Back then, I was wondering if I could find newly-published local comic books by Filipino artists, since most of the big-time artists have gone abroad to work in foreign publications. So when I found Wasted and Zsa Zsa Zaturrnah displayed in Comic Quest, I bought them immediately.
Wasted was the creation of a very talented artist who, even at that time, was earning praise for his inking works in such prestigious titles as X-Men, Stone, Wetworks, High Roads, and Superman Birthright. His name was Gerry Alanguilan. Wasted is a comic book which I would like to call “classic”. It is one of the most violent and saddest stories I have ever read. It is a story of man who had lost his self-respect and went about in homicidal rage to avenge his frustrations against the world. My favorite scene in Wasted is the slow-motion fall of Eric from the building, after being hit by a sniper. Eric's panel by panel poetic epistle to his girlfriend Jenny-read as he falls from the building-was so dramatic and emotional. It is one of the most heart-rending letters I have ever read.
Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, meanwhile, is created by Carlo Vergara. I did not know him then, did not even know how he looked like. But his comic book downright floored me through so much laughter. One of the scenes, in which Ada was about to swallow the stone for the first time (Isubo mo na), was so tremendously funny, I literally had tears in my eyes from so much laughter. Indeed, Zsa Zsa Zaturrnah is as hilarious as any comic book you could ever read, so I marveled who this Carlo Vergara was. I looked into the back page (which usually gave some info on the author)…but there was scarcely anything about him there, except mentioning that he was a graphic designer and a former university lecturer. There was a picture of him, too. Alas, it must have been his picture when he was two years old!
Anyway my curiosity got the better of me. I had been a regular follower of Gerry Alanguilan’s Komikero website since that time, and Gerry announced that his Komikero group was holding a Komiks Festival in San Pablo City on December 7, 2003, and one of guests was Carlo Vergara.
I thought why not go there, meet Carlo and Gerry in person, as well as meet several other outstanding artists like Leinil Yu and Wilson Tortosa. The event was to be held on a Sunday, which was perfect, because I didn’t have work. Yet, on the last week prior to the festival, I was contacted by my best friend, asking me to be one of the ninongs for his newborn child. Of course, I could not say no, but I explained I would be late, since I already made up my mind to attend the Festival.
On the early morning of December 7, true enough, I was on the way to San Pablo, carrying a backpack full of comic books: Wasted, Zsa-Zsa Zaturnnah, One Night in Purgatory, and several issues of Superman Birthright, which I planned to have signed by their artists.
I arrived in San Pablo a little over twelve in the afternoon. I admired the exhibit set up by the Komikero group, and was finally able to meet GerryAlanguilan. I had some reservations asking Gerry to sign my comic books, since I still picture him in my mind as “hot-headed” Eric. Yet, on the contrary, he was very kind, humble, and soft-spoken. Since there were several people waiting in line to have their comic books signed by him, I did not push with my plan of interviewing him, and instead said thank you, and went to the table they set up to sell various indie comics. Indie comic books have a special place in my heart. I bought a copy of each, including Jonas Diego’s excellent Book of John, and of course, the zany and hilarious Crest Hutt Butt Shop, again by Gerry Alanguilan.
It was about two o’clock in the afternoon when I met Carlo Vergara. He was wearing a yellow shirt and blue denims, and was sitting in one of the benches, doodling sketches on his notebook. I said “hi”, introduced myself, and told him I admired his work Zsa Zsa Zaturrnah and One Night in Purgatory. He thanked me for appreciating his works and we had a nice conversation. Then suddenly, he sketched a Zsa Zsa pin up in his notebook, and gave the page to me. I was very happy and told him I’d keep this memento of my favorite super gay heroine as long as I live.
I went back to Manila, happy and contented having met many of my favorite younger artists there. Indeed, I feel proud on having befriended such talented artists as Gerry Alanguilan and Carlo Vergara, two prime movers in the Philippine comics industry today. Of course, now you know I'm a big fan of them.