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Elusive '90s artist Aron Wiesenfeld reveals why he left comics ahead of new artbook

(Image credit: Aron Wiesenfeld (Clover Press))

Artist Aron Wiesenfeld, who was at one time one of comic books' hottest artists, is releasing a new artbook showcasing his work of recent years.

(Image credit: Aron Wiesenfeld (Clover Press))

Scheduled to debut in February 2021, Travelers collects over 100 pieces from the past six years. While not sequential art per se, Wisenfield says it is "very story-focused."

"I think flipping through the book the reader will get a strong suggestion of potential stories from the juxtaposition of images," the artist tells Newsarama. "My goal is always to invite the viewer to participate in the telling of a story, and this book feels like a new way to do that for me.  It was very exciting putting it together."

(Image credit: Aron Wiesenfeld (Image Comics))

This picks up from his previous artbook, The Well, but for many comic book readers it recalls Wiesenfield's whirlwind entrance to comic books in the late '90s and his similarly whirlwind disappearance on the cusp of what people thought would be superstardom after the Marvel/WildStorm crossover book Deathblow/Wolverine.

"I look back on that book in particular as one I still feel good about," Wiesenfeld says. "My fondest memories are of the time spent actually drawing. It can be hugely frustrating, but when you knock something out of the park, there’s no feeling quite like it. Making art, whether it was comics or painting, has always been my most favorite thing to do."

The artist says that his decision to leave the comic industry and pursue a fine arts career was partly due to comics printing at the time, but also a feeling that he wasn't getting the response - or any response, really - from fans, as he'd hoped.

"It was before the Internet. Years later people have told me 'I love that comic you drew,' which is always nice to hear, but at the time I had no idea anyone was paying attention to my work," Wiesenfeld says. "Back then the best way to interact with readers was at conventions, where people like Rob Liefeld had lines around the block, and hardly anyone seemed interested in what I was doing. It was frustrating."

(Image credit: Aron Wiesenfeld (Clover Press))

Wiesenfeld left the comic book industry in the late '90s, and despite a brief return in the mid '00s to draw several Y: The Last Man covers for DC/Vertigo has remained on the outside, looking in.

"Maybe I should have stuck it out, but mix in a dash of immaturity, and an as-yet-undiagnosed tendency toward depression and anxiety, and it became an emotional decision to leave," Wiesenfeld says. "So I threw up my hands, and decided to go back to school, with the intention to experiment in new mediums. Oil painting became the thing I was most drawn to."

Wiesenfeld remains living in the San Diego area where he worked at as part of WildStorm in the '90s. He now works primarily in oil and charcoal, "though I still do the occasional comics style ink drawing," he states.

(Image credit: Aron Wiesenfeld (Clover Press))

Although not working in comic books currently, Wiesenfeld remains in touch as a reader - with recent favorites including Taiyo Matsumoto's Sunny, Beautiful Darkness by Kerascoet, Charles Forsman's The End of the Fucking World, Hegahex by Simon Hanselmann, and David Small's Stitches.

"A number of comics creators are very inspirational for the current work that I do: Edward Gorey, Mike Mignola, Chris Ware, R. Crumb, Thomas Ott, Joe Sacco, and Ian Bertram, to name a few," Wiesenfeld says.

Clover Press already surpassed its $3,500 Kickstarter goal to publish Travelers, with nearly $30,000 raised to date ahead of the book's February 2021 debut.

Chris Arrant

Newsarama Senior Editor Chris Arrant has covered comic book news for Newsarama since 2003, and has also written for USA Today, Life, Entertainment Weekly, Publisher's Weekly, Marvel Entertainment, TOKYOPOP, AdHouse Books, Cartoon Brew, Bleeding Cool, Comic Shop News, and CBR. He is the author of the book Modern: Masters Cliff Chiang, co-authored Art of Spider-Man Classic, and contributed to Dark Horse/Bedside Press' anthology Pros and (Comic) Cons. He has acted as a judge for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, the Harvey Awards, and the Stan Lee Awards. Chris is a member of the American Library Association's Graphic Novel & Comics Round Table.