Filed Under Comics Artists, COMICS CONVENTIONS, Dr. Rizal, Elmer, Filipino Artists, General, Humanis Rex!, Komikero Group, My Art, My Comics, Philippine Comics, Photographs, Timawa, Video Blogs, Wasted | 19 Comments
It’s the evening of January 1, 2011 as I write this, feeling slightly depressed. Unlike many people, I loved 2010 and I’m sad to see it go. I understand that 2010 was a bad year for a lot of folks, but it was a very good year for me. It’s quite a relief because 2007 and 2008 were sonofabitches of a year for me and the family. They were probably some of the most difficult years of my adult life. 2009 started to get better, and all the planning and hard work I did since 2005 finally paid off very well in 2010.
It all really began in October of 2009 when projects that I had been working on for years finally came out. The ELMER collected edition, which I started working on in early 2006 finally came out. “Where Bold Stars Go To Die”, a story I wrote in 2000 which struggled to find the right artist came out at the same time. And the digital restoration, compilation and republication of Francisco V. Coching’s “EL INDIO”, which my studio had been working on since 2004 finally came out as well.
I immediately started sending ELMER out to editors, writers, artists, journalists, reviewers and publishers abroad. I felt that Elmer could have a life outside of the country. I had nothing to lose anyway except shipping expenses. Of course, I hadn’t realized that postal rates had quadrupled in the last few years. Sending one copy of the collected Elmer set me back around 500 pesos, which is worth more than twice the book costs. INSANE. I was used to losing money to the post office anyway, ever since I started sending submissions to Marvel on a regular basis starting 1986. Such expenses are part of the process, I guess. Most of the time you don’t get a return on it, but to get a return on it at least once, all of the trouble and expense becomes worthwhile.
Very soon I had TWO publishers who wanted to publish Elmer. One was SLG in the US, and the second was Editions çà et là in France. I almost didn’t get the latter one because of the freakish nature of the Internet. The email from the editor found itself in the spam folder of my email. If I deleted my spam unread, there would be no French edition of Elmer. But thankfully enough, it’s become a habit of mine to check the spam folder regularly. Thank goodness!
I spent the entire 2010 waiting in excitement for the release of Elmer abroad. Both of them eventually came out in November. Wait, rewind. Let me go back to January.
Philip Tan had a wedding on January 9! Superstar Marvel and DC penciller Philip Tan was in town and got married at the San Agustin Church in Intramuros.
I like weddings. Well, I like weddings now. I used to hate them back when I was Wasted. Nowadays, I love them. There’s something about new beginnings that hold so much potential and promise. In attendance was future president of the Philippines, Jiggy Cruz. Well, Jiggy will probably freak when he reads that, but I can see into the future. (Well actually I don’t.) I just like saying it.
February wasn’t very good. Actually it was pretty bad. It’s the only truly bad thing to happen in 2010, and it’s a big one.
My good friend Arlan Esmeña passed away on February 18 due to cancer. He passed away less than a year after he found out he was sick. Towards the end, he mounted an incredible effort and drew “Where Bold Stars Go To Die” from start to finish where he displayed an outstanding growth as an artist. We lost in incredibly good artist that day, and I lost what I realized was my best friend.
The night of February 18 I was on the air at NU107, on the program RockEd Radio to promote the Renaissance comics event. I was touched when they dedicated the show to Arlan, and I broke down when I spoke about him.
Photo by Anvil.
The Renaissance event was held a few days later on February 21. It was a special event to launch the Renaissance book, part of the proceeds of the sales would go to benefit Komikeros in need. Little did I know that the earnings of the sketching sessions would go to Arlan’s family, which touched me incredibly.
Early that month, on February 13, the first Comics Convention in Los Baños was held, the Komikstrip event, co-organized by good pal Jonas Diego. Sputnik! in Cubao X had a grand relaunch on February 6. I attended both events. Arlan almost attended the Sputnik! relaunch, but was too sick at St. Lukes Hospital a few kilometers away to make it. Instead, he signed 20 copies of Bold Star on his hospital bed. Looking at those autographs, you would never know Arlan was sick.
March was interesting. It was the month Lolcat came into our lives.
Lolcat is this stray tabby cat who wandered into our backyard while he was in heat. I distracted him with food, and he stayed.
I met and hugged Neil Gaiman.
And that wasn’t so easy. I’ve wanted to meet Neil Gaiman since he came to visit the Philippines in 2005. I stood in line for 9 hours just to get his autograph at Greenhills, but I never got a chance to talk to him. I’ve been sending him Elmer through the mail because I was genuinely curious as to what he thought about it. If he didn’t like it, I would gladly accept it. But I was ecstatic to learn that he did, through a post card that he sent. When he came back to do a series of signings in 2010, I racked my brain for ways to hand him the collected Elmer book, as well as talk to him. Not fleeting small talk, but really talk to him. When I was invited to judge the Neil Gaiman and Fully Booked’s Graphic Fiction awards, I accepted right away because I knew I would get to meet Neil properly. It was so awesome finally meeting one of your heroes. I didn’t wash for days after.
In March, the Province of Laguna gave me this thing.
“Gawad Pinakamaningning na Alagad ng Singing” para sa Sining Biswal.
Now I didn’t want to say what it was when it first happened back in March so people won’t have the opportunity to protest. ha!ha!ha! (Little inside joke there.)
Also, the dirt road outside was finally paved with concrete. FINALLY. It’s election period that’s why. However, they didn’t bother to finish it. There’s some five meters more of dirt road between this concrete road and the road outside. Magnificent.
In April I finally got my life long wish. Playboy Philippines visited me to yeah, take pictures of my naked body for the entire country to see. No they didn’t. They just came to talk to me about comics. They did take my photo, but they balked when I hinted I wanted to show some skin.
April 17 was Summer Komikon!
Photo by Roi Fernandez.
Much thanks to Oscar Gailan, Timawa superfan! Now I really don’t like using the word “fan”. I’ve never used it before to refer to anyone who likes my work. I don’t know. I just don’t like to. I only use it this time because Oscar really really likes Timawa. As in I’ve never met anyone else who likes Timawa as much as he does. At almost every event he brings along stacks of The Buzz Magasin for me to sign and I love doing it, not just for Timawa but for any other work of mine anyone else would bring. I never sell my original art (Timawa, Elmer, Humanis Rex, Johnny Balbona), but for Oscar I’ll gladly make an exception.
May was extraordinary. Easily one of the best months of the year for me because I got to act in a short film!
Photo by Jonas Diego.
Teenage Heartthrob, that’s me!
“Tin-tin, 15″ is a short drama film, directed by Lem Garcellano (Batibot) where I got to play a bad guy. A really bad corrupt cop type guy who likes em ladies! Oh yeah!
It was shot for 3 days here in San Pablo, and I was there on the location for 2 days. I probably would not have been able to participate had it been shot elsewhere. It was a long and exhausting two days. We were there from morning up until around 4 in the morning. I would go home, and return early afternoon, and be on hand to shoot, this time well into 5 in the morning.
I was there for only two days, but I was able to form friendships with a few people who I’m still good friends with today. There’s something about intense experiences like that that tend to leave an indelible mark that you carry with you for a long time.
Hot on the heels of Laguna, San Pablo City also gave me this thing on May 7:
As with the Laguna thing, what makes me happy about things like this that I was given the opportunity to do my parents proud. For many years I went around with a cloud over my head believing I had let my parents down for seriously pursuing a career in art. There were definitely moments in the past that I can consider low points in my relationship with my parents because of the decisions I’ve made. I’m old and mature enough now to know that they were only so passionate about what they wanted for me because they didn’t want me growing up destitute and regretful of my youthful and immature decisions.
I’m at least very glad that I had the chance to show them that I knew what I was doing and I knew what I wanted in life. Even if they were wary of my decisions, they nevertheless supported me in the end and it is really for them these recognitions are for rather than for me.
By this time I was back fully into inking comics with Ultimate Comics Avengers and later on Superior, both with Leinil Francis Yu. After being away from inking for years, I realized I had missed it a lot. I also realized how much more detailed Leinil’s pencils had become. While they looked spectacular, it took me longer to ink each page compared to say, a typical page of Superman: Birthright. But nevertheless, it’s a job I love having and love doing.
It was also around this time I realized that I was really getting old. I had hit 40 a couple of years ago, and like turning on a light switch, my eyesight suddenly became blurry. I can still see perfectly when I look around me. It’s just when I read or draw, anything really close to my eyes tend to become blurred. I was aghast. I thought I just need to rest my eyes, wash my face, take a nap or something like that. But no, my eyesight has indeed decreased. I went to an eye doctor and I was prescribed reading glasses. The results were stunning to say the least. Once I put those glasses on, my eyes can suddenly see clearly. I swear, I can see more clearly now with these glasses than I could see before. It’s like lines in front of my eyes become magnified somehow, and I’m actually inking better because of it.
Towards the end of May I decided find happiness in everything I do.
Nothing much happened in June. Well, I did waste time at an event in Manila and was kind of surly during my short stay. This is the second instance my time was wasted in this way and I’m no longer waiting for a third. However, I did get to hang out with a good friend who I don’t get to see all that often nowadays.
June also saw the first public showing of “Tin-Tin, 15″ at Mogwai, Cubao X.
July brought with it one of the biggest surprises of my life. I was invited to give a talk on comics at St. Paul University in Manila. I thought I’d just give a talk and go, but it turns out it was something so much more.
The students were actually cosplaying my characters! It was amazing! I actually got kind of teary eyed at some point.
August was Metro Comicon and I was stunned at the reception us artists got at our panel.
On January 2009, I uploaded this seemingly innocent video on You Tube:
For more than a year it sat at You Tube, content but almost forgotten with a couple of hundred views. I myself had forgotten all about it. By 2010 my interest in making videos on You Tube was kind of waning, specially since comics was making me a little too busy to make them as regularly as I once did.
Suddenly, for some weird reason, views for the video skyrocketed overnight. I didn’t notice it at first. Then someone downloaded it, reuploaded it at Facebook, and retitled it “Lakas Tama ni Manong”. Since Facebook doesn’t count views there’s no way to know how many times it was viewed, the comments nevertheless reached the thousands. I was flabbergasted. In the meantime, insanely enough, the video reached a million views on You Tube. Crazy! By the end of 2010, it’s gotten more than 2.5 million views at YouTube! Bizzarro world!
The thing pretty much evolved a life of its own. I’ve received emails from people telling me that it’s been shown on TV in the UK, Spain, France, Japan and so on. A Japanese TV station even sent a director here to the house to interview me for an entire day about the video and about my comics.
Here’s a video from Fox News:
It was getting so insane that people were recognizing me at SM when I wanted to hang out and relax with the wife. It’s died down a bit, and I’m just so relieved because I didn’t want it to start getting in the way of doing comics. I’ve had to decline another visit from another local station because those things just take too much time. And lately, I really don’t have that much time to spare. There’s really just so much work to be done.
September saw me and Ilyn taking a trip to Cebu! We went there for vacation, but at the same time we went there for the first Cebu Comics Convention!
Photo by Carlo Pagulayan.
With JOHN AMOR.
In October, my mom cooked her specialties for Ilyn’s birthday!
Kulawo. San Pablo specialty.
Ampalaya Salad. Always becomes everyone’s favorite!
The end of the year was just pretty much me burying myself in work. I didn’t even go to the 6th Annual Komikon in November because I had to stay home and ink. It’s the first time I ever missed a Komikon and I missed it. I monitored uploads and status updates from Facebook and Twitter all day from people who went just to be updated what was going on.
ELMER finally came out in the US and Europe during the second half of November. I was extremely nervous because I had no idea how it would be received. At the same time I was also paranoid because I didn’t want SLG and Editions çà et là to regret having published my book because it bombed. I believed in my comic book though. I worked hard for a couple of years to make it the best I could possibly make it. I had no regrets and there’s not a single page I simply hacked out. Of course, there are things I see now that I want to change, but it’s too late for that, and there comes a time I have to move on or else I’ll never get things done.
Thankfully enough, the reviews have been quite positive. Massive relief. Already, SLG and Editions çà et là are asking what other books I have that they can take a look at.
Christmas Day is family reunion time!
My nephew Robin (the one in black next to me) is such a huge comic book fan. I gave him a three-story volume of The Adventures of Tintin and he flipped. He’s a hardcore Tintin fan now. He’s about the same age I was when I was flipping out myself on Tintin.
December 28 was our 8th wedding anniversary.
We planned on a massive date which involved Tagaytay, Mushroom Burgers and Ferris Wheels at Enchanted Kingdom, but the van we were to rent broke down so we settled for a massive date right here in San Pablo.
First we went on a window shopping spree at SM San Pablo, then we had a long walk at Sampalok Lake, and then we spent early evening and had dinner at Ultimart.
In the end it didn’t matter where we were, as long as we were together.