Joseph Solina


Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
I was born in Quezon City. I grew up in Fort Bonifacio, Makati City (formerly known as Fort McKinley). I am a son of a retired army officer.

Schooling? Art training?
I studied in U.P. College of Fine Arts majoring in painting (1980-83). After graduating Fine Arts, I briefly took up Architecture for a year then shifted to Interior Design (1984-87). I also graduated with a degree of Bachelor in Interior Design. I successfully passed the licensure board a year later (1989) as a full pledged interior designer. By 2005, after years of professional practice in interiors and furniture designing, I enrolled at the Innov8 Academy for layout training in animation. (At that time, I made a career shift perhaps to earn a higher income. And so I thought.) I started working as a freelance animation layout artist at Top Draw Animation Studio under OJT program for a period of three months. After completing the program I went on working for that same studio for four years until 2009.

How long have you been working professionally in comics?
In 2006, I worked briefly for two months at GHG as background artist while Top Draw was on its off-season. I also did layouts later. However, I left GHG simply because I wasn’t ready to present new pin up samples in order to obtain approval to continue as a BG artist. (A certain contract artist took my place to do the assisting while having no book yet.) My drawing style was, at that time, very amateurish. After three years of practice, I am quite satisfied with my drawing style as of this writing. My transformation still continues…

What things — both in art and otherwise — have you worked on, besides comics?
I did layouts in animation for four years (2005-09).

Are comics a full-time gig for you or part-time?
Yep they are!

Tell us how you broke into the business –was it easy? Hard? Any interesting anecdotes?
Getting into this comics business is difficult for me. Before, I had several serious bugs in my drawing style. I reviewed my past works and discovered that my drawings were in fact evolving. It is very true that takes pains to absorb constructive criticisms. After all those “punishments” I had gone through, I think it’s worth learning no matter how hard it is to break into this comic business. Drawing comics is like doing gym work outs, there is so much pain in practicing. A famous slogan, “No pain no gain” may serve as a wake up call for all of us as artists.

When you held your first published work in your hands, how did you feel?
This may be out of the question right now.  I was told that my first published works is out of the country.  Why not? I should be proud of it even if I did just the backgrounds.

How did you settle on the style(s) you’re currently using?
My style of drawing is derived mainly on the style of Scott Campbell. There are some elements I adapted from Humberto Ramos, Ed Benes,  Duncan Rouleau, and other artists to mention a few.

Did you work as an assistant to any other artists?
I assisted Larry Tuazon in doing Serenity series as background/layout artist. Other than that, I did backgrounds in some pages of Hits and Misses.

Please describe your work space. Is it part of your home,or do you go “to the studio”?
Right now, I have to go to the GHG studio for work.

What job are you the proudest of?
So far, as a background artist I did 120 pages for Serenity. Two books in all, not to mention some layouts!

What’s your most embarrassing?
I showed my samples of paintings or illustrations that are not appropriate for comics business. In other words, I showed the wrong stuff!  I was even told not to send “old works” anymore.

What project are you currently drawing?
While waiting for the next project, I am busying myself doing cover designs and pin-ups.

Tell us about your family and home situation. Are you married with kids? Anecdotes about married life, how it relates to your busy schedule, etc. If you have kids do they understand your job? What do they say about it? Do they read comics?
I have two daughters, who are in grade school. I’ve been married for more than a decade now. My kids are even my critics! There are times they did not understand my drawings. They even laughed at it! (Wow! What a constructive criticism!) They like to read my comic book references and like to draw particularly Manga style.

What projects do you hope to work on in the future?
I prefer action stories like that of Dynamite’s Battlefields series… something like that. I have little problem with references when comes to uniforms and weapons of both World Wars. I have seen and read war comics that were drawn inaccurately to my dismay! The Danger Girl or Birds of Prey of some sort would fit to my style. Whatever project is awarded to me, I would not hesitate to accept them.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
To come up with a studio of my own, training young artists. Perhaps, I will come up with my own story. I would like to team up with writers, who are willing to work for me.  Creating jobs may be an impossible dream for me. Well who knows?

Do friends and neighbors know you draw comics for a living? How do they react?
Oh my! Someone told me that publishing is not a big earner!  Locally, yes! But not GHG!  My wife and my sister are very supportive. They encourage me to go for it!  A certain friend of mine dissuaded me from aspiring simply because of hearsay.

What’s 1 thing you’ll always find in your refrigerator?
An energy drink!

What’s your favorite food?
At my age, I am very careful when comes to food intake. Anyway, I like pizzas very much!

What are your favorite interests –Movies? Music? TV? Any hobbies? Sports?
I listen to the works of the masters like Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, etc. I love to watch TV reality shows. I collect military miniature models. I play chess

Have you ever thought of writing your own stories?
I thought about it when I was working for an animation studio. If time is right, I can write but I need to team up with a writer. Doing storyboards would be an effective medium for me. I already designed characters for  my own story.

What’s an average day in your life like?
I usually start working after lunchtime. I sleep and wake up quite late. I am some sort of insomniac. No serious problem whatsoever as long as my sleeping hours are adequate. I always keep on practicing drawing inside my study room even there is no work.

Any humorous or interesting anecdotes to tell about the comics business?
Drawing and  making famous characters look so silly.

Do you have any great, unsold projects in your files that nobody’s gotten to see published?
Not yet.

If you weren’t a comic-book artist today, what would you be?
I find myself a struggling interior designer looking for projects that are not so much in demand these days. Or an underemployed or over aged applicant looking for a job.

Any closing words?
Treat negative feedbacks as challenges. Constructive criticisms help you bring the best out of you. Whether you like it or not listen and follow simple instructions from qualified persons. I guarantee that you will succeed in your work if you heed good instructions.  I know that some artists have difficulty accepting criticisms simply because of they are too proud of themselves. Pride makes you a loser.  I know it is hard to swallow pride but that is the only way to do it in order to succeed.

Serenity Books/Lights Camera Action
Some pages of Hits and Misses


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