With drawing, I’m a student of detail. It started when I was seven. I was never good at math or reading textbooks, but my brother and I loved to collect comic books. It was Jim Lee [a Korean-American comic illustrator], who inspired me to break into the comic industry.
Art is a dangerous profession to pursue. Prepare for heartbreak. It’s so hard to predict what will make you popular. Sometimes you might have to do dumb things to see if they will make you popular or unpopular.
I got very lucky getting into the comic industry two years after I dropped out of college. At the Chicago Comic Con in 1994, I showed two years’ worth of my drawings to Jim Lee’s assistant. She loved them and passed them on to Jim, who later contacted me to work for him.
Any profession is a gamble. Just because you’re a doctor doesn’t mean you’re a good doctor. I can understand how many parents are scared when their kids pursue a career in art. I can tell you, you’re lucky if you can make it.
If one day my three-year-old kid told me he wanted to become an artist, I would tell him all about the industry. People get hired and fired all the time. It’s unsteady. I would show him all the obstacles I had to overcome to get to where I am today. If he shows his dedication, I would give him my full support.
My parents hated that I dropped out of college and chased my dream of becoming a cartoonist. Having grown up in America, they wanted me to become a doctor or study medicine or become something respectable.
Working in the comic industry is fulfilling, but it’s also hard work to make a good living. I draw a lot, all day long. It’s not glamorous, but it is what I love.
Drawing is the kind of job that doesn’t give the impression of real work. Some people think I’ve spent way too much time on my hobby.
To all those kids who think dropping out of college is cool, I say: think again. School is a safe bet. If you have the chance, and
the support f rom your parents, stay in school.
I’ve been working in the comic industry for 20 years. I draw for Marvel and DC Comics. The whole thing is transient; a reflection of cross-cultural ideas and society. These days we’re focusing on women. Many comic houses are trying to build female heroes. Previously, female characters were used only as sex symbols, but we’re trying to change that.
There’s no such thing as a Thai comic industry. We’re unrepresented. I want to train people, build up Thai talents, and show
them to the American market . Unfortunately, I am the only one in the spotlight right now.
I want to tell young people to listen to your heart. People would always yell at me to listen to them. The important thing is to take all their advice and understand their perspective, but listen only to yourself.
Set your goals high. I always thinks I’m the worst artist in the world because I compare myself to the very best. I never compare myself to people in the same class. It sounds conceited but that’s why I keep pushing myself. When I started out I compared myself to Jim Lee. I never got close to him, but I am much better now.
I started off as a copycat, imitating a lot of people. Style is something you develop through your mistakes. It’s how you interpret those mistakes.
Artists shouldn’t be worried about style. It’s impossible to not have your own style because no one will interpret life the way you do. Concentrate on being a good artist and the style will come naturally.
Comic books will stay on paper for at least the next 10 years, because they’re a collectable items. We’ll always have that market. But things going digital is good too. We make a lot of our sales digitally. But, ultimately, I think people still like to hold the real thing.