Artist Billy Martinez

By Beth Accomando

Billy Martinez creates art with an attitude. I mean you have to have attitude to create a comic called Kickass Girl. It’s especially cool that he’s endowing female characters with an excess of attitude. Just walk into Rising Sun down in Mission Valley and you can see panel after panel of confident, sexy women looking out at you from the art boards Martinez has created. What makes Martinez’ work even more impressive is that he’s remained a true independent. He founded Neko Press in La Mesa so he could publish and control his own works like the recent Kickass Girl and the long established Wildflower.


Bottom line: Martinez is a success story.


Martinez’ work features mostly girls, but girls that exude strength as well as beauty. There’s a hip, street sensibility to his style as well as a bold use of color and design. Once you’ve seen an issue of Wildflower or Kickass Girl, you’ll be able to recognize Martinez’ distinctive style. 

Photo Jon Tiffin

What also makes Martinez cool is that he’s interested in encouraging others. His Neko Press publishes works from other artists such as F.S.C. and Brutal Planet. He’s also inspiring the next generation of artists by giving art classes at his La Mesa studios and occasionally providing instruction at panels at the San Diego Comic-Con International (where he was a guest of honor). 


Obviously you saw the cover of this magazine. That was his work.  While Billy was creating the artwork inspired by the lovely model Kelley, Revolt In Style had a chance to interview Martinez about his latest project, Live Art.

Revolt: So what exactly is Live Art? Tell us a little bit about the process.

Billy Martinez:  I have been performing Live Art at some of the coolest hot spots here in San Diego and have had the privilege to work with some really cool DJ’s. Lately I have been doing a lot of Lady Lush nights at the Airport Lounge hosted by one of my favorite DJ’s Red Sonya. There I shell out two to four paintings simultaneously right on stage. All my paintings are of girls. All different types. All done with household paints, you know, the stuff you paint your house with, and of course acrylics and whatever I can get my hands on. I plan to have over 1000 painted within the next few years. Right now I think I’m around 350. So I’m getting there little by little. 


 Revolt: I know you also work in the comic industry. Was it a tough transition moving into paints?

Billy Martinez: At first it was a bit different. I got my start doing Live Art at the Honey Bee Hive back in 2001. There I worked out my painting techniques. After working on comics for more than fourteen years in the biz I wanted to branch out and do paints. That’s how this all came to be. I plan to release a new graphic novel called The Deepest Dark early next year but I will continue to do my Live Art gigs as well.  


Revolt: Tell us about your publishing company Neko Press and your art school in La Mesa.

Billy Martinez: I started my publishing company in 1999. I broke in the comic industry around 1995. After working with other companies I decided to start my own imprint. I began teaching my classes over fourteen years ago. The current location for the Neko Press Art Studio is in La Mesa at 7332 University Ave. We specialize in cartooning and storyboarding, acrylics, watercolor, pen and ink. You name it, we teach it. Classes are open to Children and Adults. Courses are set up for First Timers and Advanced Artist. 


For more information goto or reserve space now by calling (619) 668-1107