Posted July 2, 2018 by Norby Ela in Comics

Maraming Salamat, Bong Dazo

I was shocked upon learning the sudden demise of the great Deadpool maestro, Bong Dazo. Felt cold and empty, I walked around and quietly prayed for his soul, thanking him for the wonderful and funny illustrations he did in our favorite superhero comic books, especially to the Merc With The Mouth.

Bong Dazo

It is true he drew a lot, particularly the backgrounds that are littered with lots of Pinoy Easter Eggs, or as what Trese co-creator Budjette Tan says it best, “baluts.” In that regard, he presented these mostly during his stint as one of Deadpool illustrators during the Victor Gischler and Daniel Way-Deadpool runs in the late 2000s up to the early 2010s. Since Deadpool the comic character is infamously known for showcasing tons of “meta” this and that, including the perennial fourth-wall breaking moments that started way back under the leadership of Joe Kelly in the late 1990s, it was/is appropriate for the creative teams involved to do/take creative liberties with Marvel’s most cantankerous character ever. And our own beloved Bong Dazo not only delivered… he did so spectacularly.

In his first shot of Deadpool with writer Gischler under the series Deadpool: Merc With The Mouth, Bong situated the mythical/prehistoric Savage Land not in the continent Antarctica, as canon dictates, but in the Philippines, as soon as Deadpool was teleport there/away. Just remember, this mini-series was in proper Marvel 616-continuity (prior the multiversity reboot that was The Secret Wars in the mid-2010s). Another example was in the cross-over titles of The Thunderbolts and Deadpool where the former’s boss, Harry Osborn, led his Suicide Squad ripoffs to eliminate the noisy antihero. Spoilers, it was a Pyrrhic victory for the crazy Spidey foe. Anyways, Bong drew the two aforementioned Thunderbolts issues, and he put a famous Philippine-Quezon City establishment/landmark named Q-Mart in the middle of New York City as the degenerate withdrew the money from an ATM (he stole the ATM card from Osborn’s). There were some panels where the illustrator extraordinaire placed a very popular food store named “Jollibee” just to meta-telling us, readers, there is a Pinoy-loving cartoonist guy in an equally wacky famous comics series, more so the possibility of having the Merc’s awareness of that place. In his last Deadpool assignment, Deadpool: Fear Itself, there was a familiar face in international sports that are associated with the Philippines. Yes, that fellow is Manny Pacquiao, and Bong cleverly puts that one. Seriously, there are so many “baluts” to mention here, either in plain sight or under our noses in the pages of Deadpool-Daniel Way series alone.

Bong’s artistic style, a fusion of manga/anime and classical types, blended so well with the Merc’s penchant of self-loathing and corny hilarity, in addition of the outrageous action cum comedic visual sequences that partly made the Way-Deadpool run a success then. Additionally, Bong the Man was a very funny guy himself. Conversed with him a few times and his stories, even serious topics, were littered with funny pop culture references and anecdotes. Sure, his drawings could go into serious mode depending on the script or direction demanded, as shown with his post-Deadpool and indie works, like the Darkseid War-Superman tie-in one-shot issue, but nevertheless, his overall opus was never ever a dull moment, especially during arguably his artistic career height in Marvel.

So, whenever you either read a Deadpool comic and/or enjoy watching the epic Ryan Reynolds-Deadpool movies, please try to remember or be aware that there was a great funny, lovable and very talented Pinoy illustrator named Bong Dazo who lavishly drew the degenerate Merc With The Mouth with the passion of putting the Philippines and anything about our Pinoy pop culture stuffs like “baluts” in the Marvel universe. Yes, there are lots of Pinoy artists do so since the trailblazer Whilce Portacio (remember Colossus’s jacket, highlighting with the Philippine flag?) if you open your eyes widely and closely. Yet personally, Bong Dazo gave us that beautiful visual sequential experience.

Sweet dreams and maraming salamat, Bong Dazo!

Norby Ela

Now residing in San Diego, CA, I strive to work in art and further grow FlipGeeks around the world.