I moved from the Philippines when I was 8 years
old, and lived in Chicago and New Jersey until settling down in Florida
in the early 70's. Both my parents were in architecture and followed the
building boom. My first introduction to ERB was through my father, a fan
of Tarzan mostly due to the old films and comic strips. He also introduced
me to other characters of that pulp /comic strip era like The Phantom and
the Shadow. At that young age, I didn't have access to the ERB books yet,
but I used to draw Tarzan and those other characters with markers and crayon.
In my early teens I discovered Joe Kubert's Tarzan comics
work. The Jewels of Opar adaptation in that large treasury format that
Kubert did was very influential to my early development as an artist. That
book still stands up to this day. Just a classic in it's bold gestural
linework. Kubert would place these heavy brush strokes that would add so
much mood to the panels. Around the mid 70's the Neal Adams painted Tarzan
books were packaged in a boxed set. Kubert's Tarzan looked like an Olympic
swimmer and Adam's Tarzan looked like a sinewy tribal warrior. I read those
books with great interest, because this was Tarzan from Burrough's own
From there I found out about the Frazetta illustrations,
and his black and white ink work for John Carter of Mars. Frazetta led
me to looking for the work of the Brandywine artists, to Frank Schoonover
and also to St. John's work. So I was going backwards, digging up past
artists. I read the John Carter books in high school. Oddly, enough I never
drew any John Carter related art. From there I got into Robert E. Howard's
work as well. This was the time that Star Wars debuted, and at that impressionable
age, Star Wars and the 70's martial arts craze filled that action adventure
fix I was looking for. I never thought about how Star Wars homaged from
ERB's writings until later when I learned more about Lucas' influences.
At that young age, I didn't think of ERB as another writer, in my mind
he was this larger than life world builder. A character like Tarzan was
iconic, because he was a character long developed before I was born. He
was already part of an earlier generation's popular culture.
While attending high school in rural Fort Myers, Florida
I eventually got involved in amateur publications and discovered there
were like-minded individuals out there called "fandom". I began to learn
about creating art for reproduction and started to seriously look at illustration
as a profession.
I attended the Ringling School of Art and Design in Sarasota
in 82-83 and something happened that affected my life... I got a job offer
at DC Comics. I had taken a portfolio of sample pages to a local convention
in Tampa. There, an artist by the name of Pat Broderick took a liking to
the samples and sent them to DC Comics. Long story short - since
then I have illustrated for just about every major comic company, and have
drawn SPIDER-MAN, CONAN, BATMAN, MAGIC THE GATHERING and STAR WARS comics
to name a few.
Regretably not until my recent Paramount job, have I ever
gotten the opportunity to illustrate any ERB characters. I've only drawn
them for my own amusement. I've collected the Ballantine JCoM books, the
older hardbacks with the interior illustrations (Pellucidar, etc.), the
Cochran Library of Illustration, Del Rey books, Gold Key, DC and Marvel
comics and all kinds of Tarzan related material.
My other interest was martial arts, I've studied and taught
it for over 25 years and that has now also segued into my current work.
I train actors and choreograph fight scenes (mostly involving my expertise
in sword and knives) for film and stage. Since my comic book experience
allows me to make an easy transition to storyboarding - that has also given
me the rare opportunity to combine both my interests into other projects.
I board fight sequences for the directors to look at, and then train the
talent/stunt men with visual storytelling in mind. I've worked with Benicio
Del Toro, Tommy Lee Jones, George Clooney and Sam Rockwell.
Recently I have explored the conceptual and pre visualization
field of film. I have worked pre-viz on games and toy lines before so have
already done a good bit of developmental work. It's been quite fun working
alongside some of the talents I used to read about, and whose work were
quite influencial to me when I was a younger.
I've mentioned Paramount several times. When I was working
on the HUNTED I met the producer James Jacks (TOMBSTONE). Initially, he
didn't know I was an artist. He just knew me as one of the "Knife guys"
working as technical advisors. He eventually saw the fight boards I drew
for the HUNTED and felt I would be an asset to this new project of his.
He had a very strong interest in the fantasy and SF genre, and he asked
me if I would create some quick illustrations for this project meeting
for... Princess of Mars!!!
The drawings would be presented to the Burroughs estate
holders to assist in securing the rights for the film. This meeting was
scheduled the following weekend, so I ended up drawing about twelve color
concept roughs over that short amount of time. Luckily, I already knew
much about the books, so I suppose visual ideas were already semi-formed
in my mind.
Everyone pretty much knows the history of the film - from
Rodriguez to Conran, etc. I was on board the film's developmental work
up until the Conran's last year. I've seen so much evolve since those earlier
images that were online several years ago. Unfortunately, that's the only
images I can share at the moment.
I also did tons of roughs on my own figuring out how four
limbed creatures would fight if they had training in weapons from such
an early age. How they would move in groups, how those extra limbs could
show some moves that's never been choreographed on screen before. My edged
weapon training is based on tribal methods of combat, and it synched up
very well with the way ERB described a green man's combative mindset. I
also had access to some of the very best edged weapons masters in the world,
so on occassion I would pick their brain with the cool "what ifs?".
I filled several thick folders full of ideas, since there was a significant
amount of down time during the whole decision making process for this film.
I also focused on John Carter as the best swordsman on two planets. He
should make every film swordsman look pale in comparison. All this was
mostly for my own amusement, since we never got beyond the early visual
stages on the film when I was there last year.
I believe all the directors attached to this film so far
were all good choices, each one would have brought a distinct style to
the film. As a longtime fan of Burroughs, I'm sure I'm not stating anything
profound when I say that all I want to see is an exciting John Carter of
Mars film as close to ERB's books as possible eventually make it to the