Hey there, action heroes. It’s been a couple weeks since 2089 hit headsets, and tons of you have had a chance to save humanity as our newest pistol-wielding protagonist. What you may not know is this new hero was created and illustrated in collaboration with fan-favorite comic creator and artist Fico Ossio. Fico has been working in comics for over 10 years and has helped create and reimagine some of our favorite legendary action heroes, from Transformers to G.I. Joe to Spider-Man. We had a chance to sit down with Fico to talk about his history creating heroes as well as what it was like creating John Asimov—the unstoppable robot-wrecking badass that possesses your mortal body during 2089.
Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, and what you like to do.
FIco Ossio: I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Well, I’m specifically from the nearby town of Martinez where I have lived all my life. If I’m not working, I like to watch movies and series, read comic books, of course, play video games, all that stuff. When I could still go out, like last year, I liked to go out and spend time with my friends or play sports, those types of things.
How long have you been into art?
FO: Forever. I knew I wanted to do comics specifically when I was 11 years old. I was always drawing, and I always had this sort of art-sensitivity, I guess you could say. At first, it started with copying really easy things, Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck, things like this, as early as six or seven. It was something I spent a lot of time doing and continued doing up into my teen years. This is when you can really tell if a hobby is just a phase or if it’s something you really are going to continue, and I continued. By that time, I was drawing my own comics, creating my own characters and stories and ideas.
What about comic books—where did that start?
FO: I still remember the first comic I ever bought. I was around 11 years old, and it was a Batman comic. It was the issue where the Joker kills Robin, so it had a huge impact on me, you know… I wasn’t expecting that. Batman is still for sure my main fandom—I can’t be objective about Batman.
Were comics your first job?
FO: Well of course, people told me I couldn’t make a living doing art—my family, friends, everyone—that I had to study something else if I wanted to make a living. So I did. I have something like eight years of formal education and experience in other careers—advertisement, teaching sports, architecture, graphic design—so no, comics were not my first job. I did other things first.
So how did the first comic gig start?
FO: There was this website that had different “looking for artists” kind of announcements every day or week for different things. At the time I was working on a little portfolio, and I saw something I liked, so I sent them my samples, and they offered me a job for a three-issue contract.
What was that like?
FO: That was scary because I knew I couldn’t do it alongside my job. I was working at a graphic design studio at the time. But it was a good opportunity, it was an interesting amount of money, it was something that I really wanted to do since forever… so I took a chance and I quit, and I jumped into it—only for three months of work, and I had a stable job. I remember my friends and my parents freaking out (laughs). They were like, “What are you doing?!”
Interviewer’s note: That gig would go on to become a three-year/30-issue job for Fico.
What’s the thing that you’re the proudest of that you’ve ever done?
FO: Spider-Man is one of the top three right now, but when I co-created my first comic, NO ONE LEFT TO FIGHT, with Aubrey, that is definitely on the top—because that is what I used to do as a kid, you know? I used to do my own comic book stories. I didn’t draw Batman, I drew characters of my own creation. So to do that as a professional at this age... and it was actually quite a success, it did really well. That was very special to me as well as for Aubrey since it was his first creator-owned book too. We had a blast on that!
What was it like creating a character for us? Finding our hero?
FO: That was a lot of fun, especially since it’s a subject that I really like: science fiction with an ’80s kind of vibe to it. Plus it was a type of hero concept that I really like. I enjoyed working on it a lot.
What does your process look like?
FO: I look for inspiration in different places. I do watch a lot of movies and play videogames on similar subjects, but I also look for different artists who have created similar ideas or works and look for inspiration there. I then open a work board, similar to what we used during development, and I start grabbing things I like and combining them with other things, bringing some of my own, you know? A little bit of a collage, I guess (chuckles).
How long did it take you to create John Asimov? How did that compare timewise to creating the key visual, and how did this compare to creating an original character for comics?
FO: The thing that took the most time was definitely creating the character. I spent, I think, two weeks on that and one week—a little bit less than that—on the key visual. When you try to figure out the character, you play with a lot of options, you play with different versions of the character, so you don’t really have him locked in. When we finally found him, I started working on the poster for the key visual. It took me longer than comic book work because it was more painting, not just inks and colors as I’m used to in comics. It was challenging but also fun!
How did the process differ?
FO: The main difference was, I’m used to doing comics. With those I start working on the finals nearly right away—I’m like an oiled machine. After 10 years working in the industry, I feel very comfortable. So in this case I found myself adjusting to a whole different process, different software and apps. The collaboration, the back and forth with the team was different. A lot of conversations on an almost daily basis. When I work on comics, I get the script and it’s like, you enter “printer mode,” especially working on characters that are already set. You dive into a preconceived world instead of creating one from scratch.
How was it working with Cloudhead? What was the experience like?
FO: I’m having a lot of fun with it. I really like it. It’s nice to be working with a team this way. I haven’t done it in like 10 years, since I left the studio, so that’s been great.
So what has that been like for you, working with other creatives?
FO: Usually, when I work, I work alone. I get the script, and then it’s my own business what I do. Not so when I did NO ONE LEFT TO FIGHT, with Aubrey. It was a lot of back and forth, I was involved with the story, he was involved with creation of the characters… but, for my other stuff, Spider-Man, that type of stuff, it was more like diving into an already pre-existing universe with years and years of history. It’s like getting the keys to a sports car to drive for a while, but you don’t own it. So yeah, working alongside other creatives and having their input influence and improve the work was the thing that I liked the most. It was nice to be part of a team working together to make this game as awesome as possible.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you tell yourself?
FO: I would say trust what you are doing, you know? Believe in yourself.
Art is a personal process. So maybe someone doesn’t like what you do—that doesn’t mean what you’re doing is wrong or that modifying your work to appeal to that person is something that would make you happy. It’s not mathematics, it’s very personal.