Movies & TV

This X-Men Character Was Inspired by Filipino Billiards Champion Efren Reyes

Another unlikely inspiration for Bishop? Gary Valenciano.
IMAGE IMDB/SPIN.PH
Comments

Most die-hard Pinoy comic book fans know that Bishop—a time-traveling, energy-absorbing mutant in the long-running comic book series X-Men—was originally supposed to be Filipino.

The character's co-creator, comic book artist Whilce Portacio, revealed another quirk in the superhero's origin story: that he was inspired by billiards great Efren 'Bata' Reyes when he was conceptualizing the character.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

At a panel in the Supermanila comic book artist convention, Portacio recounted the events that led to Bishop's first comic book appearance back in 1991. Tasked by his editors to create a character who could go toe-to-toe (power levels- and popularity-wise) with Wolverine, the Filipino artist wanted someone who could personify what he called the Pinoy "ugali."

Photo by JEROME ASCANO.
ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

He saw that same ugali in The Magician, who at the time was already taking the billiards world by storm. "Efren 'Bata' Reyes would go up against these big American guys and give them this look," the comic book artist said. He wanted to infuse that same never-say-die spirit in his creation. "That's who Bishop was," he said. "He was born with the skills and the DNA to fight and survive. In the daytime he would fight off Sentinels, save other mutants, and then he would [go] underground at the end of the day, [and ask], 'Saan ba yung next party? Saan ba yung handa?'"

Portacio also cited Gary Valenciano as another unlikely inspiration for Bishop.

When the time came to launch the character, Bob Harras, his editor on the X-Men books, asked Portacio if Bishop could be black instead. There were so many African-American kids sending in X-Men fan mail, Harras explained, and he wanted a hero who could also inspire these young readers. "Understanding as a minority, I couldn't say no," Portacio recalled. "I was already operating in the mood of being Pinoy, diba? Learning about our ugali. And that's another part of it. Pagbigyan, diba? There's always another time."

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Later in the 90s, Portacio would become a titan in the comic books industry, helping launch Image Comics with other superstar artists like Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane. 'Bata', on the other hand, would cement his place as a billiards legend. The character he helped inspire, Bishop, is still going strong: last we heard, he's joining a team of seafaring mutants in this month's Marauders #1.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

This story originally appeared on Spin.ph. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

Comments
View More Articles About:
Recommended Videos
About The Author
Lio Mangubat for Spin.ph
Writer
View Other Articles From Lio
Comments
Latest Feed
 
Share
Here are the most outrageous memes that dominated Filipinos' timelines in 2019.
 
Share
In an age of knee-jerk collaboration, Kim Jones has brewed an organic partnership.
 
Share
 
Share
It's definitely a lot less ubiquitous than the usual collab.
 
Share
Plus tips on how to budget your monthly expenses!
 
Share
Here are the origins of some Filipino slang used in the past 50 years.
Load More Articles
Connect With Us