‘The Milla in Manila’

27 March, the day that a lot of Filipino comic book fans have been waiting for has arrived. ‘The Milla in Manila’ has come to town at last! The guy needs no introduction really, but for the uninitiated, Mark Millar is the award-winning writer of The Authority, The Ultimates, and Marvel’s Civil War among others, and the creator of Kick-Ass, Wanted, and a whole lot more. To put it bluntly, the guy’s nothing short of a comic book superstar. And in light of the recent mega-blockbuster hit, The Avengers, the timing of his visit couldn’t have been more perfect.

If some of those titles sound foreign to you (Save for The Avengers. That too? Oh c’mon!), do not fret. I’ll come clean early on and admit that I’m so far from being an expert on these things. I’ll grab my good friend and guru, Francis, and ask him to give you the skinny as I hunker down in a corner and eavesdrop myself. Any time’s a good time to start. You’ll be surprised. It’s a whole, vast world (entire universes actually) that’s just ready to gobble you up if you choose to free-fall into its clutches.

Approximately three months ago, I read a tweet from Francis stating his excitement for Millar’s upcoming trip to Manila this May. When I replied to ask him for the exact date, guess who replied? The man himself no less! Thus the beginning of our vigil for this much-anticipated event.

Our very own National Bookstore won Millar’s contest for him to travel at his own expense to the country of the comic book store that orders the most copies of the first issue of his new title, Super Crooks, and do a signing. It’s pretty cool for NBS to win and beat out stores in places like NY or LA. So thank you, National!

Waiting in line

I met Francis and Rachel at the venue, Glorietta 5 Atrium, at 10am, right when the mall was to open its doors. To my surprise, there was a sizeable queue already by the time I got there.  That’s when I realized that this was pretty serious, and the priority signing pass in my possession suddenly weighed a tad bit more. So did the books I was carrying. There were so many people, and the line kept getting longer. Everyone carried armfuls of comics, hard bounds, and TPB’s. It’s not easy to wait, but I could tell that they were all patient and pretty psyched. Good to see geeks abound loud and proud. 😉

View of the lines from our seats

We finally got to our seats around 1pm and waited for a bit over an hour for the show to start. Host RJ Ledesma called the Super Crooks team to the stage, stars in their own right – Leinil Yu, co-creator and artist; Gerry Alanguilan, inker; and Sunny Gho, colorist. The man of the hour came up last, and the crowd welcomed him with such delight. Filipinos really know how to throw a mean welcome.

The talk was pretty quick but informative and interesting. It was a very knowledgeable and enthusiastic audience, and Mark Millar was his usual talkative self, I guess, and he seemed to truly enjoy being there.

The Super Crooks Team

My friends and I had no’s 31-33 out of approximately 800+ passes. This meant we were able to talk to him and have our books signed and photos taken right away. Mark Millar was all smiles, and he loved to chitchat! Bonus points too for actually listening. We got to talk to him two more times later on in the afternoon, and our conversation picked up where we left off. Really cool, genuinely nice chap. Leinil, Gerry, and Sunny were great too. Leinil, most especially, was very down to earth and pleasant (signed my SC #1 copies even without passes!). I’m pretty sure they had smiles for each and everyone who patiently endured the wait and stood in line.

Francis and Mark Millar

Rachel and Mark Millar

Mark Millar and I

With Leinil Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Sunny Gho

The signing lasted ‘til past 8pm, way beyond their projected time. The guys must have been drained in the end, and their arms must’ve felt like lead. They were stoked too for sure, just like the hundreds of devotees who came and got a real, tremendous treat. The wait was definitely worth it (years for others)! I for certain had the best time, and I’m already looking forward to the next signing and all the reading that’s waiting for me. Times like this, it’s super cool to let your beautiful geeky side shine through. 🙂

All my books were signed!

Thank you, MM! Never stop kicking ass! And to LY, GA, and SG, you guys are amazing! Special thanks to NBS for making this event possible. And finally, to Francis and Rachel – what can I say? You guys are way beyond awesome!!!

Photo credits: Mr. Francis Guanco and a couple by me 🙂

Tschüs!

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