Created by Whilce Portacio and John Byrne for Uncanny X-Men #282, published in 1991, Bishop was a time-travelling mutant from the future with a mission. Yes, another one. And while he has been portrayed as a black character, he was originally intended by Portacio to be Filipino in ethnic origin.
Well at the Supermanila comic book artist convention this weekend, Portacio stated that he was specifically inspired by pool/snooker/billiards player Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes when he was creating the character. When asked to create someone who could go up against Wolverine, he picked a person who could represent Wolverine’s behaviour, tendencies and habits – or ugali.
“Efren ‘Bata’ Reyes would go up against these big American guys and give them this look. That’s who Bishop was. 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?’ (Where’s the party at now? When’s it ready?)”
As for changing its racial identity, Portacio stated that X-Men editor and current DC EIC, Bob Harras, asked Portacio if Bishop could be black, as there were so many African-American kids sending in X-Men fan mail, and he wanted a hero who could also inspire these young readers.
“Understanding as a minority, I couldn’t say no. I was already operating in the mood of being Pinoy, diba? Learning about our ugali. And that’s another part of it. Pagbigyan, diba? (give it up, right?) there’s always another time.”