BUFFY The Vampire Slayer (DarkHorse)
SCORPION KING (DarkHorse)
BIRDS OF PREY (DC Comics)
Action Comics (DC)
Sequential Tart: How did you discover comic books?
Cliff Richards: I've read comics for as long as I can remember. My uncles used to read Superman, Batman, Flash Gordon, Spider-Man, Captain America, and many others.
ST: What stood out about comics that made you want to be a part of them?
CR: The drawings. That's what caught my attention and got me into comics.
Big John Buscema, Alex Raymond, John Romita Sr., and all the other great masters.
ST: When did you decide you wanted to be a comics "creator"?
CR: When I got my first pencil, I started to practice drawing panels, imagining stories and trying to tell them in sequences.
How did you decide to become an artist?
I love to draw. This is my life. My parents motivated me when they realized that. They put me in art schools, but it wasn't enough, I needed to learn more about comics, and the classes couldn't provide what I wanted. So I left all the schools and started learning by myself.
ST: What was the most valuable art "lesson" you ever learned?
CR: Those schematic dolls that you use with art lessons, they helped me a lot with drawing dynamics.
ST: What was your big comic "break"? Who helped you land your first job?
CR: Angel Heat. David Campiti and Howard Feltman appreciated my skills and decided to use me for the book, but unfortunately it didn't sell.
Right after that Dave asked me to do samples for a certain Vampire Slayer.
ST: What did you do before becoming a part of the Dark Horse team?
CR: I did illustrations for educational books, magazines such as Playboy, and tons of cards.
ST: Besides Buffy The Vampire Slayer, what other projects have you worked on?
CR: I drew a tale for a Star Wars book, an issue of Ghost, and two issues of a book that you'll see soon called Scorpion King.
ST: How did you get assigned to Buffy?
CR: Scott Allie, editor of the Buffy books, was looking for somebody to do a mini-series starring Angel and Cordelia, so he asked Dave Campiti.
Dave asked me to do some samples for that, and it worked so well that now I'm the regular artist on Buffy.
ST: What did you know of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe before you began working on the comics series?
CR: I was already a fan of the TV show before I knew the comic book, so I've been familiar with the Slayer world for a long time.
ST: What do you like best about the TV series? The comics?
CR: I like the way the show mixes terror and comedy, the effects they do to create horrible monsters, and the focus on each character showing us their particular personalities. In the comics, I like the way the writers have to translate all of those things to a completely different media.
ST: What made you want to work on the comics series?
CR: I found in these books the things I like most in drawing — very real people in a very unreal universe, and one of the genres that I like most is horror.
ST: What kind of reference material do you use?
CR: I have tons of photo reference of all the actors, and I used them a lot in the beginning, but now I really don't use them so much.
ST: I've noticed slight differences in the way the comics characters look as opposed to their TV counterparts. What are some of the reasons for those differences? How challenging is it for you to draw "like" something, but also be under the pressure to have it "slightly" different at the same time?
CR: Since TV and comics are different kinds of media, sometimes the character is too real, and it doesn't work as well in the comics as in the TV show, so we have to manipulate some details a little.
It's not so easy to make these adaptations, but when I'm doing the layouts for the book I notice how a character should have their behavior extrapolated or minimized as the case may be.
ST: Which character presents you with the most challenges when drawing the comic?
CR: When I first drew the book, some female characters, like Willow and Cordelia, had similar hair styles. It caused me some trouble to make them different, but then they changed their hair, and helped me a lot.
ST: What is your take on some of the characters?
CR: I really like Buffy, the combination of great powers in a beautiful young woman fascinates me, but I do like Xander's humor and Spike's cynicism.
The only character I thought was too out of the context was Riley, so it's not hard to see why he left the series.
ST: When you are told to draw a character that doesn't exist in the show, what do you do to create their look?
CR: Basically the writers and the editor tell me what they need, then I do some sketches trying to find a character that looks appropriate, more for the comics media than the show's universe. Then I just sit down and wait for the approvals or any changes.
ST: How long does it take you to do the art for an issue?
CR: I usually do a whole issue in two weeks, but sometimes the deadline is so tight that I have to do it in ten days. This way it's not tough for me draw two books a month.
ST: How much do you interact with the inker?
As much as possible. I often try to use new styles, and for that I need to ask the inker to use different technique. Keeping contact helps me a do better artwork, and it helps to hit the deadlines too.
ST: What's a typical work day like?
CR: I start my work at nine a.m., then I have a break for lunch and to take my little son to school. Then back to work about two p.m., finishing around seven p.m.
ST: What is 147 Days?
CR: It takes place during the time that Buffy's dead, and features some guys with lizard tongues who are related to "Doc" from season five of the TV show.
ST: How did you get involved on this particular storyline?
CR: It's a story by Tom [Fassbender] and Jim [Pascoe], and I draw almost everything they write. There's a lot of scenes from the TV series and some flashes of other Slayers that came before Buffy. Thanks to Scott [Allie] and Mike [Richardson] I have a lot of reference to do it, and I'm sure it'll be amazing to draw this stuff.
ST: What did you like best about working on "147 Days"?
CR: Work with the past Slayers is interesting. Some of them the readers will recognize from the book Tales of the Slayers, some I've created myself like Yuki from False Memories and a few others.
ST: How would you compare the creative approach you use on Buffy to other works you've done, comics or otherwise?
CR: It's always a challenge to work with Buffy. I have to draw things that the TV fans know and want to see in the comics pretty much as they see on the show. It's a task that makes me give my best time after time.
ST: What was your all-time favorite project to work on?
CR: I've said before that I always like the last job I've done, because in doing it I'll have used all the experiences learned from previous jobs, improving the artwork all the time.
ST: What other projects, do you have lined up?
CR: Besides the regular Buffy monthly, I don't know now what the future will bring me, but I think this is the "joy of the life," isn't it?