Saturday, March 24, 2007
The Collection from Wizard World
Here are some of the comic books I brought or bought at the Wizard World convention last weekend. I have not really been looking or buying comics the past few years and all of a sudden here's that interest again, something that first started 40-some years ago after high school, when I started collecting Francisco V. Coching's illustrated novels in the pages of Ace Publications. Unfortunately, only a few of those comics survived a flood in Manila, while I was away on a world tour in 1975-76. Imagine a complete collection of Francisco V. Coching comics up to that point in time, not to mention Alcalas, Redondos, Leonides, Emil Rodriguez's, Jodlomans, all the great comics artist of that period from the pages of Bulaklak, Liwayway and Ace, destroyed by flood. Here's the splash page from the first issue of Taga Sa Bato by Coching, rotted on the left side because of water damage, which I managed to save. Around that time, I enrolled at the University of Santo Tomas in commercial art with the idea of being a comic illustrator. I joined a group of comic illustrators, renting a small studio in Balik-Balik, Manila. The artists were myself, Ernie Chan, Joel Magpayo, Rodrigo Benitez and Moises Agualada. Chan went on to ink Conan, The Barbarian for Marvel, for 30 years, Magpayo is an established painter in Melbourne, Benitez, opened a gallery of his works, in California and also self-published a comics that only went two issues (see picture). I was the only one who was not really illustrating comics as yet but was hoping to break through. I think it was towards graduation from college that I finally, got a break, illustrating two stories for a publisher I can't even remember now. The pay was 5 pesos a page, hahaha, and illustrating jobs were hard to get. I needed to make money, and it was obviously not in comics, but now, the field was wide open for me, I had a Fine Arts degree in advertising, I could get a job in advertising, and that is exactly what happened... and I forgot about comic illustrating. Then in 1968, while still working as an assistant Art Director at Ace-Compton Advertising, I had my first one-man show of prints at the now defunct Joy T. Dayrit Gallery, to be followed by several one-man exhibitions at the also now defunct Luz Gallery. From 1968 on, I was busy working on prints and paintings and exhibiting and establishing myself in the Philippine Art world. My works are now in the Philippine National Museum, The Heart Center, LaSalle, The Ateneo Art Gallery, Cultural Center, Banco de Bogota and other places I don't know about. (click here for my other blog) http://rsamonte2.blogspot.com/). From 1968 to 1979 (when I started collecting again), my only contact with Philippine comics was the beauteous daughter of Mr. Coching, Maridel Coching, who was my student at PWU. I met the man himself, Mr. F.V. Coching, through his daughter of course, when he had already retired from writing and illustrating. In 1979, I immigrated to the United States, and in a comic store in Hollywood, as I was browsing through the dollar boxes, I discovered beautiful illustrations on the pages of DC and Marvel comics the likes of Redondo, Carrillo, Alcala, Nino, E.R. Cruz, DeZuniga, Ruben Yandoc, etc, etc. The comic collecting bug got me again. I now have boxes and boxes of Pinoy illustrated comics from what is now known as the First Invasion. I will be posting that collection, as time allows.
Now let's go back to my latest collection. We are now, for lack of a better term, in the Third Pinoy Invasion of American comics. This time spearheaded by Whilce Portacio, then Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, Wilson Tortosa, Philip Tan and others that I don't know about yet. I'm still working my way through these talented young illustrators. Of course, I not only collect Pinoy illustrated comics, but good illustrators no matter where they're from, and I might say, that American comics is now experiencing another Golden Age - I've also started collecting Mike Mignola (Hellboy), Humberto Ramos (X-Men & Spiderman), Chris Bachalo (X-Men), J. Scott-Campbell (Danger Girl), Jae Lee (Dark Tower), Simone Bianchi (Green Lantern) and Alex Ross (Justice). I say there's a new Golden Age - comic books now just look better than their predecessors, with computer graphics and better printing (the colors are amazing, left-click on images to view them larger), plus the Internet allows talented and amazing illustrators from all over the world to work in their homeland and email their illustrations here, Leinil Francis Yu, in the Philippines, Humberto Ramos in Mexico, Simone Bianchi, Italy, etc. In other words the talent pool of American comics is now worldwide. You don't have to be in America to draw American comics, plus comic conventions are packed, comic books stores are sold out, it took me a while to find a copy of the first issue of the Jae Lee-illustrated Dark Tower, and the other day, at our local comic store, there was a whole stack of maybe 50 of Leinil Yu's New Avenger #27 (had to check if I had it), I didn't so I went back to buy it and there were only 5 copies left, Captain America #25, supposedly about the death of Capt. America, was sold-out, I don't have a copy, and I won't buy it as it is now selling for $30, from the the $2.95 cover price, I buy to appreciate the art not because it's going to go up in value.