The Return and Reincarnation
After his adventures with Peepo Choo in Japan, Smith returned to L.A. where he landed a gig doing character designs on Nickelodeon’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series. A year later, he received a call from Marvel Comics Editor Mark Paniccia extending an invitation to help them create a new rendition of Ghost Rider.
“Ghost Rider’s a cool character, but I also thought of those Nick Cage movies. A lot of stuff had been done with the character, which I didn’t think was the best stuff out there,” Smith admitted, but Smith instantly changed his mind when Paniccia said he had free rein. There were just two stipulations: the new character had be younger than the other Ghost Riders who were in their 30s, and he had to drive a car instead of a motorcycle.
With the freedom to basically do anything he wanted with the character, Smith used his L.A. environment as the setting to Robbie Reyes’ story. “I wanted to make him from L.A. with the drag racing in my surroundings,” he told us of the character. “I wanted to be more grounded because when you write about things you know, they come off very natural.” Then, it came down to the race culture in L.A. “The two demographics that are predominately into car culture are either Asians or Hispanics in Los Angeles,” Smith explained. “Being Latino myself, and having grown up in Argentina, I knew that I could write a Latino character pretty well.”
The popular character gained so much traction that Marvel brought Smith back onboard, alongside artist Juan Gedeon of Argentina, to create the Secret Wars storyline for Ghost Rider titled Ghost Racers, a death race-like tale that pins Robbie up against a couple of other Ghost Riders from the past—like Johnny Blaze, Danny Ketch, Carter Slade and the Nicaragüensa, Alejandra Blaze—in a high-octane competition to preserve their souls. The first issue of Ghost Racers went on sale on June 10th.
When it comes to the ignition key to success, Smith offered up the following words of wisdom: “People will tell you that you’re not good enough, but if you’re really excited about it, just work hard. I wouldn’t say ignore what they’re telling you—a lot of times what they’re telling you are things that are true, but don’t let them dishearten you and make you stop.”
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