Comic book legend Alex Nino returns to illustrate local graphic novel

Rick Olivares

Posted at Aug 30 2021 07:48 PM | Updated as of Aug 30 2021 07:56 PM

Alex Nino (right) with Jay Ignacio (left) 
Alex Nino (right) with Jay Ignacio (left) 

MANILA -- The art of Filipino comic book legend Alex Nino will grace "Alandal," a 96-page black and white graphic novel that he illustrated from a story by Jay Ignacio and will be released this coming Saturday, September 4, during the virtual Philippine International Comics Festival. 

"Alandal" tells the story of Sabina, the 12-year-old daughter of a Spanish conquistador in exile who is abducted by Iranun pirates and taken to the island of Jolo. Once there, Sabina discovers her true identity as the granddaughter of the Sultan of Sulu. There, she meets a mysterious swordsman named Alandal. And that’s where the story takes off.

Nino is an Eisner Hall of Fame nominee and part of the first wave of Filipino comic book illustrators -- that included Alfredo Alcala, Nestor Redondo, and Gerry Talaoc -- recruited by DC Comics’ Joe Orlando and Carmine Infantino. 

The Tarlac-born Nino drew the adventures of the Batman, Firestorm, Hulk, Power Man, and Conan but is more known for his work on horror comics for Warren Publishing and Image Comics as well as Heavy Metal the magazine.

Ignacio is a writer, documentarist, and a musician who performs with alternative rock band Da Pulis.


"Alandal" is the second collaboration between Ignacio and Nino. Their first was “The Merchant of Oltrarno” that was first written in 2004 while Ignacio was in culinary school in Florence, Italy. The story featured 12 illustrations by Nino and was published in 2018.

With regards to "Alandal," Ignacio visited Nino in California and pitched the synopsis of his idea for a graphic novel. “I slyly pitched the idea of 'Alandal' to him but I honestly thought I would be rebuffed,” admitted Ignacio. “Imagine my surprise when he agreed.”

Like basketball star Michael Jordan showing today’s generation who never saw him play in the riveting "The Last Dance" documentary, this is Nino’s reintroduction to a younger audience weaned on comics during the 1990s and the early 2000s. 

“He readily agreed to the project as it was not only written by a Filipino, but it would be his first work to be published locally in decades,” added Ignacio.

Nino asked Ignacio for the plot and said he will only be in touch when he was done. Ignacio countered that he didn’t mind -- “as long as I got classic Alex Nino.”

The resulting pages, all in black and white to take advantage of Nino’s incredible eye for detail – submitted one year later – blew Ignacio away. 

“I am a fan so I don’t want to be biased. I will leave that judgement to the people who can express that best. All I will say is the work Alex turned in ranks right up with his very best,” gushed Ignacio.

Filipino comic book fans can avail of the limited edition graphic novel through the Facebook page of the Philippine International Comics Festival.