Posted April 15, 2016 by Norby Ela in Comics

LET’S TALK KOMIKS: Rod Espinosa is Immortal and Steampunk

Immortal Wings artist Rod Espinosa is locally known to be one of the Filipino artists who gets to work with publishers with such works as NeotopiaThe Courageous Princess, The Dragon Queen and many more. FlipGeeks got to talk lots of things to Espinosa while he’s working on a local release of Steampunk Snow Queen.

This is Let’s Talk Komiks.

LTK Rod Espinosa 02FLIPGEEKS: When did you start doing komiks?ROD ESPINOSA: When I was 12 years old, or so. Every summer from there, I made one or two small comics. When I was 15, I made my first color comics with pentel pens. Quite a leap.

Do you reside here?
You can say I do. But I always move around. For me, the concept of a “home base” is becoming more and more vague. Anywhere where there is electricity and internet, I can work.

You’ve been doing outside work mostly than here locally, right? How did you get your first gig?
Yes, about 99% of my work is overseas. With the newly released Immortal Wings being a happy exception as it was drawn locally while I am here.

I got my first work by mailing my stuff out to various companies. At the time, I sent work out to Marvel (Comics), Image (Comics), NBM (Publishing) and Antarctic Press. I got kind rejections from the others. Antarctic accepted my work and I began doing backup stories of 4 pages each.

Do you have any advice yo any komiks artists on how can they try to get work
outside the Philippines
I would say new artists are very lucky now. You have the internet and strong computers. With that, you can get work anywhere in the world and still just work locally. That being said, it is good to be going to conventions to meet people and show your work. That’s how I got my gigs

Would you recommend that artists should go to the U.S. and attend comic cons to show their portfolio is the way to go to get more chances to get international work?
Going to the US is ok, however it is expensive. Keep an eye out for Marvel and DC reps in local shows. They do come here so it saves the trip. As for meeting collaborators, Internet art and chat groups can be useful.

There’s a lot of talent here. And I am glad to see so many participating during conventions. We have a lot of talented young people for sure.

Also, of course, making friends with local artists who ply their trade locally. Unlike back then, there really is no more need to go overseas to be known. There is a whole pile of artists now just living here but have work overseas with foreign firms. The Internet has made the need to travel less important.

What kind of stories do you like to draw?
Usually fantasy. period stories. I once did a long stint illustrating 45 lady bird type books for ABDO Publishing.

Have you released any lokal komiks?
4 years ago, I self published A Christmas Carol using local printers and sold them here exclusively before it was picked up by Dark Horse (Comics). Today, I am self publishing the collection of Steampunk Snow Queen locally. I hope it will be on time for the upcoming Komikon.

Steampunk Snow Queen 01 cov

How did your A Christmas Carol get picked up by Dark Horse?
I sent it to them. At the time, they were publishing the Courageous Princess. I pitched it as a classic story retold. They agreed to pick it up along with my interpretation of Alice in Wonderland.

Tell us about your Steampunk Snow Queen?
Snow Queen is an old Russian fairy tale. It is the same story Frozen is based on. I keep more of the original story in my retelling. No comedic snowmen for me. Though I do have a royal family in there also with two daughters (named princess Gianna and Emma ). My portrayal of parents has more weight and substance to them. I also wanted Emma the future Snow Queen to be a more tormented character. It was a really fun project for me. The collection will hopefully be out at Komikon. We got lots of time, yet.

I would say new artists are very lucky now.

Tell us something about Immortal Wings. Issue #3 is going out this month, right?
It should be issue #3. Immortal Wings is about the life of a galactic bounty hunter and her dragon sidekick / agent who get into a tangle with the Imperial Shogunate about a prophecy involving an unknown rabbit farmer. Action and adventure ensues as they try to evade the Imperial forces!

Alien gangsters, violent schoolgirls and space vikings all mix in this one whale of a tale!

Could you give us anything on what’s gonna happen on issue #3?
Episode 3 is the heroes’ low point in the series. They are still pursued by other bounty hunters and the Imperial military finally catches up!

LTK Rod Espinosa 01

What kind of interesting stuff or were there any challenges while working on this issue?Not too much. I think the biggest challenge is coming up with the bounty hunter junk ship design. I wanted something that was StarWarsy SlaveOne-ish. Hopefully, the design I came up with will fit the bill.

What do you think of the local comics books here?
There’s a lot of talent here. And I am glad to see so many participating during conventions. We have a lot of talented young people for sure.

Have you recently read any komiks?
Yes. My very first new local book some years ago was Budjette Tan’s Trese, then Tepai Pascual’s Maktan 1592, Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer and Wasted, then Gerry and Arnold Arre’s Rodski Patotski…. and of course Carlo Vergara’s Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady and Zhazha Zaturnnah komiks. I follow and read up many others such as Kikomachine by Manix Abrera and occasionally when I see a newspaper I read his strips there, Callous by my fellow writer/artist and collaborator Carlo San Juan, Ambush drawn by my old college buddy Andrew Villar, Pasig, Mythspace, Noodle Boy… and some random titles here and there.

Of the older artists, I’ve always been a fan of works by Roni Santiago, Jess Abrera, Hal Santiago, Fransisco Coching, Tonton Young, Mar Santana… I am sure I forget a few. And I like Larry Alcala’s work especially Slice of Life.

People would ask local comic book artists whether if there is a  ‘Filipino’ art style. Do we have one?
Yes, there is one. It is the style you see in a lot of old Filipino komiks. Clem Rivera, Alex Nino, exemplifies this style.

If we do, is it distinct from other styles?
It is close to the classic American style. Both of them use fine brushwork for the majority of the lines including the faces. And use a lot of crow quills for details.

You mostly recognize the style when you see how the faces are drawn and the details on the paneling like scroll work and Celtics knots though almost nobody does that nowadays.

Are there any komiks that you wanna buy this year?
I have a long list of books to buy all the time. At some point, I need to complete the titles from Arnold Arre, PMJR (Pol Medina Jr.), Budjette Tan, Paolo Herras, Tepai Pascual, Manix Abrera, the Jimenez brothers, Gilbert Monsanto and whatever work comes out from the artists like Taga Ilog, Ryan Orosco, E.A. Damaso, Reina Roque, Aaron Felizmeno, Jon Zamar, (and a few others whose names escape me for the moment) whom I randomly pick out and buy from. But I am not in a rush to complete it. Every convention, I find a title that is on my list.


Norby Ela

Now residing in San Diego, CA, I strive to work in art and further grow FlipGeeks around the world.