MANILA, Philippines – More than 2,000 people stormed this year’s Summer Komikon in Bayanihan Center, avowing that the medium is in a state of rebirth, similar to that of the mythological or, perhaps, the “Jean Grey” Phoenix from the X-Men comics (as geeks would see it).
The comics community was engulfed by its blackest night when it lost veteran artists Tony de Zuñiga and Ernie Chua in the same month.
But the stars aligned for the comic book convention to turn things around.
Tony De Zuñiga, superstar
A number of participants wore cowboy hats to honor De Zuñiga, who co-created the western anti-hero Jonah Hex.
De Zuñiga’s widow, Tina, expresses her gratitude to the comics community that still continues to pay tribute to her husband.
“It’s overwhelming. The younger artists look at him as their hero,” says Tina.
“I am so thankful to everybody na talagang tumulong sa amin (who really helped us); not only monetary. Hindi ko ine-expect na ganoon nila kamahal si Mang Tony. (I did not expect that they love Mang Tony that much).”
De Zuñiga says she and her family are set to hold Heroes, Mang Tony’s exhibit of original drawings and digital reproductions at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Artworks of the first Filipino comic book illustrator to work for Marvel and DC Comics will be on display from today, June 21, to August 26.
After the exhibit, she plans to go to the US, but Mrs. De Zuñiga promises she will be back next year to support the local comics community.
Dingdong Dantes, movie star
As the Komikon crowd went on with the traditional “bring me” and hotdog-eating contests, they were taken aback to see actor Dingdong Dantes, promoting Tiktik:The Aswang Chronicles, a comic adaptation of his upcoming movie.
“Almost more than a year ago, we wanted to have a comic book first so that the audience can more or less have a feel of what to expect from the film,” the actor tells RAPPLER.
“In fact, there are frames that you would find in the comic book that would come out exactly as is, in the movie.”
The comic book is written by Trese writer Budjette Tan based on the screenplay of director Erik Matti. Artistic duties fell on Digital Arts Chef, the people behind the hit Culture Crash Comics in early 2000.
Actress Lovi Poe also came to promote the comic book that enthusiasts see as a precedent for movie tie-ins for Filipino comics.
Mark Millar, “Kick-Ass” star
We knew he was bluffing, still it was amusing to see Mark Millar try to talk in Filipino:
“How are you guys? I am Dingdong Dantes. Only a few know this, but I’m Filipino. I color my hair blonde to look caucasian. This is our secret!”
Freelance filmmaker Benjo Ferrer, who had sneaked into Millar’s secret interview in Makati (RAPPLER has an exclusive) and followed the Scotsman to Mandaluyong City, cannot believe that his idol is a feet away from him.
“I feel flattered as a Filipino to know that someone like Mark Millar who is a huge comicbook writer in the industry would work with a kababayan (fellow countryman),” says Ferrer.
Ferrer is reffering to Supercrooks penciller and co-creator Leinil Yu and artist Gerry Alanguilan. Millar flew to Manila after National Book Store bought the most number of his comics in a global competition. Their Indonesian colorist Sunny Gho also joined them onstage at Komikon.
“I am overjoyed. We just hung out together and it’s probably never going to happen again. (It is) once in a lifetime even for us,” Yu tells us.
“If you told me na mangyayari ang ganito, mayroong ganitong klaseng convention at ganito karami ang tao ang mag-aattend at pupunta si Mark Millar, that it all began 10 years ago, hindi ako maniniwala. (If you told me something like this would happen, that there is a convention like this with these many people and that Mark Millar is coming, that it all began 10 years ago, I would not have believed you,” Alanguilan says.
He adds, “Because of this, I am very optimistic as to what will happen in Komikon, 10 years from now.”
Carlo San Juan, indie tiangge star
Meanwhile, a doctor who specializes in nuclear medicine, Carlo San Juan, bested 33 other independent comic book groups in the convention’s Indie Tiangge. The doctor will be given his own table next Komikon for being the highest-earning exhibitor of self-published comics.
San Juan writes and draws Callous Comics that features physician Dr. Rianne Nicah being guided by talking ducks to become the best person she could be.
“Being the highest-earning exhibitor just made me feel very grateful to all who supported Callous Comics and to the Komikon people for working so hard to offer opportunities like this to striving independent comic producers like myself,” San Juan says.
Callous Comics publishes daily on the official website, callouscomics.com.
“It was a pleasant surprise to have superstars like Mark Millar grace the event,” says Komikon organizer John Zamar. “It gives something for the attendees to bring from their Komikon experience.”
Alanguilan, meanwhile, believes conventions like Summer Komikon promote the value of reading comics. “Education is always an important thing for young people to have. For young people to learn, reading is a big part of that. If they learn more by reading comics, eh ‘di mas maganda (then that’s better).” – Rappler.com
(Mark Millar has a special message for Rapplers on the value of reading. Watch it here.)