Born and raised in Santiago, Chilean comic artist Gabriel Rodriguez began drawing at four and has since been on a voyage that has taken him all the way to Hollywood.
After a working independently on a few jobs in Chile, Rodriguez contacted IDW Publishing in California for a casting for the well known series Crime Scene Investigation (CSI). He worked for three years with IDW on various adaptation projects which included a comic from George Romero’s Land Of The Dead, Clive Barker’s novel The Great And Secret Show and Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf.
In 2008, Rodriguez hit the big time, starting work on the original Locke and Key project with Joe Hill, the son of the famous writer Stephen King. Hill was known for his short stories, but when contacted by IDW he turned out to be a huge comic book fan. The collaboration, Rodriguez first entirely original author project, was a hugely important project for him.
“The creative process flowed incredibly naturally”, said Rodriguez. “I received the script from the first issue as a reference to develop characters and locations for the story. Joe liked them a lot, so I got absolute freedom to develop the visual part, and then we started collaborating as co-creators of the Locke & Key Universe.”
The novel, Rodriguez says, is about several things simultaneously.
“On the surface, it’s about a family that inherits a mansion where there are keys and doors with magic powers. The family has to face and evil and a merciless enemy that wants a key that releases a secret, terrible power. But also the novel charts a family that struggles to overcome tragedy, a story of grief, family ties and the sometimes painful process of leaving your childhood behind and building your mature self.”
IDW described Rodriguez’ drawing style as ‘astounding.’ Despite his having exported his talents to America, he still feels a part of the Chilean comic scene. When asked what his influences were he of course refers to European Classics Tintin and Asterix. But he also says he was strongly influenced by Themo Lobo’s work in the Chilean comic series Mampato.
“It’s got wonderful drawings, but also manages strong storytelling abilities and an incredible management of emotional expression.”
Rodriguez is now settled with his family in Chile and feels no desire to move into the spotlight in America. He travels from time to time to visit shoot locations, and Hill, who has become a good friend.