Alfredo in his studio.
Alcala ("Pidong" as he was known to those
close to him), born 1925, dropped out of
school at a tender age, bent on becoming an
Initially, he painted signs, then turned to
designing chandeliers, garden furniture, table
lamps and hat racks for a wrought iron shop. He
even designed a church pulpit.
After work hours at
the shop, Alfredo studied the illustrations of
Harold Foster's Prince Valiant and Alex
Raymond's Flash Gordon, often going sleepless in
his burning ambition to become a comics artist.
In 1948, Alfredo got his dream fulfilled. Bituin
Komiks commissioned him to illustrate a short
story. Immediately after that, he was taken in
by Ace Publications, then under Tony Velasquez,
and assigned to illustrate novels for Pilipino
Komiks, Tagalog Klasiks, Hiwaga Komiks and
Espesyal Komiks which at the time coming out
every 2 weeks. Alfredo worked on the
novels, which were coming out simultaneously,
all by himself - from pencilling to inking, to
lettering. There were times, when deadline
demanded, that he worked for days without sleep.
Alfredo also wrote novels himself, which he of
course, drew as well. Among the more memorable
ones were Ukala, an epic set against the
background of the American Northwest when the
Europeans first intruded into the domain of the
Indians, and Voltar, a Viking saga. Both
were so meticulously drawn that Alcala reaped
praises from even the severest critics of the
day. He also wrote and drew a series on the
Japanese warships that became legends during
And in 1963, ACE
Publications closed shop, prodding many writers
and artists to strike out on their own. Aflredo,
along with Virgilio and Nestor Redondo, Amado
Castrillo, Tony Caravana and others decided to
form a comic book company on their own called
CRAF Publications, a company that would usher in
one of the most spectacular comic strips to ever
appear in Philippine comics. The strip is
VOLTAR, a story of Vikings which the World
Encyclopedia of Comics regards as "...an
astonishing display of sustained artistic
endeavor. Every chapter contains a spectacular
center spread. Each panel is embellished in an
etching style that rivals the works of the old
masters. Inch for inch, it is probably the most
detailed art ever to appear in comic books."
By that time, Alfredo had already turned to the
artworks of notable American illustrators such
as Dean Cornwell, Robert Fawcett, Howard Pyle,
N.C. Wyeth, Franklin Booth and J.C. Leyendecker.
But, as Alfredo himself points out, it was the
renowned British muralist Frank Brangwyn who
greatly influenced him.
In the early 70's, an American comic book
publishing executive on a visit to the
Philippines took interest on Alcala's works.
Before long, Alfredo has worked for nearly every
company from Marvel to DC to Dark Horse, etc. He
worked on characters as diverse as Conan, Man
Thing, El Diablo, Star Wars and Swamp Thing with
writer Alan Moore.
Alfredo passed away in April 4, 2000. He was 74