Interview with Richie Acosta (April 2024)

The artist on DAREDEVIL #373 discusses his work on the title from over 25 years ago! We discussed a lot about that time in 1998, and how he came to be part of DD's history for this issue.

Kuljit Mithra: It's funny, I saw your new concept cover for Daredevil #373 online and I said to myself, "hey, that looks like the Richie Acosta cover" not realizing it was you. I know you only worked on the one DD issue, but I certainly remember it! So I'm glad I was able to get in touch and have this chat about your work. I noticed you have an appearance at a comic show coming up, so are these recreations something you're working on for that show?

Richie Acosta: That's uncanny, I can't believe you remember my DD cover and made that connection to my new piece! Yes, I re-worked 3 internal illustrations from my DD issue into concept cover artwork specifically for the Garden State Comic Fest this June. Bud LaRosa, who was the inker on Daredevil #373, inked 2 of my new pieces. It's a great pleasure to work with him again. He'll also be appearing at the GSCF in artist alley.

Mithra: Aside from your DD work, I don't think I've seen much of your other work for various companies. Tell me a little about yourself, how you got interested in comics and comic art?

Acosta: My older brother got me interested in comics when I was 5, and it was my dream to become a comic artist since then. I studied Illustration in college, and I had the good fortune of meeting Rich Buckler at the NYC Comicon in 1993. I joined his Visage Studios, which was the start of my career in comics, and I got to ink Mr. T and the T-Force#9, and assist with some of his other work for various publishers. I was also fortunate to meet Joe Quesada through a mutual friend, and got to know him personally, during the time he was publishing Event comics. I penciled pin-ups for his titles; Ash and 22 Brides. I also got to know Mark Mazz, editor at Harris, and Jesse Berdinka, editor at Valiant who also gave me pin-up work. I've also done pinup artwork for Image.

Mithra: Daredevil, in 1998, was an interesting time, because writer Joe Kelly was very busy with X-Men and Deadpool and I get the impression this issue #373 was a bit behind schedule. How did you get the penciling job? Jaye Gardner was still editor at that time, correct?

Acosta: You're absolutely correct, DD #373 was behind schedule and the deadline changed mid-stream and I was asked to finish pages #10-23 in 9 days, which I was able to do thankfully. Yes, Jaye Gardner was my editor. He told me that he had saved my samples, that he selected out of hundreds of submissions, and was waiting for the opportunity to give me work on one of his books. Ariel Olivetti went on vacation, and Jaye contacted me to fill in on Daredevil while he was out.

Mithra: I think Joe Kelly had Ben Raab help him with the story... were you even working with a complete story, or just rough plot?

Acosta: Yes, Ben Raab was assisting Joe Kelly with the plot. I received a plot with no script, which was broken down panel by panel if I recall correctly. I don't remember how fleshed out the plot was, but it was clear enough for me to work from for sure. I think it's standard practice for Marvel writers to create the script after the pencils and/or inks are done, which allows them to adjust the word count as needed according to the available space, and work off the tone of the illustrations.

Mithra: You got to draw quite a number of characters for the issue, particularly Mr. Fear and Daredevil, of course. But I wanted to first get your thoughts on some of the others, like Charles Boroughs, Foggy, Karen, Razor Sharpe, Kathy Malpher... what was it like working in this world and did you feel you had time to put your own unique style for them?

Acosta: The deadline was changed mid-stream after I completed page #9, so I needed to select which of the remaining pages I should spend more time on and which pages I had to rush. I allocated more time to pages that were critical to the plot that featured Charles Boroughs, Karen Page, Kathy Malpher, and Judge Chalmers, whom I was able to draw in my style. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to apply my style to the characters that were on less critical pages like Foggy Nelson, Candace Nelson, and Rosalind Sharpe due to the time constraints. The main challenge of having to draw so many characters in one issue, for me, was drawing all of the varied environments for each scene such as City Hall, Riker's Island, Rockefeller center, WFSK Radio Station, the upper west side, alphabet city, the financial district etc, which required more research, but it was a fun challenge in retrospect.

Mithra: For Mr. Fear, even with the one page, I feel like you had a chance to really work with shadows, light and design. What do you remember about drawing him?

Acosta: The splash page with Mr. Fear was one of my favorites in the entire issue. I always loved drawing skulls, and I remember going to F.I.T. to use the skeleton that they have in the Illustration department as reference. I think I spent 2 1/2 hours in that classroom drawing just the skull. I put as much effort into drawing that splash page as I did the cover. I'm glad to hear that effort was apparent to you.

Mithra: Had you been offered more work on Daredevil, or were plans already in place to move Daredevil to Marvel Knights?

Acosta: Jaye Gardner only intended on me filling in for that one issue. Ariel Olivetti was the regular artist on Daredevil at the time. I wasn't aware, or had heard of plans to move DD to Marvel Knights at the time. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to seek more opportunities with other editors at Marvel because I was finishing up my last semester at SVA.

Mithra: Thank you for your time, I really appreciate it. I'll leave you with this... I got the impression, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, that some of these recreations you're doing are to test the waters to get some more work in the comics industry. Have you been working in a different field over the past few decades? If so, what's brought you back? And what can we look for in the future? Thanks again.

Acosta: Thank you for asking me to do this interview! It's wonderful to receive feedback on my issue of Daredevil. DD #373 was released when social media was just starting out, and I wasn't sure how Daredevil fans received it. I've been working in the Graphic Design field since I left Marvel, which has been enjoyable and stable. Regarding my new DD artwork, I had always intended on going back and re-drawing some of my internal pages that feature Daredevil, and adding more detail but just never made the time. I got inspired to start drawing again by seeing Gene Colan's personal artwork on a FB fan group, and also from seeing various fan art posts on Facebook comic book groups. It has been wonderful and fulfilling creating comic art again and I will definitely be reaching out to editors at Marvel and independent comic companies to get more work. I'm currently working on a few comic art commissions and just happy to be doing what I love again!

(c) 2024 Kuljit Mithra & Richie Acosta
Daredevil: The Man Without Fear

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