Bobgar Ornelas is an artist that not only draws the ‘Apocalypse…Meh‘ comic hosted here on Osmosis Online (written by Jonathan Westhoff), he kicks it “old school,” producing his mini-comic “b-one,” which features his writing as well as his art.
His cartooning style is distinctive and expressive, and there’s nothing like good, independently produced comics to remind fans why sequential art is so awesome in the first place. While we wait for ‘Apocalypse…Meh’ to come back from temporary hiatus, we thought it’d be a fantastic idea to take a look at the man behind those decapitated heads in water coolers and goat-hoofed secretaries, and expose you to some of his other works as well.
Osmosis Online: To start — how many different comics projects have you drawn or are you currently drawing? Of course, I know ‘Apocalypse…Meh,’ and I read some issues of b-one (is that “bee one” or “bone”?). Anything else?
Bobgar Ornelas: It’s “bee one .” Well, ‘Apocalypse…Meh’ and ‘b-one’ are all that I’m currently drawing. I’m always up for more work, so I wouldn’t put it past me to start up another project. As for past projects, I self published a first volume of b-one (the current one is volume 2). I also used to do a weekly online strip that started out as a bonus feature on my old band’s website. It morphed into its own thing after a while, and I had a lot of fun doing it even years after the band stopped playing. I stopped drawing that when I started the current volume of b-one. I also will submit “fan art” to a few websites from time to time. It’s fun and it gives me an excuse to draw something new from time to time.
OO: Is ‘Apocalypse…Meh’ the first thing you’ve done the art for another person’s script?
Ornelas: No, ‘Apocalypse…Meh'” just happens to be the one with the biggest scope. I did a four pager written by Paul “Wheels” Ortiz a few years back. I always try to con my friends and acquaintances to write up a small story for me to draw with little results. Also, I’ve yet to succeed in getting a girlfriend to write me up a script. I love working with other people’s scripts, it frees me up to try new things without over thinking the writing.
OO: When did your interest in creating comics develop?
Ornelas: Oh wow, back in 1989 I bought my very first comic book at a 7-Eleven after school. I almost immediately quit playing video games and focused all my energy (and money) into comics. I always liked to draw, and now I had found a way to focus all that energy into sequential stories. Of course they were all terrible at the time, but I knew that I was basically in the training wheels phase of doing comics.
OO: What made you take the leap into self-publishing mini-comics?
Ornelas: A couple of things led me to mini-comics — one was pure comics snobbery and another was the DIY sensibilities of the hardcore punk scene. Yup, for a time I was a bit of a comics snob, praising only “indy” comix and not enjoying every aspect of the industry. I’ve done a lot of growing up since then, but I still love the aesthetics and process of a homegrown comic book. The DIY sensibilities came into play heavily when I was self-publishing a HxC zine called ‘Tough Guy.’ I reviewed shows, took pics, did interviews and printed them up on copy machines and passed them out at record stores and gigs. Around the same time I started printing up the first volume of ‘b-one’ comics, which lasted 3 issues.
OO: Do you have any particular influences on the art side? Writing side? Your slice-of-life stuff in ‘b-one’ had a sort of ‘Love and Rockets’ vibe (this is a good thing!), minus the magic realism of Los Bros Hernandez, perhaps. I also thought the humor was spot-on and very funny; sort of alternative absurdist in places (‘Creepazoid’) and insight/commentary on the American male in some sense.
Ornelas: Thanks, that’s nice of you to say. Sometimes I’m not confident that the subtle parts are being understood the way that I wish them to be. As for your question, I’m pretty much influenced by everything that I read or experience. Some of it is great and it helps me aspire to do better and some of it is terrible and I hopefully learn from other people’s mistakes. As for specifics art wise, I’d have to say Arthur Adams, Mike Mignola, and Ed Brubaker. And yes, Ed Brubaker influenced my artwork greatly as it’s because of him that I ink with a brush. Brubaker wrote and illustrated a book called ‘Lowlife,’ which he started out inking with a pen and then graduated to brush. The artwork had such a drastic change in richness and volume that I had no choice but to follow in his footsteps.
As for writing influences for the ‘Stonebrook Tales’ in ‘b-one.’ I have to say Ed Brubaker again with ‘Lowlife/Detour,’ Peter Bagge with ‘Hate,’ and Evan Dorkin with his Bummer Trilogy. That’s not to say that the Hernandez Bros. didn’t have a great influence on everything I do, I just think that it’s less so than the three that I cited writing wise. The Hernandez Bros influence me more in the look of the books and layouts. The main reason I sat on Stonebrook so long is that I didn’t want it to be written off as a Locas rip-off simply because of it having a familiar feel to it. Well, I’ve grown up a bit since then and since a lot of the Stonebrook Tales are inspired by my actual experiences growing up, I let go of all that baggage. Now if someone wants to compare my stories to anyone else’s I take it as a compliment, even if they didn’t mean it as such. I have a lot of stories to tell in Stonebrook, my only restriction is time to get them written and drawn.
OO: It’s funny, but through your frequent posting on some of the same message boards I visit, I really felt like I had/have an idea of who “Slurmo” was (beyond my assumption of being a big fan of Futurama). How do you see fandom developing in the internet age? How do you think you’ve been influenced by forum participation whereas guys a decade or two older than you may have been dealing strictly in fanzines and other non-online forums?
Ornelas: Fandom developing through the Internet is amazing. If it wasn’t for the Internet and forums I would have never met Jonathan Westhoff and started Apocalypse…Meh and I would have never even heard of Osmosis Online. It’s such an amazing resource to bring people and creators together. The comic book readers nowadays have so many options online and most of them are 100% free. It’s a great time to be a comics lover. Of course there’s a lot of negativity and abuse of these resources around, but that‘s a topic for a different day.
As for the fanzines of yesterday? I was around for the pre-internet fandom days and while I miss the physical printed fanzines, the smell of the paper and the act of physically tracking down something you love, I wouldn’t trade it for the online community. I like it the old school way but I wouldn’t have made as many friends or experienced as many books and creators without the Internet and especially podcasts. Even with all our complaining, it’s a good time for comics right now and I’ve never been more in love with comics than I am today.
For more of Bobgar’s stuff (including preview art of ‘b-one’ and links to his recently started podcast), check out: http://slurmo.blogspot.com/