Exclusive Interview With Billy Tan
The upcoming Malaysian Comic and Gaming Convention (MGCCON) has a slew of guest lineup that visitors can look forward to meeting during the event. One of them is Billy Tan, a local boy that went on to become a comic artist and drawing in comics that is published by Image Comics and even Marvel. Thanks to the people at MGCCON, we managed to get in touch with Billy for him to answer us some questions. More after the jump!
Anime Shrine: Can you tell us how you got started into drawing?
Billy Tan: I have been drawing ever since I could remember. When I was young, I was very inspired by the black and white cartoon and shows like the Ultra man.
AS: How did you became involved with Image/Marvel?
BT: Back in 1994, Top Cow advertised for a Talent Search. I sent in my portfolio and was contacted by Top Cow‘s Editor David Whol. David let me draw a couple trading cards before he asked me to go to Top Cow‘s studio in San Diego (at that time) as a try out. I was lucky and grateful that Top Cow let me stay after that. I was with Top Cow for 10 years before moving to Marvel.
AS: How was the working environment in the US?
BT: I was quite happy while working in Homage and Top Cow‘s in house studio. It was a real humbling experiance to be with so many increadible artist around you. To name a few, there were Jeff Scott Campbell, Travis Cherest, Jim Lee, Whilce Potacio… March Silvestri was a really cool boss. He was down to earth and very humourous. If anything, it felt like working with a friend than a superior. Working for Marvel is different as they don’t have an inhouse studio for artist. So I just work from home. There are a lot of advantage working from home but it needs displine. The home environment could sometime be challenging when you have a 2 year old
running around. Hahah..
AS: Is it hard being an artist? As in how frequently you need to submit your works, deadlines and your pay for it
BT: Comic book field is the only one I have been in so far. So I can’t speak for other artists in different field. For me, it has been a pretty smooth ride and I feel very lucky to be a comic artist. I think if you work hard and meet you dead line, you will be fine and if your style is what the fans and editors like, then you are in a better place. Normally I was given 5 to 6 weeks to do a book. The pay depend on your popularity and ability. If you are good at both, then you can make a very good living doing comics.
AS: What is your favourite work that you have drawn?
BT: Probably some Uncanny X-Force issues. There were lots of details and my first pencil directly to colors issues.
AS: Who are your favourite comic artists?
BT: There are many. To name a few- Frank Quitely, Olivier coipel, Brian Hitch, Travis Charest…
AS: Your favourite comic title of all time?
AS: What do you think of the comic scene locally, in terms of the local artists and also the local consumers.
BT: I have been overseas for almost 2 decades now. I am not familiar with local artists but I do know there are a lot of enthusiastic fans.
AS: Do you think that one day Malaysia can have it’s own comic identity/style?
BT: I think we do. Don’t we? We have more of the humourous approach to the media like Gila gila and Lat. But to create another genre and style is possible as well.
AS: Any messages to your local fans?
BT: See you guys at MGCC! Malaysia Boleh!
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