Thursday, October 9, 2014
Interview with Alan Quah
Some of you would be familiar with the work of Alan Quah, a regular at our comic con. Here's an interview with the emerging pro.
Name: Alan Quah
How did you get started? (eg. first break and first titles?)
I started drawing at a very young age (4+) and got my first break when NST's Daniel Chan (who wrote the biweekly comic column) got a group of young local artists and published APAzine back in 1985.
How important was it to build a fan base in your own home country first, ie. you were already working on comic titles in your own home country before sending your work overseas?
To be honest, I never really had a fan base in my own country when I started out, I did a couple of gigs for local comics like Fantasi and some humour magazines in the 80's. Of course back then my work was very amateurish, I was 15 or 16 then. I quit drawing comics in the 90's, worked in Advertising and eventually formed my own small agency, ET CETERA. In 2005, I decided to come out from my art sabbatical and started drawing again and got my first gig on The Eldrich for Comics Conspiracy, an Indy publisher. And thanks to social media like Facebook, I get to show more of my work to the world and this is when the communication with the fans started. I also got noticed by "important" people in the industry and eventually got myself represented by talent managers to reach out to the publishers.
My real break came last year when I was involved in DC's The Vampire Diaries and Legendary Comics' Godzilla Awakening.
Do you have an agent?
Yes, I am currently represented by Space Goat Productions LLC.
Pros and cons of working in your home country instead of being based in the West? (eg. Working relationship with writers and editors? More/less opportunities to meet fans and receive feedback?)
I would think the pros would be the conversion rate, I earn US dollars which amount to a good pay check here. The cons are definitely meeting the fans and editors face to face, but with the internet it helps a lot, they still get to connect with me almost instantly. I missed out on the opportunity on comic convention appearances a lot, something that I would like to do more often in the near future.
An interesting story that happened to you while working on a title?
When I was working on my Godzilla assignment, I was afflicted with Bell's Palsy, a condition that paralysed the right side of my face. I can't blink and move my the right side of my eye and mouth, that proved to be a burden to draw. I can't stay up straight for more than 20 mins and have to lie down a lot. But deadline is nearing, the publisher didn't know I was sick and because it was a major project I persevered to meet my deadline. It took me longer to draw a page, I stay up till late to keep up with the deadline, drawing for 15 mins, lie down for 20 mins until I complete a page everyday and upload my page as usual. I eventually met my deadline with 3 days to spare and when the publisher found out about my condition they were very happy with my professionalism. That opened a lot of doors.
What are the advantages and/or challenges of being a freelancer?
The biggest challenge is getting regular work, there are times when the gigs don't come for months and I have to keep myself sharp, artistically by drawing commissions and sketches.
Do you do comics fulltime or do you have to take on other assignments?
I am still running my advertising agency while working on comics.
You had an exhibition in Taipei recently. Tell us about it.
The Taiwan trip, is a Joint Venture between Malaysia's Roots Studio (founded by Lau Shaw Ming and Michael Chuah) and Taiwan's Flying Fish Creative, sponsored by the Cultural Affairs Department, New Taipei City. The event is New Taipei City ACG Festival. My exhibition is part of the festival to promote comics and manga art, cosplay, games and toys. It was very well promoted via media coverage, and the exhibition hall was also well designed with 3 rooms dedicated to the exhibition. To date the event has exceeded 20,000 people. The Taiwan crowd is amazing, very well mannered people and I enjoyed my stay there.
Advice for new artists trying to break into the industry?
Don't be lazy! Keep drawing and challenging yourself to draw better than your last piece. Never be satisfied with what you are doing currently and to have an open mind to learn everyday. I am still learning and never plan to stop.