In the realm of comic book enthusiasts and aspiring artists, there are few dreams as captivating as illustrating for Marvel. For Dennis Crisostomo, that dream became a breathtaking reality. A gifted graphic artist, Dennis’ journey began like that of countless comic book lovers worldwide – as a devoted fan.
Dennis Crisostomo is from Angono, Rizal and as a child was fond of drawing, i.e. comics, anime and school poster-making contests. In college, he took Fine Arts, with a Major in Advertising at the Far Eastern University since advertising was the closest course in terms of graphic design and illustration. It was around this time that he took his passion for drawing seriously, when he learned that there were Filipinos working with Marvel.
A Filipino-American comic book writer and artist, Whilce Portacio, one of the creators of X-Men and Ironman characters, opened a school in SM MegaMall. Not having the financial resources to enrol at the school, Dennis would hang out outside of the school, befriend the students, have his works critiqued, and networked. He found a posting of an American agent looking for artists for comics. Armed with a portfolio brimming with illustrations, he mustered the courage to submit his works. After a year-long application and submission of sample works, Dennis got his first big break with Marvel. His first project with Marvel was on Emma Frost, an X-men character.
Dennis continued to work on other titles with Marvel, with independent companies for video games and graphic novels, in advertising as a storyboard artist, and in the movie industry with Viva Films. Before leaving for Canada, he completed a movie comic which was acquired by TV5 and picked up by Netflix Asia. He also was producing original artworks which were sold by an agent in the United States. As the comic industry is highly competitive, Dennis would participate and even be a featured guest in various Comic-Cons in the US and Canada, including Edmonton and most recently, in Calgary. This, in fact, is one of his most memorable and very humbling moments – seeing his name beside well-known creators of X-Men, Spiderman, Batman and Superman, and hearing how the industry appreciates the calibre of work of Filipino artists. [Note: I just learned that the first wave of Filipino artists recruited by agents to the US was in the 1950s & 60s.]
Reflecting on his artistic journey, Dennis shares that it is easier to break through in the industry but a lot harder to stay there. Projects are not constant so it is important to always be seen and stay relevant to the fans, publishers and editors. His philosophy, whether with work or life, is to just keep on trying. You wouldn’t know the outcome unless you try, and in the process, do your best. A lot of his achievements came from his ‘trying efforts’ in the quest to expand his experience, resources and network.
Nowadays, with the plethora of information online, Dennis remarks that there is no excuse to learn. A lot of artists are sharing their practices and tricks online, and it is easier to connect and network. His advice to aspiring artists would be: maximize social media since it’s a free platform, post your work and portfolio, attend events and conventions, and network, network, network. Find your own style, personality and show your essence through your works.
For himself, he plans to continue his work in the comic book industry, which was halted due to his time with the movie industry, continue to give talks and seminars, hold an exhibit of his works and explore the gaming industry. He also hopes to put up a studio where he will serve as the Creative Director, and implement all the projects brimming on his mind.
Dennis Crisostomo’s remarkable journey from a fan to a celebrated artist with Marvel and other industries, is a testament to the power of dreams, persistence, and the limitless possibilities of artistic expression and belief in oneself. With his talent, experience and dedication, we excitedly wait for whatever comes out of the next stroke of his pencil.
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