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
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
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
Leinil, obviouisly as star struck as I was, fumbled
and called Rob, of all names, Todd.Todd!
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!