Saturday 15 August 2020

Interview with Phantom cover artist - Vincent M Raja

                       Q&A with the cover artist of new Phantom comics - Vincent M Raja

Q1. Tell us briefly about your background. Are you a professional artist?

Ans. Yes, I am a professional artist.
I am a native of Tamil Nadu (a state in India) and settled down in Chennai.
Started my career in 1982 and have worked with many publishing houses

I am also a comics creator for children and adults. Creating puzzles and DIY paper models are my other jobs.

Q2. Are you a Phantom fan yourself? When were you introduced to Phantom?

Ans. Yes, I am a big fan of the Phantom.
I was introduced to the Phantom when I was 3 or 4 years old! My father used to buy Indrajal comics and the colourful frames must have attracted me to the books, and I got hooked to them. I didn't know the names of the Phantom or the book, but it was only 'mukamoodi pusthakam' (the masked man's book) for me! As I was interested in drawing, my chalk drawings changed from a man or car or bus to the 'mukamoodi, and our house floors were filled with masked man stick figures!
I learned my art from Indrajal comics. The Phantom became my reference for anatomy study!

Q3.  Have you drawn Phantom earlier as well?
Ans. Not professionally, except for an article in the Hindu's 'Young World' supplement once. And also for a contribution to the Phantom Phundraiser book for the Australian
 Bushfire relief.

Q4. Who is your favourite Phantom artist? Why?
Ans. My favourite is Jim Aparo.
I like his frame cuts, action sequences and the different angles he (and we) views the actions from! Every frame brims with life. 'The Phantom of Shangri-La' and 'The Pharaoh Phantom' are good examples.
Q5. How do the current Phantom artists compare with the classic ones like McCoy/Sy Barry?

Ans. This comparison can be done only by peers. I am just a novice in Phantom art and nobody to compare the professional Phantom illustrators to the great legends.

Q6. What do you think is the reason for Phantom's popularity in India?

Ans. Because, I think, the Phantom IS the original and natural superhero and also came to India earlier than the others.
The reason for my liking him is, he is a normal person like you and me, with only more power in his muscles! He is quick to think and act which is not abnormal, but a slight exaggeration!
He can't fly; he can't do magic; he cannot vanish into thin air; he is just a fellow human being, who is a little more powerful than us.
If I can fly, or disappear into thin air, or swing on a thin wire from building to building, I too can become a superhero! What is so great about it?!

The simplicity and down-to-earth nature of the Phantom character must be the cause for his popularity here, in India.

Q7. How did you decide to get to draw the cover for the Phantom comics by Regal?
Ans. Well, the Phantom cover was not the subject I discussed with them first! It was something else, but comics related, of course.
Then while chatting I sent them the Phantom illustration, I did for the Australian bushfire relief book. Seeing that they wanted to try me for one of their covers, and I did the first one. They were happy and asked for the second cover also.

Q8.Did you receive any guidelines from King Features to draw the cover?
Ans. No. No guidelines from King Features.

Q9. Were you able to read the stories before you drew the cover?
Ans. Again, no.

Q11.What has been the feedback so far on your cover art for the Phantom comic?
Ans. Till now I have seen only positive comments for my work, except one which said the costume colours were not right! But the pictures in the ads are not the right colours.
Also, the Phantom's costume comes in different colours in different countries! I have seen purple, red and blue. But now a sculpture has come out in green costume!

Q.12 Would you like to do a complete Phantom story someday?
Ans. That's my dream! Hope it will come true soon!

Note: The comics have been published by Regal Press based out of Kerala

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