An interview with our own Gary Choo.
Name: Gary Choo
Current titles working on: misc Marvel covers
Q: How did you get started? (eg. first break and first titles?)
A: I had formal animation and art training at Nanyang Polytechic digital media design. But the big break was when I met CB Celbuski at STGCC 2013. He introduced me to senior editor Nick Lowe, from there he got me to paint covers for a 3 part mini series called No End in Sight, it featured the Uncanny X-Men, Iron Man and Nova. I had lots of fun with it and Nick is just a pleasure to work with. Incredibly sweet guy! No End in Sight should be available as a tpb this November.
Q: Who are your influences?
A: So many! Capcom artists, Bengus, Akiman, Daigo Ikeno. Leinil Yu is a big one, I used to emulate him a lot when I was in school. Now I'm fairly confident to say I've got my own thing going. It's a process and that's what makes it all the more enjoyable as an artist.
Q: 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?
A: I guess it's always important to create hype. Now it's easier with facebook pages, facebook sharing. Also GNB Comics has been mega kind with letting me use their shop as a point of artist-fan contact. Before Marvel, I was helping one of my favorite creators, Sonny Liew with Liquid City 1 and recently the cover for Liquid City 3.
Q:Do you have an agent?
A: Not at the moment, but I had a really good response from an agent that handles top guys from Marvel. We'll see how that goes!
Q: 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?)
A: I think most Marvel Artists are working all over the place. Some in the Philippines, Spain, Mexico to name a few. I'm getting connected to fans, fellow artists easily through the Internet. Comic cons are now a common stable in this region, so opportunities to get feedbacks, reactions is fairly available. The artist has to be active to benefit from all these.
Q: An interesting story that happened to you while working on a title?
A: When my editor briefed me on the 2nd cover of No End in Sight. It was an Iron Man cover. Due to the time difference in New York, I just woke up to read his email and in my half awaken state I read something that was like "Have lasers blasting from Iron Man and him blasting back! More contrast!"
I struggled for the longest time to understand what it meant, I felt I was already going to fail at my second cover. How am I supposed to illustrate Iron Man blasting at himself. Maybe "more contrast!" was the key to understanding everything. At this point I was literally feeling powerless.
Well, I finally realized what an idiot I was. It really read, " Have lasers blasting AT Iron Man and him blasting back.
I had a good laugh at myself.
Q: What are the advantages and/or challenges of being a freelancer?
A: Can't really say, but It's been great for me. Currently I'm a full time Senior Concept Artist at a Local start up with a talented bunch of ex LucasArts crew called BoosterPack. It’s a company that makes games.
So I do the comic stuff after work hours. I'm living in both worlds. My candle is burning but I feel I have plenty of wax to go through. It's the perfect situation for me now.
Q: Do you do comics fulltime or do you have to take on other assignments?
A: When I can. I do sculpting in my free time. I used to hold classes when I was with Lucasfilm Singapore. I'm delighted to announce that I just made my first Toy sculpture with Mighty Jaxx and Sonny Liew. It was a really enjoyable experience. They're awesome and would totally do it again.
Q: Advice for new artists trying to break into the industry?
A: Hard work is always mentioned. Many times a game of chance. To increase these chances I'd like to say remember to stay relevant. Be nice, help your fellow artist. While self educating on art, educate the public when you can. When everyone is better informed it creates more opportunities to move forward, create, share and enjoy better art. Oh and just send your stuff out anyway. Never know who it may reach. Thanks for reading. I'll see you in the funny books!