Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Manila, Philippines.
How about your schooling? Had you gone under any art training? I took up Architecture in college. Back then it was very low-tech, we use drafting tools, make scale models, and do actual paintings for presentation, absolutely nothing digital of sorts. I had to take vocational schooling to learn drafting in computers.
As for art training, its just simple tracing. There’s something engaging just by tracing photos or on other people’s drawings, and that’s how I started. The hand and mind have some learning connection that we couldn’t assimilate just by reading how-to-draw books. After that it’s simply practice, practice, practice.
How long have you been working professionally in comics? It has been more than 6 years since I jumped on board GHG. I did a lot of layout work for other pencillers when I started. Currently it’s a steady flow penciling myself, and I have to say I’m enjoying it.
What things -- both in art and otherwise -- have you worked on, besides comics? Are comics a full-time gig for you or part-time? Aside from architectural work early after graduating, I also worked at my relative's hardware wholesale business. But I’m full time in this industry now. Here’s to a long lasting and prosperous career.
Talk about how you broke into the business --was it easy? Hard? Ups? Downs ? Any interesting anecdotes? Similar to other illustrators, we scribble a lot and make ourselves a portfolio to show around. But for a time, I was disengaged in drawing until I was encouraged again after seeing many comicbook-movie adaptations. I did some searching and finally ended up here at GHG Manila office and coincidentally, David Campiti (GHG CEO) was around at that time. Showed him my portfolio and was hired. It was a slow arduous start though, I would suggest anyone to not immediately quit their day job for this work unless thoroughly certain of a steady gig. I know Its hard from the start and requires much sacrifice to balance 2 jobs but once you get rolling, you may let go of the other branch.
There are still a lot of great illustrators out there and I’ve met quite a few, I had to say it’s a struggle when you’re in that transition switching from a monthly salary employee to a freelance based income. Couldn’t blame them if some couldn’t make it even if they’re good art-wise.
Nonetheless its humbling to see what they can do. I believe that given the chance to work on projects that we feel passionate about, will help bring out further potentials within.
When you held your first published work in your hands, how did you feel? My drawings look awful! I was ashamed to show it to anybody. The only good thing is that I noticed the errors, thus I was able to amend accordingly. At present, I’m somewhat getting used to seeing my work in print, the final printed material is always a valuable tool to see discrepancies when you’re all too familiar seeing the art in the actual oversized artboard.
How did you settle on the style(s) you're currently using? If you have multiple styles how did you develop them? Initially, my drawing style is heavily influenced by martial art comic books from Hong Kong. But through the years in GHG, David would instruct me to adapt to western styles. I’m certainly grateful for the insights I’ve learned from Dave. Once in a while, my old style would slightly show up within the pages like requiring more panels, executing motions, and perspectives. But concerning my art style, I am not a Manga illustrator, in fact it’s a struggle to do Manga. I simply applied Manga effects like tones and speedlines on western art. It feels like a dramatic combination.
How did your parents take to the idea of working in comics? Hesitantly, because I have my own business to run. And in a family where work stability and finances are strong issues, its hard to prove that this is really a job. Its sort of breaking the chain. Leaving a long time position with great responsibility and jumping into an unassured line of work is scary.
How would you describe your work space? Is it part of your home, or do you go "to the studio"? My workplace is at home, in a private study room. It’s unlike a typical illustrators’ room where you see posters, toys and tools scattered everywhere. It’s very quiet, clean and organized which contributes to that professional attitude one needs to have to work in this industry. And I wish to continue working here instead of going someplace else.
What job are you the proudest of? I wouldn’t use the word ‘proud’, but rather its gratifying to work on sketches, especially those happy accidents, to see the finished work turned out more appealing than originally envisioned. Sometimes I find myself hard to relinquish those sketches I give away or requested upon, especially drawing those popular characters that I may have little chance to be a part of.
What are you currently drawing? Comments on that project? I’m currently doing the Kevin Smith Green Hornet book for Dynamite Entertainment with the great Phil Hester as writer. Before that, I did the Black Terror series from the Alex Ross Project Superpowers. It’s the one I would recommend in terms of action!
At the start of the Green Hornet series, the team’s control for every panel was very strict. Eventually little by little they allowed me to play with the layout. At present, Phil allowed me so much freedom with the fighting scenes that he leaves some pages blank for me to interpret with just simplistic guidelines. It was fun to work like that, sometimes I would think, ok, Phil has given me like 2 pages, how will I squeeze a certain number of panels to show all the moves I have in mind for the fight scene? It can be limiting at times from my perspective thinking as a fight choreographer, sometimes I have to sadly change the ‘play’ in order to fit it in the space I’m given but that’s the challenge.
Talk about your family: Parents, siblings, home situation. I’m single, taking care and living with my mother and grandmother and I have two very hard working brothers. I imagined I will still be drawing (or writing) on my deathbed. There’s none in our family tree who reads comics except me and my youngest brother.
What projects do you hope to work on in the future? Obviously, those popular titles that we all know. Magnus Robot Fighter would be a great book to work on. I think it’s published back in the early 90’s. It’s got martial arts, great robot-smashing action, and unconventional architecture. Those specs really fit my style. I also notice that superhero comic books these days have fewer battles. Its sad sometimes when you flip through your favorite comics only to see 22 pages of powerful characters talking. I really hope I could get to work on comicbooks with lots of intense fight scenes.
Where do you see yourself in five years? ten? I hope I’d still be drawing or writing at the sideline while managing a publishing studio.
What is the interest in comics where you live? Do friends and neighbors know you draw comics for a living? How do they react? Back in high school, (right when Image publishing is about to go public) I belong to a small circle of friends that are into collecting and all those geek stuff. But one by one, they lose interest after getting married. It’s a pity though; the books that are being published these days are getting more and more interesting.
What's 1 thing you'll always find in your refrigerator? Ice.
What's your favorite food? Sandwiches. Any fillings.
What are your favorite interests --Movies? Music? TV? Any hobbies? Sports? I love books. If I go to a mall, I go straight to the bookstore and could spend the whole day there. I enjoy audiobooks too like self-help, history and literature, biographies, university courses, strategies and investments, and novels. These audiobooks are an awesome deal especially for people who work long hours alone. Listening to podcasts is another fave. As for movies, I really have to catch up. No time for TVs, and I do my running exercise weekly.
Have you ever thought of writing your own stories? Yes. I did one when I wasn’t engaged in any rush work. A children storybook entitled “Of buts and again.” It’s up on sale at Lulu.com. I’m open to collaboration as well, I believe its more efficient that way. There were a couple offering co-creator gigs, I’d have to get back to them when I have the time.
What's an average day in your life like? Walk us through a typical day. Typical office-hour routine, which requires discipline of course. I start by writing my goals for the day and then going to bed around 11. On Sundays that’s when I play.
Do you have any great, unsold projects in your files that nobody's gotten to see published? I’m sure what I consider trash here will be someone else’s treasure. I practice here and there, doing 2-4 pages of sequential art on my own. I also enjoy doing concept designs on traditional characters.
If you weren't a comic-book artist today, what would you be? Businessman. My family has this solid mold of what we’re suppose to be. Have you taught comic-book art or had any assistants? If so, talk about that. The GHG studio here used to hold short random seminars annually. I’m always told to teach layouts and storytelling.
The single thing you'd most like to be remembered for in your life is...? It’s not an issue for me if I’ll be remembered. I only hope that I may be beneficial for the people around me to know Christ as savior.
Any other tidbits of info about you that you like to share? I couldn’t think of anything, but for the moment, I’m wanting a colorist who could help me bring out the art style that I’m aiming for.
The Witness Xena Warrior Princess (covers and layout) Red Sonja (layout) Vampirella(layout) Astonishing Fantasy Worlds by Christopher Hart Bionicle (storyboard) Space Ace (layout) Battlestar Pegasus Battlestar Galactica Origins # 1-11 Battlestar Galactica Ghost Squadron Ted Dekker’s Boneman Project Superpowers Chapter 2 (covers) Green Lama: Meet The Bad Guys #1 Black Terror # 5-8 Jennifer Blood (covers) Kevin Smith’s Green Hornet (ongoing)