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Thursday, September 28, 2023

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Student draws path to success


Over the next six months, a UH student will contribute illustrations to Astonishing Tales, a 40-page, six-issue, Marvel Comics anthology.

‘It’s a comic artist’s dream to get picked up by one of the big name comic companies,’ art education senior, Nick Pitarra, said.

Last semester, Pitarra drew the comic ‘Bipolar Bear’ for The Daily Cougar.

Marvel Comics published the first issue of his debut project Wednesday.

He said his interest in comics evolved naturally from his childhood obsession with action figures.

‘I got to an odd age when it just didn’t seem OK to be playing with toy characters. Now, instead of playing with Superman, I draw a complete story with Superman in it,’ Pitarra said. ‘I learned to use drawing as an extension of the enjoyment that I used to get from playing in childhood.’

In his line of work, Pitarra said it pays not to have done away with childish things.

‘You have to be a kid at heart.’ We’re all a bunch of big kids.’

His artwork in the story MOJOWORLD will make him the first UH student to be featured in a professional Marvel production.

In the story, heroes Cannonball and Sunspot battle the evil alien Mojo, the leader of Mojoworld, who is obsessed with TV ratings. Cannonball and Sunspot are forced to save themselves during a writers strike by writing movies that star Marvel superheroes.

Pitarra said getting his foot in the door didn’t happen overnight. He persistently attended conferences and entered contests to gain exposure.

He was a finalist in the 2006 Wildstorm contest, and though he didn’t win, he said networking at various events has been a key to getting off the ground as a freelance illustrator.

‘I lost. Even so, Marvel saw my work and hired me’, Pitarra said. ‘I think, more than anything, I’ve learned that you have to keep putting yourself out there. I’ve been really aggressive about connecting with the comic book community, and it is what has helped me the most.’

Pitarra said his ‘detailed, humorous pieces’ are sure to get an instant reaction, but they tend to be harder to match-up with typical comic book storylines. Still, he wasn’t easily discouraged by his early pitfalls.

‘When you first start doing independent work, you have to keep practicing,’ Pitarra said. ‘Even if you are not that great yet, you have to keep promoting yourself. As you get better, you make more connections.’

Connections, he said, can translate into new projects and bigger opportunities.

Now that MOJOWORD has hit the stands, Pitarra said he hopes other editors will notice ‘even just a little bit of talent’ and offer him work.

‘There is nothing that is going to stop me from drawing. I don’t have to be commissioned by Marvel or DC Comics to feel happy about my career,’ Pitarra said. ‘I am doing something that I enjoy.’


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