Phrases-to-Pages Con Edition Winner Christian Espiritusanto

P2P artist winner Christian Espiritusanto with Pronto Comics editor in chief Dominic Sparano.

By David Rondinelli

Last month, Pronto Comics brought its semi-annual networking and creative workshop, Phrases to Pages (P2P) to Big Apple Con.

For those who have yet to attend, the main event at P2P is Pronto’s writing and drawing contest, in which aspiring writers and artists are paired up, given a phrase, and instructed to create a one-page comic based on a phrase. The work is then judged by professionals from the comics industry, and first, second, and third place winners receive prizes and get published in a special P2P comic book.

P2P Con Edition was the first time the event was held right at a comic convention, but it certainly won’t be the last!

The phrase this time was: “Oh the things you can do with a sorcerer’s stone.”

Now, Pronto is thrilled to announce our first place winners: artist Christian Espiritusanto and writer Jesse Pindus, for their comic, “Dating App.”

Together, the pair created a funny and charming story of a sorcerer using his magical stone to turn a bad date into a charming companion. With a humorous punch line and a clever premise, it’s easy to see why Espiritusanto and Pindus took first place. Below, we talk to Espiritusanto about his experience.

A native of Jersey City, NJ, Espiritusanto started drawing at a young age, creating stories as early as age 5. He hasn’t stopped drawing since! In 2016, he furthered his education and love of comics by attending the Joe Kubert School of Cartooning with the hope of breaking into the comic industry. Now working as a freelance artist, Espiritusanto’s latest pin-up work can be seen in issue #18 of The Walking Dead official magazine.

Click the image to read Christian’s comic full-size.

Pronto Comics: Tell me how it felt participating in Phrases-to-Pages?

Christian Espiritusanto: I had a great time teaming up [with writer Jesse Pindus] in creating a killer page. It was definitely a lot of fun.

PC: Did you find the phrase challenging to illustrate when you had a limited amount of time?

CE: With the time limit, I knew I had to create something quick that would capture the topic and keep the panels interesting to the reader. That is what’s important to me.

PC: What approach did you take to laying out the page and adding the detail?

CE: I approached the page with the direction from the writer giving me what he wanted in every panel, and I let my imagination flow.

PC: What was is like collaborating with someone you just met?

CE: It was a lot of fun and exciting to work with someone new.

PC: Would you like to pursue making comics in the future? If so, what do you have planned?

CE: I am currently working on my own comic book called Warriors Amongst Realms, which will be out in October and presented at New York Comic Con this year.

See more of Christian’s work on Instagram @artofChristianEspiritusanto, or reach out on Facebook.

Pronto Abroad

I spent the first week of June in Belgium, on a foodie press trip, courtesy of one of my “real” jobs, and planned by the organizations Visit Belgium (www.visitbelgium.com), Visit Flanders (www.visitflanders.us), and Visit Brussels (www.visitbrussels.be).

While I was really excited for all the cheese, chocolate, and beer I planned to consume, I was also really excited to see the comics museum and comics murals in the city of Brussels. Belgium will forever be tied to comics thanks to the fact that it’s the home country of Hergé, the creator of a little comic you may know by the name of TinTin. But I had no idea to the full extent the country embraces and respects the medium of comics until I got there.

Comics receive a totally different treatment in Belgium (and France too, where I’ve traveled more extensively) than the US. For one thing, comics are not treated by non-fans as something “just for kids.” It’s treated as a medium for all ages. Even the titles geared toward children are read by adults, with no shame.

An early, original sketch of The Smurfs in the Comic Strip Center museum in Brussels.

Further, comics receive just as much space in bookstores as other sub-genres. (If you’re ever in France or Belgium, I highly recommend that you seek out a “Fnac” bookstore for an excellent selection.)

Comics are treated as an important cultural legacy in Belgium. Sure, in New York City we have the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, but Brussels has the Comic Strip Center, the Marc Sleen Museum, Hergé Museum, the Maison de la Bande Dessinée (“Comics House”), the Maison Autrique (another gallery that exhibits comics art), and the Museum of Original Figurines, showcasing toys and figures based on comic characters.

And let’s not forget about the comics murals all over the city. Brussels is covered in these things—more than 30 in all. There are also a few statues scattered around too. They’re not all in the center of the tourist area, either. I spent hours walking through residential neighborhoods in an effort to see and photograph every single one, but just couldn’t get to them all.

Many of the murals were almost hidden, like a natural fixture that just happens to be there. This one (Hec Leemans’ F.C. De Kampioenen), for example, was located on the backside of an apartment building, facing its parking lot:

The murals just seem to blend in with the rest of the city. Many, like this one (Verron and Yann’s Odilon Verjus), are painted to fit seamlessly into the surroundings:

And I would be remiss if I left out the country’s star character, TinTin:

There are also murals in the cities of Antwerp and Turnhout.

But it’s not just Belgian artists that the country embraces. American, Japanese, and other countries are equally read, if not equally celebrated. One of the first items you see in the Comic Strip Center museum is a life-size replica of the walking bed from early American newspaper strip Little Nemo in Slumberland, followed by a written history of comics that starts with the American newspaper strip, The Yellow Kid.

There were also life-size statues of Studio Ghibli’s Porco Rosso and Goku from Dragon Ball. (By the way, if there’s ever a manga title you’re desperate to read that isn’t available in English, and you understand French, check France’s Amazon.fr, as far more titles are translated to French than English).

If you’re looking for a comics-focused vacation, Belgium is definitely the place to go!

-Leah Hansen, Associate Editor