Alfredo at his studio
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Alfredo P. Alcala ("Pidong" as he was known to those close to him), born 1925, dropped out of school at a tender age, bent on becoming an illustrator.
Initially, he painted signs, then turned to designing chandeliers, garden furniture, table lamps and hat racks for a wrought iron shop. He even designed a church pulpit.
After work hours at the shop, Alfredo studied the illustrations of Harold Foster's Prince Valiant and Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon, often going sleepless in his burning ambition to become a comics artist.
In 1948, Alfredo got his dream fulfilled. Bituin Komiks commissioned him to illustrate a short story. Immediately after that, he was taken in by Ace Publications, then under Tony Velasquez, and assigned to illustrate novels for Pilipino Komiks, Tagalog Klasiks, Hiwaga Komiks and Espesyal Komiks which at the time coming out every 2 weeks. Alfredo worked on the novels, which were coming out simultaneously, all by himself - from pencilling to inking, to lettering. There were times, when deadline demanded, that he worked for days without sleep.
Alfredo also wrote novels himself, which he of course, drew as well. Among the more memorable ones were Ukala, an epic set against the background of the American Northwest when the Europeans first intruded into the domain of the Indians, and Voltar, a Viking saga. Both were so meticulously drawn that Alcala reaped praises from even the severest critics of the day. He also wrote and drew a series on the Japanese warships that became legends during WW2.
And in 1963, ACE Publications closed shop, prodding many writers and artists to strike out on their own. Aflredo, along with Virgilio and Nestor Redondo, Amado Castrillo, Tony Caravana and others decided to form a comic book company on their own called CRAF Publications, a company that would usher in one of the most spectacular comic strips to ever appear in Philippine comics. The strip is VOLTAR, a story of Vikings which the World Encyclopedia of Comics regards as "...an astonishing display of sustained artistic endeavor. Every chapter contains a spectacular center spread. Each panel is embellished in an etching style that rivals the works of the old masters. Inch for inch, it is probably the most detailed art ever to appear in comic books."
By that time, Alfredo had already turned to the artworks of notable American illustrators such as Dean Cornwell, Robert Fawcett, Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Franklin Booth and J.C. Leyendecker. But, as Alfredo himself points out, it was the renowned British muralist Frank Brangwyn who greatly influenced him.
In the early 70's, an American comic book publishing executive on a visit to the Philippines took interest on Alcala's works. Before long, Alfredo has worked for nearly every company from Marvel to DC to Dark Horse, etc. He worked on characters as diverse as Conan, Man Thing, El Diablo, Star Wars and Swamp Thing with writer Alan Moore.
Alfredo passed away in April 4, 2000. He was 74 years old.