Wednesday, January 04, 2006

What's in Store for 2006

"Hi Gerry, Ultimate Hulk and Wolverine by Leinil is now available. Don't you have any regrets in turning down this project to concentrate on your own? Sayang kasi. The artwork of Leinil would have been much better if those were inked."

This was asked of me in the comments section of an earlier post in this blog, but I don't remember if it was Erwin or Rene. Anyway, I thought it was a pretty good question and I mean to answer it as honestly and as frankly as I can.

I know some people have been disappointed that I didn't continue inking Leinil on this project from Silent Dragon, and I'm very, very glad and flattered of their appreciation of our work together. To them I extend heartfelt apologies.

It would have been great, I'm sure, inking Leinil on this project. But I've been feeling pretty burned out doing inks for the last couple of years, after doing it for so long. I figured I had to stop while I still enjoyed it, before I started to mess up. The wish to assert my own creativity has been steadily growing for the past several years. I did start out doing comics in 1992 with the full intent of pencilling and inking, and possibly even writing my own work. And I have done so professionally with stints in UZI Weekly and Terror Komiks for Mass Media Publications.

Dracula's Wives
UZI Weekly, 1992

My artwork was the runner-up in a Cable Cover Contest Wizard Magazine held around the same time, and the judge, Bart Sears, observed that my inking seemed to be stronger than my other skills, an observation that was shared by Whilce Portacio when I joined his studio a couple of years later. And so it was how I found myself becoming a professional inker. It was great having to work on stuff like Wetworks and Grifter, and to work with people like Whilce so early in my career.

But a part of my confidence got bruised rather badly. "Is inking really all I'm good for?", I kept thinking. It's a thought that never strayed far from my mind in all these years.

I've since worked on many of the greatest characters in comics: Batman, Superman, The X-Men, Fantastic Four, Wolverine, and a lot more. Just inking Superman, my all time greatest comic book super hero, was an all-time high for me and I don't think or even aspire to top it. As an inker, I think I've done all I possibly can, and I think the time has come to move on.

From a certain point of view, it may seem to be a stupid decision, not doing something like Ultimate Hulk and Wolverine. Creatively, the Ultimate universe of Marvel holds very little appeal to me personally. I really don't like my Marvel heroes to be this dark and so touched by realism. I grew up on Marvel heroes in the 70's and 80's and they are my favorite eras as far as Marvel heroes are concerned. As a fan, I rarely buy any of the new comics, but I spend a lot of money buying their Essential collections, trade paperbacks, hardcovers, and Visionaries books.

Financially, it's not the wisest move. But ultimately, it's not really about just the money. It would have been financially rewarding, but I would just have been literally dying inside. It's possibly a hard concept for the more business minded to grasp, but for an artist, the expression of his art is something very important and integral to his well-being. And I think I've held it back long enough.

It's a good possibility that I may never work on those great characters I had inked as a penciller, but through the years, I've realized that my developing artistic sensibilities lend themselves less and less towards the super-heroic. My work, as it is turning out now, may not be the best style suited for mainstream super hero comic books. It would be cool to do that kind of thing one of these days, even on those characters I had previously inked, but for now, I've got to go where my art leads me.

I find great satisfaction in working on new characters, either those created by myself or with a collaborator. Humanis Rex! is one of those things. People have asked me what I'm working on, now that I'm done with Silent Dragon. I tell them Humanis Rex, Johnny Balbona, Graphic Classics, and others. If I can interpret their reactions they all seem to be saying the same thing: "No really, what are you really working on?"

Well, this is IT man, Humanis Rex! is my major work for the moment. And it will be a significant part of my work for the rest of 2006. With my inking work over, I've been spending more and more time to doing this series, trying to make each installment better than the last. It takes a week to pencil, ink, color and letter two pages. That leaves me ample time to do other things, specially the odd adaptation of classic short stories for Graphic Classics.

I've just finished pencilling, inking and lettering an adaptation of Rafael Sabatini's "Plague of Ghosts" for Graphic Classics. I've learned my lessons the hard way doing this story as it took far longer than I expected. Difficult though doing this story was compared to previous work I did for this publisher, I look at the finished pages and I've got to say I'm rather proud of it.

I'm doubly proud because this volume also includes a 40-page story illustrated by my buddy Carlo Vergara. And his art is just fantastic, as it usually is. Watch out for this book sometime in the next few months.

More information about this volume here.

And as I previously mentioned, I'm involved in another project that will hopefully be good for the Philippine comics industry in 2006. And there's another project, stateside this time, that I'm equally excited over, and it's all happening this year. It's my objective to tire myself out mercilessly all year. It's a make or break time for me in a way, but looking at all the things I need to do, I really can't have it any other way.

But I've yet to answer the question. Do I ever regret not inking Ultimate Wolverine? Looking at the stuff I've managed to do in its place there is only one answer I can think of.

Not really.