Alfredo Alcala is one of my favorite komiks illustrators.
I have never met him in person since even before I started collecting old komiks, he was already living in the United States. Yet, through my frequent talks and casual conversations with his friends here in the Philippines, I was able to gather some interesting anecdotes about this highly talented illustrator.
First of all, Alfredo Alcala may have been the fastest komiks illustrator during his time in Ace. He was able to churn out hundreds of pages for his weekly assignments in several komiks companies. Back then, a komiks artist was not tied to any particular komiks publisher, and he can work in as many komiks publisher as he can be able to. Alcala's legendary speed, however, did not compromise his work, and he produced magnificent page after page of komiks masterpieces, giving his publishers a good worth of their money. Alfredo was known to sleep on his drawing board, for only three hours. His friend Federico Javinal even noted that Alfredo had a portable urinal in case of emergency. He never wanted call of nature to disturb even a few minutes of his precious time.
Alfredo was known to have collected several reference books to develop his mastery of his art. He frequently visited National Bookstore to buy just every coffe table book about American and European illustrators. He did not care how much it cost as long as he had enough money in his pocket.
One time, Alfredo was browsing an expensive book about American illustrators, and the inhospitable sales clerk approached him telling him to please be careful in handling the book, as it was very expensive. Alfredo was known for his congenial manner, but he could not just let this insult pass. "Ano palagay niya sakin, batang paslit? E ang dami dami ko na ngang binili dito e. Isa na nga yata ako sa nagpaunlad nitong National" a friend quoted him as saying.
Then he suddenly ripped several pages from the book, the ones containing the art of Dean Cornwell and J.C Leyendecker, saying to the clerk, "Don't worry I'm paying for the whole book. It's just these pages that I need". The shocked clerk accepted the money and Alfredo even told her to keep the change. And possibly the leftover of the expensive book.