Held on the 10 to 11 September at Sands Expo & Convention Centre, Halls E and F, STGCC surpassed expectations by hosting the most number of exhibitors over two days, making this the largest convention in STGCC history.
Besides the fun and colour of last weekend’s STGCC, we also got the chance to interview sci-fi/fantasy comic artist Hwei Lim; New York Times bestselling cartoonist Jacob Chabot, and well-known digital artist Sakimichan. Here are some insights from the minds behind the comic magic.
What are the influences on your art, which is a watercolour style not usually seen in comics?
I’ve been drawing on my own for a long time, I’ve kind of forgotten exactly why I started out, the artist that I was into when I started, but I’ve always liked Yoshitaka Amano, a character designer and artist for Final Fantasy. He works a lot in watercolours. Recently I am really into Chinese painting. You just draw a few strokes and there’s a landscape. It’s very nice because you kind of have to figure out for yourself what it is. It just looks very beautiful.
How do you feel about stories, and storytelling as an art form?
I’ve always liked to read and always liked to read fiction. I like to read fantasy, and I like myths and legends. It’s quite interesting because those also tell you about the culture and the history of some places. Art is just a medium for expressing something, and I guess that something is different for everyone. To me, it is legends that are not 100% real.
Do your characters and stories come naturally, or do you have an outline and work towards it?
When I travel more, when I get out and do more things, and see new things, or kinda research for things, then I start to ask myself more questions, and then the story kind of comes out of the questions. When I went to an aquarium a few years ago, it was kind of weird, but we were just standing there and we were like: “I wonder what the animals actually feel, if they were intelligent enough – and they might be, right? – They seemed quite peaceful. What are they actually thinking? And then the story came out of that.
It’s very funny, because the more you stay at home drawing something, the less the story will come to you. I feel that you need to go out, you need to read, you need to meet new people.
Are there any stories that you look up to and really enjoyed reading when you were growing up?
Definitely. But the thing is I read so much. I would actually write at school more than I would draw, and I think when I was starting to get into fantasy, because a lot of the fantasy books were very well illustrated, then I would go online and be like – wow this guy, he learned to draw by himself, that’s pretty cool. It kind of came from there. I really liked Hemingway for some reason in high school, so I read a lot of Hemingway. A lot of really weird stuff. I remember Hemingway the most.
Which superhero do you like most personally, and which one do you like to draw?
I love the Ninja Turtles. I grew up reading Ninja Turtle comics and that’s kinda why I got interested in drawing comics in the first place. It was because, when they came out, the two guys who made the Ninja Turtles were based in Massachusetts, which is a part of New England where I grew up, and that was the first time I realised that that was a job you could get [as a comic artist]. All these articles were like: “Hey these two guys made up these famous characters in their house one day after eating a lot of pizza and watching bad TV” and I was like – that sounds like the best job in the world! I also really like the Thing, I think he’s awesome looking – just a big rocky monster Muppet creature.
Did you have to switch your storywriting approach when you went to writing for the cute Tsum Tsums?
It’s switching it up a little, but I think mostly I’m still picturing it as if I was drawing it. So I’m trying not to put too much on a page, trying to pace it out, like I would if I were actually drawing it, and maybe include some visual flair in there. Like in the first issue there is a scene where the kids are running down the staircase. It’s all one big picture divided up into panels, overlaying the the staircase, following the kids down, and that’s how I envisioned it when I wrote it. Sometimes I don’t write out with words, I write out with little cartoons on the page and I then just describe it, do a script and send it in.
How do you bring visual flair and energy into the pictures?
Part of it is just trying to do something different every once in a while, so every page is not the same six panels in a row. Some part is just wanting to challenge myself, make myself draw something that I shouldn’t draw. I like doing big cityscapes, mostly because I hate drawing buildings, so it kinda forced me to, but I think it looks really cool afterwards. It gets fun sometimes, you can zone out and start putting in all the little lines. I look at pictures of New York a lot to try to get that New York flavour, especially in a Marvel comic.
What is your personal theory why so much superhero stuff happens in New York City?
I think back in the day it’s just because most of the writers and artists lived in New York, so that was what they saw outside their window, so it was easiest to translate. And New York is a big city where things happen all the time so it made sense. Marvel in particular is based in New York. DC tends to make up their own cities.
Where do you go for your inspiration?
Anything I see. I read comics that I like, cartoons especially, and then I’m in New York too so it’s all right there!
Is there something you enjoy about doing digital art especially?
I like doing digital art because I don’t need to erase anything, I can just paint over or “undo” them. It’s more convenient, I find.
What do you look for in a piece to say “I’m happy with it?”
I guess it’s unconscious, back in my head. Usually when I take a look at the piece, if I don’t think it’s good enough I’ll keep working on it, even though I guess some people might say “Oh, it’s good enough”, I’ll be like, “Not yet.” I unconsciously think about it, it’s hard to explain. If I don’t like something, I’ll keep working on it until I kinda like it, then I’ll be like, “Ok, that’s it, I’ve worked on it long enough and I’ll stop.”
How do you choose the next character you’re going to adapt and draw?
A lot of the time, it’s my fans that make suggestions. And then from those suggestions I pick the ones that I think will be really fun to work on; usually it’s like that. Sometimes maybe I’ll go see a movie and really like the movie so I just draw something about it. It comes and goes.
How do you draw characters in your own style that also look like the originals?
I use a lot of reference. I need a cover reference of the character, and then I try to stick as close as possible to that reference but at the same time I’m using my way of painting.
Meanwhile at the event…
Eager toy aficionados camped since early morning in snaking queues to get their hands on the various STGCC exclusive collectibles. Fans could not wait to get their hands on limited edition items like “SJ50 MY FIRST BE@RBRICK B@BY”, Hot Toys’ “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice Knightmare Batman” and “Iron Man 3 Disco Mark XXVII”.
Entertainment segments like AKIBA POP STAGE and EDP x DJ Night @ STGCC had the crowd on their feet with their thumping beats and melodious tunes.
This year’s winner for STGCC Championships of Cosplay was also crowned. Decked as Lich from Final Fantasy IX, Erika Jean Garbin, 26, walked away with $1000 in cash prize and will represent STGCC in the Crown Championships of Cosplay finals at C2E2 2017 in Chicago.
The first ever PC gaming competition held in STGCC, the “Mountain Dew Cup” received overwhelming responses from participants. Out of 16 groups, Team Elvellon emerged victorious, bagging themselves $1,500 cash for the 2-day tournament.
After STGCC 2016’s successful event, preparations are already ongoing for next year’s edition. Stay tuned!
By Vincent Tan