Webcomic Hunghang Flashbacks, a collection of short comics have been making the rounds on social media due to its relatable awkwardness and witty puns.
Speaking to My Pope Philippines, Drew Borja, the writer and illustrator behind the popular comics shares that Hunghang Flasbacks started out as a small project “made to spite his girlfriend.”
“Hunghang Flashbacks are short strips about eight stupid friends, anything goes actually. When I created the characters I didn’t have anything in mind as to how I will create them. I made them as a need-to-do basis. You can say that all [are] part of my personality split into eight parts,” Drew shares. (Read: 4 Mental Health Conditions You Probably Haven’t Heard Of)
Currently based in Australia, Drew is a full-time graphic designer who does corporate designs by day and makes webcomics at night. But he admits that he initially wanted to be an animator, not a comic artist.
“When I was still in elementary what I wanted to be was an animator. Back then I thought that it was a kid’s dream, like being an astronaut or a scientist, you know, like what you would say when grown-ups ask you what to wanted to be. I wish I took myself more seriously. It’s a shame, really. So I went for the next best thing, comics. Since basically comics are like storyboards,” Drew shares.
Asked about his inspirations, he says he liked reading Garfield, Dennis the Menace, Culture Crash, and locally sold mangas when he was younger. But one of his biggest influences were Manix Abrera’s Kikomachine and Lyndon Gregorio’s Beerkada. He adds that he also admires comic artists Rob Cham, Aj Bernardo, Noel Pascual, and Kael Molo. (Read: A Joan of Arc comic book series is coming and we’re all ready for it!)
Effects of COVID-19 Pandemic on His Art
Unfortunately, Drew says that the suspension of conventions and comic gatherings that he used to participate in, took a toll on his motivation.
“I draw less [during this pandemic]. I got mentally and emotionally exhausted with everything that is happening so I took a short break. I had to take a few gigs that ate up my drawing time,” he explains.
“Motivation-wise, I had more engine power before the pandemic. As I mentioned, there’s really [a] few things to look forward to. No cons, no gatherings, no sales. I try not to think about it and just enjoy myself, but you can’t deny that’s part of the process. But time-wise, I have lots of it.”
Advice to Budding Comic Artists
Dealing with an artist’s block is never easy. When Drew experiences it, he shares that he rests and recharges first no matter how long it takes and doesn’t draw if he doesn’t feel like it.
“The work suffers if I try to push it too hard, I don’t see the point in doing that. If I do have to force myself, I try to see what my other artist friends are up to, read other comics, consume other types of media. Inspiration can come from the most unexpected places,” he continues. (Read: 5 Books to Read for That Much-Needed Dose of Inspiration)
To budding artists trying to create their first comic books, Drew recommends that they “finish, not perfect.”
“When I started being interested in comics I was never able to keep a series running. That’s because I wanted it to look super good, super fast. When I created Hunghang Flashbacks I just wanted to finish something and publish it. That’s when I realize that you evolve with your work and it’s all a learning process. So take it slow, and have something done. Starting is half the battle.”