Doctor uses comics to raise awareness about the coronavirus pandemic

By Wendell Gaa

Dr. Carlo Jose San Juan, a nuclear medicine specialist based in Metro Manila, has been doing his part in spreading awareness of the COVID-19 global epidemic both as a working physician and as a comic book writer. 

He has utilized his talent to educate the community on COVID-19 through his doctor-themed comic strip series, “Callous,” which is published daily in the Manila Bulletin.

Carlo contributes to, a site that publishes comic sketches that serve as an educational tool in teaching the public all about the nature of the virus — how it spreads, and the effective methods that can be used in dealing with the pandemic, such as social distancing, wearing masks, proper hand washing and the use of sanitizers.

Carlo was born in Quezon City but spent his early years in Singapore when his parents went there to work. His family is from Urdaneta, Pangasinan, which he visits often.  He is a graduate of De La Salle University in Manila where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.  It was there that he joined the campus student newspaper and began writing his “Callous” series in 1996.  From there, he went on to attend the De La Salle Medical and Health Sciences Institute in Cavite to attain his Doctor of Medicine degree. Simultaneously, he was also a member of the student newspaper there and reinvented his “Callous” series to be medically-themed.  He then went on to do his clinical internship at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital in Manila.

The doctor at a comic convention in Seattle to promote his M.O.U.S.E series.

“The newspaper funnies were my first love in the medium,” he shared. “My parents subscribed to the Manila Bulletin and the comics in it, both the syndicated American comics and the local Pinoy ones, were absolutely wonderful!  They helped me learn the fundamentals in making comics.”

Growing up, he read a lot of comic books — like “Spider-Man,” “X-Men,” “Asterix,” and “The Adventures of Tintin” — which inspired him to imagine all sorts of adventures in his head.

Much later in life, he gravitated toward stories from Heavy Metal magazine. “They further solidified my love for the fantasy and sci-fi genres,” he said.

Carlo further publishes his own fiction series called “M.O.U.S.E.-Multiple Ordnance and Utility Synthetic Entity” which focuses on the character of Terry Sainsbury, a social outcast and a brilliant student of robotics. The M.O.U.S.E. series has been in publication since around 2012 on the The first printed hard copy was issued in 2014. 

A fan of fantasy and sci-fi growing up; today a doctor of nuclear medicine.

Carlo believes that he was in the fifth grade when he began drawing his first M.O.U.S.E. characters in old notebooks.  At the time, the story was about a scientist who hooked up his mind to a remote-controlled robot mouse and in the process discovered an entire world of mice living in little houses and apartment buildings hidden in the walls of human homes.  He later met Pilar Esber, a highly talented manga-inspired illustrator, and, together, they reinvented the M.O.U.S.E. comics into the serial it is today. 

Carlo –married with two children — has exhibited his series at comic conventions in and outside of Manila since 2010. He has participated in the Singapore Comic Con and Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, Washington State.  Additionally, his work was part of the Graphic Medicine exhibit in the 2019 dotMD convention in Galway, Ireland. 

His advice to people aspiring to pursue a career in comics art?

“You just have to do it,” he said. “Just get your work out there.  Do not be discouraged if you feel you’re not good enough.  Everyone who has any degree of success began not as good as they are today.” 

© The FilAm 2020

Leave a Reply