Saturday, September 26, 2015

STGCC 2015: Rekindling the Comic Book Fan in Us

STGCC rekindled the comic book fan in us

STGCC 2015 was dearly special to us for one reason. It rekindled the comic book fan in us. Before our interests became aligned more towards Japanese pop culture, we were huge followers of American pop culture. We used to collect American comics, watched American dramas and kept ourselves up-to-date on the latest Hollywood movies (which we still do).


Ever since New York Comic Con organiser Reed Exhibitions took over the management of the convention in 2010, they have been attracting top comic industry talents from the likes of Matt Fraction, Gail Simone, Salvador Larocca, Mark Brooks and more to Singapore every year.

Matt Fraction signing at STGCC 2010
(Source: Kenmoo2007)

Therefore, when we heard that A-list talents such as Adam Hughes, Jim Cheung and Adi Granov were coming down to this year's STGCC, we knew that we couldn't give it a miss!

Cameron Stewart at STGCC 2014
(Source: The Movie and Me)

That's not to mention that Agnes Garbowska, an up-and-rising talent famous for her My Little Pony work would also be in Singapore for the first time! We were really excited to meet the artists in person, get our comics signed by them and maybe, get a commission or two.

Joe Madueira at STGCC 2013
(Source: Carlos Rodriggs)

Let's take a look at what the comic creators were up to at STGCC 2015!

Adam Hughes

Look out for our interview with Adam Hughes!

Hughes, 48, was probably the biggest name at the convention. Having worked in comics for over 25 years, since 1987, he got his first big break working on covers and interiors for DC Comics' Justice League of America.

Hughes hard at work on a head sketch

Since then, he has often been illustrating gorgeous covers of female superheroes such as Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Batgirl, which he has become well-known for. "The reason why I don't do interiors is because I'm not getting offers to do them. I'm always getting offers for covers," Hughes told the media.

A fan gets his Spider-Gwen variants signed by Hughes

Until another publisher offers him more interior work, I guess we can look forward to Archie Comics' Betty and Veronica relaunch next summer, which he has his hands full with writing and illustrating it at the moment.

Your favourite childhood comic will be getting a new spin, courtesy of Adam Hughes next year!

Throughout the two days of STGCC, the amiable and jovial Hughes could be seen either doing head sketches at his table, signing comics at the Walk of Fame or presenting elated fans with their pre-convention commissions.

An elated fan receives his stunning commission from Hughes

Hughes also spoke at the "Talking Comics" panel on stage on both days. He teased that he would be doing a variant cover for the new The Mighty Thor #1 in November, featuring the current female Thor so do keep a lookout for that! I'm sure it will be amazing!

Hughes with other comic creators at the "Talking Comics" panel

Jim Cheung

Look out for our interview with Jim Cheung too!

Hailing from Britain, Cheung, 43, has actually been around in the comics industry since the late 1990s, illustrating interiors for Marvel titles such as X-Force and Iron Man. He may be in his forties but he sure doesn't look his age!

A fan with his comic signed by Cheung

However, it wasn't until 2005 that he shot to fame rapidly with his work on the Harvey Award-winning Young Avengers. The fan-favourite teenage superhero team which he created with writer Allan Heinberg has since become a prominent fixture in the Marvel universe, featuring in many crossover events.

Some art prints Cheung brought to STGCC, with Young Avengers on the left

As an exclusive artist for Marvel, he has recently been delivering awe-inspiring covers for titles such as A-Force and Avengers & X-Men: Axis. His spectacular interior art of late may also be found in comics such as Avengers #35, Original Sin #0 and Infinity #1.

Cheug's spectacular interiors for Avengers #35 by Jonathan Hickman

At STGCC, Cheung could be seen working on head sketches on blank covers tirelessly over the two days. Some of his breathtaking art prints were also on sale at his table for $30 each. Cheung would pause in between sketches to have a short and friendly chat with excited fans and it was no secret that he was a hit with them.

Cheung working on a head sketch

In fact, the waiting list for Cheung's sketches was so long that he had stopped taking commissions by the afternoon of Day 1. We were disappointed but nevertheless grateful to have gotten a quick sketch of Wolverine at the Walk of Fame. We got our Secret Warriors #1 signed by the man too!

Have you been watching "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."?

At the "Talking Comics" panel, C.B. Cebulski hinted that he was trying to rope Cheung into the Star Wars universe so hold your breath for some stunning covers from a galaxy far, far away in the future!

Agnes Garbowska

The Canadian-based artist, most famous for her work on IDW's My Little Pony comics, has been on our radar ever since she was announced as a guest for STGCC. We love her fun and whimsical art style, it's her first time coming to Singapore and we were all looking forward to meeting her!

A great time we had indeed as we started off STGCC Day 1 with an early-morning interview session with the affable and easygoing Garbowska. She talked about the importance of being consistent in her work, her inspirations, who she would like to work with and a secret project in the works.

Do look out for our interview with Agnes Garbowska too!

It was a very insightful and engaging conversation which rekindled our once-fiery passion for comics and allowed us to peer more into the workings and motivations of a comic book creator. Keep checking our site for the interview!

A long queue to get her art prints or a personalised sketch could often be seen forming at her table too, attesting to her popularity. Be it comic book readers, bronies or My Little Pony fans, boys and girls, men and women, adults and children of all ages were there.

Garbowska's covers for IDW's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic #30 and #31

She was also very hospitable towards her fans, often taking a pause from sketching to offer paper to anyone in line without anything for her to sketch on.

So won over by her and her artwork were we that we decided to forego the first half of the annual DJ Night  just to get a watercolour sketch by her before the convention closed on Sunday. We just have to say that her Spider-Gwen sketch is marvellous and that we absolutely love it!

Garbowska working on a watercolour sketch

Adi Granov

Adi Granov painting!

The amazing Adi Granov was back for STGCC this year and it was great to see him again. We didn't bring any covers for Granov to sign this time around but we still had a pleasant time looking at his magnificent art prints on display at his table and seeing the huge crowds gather there.

One thing which we managed to catch this time around was the masterful Granov doing watercolour paintings at his table. If we remembered correctly, he did not take any commissions at STGCC 2013 (or took only a few) because of the time required of him to produce his incredible art.

The master artist honing his craft at his table

Therefore, we were quite awed by being able to watch the master at work in front of our very eyes. As Marvel talent scout C.B. Cebulski added during the "Talking Comics" panel with Granov on the day before, "A lot of people think that Adi draws digitally but he actually does traditional paintings. You may learn about his drawing process on Instagram." We didn't need Instagram.

A photo posted by Adi Granov (@adigranov) on

However, those looking forward to more jaw-dropping interior art from Granov after his revolutionary 6-issue Iron Man: Extremis limited series may be disappointed.

Mentioning that he took a year and a half to complete the entire comic, spending around three to five days on a single page, he was constantly worrying about paying his bills as he was paid a page rate by Marvel.

Granov's work on Iron Man: Extremis has even been adapted into a motion comic by Marvel

It's no surprise that he takes such a long time though, given that he works very meticulously with a sophisticated mixture of watercolours, acrylic paint and oil pastels. I guess we shall just to look forward to more stunning cover art from him in the near future.

We have seen Granov done the Avengers, the X-Men, Iron Man, Spider-Man, now Star Wars and even Guardians of the Galaxy. What could be next for the great painter?

C.B. Cebulski

Marvel was a notable absence at this year's STGCC again. However, their prominent talent scout and food blog writer C.B. Cebulski was back in search of more new talents for the publisher.

Marvel's talent scout C.B. Cebulski at STGCC

Previously a writer and editor for Marvel Comics, Cebulski has penned titles such as the Marvel Fairy Tales series of comics, Runaways spin-off Loners and X-Infernus for the American publisher. He has also worked on Drain, a creator-owned series with Sana Takeda at Image Comics.

Some of Cebulski's works: (from left) X-Infernus, Spider-Man Fairy Tales and Drain

He spent his time in Singapore sharing his insights on the comic industry at the "Talking Comics" panel on both days. At the panel, he dropped a few names when asked who he thought was the best artist in the industry- Pepe Laraz, Chris Bachalo, Oliver Coipel and Sara Pichelli.

In addition, he revealed that digital sales contribute 15 to 20 percent of overall comic sales in this day and age, a significant increase from the two to three percent barely three years ago. This has helped many titles avoid cancellation due to lacklustre sales.

Cebulski signing at the Walk of Fame

An example was Charles Soule's She-Hulk, which had its run extended to twelve issues from the original six. Ms Marvel is also one of their top sellers internationally, especially in the Middle Eastern and Muslim countries, where it is more difficult to procure comics.

She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel were two titles which benefited tremendously from digital sales

When he was not talking on stage or conducting portfolio reviews in the back room, Cebulski could be found signing at the Walk of Fame. He brought along an STGCC-exclusive postcard illustrated by Singaporean Marvel artist Gary Choo.

A nice memento to take home from STGCC.

It drew from the post-credits shawarma-eating scene of The Avengers, featuring Cebulski indulging in local delicacies with The Avengers at a hawker centre. Well, we certainly hope Cebulski found the next big Marvel talent he was looking for at STGCC!

Camilla d'Ericco

Artist Camilla d'Ericco has actually been to Singapore once, way back in 2009, when STGCC was just in its second year.

Diehard fans of her surreal big-eyed illustrations and self-published work Tanpopo must have been squealing with excitement when it was announced that she would be returning as a guest for STGCC 2015.

Camilla's gold-embellished "Tree of Life"

This time around, the highlights were 30 signed and numbered fine art prints of her "Tree of Life" at STGCC. The prints were made on 300gsm entrada paper and were each embellished by hand with gold paint.

In addition, she also brought along a few exclusive hand-painted toys, small original artworks and a special selection of art prints which she signed for fans at her booth and the Walk of Fame.

Camilla's saucer-eyed portraits are very similar to those by the legendary Margaret Keane, which we love!

A panelist at STGCC's first-ever Women in Comics panel on Saturday afternoon, together with comic book artist Agnes Garbowska, they spoke about breaking into comics and their experience working as female creators in a male-dominated industry. Do look out for our post on the panel!

Agnes Garbowska and Camilla d'Ericco at STGCC's "Women in Comics" panel

There were so many exciting events lined up at STGCC that we did not manage to spend much time with Camilla. However, you may read about our media friend Red Dot Diva's wonderful weekend with her. Local site Superadrianme also had an interview with her.


With the priceless experiences the many distinguished comic industry talents have brought to STGCC 2015, the convention has really managed to capture our hearts and rekindle our love for comic books.

Getting to meet industry legend Adam Hughes, whose beautiful cover girls we used to swoon over,

being able to meet Jim Cheung in person, the man responsible for illustrating the covers of the many Secret Warriors issues in our collection,

and chatting with the genial Agnes Garbowska, who we know will go on to be a top artist for the Big Two with her strong work ethic-

all these experiences were truly priceless.

In fact, it makes us feel like dashing to the nearest comic book store and grabbing an issue from the week's latest comic shipments to read.

To the Japanese pop culture, manga and anime lovers, try and pick up a copy of an American comic! They are not just all superhero comics published by DC and Marvel. There are many great original, creator-owned titles conceptualised by the writers and artists themselves.

Image Comics - home to many original, creator-owned titles

The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, on which the hit TV series is based on, is just one of many. You may easily borrow a trade paperback or hardcover collection from Singapore's public libraries. Great story and superb art makes for a pleasant reading experience.

When will we get an Invincible TV series?

In fact, we are already eagerly looking forward to which top creators will be coming to STGCC next year. Bring back the writers! We haven't seen a writer at STGCC since Andy Diggle in 2012!

Millar has been to the Philippines once. When will he be coming to Singapore?
Singapore's waiting for you, Morrison!
One of today's hottest writers... Jeff Lemire!
Maybe you'd like John Romita Jr instead?

Grant Morrison? Mark Millar? Frank Quietly? Chris Burnham? Brad Walker? There are too many people who we'd like to meet! We can't wait!