Had lunch with my Panda bear Isha's family last Sunday. Arriving from Paranaque with barely enough sleep and absolutely nervous about the upcoming Komikon, I left the stacks of burned cds and stuff in the car and joined her family in a delectable and filling lunch. Felt a bit nervous as always, since it did mean eating with her parents. Thankfully, I didn't go klutz and spill anything this time. Wanted to eat more but was afraid of getting too full and having my biological quirk of "needing to use the bathroom within an hour of any heavy meal" kick in. Traded jokes with her brother and struggled not to stare at my beautiful sweetie, I quietly enjoyed by meal and thanked them for the hearty feast.
A large part of my apprehension to show up in Komikon this year was the evident fact that I don't seem to be remembered or mentioned anywhere anymore. Newsarama.com had a feature on local comic creators and I was not mentioned in any way even if my online comics have been around since 2002. Nor did my name pop up in others' blogs of people whom they are expecting to be at Komikon or are anticipating the release of new work from.
Simply put, no one new I was still doing stuff, or wondered if I had plans of selling anything.
(Well at least, no one overtly did.)
By the time Isha and I got to Bahay ng Alumni, it was around 2:00pm and Komikon 2006 was well underway. Having just arrived, we decided to go around a bit first and see who was around. Immediately, we spotted Budjette Tan (and I think the other people he works with for his comics were there, but there were no introductions) and checked out the latest issue offerings he had at hand. While we were working out what to get exactly, we were suprised by Elbert Or (yes, he kissed me! hahaha!) who teased us about borrowing money and shared with us some laughs and jokes. After meeting them, Panda bear and I bumped into John and Maan, both of whom have been supporters of my work and were eager to get a copy of what I had in my bag: Diliman Volume 1
Not brave enough yet to pull it out and actually start selling, I repeatedly excused myself and took Isha's hand into my own and begged her to help me stay sane. We made our way then to Gerry Alanguilan to give him the small rooster statue we found in Mall of Asia which we named Elmer and decided to take a walk around, hoping to shake my jitters away. We then spotted a few more familiar faces: Jonas Diego, Jac Ting Lim, a bunch of other Komikeros such as Raipo and Jerald (Mr. Lanzones, from what Isha remembered of last year's Komikon). We made our way past some indie comic books (the barrage of "Kuya bili na kayo please!" was heart-wrenching. Especially from the ones who evidently worked their sweat, blood and tears off to make their comics. A pity most were mangaish clones which I didn't really want to buy.)
Along the way, we then saw Reno Maniquis and were wowed by the numerous pins, t-shirts and comics they had on display. Here, too, Isha saw an old schoolmate of hers and chatted with him for a while giving me some time to look over some of the other nearby booths as well. Nothing really caught my eye, and eventually, Isha and I made our way back to Budjette's area to claim our comics and to try and decide how to go about selling my shit.
Isha saw two more familiar looking faces but decided against going to them to ask who they were. Me, on the other hand, began to feel famished and dehydrated and sought to find something to drink. Learning some of the places we went to were not ready to sell cold drinks (or weren't open), we headed upstairs to Chocolate Kiss and hoped to get a seat fast. Finding instead a line of people waiting, our prayers were answered when Elbert suddenly ran out to invite us to share his table! Spared dehydration and falling into unconsciousness in a public place, we thanked him and immediately got a few drinks while trading off stories about work, love, meeting interesting people and the komikon itself.
Learning of my fear of selling my comics and the concern about actually getting people to buy, Elbert offered to have me set up my stuff beside his and even introduced me to the first two customers for the day. Felt so empowered by their willingness to check out my work that I totally failed to keep my brain working. Sorry!!! I know I should have remembered your names! Egad...
Then, Isha and I set up our little spot beside Elbert's table, and hoped for the best.
Incredibly, we sold out.
Diliman Volume 1 actually garned enough attention to be wiped out! And to think I was inavertedly telling people not to buy by telling them the first ten issues are all accessible for free online! It was a funny and wonderful feeling and it really made me smile when others like Carlo Veragara (who showed up a tad later), Gerry, Gener Pedrina dropped by to show some support. Also bumped into a few other familiar faces, some of whom I will confess to having forgotten their names (like the sassy girl with glasses whom also supported my work back in Fullybooked's book signing for Siglo:Passion, and my office mate AJ and her boyfriend whom passed by even if they weren't into the horror stuff I make and shared some small talk.) There were the memorable customers too, like the couple (an energetic pair of a guy and a girl) who were excited to read the comic and were trying to decide which of the two cover versions they wanted (they planned to buy one, but each wanted the other cover!) or the quiet girl who gingerly approached the table, then liked the sample pages, then even asked for a picture after buying the cd! But none compare to the third customer who brought a smile to my face and a shock to my heart when she considered buying the comic and then assertively asked me, "How am I to know for certain this CD contains the pages you are saying it does?" I smiled, and promised, "The six issues are there. If not feel free to contact me about it."
I wore the white tee shirt my sweetie gave me. The shirt had been customized to have the word GARAPATA on the front (and its reversed spelling at the back) and it proved to be a good way to tell all customers to visit this blog (pointing at the shirt while telling them the url) in case any problems with the CD crop up!
But yeah, we sold out.
The feeling was an incredible rush! And so potent that by the time Isha and I headed back to the car (we dropped by Molave first to visit some of her old friends) I felt absolutely wiped out and was almost falling asleep every few seonds! We made our way to Kublai for some exceptionally great dinner, and ended the night in each others arms while on the ride back to her place.
I still can't help but smile.
Maybe, come Komikon 2007, I won't be unremembered.
THANK YOU again to everyone who supported me. Thank you to Elbert for the space and the willingness to help out. Thank you to everyone who got a copy! Thank you to Carl and my Panda bear Isha who have been terribly supportive (and yes I promise I will do my best to release a printed collection once the series is done!) and here's hoping you all enjoy the cd!