Doc Carlo on Callous and Comics

Physician Carlo Jose San Juan is celebrating 17 years of Callous, a comics series about a struggling new doctor Rianne with occasional fantastic adventures with her Guardian Duck, Cal Duck.

Looking back, Carlo shared that he created the comics at the time when he was still trying to figure out some aspects of his life.

"My time in medical training was the most introspective and trying part of my life where I was exposed to all sorts of challenges and hardship. I came out with certain realizations about medicine, life, and living which I try to relay through comic strips," he said.

Rianne Nicah as depicted in Callous comic strips from 1996-1999. Image from Callous website

"My comic strip, Callous is about the everyday struggles of a new physician, Dr. Rianne Nicah, and her adventures in self-discovery in this new phase in her life. She has a Guardian Duck named Cal Duck to help guide her through this tough yet enlightening time."

Right now, Callous Comics publishes regularly on its official website and also appears in the comics pages of the Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Heart Association Newsbriefs.

Cover to the next gag strip compilation of Callous

"It's a great time to be in comics. Right now the sky's the limit in local comics and there are a lot of opportunities to get one's comic out there for readers," he said. "So far our local comic stores have been very supportive of our independent scene. A lot have carried our self-published books even though we aren't affiliated with big distributors. It's a huge help in getting our work out there to comic readers outside of conventions."

Carlo added that there a lot more tools for a local indie comic creator to work with nowadays, especially in the digital format: "One doesn't even truly have to print a book, to be honest, and may opt to earn from their work through selling digital comic books. Social media is a wonderful vehicle to get the word on your work out there as well."

To have someone take care of your book's printing and distribution may be hard to argue against. But for the talented doctor, there is a certain thrill in defining the path of your own creation yourself. "To emerge from those challenges successfully would be an incredible achievement worthy of much respect," he said.

A portion of this interview will appear on the August issue of RED Magazine, including inputs from some of the country’s established and up-and-coming talents. -Jerald Uy