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Singapore Comic Con 2022: Interview with Kael Ngu

Batman artwork by Kael Ngu
Daredevil artwork by Kael Ngu

1. How did you break into the comics scene in America? (you had studied at The One Academy and worked at Passion Republic in KL)

I did a lot of private commissions when I first started, particularly on Star Wars related characters and a lot of Wonder Woman. At that time, I was still working a full-time job as a concept artist in Passion Republic. Then more collectors started to share my works among their groups in social media and soon publishers started to reach out for retailer exclusive variant covers. Things sort of roll on its own from there on, from retailer exclusives to more direct covers with publishers like Marvel and DC.

Ghost Rider Artwork by Kael Ngu

2. So through social media, you are approached by agents and are repped and you start with store exclusives before doing the covers directly for DC and Marvel. Would you say that is the route for young artists today?

That sounds like the route for artists these days indeed. Internet is a big help as words spread faster and our works are more easily seen by editors on social media. In my case, my cover opportunities came when I attended Megacon Orlando and met all the retailers and editors in person.

Some of them saw my works online already, but having met them in person change the game in my opinion. So, for me I’d say both social media presence and convention appearance are important in establishing a good working relationship.

Sketches by Kael Ngu
Sketches by Kael Ngu

3. This particular route allows you to break into the covers market. (Puppeteer Lee is also drawing covers) Is it different if you want to be an interior artist of comic books?

I don’t think I can answer this one correctly as I never try that before, but I’d say it might be similar for interior artists to break in. You just have to be good, and be seen, and easily contacted.

Iron Man Artwork by Kael Ngu

4. Would you want to draw interiors one day? What about your own IP?

I’d say interiors aren’t for me at the moment…I’m not exactly build for that. I am working with a French publishing company on an interior project at the moment…and I realized I took too much time working on a single page of comic and it’s not exactly ideal as usually, an interior artist have to work fast. I spent 3 years working on 80 pages and I think that’s wayyyy too long haha. Or probably a shorter, one shot interior project is much more suitable for my pace.

5. You have said that you were more influenced by manga and local Malaysian comics when you were younger. What were the local comics you read?

I’m a big fan of a local publishing house – Kadokawa Gempak Starz and I read almost all of their early comics. Mat Gempak, Jinggo, Detektif Hantu, Fatal Chaos, Helios Eclipse…too many to name haha.

Sketches by Kael Ngu
Sketches by Kael Ngu

6. You have said your big breaks were TMNT #97 Big Time Collectibles exclusive and the Spawn #303 Singapore Comic Con exclusive. Both were done in 2019 and they gave you a lot of followers. Would you say the Singapore fanbase and the Singapore Comic Con are special in your career thus far?

Definitely! Even my first few commissions are for the fans in Singapore through InkInk Collectibles, so Singapore definitely plays an important role in my journey in the comic industry. Fans and friends in Singapore are some of the friendliest and I always feel like home coming here. After all our culture and food are quite similar in a way! And yes, I love both Malaysia and Singapore’s Bak Kut Teh….hahahaha.

Cover artwork of Spawn #303

7. What do you look forward to at this year’s Singapore Comic Con?

Meeting the familiar faces! Even though most of the time I couldn’t remember who I’ve met previously hahaha. And of course, to sign as many books as I can for those that have bought and supported my covers over the years. I always appreciate the love so being there to sign and meet is the least I can do for everyone.

Sketches by Kael Ngu

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