To his fans, he was the cartoonist who entertained us when he created his comic strip series “Agents of Ambush”. To his family, he was a loving and caring husband, uncle, and father. To his fellow cartoonist friends, he inspired them with his works. He was a friend to everyone. Even though his life was not perfect, we remember him for his works as a cartoonist. I for one would say that Andrew Philip Villar was one of the great cartoonists in this generation.
It was my opportunity to meet him back in May 2017, I was a fan of his comics back then. If my memory serves me correct, I was a few days away from my vacation in Hong Kong, and around that time I was on vacation in Cavite with my mom and siblings, visiting my relatives. The day was May 21, that Sunday evening, and we went to SM Aura Premier in Taguig to meet the cartoonist in person. For me, it was a moment worth remembering, as this was the first time, and it would be the last.
It greatly inspired me as a cartoonist, and every time I read his comics, I caught up with the adventures of the protagonist of his story, Amber, who was the team leader of the fictional Bravo Company. Amber, the protagonist in his comics, saved the day with the help of her father and her teammates. She was also a brave woman who faced every obstacle in time of adversity. Besides the “Agents of Ambush” comic books, Andrew also worked on his graphic novels “Malate” and “The Princess and the MP”. Both of which capture the artistic influence of Arnold Arre, fellow cartoonist and writer; and both reminded me of Arre’s “After Eden” and “Halina Filipina”.
Sir Andrew’s son, Amos, is also a cartoonist. He created the comic strip series “BuBu Burger”, which is about the adventures of three girls hanging out at the fast-food joint, with a bit of references from K-pop. It was then that I was introduced to it and that led me to try my hand as a cartoonist. Being a visual artist based in Davao City, I would apply Sir Andrew’s influence on my artworks, and this soon had a very profound influence on me. I could relate so much to Sir Andrew’s comics, particularly Happy Salt, one of the characters in the comic strip because her disability did not stop her from being herself and doing what she loved, and most of all, she showed so much courage. It was sad to hear that Sir Andrew passed away on February 13, 2019, but his legacy as a cartoonist is bound to live on.
Two of my paintings featuring characters from Andrew Villar’s “Agents of Ambush”, a portrait of Andrew Villar by Alex Alagon, and a photo of me and Sir Andrew taken on May 21, 2017. (By Rick Robin P. Cagnaan)