WITHIN the vivid pages of many applauded comics is a Thomasian pen.

Philip Tan, whose inkblots have touched the likes of Spawn, Uncanny X-Men and Final Crisis: Revelations, said that his natural attraction for comics started with Japanese and Asian comic books and graphic novels.

“[I] grew up with Dragonball, Kamen Raida and giant robot stuff when I was younger,” he said. “[But] getting into American comics was the influence of a childhood buddy name Charlie Dolette. “[And] then you get your X-Men and Batman as I got into superhero comic books.”

Philip’s pencil strokes immobilized the pages of many international comics companies such as Marvel, Image, Wildstorm and Detective Comics.

“Collectively, I worked for around seven to eight years for DC and around two years for Marvel. I have been working for other entertainment companies for the rest of those in-betweens.”

Currently, the Architecture graduate has worked for Final Crisis: Revelations, Green Lantern and Phantom Stranger.

“[I am working] mostly for DC right now, Action Comics, Justice League of America, and a couple more.” he said. Despite having plans of creating his comics characters, working with the biggest names in the comic industry was really a dream come true for this illustrator.

“It’s partly making my childhood dream and partly gratifying that I’m doing something I love when so much people are looking for work,” Philip said. “The heavens blessed me with it and I am extremely thankful.”

The alter-ego

The comic book illustrator confessed that he was once a laid-back kind of guy during his Thomasian days.

“I think I care about the fun times with my buddies playing Local Area Network games than my looming deadlines for plates,” said the former gamer.

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The 35-year-old comic artist said that he never thought that having a degree in Architecture will lead him into his career path.

“I think that’s with every profession, what you do is a decision you make from collective experiences and that through your own best judgement, you get into something you think meets your needs and wants in life,” he said.

Besides the University’s three C’s, Compassion, Competence and Commitment, Philip admitted that he cannot pinpoint what other values he brought with him to his comic career.

“We all spend time growing up and learning our craft in our college years, that we really do not see it [and] we are surrounded by the very people who are going through the same thing,”he said.

Despite the adapting these three Thomasian ideals, he said that “edge” cannot be gained by being a part of one group.

“There will be characteristics that differ us, Thomasians, from students of other universities that are influenced by social, cultural and economic backgrounds of those around us.”

Captivated by comics

After graduating in 2000, Philip was engrossed in drawing comics for a living but the local industry at that time was still in a very slow progress.

“Maybe [there] are few smaller outlets around, which probably cannot afford to support the livelihood of a full time artist,” he said. “But they weren’t as established these days either.”

Taken that the new local “komiks” industry is still in its infancy, “breaking in” in the comic industry was really hard; a huge help during his baby steps came in the form of two famous comic artists in the Philippines.

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“Getting to know Gilbert Monsanto and Gerry Alanguilan was very monumental. They were very influential in shaping my attitude and ethics to be an artist.”

This illustrator also mentioned Whilce Portacio, a Filipino-American comic writer and artist who gave him his first break and Brian Haberlin, an American comic artist, writer, editor and producer, as one of his mentors.

‘Luck from perseverance’

Despite the imaginative world of comic books, Philip said that being a comic artist is not always easy.

“It is difficult keeping a good schedule and always looking at bigger pictures. Both are things a lot of artists fail to do.”

But after all of the hardships and shortcomings, doing something he’s already passionate about and having an inspiration makes everything worthwhile.

“No matter what comes your way, you still have to consistently give your 200% on whatever you do. Never lose hope; successful people on the industry don’t just get lucky,” he said. “They created their luck from perseverance and they got good with their craft through hardwork.”

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