WonderWomanGoddess (Mania.com)

By:Blazej Szpakowicz
Date: Sunday, July 09, 2006

Welcome to thelatest edition of the DCG Artist Spotlight!

Our victim today isRhonda, the one and only WonderWomanGoddess.

Comics2Film (C2F):When and how did you start doing photomanips?

WonderWomanGoddess (WWG):I had been a lifelong comic fan, and one of those 'wish I were' artists. WhatI really am is a writer, and loving comics, I started doing that tracingthing as a kid. I would write a story and then literally go through myhundreds of comics and trace over panels and piece together a 'comic' withmy own characters and plots. But I never could draw worth a damn, and neverhave been an artist, but as the counterpart (to me) to writing, in terms ofexpression, I have a profound love for art and artists. I foundphotomanipulation through David Moran akaMarrow2000.I found his website oneday and his Giselleas Rogue and was awestruck by it and his whole galleryof work. I was lead from his site to c2f and it just blew my mind. Iliterally sat there and went through every single page of the gallery, over200 pages at the time, in one sitting, right then. No sleeping, peeing, eating,nada. I was transfixed; I thought the whole idea was just about the coolestthing I'd ever seen. It reminded me, and still does, at its simplest, of tracingor paper dolls for adults. Right then, I had some personal tragedy and injuryto deal with and was stuck at home in a wheelchair, and comics2film and it'swonderful sense of community literally gave me a reason to get out of bed,wheel myself across the house and to the computerÉand check those boards! Atthe time, I only had paint and some kind of basic Microsoft editing software.I think the first stuff I posted here (long since taken down) were Wonder Womanand Superman manips done in Paint. Eventually I got a version of Adobe Photoshopand then began trying my hand and posting almost as bad versions of Wonder Womanand Superman manips, lol. I got a lot of help, support and positivefeedback/criticisms though, and eventually slowly started improving. And Imean slowly.

C2F:What software do you use?

WWG:Now I use Photoshop 6 and Poser 5, and I had and loved a wacom tablet butit had a little... accident. I also use my digital camera. I have Photoshop 7,but am too scared to try it. There is so much I am just now learning about PS 6!I only taught myself (through trial and error with both programs) and tookadvice from other DCGers; I never, ever looked at any books or tutorials...and therefore I just learned this year about the clone tool. I still don'tunderstand the pen tool. I am finally seeking tutorials. This is part of thevirtue of honest UIRs... In fact, for like two years I had this dark monitorproblem and ALL my submissions were suffering from problems I couldn't evensee. Finally Zac had the balls to call me on it and I was like..."whaat?" Heactually had to take my image, circle the parts with a paintbrush on his pcand send it back to me to show me the glaring black splotches. And I was like"I can't see it!" So I went and viewed my gallery on another pc and monitorand I was horrified! So to all you UIR types, honesty in UIRs is muchappreciated, and to you all being reviewed don't be hurt or sensitive aboutit... be glad! Everyone here is so good about helping people out and helpingthem grow, if you'll just ask and let them. And while I'm soapboxing, I thinkthe fact that most of us here have taught ourselves such complicated programsis really something to be proud of. I mean, takeBill [Turner], he's totallyself taught! And look at the amazing work he turns out! To be able to say Itaught myself, even if I am nowhere near that good, is something I'm stillproud of.

C2F:What is your favourite part of doing a manip?

WWG:When it's over! Ha, ha... ha. Seriously. Manips for me are supposed to bethese devices for procrastination, namely from writing, and they always endup being these huge, huge deals that take so much more time and energy than Iwanted to put in, and it really frustrates me more than anything I have everdone in my life because I don't excel at it. I excel at everything I do...but not photomanipulation (or art in general). I am never even half waysatisfied with the final product (though I try to be positive in art notes)and 'frustration' is the main emotion I experience with maniping. I just can'tmake what's in my head come out on the damn screen! But there are moments,when some element comes out, and I have no clue how I did it or how I gotthere but it's just perfect and then I just sit and stare at it... like, wow,I did that. So I suppose those 'oooh' moments when you surprise yourself...aside from when it's over!

C2F:What annoys you most about photomanipulations?

WWG:Oh. I rather covered that above didn't I? So about my own, the frustrationlevel. About the work of others, the same thing that bugs everyone else: lackof effort. I hate to see a piece that just screams how little effort the artistput in. I feel like saying... you are wasting valuable space in the DCG! Also,art notes bug me, or rather lack thereof. I really appreciate extensive artnotes, so I can learn from them, and understand where the artist was comingfrom, etc. Also, in my art notes I always explain if there were time constraintsor some reason why I gave up... and I would of course like to see that kindof explaining (if there were some kind of explanation) for said effortlesspieces. I could be more forgiving if there were art notes explaining the lackof effort, time, etc. Also... man I hate bad Wonder Woman manips. :P

C2F:What is your favourite of your own work?

WWG:I'd say Elektra byNight, my Daredevil Day piece. It's one of the only imageI've ever done that I consider 'perfect' in that I hit exactly what I was goingfor... that is what I saw in my head. And besides the huge amount of work I putinto it, I have no idea how I did it, lol. Also, there are some pieces I likefor a particular element, such as the Beast hair (on his head) in myX-mas inJuly pic for Marcelo [Gomes]; only head of hair I ever made from scratch that I thinkturned out pretty well. And some images I love for composition, or the idea,even though there are errors, or it's not the best work, such as myX-mas giftfor Biohaz with him as Bats, and especially myRedo: JudgmentPoster, becauseit's a perfect reflection of the character, and I really spent forever on thewords being burned into the cross and I REALLY took forever with those eyeeffects (I was working in a much bigger format so you can't see the detail atall.) It drives me nuts that there is this little glitch in that image... but I still love it.

C2F:What image would you consider your turning point as an artist?

WWG:Well, there are lots of little turning points; theBirthday Gift for Zac thathad him as Gambit, it was a real challenge for me at the time not only to agehim but to do the eye effect and not overdo it. That's also the first timeI merged people's faces to get something different, and I was very happy withhow that came out- I made Zac a man, ha ha! Then if you look at my two entriesfor the Alter Ego 2 theme day, which had the same base face pic, you canreally see a turning point with what I could do with makeup in theRavenpiece... But the biggest turning point would bePsylocke and Revanche. There'stons wrong with this image, but it was a turning point for me in my costuming,specifically, and also in my attention to detail, and willingness to investmore in an image, i.e. keep trying until I had something semi-decent. I reallyworked hard on this, spent hours and hours, and it laid the groundwork forElektra by Night. There was heavy use of the dodge and burn tool, first timeI used the liquefy tool, and a few of my first good wrinkles in there (whichyou can't see), and one of my only passable capes. Also, this is the firstpiece that I began to change faces a feature a time (went about it the wrongway though), which led to the 'blended' faces like on Elektra (which came outmuch better) and in some of my other pieces later, such as the Judgment Redoand also some you guys haven't seen yet... uh, still sitting on the computer.There is soooo much I am unhappy with on this image (jagged edges, too muchsmudge here or there, the armor, the cape is too saturated, among other things)but it still is nevertheless a major turning point.

C2F:If you had to redo one of your early images, which one would it be?

WWG:Well, you see I only have 3 pages of art work up now, because at one pointbandwidth was an issue and so Robbo asked everyone to delete the unnecessary.And so this really is like 30% of my work. I also have tons on my computerthat I never submitted (including a danger room sequence, betcha didn't knowI tackled that huh!?) because it just wasn't good enough or was too risqué orsimply offered nothing new to the gallery. But out of what is up there now...Dagger. Thisis such a great base image, great use of light, and I could dothe costume (edges!) so much better now. Also, this was one of the first imagesthat got me a positive response (a silver! For you oldies who know what thatmeans.)

C2F:What aspect of your work do you think sets it apart from the crowd?

WWG:Hmm, about my art, nothing but maybe a good eye for a base image. Aboutmy entries as they are, my long, long art notes that tell or summarizestories, such as my EvilWonder Woman recently, or myWanted Dead or Alivefor the Flunking History theme day. Perhaps my willingness to push theenvelope with regards to sex and violence, although the violence is harderto see because I don't submit a lot of those... hmm, I don't submit quite abit based on sexual context either soooo... I'm kinky? lol. Yes, that's myfinal answer, Alex, the kink factor is what sets me apart. ;)

C2F:What do you think is your strongest asset as an artist?

WWG:The kink factor? lol. Seriously, the willingness to push the envelope. Whetherin art or writing, that is what always will set you apart. I'm not sure how wellthis is reflected in my gallery currently however... hmm, better get back tomanipping more than twice a year!

C2F:What do you wish you could do in a manip, but can't?

WWG:Everything! I'd like to learn the mysterious 'pen tool' and I am reallyconsciously trying to do two things with the piece I'm working on now, whichis a Judgment piece. I am trying to work on lighting and reflection, and thiswill be my first image in the DCG with NO web images. That's right, no copyrightedmaterial, every single thing either created by me or from photos taken by me. Iwould love to eliminate the base image hunt... you guys know what I am talkingabout. Talk about wasted hours!

C2F:Who are some of your favourite DCG artists?

WWG:Artists are so hard, because there are just too many great ones to name.Marrowof course drew me here in the first place,Billhas wowed me again and again, I loveMiss Jellybrain's work,Zac hasevolved in to this master artist... but I truly have a soft spot forEssex.His work provokes emotionin me like no one else's does; it's like a mirror for my soul. If I were anartist, and could express what I felt in that way, what he does is nearlyexactly what I would do. But aside from artists, really, there are certainpieces that just speak to you. The list for me isDark Phoenix by Essex(his Typhoid isa close second),Magdalena by matrixblur,Goodbye Lover by StatXero,Reborn from the Flames by Zac,and almost all of the gifts peoplehave given me over the years. One of my favorites (of manips with me in them)wasn't even for me; it was Bill Turner'spiece for Robbo day, with me as Jeanin the X-poster. I just loved getting to be in a poster with Rob (half Rob),Adam and Zac, and it was flawless, per Bill's usual. I still love showing peoplethat piece and it always gets a Wow!

C2F:How about your favourite mainstream and professional comic bookartists?

WWG:Michelangelo rates right up there (why doesn't anyone ever say him?) as doesDa Vinci, and of course, Van Gogh, Dali, and H.R. Geiger. I also like theclassic fantasy artists like Boris Vallejo, Julie Bell and Luis Royo. Comicbooks: Bill Sienkiewicz, Jae Lee, Dave McKean, Jim Lee, and John Romita Jr.There's more but you get the idea... especially from the first three...that I like artists that find their own boundaries and aren't afraid toexperiment and evolve, even in a commercial industry. I like the dark,the surreal, and yet also the classic- they are 'classic' for a reason.

C2F:What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?

WWG:The other artists of the DCG, to a great degree, inspire me the most. Also,my favorite comic story lines; and perhaps mostly my own storylines, withboth my favorite characters from mainstream comics, and my own characters.My favorite reason to do a manip goes like this- I'm writing, I get stuck,decide to do an 'art' piece in the vein of what I am writing, spend countlesshours on said art, all the while thinking about storylines, directions,dialogue, 'speed bumps' in my plot... and in the best case I finish and amahead on the writing as well. Usually... I finally finish and I am right whereI was. Magazine advertisements often inspire me for some reason, but most of myideas come from my own head, I just have a hard time bringing them to light,as imagined or conceived in my head anyway.

C2F:What was your favourite theme day?

WWG:I've loved so many of them, but Thom's Alter Ego theme day takes the cake onthis one, since it was my inspiration for creating Judgment, which is myown character, and has been my main writing project now for... oh three,four years? Yes, I'm almost done, finally. There have been other characterscreated while I've been here (some out of theme days here as well and somenot.) Of course I love the gift exchanges, the collaborations, etc. Iloved the Flunking History theme, and the Gods and Goddess' theme, and manymore. The recent Switch theme day was great and of course, Halloween is myFAVORITE theme every year! :D

C2F:Any advice for aspiring artists?

WWG:Try. Have fun with it. Start with a kick ass base image, you'll be gladyou did. Alternatively, learn a modeling program, like Poser or somethingsimilar. Ask for help. Read your UIRs. Check out the Art School here atc2f. Try.

C2F:You're obviously a fan of Wonder Woman. (Thus the moniker, natch.)What is it about the character that appeals to you?

WWG:Oh, you want me to fit this in like a paragraph?! As I say all the time,she was created to be a feminist icon, and has remained one, all theseyears. She stands shoulder to shoulder with Superman and Batman, withoutblinking an eye. Of DC's best known to the average public female characters,Wonder Woman is the only one not a rip off of a male character (Supergirl,Batgril). Maybe that's why she got the 'woman' as did Catwoman, DC's onlyother longstanding, widely known original female character. And they hadto make her a villain, didn't they? Besides that, her feminist backgroundis credited to Frank Miller's rewrite of her history (Catwoman), and so sheis modern, while Wonder Woman has sixty years of being an unabashed feministicon, who is portrayed as good. Marvel of the fainting girlfriend 'superwomen'certainly have nothing in her class, with her history. I also love that WonderWoman, like Superman, is basically a Goddess... a representation of humanityand its highest, loftiest aspirations... truth, honesty, justice, strength,compassion. Love and Forgiveness. And she, like we, must walk that fine linebetween being a warrior and being a pacifist... to save our worlds.

WWG:On a side note, even though you didn't ask, my favorite Wonder Woman manips areWonder Woman byMarrow2000 and Mini Andenas Wonder Woman by Android, for two completely different reasons.

C2F:Besides WW, who are your favourite comic book characters?

WWG:Catwoman, as written by Miller... the ultimate victim turned victimizer. She'sa very dark feminist icon, which is fitting, given the last how many thousandyears of patriarchal suppression? Jean Grey/Phoenix is also a favorite becauseof her transformation from insecure wallflower to the most powerful beings inexistence (in the first saga) or one of the most powerful mutants on theplanet, much less within her team (in the later X-Men). Storm is also afavorite, because I never felt, for the most part, that she was handled asa 'token female black character'. Storm has had excellent character developmentover the years, and her leading the team, her regal presence... it all appealsto me and is something I'm happy with from a social perspective. And Rogue...I just love her. Call it a southern thing. Or maybe I just love a sexy sharptongue on a woman that can punch through a sentinel. Besides women characters,I also love Wolverine, Batman, Superman, Punisher and sometimes Gambit...depending on how he's written. Oh, and can't forget Rorschach and Dream.

C2F:Okay, here's the BIG question: Marvel or DC?

WWG:Vertigo? Does that count as DC? Well, it's a hard call because I love theX-men and the Punisher... but I love DC's big three and the JLA... So Iguess I have to go DC since Wonder Woman is my all time favorite, butI must say DC has much weaker second string characters than Marvel does.As a universe, Marvel is better written, but DC is still my favoritefor certain key characters.

C2F:You've been a member of C2F for quite some time. Do you have anythoughts about how the site and the DCG community have developed in that time,and where they should be headed?

WWG:Watching this site develop into something magical, and being a part of that,has been one of the best experiences and I can't say enough about how much love Ihave for this community as a whole. I think as artists of any form, we seekout creative 'brotherhood' so to speak. We seek nurturing environments andothers like us that allow us to grow and encourage us to expand not only ourabilities but our awareness. But that's hard to find, and harder to keepafloat. Under the leadership of Rob Worley, something special and extraordinaryhappened here and diverse, amazing people from around the world came togetherand grew together and created something unique and amazing. I'm so proudof many of our members and what they have done with themselves and how theyhave evolved as artists, writers and just as people over the years. I'm alsoquite pleased with what's come out of me creatively over the years, which wascertainly fed by this site, when not directly inspired by it. I also look atsome of the 'newer' (by my ancient standards) people and how much wonderfulcreativity and effort they have poured into the site to keep it going (you, B,and Dan spring to mind) and I look forward to seeing the contributions anddirections of our newest members as well.

WWG:So do I sound like a cultist yet?

C2F:Finally, what is the single best thing about C2F and the DCG?

WWG:Kev's Parties? Lol... In keeping with what I said above, not only is a creativecommunity quite like this one rare, but I feel c2f steps above even that a notch.The internet is full of nastiness, hatred, flame wars and intolerance, buthere at c2f you find so much understanding, compassion, and kindness. This siteis like an oasis in a desert... here we help each other out, we care aboutone another, and we all, from Mods to members, work hard at keeping this placewhat it is... a family. Comics2Film is as much my home as this apartment Iam sitting it and I have met people here that I truly love and care for andwould not trade for the world. To me, Comics2film transcends mere 'website'and really is an amazingly close knit family; something that's hard to get in the 'real' world, much less out here in cyberspace. Some of us come and go,and some remain deeply entrenched, but we all come back here, and we all takeit with us and spread about this wonderful little kernel of something notquite nameable that is the heart and soul of c2f, and is so much more thana mere news site, or gallery, etc. So either that, or we are all trashyrelatives bumming on Rob and eating his food and sleeping on his couch. Youknow, whichever.

Now I sound like a cultist... but uh, just drink the punch and shut up!

For more of Rhonda's art,check out her DCGgallery.

Interviewer:Blazej Szpakowicz