A detail of the cover of Supercrooks, Yu's recent illustration
The Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention (STGCC) is two days of geek fun, from cosplay contests to live sketch-offs, DJ battles, manga displays, video-game demos, forums and much more. Last year, more than 30,000 people came to see the attractions from 98 exhibitors – and it’s set to be bigger this year. But one of its main draws is that it brings to town some of the world’s most talented people in areas such as toy design and comic drawing.
One of them is Leinil Yu, 34, a Filipino comic book artist who first read a copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way when he was 11, and went on to produce a series of fan art in Wizard magazine. After starting to work at the studio of famed Filipino-American artist Whilce Portacio, Yu got his big break in 1997, working on Marvel’s Wolverine, then the world’s fourth highest-selling comic book.
In the 13 years since, he’s become a Marvel staple, working on everything from X-Men to Superman: Birthright, Wolverine vs. Hulk and New Avengers, as well as doing magazine covers, toy packaging and art for movies and video games. He was also one of 62 artists who in 2011 set a world record for the fastest production of a comic book, as well as the largest number of contributors. Currently working with Kick-Ass writer/co-creator Mark Millar on a new title, Supercrooks, Yu tells us about his craft.
When did you start drawing?
I’ve been drawing as long as I can remember – it’s ingrained in my genes to etch my imagination onto paper, and I was doing it before I could write the letters of the alphabet.
Tell us about the process that took you from being someone who loves drawing to working as a Marvel illustrator.
It’s really been a lifetime of non-stop drawing, from cartoons to comics, and it’s just evolved. The pivotal point in my career was when Whilce came back to the Philippines from the US to scout for talent. He became my mentor, helped me refine my work and, crucially, showed my work to Marvel Comics.
What is the process of the work from start to finish?
I lay out digitally using Photoshop and a Cintiq [a kind of digital notepad], print out the drawing and then finish it traditionally using a lightbox and pencil. I then scan it again to send it to my inker, or edit on Photoshop again. So it’s a mix between traditional and digital techniques.
Which other illustrators do you most admire?
Travis Charest [Canadian illustrator known for working without preliminary sketches] is the artist I admire the most, for so many reasons. The detail, style and beauty of his art are beyond words.
STGCC 2012 is at Sands Expo & Convention Centre on 1 & 2 Sep. See www.singaporetgcc.com.