Back in January I interviewed fantasy artist David M Rabbitte, known for his Star Wars and Lord of the Rings art, as well as the magnificent background vistas seen in such animated films as Anastasia and Titan A.E.
I caught up with David after his return from ComicCon 2013 in San Diego…
Mark Knight: David, you attended ComicCon in San Diego recently. This has not been your first ComicCon. How many years have you been attending and what is your routine as a guest artist?
David Rabbitte: I have been attending Comic Con since 1996 as an attendee and I have been set up in Artists’ Alley since 2008. I would typically have a table where I would sell my printed art and do on site commissions upon request from attendees.
Mark Knight: Part of your display was the artwork you completed for my upcoming teen novel, Solomon Grimm and the Well of Souls. Talk about some of the other book cover commissions you have done and the challenges they presented.
David Rabbitte: I have worked with both independent authors and established publishers. The art direction varies with each publisher. My first professionally published book was for Marvel/Byron Preiss Books around 2001, when I was asked to produce three covers for the X-Men novel trilogy X-Men: The Legacy Quest. They went through a series of changes as instructed by the art director and Marvel, which sometimes included reworking the layout before going to color.
On another occasion I did a cover piece for Muppet Peter Pan published by Boom! Studios, for which the art direction was pretty straight forward with almost no changes. I sent them a few sketches as ideas for the cover, and the picked the one they liked. I went on to color and it was approved.
With independent authors the cover is of characters and a story which is invented by them, so I would ask for any information that would help in bringing their ideas to life. Occasionally they would provide me some photo reference to help me visualize what they are trying to convey.
Mark Knight: You have done sketch cards for both the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings franchises, which have proven very popular with collectors. Why do you think these two fantasies continue to endure?
David Rabbitte: Lord of the Rings is just an amazing story populated with wonderful characters. Tolkien didn’t just write a story – he created the world of Middle Earth in such depth you can almost believe it actually existed.
Star Wars is so unlike other science fiction films because it really isn’t sci-fi at all, it’s a fairy tale set in space. It is a story which contains those ideas which stand the test of time. Up until the release of the original film, we had not seen a movie of this genre done in such a unique way that was also believable.
Mark Knight: Lastly, what is your current project?
David Rabbitte: I just finished working on some sketch cards for Topps for their Star Wars Galactic Files series 2. Right now I am working on another exciting card set for a different company, but I can’t share anything about it yet – keep an eye out for news on my website though, as I will be posting more about that in the coming months!