Posted July 31, 2018 by Drew Bagay in Comics

APCC 2018: Comics Panel with Portacio, McKone, Sinclair, Medina, Noto and Artgerm


A big part of AsiaPop ComiCon 2018 are the panels with different international guests. One such panel that’s a mainstay in every APCC is the comics panel. This year, the comics panel was held on the final day with guests Whilce Portacio (Image Comics co-founder, X-Factor), Mike McKone (Justice League of America, Justice League International), Alex Sinclair (Wildcats, Batman), Lan Medina, Phil Noto (Black Widow, Uncanny X-Force) and Stanley “Artgerm” Lau.

The first topic the host RJ Ledesma opened was their journey in the comic book industry. For colorist Alex Sinclair, he started out as a penciller, and actually joined a talent search for colorists that he saw in Wildcats #2. He was then picked up by Jim Lee.

Filipino artist Lan Medina said he got into comics through Gilbert Monsanto, who then later introduced him to Whilce Portacio. “Nawawala na ang local comics nung panahon na ‘yon (local comics was dying at the time),” he said.

As for Phil Noto, he started out as an animator for Disney after graduating art school, and then jumped into comics full time after Lilo & Stitch because he believed “2D animation was on its way out.”

Interestingly, Artgerm had a different path in comics. He has a prolific presence in the art website Deviantart, and was discovered by DC Comics through there.

“I submitted my portfolio at a convention when I was 19,” British arist Mike McKone said. He also admitted he was rejected by the British comics magazine 2000 A.D. multiple times. Because he broke into the American comic book industry first, he knew more American creators but was influenced by British artists such as Brian Bolland and Dave Gibbons.

After everyone has told their comics journeys, Ledesma then moved on what it’s like in the day of the artists, and what they work on.

Sinclair said he works 8 to 10 hours a day, but it’s important to “police your work” to avoid getting distracted. He added, “I do an average of 3 to 4 pages on a normal day.” But quickly said he can do up to 15 pages when deadlines are tight.

“I do about 4 pages a day with inks,” Medina said. When asked about the difference between US and Philippine styles, he said, “malayo ang agwat (the difference is big),” further mentioning that American creators have more details in their work.


From left to right: host RJ Ledesma, Mike McKone, Whilce Portacio, Artgerm, Phil Noto, Lan Medina, Alex Sinclair.

Working both as a cover and interior artist, Noto said he works 10 to 12 hours a day. “I like to mix it up so I won’t get bored,” he said on jumping between covers and interior pages. Doing covers requires more detailed art, and one cover can take up 8 hours of work for him.
There are times when covers need to be done first, even without a script. For those instances, Noto sketches a rough idea first and submits it to an editor for an approval.

Being different from the rest of the guests, digital artist Artgerm only does variant covers for DC Comics. Even though they’re variants, he wants it to be “just as good as the main cover, so people would buy both.” He revealed that since they’re variant covers, he has free reign over the art. “Just do you Artgerm thing,” as DC would tell him.

While in the topic of digital art, Whilce Portacio goes back and forth between digital and traditional paper and pen. He sees the benefits of digital because “it can save a lot of time” when committing errors or just simply wanting to go back to previous sketches.

In his time in Image Comics, he told that he had a friendly competition with fellow artist Jim Lee. “I would do a splash page and then he’d outdo me with a double splash page,” he said.

McKone admitted that he is not a fan of digital art, though he colors digitally. “It just doesn’t look natural, because it looks too perfect,” he said. And so, he still draws on paper.

Finally, Ledesma asked everyone the traditional closing statements in every panel – advice to aspring artists.

Sinclair started by saying you have to “take note of what editors like” and apply in future works.

Huwag mahiyang magtanong sa mga professionals (don’t be afraid to ask from pros),” Medina simply said.

Like in his workshop the day before, Noto said to just “practice drawing everyday.” It’s always a plus to have a good foundation on art.

Finding one’s own style was Artgerm’s advice. “You have to develop your own visual aesthetics.”

Whilce Portacio said to “utilize the internet.” It’s easy these days to find online tutorials and whatnot, but also take into account the feedback from other people on your work.

Piggybacking on Portacio’s story about his friendly competition with Jim Lee, McKone’s advice was to find a buddy to learn with, as it’s better and faster to grow together than individually.

After all the panelists said their piece, Ledesma directed everyone for a photo op with the crowd, and ended the comics panel.

Check out some clips and highlights from the comics panel below.

Drew Bagay

Drew is a lover of comic books, movies, and all things pop culture. He enjoys crime/thriller/noir fiction, playing the guitar, and taking long walks. He also doesn't like talking in third person.