If you’ve ever attended Comic-Con International in San Diego and strolled down Artist Alley, you may have come across comic book artist Dave Garcia.
A Holtville boy, Garcia’s claim to fame was his comic character Panda Khan, which would eventually become a character in the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” comics.
Garcia is also well-known for his work with Ben Edlund on the original “The Tick” comic.
“My wife (Monica) and I befriended the co-creators of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ before they achieved their worldwide success,” said Garcia through phone and email correspondence.
“So when we were self-publishing ‘The Chronicles of Panda Khan,’ they approached me to work on their ‘TMNT’ comics and later asked if they could license our Panda Khan as a toy in their TMNT toy line.”
“Panda Khan” was first published professionally in 1986 and was Garcia’s first professional job as a comic book artist, said Monica.
“When we created ‘Panda Khan’ we sent it out to different publishers, and WaRP Graphics published it,” she said.
Dave and Monica began self-publishing “Panda Khan” soon after that, said Monica.
He began working from then on as a penciler, inker, and cover artist for other publishers. He worked on cartoons for sci-fi/fantasy, comic book magazines and industry papers.
It was tough at times living in Holtville and working as a comic book artist, said Monica.
“Standard practice for artists working for Marvel and DC was to be located in New York City near their office buildings,” said Monica.
The decision to continue living in Holtville kept the artist out of the loop, at times with industry professionals; however that did not stop Garcia from working in the industry.
He would go on to work on many projects such as “Paul the Samurai,” Steven Spielberg’s “Tiny Toon Adventures” and his latest comic “Shadow of the West.”
The beginning of a comic book artist
As a young boy, Garcia had been drawing since the tender age of two, or at least that is what his mother told him.
He fondly remembers a time in kindergarten when his mother was called into school by Garcia’s teacher.
“She thought I was in trouble as usual,” said Garcia.
However this particular time, Garcia’s teacher was thoroughly impressed with his artwork: A cowboy with six guns, blowing smoke from the barrel of one of his revolvers.
His teacher was intrigued with his drawing.
While the other children in Garcia’s class were drawing stick figures he was drawing full blown animated characters.
“She was so impressed that I had drawn a neck that she hung the drawing on the chalkboard,” said Garcia.
Comic books played a part in all aspects of Garcia’s life, he said.
He learned how to read from his sister’s “Archie” comics.
“I basically learned to read by reading any kind of comics I could get my hands on,” he said.
Garcia would become well versed in Marvel comics such as “Fantastic Four,” “X-Men,” “Spider-Man” and “The Hulk.”
He could name the artist and creators of each comic. However it wasn’t until he was eight or nine that he realized people actually made comics for a living, said Garcia.
“I decided then that was what I was going to do,” he said.
While attending Holtville High School Garcia said he took correspondence classes for illustrators and cartoonist.
Garcia was drafted into the Army while attending Imperial Valley College, but he continued to draw.
Garcia becomes immersed in the world of Comic-Con
Garcia attended his first Comic-Con convention when he was released from the Army in 1975 and has had a booth at Artist Alley since 1985.
“The first Comic-Con I attended I went to a special sneak preview of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’ by George Lucas for Comic-Con fans,” said Garcia.
He said he has been lucky to sit in Artist Alley with talented artist and to have met thousands of people from all over the world.
“I’ve met most of the artist heroes who inspired me to get into comics at Comic-Con,” he said.
Comic-Con 2013 will be a special one for Garcia as they will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of “The Tick” comic book, which was later made into a Fox cartoon show.
Garcia worked on the series starting as the inker for creator Ben Edlund, then as penciler/inker and cover artist for 20 years, said Monica.
His longest comic book gig thus far, she said.
Staff Writer Alexis Rangel can be reached at 760-337-3440 or firstname.lastname@example.org