Friday, August 05, 2005

Aster, Leinil Yu, Jay Anacleto, Michael V

Inking Portfolio #4
Aster: The Last Celestial Knight #2
Entity Comics, 1995

Remembering inking this specific page brings back pretty bad memories. I was inking the hair on this woman in the dining room of our old house here in San Pablo when the phone rang. There was an accident involving our close family friend Zosimo. The caller said that they didn't know how he was but he was brought to the hospital.

Zosimo married my cousin and he would ocassionally drive for us. He was an armored car driver for the Bank of the Philippine Islands in Calamba, and he would drive my dad from home to work and back again in the evening.

Memories of him swam in my head as I inked this, not really concentrating. It's a miracle that the pages didn't get so messed up.

We learned later that Zosimo had died. The armored car he was driving figured in a head on collision with a bus. Everyone in the family, specially my cousin were quite devastated. I didn't want to ink anymore, but I had to. But it was so difficult just finishing that one page.


At last they got my name right in the issue when it finally came out. I was actually more relieved than happy because I feared they might get it wrong again.

Leinil Francis Yu's professional comic book career was launched in this issue when he drew a back up story "Legends of the Dark Moon". His work was very rough, the perspectives were all wrong, and there is a very strong Whilce Portacio influence. But I could easily see through all that and see the potential just waiting to come out. I lost no time in recommending his work to Whilce when he started looking for artists. I could post the pages here, but Leinil would most likely kill me. You can still buy issues at and search "The Last Celestial Knight" and see for yourself.

Efren "Jay" Anacleto pencilled and inked this issue's cover, which was really nice to see. I'm still puzzled to this day why Entity did not take full advantage of this awesome talent that they had in Jay by letting him pencil his own book, rather than just ink other artists. He had been inking Oliver Isabedra on Aster, Mark Vuycankiat on Harriers and a certain "Toybits" or Beethoven Bunagan on Shaianna. By this time I had already seen his giant "Radamanthus" illustration of leather-jacketed girl with a gun and a giant lizard. And man, it was probably the most incredible piece of illustration I've seen up to that point. I would have loved to see Jay do a book on his own but I guess I had to wait a few more years.

The aforementioned "Beethoven Bunagan", penciller on Shaianna, is of course, none other than popular Filipino comedian Michael V. It is not widely known that he was in fact able to draw a whole comic book that was published in the US. It's not surprising since Michael V. is HUGE comics fan, and his fan art can be seen in early issues of Wizard Magazine. He is also a very good sculptor, which I found out when he visited Whilce's studio a couple of years later with a bust of Whilce's GRAIL from Wetworks.

Towards the end of inking this issue, Whilce Portacio came back to the Philippines looking for artists as he was going to set up a studio. He came to the country the previous year and I had shown him some of my work, and when he came back this time around, I was ecstatic that he remembered my work enough to ask to see me.

It's still a difficult thing to think about, even after all these years, of my decision to leave Billy and Entity Comics to train under Whilce. I mean, it was still Whilce Portacio! The artist of X-men, X-Factor and Punisher! Who wouldn't want to train under him? I guess it was good that I didn't have any sort of contract or else I wouldn't have had the choice. I think Billy knew what was in my mind and I'm still grateful that he let me go. But nevertheless, for the record, I wish to thank Billy Lim-It wholeheartedly for giving me my first big break in comics.

For Whilce's part, he understood that I still had a commitment to finish Aster #2, and he let me finish it while training under him at his studio, which he had put up in a condo unit near the old Medical Center behind Shangrila and SM Megamall.