Tell me a little bit about yourself, about your life? Where did you go to school, and what classes did you study? What helped prepare you to become the artist that you are today?
I'm a father of three, married for 10 years. I stand 5' 11" tall and weighing in at 220lbs. I have 34 wins, 32 of those victories by way of knock out haha. Seriously, I took Advertising at FEU for two and a half years and then dropped out for maaany reasons.
During my college years, I was really into the "Seattle Sound", our own band, writing songs and playing them onstage in my hometown in Laguna. And back then, I really thought it was in the music business that I'll end up in because I never thought much of comics in my youth and also because embarassingly I had classmates in FEU who really displayed prowess when my own illustration skill sucks haha, but it's odd that I don't hear about their names in the comics scene nowadays... life is strange.
What inspired or convinced you to become an Artist?
I was already working as a textbook illustrator for four years when that dawned on me. And it was when I first came across Hiroaki Samura's Blade of the Immortal seven or eight years ago, I thought to myself childishly "This is what I want to do, mangaka's rule!" because textbook illustration sometimes gets to be so formulated and repetitive that it doesn't feel like it comes from the heart anymore.
So at age 25 and my second kid on the way, I studied and taught myself human anatomy for the first time (which explains why my work back then was so horrible), tried to understand how panelling works and after a year of self-studying I was blessed to have won Third Place over 5,000 contestants all over Southeast Asia on AXN's "Anime Hero Drawing contest" and then a First Place on the "Mutant Hero Drawing Contest" sponsored Comic Quest for the first showing of the X-MEN movie years ago, winning both character design contests was very encouraging for a family man who started very late and now I'm so grateful to God that I was able to work with people I was only reading about years ago and if the Lord is still willing, hope it continues on.
What is a typical day for you, and who are the people you work with?
I usually get up around 11am and work till 6am the next day. It's really terrible work hours and I'm still struggling to get it to normal. In between that, there's wrestling and playing zombie with my kids on my break, talking to my wife about her soaps now being "Full House" and playing from lots to very minimal MGS3: Snake Eater.
I work with most of the guys from Culture Crash at Seven Seas Entertainment, Mark Navarro with the weekly Ragnarok comics, Jamie Bautista & Joel Chua(?) with CAST and Dark Horse manga editor, Philip Simon with Rumble to Kaga, my one-pager comedy doujin.
What are some of the things that you have worked on?
I did a series of illustration/painting for the late National Artist for Literature: Nick Joaquin on his 2003 novel, "Batlake" serialized in Philippine Graphic, had a comic strip in Manila Times' "PTYK", headed by also the late Nonoy Marcelo T_T.
How do you go about illustration, what goes through your mind, from start to end?
Well, there's got to be an idea first and then I make a few thumbnails. And from the thumbnails I choose which one I like best then I proceed to making a final size rough sketch. On the lightbox, I make a pencil clean-up version on another paper and then I ink on that. After I'm done inking I erase all the pencil lines and that's it, ready for scan and send.
I couldn't get used to inking on enlarged blue print-out copies because I like the feel of a professional looking "clean" final illo, where all one can see is the inked art. The remaining blue lines from the print-out makes it look dirty, at least to me.
Could you talk about your process in coloring your art (if at all), as well as the types of tools or media that you use?
Normally, I use acrylics on watercolor paper but I haven't done that since I started working for Seven Seas and now I'm on my second title there which is "Arkham Woods". I guess there's just so much to do when a book starts, leaving very little time to paint. Plus, the regular works, family life... gaah, I just realized how much I missed painting.
What are some of the things that you do to keep yourself creative?
Besides my regular doodlings there's reading an interesting manga, a good movie, BOTI re-reads and some Command & Conquer: Zero Hour). I try to keep the inspirations accessible and affordable if not free or already owned by me so I can get to them quickly if I find myself in a slump.
What is your most favorite subject to draw, And why?
Jidaigeki and women with swords (contemporary or period). I do guns and mecha sometimes but I think swordfight art is my home or at least I think it is haha!
Who are the top illustrators whose works excite you the most?
Hiroaki Samura and then Tsutomu Nihei, Travis Charest, Sean Phillips and Eduardo Risso.
I used to be a huge fan of Masamune Shirow and J Scott Campbell's female drawings but the recent changes they made to how they do it doesn't appeal to me anymore, which is sad because they were one of my early heroes.
What are some of the neat things you have learned from other artists that you have worked with or seen?
Oh its the digital process, resolutions, painting programs and such. I used to work a lot traditionally and have other people scan and edit my works so yeah I'm still learning my ropes with computers... babysteps!
What are some of your favorite websites that you go to?
Sean Phillips' Blog, he's awesome! and my DA (devianART) page. I would love to be all over my favorite mangaka's official website if I can find one and if it isn't completely in Japanese.
What wisdom could you give us, about being an Artist? Do you have any tips you could give?
Persistence and devotion, I heard my share of people who talk about "oh I wanted to be good at sequentials" or "how I wish I was as good as this and that artist" and sometimes most of those same people spend their time doing something else and not honing their craft. So I think my advice or maybe a dare is if you wanted to do be better, work on it. And second, be genuinely nice. I mean I've seen and worked with some jokers in the past who thinks that just because their a little better than a handful of people or because one of their works got published gives them the right to be arrogant a**holes which is really wrong and a pain to work with.
If people would like to contact you, how would you like to be contacted?
By email, jhomar.soriano[at]gmail[dot]com or through my deviantART account at http://scruffyronin.deviantart.com/
Finally, do you have any of your art work for sale (sketchbook, prints, or anything) for fans of your work can know where and when to buy it?
I do commissions if I'm not so busy but I don't think I'll be selling my old traditional paintings. It's part of my personal collection which I tend to feel like their my children as well.
How has your family and your being a father steered your direction as an artist?
Wow... a lot of pressure, less artistic playtime and collateral damage.
I just joke about it but really the pressure is tremendous. Because if I screwed up or spent too much time doodling and experimenting to let creativity flow, I not only have myself to suffer but them as well. Which is probably why a lot of artists I know aren't married haha but then, I love my wife and my kids so absolutely NO regrets there, man.