1. Who is Ivan Aguilar? Tell us a bit about yourself as well to let the readers know all about you.
Well, I’m a bit of a gaming geek, I tend to spend a lot of my time playing games on my console, or most often you would find me playing DOTA. I’m currently also watching a lot of Howard Stern reruns and some of Conan O’ Brien on the net. Very entertaining and funny. I love all kinds of music from Rock to Hip Hop, and I’m currently listening to a lot of Prince’s songs lately, a bit of Tupac, Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin and Jeff Buckley. My taste in music is all over the place. As an artist, I’m quite a dreamer, and it really is quite satisfying to be able to create this strange world and people and tell a story.
2. You’re Filipino right, were there any struggles you found yourself facing while making Samurai Shin being from another country?
Hmm… Nope, nothing in particular, I mean Mikel is great to work with. He doesn’t seem to limit me when I have ideas, and he just want everything to be perfect, so he doesn’t pressure me with any deadlines or anything like that.
3. Are you an anime fan as well? What are some of the series you like?
Oh yeah, I am a big Anime fan. Anime has had a profound effect on me not only as an artist but as a person as well. I remember watching Akira, the 1988 anime film, and was blown away by the artwork and the story. My favorite series would no doubt be DragonBall Z and Ghost Fighter (Yu Yu Hakusho for those of you in the states). Those two brings back good memories.
Ever since I was about 4 or 5, watching my cousins and big brother chalk up some sketches on this 2×3 blackboard, I have been drawn into the magic of creating and imagining strange places and worlds.
5. Is there anything you can tell us about your drawing process, and the sort of approach you took to illustrating Samurai Shin?
Hmmm… Like the story, my approach with the drawing process is kind of fluid and changing, I would like to compare it to Jazz Music. I draw a lot of inspiration on what I’m feeling on that day and using that to kind of fuel my drive to create. I tend to try out new things every time I go onto another page and I’m very happy that Mikel gave me this freedom artistically to go from one place to another.
6. Is Samurai Shin your first full length comic, or are there any others you’ve done in the past our readers can check out? And if so, where can they go?
Hmm… Nope, I’ve had some other comic projects in the past. Namely, Romoulous Malachi’s Katalambano Series. Other projects I’ve been doing were related to children’s books.
7. How was it creating a comic that looks so close to the anime that inspired it? I see an uncanny resemblance to Afro Samurai that makes it feel like the two could exist in the same universe.
Yeah, we took a lot of inspiration from Afro Samurai and Samurai Champloo at the very beginning of the project. Mikel wanted to have that same feel, but the creative nature of how me and Mikel work is, how should I say it, not very linear. The artwork and story is still quite evolving from page to page, and we are taking our time to make sure that we do something that both of us will feel very proud about and we are. I’m sure there are some things that at first glance you would see a comparison with Afro, but that would only be at the first glance. We both feel we wanted to make something new and fresh, that will not only be engaging to Afro and Anime fans but to people who enjoys Hip Hop music and that culture as well.
8. Do you approach Social Media in the same way as Mikel or are you more open about what’s going on in your life?
I really believe there should be a good balance between the two. Social Media is a very powerful medium and is a very useful tool not only to communicate with old friends and relatives but also to advertise, enforce your ideas to a lot of people and get information as well, but you should also get a grip on something real as well, sure you can have a connection via social media but it’s very different when you’re really out there. But I would say right now, I really don’t have much of a social life since I am finding myself spending a lot of time on the computer, I’ve just been quite busy with work lately and I should get out more often.
9. Any inspiring words you can give to aspiring artists who wish to break into the comics industry through their self-published works?
My only advice would be to just don’t limit yourself, and practice practice practice. Just hone your craft and keep evolving as an artist. Don’t be afraid to try different styles, explore things and the different genres. Don’t limit yourself with the computer, try out different mediums like oil, watercolor, pencils. Lastly, don’t let frustration get you, keep at it and eventually you will get to a place you feel is good. I am never satisfied as an artist, and I always aim to keep myself improving everyday, I’m still, in a lot of ways, far from my goal but I will get there.
10. Finally, who are some of your heroes in the comic industry? Artist, writer, or otherwise?
Phew, there are so many, and it’s a mixture of digital and traditional artists as well. Hmm, let me name a few: Rembrandt, Daniel Gerhardt, Leonil Yu, John Sargent, Frazetta, Jim Lee, Goro Fujita, there are just too many to name.
Thank you to Ivan Aguilar – the artist and co-creator of Samurai Shin – for chatting with us about his life, labors and creations. You can follow the progress of Samurai Shin – due out sometime between March and April – on the comic’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SamuraiShin1/?fref=ts
I hope you all enjoyed this interview! Next week we will be talking with Mikel Mellis, the writer and other co-creator of Samuri Shin!
Interview by: Derrick Crow