Not your usual comic book heroes
By RONALD S. LIM
Manila Bulletin, February 26, 2010
Whilce Portacio. Gerry Alanguilan. Leinil Yu. Pol Medina Jr. Carlo Vergara. Manix Abrera. Any dedicated Filipino comic book fan knows how much these names have contributed to building the reputation of Filipino comic book artists and illustrators here and abroad. And these very same fans certainly know how monumental it is to bring these and so many other names together in one project.
And monumental is exactly what is accomplished with “Renaissance: Ang Muling Pagsilang”, which brings together these and 50 plus more names to pool their talents, all for the name of charity.
The germ for “Renaissance” began with comic book industry superstars Whilce Portacio and Philip Tan, in October 2009. The two are neighbors in California, who both have inked and illustrated some of the big name titles of comic book giants Marvel and DC.
“I was celebrating my birthday when I received an e-mail from Philip. It was a long one and it took me time to get through it. He explained that he wants to gather all the best Filipino artists here and abroad for a charity cause,” recalls comic book enthusiast Ernest Leo Hernandez, who helped organize the contributions of the local comic book artists here.
But the devastation brought about by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng brought an entirely new dimension to the effort.
“When the typhoon happened, nakita nila sa news ‘yung flood. Sabi nila, ‘I can’t stand just watching the news, we have to do something,’” says Heubert Khan Michael, who helped coordinate the participating artists here in the country. “They sent e-mails, they contacted each other, they sent word through the grapevine.”
Michael says that they initially only expected a turnout of 20 participants, but the number ballooned to 60, with Michael having to stop submissions as they were working on a tight deadline.
“When they heard that it was for charity, some of them even wanted to submit dalawang artwork, pero kami na ang nagsabi na nakakahiya na kasi tight deadline,” Michael enthuses.
Even the family of komiks legend Mars Ravelo pitched in to help, allowing the book’s organizers access to Ravelo creations like Darna and Captain Barbell.
Varga and Darna by the Luna Brothers
Darna by Leinil Yu
Captain Barbel by Francis Manapul
Flash Bomba by Mico Suayan
Darna by Chester Ocampo
Lighting the spark
Michael recalls feeling both pride and anxiety as contributions from artists such as Portacio, Alanguilan, and Yu began pouring in.
“I did my best, pero nakakagulat kasi after each and every artwork submitted, pagaling ng pagaling. Ang nakakatuwa dun, after each and every artwork, we get inspired by the person. Kung sinong naunang mag-submit, naiinspire ‘yung susunod, kaya pagaling ng pagaling ‘yung artworks. We were getting tons of awesomeness everyday,” says Michael with a laugh.
A huge part of the book’s proceeds will go to charity, and Michael says that there are also plans to make the book a jumping point to start a fund to help out local comic book artists who have fallen on hard times. Some of the book's contributors, like “Transformers” artist Rico Rival and Marvel Comics’ colorist Jay Ramos, were victims of the floods themselves.
“We wanted to help our fellow artists who are in need. ‘Yung mga may edad na, ‘yung mga hindi na active, wala nang kinikita, ‘yung mga biglaang nagkaroon ng problems,” says Michael. “Hopefully we could do something more formal and organized. Sa sobrang konti namin, kung hindi pa kami magsasama-sama, that would be sad. We are not going to wait for another disaster to happen to do this again.”
Michael also hopes that “Renaissance” might also spark a renewed interest in young people to not only patronize local comic books, but to inspire them to become artists in the industry as well.
“Hopefully this becomes an exclamation point if not an ellipsis sa nakikita nila ngayong active comic book artist na Pinoy. Hopefully makapag-create ito ng spark na magiignite ulit sa mga Pilipino na gustong maging artist. Hopefully this will inspire them to be a Filipino comic book artist,” he ends.
(Renaissance: Ang Muling Pagislang is now available in bookstores nationwide.)