Sunday, August 21, 2011
Interview with Carlo Pagulayan@STGCC 2011
Thanks to the good folks at STGCC, I was able to interview Filipino comics artist Carlo Pagulayan together with Leong Wern Iu who writes for sgcollect.com/forum. You can read his take of the session there.
Carlo is no stranger to STGCC, having visited the con last December to support other Filipino artists who were guests like Lenil Yu and Harvey Tolibao. This year, it was his turn to be the convention guest.
Carlo is most famous for drawing Planet Hulk.
Q: The amazing thing about technology today is that it has indeed shrunk the world by letting Southeast Asian artists to draw for DC or Marvel without having to leave their homeland. Unlike Alfredo Alcala who left the Philippines for USA in the 1970s and never to return (for fear of not being allowed back into USA if he were to do so), artists like you, Harvey and Lenil could still be based in your home country.
How did your journey start – from the Philippines to Planet Hulk?
A: You start by attending conventions and exposing yourself. There was a Top Cow talent search in the Philippines in the late 1990s. I sent in samples, but they lost it! I was not selected.
I was still in college then, so drawing comics was not a priority. (Carlo graduated with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering)
In 2000, I signed to an agency (Glass House Graphics, who also represented Harvey, Stephen Segovia, Jason Paz and Jeffrey Huet), who sent samples of my work to Joe Quesada of Marvel. It was a long process, there were words of encouragement as Marvel saw improvement in my art. But there was no work. At that time, I was working as a supervisor at a semiconductor factory.
911 happened and everyone was affected. I watched TV everyday about news of the attack. Dark Horse did a benefit book and I contributed. Although I was under contract for representation with the agency, I was allowed to draw this 3-page story for Dark Horse as we weren’t paid. I had no money to help the victims then and this was my way of helping.
That story got me in the running for Dark Horse’s KISS comic book. I could have been a KISS artist, but Gene Simmons was the one reviewing my pages and I had a problem with likeness – my drawings were just not KISS-y enough. They don’t look like the band.
So it was a New Year’s Eve and I had to hand in a KISS drawing. Instead of lighting firecrackers, I was hard at work. I took a break by reading Elektra and end up doing a drawing of Elektra. My agent sent it to Quesada and luck would have it, Marvel was looking for a new Elektra artist as the original artist Chuck Austin was moving over to writing.
So that was how I ended up working with Greg Rucka for Elektra. After that, I did fill-ins and one shots for comics like Master of the Universe, Emma Frost, Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four and even an inventory issue of Superman, which has not been published yet. But during that period, I drew one of my favourite stories in X-Men Unlimited – Shadowcat helping troubled kids. That assignment was challenging because of the storytelling.
Marvel Adventures editor, Mark Paniccia, who was also the Hulk editor, got me onboard Planet Hulk.
That was the turning point in my career.
This has become a very long answer. So yes, attend conventions. I have attended those in the Philippines and now the con in Singapore. In 2006, I was invited to attend a con in France for a week.
No, I have not been to USA yet. But we intend to next year, the few of us like Harvey and Stephen.
(since 2010, Carlo has been represented by 3-Wishes, who also represent, Stephen, Jason Paz, Philip Tan and Jay Anacleto)
Q: Sounds like there is quite a comics community in the Philippines. (prime example: there was even an issue of Silver Surfer earlier this year which had interiors by Harvey and Stephen and covers by Carlo)
A: We used to hang out in a mall in Manila. It was bowling alley, but now it is a toy store, so we can’t hang out there anymore. Now we meet at the food courts.
It is a close knitted community. We were disappointed with the mainstream industry, which closed down in the early 1990s. There are no major comic titles in the Philippines now, unlike when we had Alcala’s Voltar.
But you know what we envy most about people with day jobs? It’s that you get to interact with other people. So now with Google+, every night at about 10 pm till the wee hours, all of us will be video conferencing. Me, Stephen, Lenil, some Malaysian comic artists and even Singaporeans.
Q: It seems there are certain pairings for Filipino artists and inkers to work together on the same book. Like Lenil is inked by Gerry Alanguilan in the Ultimates line and Mark Millar books. In your case, you are inked by Jeffrey Huet for Planet Hulk, and Michael Jason Paz (an excellent artist in his own right) and Noah Salonga for Agents of Atlas. Are these arranged by the editors or you guys suggest them to the editors?
A: I live 2 hours away from the capitol, so it makes sense to work with people in the Philippines. We do suggest to the editors but it all depends on the scheduling. Usually it is my choice. But if it can’t work out, the editors will propose someone else.
Q: That's a great way to pass on jobs to fellow Filipinos. What is your favourite character?
A: Spiderman. But it will be difficult to draw a Spiderman comic because of all the background scenes of New York City. The good thing about Planet Hulk is that there are no design laws or principles!
Q: Which character would you like to work on next?
A: I have been drawing a lot of male characters, so I’d like to work on X23. (see sketch)
Q: What’s next?
A: I'll be doing more covers for Marvel, but it’s not announced yet, so I shouldn’t talk about it now. But I have been drawing more covers recently because I had to take a break 2 years ago. I had Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ).
Q: So what else should we check out?
A: Jay Tablante and his cosplay shoots of Elektra, Scarlet Witch, Emma Frost, Psylocke and X23. Sollen Heussaff and Barbie Forteza as X23! And my own blog, http://octographics.net/caloyblog/ .
Carlo drawing my own X23!