The next time I want to bitch about computer or noisy neighbors, I’ll think about Dexter T. Wee.Wee, one of the artists who worked on Tales of the Starlight Drive-In , lives in the Philippines. He deals with revolution, bombings, blackouts, floods, fighting in the streets and typhoons while holding down a full-time job and supporting his parents. Yet he still manages to get his art done on time. Wee is working with two other Starlight collaborators, Sean McArdle and Jon Judy, on their submission “The Reserves,” one of the finalists in the latest Platinum Studios contest. In addition to everything else, Dexter is also a correspondent for the Business World newspaper and Chairman of the National Union Journalism of the Philippines (NUJP). When pressed, he said he’s seen his share of excitement. “I've experienced bombings, seen military clashes with rebels, inhaled tear gas, witnessed hostage takings and even a man dying from stab wounds,” he said. “The closest bombing experienced I had was October 17, 2002. I was at the exit of the store when the bomb exploded at the entrance. But despite this incidents and the soaring price of gas and commodities and the typhoons, I am glad to say that I still live a happy life here.” McArdle said Dex has apologized for being so “slow,” on some recent “Reserves” pages but his neighborhood was without power for several days because of flooding from a typhoon. Oh, and there was a battle between rebel and government troops nearby which made working difficult. I know, I know. I hate it when I’m trying to write and people are being shot nearby. So rude. So here’s this guy a world away, drawing some incredible artwork, which he has to bring to a public computer to e-mail, while the city is alternately exploding or flooding around him. And he doesn’t even bitch. “Last night minutes before I left work, a grenade exploded here just two blocks from where I work,” he wrote to McArdle. “People were all panicking and running towards the opposite side as police and the soldiers rush to the scene. Seven people were injured in the incident.” “A storm just swept through our country this weekend destroying thousand of houses,” he wrote the week before. “A ship carrying 800 people also sank last Friday. And here our roads on the coastal area we're also flooded, I spend two days walking on knee high waters.” But when asked about his home, this is how he replies: “The city of Zamboanga, the island of Mindanao and the whole Philippines is a beautiful place,” he said. “It saddens me that my own country men are fighting each other for things and issues that are only temporary in life. I still believe that the Philippines will be better someday.” Dexter explained that the trouble in his country is caused by clashes between the government and the rebels, identified as Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Dex wouldn’t understand why westerners would smile if they were told “We’re being attacked by a bunch of MILFs.” “The MILF wants to include our city and other municipalities in their quest to reclaim their ancestral land without consulting the city officials,” he said. “There is an atmosphere of fear and outrage because the people in this city don't want to be ruled by rebel Muslims .” Dexter is kept pretty busy, but I “borrowed” him to draw a last minute addition to Starlight when I realized the book was missing a simple love story. He did an incredible job drawing and inking the pages in a week.
He spends most of his “spare” time on “The Reserves,” a story about a group of B-list superheroes and sidekicks who have to step up after their world’s superheroes go bad. I’ve warned McArdle and Judy to enjoy Dexter while they can, a guy with that much talent is going places.Dexter’s complete story for Tales of the Starlight Drive-In, called “Love Story” can be seen above, and also found at www.talesofthestarlightdrivein.com The Platinum contest Dexter is part of ends Sunday. For at look at his work on the submission, The Reserves, go to:http://reservescomicbook.com/ For info on the final days of the contest: www.comicbookchallenge.com As for the recent developments in the Philippines, check out:Mike Sangiacomo's Drive-In Diary, 1