He never thought he would make a living doing what he loved, but for over three years Algarve resident Miguel Mendonça has been drawing for DC Comics, one of the world’s largest comic book publishers – famous for creating iconic characters such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
His passion for comic books started when he was just a child as he would draw his favourite characters, wowing the people around him.
“People would often say I had ‘a talent and a future’, but it confused me as I didn’t know anyone whose job was drawing comic books,” the 34-year-old artist told Barlavento newspaper.
His scepticism about pursuing his passion as a career led him to earn a degree at the University of the Algarve and work a few years as a designer in the Algarve, where he was born and continues to live. But it didn’t take long for him to realise that he had to take the risk and send his portfolio to publishers outside of Portugal.
Two years later, he heard back from DC Comics, one of the publishers of some of his favourite childhood characters.
“At the end of 2015, I started drawing Wonder Woman, one of the most famous characters with decades of history,” he explained.
“Each monthly magazine has around 22 pages and I draw around one page per day. I work 12 hours or more per day and although I don’t always feel inspired, I can’t just draw when I’m inspired. That was something I realised early on. I have to be very disciplined because there are deadlines to meet,” he said.
It’s hard work but it pays well, he said. Comic book artists can earn between €150 and €600 per page.
“It all depends on the quality of the work,” Miguel explained.
And while he admits that drawing a comic book that is sold all over the world means “a lot of pressure”, he says the reward is every bit worth it.
“It is surreal when people from other parts of the globe contact me to say they really like my work. It’s only when I go to comic book conventions and meet my fans that I realise the impact of what I do.
“Some people give me gifts. I had a fan who gave me the French version of a magazine that I drew for. A friend of mine went to Germany and found one of my books. It is surreal. I find myself asking if this is really happening,” he said.
Although he has travelled to the US to meet some of his co-workers, Miguel Mendonça says that he plans to continue living in the Algarve as he does not need to live there to do his job.
However, working for a Portuguese company does not seem like a possibility any time soon.
“I would not be able to live off comic books in Portugal; I would always have to work on something else at the same time and that is not my goal,” he told Barlavento.
So, what lies ahead for Miguel, the comic book artist?
“It is too soon to reveal projects that are in the works. I will be focusing on those in the future. For now, I am happy doing this job – drawing characters that I have always admired and improving each day.”
Original Barlavento article by Maria Simiris
Photos: MARIA SIMIRIS/OPEN MEDIA GROUP