Saturday, July 25, 2009
Pinoys at the 2009 San Diego Comics Convention
My wife and I did the day trip by train from Los Angeles to San Diego, site of the biggest Comics Convention this side of planet Earth. We've been to the Comic Con three or four times before and traffic has always been bad, parking near impossible and with gas prices sky-high, the train idea was not bad at all. In all the years I'd been here, I can't remember the Comic Con being this crowded. I entered from the North end of the quarter-mile long San Diego Convention Center, and worked myself from the A to G sections, the whole ground floor being occupied by the Comics Convention. Once inside, I was immediately transported into another world, a world of pandemonium, like some interplanetary intermingling of species we see in movies, blaring music or noise from all sides, humans, robots and aliens conversing in some strange, common language, the sweat and miasma of what must have been a hundred-thousand people, more than I'd remember from past visits, comics fans of all stripes, many sporting their favorite comics costumes. I loved it. I was in the most exciting place in the world. Here we see the Supermans, the Batmans, a Princess Leia, among the more familiar heroes, others I can't even connect with, costumed Stars Wars fans galore, ah, what a thrill it must have been for them to actually see Luke Skywalker in the flesh, actor Mark Hamill was there signing autographs for an endless line of fans. I finally got to where I wanted to go, the Artist's Alley, which was located at the far South-West end of the building. I wanted to meet the Pinoys who have been making a name for themselves in U.S. comics. First I see Whilce Portacio greeted him, exchanged a pleasantries, he says he's currently working on Spawn, and posed for some pictures. I've met Whilce before of course. Two guys I have not met yet, though, the two Francis, Leinil Francis Yu, and Francis Manapul. Manapul was suppose to be on the same table as Whilce, but he wasn't there. I also asked about the whereabouts of Leinil Yu, it turns out I went past him. So I retraced myself back through the crowded alleys and there he was signing for a line of fans. I went straight to him offered a handshake and introduced myself. I guess he recognized me from my postings here and also from Gerry Alanguilan's Komikero site. I took some pictures, we had some pictures taken, he gave me a signed poster of his latest Wolverine, and I was off to see Francis Manapul back at his table. Both Leinil Yu and Francis Manapul are the only two Pinoys that are Special Guest of this years Comic Con 40th Anniversary (see their guesting profiles), together with several comics legends, imagine to be mentioned side-by-side with the likes of Aragones, Jim Lee, Russ Heath to name few.Manapul like Leinil is young man, an artist making waves with DC and now illustrating Batman and Superman. Now, I'm off again to see if I can find Philip Tan (I didn't), but on the way I see a familiar face, and it's Tony De Zuniga another Filipino comics veteran and legend. He was a far-cry from when I last saw him, gaunt and thin, and sitting on a wheel chair. Apparently he had a bout with pneumonia just three weeks previous and he was in a coma for a week, but now bravely attending this convention. His wife took pictures, and from her I learned that Alex Nino was there too. I've never met Alex Nino, one of the legendary Pinoy old-timer. Yet, we talked as if we'd known each other for a long time, and I mentioned I was a friend of Ernie Chan. "He's right there," he told me, and there was Ernie Chan, who I didn't immediately see, he may be the record-holder for inking the Conan franchise for Marvel for 20 years. Ernie and I go way back when both of us were starting in comics, I quit of course to move to other directions in art, but here he is. He has since retired but still goes to this convention regularly.