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Superhero movies are awesome: comic book illustrator

Ewen Boey
Singapore Showbiz
23 July 2012

Comic book artist Leinil Yu talks about his drawings coming to life on the big screen. (Photo: Leinil Yu)
Comic book artist Leinil Yu talks about his drawings coming to life on the big screen. (Photo: Leinil Yu)

Comics are now big business for Hollywood.

From "Batman" to "The Avengers", the explosion of comic-to-screen superhero movie adaptations has spawned an entire new film industry.

Yahoo! Singapore spoke to acclaimed Filipino comic book illustrator Leinil Yu -- famous for his work on Marvel's Wolverine, New Avengers and Secret Invasion -- over email and finds out what he thinks of the recent trend.

Yahoo! Singapore: Which comic book character is your favourite?

Leinil Yu: Wolverine. Not only is he cool and unique, but I also owe my whole career to him. Fans know me best as a Wolverine artist and I really don't have a problem with that. :)

Leinil is best known for his work on Wolverine. (Photo: Leinil Yu)
Leinil is best known for his work on Wolverine. (Photo: Leinil Yu)

Y!: What inspires your artwork?

L: Lots of things. Comics, movies, videogames, street art, fine art, graphic designs and real life experience.

Y!: Do you like movie adaptations of comic book classics? If so, which is your favourite, and why?

L: The Avengers, of course! There's nothing like it. It's amazing in so many ways and levels. It's where great characters meet great script and even more mind-blowing action. It really brings out the child in me.

Y!: How does it feel to have your drawings come to life on the big screen? Do you think Hollywood has done a good or bad job in bringing the characters to life?

L: It's amazing. I've done some ship designs for Joss Whedon's Serenity and seeing them in 3D, in photorealistic rendering is just immensely satisfying. The 3D artists really did a great job considering that I've only sent them a single shot of the designs.

As much as I'd like to think that my comic art in New Avengers and Secret Invasion inspired some aspects of the Avengers movie, I doubt that I've made any significant contribution.

Filipino comic book artist Leinil Yu tells us what he thinks about the big screen adaptations of his works. (Photo courtesy of Leinil Yu)
Filipino comic book artist Leinil Yu tells us what he thinks about the big screen adaptations of his works. (Photo courtesy of Leinil Yu)

Y!: Do you think the movies have helped increase the demand for comics or is it the other way round?

L: It seems that it doesn't have a significant positive impact on the major comic book heroes but certainly, it has a massive effect on books like Wanted and Kick-Ass by Mark Millar.

Negative effect? No, I don't think so.

Y!: Have the movies helped increase the profile of comic book artists like yourself? For example, are you now better paid?

L: The markets seem compartmentalised so I don't think it has a direct effect on my pay scale. Profits don't seem to cross-over although I'm guessing it has some indirect effect.

Y!: Speaking of pay, does drawing comics pay well?

L: Working on a successful title, I'd say yes.

Y!: What job would you be in if not this?

L: I'd probably be in advertising, designing shampoo packaging.

Y!: What advice do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

L: Post your portfolio online, and try to get small jobs first to get better, while getting paid. Keep studying comics, anatomy books, film and real life.

Style is also important and as much as it would seem like it's selling out, it's necessary to cater to what the audience wants. You could be overflowing with talent but your style is not palatable to the market, then it is for naught.

And keep drawing!

Leinil will be coming down in Singapore for the Singapore Toy, Game & Comic Convention on 1 and 2 September at Marina Bay Sands.

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