in games and television. He's got a lot of Kamen Rider and Mega Man in him. Some time ago, ShiftyLook, apart of Namco Bandai Games decided they wanted to do a book and did it through UDON. They wanted to start making the IP a little bit well known. Taking all of their obscure games that they had and they wanted to push them into the public. We did Bravoman, Matt Moylan, Dax Gordine and myself were placed on the book. It was originally Matt and Dax at first, but once the strip count increased from one to three per week. Matt contacted me and said "If you can do a good job coloring the way that Dax colors, you can totally be on this book." I guess what I did madethem happy. So, they put me on the book and that's Bravoman. It was a really, really fun book to work on because I got to do a lot of stuff with Bravoman, I never got the chance to do with Transformers. 

CBNAH: You worked on the Mars Attacks: The Transformers crossover event. Can you take us throught the process of you coloring that issue.

JP: Mars Attacks: Transformers was very much set inside the G1 cartoon. A lot of my palette itself was drawn from the cartoon like all of the reds -- Normally when I work on Transformer books I very much every person gets their own individual colors. For example, Bumblebee's yellow will be different from Sunstreaker's yellow and Prime's red will be different from Ironhide's red. But in the cartoon universe a lot of times everyone shares colors so that's... A lot of the palette is brighter and very shared because I'm not trying to give everyone their own unique colors. I wanted everything to bright and cartoony. The martians kind of -- First off, I love Mars Attack ever since I remember seeing a couple of friends with the cards. I think it was elementary school, those cards were very gruesome and gory and when you're a kid something like that is frightening and exciting at the same time. It's always kind of been in my head to work with the franchises is really fun. The martians though have a lot more detail in them, there's a lot of airbrushing in their brains because it's suppose to be like a gradient color usually like a pink, almost like a stale zombie flesh color. The martians were fun but there was a lot of stuff that I had to get around because it didn't look cartoony to me. But in the end, everything worked out well.         

CBNAH: What's your con schedule like for this year?

JP: So far I'm planning on going to Botcon in Pasadena and TFcon in Canada. It all depends on how much work and how I stand financially on each one.

CBNAH: What advice do you have for upcoming artists and writers?

JP: I wouldn't know so much about writers, but as for artists you gotta grow thick-skinned. A lot of what I did early in colors was really bad and a lot of people in forums and editors aren't afraid to tell you that. They have to, you have to take that criticism and work with it. You can't be offended by it, and a lot of people get offended if you offer a suggestion on their work, and then there's the usual you gotta keep doing what you want to do. You have to invest a lot of time and keep on practicing, so that way you can evolve and get better.

CBNAH: Any more appearances on the Canadian Slag podcast?

JP: I hope so. I love going on Canadian Slag. All of the Slag team are pretty much my favorite people because they're just swell people, especially Wendel  :).

CBNAH: Finish this sentence – Comic Book Nerds are Hot because…

JP: Hopefully their are a lot more open-minded than other people.

Check out:
Josh Perez on deviantART, and Youtube.

Special thanks to Wendel James.


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