THE BIRTH OF NEW LEGEND
People are born naked. That makes us equal, but it doesn't end there. According to old legends, there are people born with strong powers, exquisite beauty, and supreme intelligence. Come modern day stories, there are people said to be born with a snake or a fish for a twin. There are people believed to be born with silver spoons in their mouth. There are also people born with pencils and crayons on their hands.
Set the stage for ALAMAT, a soon to be legend in the Filipino comics industry.
Born five years ago from a young pool of comic artists, ALAMAT was conceived to band together different comic groups under one force. Whilce Portacio (Uncanny X-Men, Wetworks, Stone) comeback in 1994 lit a spark to this generation in pulling their acts together. Under one name, they aimed to popularize Filipino talents generating a new industry amidst the presence of American comic books.
The legend goes back to the story of adolescents who never outgrew reading and breathing comic books; adolescents who dreamed of creating their own and making it big. Budjette Tan, ALAMAT President relates, "Basically ang ALAMAT barkada sila na mahilig magbasa ng comics and they love to draw and write". Some of them even started creating comics without any intention of being published. Seeing great possibilities, they jumped right off the idea asking bookstores and printers about the 'this and that' of comic publication. It was not easy though. At first, no one would teach them how and this was where the challenge lies: to survive.
Now on its fifth year, ALAMAT is a one solid group from a number of 'studios' who initially took the challenge. The studios, Flashpoint, Virtual Media, Deranged Comics, Exodus and Powerhaus among others have made ALAMAT live up to its name, representing a new beginning of future stories that has yet to be told in the future.
Late 80's saw the dawning of mini-comics, of which, Sigaw Saklolo became the era's only success. In about the same time, different groups independently produced their own comics. However, there was no one to brace their effort. Some of these independent groups are also present members of ALAMAT.
Fast forward to 1993 up to 1994, four books of Flashpoint were realeased simultaneously. Months later in 1993, 'ashcans' were released by some comic-book groups to let the readers check their stories. These experimental 'ashcans' were sold-out. It was yet another conquest when their comic books were displayed on store shelves along with foreign comics. Dave Hontiveros, ALAMAT 's Group Editor, has this to say,
"We fare very well in the sense na maliit lang talaga 'yung comic-buying market. We actually sell roughly by the same amount. I think our struggle really is to break through a wider market. We have to get to the people who don't buy comics to actually go into a comics store and say, 'hey, it's a Philippine-made comics for Filipinos, let's buy it'."
The logo of this group is the shining sun that embodies their optimism in making a new level in the local comic book industry. True to its promise, ALAMAT has introduced a bizarre set of heroes clad in high-tech costumes and features. There are heroes set on different Pinoy adventures of aswang and kapre. Others deal with magic, mystery, sci-fi action and galactic comedy. ALAMAT has already came out with Indigo Valley, Lakan: Bloodshed and Tears, Age of the Valkyrie, The Flying Phantom, Payaso, Timawa, Pantheon, Mythology Class, Angel Ace and the many stories extracted from every artists' imagination and wit.
It's a continuous struggle but members of the group are very optimistic regarding the limitations. Nonetheless, they are trying to cope by publishing at least one book every two months and by collaborating with other artists. The collaboration opened doors to the publication of Karen Kunawicz's "On the Verge", "Polgas: Ang Asong Hindi" with Pol Medina Jr. as senior editor, Luciano Uyan's Rizal: Isinalarawan, artworks for Agenda magazine, a short-lived net magazine, newsletter and anything that is connected to drawing. According to Budjette, "It's one way to break the barrier of comics. We're bringing comics into something people are more familiar with."
In bringing comics closer to people, ALAMAT has already done exhibits, art workshops, talks and seminars in various schools, malls and rave parties. They usually do this every time they launch a new comic book. Today, ALAMAT is a more recognizable name.
"The biggest change is that people know about ALAMAT, kasi, when we started we have this vision na we can do it. You know, after five years, it's safe to say we know what the factors are, the limitations. We work at that naman, it's not easy pero when everything goes smoothly and everything goes right, it's a good feeling, there's a sense of satisfaction, because you know that you're doing something that not everybody else is doing."