Introducing the Marvelous Mel Rivera

Hello dear readers!!

I am pleased to say that GiGi and I were able to attend our first convention in over two years, a couple of weekends ago. HEROESCON has been happening for decades and we were thrilled to make it’s 40th Anniversary, our re-entry into the convention circuit. It’s always a pleasure to be welcomed by the convention as press and to be able to have such a unique way to enjoy the show!

We’ve got several posts to share from the event, starting with and artist interview. We hope you enjoy getting to know another friend of ours 🙂

Pencil Portraits by Mel Rivera at HeroesCon 2022. Photography by GiGi C/We Geek Girls

CC: This is CC with we geek girls on our first day at heroes con and the first booth we stopped at, where we gave a big old smile was our buddy Mel Rivera. Mel, how are you today?

MEL: I’m fine. And thank you guys for taking time to talk.

CC: Thank you for taking time! I know you said told us earlier, you weren’t feeling well, so I really appreciate you taking the time!!!

CC: Your art is very unique with the kind of medium that you use. Could you start by telling us a little bit about that?

MEL: Sure. So I have, uh, had an art career as my hair is gray. I’ve been drawing ever since I was a kid, which is typical for artists, but with me, I think I had a Renaissance in 2007, where my desire to do fine art, trumped, all of the other love for art, including comic books. And so I did my first portrait, which was…my wife was so surprised. She said, um, I didn’t even know you had that talent. And I said, well, that makes both of us. And so it took off from there. Um, I showed my stuff around and it, it caught on fire. Some of the comic book show, uh, stores, Rob Young from ‘Borderlands.’ And Richard, uh, from Richard’s Comics and Collectible, they were instrumental in boosting my career and giving me confidence. So, I specialize now in a portraiture line of superheroes, comic book characters, movie characters, pop culture, even sixties, pop culture, cuz I’m a child of the sixties. And so it’s really highly detailed, um, graphite pencil on Bristol board paper. I’ve been experimenting a little bit with tone paper. Um, graphite pencil and also a little bit of chalk for highlights. And that seems to be pretty cool too.

CC: Yeah, it’s beautiful. I actually got one of those pieces. And if you don’t mind, I’ll share it.

MEL: No, of course. I don’t mind with this interview.

CC: We are curious as to the creative process and the things that, that add up behind it. Do you listen to music or anything while you’re working?

MEL: Well, inspiration for me comes just about being aware. I know the things that I like. And usually the things that I like will prompt me to do an original piece. So, I think you gotta be aware of course, keep your hand on the pop culture. See what’s going. Um, but then I’m so old school that I know the things that I like. And there’s almost always a revival to the things of the fifties and the sixties. And I’d noticed that at ComicCon, there’s a lot of young people, um, who are dragging around a grandparent, or a parent and they really don’t could care less about, uh, anime or superheroes, but then they’ll see my James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley print, or Marlon Brando print and, or the several of the other ones that I have to the throwback days, the original Superman, Christopher Reeves, George Reeves.

I have them together. You can go to a hundred cons and not see the, a tribute to. So, inspiration comes from sometimes even, uh, life, uh, looking in the internet and I’m not even looking for something, just something will remind me of a, uh, a superhero or an idea for something yeah. Something to draw.

CC: YES!! You’ve mentioned the fifties and sixties a lot. Is that what you geek out about the most or would you tell us what you geek out about the most?

MEL: Well, I, what I geek out about the most is. I, uh, come across a character that I connect with. So it’s, it’s ageless and timeless. Mm-hmm if I could connect with the original Superman, um, I don’t care what era or decade that was. I fell in love with the Marvel movies, the humor, but I also like the, the dark characters at DC as well. So, it’s finding a connection.

CC: YES!

Mel: Yeah, Finding that connection there. Like I, a lot of people didn’t like so much the new Batman…

CC: MMMmmm-hmm

MEL: but I thought for that genre, it fit perfect. And, you know, right.

CC: I do. I agree. Exactly.

MEL: And I, I thought it was well done. It’s not the traditional what we’ve known Batman to be, but I just thought, wow, that was a unique way and creative way to, to come out with that. Well, told story.

CC: Yes. Yes. I agree.

MEL: I think that’s the, that’s the key, if. If you can impress your fans with a well told story, then you gotta hit, in my book.

CC: Absolutely!!!! So, what’s your favorite part about attending conventions, like this one?

MEL: I think it’s talking with the fans and of course when I’m in an arena and I use that word specifically, because everybody is fighting to be noticed and everybody wants their art to be sold.

CC: Of course!!!

MEL: The thrill of meeting fans, meeting new people, seeing people come back years later…People who collect the art. I’m so honored. I tell you that touches me the most…

CC: Yeah?

MEL: When somebody…well, I did a comic book with my brother, The Bug Our Adventures of Ralph Roach. It was released in 1992. Okay. I might get choked up in teary…

CC: Please do!!! I love emotion!!!

MEL: A fella came here yesterday with a whole set of it and had me sign…And he didn’t know, my brother passed away. So that was, that’s incredible. That was the highlight of a real hard day yesterday.

CC: Yeah… That’s beautiful!

MEL: And so to see that people are still, and I did, I was the writer back then. My brother was an artist and that was very touching moment. Matter of fact, I didn’t let the guys see, but I got water eyes. I turned around…

CC: That’s beautiful and thanks for sharing!!

MEL: I’m an emotional guy…

CC: Thanks for sharing such deep emotion with us.

MEL: Most artists passionate, and we can’t hide our emotions.

CC: Yeah, you shouldn’t.

MEL: We’re either short tempered or, or crying!!!

CC: That’s just so beautiful. Thank you. Now, my last question is, do you have, any advice like what’s your biggest pieces of advice for aspiring artists?

MEL: For aspiring artists? Practice!!!! Don’t try to emulate anybody. God gave you a skillset. Develop it to the best of your ability! Don’t be discouraged if people don’t like your work. If you like your work, you’re pleasing your toughest customer. I draw because I love to draw. I think it’s an expression of worship. And so I love to work and I love to use the gifts that God gave me, to the best of my ability.

CC: You are going to make me cry now.

MEL: All my stuff is ultra clean. I’m a father, a grandfather and I want my children to enjoy my art without any hesitation or show my art. I may be ultra clean, but I believe there’s a market for that as well.

CC: Yes, absolutely. You were mentioning some classes earlier…

MEL: Well, I have been doing some, I have a studio that I built and I have a classroom.

One of the things that I may be considering simply because of the economy, gas and all of this, I’m seeing attendance go down, so I am going really look into online teaching. To be able to instruct either via YouTube or just even a Google meet. You know and reach a greater audience where people don’t have to commute and spend gas and whatever, to be there.

CC: I think that’s a great idea.

MEL: I’m gonna try to set that up.

CC: And you’ll list it on your website?

MEL: Oh, of course. Now I have two, I have the Instagram page. Yes. Where I think if you do hashtag Mel Rivera. Okay. Or more specific, Insta @MelRivera101. Yes. And then Facebook it’s Pencil Portraits by Mel Rivera. That’s a good way right now. I don’t have my own webpage, because it’s so hard to get traffic directed to a webpage and both Instagram and Facebook are free and yeah, whatever cool stuff. Right.

CC: We will be sure to link everything in the post!

MEL: Well, I appreciate you and thank you so much for your time.

CC: Thank you!!! It has been so good to see you, so good to hear from you and so good to share tears with you. Again, we hope you feel better and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

CC’s collection of Mel’s art

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