Steve GanGet to meet this great artist this coming October 21st at the KOMIKON!!!!
"I internalize my emotions with the characters and scenes in the frame. It's not only my hands that make my illustrations; there is the coordination of my heart and mind. I've got to feel it. Oftentimes, I'm the one inside those frames suffering, laughing, moving." — Steve Gan
One of the highest-paid comic book illustrators in the Philippines, Steve Gan is a naturalized Filipino of Chinese ancestry and he regards himself as a self-made artist. Since there were no schools that taught courses on comic book illustration, he had to learn the basics of the comic art through perseverance and he honed his talent through study.
Research is one task Steve never gets tired of. He has voluminous collection of books on paintings and well-known illustrators, and claims that he's learned a lot from poring over the biographies and analyzing the famous brush-pushers.
Drawing has two important aspects for him: the aesthetic and the commercial. He could easily combine them by simply going down to the leveI of standard the readers require without losing control over his art.
Steve became interested in drawing at a very early age. It was the work of Francisco V. Coching, the acknowledged dean of Filipino comic illustrators, who inspired him in the '50s. He became more engrossed in drawing comics rather than contemplating architecture (which he was taking up at the Mapua Institute of Technology).
Steve's illustrations began to attract attention within the Filipino comic book industry. To further develop his craft and help contribute to the advancement of comic art in the country, he joined the Society of Philippine Illustrators and Cartoonists (SPIC). His popularity soared to new heights when he began to reap awards from comic illustration contests sponsored by prestigious organizations concerned with giving due recognition to those involved in the arts. In 1980, he copped first prize for his work on Ang Panday (serialized in Pilipino Komiks) in an art contest under the aegis of SPIC, San Miguel Corporation, and Philamlife Insurance. He broke his own record by winning first and second prizes in '81 for Mekanizmo, which was serialized in the Tagaiog Klasiks.
The artist's initial break into comics came with a novel called Bernardita, serialized in the now-defunct Palos Komiks. His longest-running comic novel was Pieta, which ran for five years. Aside from doing most of his work for the Philippine comics, he also contributed to Warren Publications and Marvel Comics. For Marvel, he worked on many of their characters, such as Conan, Ka-Zar, Tarzan, Oracula, Solomon Kane, and Brak the Barbarian.
For Steve, to illustrate haphazardly is a professional sin. "I do not want the characters to appear like puppets. I do not want to do an injustice to my readers. I want them to enjoy my illustrations as much as I enjoy doing them"
In the early '90s, Steve was introduced by Lazarino Baarde to Chris Bartleman and Blair Peters, owners of Studio B in Vancouver, Canada. For 13 months, he did storyboards for various animation projects, including Jungle Cubs, Timon and Pumba, Calamity Jane, Savage Dragon, Invasion America, and A Christmas Carol. Being away from his family for that length of time proved too much for Steve, so he decided to go back to the Philippines and work for an animation studio in Manila doing storyboards and layouts for such films and cartoon series as X-Men, Fantastic Four, Biker Mice, Tarzan, Teacher's Pet, and Atlantis.
Today, some of Steve's drawings and paintings are on exhibit, along with the work of Francisco V. Coching, at the Pasig Museum in the Philippines.— Manuel Auad
* Copied from Comic Book Artist Magazine, Issue #4. Published by Top Shelf Productions (2004)