Harvey Tolibao is one Filipino artist I have been following ever since he got his big break at Marvel Comics. His work appeared in “Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Annual” #1, in November 2007.
Christos Gage, who wrote the Iron Man annual, told Comic Book Resources that he found Harvey’s work “amazing…beautiful, lush and dynamic.”
Gage added, “This is his first work for Marvel, but I'd bet it's not his last!"
Since then, I’ve tracked his progress and he’s my prime example of someone who has constantly improved his art. To his talent, he adds a positive outlook in life, discipline and lots of very hard work.
Harvey Tolibao grew up in a family of artists in Malaybalay City, Bukidnon. His website says he began dreaming of becoming a comic book illustrator in 1991, when he was 10. He collected local komiks such as Pinoy Klasiks and ALIWAN Horror Komiks and was inspired by foreign comics such as Jim Lee's X-Men.
Although Harvey studied Information Technology and held down a variety of jobs including furniture designer, cartoonist, graphic artist, illustrator, web designer, tattoo artist and messenger, he was determined to pursue his dream of becoming a comic book artist.
Harvey began as an assistant artist of fellow Pinoy comic book illustrator Stephen Segovia. They worked on the manga, Tokyo Knights.
He’s worked for the comic book publishers Dabel Brothers and Dark Horse but he found a lot more work with Marvel, doing Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, Ultimate X-Men, Avengers, Darkhawk, among many others.
He joins two other Filipino artists associated with the Big 2 publishers of the comic world, DC and Marvel. The first is Whilce Portacio, who worked on X-Men and Batman. Then, there’s Leinil Francis Yu who worked on Superman and Wolverine. Harvey is the newest member of the club.
I visited Harvey’s studio in Cubao and was privy to his new work which shall remain confidential at the moment.
First, I asked him what the biggest difference was between Marvel and DC.
The scripts, he replied. Marvel’s scripts were simple, while DC tended to be more meticulous. When the script says “multi-action,” it’s left to the artist’s discretion on how to best execute the panel.
While he admits to a learning curve with the change in new characters, I have no doubt Harvey will redeem himself with flying colors. After all, he has worked with DC’s chief creative officer Geoff Johns on the critically-acclaimed “Sinestro Corps War,” an 11-part series that did much to turn Green Lantern into a bestselling superhero. And, he is collaborating with writer Tony Bedard on “New Guardians,” another Green Lantern series.
Inspired by Bradley Cooper
In the beginning, Harvey was very nervous drawing Kyle Rayner, the struggling artist who, with a power ring, turns into Green Lantern.
“Patay!” he said of the job. “Ang laking responsibilidad nito!”
Wanting to give his best, Harvey got his inspiration from an unlikely source: the movie “The Hangover,” where based his drawing of Kyle Rayner on actor Bradley Cooper.
Even more interesting, he only learned after he finished his drawing that Bradley Cooper was being considered to play Hal Jordan, another member of the Green Lantern corps, in the movie version of the comic.
He also says that he has gone beyond merely delivering meticulous work. “What’s important is the heart,” he said. “There are some who just draw since it’s a job but you really need heart in everything you do so that what comes out each and every single time is beautiful.”
In fact, Harvey work is checked by none other than Jim Lee himself, artist and writer who’s now co-publisher of DC.
With his dream of being a comic book artist fulfilled, Harvey has hired his siblings to help market himself as the brand Harvey M. Tolibao. The team attends conventions to market Harvey and also function as his feedback mechanism. “Sobrang ganda mehn!” “Astig!” “OK na OK!” they’d say.
His own sketchbook
So far, Harvey and his team have had considerable success abroad. In Singapore, Harvey mounted an art exhibit entitled “inksingapore” at the Wilkie Edge in January 2011. Fans also flocked to him when he attended Singapore’s own Comic Con and produced a record 130 sketches at the con—free to his Singaporean fans.
He has released a sketchbook called Viscosity, which comes in a sealed polybag, which contains a surprise. You can order it through Harvey’s Facebook Page. Just search for “Art of Harvey Tolibao”.
Harvey’s got a lot of projects lined up and I cannot tell you how excited I am! But all I can tell you right now is his work on the “Green Project.” I’m psyched for what’s to come!