Ever since DC: Rebirth, one of best titles has been Red Hood and The Outlaws because of the story quality, characters and art. Jason Todd, Artemis and Bizarro have all received amazing development, courtesy of writer Scott Lobdell and artist Dexter Soy. The Philippines born artist has created some incredible panels. After an epic two year run, Dexter recently finished up on the series with Red Hood and The Outlaws #25.
But before he signed off, I couldn’t resist interviewing him about his time on the series and how he got into the comic industry.
For two years you’ve been absolutely killing it on Red Hood And The Outlaws so I imagine it’s been an exciting journey for you. How did you first come to the series?
I remember I did a few issues of Red Hood and Arsenal years ago. Scott Lobdell was the writer on that title, so we got along and he got familiarised with my work. After that I was assigned to do Arkham Knight: Genesis (in which I think helped me more to be a candidate as an artist for Jason Todd)
Then after finishing that run, my editor was looking for an artist for the Red Hood and the Outlaws Rebirth on-going. Scott Lobdell was going to be the writer again so he suggested me to my editor (Alex Antone) and decided to hire me for the job.
Were you aware of Red Hood’s story and what Scott Lobdell had been doing with the previous Outlaws title before you signed on?
To be perfectly honest, I was never aware of the previous Red Hood titles or even Jason’s origin. I have minimal knowledge about him as Robin. I feel embarrassed telling you about it! (Laughs)
How did you begin your career as a comic artist and did you have a goal to draw for DC Comics?
I was just doing fan arts and posting it on Deviant Art back then. Got a bit of exposure on that and had my first comic gig from small publishers. Comics and storytelling wasn’t really my main target, I was looking more on doing game concepts and characters. But after an issue of my first comic gig I got another one from a company called Electronic Arts. I did an arc of their game-turned-comic “Army of Two.”
After that, a writer from my country found out about it and tweeted this fan art of Thor that I did. CB Cebulski, a former talent scout of Marvel at that time, saw my fan art and emailed me telling me that he liked my work and asked if I wanted to try out for work with Marvel. So I did and I passed the try out and an editor hired me to do their Captain Marvel relaunch.
After working for more than a year for Marvel, I was emailed by a DC editor to see if I was interested in doing Masters of the Universe vs DC Universe in which I agreed and from that moment I stayed doing DC titles.
What was the collaboration process like between you and Scott when working on Outlaws?
He’s probably the closest writer I’ve worked with. We chat and he’s a really funny dude. He’s a brilliant writer, sometimes I wonder if I’m giving justice to his story because his scripts are well explained and it gives me a clear view of what he wants and what the scenes need. He’s just bursting with ideas, like a “mad scientist” type of a writer.
He taught me a lot. He’s an experienced writer, so he knows what good art is and he knows how to bring out the full potential of an artist’s strength.
And one really good thing too is he usually makes me work on my weaknesses, like drawing crowds and double page spreads, etc. It helped a lot and it gave me more confidence doing those things.
Something I’ve really enjoyed about Red Hood and The Outlaws is how Jason, Artemis and Bizarro have acted as a ‘Dark Trinity’ to Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman’s Trinity. How would you describe Jason’s relationship with his teammates?
I think the good thing I like about their relationship is that it’s very “human” in a way. Their friendship was built organically and Jason is genuine to both Artemis and Bizarro. They’ve always got each other’s back, though they have misunderstandings at times. But the camaraderie of the three as friends and team mates is great, it makes them very human and makes us relate a lot.
My favourite art of the series involves Red Hood laying next to Bizarro and trying to calm him by telling him to listen to the rhythm of Gotham City. I thought you did a great job capturing the emotion of the moment. What are some of your favourite sequences that you got to draw?
That was also one of my favourite moments during the run. I remember reading the dialogue and I was impressed by Jason’s line on that panel. And so I was challenged to do a good composition of that panel which can justify the dialogue. And it came out matching the scene.
Others that comes to mind were the first few pages when I started the title. I was excited knowing we were part of the Rebirth event so I was very stoked at that time.
The Death of Bizarro issue also comes to my mind. I remember I was really having fun drawing the sequences on that one. And issue #25, probably because it was an epic fight with Batman, a remarkable turn of things that happened because it was the final issue before me and the colourist and letterer left the title.
When creating art, do you try to put yourself in the mindset of the character you’re drawing or is there a different process?
I maybe subliminally doing that. I just visualise how the script describes each scene and each character’s description on each panel. As I read the script a movie plays into my head in line with the script and I try to make it appear on paper.
The fight between Jason and Bruce in Red Hood and The Outlaws #25 is brutal and emotional. Did you have your own idea of how that would be presented or was it more of a collaborative effort?
It was sort of a collaborative effort by me and Scott. I didn’t exactly follow his description at some points of the fight. Mostly because I thought It would look “cool” visually. One example was when Batman appeared the second time on top of the building behind Red Hood. On the script he was supposed to do a punch, but instead I made Jason do a back/mule kick while turning around to face Batman. I thought it would look cool.
I think the strained relationship between Red Hood and Batman is one of the most compelling struggles in the Batman mythos. Do you feel they could ever permanently be on the same page or do you think Jason will always go back to what he knows best?
That I leave to the writers or editors of DC. But I think either way it would benifit Jason. It’s not good to always be on good terms with Bruce. At the same time it’s also great to be on good terms with him. Either way it’ll tell a good story in my opinion.
What’s your opinion on the independent comic scene and do you think it’s become easier for writers and artists to get their work shown to a wider audience?
I’m not that fully aware of it honestly, but nowadays it’s easier for people to get their works out there. We have the means now, even if you don’t have a publisher people can still see your work online. It’s a good thing but also has disadvantages on some levels.
What would be your best advice for anyone who wants to become a comic book artist?
It might be weird but my advice is don’t try to make it your goal to become a comic book artist. Just do what you love to do, be passionate about it and have fun.
It’s a big consolation if someone finds out that you’re really good at your work and they hire you. It’s like publishers saying “don’t find us, we’ll find you.”
So have fun doing and learning what you love as an artist. Also getting your work “seen” is a great help. So make sure that you post your work. It’ll be a big help to get exposure from people and publishers.
A lot of readers are going to miss your art in Red Hood and The Outlaws but issue #25 was a hell of a way to go out. Can you tease any upcoming projects or comics that you’re going to be working on next?
I’m still under DC and doing a relaunch title. It’ll be announced eventually!