Adventures of a Filipino Comic Book Artist
In an American Comic Book Convention
Episode 2 : Page Two
By Gerry Alanguilan

 
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 August  14 1999
Convention Day 3
Saturday

I woke up really early so that I could swing by downtown really quick so that I can get another phonecard.  I've been calling home so many times that the first one quickly ran out. I expect that I will be getting several of those in San Diego alone. I got back to the convention center at 10. As I was walking by some of the exhibitor's booths, I passed by the Fantagraphics booth and I saw that Barry Windsor Smith would be passing by at 2 pm!  Now this time I would not miss that for anything!   I went around the retailer's section once more getting even more comics like Byrne Fantastic Fours, and some issues of the Incredible Hulk around issue #200. You see back when I was a kid, I really loved the Hulk and I got a lot of Philippine reprints of this book from issue #192 up to #199.  And that's where my collection stopped. For 20 years I did not know how the story ended so now, I'll be damned if I didn't get issue #200 to find out what eventually happened.  And yes! I got the issue. It was $6 dollars, the least expensive copy that I could find but damn, it's worth it.
               I went to the Avalon booth around 12 noon and Whilce was already there. I quickly got to sketching for those who wanted it.   I had first thought that it would be a tough problem for me to do sketches because I draw really slow.  And I need enormous amounts of reference, unlike Whilce who can seem to draw almost anything upon request and he does it amazingly well.  But I seemed to do allright because I drew characters from Stone which I'm familiar with. If anyone had asked me to draw Wonder Woman I would have been screwed!   A short while later, Whilce's family arrives including his younger brother, his dad, mom, sister Joanne and her husband Joe "Dozer" Mendoza.  They're an extemely nice and friendly bunch of people.  I got to talking with his Mom and Dad and we exchanged news about things since we last met. I last met them some 2 years ago when I stayed over for a day during my first stay in San Diego. 
              I had told Whilce about Barry Smith and his book OPUS and he also wanted a copy. I could get a copy for him if he wanted. (Which was my perfect excuse to go to the Fantagraphics booth at that time to meet Barry! :))  Joe Mendoza went with me and on the way we reacquainted ourselves. He was sort of my quide back during my 1997 trip and we talked about a lot of things.  He's an extremely nice fellow and for a while I felt bad that I wasn't able to maintain my correspondence with him through the past couple of years.
              Anyway, we got to Barry's table and he was there! I got Whilce a copy of the book, I took out my own copy and I fell in line. It was a rather short line, I guess because it was just an autograph line and it moved quickly. I expected to just say hello and throw a few compliments, have the books signed and I was off. That would have been it and I would have been happy.  But something else happened instead.   They guy standing behind Barry saw my badge and recognized my name and he started talking to me. Barry noticed our exchange and he asked the guy who I was. The guys said that I was an inker working over Whilce Portacio. Barry looked at me and asked the guy, "Is he any good?"  I took that as an opportunity to show him my stuff and I took out that monster 2 page spread of Timawa that's on this site. Check out that drawing here. Barry was initially complimentary, and then something came over him and he started to talk to me about the drawing, and how I could have made things better. I couldn't believe it!! Barry Smith talking to some nobody artist like me and his critiques were all on the dot. He got me everytime! And he just went on and on.  It was a terrific experience, probably the best experience I've had on the con ever.  There he was, my #1 comic book idol,  looking over at my work. Mindblowing. Amazing. Overwhelming. I can't just find the right words to accurately describe the feeling.  I went back to the Avalon booth and told Whilce that Barry said that he liked his work. This seemed to really please Whilce since like me, he's a big fan of Barry as well.  I would be having this Barry Smith buzz for the next several days. Damn, it's been a couple of weeks since and as I write this now on August 25, I still feel that buzz ringing in my ears. I'll expect to have this for many weeks to come.
              Another momentous encounter would occur several hours later when Leinil and I met up once again near the close of this third day.  We passed by the Awesome booth and we both saw Rob Liefeld.  Leinil introduced himself and Rob instantly recognized his name.  I was introduced later on and he shook my hand. I couldn't explain what I felt but if I could describe it in word, I would have to say that I was excited! Leinil, obviouisly as star struck as I was, fumbled and called Rob, of all names, Todd.Todd! That's the  last name you would ever want to call Rob. But Rob was really sport about it, caught it really quick and saved Leinil further embarrassment. What a guy. You know, I absolutely loved it when I first saw his art all those years ago. Over the years though, I've grown a bit ambivalent towards it and in the meantime he has become one of the most notorious guys in comics. But still, seeting him face to face and meeting him was one remarkable experience.  At the end of the day I can hear myself say, shit! I shook Rob Liefeld's hand!

August  15 1999
Convention: Last Day
Sunday

The previous night was my last night at the Mariott so I had to check out today. Since check out time wasn't until 12, I went over to the convention center at 10 and bought a ton of comics including Walt Simonson Thors, more Moore Swamp Thing, Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz's Elektra: Assassin (I already have this one but my copies are old and falling apart), Jack Kirby's OMAC, several TPB's including Neal Adams's entire run on the X-men, The Death Of Captain Marvel Graphic Novel by Jim Starlin, A Sailor's Story by Sam Glanzman, The Art Of Al Williamson, and I also got several official convention t-shirts.  I went back to my room at 11:15 and checked out and headed back to the Ramada Inn and checked in once again. By this time I was already lugging a big ass box with me full of nothing but books and comics.  I headed back to the convention and did some more buying until my bag was too heavy to carry. I got another TPB of X-Men:The Dark Phoenix Saga. This was THE book that got me interested in comics again after I had given it up. I had to get another copy because I had lent my old copy to a friend but I have yet to get it back. I thought, what the heck, let him keep it. I'll just get myself another copy.
              I headed back to the Avalon booth around 1, sat down and started drawing. Duncan Rouleau was there with me so there was still a long line of people wanting sketches from him. There was this pretty Asian girl who kept coming back to the booth several times in a day just to see and ask Duncan to sketch for her.  I think she likes you, Duncan!!  Now all of a sudden, a line formed for me! And after a while I understood why. Some of these guys thought I was WHILCE!  Do we really look alike? The picture is on this page, you decide! :)  Anyway, some guy suggested that since Whilce wasn't around, that I pretend I was Whilce and it was rather amusing to think about but heck, they'd find me out once I start drawing! So I told everyone on the line that hey, I wasn't Whilce!  I'm the inker and I put my name tag on the table.  I felt great when none of them left the line.  I spent the whole afternoon way into closing time just sketching and sketching ang talking to people who came over.  I saw all kinds. Blacks, Asians, Whites, Argentinians, Indians, Yoguslavians...all of them!  Comics is indeed a fascinating field to be in. Everyone is brought together inspite of what race you are and it doesn't really matter. Everyone was just there because they love comics and was just looking for a great time. I know a lot of people got it and so did I.
               I was sad to see the convention end. For a lot of people, it was a relief that the con was finally over, but me, I wish it would just go on and on.  It's any comic book fan's dream to go to something like this and meet the people responsible for the books and stories that made their lives fun for a while. 
 

END

For comments and suggestions, please write me
Elektra @1986 Marvel Comics, Created by Frank Miller, Sandman @1999 DC Comics, 
Created by Neil Gaiman and Sam Kieth, Kull @1999 Robert E. Howard
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