Friday, May 13, 2005

The new urban species
By Vives Anunciacion
(Inquirer Libre, Monday, January 17, 2005, page 10)

Lexy, Nance and Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll
Comic book by Oliver Pulumbarit
Bittersweeetness Comix

Kanya-kanyang hirit lang ‘yan. Isang machong bading si Lexy. Si Nance naman, namamangka sa dalawang ilog, if you get what I mean. Samantalang si Argus nama’y isang tunay na barakong Pinoy—sort of. Kwento ba ito ng Pusong Mamon? In a way, it is.

Lexy, Nance and Argus form the trio of cartoon characters whose alternative lifestyles and frank observations celebrate the diversity of the metropolitan Pinoy. The cartoon for mature audiences is created by freelance writer and artist Oliver Pulumbarit.

Readers of Pulp magazine would be familiar with these flamboyant characters. Unang lumitaw ang komiks sa mga pahina ng Pulp noong September 2001 and was serialized in the magazine nine times until September 2002. Pulumbarit compiled the serial and added previously unpublished material and came up with Lexy, Nance and Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll. Pulumbarit and buddy John Toledo published the comic book.

The trio of Lexy, Nance and Argus are ideal representations of that section of Manila’s yuppie, hip and urbane natives. Their lifestyles are popularized nowadays mostly through TV shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Sex and the City. The comic book is much more frank than the serials in Pulp, since the added material presents more risqué images and expands the trio’s discussions on relationships, religion, sexuality and pop culture with a wry sense of humor. Hindi pambata ang ganitong babasahin bagama’t nakadaragdag ito sa pagpapalawak ng pag-unawa sa iba pang kasapi ng ating lipunan na may ibang pananaw sa buhay.

However, I must say that the book feels like one endless introduction to the characters’ lifestyles despite the seeming progression of time, as their individual and collective encounters tend to repeat throughout. As if there’s neither a beginning nor an end, the epilogue is practically perfunctory. Maybe it’s the author’s way to present existentialism. Maybe not.

Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll isn’t the first comic book of this theme. Sex and homosexuality as theme or content appeared early in Pinoy komiks history. Though unverified, Mars Ravelo’s Jack & Jill was probably the first gay-themed (transvestite) komiks in the Philippines. It was published around 1953 and was so popular nationwide, it was adapted into a movie twice. The 1954 version of Jack & Jill starring Dolphy was most likely the first gay-themed movie in the Philippines. Who knows, with characters this interesting and fun, we may soon see Lexy, Nance and Argus on the big screen; siguradong magpupusong-mamon ang manonoood ng pelikula.

Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll is available at Comic Quest branches and soon in other bookstores

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