Thursday, February 2, 2012

CBNAH Interview: Leinil Yu

leinil yu

Renaldo was able to pick the brains of superstar artist Leinil Yu. The artist responsible for Secret Invasion, Superior, and a resume as long as your arm, talks about his influences, breaking into the industry working with Mark Millar. Check it out after the jump!

CBNAH: How did you get into art? What age and did you attend art school, if so?

Yu: I've  always loved drawing as a child.  As far as I can remember, I've been drawing even before I was able to write my ABCs.  I drew on my alphabet sheet.  I took up advertising in college for 2 years before finally getting into Whilce Portacio's studio. a year after, I landed the Wolverine gig which set me for life.  that was the short version.

CBNAH: When did you realise you wanted to draw comics for a living? How did you break into mainstream comics in the US?

Yu: I always knew I'm gonna build a career on my art. I figured I could work for advertising companies like my older brother did, or in animation studios.   In highschool, I started hanging out with guys who read comics and got me interested in it.  that was cemented by Whilce Portacio's visit to Manila.  Comics became my dream job.    

I started sending samples to different comic companies and got favorable responses from Darkhorse and Homage sudios (Wildstorm).  I got the hint that I got what it takes so I pursued it further.  

That was also the time that Whilce was in the Philippines scouting for talent to work on some Wildstorm projects.  Unfortunately, he wasn't too thrilled with my work then but after some prodding from Gerry Alanguilan, he gave me a shot.  Trained under him for a year while waiting for a job from Wildstorm.  a year of waiting ensued but no job came.  Whilce finally brought my work over to Marvel comics and they gave me the job!

CBNAH: Who were your greatest inspirations family-wise and art-wise (your artistic icons/heroes) growing up and entering the industry?

Yu: Biggest was Whilce Portacio, then of course the Image founders.  My parents of course played a crucial role supporting me along the way.  Also,working with Warren Ellis early in my career really gave a boost and a heavy dose of inspiration. 

CBNAH: Was it easy breaking into the art/comic illustrator business? What was your first job like and how pivotal were your friends and family in supporting your career?

Yu: Family and friends were everything.  couldn't have made it if not for the people who helped me along the way.  In my case, it wasn't too hard as I had the backing of an industry Icon, Whilce Portacio.  a lot of luck and serendipity involved.

CBNAH: What’s your favourite piece you worked on? (book-wise or client-wise etc) and also, your favourite moment ever as an artist?

Yu: Every time I work with a  writer is always a treat.  I've been very lucky to get paired up with brilliant writers. Getting the attention of the likes of Mark Millar and Brian Bendis is so self-assuring and satisfying.  I'm a lucky guy.  I would always consider my latest work as my favorite. Superior is my best work yet, IMO.  but I also am proud of my earlier creator-owned books: Silent Dragon with Andy Diggle and Highroads with Scott Lobdell.

CBNAH: How do you map out a job once you undertake it? E.g.. Going from concept to sketch to finished product…especially on comics.

Yu: I layout in photoshop/cintiq.  that way, I can resize/rearrange/flip panels.  then I play videogames and facebook.  then print em out on a3 then light box to finish.   I've gone through a bunch of processes before and this is where I'm at now. 


CBNAH: What is your favourite character/place/thing to draw?

Yu: Wolverine, Captain American and Spider-man in new york is always fun. 

CBNAH: What would be your artistic dream project or collaboration to work on, if you could pick anything in the world?

Yu: This is the hardest question to answer as I've been working with my writing heroes since the very start.  Right now, I'm living a dream working with Millar.  I'm set for life. 

CBNAH: Do you practise alternating styles in your art? How would you describe your main style?

Yu: I realize the only thing I can change in my style is the rendering.  I only draw men and women a certain way, and it only differs in my use of different methods of shading.   crosshatching, pencil grayscale, or marker shading are all different embellishments of the same art style.   It would be cool to have a completely new style, like say, a cartoon. 

CBNAH: With so much work done with Mark Millar, how do you find yourself attached to so many of his projects?

Yu: I am in the enviable position of having gained a foothold on Millar's good graces.  I'll work with him as often as he wants.  of course it's impossible to only do Millarworld stuff as he needs to collaborate with other artists as well:)  I can't thank him enough for giving me Superior and Supercrooks.

CBNAH: Many would know you as the New Avengers/Secret Invasion artist with Bendis, or the Superior-Millar artist, but how do you feel about the smaller titles you did such as 'Silent Dragon' and 'High Roads'?

Yu: I love them to bits and I'm really proud of them despite being almost a decade old.  I was just looking at my old Highroads and Silent dragon original art inked by Gerry and it  just reminds me of the excitement and hard work we went through.

CBNAH: How was it re-imagining Superman for BIRTHRIGHT with Mark Waid? That must have been a tall order with pressure as he's such an iconic hero!

Yu: It was!  It was supposed to be  our "Ultimate Superman" as I initially understood it but them they decided to make it "in continuity".  Proud of that book and that was the thing that caught Mark Millar's attention. 

CBNAH: What advice do you have for upcoming artists, especially in a country as my own where the norm and focus is on medicine, engineering etc and where art doesn’t thrive as an industry?

Yu: Pursue it harder than ever!  with the internet, geographic boundaries become meaningless.  set up websites and accounts on art forums.  If you are good enough, you will get a job!  work on smaller jobs to get better and better and just keep practicing! 

CBNAH: Future plans – art-wise? Which further books will you be working as 2011 rounds off to a close and 2012 begins?

Yu: An issue of Avenging Spider-man (issue 5) and SUPERCROOKS! 

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