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Friday, September 02, 2005

Nick Manabat, 1972-1995

Nick would have been 33 today. Who knows what artistic heights he must have reached had he lived? Unfortunately, he passed away 10 Novembers ago so we may never really know. But I think I can at least imagine it.

Nick was one of the truly talented people I knew. He was amazingly, INSANELY talented. His hand, as it held his pencil and pen, held a power so titanic that each paper that issued forth from his hand literally shook me to my knees. I may seem to exaggerate, but no matter how vigorously I describe Nick's talent , my words will always be understated.

I still remember meeting him that December in 1992. I felt so good about myself and my drawings. I was young and cocky and I believed that I was pretty hot stuff. I met with this group of artists that Whilce Portacio had put together to do a comic book (the as yet unreleased LAKAN). I plunked down my work in front of everybody thinking it'll just blow everyone away. That was when I saw this guy with deep eyes (who looked a little bit like Jeff Fahey) nodding politely at what he saw. I asked to see his work and when he handed a batch of papers my way and I looked, it was as if an atom bomb had detonated inside my mind.

I was so stunned that I found myself sitting down, silenced into submission. I thought, holy cow! Holy crap! This guy's stuff is fucking amazing! I was in a stupefied daze for the next 30 or so minutes, flipping those batch of papers over and over, unbelieving that a kid this young could draw so magnificently. Compared to this guy, I was nothing but the gnat living in the body hair of a tick living on the skin of a ratty dog.

Needless to say, it was a totally humbling experience. I almost quit dreaming about drawing comics right there. I could have hated him, but when I got to know him and learned he was one of the most soft spoken (literally) and humble people I know, it's just oh man, how can I help but be inspired?

And I'm very glad to say that he, along with Oliver Pulumbarit and John Toledo, had become friends of mine from then on. Just knowing him had wondrous effects on my own work. I found myself drawing a bit better just by meeting him and seeing his art. It was terrific!

I was very happy when Whilce took Nick with him to the US to work at Wildstorm. Somehow, I just knew it was meant to be. His work deserved to be seen by the entire world. And I'm glad that Nick would have a chance to share his work and inspire much more people.

I was devastated when I heard he had died. It really didn't catch us by surprise. We knew he had a kind of cancer and although I was really hoping he could beat it, all I could do was pray when I heard he had passed on.

I'm thankful I had met him. I'm thankful for an unforgettable lesson in humility he had taught me. I'm thankful for the immeasurable inspiration he had given me.

Thanks Nick! And happy birthday, man! :)

(Thanks to Oliver for the scan! Oliver has a post about Nick at his blog as well.)