• Daniel D. Calvo

Urban Animal is Coming. Part 2: John Amor

The comic book industry is going through major changes. Digital Comics have been taking over, with millions of readers consuming platforms like Webtoons on a daily basis. Thousands of creators from across the world have dedicated themselves to work on weekly webcomics, which demands extreme quality and sacrifice from artists.

Few artists on comics show the same level of genius, quality and consistency as John Amor. An Eisner-nominated artist, he has worked with almost all the great publishers in the industry, from DC Comics to Image and IDW. His extreme versatility and creative genius bleeds onto the page, gifting readers with supernatural creatures, horrifying transformations, and Hollywood-level action on a weekly basis.

His cartoony style and dynamic storytelling are a perfect fit for Urban Animal, the Webtoon he co-created with critically acclaimed author Justin Jordan, and that is now one of the most popular webcomics in the platform with thousands of subscribers and millions of views.

We had the pleasure to sit down with John Amor to talk about his artistic process, some behind-the-scenes looks at the production of a webcomic, his thoughts about the Urban Animal franchise and the upcoming collected print volume of Season 1.

Filipino culture and mythology are present throughout the story. What are some details that you think the fans might have missed from the comic that are related to it?

Great question. We never do a one-to-one analogue of any specific Filipino monsters, but anyone who has read the comic knows that shapeshifting between various animal forms is the crux of our story. Filipino folklore has a cryptid called the Aswang, which is known to have this specific ability, with the added little detail of wanting to eat human flesh. The UA Chimera has some similarities to the aswang but with an enriched background lore to coincide with our larger magic system.

Could you take us behind the scenes on what does the process of drawing a weekly Webtoon looks like?

Oh sweet Jesus. Well there’s a lot of coffee and tears involved – that’s throughout the season, really. Justin and I hash out the story beats at the beginning of every season, and he sends me a bunch of scripts breaking down the weekly chapters. I will spend a weekend laying out an episode so I can dive into drawing and coloring come Monday and go throughout the week. I’ve never had to color my own series before, so this was definitely something I had to get used to. When all that’s done, Lettering Wizard Micah Myers does his magic and sends it all back to me. Then I format everything to be ready for the upload to webtoon and the process starts again for the next chapter.

How do you come up with the different hybrid chimeras? And what is your favorite monster that you have drawn so far?

All the hybrid chimera forms that are taken are a result of two questions. First: What looks cool in the moment? And second: What needs to happen in this particular portion of the plot? I draw inspiration from a lot of classic monster movies, Dungeons & Dragons and Monster Hunter art, so I’m sure a lot of that has leaked in. For Season One specifically, my favorite is probably the Rhino-Unicorn form, lovingly dubbed the “Rhinocorn” by the fans.

Do you have any advice for aspiring Webtoon artists?

Stick to a schedule and try to be as disciplined as humanly possible, within reason. Take breaks of course, but aspire to hit a daily goal. Also, focus on storytelling more than detail. Lots of hatch lines on an awesomely drawn figure is great, but a well-crafted scene that delivers rich emotional impact is more likely to resonate with your readers.

What will it take for you guys to start a real-life Urban Animal band and release an album?

That would be rad! I don’t really run with a band anymore --- that was college John. But if a buncha musicians who read Urban Animal decide to make music inspired by the comic, that would be pretty amazing. Especially if they could pull off Joe’s high top fade.

If you could adapt Urban Animal to any media, what would you pick and why is it anime?

Hahaha, subtle. Why yes, I’d love an anime adaptation, simply because we crafted this series to feel like a American Anime, if that makes any sense. Webtoon’s partnership with Crunchy Roll has seen a lot of success with Tower of God and God of High School. I personally think it’s a great medium for the energy and vibe of our comic. All the monster transformations would be sick!

What is your favorite character to draw on the series?

Joe and Corkindale. Unintentionally, those two carry themselves in very similar ways despite their personalities being unique. I feel a kinship to both that makes them both easy and a joy to draw.

What can we expect from the future of the franchise?

Without spoiling. More monsters. More casualties. Darker Skies.

How can we support the comic and get the collected edition?

Depending on when this article comes out, we will have a Kickstarter collecting the first Season of Urban Animal in a massive 200+ page graphic novel, available in soft and hardcover, along with whole zoo of other goodies. You can also support the ongoing comic by visiting our Patreon! And of course, there’s the new episode that comes out weekly on the Webtoon app. A Like and a Comment may sound simple, but it lets us know you guys enjoy what we’re doing and that means a lot to us.

You can purchase Urban Animal Volume 1 on Kickstarter here:

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