Wednesday, November 30, 2005
This original page captures all the classic hallmarks of an Alfredo Alcala comic art. Intricate cross-hatchings, lush brush strokes, superior light and shade treatrment, and over-all magnificent composition. Published in the Universal Komiks, 1971. Story by Pablo S. Gomez.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Monday, November 28, 2005
Back then, I was wondering if I could find newly-published local comic books by Filipino artists, since most of the big-time artists have gone abroad to work in foreign publications. So when I found Wasted and Zsa Zsa Zaturrnah displayed in Comic Quest, I bought them immediately.
Wasted was the creation of a very talented artist who, even at that time, was earning praise for his inking works in such prestigious titles as X-Men, Stone, Wetworks, High Roads, and Superman Birthright. His name was Gerry Alanguilan. Wasted is a comic book which I would like to call “classic”. It is one of the most violent and saddest stories I have ever read. It is a story of man who had lost his self-respect and went about in homicidal rage to avenge his frustrations against the world. My favorite scene in Wasted is the slow-motion fall of Eric from the building, after being hit by a sniper. Eric's panel by panel poetic epistle to his girlfriend Jenny-read as he falls from the building-was so dramatic and emotional. It is one of the most heart-rending letters I have ever read.
Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, meanwhile, is created by Carlo Vergara. I did not know him then, did not even know how he looked like. But his comic book downright floored me through so much laughter. One of the scenes, in which Ada was about to swallow the stone for the first time (Isubo mo na), was so tremendously funny, I literally had tears in my eyes from so much laughter. Indeed, Zsa Zsa Zaturrnah is as hilarious as any comic book you could ever read, so I marveled who this Carlo Vergara was. I looked into the back page (which usually gave some info on the author)…but there was scarcely anything about him there, except mentioning that he was a graphic designer and a former university lecturer. There was a picture of him, too. Alas, it must have been his picture when he was two years old!
Anyway my curiosity got the better of me. I had been a regular follower of Gerry Alanguilan’s Komikero website since that time, and Gerry announced that his Komikero group was holding a Komiks Festival in San Pablo City on December 7, 2003, and one of guests was Carlo Vergara.
I thought why not go there, meet Carlo and Gerry in person, as well as meet several other outstanding artists like Leinil Yu and Wilson Tortosa. The event was to be held on a Sunday, which was perfect, because I didn’t have work. Yet, on the last week prior to the festival, I was contacted by my best friend, asking me to be one of the ninongs for his newborn child. Of course, I could not say no, but I explained I would be late, since I already made up my mind to attend the Festival.
On the early morning of December 7, true enough, I was on the way to San Pablo, carrying a backpack full of comic books: Wasted, Zsa-Zsa Zaturnnah, One Night in Purgatory, and several issues of Superman Birthright, which I planned to have signed by their artists.
I arrived in San Pablo a little over twelve in the afternoon. I admired the exhibit set up by the Komikero group, and was finally able to meet GerryAlanguilan. I had some reservations asking Gerry to sign my comic books, since I still picture him in my mind as “hot-headed” Eric. Yet, on the contrary, he was very kind, humble, and soft-spoken. Since there were several people waiting in line to have their comic books signed by him, I did not push with my plan of interviewing him, and instead said thank you, and went to the table they set up to sell various indie comics. Indie comic books have a special place in my heart. I bought a copy of each, including Jonas Diego’s excellent Book of John, and of course, the zany and hilarious Crest Hutt Butt Shop, again by Gerry Alanguilan.
It was about two o’clock in the afternoon when I met Carlo Vergara. He was wearing a yellow shirt and blue denims, and was sitting in one of the benches, doodling sketches on his notebook. I said “hi”, introduced myself, and told him I admired his work Zsa Zsa Zaturrnah and One Night in Purgatory. He thanked me for appreciating his works and we had a nice conversation. Then suddenly, he sketched a Zsa Zsa pin up in his notebook, and gave the page to me. I was very happy and told him I’d keep this memento of my favorite super gay heroine as long as I live.
I went back to Manila, happy and contented having met many of my favorite younger artists there. Indeed, I feel proud on having befriended such talented artists as Gerry Alanguilan and Carlo Vergara, two prime movers in the Philippine comics industry today. Of course, now you know I'm a big fan of them.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
KENKOY: 1. Isang nakakatawang karakter sa Komiks na nilikha noong 1929 na may maluwang na pantalon at plastadong buhok. 2. Isang mapagpatawang tao. – U.P Diksyunaryong Filipino, University of the Philippines Press
Long before the era of the movie stars and showbiz celebrities, there already was a Philippine pop icon named Francisco Harabas, or more popularly known as Kenkoy.
Kenkoy is your everyday funny man. He was a debonnair, bombastic, irreverent, hilarious, and best-loved.
Francisco “Kenkoy” Harabas was born on the pages of Liwayway on January 11, 1929. Unlike us, however, he did not go through infancy and childhood, but was born straight from the conception of Romualdo Ramos and the brush and ink of Tony Velasquez.
Kenkoy came into this world garbed with the latest fashion of his time, the Jazz Age of F. Scott Fitzgerald, where London-style checkered baggy pants (its hems as wide as one’s shoes), a sailor hat, and a double-breasted polo complete with suspenders, were the leimotifs of the age.
Says Tony Velasquez: “Kenkoy is always pusturyoso…He wore suspenders even before Frank Chavez made them fashionable”
Born during the American period when Western influences were beginning to encroach into Filipino culture, Kenkoy adapted to the changing of his times, making fun of the old mores, and up-to date in the latest trappings of Western fashion. He mouthed the "pidgin" language fashionable among youth at that time, which was a mixture of Spanish, English and Tagalog languages. Resulting in what was later known as “Taglish” and “Spangalog”. Thus was born Kenkoy's trademark dialogues like Halo, how is yu?, watsamara (what's the matter), dats oret (that’s alright), nating duwing (doing nothing), okidoki (okeydokey), lets tek ewok (let’s take a walk), is beri nesesari, and bay gali.
Even today, this mangling of the languages proved an effective technique of humor, recently used to comic effect by actor-comedian Jimmy Santos.
Kenkoy was always in a hilarious misadventure or “kabalbalan”: painting the town red, gate crashing into birthday feasts, attending carnivals and fairs, and, of course, courting Rosing, the immaculate and impeccable Manilena.
Rosing was the epitome of the ideal and much romanticized Filipina. She would not be seen in anything other than the traditional baro't saya or the Sunday camisa y panuelo. She displayed the typical characteristic of a "Maria Clara”: timid, shy and impeccable, carinosa yet selosa, but who can also be matampuhin, and often demonstrates the Filipino value of pagpapahiwatig, which is to show emotions through non-verbal hints, without completely revealing her thoughts.
The Kenkoy and Rosing romance was one of the most enduring and fascinating love story in the history of the print media, a tale that had always been loved by the Filipinos. It was a story made more interesting due to the conflict provided by Kenkoy’s perennial rival, Tirso S. Upot.
Tirso was not the stereotype rival, however, because unlike Kenkoy, he was "guwapo". This makes his character lovable instead of being loathed. There were times when Tirso would get the full attention of Rosing, stealing the show from Kenkoy, to the great anger of our hero.
Kenkoy and Tirso made elaborate schemes to trap each other, but for most of the times, these traps would always backfire to each other. Their comic rivalry for the attention of Rosing provided for most of the strip's early plot.
Kenkoy and Rosing eventually got married and they had several children: Dayunyor Dyulie, Tsing, Doy, Dalisyosa, Etot, Nene, and Piching. They also adopted a child, the wily mute but cute Tsikiting Gubat.
The Harabas family became the most read about family in the entire Philippines, and Filipinos loved to read their story. Their familial affairs mirrored the Filipino family in general, even before the time when Pinoy TV sitcom John and Marsha did the same in the 1970s.
This is possibly the greatest difference of Kenkoy and pals with the other cartoon strips of his time, both foreign and local. While Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, Blondie, Lil Abner, Popeye or Bugs Bunny, would forever be the same in accordance with their respective creators' original conceptions, Kenkoy and his pals would grow with the times, because theirs was a continuing story. They would get married, have children, their mores and actuations grow in accordance to the current trends of Filipino culture.
Thus, in the 1960s when the suspenders, charol shoes, and the baggy pants became out of fashion, Kenkoy had shed them in favor of the more fashionable “beatles” pantalon, collared sport polo, and Converse rubber shoes.
“Si Kenkoy ay laging nasa uso” said Velasquez.
One thing about Kenkoy has not changed, however. It was his hairstyle, which remained slicked back and plastado as before, forever reflecting a four-paneled window. In fact, it is Kenkoy’s most recognizable trademark.
Perhaps only Rosing would retain her original look just as she first appeared in the Liwayway. Up to the 1960s and well into the 1990s (Di Ritarn of Kenkoy), when the mini-skirts were in fashion, she would still wear the traditional bakya and baro at saya. Indeed, her provinciana character
could not be reconciled with the more outlandish attire of the modern times.
On October 29, 1991, on the 81st birthday anniversary of Kenkoy creator Tony Velasquez, a tribute was celebrated in Mnila Hotel to honor the great Kenkoy Harabas, with Senator Heherson Alvarez as Guest Speaker. The funny thing was that during the ceremonies, Senator Alvarez insisted on emceeing the tribute himself. He said “I am such a big fan of Kenkoy, and I won’t pass this opportunity to be an emcee to this important event”. He also pledged to sponsor Tony Velasquez as a National Artist of the Philippines. Today Kenkoy is already seventy-six years old, but he has not grown old, he is still here….debonnair, bombastic, irreverent, hilarious, and best-loved…..I could always figure him out from the great multitudes of other comic characters he had helped paved the way in the Philippine comics scene…He grins and says mischievously….”Bay Gali! watsamara?”
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
A year ago, I acquired this hitherto still unpublished work by Tony Velasquez entitled "Komiks in the Making" . Written and photographed by Tony Velasquez, this work is composed of 20 pages and personally bound into book form by him, sometime in the early 1960s during his term as General manager of the Graphic Arts Service, Inc.,(GASI).
I am featuring it now in this blog, with the gracious permission of Mrs. Pilar Velasquez.
In comic book publishing, the writer and the artist are considered the main creators of a komiks, yet there are many other people involved in its production, especially if the komiks has a large printing order, such as the GASI komiks (Pinoy Komiks, Pinoy Klasiks, Aliwan, Holiday, Pioneer, Teens Weekly).
In this never before seen work, Tony Velasquez takes you on a tour to see how a comic book in GASI was created. One can now readily appreciate the meticulous and painstaking process behind publishing komiks.
At that time, GASI was the largest publisher of comics in the Philippines. Its state of the art printing equipments, such as a stripping machine and a color separation machine (Vario Klischograph), were the first of their kinds to have been imported from abroad for local komiks publishing.
Tony Velasquez invested great time and effort studying the latest technology in publishing comic books, frequently traveling to Germany, the United States, and Japan to study their methods and techniques. The result of these painstaking efforts was the eventual growth and development of the Philippine komiks industry. Indeed, Velasquez not only pioneered the comic strip in the Philippines, he also founded and developed our local komiks industry, thereby employing people by the thousands, from writers to illustrators, from editors to draftsmen, to distributors and agents.
The numbered descriptions of the photographs are as exactly written by Tony Velasquez. Mrs. Velasquez told me that her husband himself photographed these pictures, with the exception of photo #2, which was taken from a tripod.
The notes within the parentheses, in italics, are mine.
KOMIKS IN THE MAKING by TONY VELASQUEZ
1. Scriptwriting—A story idea is hatched and the writer, typical of the scores who contribute to the Graphic Arts Service, Inc, nurtures it into a script.
2. Story Conference—The story is conferred upon by the Board of Editors. Practicing self-censorship, the Board is partial to the story’s entertainment value- the clean, wholesome type.(Some komiks publishers skip this part of the process, jumping immediately to number 3. Tony Velasquez is seated in the middle, his brother Damy Velasquez to his left)
3. Editing- The accepted story goes thru the usual editing for improvement.
4. Illustration- The illustrator, one of the many highly paid artist-contributors of the Graphic Arts Service, Inc., interprets the story into pictures.
5. Lettering- Captions and dialogues are lettered in the panels and balloons respectively to complete the picture-story.
6. Retouching- The retoucher “cleans” originals of overshooting lines and un-erased pencil impressions, etc., fixes panels and balloons of text.
7. Proofreading- The proofreader goes over captions and dialogues for possible errors in lettering and ballooning.
8. Final Editing- Originals, ready for reproduction, undergo final scrutiny by the chief editor (Damy Velasquez, chief editor of GASI, 1963-72)
9. Reproduction- Originals are reduced to komiks-page size into negatives by modern darkroom camera.
10. To Positives- Thru the vacuum contact table, positives are produced from negatives.
11. Stripping- Positives go to the stripping department to be laid out into flats.
12. Cover Color Separation- Highly-skilled craftsman-technician, trained in special color-separation course, does 4-color separation for attractive color covers.
13. Plate-Making- Flats for inside pages are reproduced on offset plates. 4-color letterpress plates for covers are made by VARIO KLISCHOGRAPH- a recent acquisition of the Graphic Arts Service, Inc. (The GASI was the first publisher in the Philippines to acquire this state of the art equipment from Germany)
14. Printing- Deadline finds the plates on the Webendorfer Rotary Offset, here shown rolling out the tens of thousands of copies for one particular issue.
15. Distribution- Copies, ready for the homes, are distributed by the Circulation Department to newsboys and magazine stands.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
The image featured above is its original printed cover. Originally priced at 30 centavos a copy, this comic book was first launched in 1934, written by Romualdo Ramos and illustrated by Tony Velasquez. It is a compilation of the early Kenkoy comic strips from 1929-34.
Well, I'm hoping that this kind of equal sharing between writers and artists exists in present comic book publishing, even when the characters had been licensed to become a Telenovela or a movie. Kawawa naman ang mga artists. "Utang na loob" is indeed a wonderful Tagalog term without equal in any foreign language. Of course, you know what I mean.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Anyway, I immediately composed a capsule biography of Tony Velasquez and emailed it at Lambiek's listed email address on October 27, two days prior to the 95th birth anniversay of Tony Velasquez. For further references about Tony Velasquez, I sent lambiek a link to this blog as well as a link to Gerry Alanguilan's Komikero website.
On october 31, four days after my email, I checked Lambiek again, and lo! Tony Velasquez' biography is already uploaded on their profiles on the section "new additions to Lambiek". It would probably take a few more days for Velasquez' biography to be searchable in Lambiek.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
Cast of Prinsipe Amante (LVN Pictures, 1950). In full Eastman color.
Rogelio dela Rosa as Prinsipe Amante
Delia Razon as Prinsesa Elena
Ben Rubio as Rodrigo
Lila Luna as Lisa
Eliseo Carvajal as Haring Falcon
Naty Bernardo as Reyna Regina
Anyone who knows a copy of this film, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Friday, November 04, 2005
In the olden days, when the almighty Television had not yet invaded the privacy of our homes, the komiks and the radyo-nobela were the favorite pastimes of the Filipinos.