Pinoy Komikeros, Pop Culture and Iloilo Comic Con

Nov 29, 2012 by

I was in junior high when I had my shining moment in chemistry. It really marked a very important milestone because that was the only time I was able to get ahead of everyone else as far as that subject is concerned. You might be a scholar, but when everyone else is also a scholar like you were and shown exceptional aptitudes in subjects that might as well have been taught in Jovian to you, you’re not particularly high up in the pecking order. The teacher asked where formic acid was commonly found. Uncomfortable silence. I just blurted out ‘ants’. A good friend just gave me a thumbs-up and the teacher got the surprise of her life. But I still managed to fail the damned subject by the end of the semester. I really don’t care. Because that was something I truly relished. So you can balance the equation? Big deal. You still didn’t know where formic acid was found and I did. And it wasn’t even because I read the damned unreadable and dog-eared textbooks. I got that little nugget of wisdom from a comic book my father bought for me when I was in preschool. It was a SWAMP THING comics illustrated by the great Nestor Redondo. Apparently the main character fought a few gigantic ants and got bit by one; and the mossy-covered monstrosity that was once a scientist analyzed the venom injected to him and I knew about it even before I reached first grade.

Swamp Thing


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illustrated by Nestor Redondo

Thing is, I have been weaned on comic books. In a past article I wrote, I specifically touched on the major influence of local comic books and how they geared me towards reading at an early age. Even my father has his own nostalgic sentiment about them. He practically introduced that world to me as well as other facets of pop culture he grew up with and continued to admire. Growing up during the late 80s to the early 90s, comic books and other non-electronic modes of entertainment were still strong. I had classmates who can afford new issues of the latest hot title off Marvel, specifically The Uncanny X-Men. This was also the time when you mention ‘Jim Lee’ and everyone immediately gets what you’re talking about. Not having the same amount of resources to jump on the newest and expensive new titles, I gravitated to my father’s own collection. From publications like Warren to National Lampoon‘s Heavy Metal, I was already reading superhero-less stories designed for mature audiences. While everyone else was going on about X-Cutioner’s Song I was devouring stories and graphic adaptations of authors like Edgar Alan Poe and HP Lovecraft. It was a different path, but still on the same page as far as being fascinated with stories with illustrations that come with it. And publishers, specially Warren, who published Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella had an international pool of greatly talented artists from all over the world—including the Philippines.
Warren magazine's Creepy

Warren magazine’s Creepy

Artists like Alfredo Alcala, Brothers Delando and Alex Niño, and Rudy Nebres were just a few of the many true blue Pinoy talents who went head to head with their equally talented European and American counterparts. These were just a few of the Pinoy talents we have had that were enjoying superstar status overseas but were virtual unknowns back home. But more than the shining performance of our Pinoy artists abroad, it that the comic book medium helped me in no small way to develop my interest in reading and literature. The primary reason why I tried so hard to understand the English language was that I was curious of what’s being said in the likes of Spider-Man and Superman comics in the first place. But the good news is that the new breed of Pinoy “komikeros” have been getting their much-deserved recognitions in popular culture. I remembered the first few issues of PULP Magazine back when I was still in college ran an installment of a series made by a certain Gerry Alanguilan called ‘WASTED‘. It was a violent, angst-filled gorefest about a guy’s rampage across the city because of being jilted by a girlfriend. I found out later that Alanguilan had already published several works to DC and Marvel comics. On top of that, has his own original self-published works like the award winning ELMER. Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan On December 2, Iloilo will finally have the chance to engage Mr. Alanguilan and several other Filipino heavyweights in the comic book industry like veteran Danny Acuña, Manix Abrera (Philipine Daily Inquirer’s KIKO MACHINE), and several others with impressive credentials that includes works for international publications. Try not to let the opportunity to see these artists pass. Comic book fanatic or not, it’s in your best interest to learn something new about something which you think you already know too much of. Iloilo Comic Con

See you all at the First Iloilo Comic Con on Dec. 2, 2012 at Robinsons Place Iloilo

  About the author: Roman Surtida is a graduate of Broadcast Communication in UPV-Miag-ao. He lives in Novaliches. Visit his blog here.  

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