We had a chance to sit down with Romano Molenaar, the concept artist of Gun Commando, PlayStation Network’s first mobile FPS game. Molenaar is a man of many trades–he has an impressive comic book resume, including Birds of Prey (my personal favorite of his), and has just dipped his toes into the game development world with Gun Commando.
I heard just how awesome the game is, and greatly enjoyed the game’s design, so we just had to chat up Romano Molenaar about his work in the gaming world and the world of comic books. The interview is as follows:
Bold: Robert Bernstein, Interviewer
Plain: Romano Molenaar, Concept Artist/Comic Book Artist
Will you be attending any comic book conventions this year?
I will, although most of them are in the European area; be in Germany a few times, France and Belgium, of course the Netherlands too. Hopefully visiting the US soon.
What’s next for Romano Molenaar on the gaming side of things?
Well, next to my comic career I co-own a visual studio, Artking studio, where we create games and visual content for 3rd parties and invest in game ideas if we think they are interesting and visually appealing for us to work on. We do the whole 9 yards. From sketches, storyboarding, to visual effects and 3D modeling, animations and marketing illustrations, everything.
Anything else in the works in the world of comics, aside from Birds of Prey?
At this moment I am working on Birds of Prey solely due to time constraints with other work, like the studio. Also working on an online webshop for publishing my own artbooks and tutorial books; which fits in the middle of comics and games. I do occasionally do some cover work for different studios which is very cool.
In your experience/opinion, what video game has the most impressive artwork?
I think that you cannot say, “this game has the best art for the game.” It needs to fit the game. Create the visuals in a way that it doesn’t collide with the game play and story; you can have the coolest game idea presented to you, but if you mess it up visually it will not work and vice versa of course. So my answer would be, a lot of games have managed to get to that point where the gameplay and visual atmosphere are in sync; whether it is an iPad game or triple A game.
You’ve got one of the coolest careers in the world, in which you create art for both comic books and video games. Do you have a preference between the two; do you tend to favor one over the other?
That is a question I get a lot and yes I have been lucky enough to work in both areas. Although it is not all luck of course. It is plain hard work. Both games and comics have their own charm. With a comic you can direct the reader more and build in a peak moment if the storyline allows that; you can lean on the script and take the reader with you. Where in games the player in this case can (not always) make his or her own decision. Which makes the *direction* part a little more difficult.
In comics there’s only 3 artists (the penciller, the inker and the colorist) who create the characters and scenes and the composition; for a game you need a modeler, animator, level modeler and texture artist and a whole tech team and sound team to create the total atmosphere and the feel and dynamics of a game; which is also a very interesting part of making a game. I would prefer comics since I have been drawing them for 16 years now. But again, making games or game art is also a very cool medium.
You have quite an extensive resumé under your belt, including Grimm Fairy Tales, Detective Comics and Birds of Prey. What has been your personal favorite project so far; your precious darling, if you will?
Thanks, don’t forget Tomb Raider, Witchblade, The Darkness and also X-men. I must admit, working on a Batman title and being a part of the Batman group is a dream come true. Although it is one comic I did, it felt like climbing a huge mountain and getting to the top after some heavy rain and storm. Now that I am there I am already looking around for more. I would love to do a Superman comic too. So who knows, I’ll just keep working at DC and maybe some issue comes up where I get the *GO* signal and go and do my thing. HaHa
I am a huge Image Comics fan. You’ve done work under them in the past, anything coming from them in the future?
Yes, like I mentioned before, I did a lot of freelance work for Top Cow which was also a studio I wanted to work for when I started out. At this point there is no plan to work for Image Comics, but you never know. I mean, a Darkness special? Sure
Who is your favorite comic book character of all time?
I like The Darkness very much, Batman and Wolverine too; so I guess they can battle that one out for me.
If you wanted to send me an autographed copy of Birds of Prey #0, I wouldn’t object. Not a question, just a fact!
Let me see if I have one here at the studio. If I do I will send it to you!
A battle royale between The Darkness, Batman and Wolverine sounds like a great new crossover book. Mr. Molenaar, quick, draw up the concept art!
Gun Commando is an old school first person shooter that is reminiscent of Duke Nukem. It was visualized by comic book legend Romano Molenaar, and features a unique weaponry upgrade system that rewards players for skill and accuracy. The game is available only on the PlayStation Vita and certified PlayStation Mobile devices for the super low price of $2.49.
We will be giving away AWESOME concept artwork from Romano Molenaar in the very near future via our facebook page. So, stay tuned!!!