A Quick Talk with Comics Legend Tony DeZuniga

By Richard Serrao

Tony DeZuniga is a comics legend who has been working in the industry since the age of 16 or in 1957 if you prefer. In the 60’s and 70’s he moved back and forth between the Philippines (his native country) and New York City working for both Marvel and DC Comics. That means he’s forgotten more about comics than you or I will probably ever learn. Later on he worked as a conceptual designer in video games and now in retirement he does commissioned paintings and teaches art. In 2010 he’s still at the top of his artistic game and it’s a big year for him with the upcoming release of the Jonah Hex movie.

First professional work (piece / year) and maybe a quick story behind it.

My first work was that House of Mystery, it’s about a Pharaoh and his son, Joe Orlando wanted to try me if my work is as good as my portfolio because he was impressed when I show him my portfolio.

Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc…)

I was just self taught with the help of Filipino comic illustrators like Coching and Redondo and a few more that’s ahead of me. Always try to ask and make room for improvement. And you have to memorize your anatomy, that’s very important.

Tools of the trade: Taking a quick glance over at your pens, brushes etc…what tools have you mainly been using over the last few years?

Actually I use everything, and try to be good with everything. But I think pencil is my forte. I started doing fine arts too and I love acrylic and gouache.

Favorite brand of ink:

I am using this sable pen brushes, they’re expensive but I love it they’re so think and so smooth to use.

Type of paper:

I like the vellum kind , the one with tooth, I’m a pencil person so I want something that sticks on the paper.

Which artists or creators do you return to for a quick boost of inspiration? Who are the masters of ink?

I love the works of Hal Foster and Alex Raymond, they’re my inspiration growing up and starting as an artist and I know I’m not alone, a lot of artist feels the same.

Tony DeZuniga Art Exhibit Opening

Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job? Could you provide a quick overview of your process?

Doing a commission is very tricky, I wish all customers would tell you that “do whatever you want , as long as I get my character” but the thing doing commissions are, they’re paying you so they want certain things, certain poses, with another character, they want an evil witch…etc. But customer is always right…

What’s currently sitting in your mp3 / CD player / turntable?

I love jazz music and Frank Sinatra, Steve Lawrence, Eydie Gorme and Michael Bubble.

What’s hanging on your walls and what is your favorite piece of art that you own (not created by you)?

I love a Joe Kubert spread he gave me long time ago; a picture of me and Bill Gaines in the 70’s; a San Julian pencil and Maroto colored illustration with lots of appreciation and story behind it.

Last novel you read and last movie that you saw (that you’d recommend)?

I don’t really read novels but I love watching movies. I love the Avatar movie. I used to be a conceptual designer of SEGA and how I miss that job.

Current and upcoming projects?

My upcoming project is the Graphic Novel of Jonah Hex. The movie is coming out in June 16, 2010 and Paul Levitz, DC President wrote us a letter that they will give me a credit on the movie and we were invited at the red carpet.

What would you tell an aspiring artist who is working his ass off but still needs and wants to break through to the next level?

Just keep on trying, and most important is you have to have your own style, all new artists wanted to be like Jim Lee or Todd Macfarlane, no you have to develop your own style to get there and of course you have to be really good and sometimes….luck.

Read more about Tony at alanguilan.com

Video Interview with TONY DeZUNIGA


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