By Lydia V. Solis
Chief Correspondent, Southern California
LOS ANGELES – Asher Ben Alpay, 27, a concept artist based in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, won the illustrator award at the Annual 33rd L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards in Science Fiction and Fantasy on April 2, at the historic Wilshire Ebell Theater here.
Presented by the Author Services, Inc. and Galaxy Press’s Writers and Illustrators of the Future Contest, the awards show opened with Fire Fan Dancers from EMCirque, the Hollywood and Las Vegas based Circus and Entertainment Production Company.
Cash prizes and trophies were handed out to the winners at a stage “bedecked with visually stunning medieval set predominated by a pre-historic period dragon with blinking red eyes and smoke emanating from his enlarged ferocious nostrils.” He was surrounded by a castle with towers, a mote, and dazzling damsels.
Asher wasn’t able to attend the Medieval Fantasy formal event where a Knight in Shining Armor presented envelopes to award presenters and a miniature dragon dropped from the ceiling to deliver winning envelops to judges. Asher only participated via video; however, “he will receive his prize, just the same,” according to publicist Steve Moyer.
Asher’s initial submissions were Assassination, Art of Asher, and Demon Queen.
“The last one I sent is included in a book that is being published now,” he explained. “That one was the final part of the contest. The first three were my entries to be eligible to move into the next stage of the contest.”
Our illustrious illustrator, the 4th quarter winner, sketched “The Long Dizzy Down,” in a story by writer Ziporah Hildebrandt of Shutesbury, MA, the 4th quarter winner. It’ll be included in the book, L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future, Volume 33, which is available for purchase from Amazon.com, Books-A-Million (BAM.com), BN.com (Barnes & Noble) or Galaxy Press.com.
“The story is about the distant future where humans and intelligent machines can communicate telepathically,” offered Asher. “As a huge fan of science fiction the story is really intriguing and intense. It really stirred up my imagination.” He added that he reads a story about 10 times before he even starts sketching.
The 33rd Annual L. Ron Hubbard Achievement Awards celebrated winners of the Writers and Illustrators contest, honoring 12 writers and 12 illustrators from around the world for their excellence in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Awards for each of the Quarterly Finalists of the Writers and Illustrators Contests were presented by actors Marisol Nichols and Jim Meskimen.
Twenty-seven world renowned Science Fiction and Fantasy writer and illustrator judges picked one grand prize writer winner and one grand prize illustrator winner from the field of 12 quarterly writer winners and 12 quarterly illustrator winners. And the grand prize ‘Dreamers and Dragons’ winners are writer Jake Marley from Garden Grove, CA, and illustrator Michael Michera from Pabianice, Poland.
Following the 1982 release of his internationally acclaimed bestselling science fiction novel, “Battlefield Earth,” written in celebration of 50 years as a professional writer, L. Ron Hubbard created the Writers of the Future Contest in 1983, to provide a means for aspiring writers of speculative fiction to get that much-needed break. Due to the success of the Writing Contest, the companion Illustrators of the Future Contest was created in 1988. Submissions for the Writer and Illustrator contests over the years have come from 186 countries.
Asher could be the first Filipino and Southeast Asian to win the illustrator award.
Alpay was born in Mabinay, Negros Oriental, which he describes as a “small and mountainous town in the Philippines.”
Interviewed via Email, he said that his father was his first inspiration when it comes to art. “At a very young age,” he stated, “I was already exposed to the acrylic paintings, charcoal and ink illustrations used by my father. (He proudly mentioned that some of his father’s works are in a museum in Escalante City, Negros Occidental.) “I have been drawn (to art) ever since my hands could hold a pen or pencil,” he continued. “I stopped drawing in college and after I left school, for practical reasons, I went back to working as a graphic designer and eventually made my way back doing art. I’m a self-taught artist in the field of digital art. The social media – through forums, articles, art blogs and websites – has helped me push my craft and imagination one step further and I gained a bit of recognition in the online community.”
Asher continues doing what he loves. He works fulltime as a freelance artist and designer for private companies and clients.
“I’m always in search of new accomplishments and experiences,” he concluded.