It used to be that the local komiks was a thriving industry which provided employment to the writers, illustrators, publishers, distributors, retailers and where even the enterprising sari-sari store owners rented out the komiks for added income. But suddenly, and without clear explanation, the local komiks became extinct.
Few know that writing komiks is like writing a movie or a radio script. “May bilang kasi ang frame,” explains Pablo Libiran, a former komiks editor. “Script nga rin ang tawag dun, komiks script, kasi may dialogue din. Halimbawa, short story, aayusin yun sa dami ng frames tapos hahati-hatiin ang kuwento. Yung dibuhista naman ang bahala kung paano niya ipakikita ang kuwento.” The illustrator is actually the life of the komiks but only few of them get the deserving recognition. “Mas sikat ang nobelista o ang kuwentista,” added Libiran, who also used to write novels and short stories for komiks.
Pablo Gomez, a known movie scriptwriter and president of the Screenwriters Guild of the Philippines, started out as a komiks writer and later on became publisher of PSG Publishing, Inc. His komiks novels were his passport to the movies. He was a long-time scriptwriter of Fernando Poe, Jr. Pablo had helped a lot of people in the komiks industry, from aspiring writers, new illustrators and even janitors and delivery van drivers.
One of the most popular writers that he had tutored was Carlo Caparas. “Sa akin lang natuto yan,” Pablo Gomez is always proud to declare. He added that Carlo was just a security guard before he became a komiks writer.
Carlo J. Caparas was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Merit for his novels, both in komiks and in the movies. As a way of paying back his gratitude, Carlo had initiated a move to resurrect the local komiks. With the full support of President Gloria Arroyo, Carlo and wife Donna Villa embarked on a komiks caravan to create awareness and at the same time held workshops for interested writers.
In the middle of September this year, the komiks industry was reborn. There are actually 5 komiks, now in the market and selling for 10 pesos per copy. The weekly frequency of publication was retained so as not to put much burden on the pockets of the buyers. As before, the clientelle of komiks are the masa particularly the house helps and market vendors. According to Donna Villa, the 10-peso tag price is anathema to profit such that she foresees a higher cover price in the near future.
Here’s the editorial box:
Publisher – Gerry Lim of Sterling Publishing
Editor – Andy Beltran
Editorial Staff – Maya Santana, Gloria Nebros
Editorial Consultant – Joe Lad Santos
Creative Director – Carlo J. Caparas
Business Partner – Donna Villa
Business Managers – Martin Cadlum, Michelle Lim Gankee
Marketing and Advertising – Richard Tanglao, Vivian Go
All the 5 komiks are supposedly thematic according to the cover title. The Super Funny Komix is intended for the children, the Gwapo Komiks will cater to the male population, Pinoys abroad can relate to the OFW Super Stories, while Estudyante Komiks is geared for the young ones and there’s Klasik Komiks for the general public.
Aside from the novels of Carlo J. Caparas, which serve as the banner stories, familiar names are also present in the bylines.
OFW Super Stories boasts of Elena Patron with her Sukob sa Puso. There’s also Yakapin Mo ang Lupa, Halikan Mo ang Langit by Rico Bello Omagap. Presumably a tear-jerker, Nasaan Si Tristan? is Nerissa Cabral’s contribution. RR Marcelino has his intriguing P100-Million Lotto Ticket, Nawawala! For the short story writer, the editor Andy Beltran has his True OFW Stories in serial form plus Felix Brucal and Leonardo Buluran. Of course, Gagambino of Carlo Caparas is the headliner novel.
Super Funny Komix dares to attract kids with Blanco Negro, the banner novel written by Carlo Caparas. There’s also Gilda Olvidado’s The Babe and the Beast, a story of an orphan boy. Veteran Rod Santiago has his Elastika and Tintona is written by Andy Beltran. Another Caparas novel gracing the pages is Andres De Saya. New writer Danny Ocampo has the serialized Iknok featuring a mischievous kid. Other short story writers are Chris Citadel Mariano, Sel Bautista and Harold Dormido.
The legendary Totoy Bato, another Carlo Caparas creation, is the main attraction of Gwapo Komiks. Also featured is Carlo’s Hiwaga ng Cadena de Amor. Vic Poblete’s novel is Ang Nabubuhay sa Patalim and Rod Santiago has the enigmatic Bangaw. Mirasol is Gilda Olvidado’s dramatic novel. Short story contributors are led by editor Joe Lad Santos with his serialized Theme Song, Ronel Concepcion, Rino Fernan Silverio, Maria Anna Labo, Ravenson Biason and the great Hal Santiago.
Klasik Komiks has Carlo’s Saan Pupunta Ang Pusong Sugatan? together with Nerissa Cabral’s Pagkislap ng mga Tala and Gilda Olvidado’s Kumurap ang Buwan. Also in Klasik is Kroko – Takas Sa Zoo, another action novel by Carlo Caparas. The shorts is led by Dear Tita Lena, an episodal story of Elena Patron, Cheryl Ann Narvasa and Katherine Leonero.
For the younger set, Estudyante Komiks has Elena Patron’s Walang Hanggan, Hal Santiago’s Parcenet – Isolde, Carlo’s Beauty Queen, Maximo – Kamaong Maso of Joe Lad Santos and Danny Ocampo’s D Adbentyurs Op Mister En Misis. For the shorts, there are the stories of Imelda Estrella, Josie Aventurado, Bobby Villagracia, Rudy Concepcion, Flora Simon Rivera, Art San Miguel and Estelita Adriano.
The new komiks has a long list of illustrators, veterans and newbies as well. First and foremost is Hal Santiago, reputedly the Philippines’ greatest illustrator. The OFW Super Stories illustrators are Karl Comendador, Nar Castro, Jun De Felipe, Louie Celerio, Freddy Fernandez, Rod Manuel, Baggie Florencio, Kits Tumanda. Estudyante illustrators are Joey Celerio, Louie Celerio, Hal Santiago, Don Santos, Al Cabral, Florence Maglalang, Danny Lorica, Ren Maglalang, Gary Reyes, Tony Ancheta, Freddy Fernandez. Klasik illustrators are Abe Ocampo, R.V. Villanueva, Hal Santiago, Vovoi Lim, Ferdee Bambico and Armida Francisco. Gwapo illustrators are Thor Infante, Karl Comendador, Medina, Arnel Avetria, Florence Maglalang, Nar Castro, Tony Ancheta and Tristram Stanley Arthurs Santiago. Super Funny illustrators are Dell Barras, Ding Abubot, Joe Mari Mongcal, Rod Manuel, Boy Lara, Joey Celerio, Ferdee Bambico and Nestor Tantiado
Most of the stories are classical in fashion (so very much like the old komiks style) where the readers are hooked by the first few episodes. Although not in color, the pages are screaming with quality drawings and vivid depiction of the frames. And with the usual compact magazine size, the komiks is easy to handle and easy to transport.
Although still in infancy, the new komiks has already created a stir in terms of promotions. But success is still far at hand because the distribution is getting to be a big problem since only a few select newsstands carry the komiks. “Maliit po kasi ang patong saka madaling malukot pa,” confesses a komiks stand operator. Birthing pains maybe but any publication draws blood from the circulation. And before we can say that komiks is here to stay, perhaps the management should think of hiring a good circulations manager. For now, let’s have our fingers crossed for the survival of the local komiks.
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