Sunday, December 19, 2010

From The Simpsons To Pachuko Boy!

There are not many people who have not heard of "The Simpsons".

And for those who do watch the award-winning and longest-running American animated series, almost everyone has an opinion who their favourite Simpsons character is. At the least, one would have uttered "D'oh!" at one point or other.

But has anyone heard of "Pachuko Boy"??

Ahh... here's where the nosy Red Dot Diva gives you the scoop about "Pachuko Boy", gleaned from an interview with Emmy Award-winning, comic creator veteran Phil Ortiz during STGCC.

Red Dot Diva first bumped into Phil at a member's event the night before. He was sitting on a couch quietly amongst the chaos, looking jetlagged but totally engrossed and focused on drawing a sketch for a fan. The next time she saw Phil, he was at good friend Phil Yeh's "Winged Tiger" STGCC booth, yet again engrossed and focused on drawing a Simpsonized sketch for a fan.

It was only on the third time (phew! stalking can be tiring!) that she managed to sit down "comfy-comfy" with Phil and have a rather casual chat with him.

Having seen Phil solemnly occupied on doing his drawings, Red Dot Diva was pleasantly surprised to note that he was in a superbly friendly and chirpy mode that afternoon. Phil was concerned that the exhibition hall's noise was going to affect the interview audio recording. He also seemed to have a bit of a sore throat, so Red Dot Diva peppily shifted herself to the seat beside him so he could hear and talk to her better.

Red Dot Diva warmed up the interview session by asking Phil questions on the familiar topic of "The Simpsons".

Red Dot Diva: How tight are your deadlines for "The Simpsons" comic?
Phil: Well the deadline for the comic books are a lot more lenient than the animation show that I worked for in the first two seasons. To pencil a 25-page story takes about 3 weeks. Then I'll send it to the inker, inker sends it to the colorist.. the colorist sends to the letterer.

Red Dot Diva: Do you write the story for the comics as well?
Phil: No, they mail me the script and then I read the script, and they have all the art directions on it and I'll draw it from there.

Red Dot Diva: Everyone seems to love Apu because he is someone that we can easily identify with.
Phil gave a big smile and said: Yes, there are many Indians around the world. I was in Germany and there were some Indians there. And they ask me, 'Did you draw Apu?' and I said yes and they said, 'Apu is our hero!' So I'm like a hero for designing Apu. He's definitely one of the favourite characters...Yes.

Red Dot Diva told Phil that she had heard about the background story regarding the North Hollywood, 7-11 store clerk whom he had based the design on Apu on. She was curious as to what Phil would say if he actually saw the store clerk again. Phil laughed and exclaimed, "He would actually say something to me! Where's my royalties? He would say, ( -- with a good impression of an Indian accent -- ) 'oooh.. give me my money.. 20 years I'm on TV and you have not told me anything.' He'll ask for a percentage or he'll sue me." Then, in a slightly wistful tone, Phil said, "I have no idea about his whereabouts now."

Red Dot Diva: Have you been asked to draw anything strange while you were here?
Phil: Strange.... AHH! Yes, yes, I think so. Someone asked for "The Simpsons" characters doing strange things.
Red Dot Diva: Oh wow.
Phil: I don't want to get into any details on that, but you can just paint a mental picture, you know.

On hindsight, Red Dot Diva really should not have asked that question, for she already has a pretty warped sense of imagination!

Like many of this year's STGCC guests, this was also Phil's first visit to the Red Dot Island. So Red Dot Diva asked if he had met any interesting fans or anyone memorable while he was at the convention. At this point, Phil became visibly animated as he shared about a special surprise guest.

"There was an actor here. An American actor. He's Latino like me - Edward James Olmos." Red Dot Diva gleefully said that she had seen someone post a picture of EJO visiting the convention too!

Phil continued, "Well there is another TV show that my partner and I have sold, and we approached Edward James Olmos to do a voice for our show last year at the San Diego conference. I only met him once but two days ago, I was drawing at my booth and he just comes up to my booth. 'Phil! How are you doing? How are you doing, man?!' and I was like ( - acting surprised and excited, eyes open wide - ) 'Edward James!!!!' and he was talking to me like I was an old friend of his. He told me that there's an animated TV show here in Singapore that he has been working on."

Being curious as always, Red Dot Diva had to ask what this new TV show that Phil is talking about.

"It's called 'The Adventures of Pachuko Boy'." Phil then explained that the word "Pachuko" - a Latino term meaning "zoot suit" - was a negative connotation as "pachukos" were seen to be gangsta-type dudes. "Our show is going to be for kids for around 10 - 14 years old. We are going to try to change the negative term into something positive. So, Pachuko is a super-hero. He is the guardian of his neighbourhood and he has some super-powers. He has a talking bike.

We've been working on this show for 7 years and we've just sold it. All we have to do is sign the contract now, probably in beginning Jan 2011. Then, we start pre-production on it."

Red Dot Diva then learn from Phil that the format for "Pachuko Boy" was going to be similar to "The Simpsons", with guest voices from a host of Latino celebrities like Antonio Banderas, Cheech and Chong, Lynda Carter, Raquel Welch, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Ricki Martin and Santana.

"We are all excited and all ready to go. It is virtually impossible to sell something whether it's an idea for a TV show or movie, but we did it! Eight years. Not too bad! We did it." Phil looked positively pleased and really happy. It was heartwarming for Red Dot Diva to see him so upbeat and passionate about the new animated series. Obviously, the project means a lot of him.

As time was running out, Red Dot Diva asked if he had any useful advice for aspiring young artists.
Phil: Yes, I have. If they are in school, like college, if they want to become cartoonists/ artists/ illustrationists, they should take two classes if they want to draw correctly - Perspective and Figure Drawing. Both go hand-in-hand. If you can do both, then you know you are drawing correctly. Just continually draw and practise, so you will be kept informed.

Phil strongly believes that anyone can learn how to draw, and the chat turned to drawing, art and female fans. Red Dot Diva took the chance to ask what he thought about geek girls and if he was surprised to see this many girls in the crowd of comic fans here. To that, Phil replied, "Girls are talented also. Talent isn't gender-based. Women are just as talented as men. I admire them for that. I will encourage any way I can. Because they have great ideas for art and ideas in general. It doesn't really surprise me."

On that convivial note, Red Dot Diva and Phil then looked at each other and admitted that they were both feeling hungry. Hahahah. So off to lunch they went!


Find out more about "The Adventures of Pachuko Boy" at their official website!

Michael Montijo is the creator for the cartoon series. Phil Ortiz is Executive Producer and designer for the characters in the series.

"The Adventures of Pachuko Boy" will be airing on the "The Hub", a new cable network in the USA, which started about a month ago.

One can also follow Pachuko Boy on Twitter!

1 comment:

  1. Whanderful blog post!
    Hey - did you notice that Pachuko Boy has got awesome eyebrows? Hmmmm...