STUDIO TOURS: Francis Manapul

Wed, January 16th, 2008 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor

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Artist Francis Manapul first came to prominence with a celebrated run on Top Cow's "Witchblade" before branching out with "Necromancer" (with Joshua Ortega) and the popular "Iron and the Maiden" at Aspen MLT. The Comic Book Idol judge has also created memorable covers for numerous titles including "Tomb Raider," "G.I. Joe" and "Battle of the Planets." Most recently, Manapul signed an exclusive contract with DC Comics, for which he's united with legendary writer Jim Shooter on "The Legion of Super-Heroes."

CBR News is pleased that Manapul was able to step away from the drafting table long enough to give us a special look inside his home studio in Toronto, Canada.

Story continues below

By Francis Manupul

Welcome to my studio/apartment. My girlfriend Agnes and I live downtown Toronto, right in the thick of things, where the Raptor games are just a few minutes walk away and the sounds of the streetcar clangs all day long. But we like it. Much like most apartments down by the waterfront, our place is "cozy." Anyways, on with the show.

This first image is a shot of our studio.

  1. Agnes' desk
  2. Otis hanging out
  3. Disco balls, because a studio isn't complete without one
  4. My desk
  5. TV (I have no idea what's on the TV…looks like rocks)

Here's a shot from another angle.

  1. Framed photos of my mom's photography
  2. Otis' shag pad
  3. Shelf storing all sorts of junk

Another angle of the room showing our shelf with all our nerdy possessions.

  1. I started collecting these JLA toys this past year, they just look plain awesome!
  2. This is CD rack that my mom made
  3. I always thought having a globe made you look smart, so I have one…beside The Flash
  4. Haven't had a chance to take down some of our Christmas decorations. As you can see, we love our furry friends. Over to the left is a sock for our cats, Milo and Moo.

Pretty standard: a bunch of trades and art books at the bottom. And, of course, an XBox 360.

On to the actual "studio" part of the tour, this here is Agnes' desk, as you can see with her giant name sign.

  1. More of my mom's photography. Art pretty much runs in my family with two of my uncles being architects, my mom being an interior designer and my brother being a fine artist.
  2. All of Agnes' tools and stuff.
  3. Some Patrick the Wolfboy postcards, Transformer sticker and a sticker of Beth Sotellos "Grump" character.
  4. Cool sketch from Pat Davidson along with her collection of little Winnie the Pooh thingies.

Another angle of Agnes' desk and more shelves. Lots of comics, art, headphones, toys, etc.

  1. All of her tools and markers and stuff. I'm pretty sure there's probably candy somewhere there, too.
  2. Her laptop, which is a MacBook Pro, I don't really know the specs but it's really, really good looking.
  3. Rouge sketch from Marcus To, and a cool fantasy illustration from Kent Burles.

We're finally at my work area. I've changed my table a couple times during the last few years. I guess I just like change. This table was actually from Ikea of all places. My mom bought one and showed it to me and I thought it was absolutely awesome so I got myself one. What I dig about it is the built-in light table. It's just a bit over 11x17 in size, which is perfect for what I do. The table used to be angled but when I got my iMac, I opted to flatten it out so that I can put my computer on top of it.

Here's a closer look at my work area.

  1. A bunch prints and stuff on the shelf. Also a picture of my dog Champ who passed away a few years ago (he actually made an appearance in "Witchblade" during my run).
  2. That's our cat Milo sitting on the scanner which is a Mustek Scan Express. It's the cheapest large format scanner I could find, and it works plenty good enough for me. As far as I know they're not making anymore of it, but I found it easily on eBay.
  3. My Emachines PC laptop, which used to be my main computer but since the arrival of my iMac I've been using it mostly for scanning and stuff since my old scanner isn't compatible with my new Mac.
  4. I use this drawer to store my paper and original art.
  5. Yes, Kirkman, I will buy your books Agnes got me the ultimate hardcover collections of "The Walking Dead" 1-3 and "Invincible" books 1-3. That Kirkman fellow sure can write a comic. I can't say enough how awesome a read they are, easily some of the best comics I've read in years.
  6. My lightbox.

This is where the magic happens.

  1. Since flattening out my table, I've had to device a plan to enable me to draw on an angle. Being the genius that I am, I grabbed my portable art clipboard and taped cardboard underneath it to put it at an angle. It's a lot more intricate than it sounds. I also put my keyboard on the edge of the board to allow me easy access.
  2. My new baby, it's a 24" iMac 2.0 ghz, 2 gigs of RAM and I a 300-something hard drive. As you can tell I'm a real computer aficionado. This is my first Mac ever. I've always been a PC guy thinking that Macs are too complicated for me. But after playing around Agnes' laptop I was fully converted. Also Leopard is a great operating system which makes things very simple and actually helps me get things done faster. The tiki on top of it is a gift from my friend's honeymoon in Hawaii. It's supposed to be good luck in all things money, so maybe in the next studio tour will be in a penthouse.

Another angle of my drawing table.

  1. Aviator goggles from the costume store. I don't know why that's there.
  2. Here you can see the complex mechanics of my clipboard with tape and cardboard and all.
  3. Chameleon drawing from Marcus To. The Wonder Woman print was also done by Marcus. The JLA print is from local artist Marcio Takara, awesome stuff. And a Kissing Chaos post card from Arthur De La Curz.
  4. Strepsils throat candy thing. Being sick sucks.

My little supply area.

  1. Portable DVD player which is rigged to output cable TV. I used to listen to music while working but found myself getting bored or wasting time looking through CDs deciding what to listen to next. I find that just watching TV as I draw works for me. Needless today I get to watch a lot of TV. Also, the print behind it is from Jordan Gunderson, a really cool artist.
  2. Art supply carousel.
  3. Plastic drawer thing. I like the fact that I can see through it helps me find stuff fast… sort of.
  4. Calculator along with some other random junk. I also have a lot of my big drawing pads, cutting boards, and poker table tucked behind there.
>

The best part of my desk is the view.

Moving on to the den, where we store all our junk and where the cats pee and poo. It's the stinkiest place in the apartment. I hate going in there. I'll leave you out here since the part that you don't see is overflowing with boxes that I need to get rid of.

  1. This was my final cover from my "Witchblade" run. It was a gift from my friend and long time collaborator Brian Buccellato. He had a buddy of his print out the image on canvas so when you look at the real thing it almost looks like an original painting!
  2. This is where Agnes' PC is and apparently where Superman also hangs out. This is where we do a lot of our printing and some small image scanning.
  3. Dry-erase calendar. Very useful for keeping track of how far behind I am.
  4. Cool lanyards from Aspen MLT.
  5. Painting Easel
  6. Filing cabinet, where I store a lot of files and really old art work under lock and key. I'm also showing just a part of it because to its right is a mountain of boxes.

We do a bit of time traveling to the future here. The art clipboard/cardboard thing that I made wasn't too stable although it did do the job, I just couldn't lean into it too much. After much ridicule from Agnes about it, I went out and got a tabletop easel which I propped said clipboard to. Much more stable now. Also, the cool thing about this picture is that you can pretty much see how I work with the TV on and all.

  1. You can see my lop top in scanning action. I just finished emailing some files.
  2. My brand spanking new tabletop easel. It's pretty neat and has a handle on the other side like a briefcase and a drawer on the right side for tools and stuff, so it's very portable. You're supposed to use it for painting and it's meant to hold up canvas, but it works perfectly well with a clipboard for traditional drawing.
  3. Like I said, I like to watch TV as I work. It helps keep me from getting bored.

That's about it. Thanks for checking out my studio.

Moo and Otis said smell you folks later.

Thanks very much, Francis!

To discuss Mr. Manapul's studio and his work on "Legion of Super-Heroes," please visit CBR's DC Comics forum.

Don't forget to check out any editions of STUDIO TOURS you may have missed.

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