Saturday, February 18, 2012

At Invasion!: Grilling Comics Artist Stephen Segovia

Invasion! Toys and Collectibles is the latest kid on the block in the Red Dot Island comics, toys and collectibles market.

Announcement of its launch late last year was met with a fair amount of excitement from local comics and toy collectors, as fans felt the need for more choices and healthy competition.

For those who are intending to visit Invasion! for the first time, the store is located at the 5th floor of Funan DigitaLife Mall, around the same vicinity as the food court, and just right next to children-enrichment outlets like a music school and a pottery-making studio. (Check out a previous blog post more about the store and its launch!)

At the store's opening which was held over two days in early January 2012, a trio of comics artist - Stephen Segovia ("Dark Wolverine", "Mighty Avengers", "Battlestar Galactica"), Sonny Liew ("Malinky Robot", "Liquid City") and Rudy Ao - was at the store meeting comics enthusiasts and drawing sketches.

Red Dot Diva was only able to make a quick visit to Invasion! on the second day of its launch. She had brought a friend along with her and also met up with Melvin from the Here Be Geeks team.

Just chillaxing....
Lined with rows and rows of colourful action figures, toys and other collectibles, Red Dot Diva wondered if any of the kids attending the schools next door faced constant temptation from Invasion!'s enticing displays. And after browsing the store's wares, Melvin - who is also a toy collector - commented approvingly that some of the action figures available were the "harder to get" variety.

Right at the corner of the store was where the comics and graphic novels are. Stephen and Rudy were there, sitting side by side, drawing some commissioned art. But Red Dot Diva was told that Sonny Liew had already taken off as he had to attend to some other business.

Still, she managed to snatch a window of time with Stephen Segovia to chat with him about his work. Having started drawing professionally at a young age of 16, Red Dot Diva was curious to find out more about his experiences in this special artistic field.

Bright-eyed, with cute spiky hair and adorned in a bright red t-shirt, Stephen Segovia was a really fun guy to talk to. His answers to Red Dot Diva's nosy questions were more often than not, cheeky and laced with funny, unexpected one-liners. When asked how many times he has been here on Red Dot Island, Stephen mischievously said, "Three times. And maybe on my fourth time here, I may run for Presidency."

Stephen and Rudy hard at work

To kick off the interview proper, both Red Dot Diva and Stephen decided to get THE Question that's on everyone's mind out of the way.

The answer? Fuchsia
The question: "What is your favourite colour?"

With that over and done with (phew!), they proceeded to the meatier stuff:

Red Dot Diva: I've read your profile that said you were a self-taught artist. Do you think there's a difference in learning as you go, compared to going to an art school?
Stephen: If you are self-taught, you don't have a master or a mentor to give you guidance on how you should be doing things. You have to learn them all by yourself. The advantage is that you can build your own technique, but it's definitely faster to learn if you enroll a Fine Arts school as the techniques are already in the textbooks. If you are self-taught, you are discovering a lot of things by yourself.

Red Dot Diva: Do you ever crave some kind of mentor?
Stephen: It's always good to have a mentor. Not everything that you need to know is in the school of Fine Arts. Comics art is not in the Fine Arts. If you want to look for a mentor, at least look for the one whose work you idolize. For me, I like Leinil Yu, Dick Giordana and Travis Charest. They are my idols; they are my mentors.

Red Dot Diva: Have you met any of your comic artist "heroes", and have they given you any crucial critiques or comments?
Stephen: When I was in the Marvel Artist program, I got to visit the Marvel office in NYC. And that's when I got to meet Alex Alonso and Joe Quesada. Joe said that my style is very commercialized and that I need to focus more on my story-telling. And I should draw faster and meet my deadlines. And to make it to a professional and gain superstar status, I should follow my comic artist icons.

Red Dot Diva: What do you love drawing most? And what is your least favourite to draw?
Stephen: I like to draw women and Wolverine. Wolverine is such a bad ass character. And I love drawing Marvel Girl and Black Cat. And least? I don't have a specific character that I don't like drawing. As an artist, I will take the challenge and draw and try drawing anything. I am also very willing to draw a Big Giant Merlion. (Loud snickers from Red Dot Diva at this point.) What I do find hard to draw are actually the details of automobiles and vehicles.

Red Dot Diva: What do you consider to be your forte when it comes to your art?
Stephen: My best strength is the energy of my art. I like to draw a dynamics style. But at the same time, it is also my weakness. I tend to over-detail and have fancy panelling, but then, not all storylines or segments require such dynamic art. So I am still trying to find the right balance with my art style.

Stephen being "happily grilled" by the Diva
Red Dot Diva: Which field would you have gone to, if you were not an artist?
Stephen: I love to cook. If I am not an artist, I will be a chef. I like to cook -- because I like to eat. When you are cooking, it's like you are making art. (meaningful pause) But you can also eat it.

Red Dot Diva: And what dish do you think you'd specialize in?
Stephen: Steaks. Maybe grilled stuff. I just love steaks.
(Red Dot Diva ponders.... artistic steaks?? Hmm.... )

Red Dot Diva: Which superhero movie are you looking forward to most in 2012?
Stephen: Of course it's the Avengers! This will be the first Avengers movie with an ensemble cast and I'm expecting great exciting stuff to be happening on screen. I hope it'll end up being a long-running movie franchise.

Red Dot Diva: What do you think are the benefits of having strong biceps in your field of work?
Stephen: Hmm... I can't answer that because I don't really have strong biceps. But if I do -- maybe ... sex appeal?? I am working on it. Having stronger biceps is also my New Year's resolution!

Red Dot Diva: Whose artistic biceps to you admire?
Stephen: I admire and worship Jack Kirby. The first time I saw Kirby's art in "X-Men #1", that's when I knew I wanted to draw comics. I also like Olivier Coipel's work. Because he knows how to tell a story. You don't really need to read the dialogue, you just follow his drawing. That is a key technique skill that a good penciller should have. 

Red Dot Diva: What are you currently working on? And what's coming up next?
Stephen: I'm currently working on "Thor: The Deviants Saga". It's a five-issue book and already on the 5th one. I hear that I will be given some projects but I am not sure what's actually coming up next.

And with that, Red Dot Diva managed to coax Stephen to show off his "work-out"-in-progress biceps, anyway. ;)

Red Hot Biceps!

Before she left, Red Dot Diva quickly cornered a visibly tired but still upbeat Da Boss Alwyn Liang about his inspiration on starting Invasion! with business partner, David. Alwyn said, "Having a store is the next step after all the events that we've run in the past year. Hopefully from this store, we will now have a hub where people can gather to meet comics artists and fellow comics fans."

And in fact, Red Dot Diva recently heard murmurs that there are some more events are in the works.

So dear readers, do spill --- Which comics artist is on your wish list?


To keep up with the store's news, check out Invasion! Toys & Collectibles online!

One can also follow Stephen Segovia on Facebook!

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