Feb 12, 2011

Mark Evanier on Alfredo Alcala

On Facebook, I am a fan of The Fertility of Cross-Hatching: ALFREDO ALCALA. Alfredo Alcala may be my favorite artist of the Filipino Invasion (with the only real competition being Jess Jodloman), and a member of this group, Corn Stone, sent the group this anecdote from Mark Evanier on Mr. Alcala. I present it to you now.

Alcala’s transition to drawing for the American market began in the early seventies when an intermediary arranged for a group of artists in the Philippines to sell work to DC Comics. Alfredo often told the tale of going to a hotel in Manila to show his samples to Joe Orlando, one of DC’s senior editors.

Orlando was naturally impressed with the quality of the work he was shown. He told Alfredo that DC would hire him and asked how many pages per week he could produce.

“Forty,” said Alfredo.

The editor was startled. The least exhaustible DC artist would be hard-pressed to pencil and ink ten pages in a week. Then he realized that Alfredo probably assumed he would only pencil or only ink. “No, no,” Orlando said. “We want you to do all the art…pencil, ink, even lettering.”

“I see,” Alfredo muttered. “I pencil, I ink, I letter?”

“Yes,” Orlando nodded. “Now, how many pages per week do you think you can do?”

“Forty,” said Alfredo.

Again, the editor was startled. Obviously, there was some sort of misunderstanding here. He figured that the artist before him was thinking in terms of very simple pages with only two or three panels on each and no detail. Fortunately, Orlando had brought along with him, several dozen pages of original art from past DC books. He showed Alfredo pages by Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, Curt Swan and others.

“We want work like this…these many panels per page, and this detailed,” Orlando explained.

“Oh,” Alfredo nodded. “You want me to pencil, ink and letter pages like this?”


“Well,” Alfredo explained. “That changes things.”

“I would think so,” Orlando sniffed. “Now then…how many pages a week do you think you can do?”

“Eighty,” said Alfredo.

Skeptical and disbelieving, Orlando put Alfredo down for 40 pages per week. Soon after, when Alcala pages began arriving at DC at that rate, it was assumed by some that “Alfredo P. Alcala” was the joint moniker of perhaps a half-dozen hands. Not so — as anyone who later saw Alfredo sketching at a convention can attest.

The work ethic of those older artists is nothing short of amazing.

Alcala's VOLTAR, from PilipinoKomiks


Booksteve said...

I enjoyed Mr Alcala's work from the first time I saw it but when I saw VOLTAR in its American reprint I was just blown away! Absolutely amazing! I saw him at a Convention once many years ago but I was too intimidated to even say anything to him.

Glad to see groups like the Facebook one (I'm also a member) but I still don't think US fans at least give him anywhere near the credit he deserves for his work.

Duy Tano said...

Hi Steve,

The VOLTAR in THE ROOK wasn't a reprint - it was a whole new story, giving more credence to the tales about Alcala's speed.

Alcala definitely gets sidetracked for people like Nestor Redondo and Alex Nino and these days Leinil Yu, but I think he was in the top 2 of his day. He's not all that well-known here either, outside of the komiks community, which may be an even bigger shame.

Booksteve said...

I never read THE ROOK. I was referring to the VOLTAR comic put out by--I think--Bud Plant in the late seventies. Picked it up at a convention. Pretty sure it's translated originals. Absolutely amazing detail.

Duy Tano said...

Wow, I never even heard of Bud Plant. Thanks for the info, Steve. And yeah, Alcala's work is so beautifully detailed. In that respect, I don't think anyone comes close to as good.

Booksteve said...


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