Embed Size (px)
This is a free sample of Comic Book Creator issue "Comic Book Artist (Vol. 2) #4" Download full version from: Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id739048849?mt=8&at=1l3v4mh Google Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.presspadapp.comicbookcreator Magazine Description: Comic Book Creator magazine is the new voice of the comics medium, devoted to the work and careers of the men and women who draw, write, edit, and publish comic books—focusing always on the artists and not the artifacts. Each issue spotlights top creators through feature interviews, heavily illustrated with rare and unseen art, as they discuss everything from their current work and legacy in comics, to creator's rights and business dealings throughout their careers. CBC is edited by Jon B. Cooke, former editor of the multi-Eisner Award winning Comic Book Artist magazine. You can build your own iPad and Android app at http://presspadapp.com
Captain Fear '2004 DC?Comics
PHEW!Jon B. CookeEDITOR/CREATOR/DESIGNER
Chris Staros & Brett WarnockTop Shelf Productions
Manuel AuadSPECIAL CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
Barbara Lien-CooperMANAGING EDITOR
George KhourySENIOR ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Christopher IrvingASSOCIATE EDITOR/CHIEF CORRESPONDENT
Chris KnowlesASSOCIATE EDITOR
Greg PrestonCBA PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER
MASTHEAD AND COVER DESIGN
Bissel & Tituswww.bisseltitus.com
David A. RoachFred HembeckMichelle NolanJoe McCabe
TITLE ORIGINATOR/CBA CLASSIC LOGO
Arlen SchumerCBA MASCOT
ISSUE THEME SONG
www.topshelfcomix.comEditor: [email protected]
Publisher: [email protected]
Comic Book Artist ™&© 2004 Jon B. Cooke 27
“For the Celebrationof Comics”
SERVING READERS SINCE 1998
This issue dedicated to friend and kindred spirit:
Eddie CampbellWith affection to a good chumand fellow traveler in comics
Finally! The FilipinosYou hold in your hands the most comprehensive examination todate by an American publication about the sublime accomplish-ments of an entire generation of Philippine artists, a talentedgroup who worked stateside in the 1970s to make a significantimpact in the U.S. comic book industry. This baby’s been in theoven for quite awhile, and it’s a confection we’ve wanted to serve for a helluva long time as we believe the Filipino “School”to have been grossly neglected by the fan press… but here’s hoping this ish of CBA — while a good start — is but an open-ing volley as a substantive history of this subject is absolutelyessential. Certainly many of the artists herein are well-deservingof entire issues — nay! entire books! — composed about eachof them… the late masters, Nestor Redondo and Alfredo Alcala,rate their own respective libraries, for heaven’s sake! (The latterartist, it is important to note, was the subject of HeidiMacDonald & Phil Yeh’s 1994 book, Secret Teachings of A ComicBook Master: The Art of Alfredo Alcala (published by theInternational Humor Advisory Council), a handsome (albeit slim)72-page trade paperback that’s been long out of print.) We hopeyou enjoy this issue as much as we loved bringing it together.
Manuel: The Man!Our greatest thanks go to friend and comrade MANUEL AUAD,San Francisco publisher of some of the best books about comicsever (and an Eisner Award-winner, to boot!), as well as thisissue’s special contributing editor. Ye Ed’s association with theguy goes back to the early days of CBA, and Manuel’s devotion tothe field and affection for many of the industry’s greatest artistshas long been inspirational. But our pal’s work for this issue isnothing short of phenomenal: Not only did Manuel compile astunning selection of previously-unseen Filipino artwork andserve as go-between and facilitator for a number of his artistfriends, but he also composed biographical essays on quite a fewcreators, all of which you will find scattered about this ish. Ye Edwas so astounded by Manuel’s dedication — never mind thesuperb volumes produced by Auad Publishing! — that he askedMr. Auad to consent to an interview about his lonesome, whichyou’ll find in our “Comic Book Chit-Chat” section. Thanks, M.A.!
DAR’s DedicationCBA must also give public acknowledgement to one of the most valuable assets in the field of comic-book research, Cardiff, Walesartist DAVID A. ROACH, a friend of Ye Ed, killer artist in his own right(now drawing the exploits of Judge Dredd in 2000 AD!), and unparal-leled funnybook scholar. DAR’s essay on Filipino artists in Americancomics, A to Z, was composed in record time. (Look for Ye Ed’s latestcollaboration with David, a history of DC Comics from 1967-78, in ayear or two… we first edited The Warren Companion together.)
And Lent the GentJOHN A. LENT, of course, is another mensch who contributed mightily to this special ish, giving us an enlightening overview of the strange and wonderful history of Filipino komiks. John is the editor-in-chief of the scholarly digest, The International Journal of Comic Art, an invaluable research for us comic-heads!
FEATURESTony DeZuñiga Hex and Other Blessings 40Shaun Clancy chats with the first artist of the “Filipino Wave”
Alex Niño The Fearless Artist 49The brilliant visionary creator on early days in the old country,
hitting it big in the States, and a career beyond comic books
Comic Book Artist Klasik 55Filipino Komiks color cover collection 54
The Philippine Question: Ye Ed on the ’70s Artist Invasion 57Context: A Brief History and Overview of the Philippines 58
A-Z A Guide to the Filipino Comic Book Artists 60David A. Roach gives a Who’s Who of Philippine Artists in U.S. Comics
Filipino Komiks A History by John A. Lent 74The noted comics scholar provides a look at the home-grown comics
Ye Ed’s Rant Back from the Abyss 4Knowles Knows Comic Books as Counter-Culture 6Khoury’s Corner On George’s latest book, True Brit 8McGregor’s Riding Shotgun Pop Culture 10
Irving on the Inside Tony Millionaire’s Sock Monkey 14Comic Book Chit-Chat
Will Power: The Brothers Cooke documentary on Eisner 15By GUM! There’s a new magazine to chew on 17Grocery Bagge: Peter’s “Batboy” in Weekly World News 18Paul Gravett interview on Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics 19Backstory: Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe 21Alexa the Great: A rising star emerges from the Kitchen clan 27A Touch of Class: A chat with publisher Manuel Auad 31Fred Hembeck Dateline: @*!?# 39To Be Continued… What’s coming & Chris Irving bio 112
COMIC BOOK ARTIST™ is published as often as possible by Top Shelf Productions, P.O. Box 1282, Marietta, GA 30061-1282USA. Jon B. Cooke, Editor. Chris Staros & Brett Warnock, Publishers. Editorial Office: P.O. Box 204, 3706 Kingstown Road, WestKingston, RI 02892-0204 USA • 401-783-1669 • Fax: (401) 783-1287. E-mail: [email protected]. Subscriptions are currentlyunavailable. All characters © their respective copyright holders. All material © their creators unless otherwise noted.All editorial matter © their respective authors. ©2004 Jon B. Cooke. Cover acknowledgement: Captain Fear ©2004 DC Comics.Art ©2004 Alex Niño. First Printing. PRINTED IN CANADA.
BY DON MCGREGORSometimes, things really do seem to come full-circle.
It’s not just a storytelling device that cangive a sense of dramatic fulfillment, a bringingtogether of disparate people, places and events,in the midst of chaos, to make a satisfying whole;it also occurs in real life, and can have just assatisfying an impact as fiction.
In this specific full-circle circumstance, I am referring to Joss Whedon and J. MichaelStraczynski, and the influence of — and passionfor — comics to their collective TV series, andback to the medium both acknowledge they love.
Both Whedon and Straczynski have broughtthe continuity of mythology and the journeys ofcharacters’ lives over a vast periods of time, oncethe prime domain of the comics medium, sincethe 1960s, to their respective television series.
Straczynski’s Babylon 5 and Whedon’s trioof shows — Buffy, the Vampire Slayer; Angel andFirefly — are all wonderful, more or less weekly,TV series which seized upon the idea of epicmythologies filled with iconic characters, all toldin a episodic and periodic format.
Comics were formally the primary domainfor that kind of storytelling, though their releaseschedule was seldom weekly, but normallymonthly or bi-monthly (occasionally as staticallyreleased comic series). A serial dose of words-&- pictures on the printed page, with eachunfolding issue capable of shaking up thestatus quo. That long wait betweenissues. Who knew what could happento those characters next?
And, curiously, as the comicsmedium continues to struggle withwhether they should keep continuityor abandon or revise it, some TV, and evenmovies, have come to embrace the concept.
Even more curiously, as many comics creators look to Hollywood to option their comiccreations as TV series or movie franchises (inother words, to give ’em their big break in La-LaLand, and maybe financial salvation), Whedonand Straczynski have traveled in the oppositedirection, coming back to a medium they haveboth said many times influenced and inspiredeach as a storyteller.
Comics to film to comics.So much talent in comics has always been
passionate about film, and just as many film-makers have reveled in comic books.
I have always loved books and comics and
films. I was working on film projects and novelsbefore I ever wrote comics.
From my first regular comics series forMarvel, in the early 1970s, to my first graphic novels, Sabre (written in 1976-77) and Detectives,Inc. (’69, in a rare, seldom-seen edition, and ’81,from Eclipse), I wanted to give my readers stories that meant something to me, with charac-ters the audience hopefully would come to carepassionately about, something both Whedon andStraczynski do consistently in their medium ofdramatic television.
These days, those first editions of Sabre andDetectives, Inc. would, in television terminology,be considered pilot episodes for proposed shows.Oh, I never thought of the books in those terms,although I certainly saw each in my head as theirown continuing series. I had conceived of at leastten plot-lines for Detectives, Inc. before finishingthe first one in 1969. Conceptually, I had seen thatseries as not just rooted in the mystery genre, butalso capable of encompassing any genre Idesired. For instance, I had at least one that was a straight-out fantasy horror motif.
Another example: Roundtable Gladiatorstook place during an all-night game of cards, with visuals swirling about various players, as the night goes on and stakes raise higher, to culminate with early morn revelations. I also hada story that was completely mainstream, with nomurders, no crimes to solve, per se, and Denningand Rainier — the stars of the series! — makeonly a walk-on appearance (somewhat like, say,what Will Eisner did many times with The Spirit,though my approach wasn’t inspired by that strip,as I hadn’t read enough of that comic at that timefor Eisner to be an influence).
I hadn’t even completed the first Detectives,Inc., and I was already envisioning where Ithought series could go, hopefully keeping myselfopen to new possibilities, if I actually got thechance to do new stories with Denning andRainier. I imagined the major events that hadshaped and changed their lives before the readerwould first meet them. I also conceived of thosesmaller, unexpected, defining incidents whichwould reveal who they were, ideas that wouldcome at the very moment I was scripting a certain scene. For all the forethought involvedin writing, sometimes, in the midst of puttingpen to paper, revelations of character cometo mind so quickly and ferociously that they
become real and undeniably true.I never thought in the defining terminology
of today, that popular culture parlance anyonewho even half-heartedly follows what’s going on in movies and TV knows to some degree. Forexample, I never thought of “story arcs” (a term, Ibelieve, that gained popularity when Stephen J.Cannell’s weekly TV series, Wiseguy, initiated thelong-form narrative in that medium). When Ibegan the first series I wrote for Marvel Comics,“The Black Panther,” I thought of character andtheme, and where I believed a scene would mosteffectively work. I knew, for instance, that
Don McGregor’s Riding ShotgunFull-CirclePop CultureFrom comic book mythology to television series mythology… and back again
ABOVE: Sarah Michelle Gellar starred as Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the celebrated TV show created by Josh Whedon. ©2004 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.
Panther’s Rage would be a continuing serial. I believe I hadoriginally thought of it as tenissues in length (which seemsodd to me in retrospect).
People are always askingme about influences on mywork, and certainly, without adoubt, the Republic film serialsof the 1930s and ’40s were inmy mind when I wrote the firstissue. Jungle Action #6 —“Panther’s Rage 1” — ends asa literal cliffhanger with thePanther being thrown off a cliffinto a roaring waterfall.
The reason the ten-chapter concept seems odd tome now is that Republic serialswere most often 12 or 13 chapters in length and, whilePanther’s Rage ended up as 13 separate books,that wasn’t my initial design. In originally planningthe books, I knew thematically what each chapterwould be about. I knew the reasons I wanted towrite each one, even if I didn’t know how to writeit. That is, I knew my intent, even though I didn’tknow exactly what would happen to every character along the way.
Now, as anyone who has read those comics knows, Panther’s Rage only had that onecliffhanger. Editorial decided they did not wantcliffhangers at the time. I’m not sure why, and I’mnot sure when I was ever told, but I followed theedict, and it’s one of the few rules they imposedthat I think helped make the series better.
Each issue held together entirely on its own.Thus, theme, character and plot tied in morecohesively, which hopefully added to reader satisfaction, as they had to wait for 60 days tolearn what would happen next. Then I didn’t havea label for it, but it is the same storyteller instinctthat is so profoundly powerful in Buffy, Angel and Babylon 5.
One of the other reasons I decided to makethe series one inter-connected storyline in “TheBlack Panther” was that, with all the fantasticevents transpiring, I felt that if there wasn’t some-thing cohesive in nature about it, it would seemas if the Panther’s kingdom suddenly had all thesedivergent threats, month after month, as soon ashe returned as a ruler.This just seemed wrong.
Plus, in keeping with the thought of continuity, Wakanda was supposed to be a hidden African nation. That meant, folks, as I’msure you and I would agree, that about no oneoutside its borders knew where the Hell it was!
Now, I had read every Panther story writtenby the time I wrote the first issue. In those days,you could do that, fairly easily, as there wasn’tdecades of books to locate, in many differenttitles. (And in those days it was possible to affordowning every single issue in which a characterhad appeared!)
Don’t ask for specifics, because I can’t
recall them at this late date, but it was my impression that Marvel was already underminingone of the strongest elements of Wakanda: that it was an almost mystical place, imbued with itsown reality, rules and ethics, separated from therest of the world.
And yet, at that early stage, many storiescentered around some white-skinned weaselstumbling onto Wakanda, then finding his wayback out to the West, and becoming super-villainenough to return to steal its most precious commodity, that mythical metal called Vibranium.This just couldn’t continue.
So I wasn’t thinking “story arcs” when Idecided that the Panther stories had to be comicnovels. And, in keeping with my approach toDetectives, Inc., before I’d written the first book,I’d already begun to play around with the ideathat the next “Panther” novel would take place inSouth Africa. In my reading of the previouscomics featuring the Panther, I realizedthere’d been scenes about his father, but really nothing about his mother. If Icould get the story idea past Marvel,it meant I could have the Panther in acompletely different emotional situation and locale, and I could write about Apartheid.
As a human being and as awriter, examining South Africa’s system of racial segregation seemedvitally important to me.
The idea of having some place togo, even if I don’t know where it willend, stems from fear. Yes, fear.The same fear I feel approach-ing writing this column. Forany series that I havecommitted a large portion
of my life to, it’s the fear that Iwon’t have a strong story once thecurrent one ends, even if that’sgoing to be two to three yearsdown the line. I need to know Ihave someplace to go that willintrigue me a storyteller, where Iwill learn something, that the leadcharacters will be taken to placeswe haven’t seen them go before,and the reader hopefully will be the prime beneficiary.
The term “back-story” isused by writers in interviews allthe time now.
I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout noback-stories. Well, not until I readabout them in those discussions.
I guess I just never thoughtmuch in terms of labels. I didn’t
much like them, though I’ve certain-ly had a whole passel of ’em thrown at me overthe years while writing the books.
Y’see, I was always thinking about the characters lives, what lay before them, and —just as important — what events had shapedthem, to become the people they were, the individual men and women, whose lives, ones Icame to care for passionately, we’d learn aboutas the stories progressed.
So, in retrospect, I was thinking about back-story all along, although it was, for me, alwaysjust about people, about how their experiencescan sear into us, stay with us, those small thingsthat return to haunt you, even after you thoughtyou’d never think about that again.
Or that the joys of their fictional but so realexistence, can brighten,
11TOP: Cast of J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5. ©2004 PTN Consortium and Warner Bros. ABOVE: Detail of Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia’s Jungle Action #10 (July ’74)
cover art, featuring T’Challa — The Black Panther — written by our columnist, Donald Francis McGregor. ©2004 Marvel Characters, Inc.
BY JON B. COOKE(File this article under “really shameless hype andbald-faced self-promotion,” but when one has hisown mag, what the hell, right?)
Eduardo Risso, the award-winning artist onVertigo’s celebrated 100 Bullets, said it best(albeit in Spanish): “Will Eisner is God.” Well, theArgentine artist didn’t mean to imply the 87-year-old master cartoonist is some omnipotent deity;Eduardo (a killer delineator in his own right)meant that, in the world of comics art, there arefew more highly regarded in his — or any — partof the world than the creator of The Spirit.
Eduardo was on one of his infrequent visitsto the States (this time joined by his lovely wife,Ann) when he consented to an interview aboutEisner’s influence, while attending the Comic-ConInternational: San Diego 2004, this past July.Though the 100 Bullets co-creator was besiegedby fans and kept up a heavy schedule at the show(before traveling to Las Vegas for a “real” vaca-
tion), he made time to talk to an equally busy and hustling film crew to pay his respects to The Master….
It comes as no surprise to most adroitcomics fans that Will Eisner has fervent and passionate admirers throughout the comics fieldand around the world. And, while most pros (ifthey’re lucky) have one or two achievements onwhich to rest their laurels, Will’s unprecedentedcareer is astonishing to highlight:
Not only was the man virtually present at thebirth of the form, beginning as artist in the mid-1930s, and then quickly co-founding a studio withJerry Iger (where the “assembly-line” mode ofcomics production was first established… pencil-er, inker, letterer, etc.), he then, just as quickly,helped establish the first comic-book insert inSunday newspapers, where his widely regarded— and still in-print — creation, The Spirit, debuted.Then to the U.S. Army, where he developed aninnovative approach using comics as instructional
tools. Then back to The Spirit to turn the art formon its ear (with the significant help of writer JulesFeiffer and inker Jerry Grandenetti) by introducingdaring cinematic storytelling approaches which, to this day, have been rarely matched (all on aweekly basis, people!).
While many thought Eisner had disappearedfrom the form in the later ’50s and throughout the’60s, the creator was guiding his company,American Visuals, to take the business world bystorm, convincing such monolithic corporationsas General Motors to use comics as an educa-tional, as well as instructional, device. Butrevivals of The Spirit, given the impact the striphad on so many comics readers, was inevitable,and, by 1972, Eisner arrived at his first comic book convention to begin receiving much deservedacclaim. But, no, Will was hardly there to bask informer glory; the man — one of the brightest andsharpest businessmen to grace the industry —immediately engaged other pros to catch up on
Comic Book Artist’s shameless hype, capsule reviews, news briefs, mini-interviews & other ephemera of note • September 2004
Will PowerDocumenting the life and art of the great creator Will Eisner has its rewards!
ABOVE:Will Eisner at the drawing board in the 1960s, drawing his most celebrated creation, The Spirit. Courtesy of Denis Kitchen. ©2004 Will Eisner.
BY FRED HEMBECKIt was supposed to be called Jim ShooterDestroys the Marvel Universe… Instead, for justabout two decades now, I’ve had to live with thenotion of Fred Hembeck Destroys the MarvelUniverse (hereafter known, mercifully, simply as FH/MU). Not the actual printed book, though:While announced in 1983, FH/MU didn’t hit thenation’s newsstands until a full six years later, in 1989. And, therein, lies a tale… a long, convoluted one.
By the early ’80s, I’d gained some smallamount of notoriety in the comics field as not onlya creator, but as a character as well. This oddturn events opened some unusual doors for me,and when the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics,the aforementioned Jim Shooter, decided to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their flagshiptitle with the publication of a one-shot namedFantastic Four Roast, he chose me as roast-master! Released in 1982, this fun-filled endeavor
consisted of a multitude ofMarvel mainstays saluting thegroup that started the wholeball rolling. My job was toemcee the proceedings,write a story stuffed with
as many gags
as possible, and layout the art, dividing things upinto neat one-page segments, which would thenbe turned over to that particular character’s regular artist for the finished illustrations.
Thus, John Byrne handled the FF pages;Marshall Rogers, the Doctor Strange episode; SalBuscema, the Hulk appearance; Mike Zeck, theCaptain America portion; and so on. (As a trivialaside: By providing breakdowns for the Daredevilsequence, I can claim a smidgen of fame as mostlikely the only artist to have ever done layouts forsuperstar cartoonist and innovator Frank Miller!
Hey, I’m just happy to help…) Despite the logistics of working with a score of differentartists, the project was a joy from start to finish,and I was more than happy with the way thingsturned out. So, apparently, was Marvel. Enoughcopies were sold to warrant them asking me tocome up with a follow-up. But it wouldn’t be anything so simple as, say, a Spider-Man Roast.Uh-uh. That would be too easy….
Mulling over possible concepts on thephone one afternoon, Shooter and I independent-ly, but simultaneously, came up with the sameidea. Actually, he was the first to say it out loud; it had crossed my mind, but I was afraid it mightbe a bit too tacky to bring up. Y’see, way backwhen, news leaks would dribble out slowly, therebeing no Internet to dispense the latest scoops or rumors in the instantaneous manner to whichwe’ve all become accustomed these days.
Everyone in the field looked to cat yronwode’s “Fit to Print” column in The ComicsBuyer’s Guide To Comics Fandom weekly paperfor the up-to-the-minute headlines, and when shecame out with a startling set of accusations fromDoug Moench, a long-tenured but then departingMarvel writer, she soon had most of comics fandom up in arms. The unhappy Mr. Moenchalluded to some radical plans about to be set inmotion by head-ed Shooter : The destructionAsgard, home of the Norse Gods; a humanreplacement inside the Iron Man armor; a
revamped Fantastic Four line-up; a new look forSpider-Man… in short, the kinda stuff that would
Hembeck’s Taleof Destruction
Fred tells us the true story behind Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe
TOP: Slightly altered detail of Fred Hembeck’s cover art for his Marvel one-shot, Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe (July ’89), on which we included a repro of the actual published cover. Courtesy of Fred Hembeck. ©2004 Marvel Characters, Inc. CBA
This article was adapted from Fred Hembeck’sessay appearing on his Web site <www.hem-beck.com> and is featured (slightly edited byYe Ed and able CBA assistant, Aaron Kashtan)courtesy of the cartoonist. ©2004 F. Hembeck.
get a dyed-in-the-wool comics geek’s knickers in a twist! And, being one at the time, I could certainly sympathize with the angst everyonefrom cat on down felt. We’d all grown up — or atleast, grown older — with these characters, andwe certainly didn’t cotton to the idea of someonecoming in, trashing Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, andSteve Ditko’s creations, and remaking the MarvelUniverse in their own image.
Sensing the mounting outrage, Shooter wasquick to issue a series of denials, pretty much laying the blame for the uproar on the misinter-pretations of some previous discussions by a nowdisgruntled ex-employee, Mr.Moench. The so-called “BigBang”? Wasn’t gonna happen,Big Jim assured me, and herethe head honcho was, offeringme more work. I wasn’t going tobroach the subject, but whenJim himself suggested I spoofthe brouhaha over his supposedscheme to “destroy” the MarvelUniverse, well, it sounded toogood to pass up. If only….
(Oh, and for those of youtotally unfamiliar with the situation: Guess what?Everything that was reported tohappen eventually did happen,maybe just not as soon as itwould have originally had wordnot leaked out. Thus, a trend ofradically rewriting comics history was established, andmost older fans have become soinured to the revamping theirchildhood icons have had toendure over the past twodecades that most can’t musterup enough energy to care,myself definitely included. But, in 1983, the idea was so outrageous that it merited an all-out spoof….)
Time to talk specifics withmy employers. The FF Roast was32 pages with no ads, but asidefrom scribbling in good ol’ Fredon the various pages, I only gotto pencil the covers. Howzaboutwe make this new one-shot a 48-pager — no ads,of course — and I get to pencil as well as write?Let’s try and get Terry Austin to ink it. After all, heis the best there is, and didn’t he do a splendid jobembellishing the wraparound cover of the Roast?Jim agreed. Wonderful. And howzabout we call itwhat it is: Jim Shooter Destroys the MarvelUniverse? On this point, Jim was a bit tentative,but he went along with me, at least for the timebeing. By our next conversation though, heexplained why he had to decline title characterstatus: his bosses said so. Seems they felt that, as a Marvel executive, it would somehow be badform for Shooter to plaster his name across the
top of a Marvel comic. (“Mr. Stan Lee Presents”notwithstanding!) Jim could still be an integralpart of the storyline — the star, even — but wehad to find another moniker to attach to the title.Hmmm… what to do?
“You’re a comics character, Fred!Howzabout we call the book Fred HembeckDestroys the Marvel Universe?” So sayeth Jim,and who am I to argue with the top cow at MarvelComics? And, besides, if you haven’t picked up onit by now, I can be a bit of a ham. So, after a fewmild protestations (false modesty is a hard habitto break, y’understand), I acceded to popular
(???) demand and took the mantle of mayhemupon my head. Who knew the headaches that layahead…?
Despite the billing, it was always my intention merely to play a supporting role in thenewly christened FH/MU. As I plotted the book,about half of the 48 pages would be taken up by aframing story that would concern itself with thecircumstances under which ed-in-chief JimShooter would hire me — freelance cartoonistand international man of intrigue, Fred Hembeck— to destroy the Marvel Universe for him. Thisportion of the tale was a hoot to come up with,
and flowed out quick and easy. I opted againstany sort of true representation of the MarvelBullpen, instead inventing three fictitious foils forShooter: the suspiciously-named trio of Bruce,Clark and Diana. The meat of the book, the entireselling point of the whole project — the deaths of the Marvel multitudes — was another thingaltogether. The object was to kill as many characters as I could, each in as funny a way aspossible. While it seemed like a good idea whileyakkin’ on the phone with Jim, when I actually sat down to perform the task as clearly spelledout in the previous sentence, I realized just how
contradictory the concept was!Laughs! Death! More
laughs! And more death! Hey, Ihave as much an appreciationfor so-called black humor asanyone, but that doesn’t mean Ican produce it. Still, I took thisjob on, and I was gonna see itthrough. So, I wrote up a plot —the office antics, highly-detailed;the dying-laffing section, farmore sketchy — and sent it infor my star’s approval… which Ireceived. Remember that. It’ll beimportant later….
I was settling down to thetask when disaster struck. Mymother took suddenly ill, was hospitalized, and, just as she was about to have surgery, shedied of congestive heart failureat the age of 69. From start to finish, this whole sad, sorrysequence of events took a meretwo weeks. Losing a parent isalways a tragic event in a person’s life — and (save for mygrandma’s passing when I was14) this was my first real brushwith the Grim Reaper — butoccurring during a period whenone is attempting to have funwith the concept of death…well, let’s just say the timingcould not have been worse.
The folks at Marvel were very understanding andsympathetic when I explained
my circumstances, and allowed me to back-burner the project while doing some other work in its stead, specifically penciling an issue ofSpectacular Spider-Man during the infamous“Assistant Editors Month” stunt. Life must go on,however, and eventually I got back into the swingof things, first easing into the framing sequences,but ultimately doing the best I could muster withthe demise-oriented section. And it seemed to begoing okay, too, until I sent in the first 12 pages. A trip to the post office was followed by theshocking news that a good friend had died….
Raoul Vezina was an extremely talentedcartoonist who never really got his due, and now
ABOVE: Splash page of the initial (and unused) version of Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe (July ’89). To compare the original and published versions, go to<www.hembeck.com> and have a ball! Pencils by Fred Hembeck, inks by Vinnie Colletta. Courtesy of F.H. ©2004 Marvel Characters, Inc.
BY JON B. COOKE/TRANSCRIBED BY STEVEN TICEAs mentioned on page two of this issue, Ye Edand our next subject go back a ways, andManuel’s participation was essential in the planning and execution of this special Filipinoissue of CBA. But, most importantly, the gentle-man is a discriminating publisher of fine books onsome of the greatest comic book artists of this orany other age, including the Eisner Award-winning Alex Toth (technically published byKitchen Sink in 1994, but Manuel served as editorand compiler). The following phone interviewtook place on February 26, 2004.Comic Book Artist: Where areyou from, Manuel?Manuel Auad: Well, I was born in1935, in Beirut, Lebanon. When I wasonly two years old, we left that country. My mother is Spanish, andon my mother’s side, my grandparentswere from Spain, and somehow,many years ago, they migrated to thePhilippines, and thus my mother wasborn here.CBA: How did she meet your father?Manuel: He had a haberdashery inthe Philippines, and that’s where shemet him. They got married over there.A few years later, they moved toBeirut, my father’s home. I guess themarriage didn’t work out and mymother moved back to the Philippines.My mother didn’t speak about it veryoften, so I didn’t really know toomuch. I hardly know anything aboutmy father.
We went to an island calledCebu, and that’s where I spent thewar years. We were there during theJapanese occupation, of course.CBA: Well, what was the occupation like?Manuel: It was no picnic. I was sixyears old when the war broke out andabout nine by the time it was over.What I remember is that there was never enough to eat. We had a vegetable garden in the backyard.
Towards the end of the war, the Americanswere taking one island after another from theJapanese (there are hundreds, thousands ofislands in the Philippines). There was no electricity, no running water, during all thoseyears through the war. It’s almost like time stoodstill. Nothing. You lived with just candles, makingyour own entertainment. You’d make shadow figures on the walls to entertain yourself. Or you’d
play a lot of checkers. Once in a while, we’d belooking at a magazine, and the worst part wasyou’d see an ad for a Betty Crocker mix, a beauti-ful picture of cake with the icing on it and all that,and we’d be drooling over it. [laughter]
At one point, the Japanese told us that theAmericans would be arriving any day now to takeover our island, so the Japanese decided to notleave anybody alive. First, they burned the citydown — all the houses and buildings — and, ofcourse, at that time, there were no fire engines oranything like that. You weren’t allowed to even try
and put the fire out, because, if you did, theywould shoot you. The plan was to scorch thewhole city and, the next day, kill the remainingpeople still standing. I remember the followingday the city was smoldering. There weren’t thatmany families left in the city. It wasn’t a very bigisland. But soon we started to hear shots. Yousee, they started killing at the waterfront, movingfrom one side of the city, just sweeping along theway, shooting people. We could hear the shotsgetting closer and closer. You could hear a lot ofscreaming and crying. There were no atheists
then.We were all shaking. There was no place tohide. Our house was just a pile of smoldering cinders. But then, in the nick of time somehow,the American G.I.s arrived, and suddenly all theJapanese jumped into their trucks and startedtaking off for the hills.,That’s the first time we saw a jeep. [laughter] Of course, we had neverseen Americans before. So they just came marching down the street, offering us candy —Hershey bars — and that’s something I’ll always remember.CBA: Were such atrocities common for the
Japanese? Did they do that on a lot of islands?Manuel: Basically, yes.CBA: What were they trying to coverup? Or was it just malice?Manuel: It was just malice.CBA: It wasn’t necessarily like theNazis, who were trying to cover up theHolocaust?Manuel: Oh, no. It was just for spiteand malice. Believe you me, we had just as many, just as bad, just as horribleatrocities committed in the Pacific asthere were in the European theatre,which nobody seems to talk about too much.CBA: Now, when you first came to thePhilippines, did you have an agrarianupbringing? Was it middle class?Manuel: It was middle class. Spanishwas still a language very much spoken,at that time. The Philippines had been acolony of Spain for 300 years, so most ofthe Filipinos still spoke Spanish, at thattime. Of course, I am talking about before the war.CBA: Now, was there a concertedeffort to eradicate Spanish as a lan-guage from the Philippines? You said,“This was before the war…” What happened after the war?Manuel: After the war, English, moreor less, took over as the secondarylanguage. Naturally, all the movies were
in English. All the magazines and newspapers arein English. You learn English in school. You spokeFilipino — Tagalog — among your friends. I spokeSpanish with my family and, in school, I spokeEnglish. So the idea of eradicating the Spanishnames, like the street names, especially, cameduring the [Filipino “President-For-Life”Ferdinand] Marcos era [1965-86]. He wanted toget really nationalistic, I suppose, so Marcoschanged the names of many things. On the streetwhere we used to live, that name no longerexists; it was changed to a Filipino name.
ABOVE:Mid-1970s shot of Manuel Auad, courtesy of the man himself.\
A Touch of ClassManuel Auad on his Eisner Award-winning publishing imprint & love of comics
CBA: When you were going to school, werethey teaching Spanish in school at the time?Manuel: Yes.CBA: That practice stopped by the ’50s or ’60s?Manuel: I think that stopped by 1950.CBA: So you read English?Manuel: Yes. I went to grade school in Cebu, alittle island, during the war. One of the subjectswe were taught was Japanese. Every morningbefore class, they would play the Japanesenational anthem, raising the Imperial flag in theschoolyard. We were taught how to count inJapanese and that sort of thing.CBA: The occupiers, were they loathed? Didyou guys hate them?Manuel: We were in fear of them, because younever knew… They had a sentry every three orfour blocks. If you’re going past them, you had tostand in front of them and bow. If he’s not happywith the way you bowed, he’d give you the butt ofhis rifle right on the head.CBA: Ooh! Which could kill you, right?Manuel: Oh, yes! You would have to say“Kumbawa” or “Tomadachi,” which means
“friend.” “Kumbawa” is like “good morning,”“good evening.” You’d bow your head as low as you can until they gave the sign for you to go along.CBA: Did you see much violence and death as a kid?Manuel: One time, we were walking down thestreet and there was a sudden commotion in themarketplace. I was maybe seven years old.Suddenly, we see this poor man, a Filipino, running for his life, all bloody. Of course,Japanese soldiers came running behind him. I don’t know if he got away or what happened, but the sight of this man running all bloody wasenough to scare the hell out of a boy my age. You have to remember, these were my formativeyears. But, after the war, in 1945, that’s when wemoved to Manila, because my grandparents hada house there.CBA: Now, were there any long-term effects,being so young under a culture of such brutality?I don’t think it’s imaginable for an averageAmerican to comprehend the fear. Would youdream about those days, for instance?
Manuel: No, not me. I didn’t have that. Rightafter the war, when I was nine years old, I had atoy plane and was making the sound of a planeengine — like any kid would — and my grand-father would say, “Don’t do that!” Somehow justthe sound would remind them of the bad times.The thing that sticks in my mind was the fire.There were always fires. Houses were alwaysbeing burned, including ours. And there was nothing we could do about it.CBA: So the Japanese used fire as a weapon?Manuel: Yes.CBA: Man. So the liberation was when?Manuel: Let’s see: On February 3, 1945, mybirthday, we received the news that the Americaninvasion had begun. That’s when we knew theywere coming. So I guess a couple of months laterwe were liberated. That’s a feeling that nobody’sever going to be able to relate! There’s just noway to adequately describe the liberation.CBA: Now, what was the situation with comicsin the ’30s, prior to the war?Manuel: It was the Sunday funnies, mostly.CBA: They reprinted American strips?Manuel: Yes. You had the old standbys: PrinceValiant, Tarzan, those kinds of things. BarneyGoogle. The comic strips of the ’30s.CBA: Did you see them?Manuel: I can’t say that I did, because I wasonly six years old when the war broke out. Theneverything American stopped, there was nothing.CBA: Right, but you grew older.Manuel: Yes, and, of course, right after the war, we moved to Manila right away, wherecomic books were being imported again.CBA: So these were American editions you saw?Manuel: Yes.CBA: What was the first comic you rememberseeing?Manuel: I think it was called Sparkler Comics. Ialso remember Black Hood, Airboy Comics,Jungle Comics….CBA: Do you remember the super-heroes?
Comic Book Chit-Chat
TOP: Introductory page of Magic Carpet #1 (Comics & Comix Co., 1977), drawn by the great Alfredo Alcala, and featuring the artist, and issue writers Manuel Auad and Bill Blackbeard. ABOVE RIGHT: The cover of that magazine. ©2004 the Estate of Alfredo Alcala.
Shaun Clancy: Where you were born, Tony, and in what year?Tony DeZuñiga: I was born and raised in the Philippine Islands. I’m actually 64 now, I’ll be 65 this year.Shaun: You’ll be retiring this year?
Tony: Yes, I already did. I was born the month before the attack on Pearl Harbor, so that would be 1941.
Shaun: Do you have any brothers or sisters?Tony: Yeah, I have two sisters and a brother. They’re all here, living in the United States.Shaun: When did you come to America?Tony: Well, I came here in 1962. I went to New YorkCity because I started an advanced course in graphicdesign. After that, I went back to the islands, becauseI was doing a lot of work for advertising. Later, whenI came back here, I was hired as what they called— I don’t know if there’s any position like it today— as the creative art director for an ad agency.Shaun: Did you collect comics when you were a kid?Tony: Oh, of course. I was so crazy aboutcomic books. Captain America was myfavorite when I was a little boy.Shaun: Do you still have your comics?Tony: You know, I’m sorry to say, when I moved from the islands to this country, I had my mom put them away, and nowthey’re lost, man.Shaun: Is that what got you into wanting to be an artist?Tony: Yes, it is was, really. I just gotinspired by comics to do a lot of draw-ings…drawings, drawings, drawings!Shaun: Who were your influences?Tony: Are we talking about Americancomic artists? One would be, of course,Jack Kirby. Another one of my favoriteswas Alex Raymond. He did a syndicatedstrip called Rip Kirby. Oh, Raymond also
did Flash Gordon, of course. I had a number of favorite artists, really.
Shaun: Ever met any of your favorites?Tony: Some of them I did, like Alex Toth.We went to his house one day, because wehad a mutual friend. The friend asked me,
“Do you want to meet the greatest? Let’s gomeet Toth!” I said, “Sure, I want to meet the guy!
He’s one of my favorite artists!” Alex is a very nice guy.Shaun: Toth has amazing hand-lettering.
Tony: Most letterers put a light pencil-line before starting to letter, but Alex just gets the pen, writes it directly onto the paper, and that’s it!Shaun: How’d you get involved in comics?Tony: Well, I was very young then. I was maybe 16. They had a lot of localcomic book publishers on the islands, because they come out weekly. That’show good the business was. But I was really very, very fresh, very amateur-ish in those years. There was an outfit thatpublished a magazine that came out weeklyin, oh my God, something like six differentlanguages, and each one had to be translated, so all the word balloons had tobe changed! So they asked me if I wantedto do lettering. I said, “Oh yeah, sure!” So I started doing that, and that’s how my career in comics began. I met a lot of artists who had already started in the business, like Alfredo Alcala and NestorRedondo. They kept telling me, “Don’t getdiscouraged, Tony. Just keep practicinguntil you’re ready, and you’ll find out,sooner or later, and you’ll know whenyou’re ready. And then, that’s it! It’s as simple as that.”Shaun: You were friends with Nestor Redondo?Tony: Yes, as well as with Alfredo Alcala. These were the guys who really encouraged me.
Shaun: Were they already doing some work for American comics whenthey were encouraging you?Tony: No, this was in the early 1960s. At that time, some of them had triedgetting work in America, but the distance between the countries was justtoo great. The answer they got was, “It’s really hard to give you workbecause you’re so far away.” There was no express mail service then, no
DHL. So that was the problem.As I said, I went to school in New
York, then went back to the islands andworked for three years in advertising. But I got bored doing that kind of work. I
said, “Ink is in my blood, so I gotta get backto drawing!” Then I went back to New Yorkand made an appointment with Joe Orlandoat DC Comics, one of the editors there. Iwalked into his office and said, “Look atmy work.” He said, “Well, Tony, if youreally did this work, I don’t see any problem with you starting on a script rightaway. You just have to make sure, whenyou work on a script, that your work willbe the very highest quality work, match-
ing what you are showing me rightnow.” I told Joe, “Oh, I don’t think
that’s going to be a problem. But itwill be of even better craftsman-
ship than you are seeing rightnow.” He was very nice and
OPPOSITE PAGE: Certainly artist Tony DeZuñiga’s most fondly-recalled series was “Jonah Hex,” a character he co-created with writer John Albano for All-StarWestern. Cover detail from Jonah Hex #56 (Jan ’82). Courtesy of the artist. ©2004 DC Comics. ABOVE: The distinguished artist himself. Courtesy of Tony DeZuñiga.
T H E C B A I N T E R V I E W
Tony DeZuñiga exploded on the scene at DC Comics in the early 1970 s — the first of the tsunami of Filipino artists to arrive in the U.S. — most
significantly as co-creator and artist of Jonah Hex, the “Weird Western”anti-hero. He also contributed significantly to Marvel Comics and long workedas a visual designer for computer gaming. Tony copy-edited this phone interview.
C O N DU C T E D B Y S H A U N C L A N C Y
T R A N S C R I B E D B Y S T E V E N T I C E
told me, “You know, it’s not how much detailyou can draw and how good it looks; you
have to really tell a story well. Thepictures you draw must tell a story.
It’s like watching a silent movie.Without reading all the words, allthe copy, a reader needs to beable to follow the story.” So Ireally learned a lot just fromtalking to Joe. I used to go tohis office one day a week just toget instruction. Not on how todraw, but how to tell a story well.Shaun: Did DC have a staff
of artists there, or did you work at home?
Tony: No, I worked at home. I don’tthink they had an art staff in-house,
except for the colorist. Even their lettererswere not working in the office. I think the free-
lancers were all doing the work on the outside and then they’d deliver it tothe office. That’s what I understood. I may be wrong, but I didn’t see anyartists who were doing work there, except for the guy who was in charge ofproduction (whose job was to oversee the art, especially the covers). The printing process, at that time, was just not as good as what they’re doing today. It was very different in those years.Shaun: Do you recall your first assignment?Tony: Yeah, it was an Egyptian story for one of the mystery titles. Anyway, I was so nervous that, I tell you, the job really didn’t turn out that good. [laughs] I was just so nervous. But, thank God, Joe Orlando understood the situation, so he was telling me, “You’ve gotta just relax and enjoy what you’re doing. Because you can draw, I see that you can.” Thank God, he understood.Shaun: Did you pencil and ink that one?Tony: Yes, I penciled and inked the very first job.Shaun: Did you have a month deadline or did he give you a week?Tony: No, that was an inventory job. I remember that. Whether I finished itor not, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway.Shaun: Oh, it was a try-out?Tony: Yes, like that. Right.Shaun: Do you still have that story?Tony: Yes, I think I do. I remember looking at it recently and thinking,“Throw these pages away!” [laughter] It’s not very good.Shaun: We all have to start somewhere! This was in 1971?Tony: Yes, you’re right. That’s exactly when I started at DC.Shaun: Which ongoing series was your first? Was Jonah Hex the firstcontinuing character you worked on?Tony: I think he was. Carmine Infantino was president of DC then. It was his idea to put out a Western character, but it was going to be JoeOrlando’s book, because Joe was the main editor. But they wanted to dowas ridiculous. They wanted to do was take a cowboy character, a Westerncharacter, who was a take-off on the Incredible Hulk — exactly like theIncredible Hulk, with a physique like that! Oh, my God — so I was telling thewriter, John Albano, “I don’t think I want to do this. I think you’d better findanother artist.” John told Joe Orlando, “If Tony won’t do it, I’m not going towrite it.” So they argued. Finally, Carmine agreed, “Okay, if you can design acharacter you want to do, and then we’ll give you two issues of that book[All-Star Western], and, if it doesn’t do anything, we’ll just kill the title.” SoJohn and I talked about it. John called me, “Well, what do you think aboutthat deal, Tony?” I said, “I’ll risk it. It’s worth a try, instead of doing whatthey wanted. I can’t be drawing the Incredible Hulk wearing a cowboy hat.”So that’s the start of Jonah. Then they told me, “Just design him.” He was aConfederate soldier who survived the Civil War and, if I make him so he’sbattle-scarred or something like that, that already gave us a start on how todevelop the character. So I did a lot of studies. This was the worst thingabout the assignment. Well, where else can you put scars on a character
except on the face? That’s the only obvious place where you can put it. Sothat’s it. I decided half of the face was blown-up by a cannonball. [laughs]That’s it. They loved it, loved the character, the design and all that. So that’sit. I loved Jonah because….
You see, John Albano was a cartoonist. He did cartoons for The NewYorker and I don’t know what else. So he would draw the script in cartoonform, and put the balloons with stick figures, and all that. All I had to do wasjust look at it, and I don’t even need to read the script. It was so unique. I fellin love with that strip, and that’s why I kept it all these years. [Prior to theirtalk, Tony had given the interviewer John’s original thumbnail script, alongwith Tony’s initial thumbnail art — Ye Ed.] Because the size of the script hemade, it’s almost the actual size of a comic book page when it’s printed. Sothat’s what I did with the pencil. When I showed it to Joe, he said, “Well,how are you going to make this printable?” Because DC and everybodyprinted their own art paper, 11" by 17" boards, as they didn’t want any artistsjust drawing the work on their own paper. Somebody might draw on paperthe size of a bedsheet, and that was bad. So that size fits their method, andthat’s why they printed those boards and just gave it to the artists. I said,“That’s not a problem, Joe. All I have to do is blow it up on an opaque pro-jector to that paper size, and then the printer will just shrink it again to theprinted size.” “Oh, okay.” So they understood, and then that’s it. That’s why Istill have those thumbnails. I really think it’s quite a collector’s item, becauseI don’t think any other artist had done that before.Shaun: I don’t know if John Albano had done any other titles at DC. [JohnAlbano wrote extensively for editor Joe Orlando from the late 1960s to theearly ’70s and was briefly a DC editor himself in 1972 on Larry Harmon’sLaurel and Hardy #1. He also contributed some gag cartoons to Plop! —Y.E.] I’m not familiar with his other work. But I’d be interested in knowing ifhe had used that format regularly.Tony: You know, that’s a good question. I’m not sure, though. I can’t evenask John today. I think he passed away a couple of years ago.Shaun: I did notice that, in the copies you gave me of the pencils, it’s pretty close to the finished job. On page two of the first appearance in pencil
TOP: The young artist Tony DeZuñiga in 1964. Photo courtesy of Tony. ABOVE: Tony DeZuñiga’s stylish design sense was clearly evident in his innovative logo designs forthe installments of the James Bond 007 knock-off serial, “Ten Yen Te Alegre,” appearing in the Filipino comic book Redondo Komix. Splash from #34 (Aug. 11, ’64).
Comic Book Artist: Where are you originally from, Alex?Alex Niño: The Philippines, on the main island called Luzon. I lived in a province, in the countryside.CBA: What was your upbringing like? Were you poor,were you middle class?Alex: I came from a family of farmers whorely on what we produce! Money wasnot a problem —we don’t need any —we used barter trading. We lived ina village, days away from thenearest town. To a certain livingstandard, we were dirt poor,but we were used to it. Onetime, my father came homefrom a trip and brought withhim coins to be used as buttons, necklaces, evennail washers! To me, thosewere the real happy times.CBA: What crop did thefarm produce?Alex: It was a family farm,so we grew rice, not to sell,but for the family to eat.CBA: Did you have brothersand sisters?Alex: I have two brothers andone sister. I am the oldest.
CBA: When were you born?Alex: On May 1st — May Day — 1940.
CBA: Do you remember the Japanese occupation at all?Alex: A little bit.
CBA: Was it hard on your family and the village?
Alex: It was very hard! All able-bodiedmen in the village had to join theguerrilla forces against Japan —that included my father — andthe rest of us were forced toleave the village and hideinside dug-outs, like rats.Pearl Harbor and othermovies we have todayremind me of those fearfultimes when I was a kid.Planes would engage in dogfights right over ourvillage, and empty shellswould fall right from thesky on top of the dugoutwhere we were hiding. We used to pick ’em up and
play with them as toys. Whenthe shells landed, they were still
really hot, because they had justfallen from the planes up there.
The artistry of Alex Niño isn’t easy to describe. Words like manic, graceful, surreal, hallucinogenic, sub-
versive, and whimsical come to mind, but whatever it is, his work is utterly, undeniably original. Of the
supremely talented Filipino school, Nestor Redondo and Alfredo Alcala may have unbeatable technique and
incredible chops as artists, but few comic book creators in the world can match Alex’s visionary approach
and unique brilliance. Quite simply, the man is an artist’s artist, one very highly-regarded by a legion of fans,
many from outside comics, and we’re proud to present Alex’s first in-depth interview in his forty-plus-year
career. This telephone interview was conducted on January 31, 2004, and Alex copy-edited the transcript.
52 THIS PAGE: Various panels from Alex Niño’s much-beloved Adventure Comics serial, Captain Fear, one of the few continuing character strips the artist has worked on inmainstream American comics. Clockwise from top left: shamelessly modified by Ye Ed, the splash page from Fear’s origin tale in Adventure #425 (Jan. ’73); logo motif
from #433 (June ’74); and the final panel from that same issue. The series was created by writer Bob Kanigher. All ©2004 DC Comics.
PREVIOUS COLOR PAGES: Our intro page to the Alex Niño sectionis an alternative version of this issue’s Captain Fear cover (and yetanother painting of the Caribe pirate is found — albeit reproducedfar too small — on the reverse of this page). Captain Fear ©2004
DC Comics. Taken in the 1970s, the full-page photo portrait of the artist appears courtesy of and ©2004 Manuel Auad.
CBA: Were the planes really up high?Alex: No, they were only a thousand or two thousand feet above us. Theywould have dogfights right above our village!CBA: Did the Japanese physically occupy your town?Alex: No, they didn’t, because we lived in a small barrio, a tiny village, witha population of only about 30 people. It was really small. The Japanese justpassed by our village, every now and then. Later, every so often, there would be American troops who passed by! That’s the first time I ever saw an American, and we were pretty happy because that meant we were being liberated. It was a mixture of fun and also being somewhat scared atthe same time.CBA: So the arrival of the American soldiers, the liberation, was an exciting period?Alex: At the time, we were really very excited. As a kid, I was quite curious about America. These soldiers were the first white guys I had ever seen. They would hand out candies and everything! These guys, like“Victory Joe,” gave us chocolate bars, you know? That was in 1945, when Iwas five years old.CBA: When did you start drawing?Alex: At the age of 10.CBA: Did you have any interest in comic strips or comic books when you were young?Alex: I was interested in the Sunday newspaper comics, and was reallycurious to see all these strips. We had Philippine comics, too, and I wasreally amazed at how these guys did it. I saw all the stuff Alfredo Alcalaand Nestor Redondo drew. I was a newspaper boy at the time.CBA: Was Filipino culture pretty Americanized? Did it emulateAmerican comic strips and comic books?Alex: After the war, yes, but you need to realize that comic artgoes back a ways in the Philippines. Our national hero, José Rizal,was — among many other accomplishments — a satirical cartoonist. He ridiculed the Spanish occupiers during the Spanish-American War, in the 1890s. What he did resembled a comic bookpage. That was during the Spanish regime, before the Americansbecame involved.CBA: So comics go back before the Spanish-American War in the Philippines?Alex: That’s right. Rizal was an international hero and he knew howto draw, knew how to use cartoons to criticize the Spanish regimethrough satire, and he also did some illustration. When I saw his work inthe Philippine Archives, it looked like a comic book page to me. So, Ibelieve he did the first semi-comic book illustration in our country,because it was all panels. I don’t know where he got that idea.CBA: Rizal told a story and everything?Alex: Yes. He also wrote books.CBA: So Hal Foster’s Tarzan got you started?Alex: Right. I also saw these great Filipino comicbooks by Francisco Coching, Nestor Redondo,Alfredo Alcala….
continued on page 96
53THIS PAGE: Alex Niño obviously had a field day when designing his splash pages for his assignments on Joe Orlando’s DC mystery books, especially in House of
Secrets, where all of these examples are derived. From the top: HOS #106 (April ’73), HOS #109 (July ’73), and splash header from HOS #101 (Oct. ’72). ©2004 DC Comics.
Anyone even slightly familiar with Comic Book Artist realizes that Ye Editor—my humble self — is a sequential art freak particularly obsessed with theAmerican comic books of the 1970s, in whatever form they took in that day.From DC’s “daring and different” titles under Carmine Infantino’s helmanship,to the faux comics of National Lampoon, to the mind-blowing undergroundefforts coming from San Francisco, Ye Ed is convinced that the story behind that era’s funny-books is an important tale worth telling.
One severely under-appreciated aspect of U.S.comics in the ’70s is surely the arrival and accom-plishments of the Philippine “school” of artists, a stunningly talented group of men who made animmediate and lasting impression on the industryand among appreciative readers. Strange soundingnames — DeZuñiga, Niño, Redondo, Alcala, etc. —would quickly become familiar and quite welcome to those aficionados willing to venture outside thesuper-hero genre, and take a peek at the mystery,Western, science-fiction, romance and war antholo-gies of those years. Nestor was knockin’ ’em dead inSwamp Thing! Alex was blowing our minds over atWarren! Alfredo was astounding us with his inks onpenciler John Buscema’s Savage Sword of Conan!The Filipinos were everywhere in the ’70s!
While the comics of that decade have been examined ad nauseum by this magazine andothers, as well as in a number of bona fide books on the subject, extremelylittle has been written anywhere about this “invasion” of the Filipinos. A sin-gle issue of the fascinating Philippine Comics Review (Oct.-Dec. 1979), a soleentry — under “Alex Niño” — in Comics: Between The Panels (by Steve
Duin and Mike Richardson, 1998), a lone article in CBA (“Invasion from thePhilippines,” by Chris Knowles, Vol. 1, #5, Summer 1999), and scant else canbe found written about the experiences of the 90 or so artists from theSoutheast Asian archipelago who toiled in U.S. comics for upwards of threedecades. Regardless of all their efforts pumping out thousands of pages —
among them innumerable masterpieces, often for apitiful page rate — these artists have received virtually no recognition from fandom and historians,never mind being forgotten and disrespected by anungrateful industry. For shame.
The question of why naturally comes to mind:Why have the Filipinos been so ignored over theyears? Is it blatant xenophobia against “foreign”artists (similar to the neglect the Spanish and SouthAmerican “schools” also suffer)? Or is it a side-effect of the prejudice against non super-heromaterial (as few Filipinos — among them Alcala,Rudy Nebres, and Danny Bulanadi — were suc-cessful in the costumed character field)? Somemajor U.S. artists of that era have opined to Ye Edthat the Philippine art was “sub-standard” and “hardly comparable” to contemporaneousAmerican efforts. Huh? In this editor’s humble opinion: As a group, these Asian artists were astonishingly accomplished and talented almostbeyond measure. Certainly the top three talents —
Redondo, Niño, and Alcala — stand shoulder-to-shoulder with any comicbook artist the world over, bowing their heads to no one.
This issue is a particular labor of love for Ye Ed, as I’ve been fascinatedby the work of these illustrators, ever since my oldest brother, Richie, in a
dramatic gesture, held up a gorgeous Alex Niño comic book — thiswas back in the early ’70s — and exclaimed, “This is as good
as anything else being published today.” Now, those wereheady words, as Jack Kirby, Bernie Wrightson, BarryWindsor-Smith, Neal Adams, Mike Kaluta, etc., werearguably producing their finest work in that time frame.
So, needless to say, I’ve been eager to devote an issue tothe Filipino school for a long, long time. Here’s hoping that
this woefully short section is but an opening volley inefforts to rectify these shortcomings. No doubt,
these gents are deserving of the attention.In the following pages you’ll find not
only eye-opening overviews of theaccomplishments of many Filipinoartists (by frequent CBA contributorsManuel Auad and David A. Roach), butalso a brief history of their homeland(for context) and a solid look at the
history of the Philippine “komiks” industry (by John A. Lent, editor-in-chief
of the prestigious International Journal ofComic Art), amongst other goodies. Again,
this is only a meager start in giving these wonderful artists the respect and coverage theywarrant. Enjoy.
— Jon B. Cooke,Ye Ed.
personal commentary by jon b. cookeThe Philippine Question
RIGHT: Writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo’s Filipino heroineDarna. From The Philippine ComicsReview #1 (Dec. ’79)
TOP INSET: Nestor Redondo cover painting forThe Philippine Comics Review one-shot (Dec. ’79).
PLACE: The Philippines consists of a group of some 7,000 islands off ofSoutheast Asia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, and are volcanic in origin. Comprised of three natural divisions — the northern section, including Luzon (the biggest island where resides the country’s largest city,Manila) and Mindoro; the central, occupied by the Visayan Islands; andthe southern, containing Mindanai and the Sulu Archipelago — theislands are politically divided into 55 provinces. The climate ispredominately tropical. June-October is monsoon season.
PEOPLE:Total population in1980 was 48 million,with almost half the people living on Luzon. People ofMalayo-Indonesiandescent make up95% of the popula-tion. The nationallanguage is Pilipino,a formal version of
Tagalog, an indige-nous language. More than half the people speak the national language and45% can speak English (also used in secondary schools and in colleges).Spanish is not widely used.
The vast majority of the Philippine population are Roman Catholics, butthere is also a significant Muslim minority. Literacy rate is 80%.
Government is modeled after the United States: a republic headed by apresident (elected to six-year terms), and legislated by Congress composedof the Senate and House of Representatives.HISTORY: Early on, the Philippines were populated by Malayan tribes, andChina began trading with the archipelago in the ninth century. By the 1400s,Moslems from the west began commerce with the southern islands. In 1521,Ferdinand Magellan explored the region during his renowned circumventionof the globe (and the Spanish explorer would eventually die there), and 20years later, the area was dubbed Las Felipinas, for the infant who wouldbecome Spain’s King Philip II. Within another two decades, the actualSpanish conquest of the island group would begin, resulting in strong influence on Philippine art, architecture, customs, and religion.The islands remained an important colony of the Spanish Empire for over 300years, as well as a leading center for commerce in the Far East, carrying ona flourishing trade with China, India, and the East Indies. Though Chinesetrade and the influx of their labor were important to the early development ofthe nation, in 1603, the Spanish massacred thousands of Chinese (with lesserslaughters taking place over the subsequent years). The colony was alsosubjected to periodic attack over the years by English pirates and, signifi-cantly, the Muslim Philippine warriors to the south — the Moros — who
would remain a thorn in the imperialist’s side for hundreds of years.Over the course of the Spanish occupation, the Filipino natives would
frequently rise up to protest the colonist’s oppressive system of tributarylabor — encomienda — imposed on the populace. (The process involved
natives paying tribute for the “right” to cultivate their own land —rights “granted” by the invaders — in return (theoretically)
for protection, religious conversion, and be allowed togrow food to feed their own families.) Local control
was held by encomenderos, soldiers who helped inthe conquest of the archipelago and were givenhuge estates called encomiendas.
By the late 19th century, Spanish influencewas on the wane (especially after the Britishoccupation of Manila during the Seven Years’War, 1762-64), and a nationalist desire for
independence was rising in the Philippines. Globaltrade — thanks to the opening of the Suez Canal
and the advent of steam transportation — fostered the creation of a middle class, and a growing desire for
democratic reform quickly became a demand for self-deter-mination and freedom. Personified by the opposition leadership of
José Rizal and his “Young Filipinos,” the nationalists demanded the ouster ofthe Catholic clergy from government and independence from Spain. ThoughRizal was imprisoned and eventually executed by authorities, resistance (in
ABOVE: A regular labor of love for Alfredo Alcala at CRAF Publications was to depict significant events of World War Two, particularly naval battles. Among the mostrevered of Americans by Filipinos was U.S. General Douglas MacArthur who famously vowed “I shall return,” after the Philippines were invaded by Imperial Japan.
©2004 the respective copyright holder.
Pearl of theA Capsule History of
the guise of the Katipunan, a secret revolutionary society composed of workers and peasants) continued to grow.
In 1896, the Philippine Insurrection (under the leadership of GeneralEmilio Aguinaldo) began, driving most Spaniards from the country. Though atemporary truce was called with the weakened occupiers by 1898, Aguinaldoused the growing hostilities between the United States and Spain (over thesinking of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor) and requested the aid ofthe U.S. Navy. Thus, with the onslaught of the Spanish-American War, U.S.Naval Commodore George Dewey sailed for the islands and, once there,successfully sank the Spanish fleet on Manila Bay. In an apparent betrayalof Aguinaldo and the rebels, the U.S.”bought” the Philippines for $20 million,as part of the Spanish-American peace treaty, and thus, with the loss ofCuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines, the age of the Spanish Empire waspast and the new era of American colonialism had only just begun.
Cheated by the Yanks, the general appealed for a popular uprisingagainst these new imperialists though the revolution was downgraded toguerrilla warfare in short order. By 1901, the rebellion was crushed andAguinaldo arrested, and in the next year the islands were officially declareda territory of the United States of America. The call for independence was
never entirely quelled, though the country’s trade grew dependent on theU.S., as virtually all their exports sailed stateward and the Philippinesbecame an important market for American merchants. By the mid-’30s, thearchipelago was deemed a commonwealth, their first president — ManuelQuezon — elected, and independence from the U.S. was slated for 1946.Importantly, U.S. General Douglas MacArthur arrived in 1935 and soonbecame field marshal of the Commonwealth army.
The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor — December 8, 1941 — imperial Japanese forces invaded the Philippines, and the conquest wascomplete early the following year, with American forces defeated — 36,000starving men, three-quarters of them Filipino — on the Bataan peninsula inApril. The previous month, MacArthur had been ordered by U.S. PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt to abandon the island, though the general memorablyvowed to the Filipinos — and warned the Japanese — “I shall return.” Thenew conquerors suffered harassment during their brutal occupation fromnative guerrilla warriors (trained by the U.S. Army and Filipino officers),including the Hukbalahaps (or Huks), who used terrorism against the enemy.
Forces under the returning MacArthur landed in the heart of theislands on Oct. 20, 1944, surprising the Japanese, and by July of the follow-
ing year, the islands were declared liberated. The Republic of the Philippineswas announced on July 4, 1946, and the U.S. soon negotiated a 99-year leasefor military bases. Independence — albeit a neocolonialist sort — had arrived.
The communist-led Huks, rejecting U.S. control, again took up armsand nearly seized power but the rebel group was destroyed by governmentforces — aided by the C.I.A. — in the early 1950s.
In 1965, Ferdinand Marcos, the most highly decorated Filipino soldierduring World War Two, was elected president of the Philippines (aided by hisinfluential wife, Imelda Romualdez). During this volatile time for the region,as the U.S. was fighting a war in Vietnam (a country maybe 700 miles west ofManila), the nation was beset by its own renewed insurgency — in thisinstance the Maoist New People’s Army — and Marcos declared martial lawin 1972. Dissolving the Congress, imprisoning the opposition, and basicallyannouncing he would remain as president by whim, Marcos became virtualdictator, ruling the country by corruption and cronyism.
In 1981, Marcos lifted martial law and won reelection, but would bedogged by financial recession, growing political opposition, and — yet again— internal strife fomented by leftist guerrillas. The 1983 assassination of hisleading opponent, populist Benigno Aquino, Jr. — a crime widely suspected
to have had the approval of Marcos — led to widespread dissatisfaction ofthe president by many Filipinos. Marcos, in a move orchestrated to prove hisstrength, called for a presidential election and found himself opposed byCorazon Aquino — Benigno’s charismatic widow — leader of the growinganti-Marcos”People Power” movement. Three weeks after declaring himselfa victor (through rampant voter fraud and intimidation), Marcos was over-thrown by a revolt of army officers. As the deposed leader was flown to exilein Hawaii (where he would die three years later), “Cory” Aquino was swornin as the Philippines' first woman president.
Cory’s presidency was plagued by problems as she never managed tobring the powerful feudal families or the military under her control. She sur-vived seven coup attempts and made little headway in improving life for themajority of Filipinos who were — and still are — living in poverty.
The country’s economy picked up after President Fidel Ramos tookoffice in 1992, but huge problems remained, including crippling foreign debt,crime and poverty. Ramos was succeeded in ’98 by former vice-presidentJoseph Estrada, a former movie actor. Elected to the Presidency on a pro-poor platform, he has promised food security, jobs, mass housing, educationand health for all. Whether these promises can be kept remains to be seen.
contextual overview by jon b. cookethe Philippine Islands
ABOVE: Jesse Santos, one of the great Filipino comic book artists (sadly neglected in this issue of CBA but extensively interviewed in CBA V.1, #22) shared this ’60sphoto of Filipino komiks artists posing with the notorious President Ferdinand Marcos and his (shoe-lovin’) wife, Imelda (both in circle). Jesse is at far left.
There is a wonderful word, much beloved of comic-book pros, todescribe obsessive line-work and cross-hatching: noodling. The undoubtedkings of noodling were the Filipino artists who first entered the U.S. culture in1971, led by Tony DeZuñiga. As has been the case with other influxes ofartists — such as the South American, Spanish and British invasions — U.S. fans have long seemed unsure what to make of them. Were they merely cheap labor, or a safeguard against a possibly militant artist guild?Alternatively, were they rather a supremely talented — and quick — band of artists who would bring something new to an increasingly diverse comics scene? I would prefer to believe the latter option, but there is every possibility that all three could be true.
The pioneering Tony DeZuñiga, the first Filipino to break into theAmerican market, must have been extraordinarily visionary to travel to a foreign country, with a culture entirely alien to his own, to present his workto DC Comics. Luckily for him — and us — DC boss Carmine Infantino andeditor Joe Orlando were perceptive enough to see the possibilities in hiswork. His first assignment, inking Ric Estrada on a romance story for Girls’Love Stories #153, duly appeared in the summer of 1970. Within a year,DeZuñiga had branched out into other titles and genres, such as House ofMystery, All-Star Western, and The Phantom Stranger, and his new assis-tant, Ernie (Chua) Chan, was also beginning to get romance assignments.
When Infantino and Orlando traveled to the Philippines in 1971 and discovered Nestor Redondo, the floodgates opened. Through DeZuñiga andRedondo, we first saw strips by Alex Niño in July 1972, soon followed byGerry Talaoc, Vic Catan, Alfredo Alcala, Fred Carrillo, and many more. Whatthe Filipinos shared was a good, solid and usually (Niño excepted) conven-
tional approach to storytelling, exceptional draftsmanship, and exuberant,florid brushwork which harked back to the golden years of magazine illustration in the first few decades of the 20th Century. Interestingly, DCwere quite selective in who they used, ignoring excellent Redondo-esqueartists such as Federico Javinal and Rading Sabater in favor of quirkier, more individualistic artists like Niño, Alcala and Ruben Yandoc.
Once they saw how the Filipinos had transformed DC’s mystery titles,other companies came calling — principally Pendulum Books, which usedNestor Redondo to recruit artists for their new Classics line (1973-79), andMarvel Comics. Marvel needed illustrators for their black-&-white mags, andpicked up DeZuñiga and his stable of artists. Some of these, such as RudyNebres and Ernie Chan (then using the name Chua), soon moved on to theircolor books. By the end of the decade, Warren Publishing also began torecruit a large number of Filipinos, resulting in a talent drain from the big two which precipitated a second wave of immigrants, including RomeoTanghal, Adrian Gonzalez, and Danny Bulanadi. However, 1982 proved to be something of a watershed for the movement, when both Warren and DCcancelled their horror lines.
Mainstream editors had always seemed reluctant to try out theFilipinos on their super-hero books, relegating them to the commercial margins on horror, Western and sword-&-sorcery titles, but as the ’80s progressed and those genres were snuffed out one by one, the foreignartists either had to adapt to the mainstream or move elsewhere. One resultwas a mass exodus to Hollywood and the animation factories, where they atleast had the comfort of higher pay. Those who stayed behind, includingTanghal and Bulanadi, enjoyed steady work as inkers but there seemed little
TOP: A fascinating — and gorgeous — one-shot we heartily recommend folks to seek out is Magic Carpet #1, published by Bud Plant in 1977, which features spectacu-lar artwork by the legendary Alfredo Alcala. Voltar was a sword-&-sorcery character Alfredo originally created in the Philippines, which also appeared in The Rook #2-9.
The FilipinoPhilippine Comic Book©
2004 the Estate of Alfredo A
JUAQUIN ALBISTURcall for the graphic exuberance that so typified the movement at its mostthrilling. With a very few exceptions, the Filipino invasion of comics is nowover, and their ’70s heyday is either ignored by collectors or misunderstood.In recent years, a third wave of creators has entered the U.S., but I suspectthat few readers are aware that the likes of Whilce Portacio, Leinil FrancisYu, Jay Anacleto, Lan Medina and Gerry Alanguilan are indeed Filipino. Their art reflects the U.S. comics mainstream of the past decade rather than their own visual heritage, and they clearly work in a different artistictradition, with little in common with their predecessors. That is probablygood for them commercially, but it means that the traditional Filipino style isall but dead. So, for the purposes of this article I shall deal only with the firsttwo waves of Filipino artists.
In the ’70s and ’80s, almost 100 Filipino artists drew and inked strips for U.S. publishers — a staggering figure — and the following “primer” is as complete a listing as I have been able to assemble as a guide to who did what. With a few exceptions, the artists seem to fall into three camps:followers of Nestor Redondo, who favored a smooth, feathered inking style;the circle around Tony DeZuñiga, who went for a muscular, dynamic drawingstyle, much like that of John Buscema (who so many of them went on to inkat one time or another); and a grittier, more gestural inking style typified byRico Rival and, later, Romeo Tanghal.
So, let’s bring on the artists! — D.A.R.
JUAQUIN ALBISTURNot positively identified as a Filipino, but contributed a couple of edgy, angular horror strips to Dark Mansion (#10) and House of Secrets (#124).
ALFREDO P. ALCALAOne of the few Filipinos to build a genuine following in the U.S., almost from the moment his first strip in Unexpected #138 (Aug. 1972) hit the stands.Alcala had honed his talent in the Philippines for decades and was already a star there, even lending his name to a comic: Alcala Komiks. While heshared his fellow Filipinos’ love of muscular, heroic figures and excessiverendering, he took it to new heights with intricate, etched linework, inspiredby turn-of-the-century artists such as Franklin Booth (predating BernieWrightson’s interest), J.C.Leyendecker, and Frank Brangwyn.
In the U.S., Alcala became a mainstay of DC’s mystery books for several highly productive years, also popping up in Plop! and Weird WesternTales (on “El Diablo”), and going on to draw 113 strips for them in total.When Marvel set up their black-&-white line, he was one of the first artistspoached from DC, and his elaborate inking and delicate wash tones gracedmost of their titles, including Tales of the Zombie and Planet of the Apes(adapting the Beneath… and Conquest… movies). But it was his inks overJohn Buscema on the newly created Savage Sword of Conan which causeda sensation, particularly “Black Colossus” in #2 and “Iron Shadows in the
phile by david a. roachArtists in U.S. Comics
ABOVE: Undoubtedly one of the most consistently beautiful strips drawn by a Filipino artist in American comics was Rima, The Jungle Girl (#1-7, May ’74-May ’75), editedby Joe Kubert, written by Bob Kanigher, and drawn by Nestor Redondo (based on the character in W.H. Hudson’s tragic novel, Green Mansions). This splash double-pagespread is from #1, a breathtaking image that just might be the most beautiful introduction of a comic book character ever. Courtesy of Manuel Auad. ©2004 DC Comics.
If Philippine comic art is considered at all outside the archipelago, it is in thecontext of the emigrés, those cartoonists who left the islands to work forUnited States comic book publishers in the 1970s and 1980s. Yet, Filipino cartoons and comics are much more than that, having a rich tradition that reaches back over a century, a huge readership, and a pervasive impact on various aspects of their society, especially cinema and nationaldevelopment campaigns.
As in many instances, the comic book (komik) was a result of an evolutionary process in the Philippines, growing from, first, humor magazinesand political cartoons, and then, comic strips.
Although Dr. José Rizal, the nationalist later proclaimed national hero,is often called the first cartoonist in the Philippines, cartoons probablyappeared before he drew the fable, “The Monkey and the Tortoise,” in 1885.While visiting fellow Philippine physicians Trinidad and Felix Pardo de Taverain Paris, Rizal was given an album with some blank pages by the sister of theTavera brothers and asked to draw something. Rizal obliged, recounting in 34panels, the story of a cheating monkey and a clever tortoisedividing a banana tree.
Before and at the time of Rizal’s drawing, magazines, such as LaSemana Elegante (1884), La Puya (1885), and Manila Alegre (1885), all published in Manila, probably carried cartoons. Others of a satirical nature,such as Te Con Leche, El Tio Verdades, Biro-Biro, and Miau, appearedbetween 1898-1901 mainly to lampoon both Spaniards and Americans. Theweekly Miau, named after a worldly cat which knew everything, consisted of 50% cartoons.
During the early American occupation, other magazines, some satiricalcontaining two-toned cartoons and caricatures, were published in Manila.Four dominated — Lipang Kalabaw, Philippine Free Press, Telembang, andThe Independent. Lipang Kalabaw premiered July 27, 1907, as the weeklyvoice for independence radicals affiliated with the Nationalist Party; itdelighted in satirizing American do-goodism and Filipino parrotism, both incartoons and text. Closed because of political pressures after 33 issues,Lipang Kalabaw reappeared a month after its demise to become the onlygenuine Filipino satirical periodical. Lipang Kalabaw, named after a poison
ivy-like plant that leaves a severe rash, was critical enough to suffer closure again in 1909. Under different names, it was revived in July 1922for two years, and in 1949 for less than a year.
Three political cartoonists — Jorge Pineda (1879-1946), FernandoAmorsolo (1892-1922), and José Pereira (1901-’54) — stood out on TheIndependent and Philippine Free Press in the early 20th Century; Pinedawas the first cartoonist to depict “Juan de la Cruz,” a simple young man in slippers, as the national symbol. On the other hand, we knowcartoonists of Lipang Kalabaw only by pen names such as “TagaIsorog,” “Makahiya,” “Taga Kadlagan,” “Kolakog,” “Agmaton,”“Torogtorog,” “Sirom,” etc.
Other illustrated weeklies — Liwayway, Monday Mail, andGraphic — came onto the scene by the 1930s, providing a growingbody of cartoonists with outlets for their works. Liwayway andGraphic were launched in 1923 and ’27, respectively, by RamonRoces, who played very significant roles in the development of vernacular-language magazines, comic strips, and the komiks. In fact, the first Philippine comic strip, Kenkoy, created by TonyVelasquez in December 1928, was at the encouragement of Roces.Roces and Velasquez teamed on a number of projects to elevatethe comics medium during the course of more than six decadesof working together.
Sixteen-year-old Velasquez had been working withBanaag Press a year when Roces purchased the photoengrav-ing department and workers. Finding himself on the staff ofLiwayway, Velasquez fell into the task of drawing the country’sfirst strip. A translator in the magazine’s advertising department, Romualdo Ramos, had a vision of bringing outillustrated funnies as a supplement to the magazine. The artwork for a strip was assigned to senior artist ProcopioBorromeo, but because of his congested work schedule,nothing happened. In my interview with him (September 26,1988), Velasquez said that when the artist “for so manyweeks, was not able to do it, Don Ramon told me, ‘Tony,can you do it?’ I told him I’d try.” Ramos supplied jokes andstoryline and Velasquez drew the strip, which debuted asfour panels in the January 11, 1929 Liwayway. MgaKabalbalan ni Kenkoy, as the strip was called, expandedto six panels 10 issues later and to a full-page in colorwithin a year. When Ramos died in 1932, Velasquez didthe strip alone.
ABOVE: Alfredo Alcala cover art (featuring his sword-&-sorcery character Voltar) for Alcala Komix #3 (Aug. 6, 1963). Courtesy of Manuel Auad.
From 1928The First 75 Years of
©2004 the Estate of Alfredo Alcala.
Kenkoy was enthusiastically received by a large readership, as it eventually was translated into four other vernacular languages (besidesTagalog) for use in Roces’ magazines Bannawag, Bisaya, Hiligaynon, andBikolnon and was made the subject of a song, “Ay, Naku, Kenkoy!” composed by Nicando Abelardo, a poem “Pagpapakilala, Ay Introdius yuMister Kenkoy,” by Huseng Batute, movies, and komiks. Velasquez said aplan to take Kenkoy into animation failed, recalling, “There was a producerway back in 1946 who came to me. He worked with Walt Disney. He said heknew all the tricks to the trade and told me to make a full-length script ofKenkoy. I did and he paid me. I waited for weeks and weeks. He returned thescript to me and said it was too expensive to do. I said, ‘I’m not going toreturn the P5,000 you paid me.’ My idea was to have Kenkoy in animation,but unfortunately, it failed.”
In some ways, Kenkoy was a satire on the 1920s’ trend to rapidlyAmericanize the Philippines. Carrying a ukelele, sporting a Valentino hairdoand bell bottoms, and mouthing English slang like “okedokey,” or “wait aminute” with a Filipino twist, Kenkoy was, in the words of noted komiks creator Nonoy Marcelo, “a ludicrous portrait of the Filipino… patheticallytrying but barely succeeding in keeping up with his American mentors.” To Velasquez’s way of thinking, however, the character was Filipino, conceived in the Philippines without outside influences. When I relayedone writer’s feeling that Mickey Mouse was the inspiration for Kenkoybecause of some similarities in appearances, Velasquez reacted strongly:“It’s not patterned after anyone. In fact, I had not seen his [Walt Disney’s]Mickey Mouse when I created my Kenkoy. He was in theUnited States; I was in the Philippines. I beat him[Disney]; he went abroad [died], I’m still alive.”
Roces was quick to add another strip toLiwayway and Velasquez’s workload, PonyangHalobaybay. Ponyang’s stylish clothing set fashion trends in the Philippines, much assome comic strips of the 1920s were said tohave done in the U.S.
By the 1930s, Velasquez was an extremelybusy man. In 1935, he was made chief advertisingartist for Roces’ six magazines, pioneer-ing in the use of cartoons in advertisingwith a slew of characters — Isko forEsco shoes, Nars Cafi for Cafiaspirina,Castor for Botica Castoria, Charity forPhilippine Charity Sweepstakes, etc. He alsointroduced new characters to Kenkoy,which became separate strips,such as Kenkoy’s parents, MangTeroy and Aling Matsay, his girlfriend Rosing, his archrivalTirso, the neighborhood dimwitNanong Pandak, his children,and the adopted TsikitingGubat, a clever, non-verbalchild who never wore pants.Others were TinyenteDikyam, Dr. Wakwak,Saring Bulilit (publishedin Liwayway Extra), andDetektib Bembo inHiwaga magazine.
Strips proliferated in the 1930s, most published in magazines and somemodeling themselves after prominent American funnies. For example,Francisco Reyes’ Kulafu, created in 1933 as an adventure strip in Liwayway,owed much to Tarzan, and Procopio Borromeo’s Goyo at Kikay was said toimitate Bringing Up Father. In the mid-1930s, Jose Zabala Santos introducedfour characters to Sampaguita magazine – Titina, the Popeye-like LukasMalakas, Sianong Sano, and Popoy, and two years later, 15-year-oldFrancisco V. Coching created Bing Bigotilyo in Silahis magazine. J. M. Perezcontributed two popular strips to Liwayway in the early 1930s: Abilitat saAkong, about a Chinese corner store proprietor, and Si Pamboy at si Osang,featuring a henpecked husband and his nagging wife. Abilitat sa Akong wasunique in that it carried one paneltwice as big as the others andindependent of the main storyin the episode.
Kenkoy alone among the funnies survived throughout the Japanese
to 1993 by john. a lentPhilippine Komiks
ABOVE: 1970 Nestor Redondocover painting for one of hisCRAF Publications komiks.Courtesy of Manuel Auad. ©2004the Estate of Nestor Redondo.
occupation, continuing to appear in Liwayway, but published by the Japan Information Bureau. Velasquez told me that the Japanese used thecharacter in its health campaign, claiming, “Kenkoy did not get involved inpolitics or war; just sanitation.” The Japanese also commissioned Velasquezto do a daily strip for the newspaper Tribune. Called The Kalibapi Family, itshowed life of Filipinos under the new Japanese social order. Velasquez saidthere was no public reaction after the war concerning Kenkoy working forthe Japanese.
Some of these strips continued after World War Two, either as parts ofthe general interest magazines (e.g. Velasquez continued doing Kenkoy andPonyang Halobaybay for Liwayway on a freelance basis) or the newly-bornkomiks. Also, most pre-war strip cartoonists, such as Velasquez, Reyes,Coching, Borromeo, and Jose Zabala Santos, in addition to a host of newcomers, lent their services to the birthing of komiks.
American comic books brought in by U.S. soldiers during World WarTwo were the impetus for the development of komiks, the first of which wasHalakhak (word that sounds like and denotes laughter). Universal Bookstoreowner Attorney Jaime Lucas started Halakhak at the urging of IsaacTolentino, who became editor. An editorial cartoonist before the war, andguerrilla propagandist during the conflict, Tolentino was working for the U.S.government. Besides humor, love, and mystery stories, the 42-page komikcarried an adventure series, “Bernardo Carpio,” about a mythical hero inPhilippine folklore. Financial difficulties forced the closing of Halakhak after10 issues. Velasquez said the komik died for lack of facilities, telling me, “Ithad no press, only a bookstore owner and publisher, and no finances.”
Enter Ramon Roces and Tony Velasquez again. On May 27, 1947, theduo started Ace Publications with the sole intent to publish komiks.Velasquez was appointed editor of Ace’s first magazine, Pilipino Komiks, afortnightly. The initial issue with a print run of 10,000 and a 25-centavo pricecame out June 14, and featured old strips by Velasquez (“Nanong Pandak”)and Jose Zabala Santos (“Lukas Malakas”), as well as new series such as“DI-13” by Damian Velasquez (brother of Tony) and Jesse Santos, “Ang
Kalabog” by Larry Alcala, “Prinsesa Urduha” by Vicente Manansala,“Kolokoy” by Tony Roullo, “Lagim” by Caguintuan, “Tibong at Tibang” by E.D. Ramos, “Daluyong” by Fred Carrillo, “Makisig” by A. Y. Manalad, and“Ang Buhay ni Aldabes” by Hugo Yonzon.
Velasquez said Roces asked him if he would start a new business, thekomiks. “I was flattered,” Velasquez told me, elaborating,”Don Ramon saidhe’d give me a month to do it. Then, artists were not very busy so I couldmeet his deadline. Don Ramon told me, ‘I don’t think this [komik] will last; justdo what you can about it.’ I kept insisting, ‘This will last, Don Ramon.’ I hadalready a plan to do my own comics magazine when Don Ramon called.”
For the first two years, Velasquez handled Pilipino Komiks alone, butthe staff grew, as did the komik’s popularity, and Ace started other books —Tagalog Klasiks in 1949, Hiwaga Komiks (1950), Espesyal Komiks (1952), andpocket-sized Kenkoy Komiks (1952).
By 1950, others entered the komiks field as publishers. Extra Komikswas brought out by Extra Komiks Publications and manage-edited byEriberto A. Tablan, who also published Aksiyon Komiks; Silangan Komiks was issued by Ben Cabailo, Jr., and Bituin Komiks by Felix J. Quiogue.Additionally by 1950, comics supplements appeared in at least Liwayway,Bulaklak, Ilang-ilang, Tiktik, and Sinagtala. Some publishers also issued U.S. comic books. In a September 29, 1964 interview, Chronicle PublishingCompany publisher Oscar Lopez told me his company quit publishingAmerican comics with the proliferation of Tagalog komiks. Also, he said, “so many of the U.S. books we reproduced were brought in by U.S. service-men anyway.”
The 1950s was described as the golden era of Filipino komiks, turningout increasing numbers of quality works in various genres and nurturingsome of the great names of cartooning. One of them, Larry Alcala, who started his career in 1946, with the help of Tony Velasquez, attributed thesuccesses during that time to cartoonists “doing their best work.” In a 1988interview, he told me, “Cartoonists had love for their work. It was not ascommercialized then as now.” The good times unraveled, according toAlcala, when a strike (of the printing industry in 1963) closed Ace: “Whenthat happened, a lot of contributors [to Ace komiks] put up their own books.With the proliferation of books, quality went down.”
One should not be too hasty to downplay the impact of the 1960s, for,after all, it was the decade of the revitalization of the komiks — a time whennew types and genres, including bomba and developmental komiks,appeared, when komiks apparently became a prime vehicle to promote thePilipino language, when the careers of some of the Philippines’ most famouscartoonists took off, and when the industry reorganized with new companiesand titles that survived until contemporary times.
Although types/genres of komiks are discussed later in this article, twoare singled out here as products of the 1960s — bomba and developmental.Existing side-by-side with bomba films, pornographic bomba komiks grewout of the more permissive atmosphere of the decade. They were published
76TOP: Dr. José Rizal, Philippine national hero, is often cited the first Filipino cartoonist in the Philippines after he drew “The Monkey and the Tortoise,” in 1885.
ABOVE: The first regular Philippine comic strip, Kenkoy, created by Tony Velasquez in December, 1928. Both courtesy of John A. Lent.