Monday, March 8, 2010

"Callous" Comic Fun

She's a Doctor. He's a Duck.
What could happen?


by Carlo Jose S. San Juan, MD

Hello! I’m Dr. Carlo Jose “Caz” San Juan, 32, male, husband,
and father of one son. Other than being a physician, I am a
professional voice actor doing occasional work for television
shows and radio advertisements. But that’s not why I’m here.
I’m here because I’m a cartoonist as well!

All Images Click Larger

 Like many cartoonists before me, drawing comics
 has been a passion of mine since my very early youth.
 I grew up reading a wide variety of comics but my daily delight
 came from within newspapers in the form of the funny pages.
 They were a daily treat and eventually became huge inspirations.
I joined student publications in high school, college,
 and medical school and drew comics there.

However, from my fourth year of medical school onwards
 life as a doctor-in-training and eventually as a new physician
 became particularly hard so I had to put my cartooning on hold for
several years, during which I got married and became a father.

In September 2009, while playing around with a free
online hosting service, I slowly made a website for Callous,
an award-winning comic strip series that I began in
my college student newspaper in 1996.
I started making daily comic strips with no intention to
keep it up for any prolonged period of time.
I just wanted to see if I could do it.
Well, it turned out that I could and I haven’t stopped since.

The Callous Synopsis
It all started when Rianne Nicah, a medical student at the time,
 woke up one morning and found
a duck clad in plaid flannel in her home.
 He introduced himself as Cal Duck, Rianne’s guardian duck.
Similar to guardian angels, guardian ducks are guides to becoming
 the best person one can be. Unfortunately, unlike guardian angels,
 guardian ducks are not invisible. Furthermore,
Rianne was Cal’s first charge, and initially much to her chagrin
 he would often be accompanied by his mentors:
 Mallard Duck, Decoy Duck, and Ling Duck.

Time went by and Rianne graduated from medical school
and had gained good friends in her otherworldly housemates.
She finished specialty training in family and community medicine
 and now practices in a local hospital
in her hometown of Chanceborough.
 The only other people who know of the guardian ducks are
 her best friend, Aimee Queens, and her niece, Audrey Nicah.

Today, she continues to brave the world as
a struggling new physician. Life still teaches many lessons and
she has her good friend, Cal Duck, to help guide her through.

The Art, Writing, and Challenge of Callous
In the webcomic world, there is an increasing trend toward
 producing a comic mostly, if not entirely in the digital format.
 I am a bit of an old-school artist who still uses black pencils
and ink prior to scanning. I’m more comfortable that way and
 the roughness of line work adds a bit of “warmth”, in my opinion.

Groo’s Sergio Aragones, Garfield’s Jim Davis, and
Archie artists Stan Goldberg, Dan DeCarlo, and Henry Scarpelli
 formed the initial influences of my comics,
particularly on facial expressions and word balloon use.
Later on in the mid-1990’s an anime explosion led me to
the epic Dragon Ball-Z and a charming little series called
 Nintama Rantarō which influenced how I currently draw hair.
 Years of reading Charles Schultz’s Peanuts,
 Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes, and Walt Kelly’s Pogo
 showed me the importance of character and
relationship dynamics, as well as how
not every comic strip has to have a joke to be enjoyed.
I have recently been told that my art style, particularly the line work,
 falls under ligna claire and I somewhat agree.

When I started making Callous comics strips daily,
I would pencil and ink during my lunch break at work
 in the hospital. With that situation I had to keep my drawing
instruments light so I restricted myself to one pen,
one pencil, a ruler, and a sheet of copy paper.
 In order to separate my foreground from the background
I would use a high contrast of black, white, and gray
between them. When I started publishing in color,
 my choice of hues were also highly contrasting, probably
 subconsciously influenced by years of reading the
 Adventures of Tintin series by Hergé.
This led to the current similarity to ligna claire, a look I’m
quite pleased with especially with what little materials I work with.

Story ideas come from everyday life in and out of the hospital.
 I type little notes in my smartphone whenever I see or think
of something I’d like to make into a comic strip.

 Other Current Work

Apart from the Callous comic series and the occasional
guest comic I do for other webcomics, I currently have
 no plans to draw anything else. Perhaps after a year or so
I’ll try producing a compilation book of Callous comic strips.

Other than that, I am writing a comic story called M.O.U.S.E.
 about a cybernetics and robotics student on her last year
 of training who is inadvertently assigned to intern at a
mad scientist’s laboratory. I tried drawing it myself but
 I figured my art isn’t right for the tale. In my dreams
I’d have someone like Massimiliano Frezzato
(my favorite comic artist) to draw it.
 Right now, however, I’m in the hunt for a proper artist.


The Callous Website
the official website of the Callous comic strip series

The Callous Comic Series Fan Page on Facebook

Callous Comic Strip on Twitter

Thank you, Comic Creators United,
 for the opportunity to share all this with all of you!

Right back at you, Carlo. Wow.
A Doctor, writer, cartoonist and I'm sure, a Man-about-town.
He's left nothing for the rest of us. We still win.
If "Callous" is an indication of the rest of the
good Doctor's endeavours we're in good shape.
 When you get a free minute please come back and bring
us an update on your work.


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