In the last 10 or so years, appreciation for an earlier generation of comic book creators has grown here in the Philippines. It’s something that I personally feel very happy for because there a lot of things to admire in the decades of work that the men and women of Philippine comics have done. In many ways, they all matter to us today, we who currently work in comics. They *all* matter, no exceptions.
Tony DeZuniga mattered a lot to us because he became one of us. He joined us at our conventions, he hung out with us, interacted with us, and by doing so, he showed that he embraced us and accepted our contributions to the comics industry.
He was our friend.
And when he fell ill, the local comics community quickly gathered to help. We really could do no less for any of our friends.
On a personal level, I found Mang Tony’s presence at conventions gave me a sense of security. He was a rock. An anchor. A steady presence I knew I could count on. He was there every time without fail. I knew that if I went to a comics convention, he would be there. And that was comforting to me.
He was, and still is a huge inspiration. I’m not exactly a very young man anymore, but whenever I think of Mang Tony, who was still active and still pushing his artistic boundaries well into his 70’s, it was terribly, terribly inspiring. I wish I could be as active and creative when I reach his age.
Now that he’s gone, I have no doubt that he will continue to inspire us. And while our conventions may seem empty now without him, as if something would always be missing, his memory will help keep us going, and keep us making comics.
Thank you very much, Mang Tony for believing in us, and for accepting us, and for making us feel good about being comic book artists.