Gerry Alanguilan: World-class illustrator who never forgot his roots

Rick Olivares

Posted at Dec 21 2019 10:09 PM

Noted Filipino comic book illustrator Gerry Alanguilan, passed away this morning, he was 51.

Alanguilan has been battling an assortment of ailments over the past several years. He was rushed to the hospital in his native San Pablo, Laguna on Friday, Dec. 20, where he passed away early this Saturday morning.

A licensed architect who graduated from the University of Santo Tomas, Alanguilan opted to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a professional comic book illustrator.

He first came to prominence when his underground comic book, “Wasted”, about a man down on his luck struggles to hold on to his sanity and confronts his problems through violence, was circulated via photocopy. His first professional work was in the pages of American independent publisher Eternity Comics’ “Aster the Last Celestial Knight”. He then provided inks over Filipino-American artist Whilce Portacio’s “Stone.”

While Alanguilan worked on American comic books, he never neglected the local scene publishing the award-winning “Elmer” (that won two awards in France), “Where Bold Stars Go to Die” (with Arlanzandro Esmeña), “Crest Hut Butt Shop”, “Rodski Patotski” (with Arnold Arre) and “Bakokak” (with Kevin Ray Valentino) to name but a few.

However, it is his partnership with fellow Filipino artist Leinil Francis Yu (the latter provided the pencils, while Alanguilan inked the final product) where he is perhaps the most recognized in the international arena.

It is safe to say that the duo of Yu and Alanguilan is one of comic books’ most enduring partnerships along with the Jim Lee-Scott Williams tandem having worked together on a multitude of titles from “X-Men”, “Superman: Birthright”, “Wolverine”, “High Roads”, “Fantastic Four”, “Super Crooks”, “Star Wars”, and “Captain America” to name but a few. Alanguilan was inking Yu’s work on the new and best-selling “X-Men” title, which is awaiting its fourth issue.

Alanguilan is also a YouTube sensation for his “Hey, Baby” video that went viral and has been used as a meme many times over.

He married Ilyn Florese, the daughter of another famed Filipino classic comics illustrator Rudy Florese.

Alanguilan also curated the Komikero Komiks Museum in San Pablo that featured original works from trailblazers such as Alfredo Alcala, Francisco Coching, Alex Niño, Steve Gan, Nestor Redondo, Tony Velasquez, and Hal Santiago to name but a very few.

Said Alanguilan to this author: “The Komikero Komiks Museum was founded to show our countrymen our rich history in the medium as well as to showcase the talent that we have.”

And fittingly, for the man who helped carry the torch for the Filipino comic book creator, his works now too are enshrined in the museum.

Alanguilan's wake will at his home in San Pablo. There will be a Mass on December 27 at the St. Paul the First Hermit Cathedral, after which he will be interred at the San Pablo Memorial Park.