Who Is Tintin? An Interview with Tintin Pantoja

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 11 - 2013
Filipina artist Tintin Pantoja will be at this Saturday’s Summer Komikon from 4-5 pm to launch “Who is AC?“, a new graphic novel illustrated by her and written by Eisner-award winning creator Hope Larson.
In this breakthrough graphic novel from the award-winning author of Mercury, there’s a new superhero in town—and she’s got kick-butt cyberpowers.

Meet Lin, a formerly average teenage girl whose cell phone zaps her with magical powers. But just as superpowers can travel through the ether, so can evil. As Lin starts to get a handle on her new abilities (while still observing her curfew!), she realizes she has to go head-to-head with a nefarious villain who spreads his influence through binary code. And as if that weren’t enough, a teen blogger has dubbed her an “anonymous coward!” Can Lin detect the cyber-criminal’s vulnerability, save the day, and restore her reputation?

With ingenious scripting from graphic novel phenom Hope Larson and striking art from manga illustrator Tintin Pantoja, this action-packed story brims with magical realism and girl-power goodness.

Tintin spared some time to talk to me a little about magical girls, comic workshops, and fandoms.
Q: “Who is AC?”, your new graphic novel with Hope Larson, has been described as “Who Is AC? is a love letter to the magical girls of shojo manga and anime…” Did you watch magical girl shows growing up? Who were your favorites?

As a kid I would watch SailorMoon dubbed into Indonesian, not really knowing what was going on but loving the characters and the show all the same. I’ve also seen some Card Captor Sakura (but more of the comic than the anime). I also got into a lot of western shows with magical girl elements, like Rainbow Brite and My Little Pony ( the eighties series).
Q: What do you think it is about the idea of the “magical girl” that makes it such a popular genre, especially with teens?

I think teens like seeing someone who’s their age, with their own experiences, exhibiting special powers and saving the world. Magical girls are just a feminine iteration of the superhero- emphasis on magic, romance, and of course, outfits and the relationships between characters. In popular culture, a lot of which is devoted to the heroic exploits of male characters, it’s nice to have a genre in which girls can be the star and save the world through strength and love.
Q: How did you come by this project? What’s it like working with Hope Larson?

I came by this project online. Hope was looking for an artist, and I volunteered my portfolio. She’s great to work with- very upfront about what she wants, and very clear. She sent me the script, and I was pretty much free to interpret it visually. She’s also been very supportive in other ways.
Q: You  graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and now you’re based here. Why did you choose to come back and work from here, as opposed to staying in the United States?

Honestly, it’s hard to stay in New York and not already a permanent resident or citizen, especially if you’re an artist.

Q: You’ve begun teaching a Comics and Manga Workshop here in Metro Manila. Why’d you decide to put up the workshop?
The workshop is only on a dry run right now. I hope to offer it to students during the school year on a weekly weekend basis. I just went online looking for comic schools and didn’t find any, so I thought it might be a good niche to fill, if people were  interested in learning to make comics I don’t know if Elbert Or’s workshop is still ongoing? It might be nice to trade notes with him, if he is. Anyway, a couple of my Indonesian friends put up comic/manga schools in Jakarta and I thought it might be a fun thing to do here. If anyone’s interested in the comic workshop, it’s a two-hour eight/nine-session program in which we make a short comic from script to final coloring/ tones. Email me at tintinp@gmail.com! ;) The first MWF summer sessions starts April 12!
Q: While everyone learns how to create in their own way, what are the benefits that you think a classroom-based workshop has to offer, that would be unavailable to an aspiring creator working on his/her craft alone?

The classroom setup automatically forces you to do the comic itself. A lot of creators- including myself- have a hard time motivating ourselves to work. So in a classroom, you’re automatically being obligated to make your stuff. Also, making comics is so solitary. It’s more fun to be working in a setting where people can learn from each other and encourage each other. It’s true that comics can easily be self-taught. What I want is to make the comics process more social, regular, and enjoyable for the individual creator.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the creative process?

Definitely the inking, when all of the hard work ( thumbnailing and pencilling) have been done!
Q: I read in an old interview that you liked to listen to stories while working. What have you been listening to lately?
I used to listen to online radio shows on the BBC and NPR websites, but mostly I just turn the TV station to the Crime Channel these days, or when inking, catch up on HBO shows like True Blood.
Q: What works/fandoms are you passionate about at the moment? Anything you’re looking forward to picking up for yourself at the Komikon?

At the moment my biggest fandom is the TV show Supernatural ( my favorite character is Castiel), and Adventure Time- but with Fionna and Cake. As for Komikon, I’m very much looking forward to picking up anything new from Mel Casipit- he’s a great artist and I’ve been following his career. I also love discovering new local cartoonists and finding something really unique and cool.
Q: What’s next for you, after “Who is AC?”

I have no idea. the future’s kinda wide open at this point. I don’t really have plans or ongoing projects.

 

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