Paco Puente was able to take laughs from all the judges of the SMA team. His style stood out to us immediately. With exaggerated expressions, charming characters and over the top scenes, he left us entertained and waiting for more. His work on for SMA8 “Burping Contest at the Bus Stop” left us amazed by his crazy sense of humor! Paco told us about his life, journey as an artist and his thoughts on manga.
Can you tell us a little about the place where you live?
I grew up in Quito, Ecuador. The seasons don’t change much, the weather stays the same most of the time and is very pleasant! I live near the mountain range so the night is cold, but in general I will say it’s perfect weather. Here people are very kind and peaceful, in Quito we have many immigrants so we can meet people from different countries and cultures.
What sightseeing-spots would you recommend to the SMAC!ommunity?
If you guys visited, I would recommend the historic sights here in Quito. There’s an area of the city that has more than 400 years of history! The whole area has been proclaimed an Unesco’s World Heritage site. Also, the beach is beautiful! Our food is extremely delicious, I would recommend a very Ecuadorian dish called “Roasted Qui” ( Roasted Guinea Pig), it’s very popular!
“I just enjoy creating characters and making stories”
Since when did you start drawing ?
Since I can remember… I have always been drawing, I remember telling stories very clearly in. elementary school, talking about my characters to friends while I was drawing.
Why did you change your artist name?
Ahaha! In the past I used to use Afro Monkey as my signature. I started thinking that it didn’t represent me, I like it as a mark but not as my signature. I wanted something to represent me, so that’s why I decided to change for my name.
What was your first contact with manga ?
Since I was little, comic books have always been a part of my life. I am very lucky that my parents had comic books at home. Before being able to read, my older sister used to read me the comic strips in newspapers, she also read me “Mafalda” and “Calvin and Hobbes”. In the case of manga, I grew up watching anime, like “Saint Seiya” and “Dragon Ball”. Only when I started to get access the internet, I got to know about manga. I started to become more and more interested in it.
Who are your favorites manga or comic book artist?
I first got interested in Akira Toriyama, I was interested in what type of guy had created “Dragon Ball”. I was researching him and “Dr. Slump” when I found out about “Neko Majin Z”. It’s now one of my favorite manga! I love the humor in the story. I also like Yoshio Sawai, with “Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo”, his abstract sense of humor is amazing. I also like “Golden boys” by Tatsuya Egawa, I enjoyed the expression of his characters. I love Junji Ito’s crazy stories too. There are many artists that I like, usually all of them are into the comedy/horror themes.
“My style came natural to me, I never tried to change it”
Everyone will agree that your style is very unique, how did you develop it ?
I have been with this style around 10 years already. I feel like it’s the one that suits me best. I like to draw humor, I have never felt that drawing action or battle has been in me.
I am heavily influenced by American cartoons and Spanish cartoonist Manuel Vasquez.. From America I like a satire magazine called “Mad”, its very good.
What was the first thing that caught your attention in manga ?
In manga what was more appealing to me was how movements and action was represented. I thought that the way manga used techniques for action, like especial effects was super original. Also, I was captivated by the facial expressions of the characters, they can tell so much and they are so funny!
Why did you want to create your own manga/comic?
What I find amazing, is that manga is the most experimental sequential art. In manga, you can be a writer, visual artist and movie director with just one tool. I was very interested in creating my own stories and characters and manga its the perfect medium.
“There is not just one way to draw manga”
Did you ever feel pressured to change your style to fit the overall image of manga?
No. I think about many manga I have read that are not the usual style. Finding “Neko Majin Z” greatly changed my perception of what manga is. I found it through the internet because I was curious about Akira Toriyama.
What is your daily life like ?
I work as a professional illustrator. I usually do work for magazines, marketing products, some illustration for packages, it varies. I have my own studio, after I finish all my work, I will then fully start drawing my own comics. I am also giving lessons and workshops about character design.
When I am not drawing I enjoy going out to eat at a new place. Recently I am teaching myself through online videos, how to play the Ukulele.(giggles)
What is your work process like?
I work at my office, I aways start working traditionally and everything that is ink and details I finish in Clip Studio Paint.
Music is very important to me while I am working, I like rock, classic rock and punk-rock. While working, I put on cd’s of rock bands like Black Sabbath, Los Ramones, Misfits, Japanese Guitar Wolf and Shonen knife.
For me rock music is very important when I am trying to get my ideas out and sketching them. But when more intricate work is involved, I like to work in silence because the music takes me away and I get distracted. At those times I just start to listen to podcasts or audiobooks.
A very clean and professional looking desk!
“ Is important to be involved with artists that have different styles so that you don’t get stuck in a box”
How is manga viewed in your country ?
There are not that many events. Yes, we have many people that like anime, but manga and comics is still not. I participate in a lot of events for self publishing and as freelance artist. I enjoy going to those events because I can meet artists with work completely different from mine.
What was the most difficult part of SMA8?
The theme, I thought that the theme was very deep. I had already come up with the idea of “burping”. So I was trying very hard to mix both of them.
How did you overcome that challenge?
I always talk with close people around me to ask for their opinion. This time I actually thought to get away from the emotional element that was in my previous works and wanted to make the funniest and craziest story I could.
“ I thought if I kept true to what I like, I would be able to come up with something good”
How did you get the idea of the burping contest?
I was actually thinking of doing something related to martial arts. But I felt that It wasn’t what I enjoyed drawing, so I wanted something more funny and ridiculous.
What part did you enjoy the most ?
I love the double page! It was the most fun to draw! It took me one week to do it, I doubled the size of the page to draw more details.
What would you like in your future ?
I would love to win the SMA (laughs) and publish my own work here in Ecuador! I would like to have a serialized comic and a book of my collected works.
“ Just do it! ”
What would you say to people who are interested in manga or comics and don’t know where to start?
Just do it (laughs). At the end, you don’t lose anything. Even if its not published or you didn’t win anything, you always have that work to show. Also, it’s good to participate in this type of contest so you can get professional feedback. So enjoy and do it!
Thank you for giving us a glance into your world and creative process! Hope to see your next work soon!
Twitter – @SmacViVi
Facebook – Vivi Fabbri Smac