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SMA9 Interview #3 – Paco Puente (Grand Prix Runner up)

Brendan W. Brendan W. 25/08/2018 19 min read

Hailing from the sunny city of Quito in Ecuador, Paco Puente has once again brought a smile to the faces of the SMAC! editorial team, along with the judging panel! This week we join the zany creator to talk about his SMA9 Grand Prix Runner up award winning entry ‘Sleepy Rock Z’, his inability to get out of bed in the morning, and of course the source of his inspiration! So, without further ado, put on some Black Sabbath, dust off your air guitar, and join us as we chat to the man himself!


Hello Paco! How’s life in Ecuador today!?

Hi! Yes it’s REALLY hot here right now. Mornings are too hot to even go outside! Life on the equator man, what can I say!? Hahaha


Yikes! That sounds crazy! Well, let us first begin by extending a huge CONGRATULATIONS to you on your recent SMA9 win! How does it feel??

It feels GREAT! Thank you so much, it’s a huge honor for me! Actually, I was really ill that day with a fever so struggled to stay up until 3am for the SMAC! live stream, did but I manage to pull it off somehow! My fever was so high though, when my entry was announced as a winner I wasn’t sure if it was real or if I was hallucinating! Hahaha!


The wacky walls of a cartoon aficionado!


Oh really!? Hahaha! Well, your crazy entry did indeed win an award! How did your family and friends react?

Oh they were really happy for me and immediately told all their friends my good news!


Nice! How did you find the themes for SMA9 this time? Were they difficult for you, or did you find them easier than you expected?

I found the theme of “TEAMWORK” to be very easy to work with this time around. SMA8’s theme actually gave me a much harder time! Haha!


Who could forget your last entry ‘Burping Contest at the Bus Stop’? (read here for Paco’s SMA8 interview to see what we mean!) We can tell you love comedy manga, but what kind of stuff do you get your inspiration from?

Comedy is my favorite genre in comics and manga. Especially cartoony, exaggerated and absurd humor. I grew up reading Spanish humor comics like Mortadelo Y Filemón, and American humor magazines like Mad Magazine. I also love animated cartoons! Rocko’s Modern Life, Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and the Looney Tunes are some of my favorites. When I was in college I discovered ‘Tensai Bakabon’ by Fujio Akatsuka-sensei, and it showed me a completely different kind of cartoony comedy that manga is capable of.


A veritable variety of zany comics!


Ooh! Nice catch! Was Tensai Bakabon published in Ecuador too?

Actually, no it wasn’t. I first discovered it in college as there used to be some guys that would visit our campus and sell art books. I was studying graphic design at the time and one of the books they brought with them was a huge book simply titled “Manga”. It contained many different creators’ work but one style of art that immediately stood out to me was Akatsuka’s ‘Tensai Bakabon’. Stylistically, It was so completely different to the other manga in that book, that it totally blew my mind! After that encounter, I went out and scoured the net for more and imported licensed copies in both Spanish and English. You could say I’m kinda obsessed with this stuff! Hahaha!


We can believe it! Despite it being your favorite genre, do you find it difficult to create comedy manga?

On the contrary, since I have so much fun drawing, creating a manga that’s serious in tone is actually far harder for me! I like to push the boundaries of exaggeration when I design my characters so drawing anything serious would be tricky. Of course, writing a comedy manga is always a challenge too, but I’m better suited to that I feel.


Well, you certainly make it look very easy Paco! How long did it take to create your entry this time?

About 3 weeks, but I was “writing” the story in my head and sketching the characters for something like a month before I started drawing the actual manga.


“Writing” in your head? That’s an interesting method!

Yeah I usually come up with some ideas or themes before thinking about how to put them together. During that time, I will go around sketching ideas here and there to help me solidify the direction I want to take the story in. I have a terrible memory so, whenever I get an idea, I immediately write it down in an app on my smartphone so I don’t forget it! Later, when I can find some time, I will sit down and draw sketches in my notepad I carry around with me at all times. I just draw lots of simple things like scenes or a facial expressions based on the ideas that wrote down in my app. Over time those sketches build up to form the basis of my storyboard and that’s when I start the real work!


👆Click the image to read Paco’s award winning entry! 👆


Sounds like you have manga on the brain 24/7! What was the inspiration behind ‘Sleepy Rock Z’?

I wanted to create something more personal with this one. I’m a huge fan of Rock Music, and when I think of good teamwork, I immediately think of awesome Rock bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple or The Stooges. When I listen to their records, I can tell each member knows exactly what sound to make at the right time, working with each other’s sounds to create something amazing! Also, as a full time freelance illustrator, I work alone but I consider Rock Music to be a “member of my team” because it never fails to get me in a creative mood. As such, I decided to combine all of those elements for this entry.


Oh! What an awesome parallel to draw inspiration from with regards to teamwork! As a metal fan myself, the Gene Simmons tongue on the bass playing bird made laugh!!

Hahaha! Actually that was originally going to be drawn in style of the cover photo for The Clash album ‘London Calling’, but I couldn’t do it justice so decided to change it in the end.


Interesting! Have you drawn any other rock related comics before?

I’ve done original illustrations for album covers for local rock bands, as well as posters for rock gigs, but I actually haven’t done many comics about rock. The only one that comes to mind is a short comic I did when I was in high school, about a band playing so loud, and terribly, that they distract a superhero fighting a nearby monster, resulting in the eventual destruction of the city! Hahaha! I may do a remake of that one in the future….


Paco’s album cover artwork for rock bands ‘Infiltro‘ and ‘Krishna Peri‘!


Hahaha! That sounds bonkers! Going back to your entry, I must say that I can really relate to the protagonist! Are you a not a morning-person either?

I am the complete opposite of a morning person! Hahaha! It takes a lot of effort for me to get out of bed, which is also something that inspired this manga. I work a lot more comfortably at night, so pretty much all the pages of “Sleepy Rock Z” were done some time after 7pm.


Your use of sound effects really caught my attention too! I like the way you use them as a background like in the punch scene, and the alarm clock panel. Am I correct in guessing you enjoy including sounds in your artwork?

Oh, yeah! One thing that’s great about manga and comics is how it’s a medium that uses one of the senses (sight) to represent all the others. Since hearing is the second most important sense for most people, I think the use of sound effects is very important and adds a lot. I enjoy coming up with ways to make the sound effects look the way those sounds makes us feel.


Inside the lair of the man himself!


Wow! I never thought of it like that! There are so many fun moments in your manga. Which part in particular did you enjoy drawing?

Probably the whole sequence where the cell phone gets kicked out of the window and lands inside a dog’s mouth, making him choke. I love slapstick humor like that!


Hahaha! Yeah that made us laugh too! Where there any parts that gave you trouble to draw?

Yeah, the ripped alarm clock! Drawing huge, muscly arms on the alarm clock was tricky! I wanted to give the alarm clock a strong appearance to match his loudness so that was fun, but pretty hard too, because connecting muscles to a circular object is a lot trickier than you’d think! Haha!


How much do you bench, bro?


Is there anything you’d like to create in the future?

A lot of things! I’d like to do a comedy story about martial arts, an absurd humor 4-koma, and weird parodies of stories from my country, to name a few.


Sounds intriguing! Is there anything that you hope to achieve by taking part in the SMAC! community?

My ultimate goal is to be a professional published mangaka, and maybe have my own series or 4-koma. There aren’t many, if any, opportunities for comic and manga creators to publish and make a living out of comics here in Ecuador, so SMAC! is a great opportunity to show the world my work, improve my style, and hopefully fulfill my goals. I draw to entertain people and make them laugh, so I hope I can achieve that as part of this community as well! Lastly, traveling to Japan has been a lifelong dream of mine, so I will continue to strive towards making that dream a reality too!


PC? Check. Bakabon? Check. The Stooges and some beer? CHECK!


What would be the first thing you do upon arriving in Japan?

Hahaha! Well, I’m also a huge Kamen Rider fan, so I’d love to visit the Shotaro Ishinomori Museum, as well as catch one of those Kamen Rider theatrical stage adaptions I’ve heard about! Oh, and I’d love to eat some ramen! Hahaha


Is there anything you’d like to share with your fellow SMAC! community members

Keep drawing! Even if you don’t win an award, just having a manga to show is just as good, and you become a better artist by doing it. Oh, and remember to have fun! Enjoy!!


THANK YOU for your time!

Thank you! I had a lot of fun!

  And with that, we put down our air guitars, turn off the AC/DC, and leave the master of mayhem alone in his studio to concoct his next wacky adventure. Penmaru however, is still on the hunt for the next award winning manga creator, and he has his eyes fixed firmly in YOUR direction!!

So what are you waiting for? Make manga your language too by taking your first step into the world of manga creation by joining SMA X! You have until September 30th, 2018 to say “HELLO” to your new friends! Click the banner for more details on how to enter…


For more Paco Puente goodness, be sure to give him a follow over on his official instagram page! Horns up! 




Brendan W.

Brendan W.