Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cammo - Diva's First (Interview) At STGCC

Italian? Check
Handsome? Check
Smells good? Check
Geeky glasses? Check. CHECK.

Do ignore first four sentences if one is not interested in Red Dot Diva's auto-mental checklist when she met comic artist Giuseppe Camuncoli for the very first time.

- whiff of his flowery male fragrance -
(For a moment, Red Dot Diva feared that this was going to get terribly distracting. Focus!)

Beneath those dark, enigmatic John Lennon-istic good looks, is a talented rather soft-spoken artist who was very ready to share about his experiences in the comic industry.

Giuseppe Camuncoli, or affectionately known as "Cammo", told Red Dot Diva that he started drawing as a young boy; his love for anime and manga fueling his inspirations as he learnt how to draw the images that he loved from memory. He did not have any formal art training until he joined a course relating to comics. After which, he self-produced an Italian publication called "Bonerest".

He tried to launch himself in the US comics market by attending and showed his works at SDCC for some years. That was where he was discovered and asked to work for DC's "Swamp Thing" and that was when he broke into the USA market. Currently, he is working on Marvel's comic projects.

Red Dot Diva was curious as to who his main supporters were in getting him to work as a full-time artist. "Oh yes, there were many people," Cammo nodded. "There were my friends who said that 'you know, you should do it'." After a short pause, Cammo then continued meaningfully, "And also, my father, who said that I should really try to see if I can make this work."

Red Dot Diva told him she was heartened to hear such strong encouragement from family, when in Asia, family members would be mostly quick to warn that one could not make a real living out of art.

As the topic shifted to Asia, Red Dot Diva mentioned to Cammo that in "Dark Wolverine #81- A Cautionary Tale", she noticed that compared to the other stories in the previous pages, his panels had a very noticeably manga slant in terms of flow and perspective. And that Daken was also more recognizably Asian in look and style. She told him that these aspects stood out most for her as the story made a more visual impression in her mind.

"I thought that Daken looked too Westernized and the same like any other of the characters, so I tried to give him a more Asian look... like having his eyes a bit more slanted...or the way he moves, because as you said, he is half-Japanese and he has to look more like an Asian."

"I do not know too much about the Japanese culture," Cammo confessed, "I don't speak or write Japanese. I only speak Italian, English and French. But I will also do lots of research and try to put more Asian things into the story. You know, like when Daken is sitting down and drinking tea..."

At that point, Red Dot Diva animatedly told him that setting was indeed one of the things that made that short story particularly close to heart. It is quite typically Asian to be outwardly calm and controlled (and drinking tea at the same time) even while there may something raging inside.

"And it is also because of Marjorie Liu.. you know, the writer for Daken... she is half-Chinese and so she understands the culture very well. When she wanted a setting to be in China, she will help and send me pictures, links and information so that I can research more."

Despite the noticeable Asian influences in his art for Dark Wolverine, this was Giuseppe's very first time to Asia and he was quite excited to be here. Red Dot Diva asked if he had any pre-trip expectations or ideas about Singapore.

Cammo shook his head. "Well, no. I do not really form too much of an expectation about a place that I am going to visit. People told me a lot of things about Singapore. That it is a nice country.. it is a very clean place.. and there is a lot of food - everywhere. But sometimes it is better and more interesting to come to a place and just experience it."

Red Dot Diva wondered if he had seen anything interesting since he arrived. "No, I haven't really gone anywhere yet. All I have been is from the hotel to the convention centre. But I think tomorrow, they are taking us to a food tour and take us around to the city. And then maybe I will get to see more."

From what little he had seen so far though, Cammo thinks that he might still be able to bring back and include a little bit of the South-East Asian experience in his future art. "Sure there are things that are visually interesting .. like the buildings, the flowers... and the faces. Many people forget that there are many different cultures and art in this part of Asia. It is just like in different parts of Italy, there are many different kinds of foods... "

With all the hard work involved in turning out pages of beautiful work for the various weekly comic series, Red Dot Diva asked Cammo if he regularly judged his own work, and if he was always hard on himself about those judgements. "The deadlines for the comics are very tight and sometimes you find that you miss something, or you made a mistake and you go ( - insert expletive in sexy Italian accent - ).... but you have to learn how to accept that and keep on learning. Because sometimes I look back at the things I drew five years ago and I go, 'wow, did I really do that??' It goes in both directions, you know. So.. yes, I judge my work, but I try not to be too hard on myself about it." Very wise, Red Dot Diva agreed.

Cammo then offered his quiet wisdom to aspiring comic artists. "You can be asked to do a comic and then, from what I hear, it is more difficult to get a second job sometimes. Maybe because there may be problems with the editor or writer. Or the comic is not popular with the fans. I am lucky. This did not happen to me... but it has happened to many people before. So to be able to have work, you have to continue to be open, and to keep learning. And you have to be focused."

Cammo and the evil geek-girl
To round up the interview, Red Dot Diva put Cammo in a spot when she posted him the question on how much he likes geek girls.

"I am married, so I can't really comment on that," Cammo was very quick to say. Red Dot Diva laughed at his flustered reaction for she has received all kinds of answers before from this deceptively simple question.

Cammo then assured that, "It doesn't matter if you are a geek girl. So long as you do not have a bad attitude or are very negative. People will still like you. Then, it is not a problem if you are a geek girl or not."

And with that, Red Dot Diva decided to let him off the hook. ;)

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