As you entered the convention hall, you witnessed a sight like a hall of champions. Black carpets covered the floor. Vibrant hues of lights glimmered through the matted darkness. A big screen stood at one end of the hall, showing scenes of a fallen star destroyer buried in a vast desert, in tune with the familiar symphony of a galaxy far, far away. The Star Wars trailer seemed as riveting and as exciting as ever.
Another clip played, this time depicting the colorful heroes of the Marvel universe. As you looked away from the screen, you noticed that their images were already scattered throughout the hall. To the left stood life sized statues of the Incredible Hulk and Captain America, vivid and real; to the right stood Ultron and Iron Man, metallic, chrome, and awe-inspiring.
This was only a greeting: a greeting welcoming everyone to Asia Pop Comic Con (APCC) Manila, one of the biggest Comic Cons held here in the Philippines.
Stars of the industry
The APCC was the most star-studded convention held here in the Philippines this year. Numerous guests and celebrities from around the globe came and shared their skills and passion with their fans. Renowned cosplayers such as Riddle (Riki Lectoy), Alodia Gosiengfiao, and Vampy Bit Me (Linda Le) became part of the festivities. Other members of the pop culture industry also came to visit APCC, such as YouTube personalities Octopimp and Commander Holly (Holly Conrad), props and costume designer Bill Doran, and several others.
The convention did not lack in terms of Hollywood guests, either. Paul Bettany, better known as Vision from Avengers: Age of Ultron, Colton Hayes, who portrays Roy Harper in hit DC comics based TV show Arrow, Nathalie Emmanuel, the actress behind Missandei in the Emmy Award winning series Game of Thrones, and Jeremy Shada, best known as the voice behind Finn the Human in Adventure Time, were among the A-list celebrities that came to meet and greet fans. Several of these stars spoke in panels and participated in signings, sharing stories and interacting with fans.
Masters of the visual arts
Local and international comic book artists and professionals also partook in APCC. Local comic book artists such as Steven Segovia, Mark Torres, Mico Suayan, and Carlo Pagulayan came to share their experiences in the industry. Their works span several renowned comic book companies, such as Dark Horse, Marvel, and DC. As they discussed their lives, struggles, and inspirations in the comic book industry, they also shared their insight with other aspiring comic book artists.
Miko Suayan advised other artists to never stop practicing and never be afraid to copy other artists’ drawing styles. “That’s how I started. Eventually, I found my own style. Just practice and just keep drawing,” he said.
“Don’t come in with the thought of instant fame and getting rich,” said Mark Torres. “There is a lot [of] hard work and sacrifices involved. Enjoy what you do. We’re all doing this for the love of the art and entertainment.”
Carlo Pagulayan counselled that artists should always listen to criticism. “Listen, but don’t give up on the first bad criticism you get. Think about what you’re working on and be your own worst critic.”
Marvelling at the exhibits
A comic con is not complete without its comic book icons. APCC took it to a whole new level—Hulkbuster size, in fact. Comicave Studios brought with them a massive replica of Iron Man’s Hulkbuster Armor, ready for fans to get try on and experience becoming the Iron Avenger. Comicave also presented other visually stunning models such as a diorama of the final battle scene in Avengers: Age of Ultron, along with the multitude of armors seen in Iron Man, Transformers: Age of Extinction, and many others.
Amalgamated Dynamics (A.D.I), the creature design and animatronics company behind the Alien franchise and X-Men: First Class, demonstrated their mastery in special effects with their presentation of the animatronic head of Bernie the Gorilla from the film Zookeeper. They also included in their presentation a myriad of creatures from the sci-fi classic Alien franchise. Life-size models of these monstrous creatures were displayed; their grotesque yet intricately detailed figures and design were a sight to behold.
88 Gamepub, a local game publisher, also awed its audience with its demonstration of motion-tracking system and design. Participants were able to wear the motion tracking suit and watch as they were transformed into digital characters, their movements flowing in sync with these pre-programmed bodies.
Comic Con at its finest
Though this convention came in the same time as Best of Anime and the Manila International book fair (both held in SMX convention center), thousands of eager participants still attended the APCC. It goes to show that this convention had a lot to offer to fans and goers alike. With its collection of celebrity guests and industry personalities, the APCC gave people the opportunity to meet many of the best in their various industries, as well as witness grand collections of comic memorabilia. This may have been the biggest comic convention held here in the Philippines to date, but it most certainly won’t be the last.