Saturday, October 23, 2010

Once-great Philippine comic industry fights for survival

MANILA — Philippine comic books have nurtured talent for international TV and animation blockbusters, but the once-mighty industry is fighting to survive as it comes up against the Internet and other new media.

Comic books that dominated the Philippine publishing industry just a couple of decades ago are now largely relegated to photocopied titles sold in a few specialty stores and at conventions, lamented veteran artist Rico Rival.

"There are still a lot of good Filipino artists. They just don't have an outlet anymore. They just photocopy their own works," said Rival who has worked for local publications as well as US comic and animation companies.

The 72-year-old Rival is now retired but still indulges his passion by drawing occasionally for Philippine magazines and doing commissioned art at conventions.

Local comic books, popularly known as "komiks", were once the most widely read periodicals in the country with dozens of titles sold on newsstands every day.

Terry Bagalso, editor of Atlas Publishing, once the country's largest komiks publisher, recalled that in the 1980s, at the height of the industry's popularity, his company was printing 30 titles a week.
Its top-selling titles easily sold 400,000 copies a week with total komiks circulation in the millions.

"We had to send out an armoured car to collect our sales earnings," she recalled.

These komiks -- printed in black and white on cheap newsprint -- presented serialised stories in a wide variety of genres, including romance, horror, superheroes, historical adventure, fantasy, comedy and fairytales.

Sold largely by street vendors, they appealed mainly to the poor masses and cost just a few centavos (less than one US cent), far cheaper than a movie ticket or other forms of popular entertainment.

Komiks characters such as superheroine Darna, the mermaid Dyesebel and the monster-slaying "Panday" (the Blacksmith) are still household words in the Philippines and live on in TV series and movies.

The artists who worked on these komiks caught the attention of US companies such as Marvel and DC Comics, which started recruiting them in the 1970s to work on characters including Batman and Conan the Barbarian.

"They were amazed that Filipinos were very good illustrators. They thought there was an art school that trained us and then they came here and they found that we just influenced each other," said Rival.
Many Filipino artists then went on to produce cartoons for companies such as Disney, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. Today, Filipino artists can be found working on big-screen animation projects such as the 'Toy Story' series.

But despite that success, komiks have virtually disappeared from Philippine newsstands.

The consensus is that komiks lost their audience as Filipinos turned to more modern forms of entertainment such as television, videogames, DVDs and the Internet.

"It is the technology. With one click on the computer you can get anything. So instead of reading komiks, people like computers, cellphones and other things," said Bagalso.

There have been various attempts to revive komiks in recent years but none have had much success.
Alexie Cruz, editor of PSICOM, a local publisher, said his company's last komiks foray two years ago -- a comedy title called "Topak" (Nutty) -- fell victim to poor sales after just two issues.

"One of the main problems is the bookstores don't cater to komiks by Filipino publishers. They give them very little space," he said.

Ironically, PSICOM's big sellers are magazines on 'manga' or Japanese comics, as well as licensed reprints of DC Comics titles -- which do get shelf-space in local bookstores, said Cruz.

But local creators won't give up. Some publishers still come out with their own home-grown "graphic novels" -- extended stories told in comic format.

Philippine publisher Visprint is producing one such effort next year: 'Filipino Heroes League', a semi-comedic tale by artist-writer Paolo Fabregas who puts superheroes into a developing world setting.
"They're underfunded, unappreciated and generally unwanted... like Kid Kidlat (Kid Lightning). He's super-fast and super-poor," Fabregas, 32, said with a laugh.

Like many other aspiring Filipino komiks artists, Fabregas started out either putting his stories on the Internet or selling home-made copies.

His main job is in advertising and he describes his komiks work as "a glorified hobby".

Komiks artist Gener Pedrina said he and other creators just drew the stories, printed them with a photocopier, stapled them by hand and then sold them on their own.

He described his products as "labours of love," because they take so much time but make barely enough to break even.

Pedrina's superhero title, "Sanduguan," (Blood Brothers) and other komiks like "Zombies in Manila" and "Gerilya (Guerrilla) Komiks", are sold at the handful of comic conventions held in the Philippines each year.

While these titles may not have the polish of their predecessors, Rival said they still kept the tradition alive.

"Komiks is still here. It won't go away. There may not be publications but artists can come up with their own komiks. You cannot restrain their creativity."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

BRING THE THUNDER art by Wilson Tortosa

Cover by Alex Ross

Newsarama interviewed Alex Ross about this new comic book. Here are Ross' comments about Wilson Tortosa's amazing art:

Nrama: How about Wilson Tortosa? I know he's doing interior art, and I wanted to ask about the back-and-forth you've had with him, just as the creator of the concept as well as the character designer.

Ross: I have a great history with Wilson because of the wonderful work he did on Battle of the Planets with Top Cow that we did a number of years ago. He was the artist out of all that we were looking through and inquiring about who could actually match the look and style of the old shows and because of the wonderful way he can capture a quality of classic manga it was something I knew would feel very appropriate to this work even though it would seem to be a very American character concept, it’s certainly dealing with American issues but it’s also dealing with Middle Eastern issues so where does the manga style apply? To me it just felt instinctively right. I knew he would bring something very strong to it and I was very well rewarded by the energy and power of Wilson’s work he is just phenomenal I would absolutely love to work on more comics with him continuing from this. He’s taken all the design work as well as photographs of my live model and worked from those and brought his own interpretation to these things but with a project that calls upon as much real world research of places in the world that he’s never been I know as I believe he’s in the Philippines he’s definitely going out of his way for everything that called of him so it’s very impressive thing to be able to witness his work.

Nrama: Finally, for those who still aren't sold on Bring the Thunder, what would you say to get them on board? Are there any moments you can tease that you're excited to see?

Ross: Watching Wilson interpret the energy of the scripts is a very involved and inspiring thing because I feel that there is a quality to manga in what Wilson captures that is often missed in contemporary American comic books and we’re getting caught up so much in a density of storytelling that we’re kind of losing the visceral experience of getting sucked in and I feel that energy that I speak of is something akin to a Kirby energy it really does allow you to feel integrated and moved through the action of a story, it’s infectious and that’s a broad evaluation of all the work that he does but particularly when it does come to the action sequences so that would be my tease and my reason for saying “ I want to do more with this guy because I’m fascinated as a reader and as an artist.”


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

RAGMAN art by Stephen Segovia

Ragman: Suit of Souls
Story by Christos Gage
Art by Stephen Segovia
Cover by Jesus Saiz

Rory Regan has long struggled to reconcile the burden he carries as the Ragman, protector of society's forgotten, with his own strained faith.

Could the souls he has consigned to redeem themselves within his mystic suit have the answers he needs about what lies beyond — and about the mysteries kept from him by his own father? Christos Gage (STORMWATCH: PHD, Avengers: The Initiative) and Stephen Segovia (Wolverine) provide a look inside one of the DCU's most peculiar Super Heroes in this standalone one-shot!

Art from :

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

interview with Leinil Yu & Mark Millar

Nerd Caliber interviews Mark Millar & Leinil Yu concerning their previous works at Marvel comics, Millar's work on the movies Kickass and Wanted, and their latest collaboration SUPERIOR! The footage was filmed in October 2010 at The Big Apple Con in New York City.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Iron Man art by Lan Medina

Marvel is pleased to present you first look at Iron Man: The Rapture #1, the Marvel Knights limited series from Alexander Irving and Lan Medina! When a devastating heart attack pushes Tony Stark to the brink of death he decides to build his greatest invention yet. Witness the debut of Stark 2.0, the most advanced fusion of man and machine the world has ever seen! Things take a turn for the worse though, when the Stark 2.0 entity begins a mad campaign to rework the world in its own image. If Tony Stark is to be saved, he’ll need all the help he can get from his friends Rhodey and Pepper! Can they stop the digital menace? Find out in Iron Man: The Rapture #1!

IRON MAN: THE RAPTURE #1 (of 4) (SEP100633)
Penciled by LAN MEDINA

Friday, October 01, 2010

Whilce Portacio draws Top Cow's ARTIFACTS

Whilce talks about his artistic approach to drawing his arc of "Artifacts"

When they approached me, what I wanted to do at that moment was what I was talking about a little bit earlier: I wanted to go back to my roots and go crazy, and that means also with the dark side [of my art]. Lately in my career, I've kind of gone a little bit back to the light, and I want to go back to the old "Wetworks" darkness and half silhouettes, stuff like that. This has been a great vehicle for that, because I can play with the designs and use the tech side as the de facto "light side." Then I can use Jackie and all of that stuff as the dark side. Artistically, for myself, I'm going to play with how the light side and dark side clash. I've been telling Ron, whenever light side characters come in and interact with dark side characters, I want there to seem to be a space for each of them. I want to try and give light to the light guys and dark to the dark guys so that when they do interact and fight, it's messy. It's a clash.

There was an interview with Bill Sienkiewicz a long time ago, I forget what it was for, where he was talking about trying to visually set up the "da-na-na-na-na..." of "Jaws," and I'm going to [similarly] use light and dark so that whenever you start seeing them messing up and merging, that you know something might happen. That's the artistic side.

Read the complete interview at:


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