Filipino artists aiming to work for Marvel Comics need not fly or teleport to New York like a superhero.
They can stay in a sleepy town in Pangasinan, study architecture, post a Thor pin-up online and let admirers tweet and share it on social media until it reaches the world’s largest comic book publisher.
It may be surreal, but this is the track that led Dexter Soy to pencilling Captain Marvel, a new series starring Marvel’s flagship superheroine Carol Danvers, formerly known as Ms. Marvel.
“Last November, (Trese writer) Budjette Tan stumbled upon my Deviantart page and tweeted the Thor fan art that I did, which caught (Marvel senior vice president of creative and creator development) C.B. Cebulski’s attention. Cebulski then emailed me asking for some more of my stuff and I responded,” Soy narrates.
“Later, his assistant asked me to do try-out pages. A week after that, Steve Wacker, my current editor, emailed me and asked me if I can hop in for the team Captain Marvel.”
Tan says he is blown away by Soy’s artwork that feels like part of the concept art for the Thor movie. “When C.B. was in Manila (for the “Crash Course on Comic Biz” talk), that was the only time he mentioned that Dexter got a Marvel gig soon after he answered that email.”
He adds, “Of course, I was happy to find out that Dexter got that Marvel gig. I’m always happy and proud to find out that a Pinoy worked on a foreign project. I think these guys who get to work for Marvel and DC and other foreign companies are a source of inspiration for all comic book artists.”
Soy becoming an international superstar artist like Leinil Yu (New Avengers), Carlo Pagulayan (Hulk), Mico Suayan (Punisher) and Stephen Segovia (Xtreme X-men) is not far-fetched.
“I feel proud, flattered and I feel pressured as well. And please don’t call me a ‘superstar artist’ — ‘Filipino artist’ would do,” Soy says.
Soy is surprised with the publicity his comic is getting. “I wasn’t expecting them to give me a famous title since I’m a newcomer. Moreover, it’s my first Marvel work,” Soy says. “I was surprised, too, because I only found out later on that it was a headlined title when it was teased over the net.”
Soy admits he has not read the previous adventures of Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel, whom non-comic enthusiasts may remember as the fallen superhero from whom Rogue absorbed flight and super strength powers in the ’90s X-Men cartoon.
In the comics continuity, Danvers falls into a coma because of Rogue’s attack, gets experimented on by aliens, gets to possess the power of a star as “Binary,” gets lost in her powers again. The she becomes a self-destructive alcoholic before she turns her life around as a member of the Avengers. She is also a rape victim.
“As far as the new story goes, it looks like she’s trying to give meaning to her new title as Captain,” says Soy. He says readers should expect “great characterization, action, World War 2, planes, mechas and bad-ass stuff.”
Soy is working with critically acclaimed writer Kelly Sue DeConnick. “She’s a really wise writer,” he says. “She knows what she wants and (is) very considerate and a hard worker. She also gave me a lot of pointers which truly opened a whole lot more views for me as an artist.”
Soy has had to deal with the naysayers of Carol Danvers’ new costume.
“I think they don’t like it because they were accustomed to Ms. Marvel as a sexy character, which is obvious from her past costume,” he says thoughtfully. “There’s nothing much I can say if they don’t like it, actually. As of now, it’s still new to their eyes; but I think the new look would grow on them and I hope they’ll realize that it’s an intelligently fitting costume for her.”
Soy says the new costume was designed by Jamie Mckelvie who aimed for a more military look to reflect the character’s skills as an Air Force pilot.
“I actually don’t mind if I only get to do a few issues for the title,” Soy says. “I’ll leave that to the readers and my editors if they like what I do. But I’m doing my best to give the title justice.”
Though Soy never initiated sending sample works to Marvel Comics, he had previously pencilled a comic book published by gaming giant Electronic Arts in 2009.
“They can also check out Spartacus #2 which I did two years ago, and Army of 2 #1-6,” he says. “But I was already trying to do some collaborations with different independent writers back then.”
He cites Joe Madureira, Ashley Wood, Greg Capullo and Humberto Ramos as his inspirations.
“I dig what I see in their work. I always want to convey dynamism, movement, kinetic energy and aggression in my drawings,” Soy says.
Soy hopes Filipinos will support and pick up Captain Marvel #1 that will be released this July.
“I hope they like what I did visually for my first work in Marvel,” Soy says.
Expect Soy to put some “easter eggs” for Filipino readers in the comics. “You need to stay tuned for that,” Soy says.
Outside Marvel Comics, Soy is doing a self-published comic book and a sketchbook.
Asked what his advice is to aspiring artists who want his job, Soy says, “Have fun and enjoy what you do. Believe in yourself and keep pushing forward.”
(Story courtesy of Jerald T. Uy of Rappler.com)