Andres Salazar has been in a Wild West shootout and he’s careened through space on a fantastic ship piloted by a teddy bear. Now, his grandest task: hosting an art show featuring his varied, hand-painted comic art at Ventura’s WAV Gallery, dubbed Storytelling Through Pictures.
Salazar is the author and artist of the comic series Pariah, Missouri with illustrator Jose Luis Pescador and the children’s series, SpaceBear. His art show runs weekends through Sunday, July 28, and will feature 170 watercolor panels from Pariah, Missouri and original art ranging in style and theme from pop to surreal.
“When I’m thinking of the story for the comic, I’m thinking visually, because I have to think, ‘can this be drawn? Will this work?’ ” said Salazar, comparing creating comics to filmmaking. “The first thing I think about is the theme, the characters, and then right after that is trying to figure out visually what it’s going to look like.”
For Pariah, Missouri, a three-part comic series, Salazar spent four years developing the many characters and western world. The series is set in the riverboat town of Pariah, circa 1857, four years prior to the American Civil War. The mysterious Hiram Buchannan is an undercover investigator tasked with handling the supernatural elements that threaten the town. As gruesome murders begin to pile up, Buchannan and a ragtag crew of supernaturally gifted townfolk set about solving the mystery.
Within the pages of Pariah, Missouri, alongside the rough and tumble fisticuffs and conversations, you’ll find intricately detailed illustrations of characters in period attire and locations that could be featured on the set of West World or Deadwood. Salazar, however, says he was more inspired by Anne of Green Gables.
“I wanted something different and something that I liked, I was not going to do superheroes. I cannot compete with Spider-Man,” said Salazar. “Lonesome Dove, all of these kinds of old-school stories, are my favorites; I knew I wanted to do it in a period story.”
The gallery, located at Working Artists Ventura, features a wall six rows high of Salazar’s Pariah, Missouri artwork, all hand drawn by both Salazar and Pescador and finished with watercolors by Salazar. On columns are Salazar’s original works, dreamscapes featuring out-of-this-world locales and art from his other comic endeavors, including SpaceBear.
SpaceBear, along with its spinoff SteamBear, is a series that Salazar likens to The Care Bears but with a slant more toward adventure, each bear having its own theme. Alongside that are small portraits of various people Salazar has seen at Comic-Con, the large convention held annually in San Diego, where he originally met Pescador and formed a partnership over their shared love for stories set in the Old West.
“I was looking for someone to collaborate with, because while I am a bit of a control freak over some aspects of storytelling, collaboration always makes it better,” said Salazar. “There are things in [Pariah, Missouri] that I didn’t think of.”
Salazar pointed toward a piece on the wall, a large single-panel featuring a woman in an ornate dress, a man following close behind. Salazar says it was Pescador’s idea to make it a stand-alone portrait and that this image has helped generate interest and sell the book.
For Salazar, Pariah, Missouri is his crown jewel, the culmination of many years of hard work, with the art show a kind-of “capstone.” Following the show, Salazar says he’ll move on to something different, but his philosophy will remain unchanged.
“Your initial story has to be good enough, worthy enough of hundreds and hundreds of hours. If not, don’t do it,” said Salazar.
Storytelling Through Pictures: Exhibition of Andres Salazar on exhibit weekends through Sunday, July 28, at the WAV Theater Gallery, 175 S. Ventura Ave., Ventura. On Friday, July 12, Andres Salazar will host an evening of live music from 7-10 p.m. For more information, visit www.decadebrothers.com.