Lots of work to do today, so I whipped this out real quick.
This was originally a really neat photo taken by my wife, but I felt it lacked a little something.
Manila; High Noon; August 7th 2012
Photograph by: Adrian Dungo
I draw. It is hot.
Artist alley is situated right in the middle of the UP Cebu Soccer Field. While it’s great for drawing the big crowds, it’s a little bit warmer than a bunch of us would like. The heat has reduced my vocabulary to a crude system of single-syllable words and polite smiles. To my right is Vinzon “Bleedman” Ngo, and to my left is colorist Ianar. More importantly, under our table is a half dozen Gatorades to keep us sane.
There are two lines leading up to where I’m seated — one for people who want to dig through the pile of old comics I’m selling, and another for the guys and gals who want free sketches or copies of Urban Animal. A secret avenue right behind where I’m sitting is informally used by family and close friends. Let’s call it the express lane.
As I work through the sketch request list, a young man with a big smile hands me an 11×17 sheet of dauntingly bare paper. I shudder, expecting him to ask me to fill the page with a “quick” sketch. He divides the sheet into six and asks me to draw Spawn in one of the divisions. When I ask for his name to put on my list I recognize him as one of the first ever patrons of my Urban Animal work, and he proceeds to purchase a copy of #2, bless his soul.
There’s nothing quite like seeing people line up to spend hard-earned money to read a story you want to tell. I mean sure, having them come up to you to ask you to draw their favorite character is fun and all, but when they buy your story the appreciation just feels that much more real. And I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything in the world.
That said, Tom and Rey are gleeful when they find out we’ve sold out at the two booths UA was available.
The day ends with reaching and groping in the dark as the peeps in the alley try our very bestest to pack all our shit sans a light source. Urban Animal 1 and 2 are in people’s hands. Less than half of the comics I was selling remain. And I used up an entire HB stick on sketches that are now in the care of Cebuano art lovers. All in all, not a bad day to be a comic creator in Cebu.
Friends and I reconvene at the pizza place for well-earned beers.
There will be dreams tonight.
I hold a copy of Urban Animal #2 open on my sweaty left palm, trying to balance it as I sign Budjette’s introduction page with my right. I ask for the kind lad’s name twice before I actually put pen to paper, scared of futzing it up. You’d be surprised how many variations seemingly common names can have. And I don’t remember the last time I actually hand-wrote a full sentence. Sorry if I fucked up your comic, friend.
Cousins Jason and Carlo are on-site, along with high school buddies. Makes the day feel a lot like a friendly reunion. Zerothreetwo is a e-zine that showcases the destinations, events, and personalities of Cebu. I wander to their booth evry now and then to shoot the shit. Jason keeps bringing up “No Other Woman.” I make a note to download it or something. I take it all under advisement.
I don’t notice until after, but I walk under a buncha dudes on a ladder setting up a zip-line demo as I go back to my perch. That probably wasn’t very smart. I sit at the tambayan lovingly called “Stone Henge” with Vinzon “Bleedman” Ngo and colorists Ian Areola and Cristian Sabarre. Close to noon, the steady influx of nerds, dresser-uppers, and just plain lost people slowly turns into a comic convention. Rey offers to take care of my bagful of comics for me, probably noticing my misery. Freed of the weight, I hit the Comic X Hub booth in search of new burdens. Lawrence, easily among the friendliest guys around, sets me up with a buncha DC firsts.
I’m sitting on pavement with JP de la Rama and his girl near the UP oblation, scanning the strangely self-conscious and subliminally apologetic Aquaman #1 , when Kathryn and Brian Lewis show up. The whole lot of us head to lunch at a pizza place I’ve been missing since I’ve moved away. Leandro catches up to us there.
I grab a beer to loosen up a bit, maybe in anticipation of the afternoon crowd. Comic fans or not, crowds don’t sit with me too well. Caulfield in a bottle. Brian and I chat about Batman and ponies. It all makes sense in context. We head back at a little past noon, bellies full and brains akindle. Artists in the alley.
So in the spirit of full disclosure… I meant to write this weeks ago, but work has been insane and life hasn’t been helping. I could very easily say I’m conducting an experiment: Posting almost a month after the Comic Con in order to see which memories are most vivid and whose faces are most vague… But then that’d be a cop out, wouldn’t it?
I dont know.
Comic Con starts a day early for me. I meet up with Rey, Tom, and Leandro at the UP grounds the night before the thing. The tents are skeletons and there isn’t yet any layout to speak of. There are no tells whatsoever of the nerd zoo this place is going to be tomorrow. See, I studied political science in this college, so it feels nice coming back home and raping it with my friends and the best of intentions. Good times
Rey and Tom must have two phones each because I swear I see them pick up important calls from each pocket. Almost simultaneously. When the ringing stops I zone out when con business is discussed. I don’t have my hands in that pie. They’re not big enough and I don’t have enough fingers. These guys are it. And they know it.
Nightfall. The soccer field is ground zero. The tents are dressed and the never-to-be-used stage is up. I climb it and make sure to walk all over it to get the mud off my shoes. Figuratively and literally. Talk shop with Leandro ,who doesn’t climb up with me. I tell him it’s fun. He calls me a child. I agree.
This comes back to me when I’m sneezing in my old bedroom in my family home as I’m digging for old books to sell. The Cyclops-Jean Wedding; A buncha Amalgam books; The Art of Marc Silvestri — basically a ton of 90’s books. I spend five hours doing this… and in the end I have two piles — To sell and to take home to Davao. Weeks from now I will forget which was taller.
I fall asleep at 4 am knowing full well I promised I’d be at the con by nine. I arrive at ten, struggling with a bag full of comic books and bitching about it to everyone I can.
Leandro was right.