SOLO: THE SURVIVORS OF CHAOS Exclusive Interview With TOM AND JERRY Award-Winner Oscar Martin

Spanish cartoonist Oscar Martin is best known for his work on Tom & Jerry over the decades, but Titan has recently published his Solo comic series & thankfully, we got the chance to chat with him. Read on!

Oscar Martin's best known work is Tom & Jerry, and rightly so as the screenwriter and cartoonist won a Lifetime Achievement Award from Warner Bros. for it in 2002. In addition, he also lent his unique style of writing to well-known intellectual properties such as Woody the Woodpecker, The Lion King, Mickey Mouse, and Angry Birds.

The obvious common theme among most - if not all - of Martin's work is that he enjoys telling stories with animals. If the cat and mouse pair from Tom & Jerry isn't enough to prove the cartoonist loves our furry friends then the giveaway is in the fact that all of the other titles listed above have animals in the name. Despite having drawn lions, woodpeckers, mice, and birds, Solo: The Survivors of Chaos features Martin circling Jerry territory once more with a story about a rat.

A mutated rat, that is. The story of Solo: The Survivors of Chaos is a creation of Martin's and it is far from a children's title. In a futuristic apocalyptic setting, the brutal story sees a mutated rat head out on his own and learn how to fight for his survival in a desparate world. 

Despite Martin's work sharing the connective tissue of animal characters, Solo: The Survivors of Chaos is a big departure from the children-friendly titles. Still, the theme can't be a coincidence, and so we chatted with Martin about this in addition to several other topics. We also included several images from Titan's new English release of Solo: The Survivors of Chaos in which you can clearly see how evocative Martin's art is of his Tom & Jerry work. Take a look for yourself!

Joe: Do you prefer to pull double duty on the stories you work on, contributing both writing and art to the story so that it contains only your vision, or do you also enjoy teaming up with other creatives?

Oscar Martin: At the moment I prefer to work as a screenwriter and cartoonist. In my opinion it is the best way to maintain consistency. It is a universe that is growing and in my case I have a very clear idea what I want to do until I give control to other professionals regarding the script. I want to mention that there are already several Spin offs of Solo where I write the script but I work with different artists.

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Joe: Your name makes people think of your award-winning Tom & Jerry work, but Solo is far from a children's story. What was it that inspired such a drastic difference in your work?

Oscar Martin: It's simple, when you work with a license there are lines that you can't cross. It is very fun to draw comics of WB or Disney characters, but you must be consistent with the product you are drawing ... It was just a way to get away from that and the workload represented by Tom & Jerry and take the gag to the extreme, do things that cannot be done with licenses.

The first version of the drawing Solo in 1997 in black and white was much more cartoon, wild and bully. Now, thinking about the international public is much more moderate, without leaving the transgressive side, now it is much more epic and less thug.

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Joe: Do you prefer to work on material for a younger audience like Tom & Jerry or do you feel like you have more room to be creative when you're writing a story with less reader restrictions?

Oscar Martin: With Tom & Jerry I have always done what I wanted (I was also the screenwriter). I knew well where the limits were and I followed the animation model of the 40s. Later, around 2014 I wanted to impose scripts written by other authors (horrible and boring scripts) I immediately left the comic of Tom & Jerry dedicating myself only to drawing covers.

Later, in 2016, after 30 years, due to the bad criteria that were followed in Burbank regarding these comic characters, I finally left the WB comic. I have not finally abandoned these characters because I regularly draw style guides for merchandising for WB.

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Joe: If you could contribute your writing and art style to any other existing intellectual property, which would you pick?

Oscar Martin: In the middle of the last century there was an editorial in Spain that became the art of the culture of my country. It was called Bruguera. In this editorial I publish hundreds of characters, some of them exceptional. Characters created by great cartoonists and scriptwriters who made children like me want to be comic cartoonists; maybe that's why, in Spain there are a huge number of comic professionals who draw for everyone.

Recovering some of those characters and creating a new universe for them is something that would make me especially excited. Apart from that I have already worked all my life for characters of others, at this moment I just want to work for my own ideas.

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Joe: Even though the two may be nothing alike, both Tom & Jerry and Solo share a common theme in animals. While one features the beloved cat and mouse pair, the other has a plot centered around mutated animals. Are animals a big inspiration for your work or is it a coincidence that this common theme shows up in more than one of your titles?

Oscar Martin: I am a person who loves animals. Nor do I think there is so much difference between humans and animals apart from the comfort in which humans live and the laws that require us to maintain coexistence. Drawing animals has become a metaphor for the human condition itself.

Regarding the graphic part, the anthropomorphic characters I think allow me a greater exaggeration of movement (slapstick) and acting without falling into the ridiculous or seeming unbelievable.

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What did you think of our interview with Oscar Martin? Do you prefer his work for younger audience like Tom & Jerry, or more adult titles such as Solo? Sound off in the comments section and make sure you check out the official synopsis for Solo: The Survivors of Chaos.

In the future, the Earth, ravaged by nuclear wars, gave birth to an array of new mutated species, which grew and repopulated the land. But this new world is far from peaceful, and life in it is often short and brutal. To make life easier for his poor family, Solo, a young rat, decides to strike out on his own. But he soon finds that in this hostile world only the strongest and the most ruthless survive ...

Solo: The Survivors of Chaos is now available from Titan Comics for $29.99.
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