By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
When I met the fan-favorite comic book artist called Bengal at the Magnetic Press booth (thanks to the awesome David Dissanayake) during SDCC 2015, he was sketching cards for a fan. Soon as he was done, he spared me some time for the short interview below. Born in 1976, he has always read comics, before his art skills began to show at about age 10. Huge in France, he's currently enjoying success in the U.S comics industry, doing covers for Marvel and a ton of stuff for DC Comics.
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu: What are you working on for Marvel right now?
Bengal: At the moment, I'm feeling blessed to have been doing covers for All-New Wolverine, the new series in which X-23 takes up the mantle. I'm doing a total of 3 covers, as far as I know right now, but I'd be happy to do as many as I can.
Bengal: They're releasing some of my French language stuff, translated for English-speaking readers. Also, possibly, we might release a version of my sketchbook which sold out in France. I've been talking with Mike [Kennedy, Publisher of Magnetic Press] and we will do it with bolder layouts, more recent work added and such. Maybe next year or so.
Then there's World of Cassyno, also for Magnetic Press and it's a deck of playing cards with a story world complete with its own mythology, with each card showcasing a specific character with their own backstory and special talent. It was such fun to create, with incredible guest artists like Joe Madureira, Mahmud Asrar, Marguerite Sauvage, Claire Wendling, Enrique Fernandez, and Bryndon Everett.
But for the foreseeable future, I'll be doing stuff for DC Comics.
ABA: You're now a major in the American comic book scene. Which writer do you most want to work with?
Bengal: Easy. That would be Rick Remender. I love his writing. His stories have a nice pace to them and the dialogue is beautiful, and characters he writes always sound natural.
Bengal: Ah, when I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the Bengal cat, which is a really cool cat, kind of like a domestic leopard or something. So I took on the name.
Bengal: About eight years ago, I had the opportunity to be in touch with C.B Cebulski, who is basically Marvel's Superman, if you know what I mean. He's a super-nice editor and he offered me an opportunity to work on Spider-Man but the Marvel universe at that time was really complicated, just before the One More Day event took place. In the end it didn't happen and of course I was bummed out for some time.
I went on doing work for French publishers and sending portfolios to Marvel and DC. Last year, at about the same time, both publishers tapped me to do work for them. It was an amazing coincidence. So, within the same month, I was asked to do work for the Big Two and I was like 'Woo-hoo!' Things soon became crazy, but in a good way and I had to stop my French projects so I could work full-time for U.S publishers.
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu is a newspaper editor, award-winning journalist and comic book creator based in Nigeria. He has reviewed comics, novels, movies and music for a variety of platforms and is currently the Editor of the Saturday edition of the Daily Trust, one of the most influential newspapers in his country. You can follow him on Twitter: @KareemReal