Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Beginnings of the Philippine Komiks Industry

Although Ace Publications dominated the Philippine komiks industry in its early years, it did not monopolized komiks production because other publishers began to venture into komiks publishing as well, inspired by Ace's sucess.
The first publisher to break Ace’s monopoly in komiks publishing was Silangan Publications. In early 1950, it published the Silangan Komiks, the fourth komiks magazine in the Philippines, after Halakhak Komiks (1946), Pilipino Komiks (1947), and Tagalog Klasiks (1949). The Silangan Komiks was a few months older than the Hiwaga Komiks.


Silangan Komiks with a superb cover by Francisco V. Coching. Coching is well-known for his dynamic composition, which became the standard style in those days. Coching was often commissioned by komiks publishers to grace their covers even though Coching himself did not illustrate any of the stories inside them. At that time, Coching commanded the highest pay among Filipino artists, so that small-time publishers could not afford to hire him to illustrate for their regular komiks-nobelas. They were, however, contented to just having him as their cover artist.

Edited by Ben Cabailo, Jr., the Silangan Komiks' first issue appeared on March 15, 1950, and was afterwards published on a regular forthnightly basis. It boasted some of the youngest and most talented Filipino illustrators at the time: Nestor Redondo, Alfredo Alcala, Nolasco "Noly" Panaligan, Elpidio Torres, and Antonio de Zuniga. Of particular interest among the nice stories from Silangan Komiks was Prinsipe Ahmad, Anak ni Aladdin, written and illustrated by the youthful Alfredo P. Alcala. Another rare issue of the Silangan Komiks, this time with cover art by Nestor Redondo. During those times, a Redondo cover art was a sure way to make the komiks saleable.

A few weeks after the first issue of Silangan Komiks, another komikbook entered the komiks scene in 1950, the Aksiyon Komiks, published by Arcade Publications. Like all others before it, Aksiyon Komiks was published forthnightly, with writer Eriberto Tablan as editor, and with Alfredo Alcala and Virgilio Redondo as chief illustrators.

An extremely rare copy of Aksyon Komiks, with cover art by Alfredo Alcala for a komiks-nobela ny Jose L. Santos, Haring Kobra

Since artists and writers were hired on a freelance basis, it was possible for them to contribute to rival publications. Hence, the indefatigable Alfredo Alcala worked as artist in many of these early komikbooks.
A few weeks after Aksiyon Komiks’ first issue, also in the year 1950, three more small time publishers entered the komiks publishing competition: F.J Quioge Publications, Social & Commercial Press, and All-Star Publications.

F.J. Quioge Publications published the first issue of Bituin Komiks sometime in April 1950. Edited by Kulafu creator Francisco Reyes, with Mauro Malang Santos and Menny Martin as his assistants, the Bituin Komiks was issued in an irregular basis.

An extremely rare copy of Bituin Komiks. This is one of the only two issues of Bituin Komiks found in the author's collection.

Owned by Dona Beatriz Guballa, known as "Dona Bating", the Social and Commercial Press later changed its name into Bulaklak Publications. It published three komikbooks: the Bulaklak Komiks in August 1950, Manila Klasiks in 1952, and the Extra Komiks in 1953.

A rare copy of Manila Klasiks with a superior cover art by Tony de Zuniga. Author's collection. As an artist, De Zuniga was like a chameleon, often changing his styles to match his writer's ideas.

All Star Publications meanwhile published the Pantastik Komiks in October 1950, also edited by Ben Cabailo Jr. This was a sister piblication of Silangan Publications which issued Silangan Komiks (FOOTNOTE: I had an initial feeling that Silangan Publications and All-Star Publications were owned by Ben Cabailo although the editorial box did not mention the name of the owner. But in a casual conversation with Frank Redondo (younger brother of Nestor and Virgilio Redondo) sometime in 2004, he confirmed to me that he remembered it was indeed Cabailo who owned these komikbooks.)
Pantastik Komiks#2 with cool cover art by the great Francisco V. Coching. This mermaid komiks-nobela by Hector Rey Arkanghel predates Mars Ravelo's Dyesebel.

Most of these publishers had very small capital, had no printing presses of their own, or lacked the appeal to attract big advertisers. No wonder many of them died a natural death after only a few issues. None of them had equalled the success Ace’s komiks.

Mabuhay Komiks #10 with cover art by Bes Nievera for Teodoro Virrey's classic komiks-nobela, "Borong-Borong".

In fact by the end of the 1950s the Silangan, Bituin, Aksiyon, and Pantastik Komiks had ceased publications. With very little capital and lack of efficient distribution network, these komikbooks suffered the same fate of the Halakhak Komiks. The only saving grace for these komikbboks was that they contained some of the more visually appealing artworks by some of the budding artists at that time, like the Redondo brothers, Alfredo Alcala and Hugo Yonzon.

Aksiyon Komiks, for instance, had some of the greatest komiks novels of its time, like Mario del Mar’s Prinsipe Amante, as superbly illustrated by Alfredo Alcala, and Ang Kamay ni Hugo by Nolasco Panaligan. For a time the Aksiyon Komiks’ Prinsipe Amante series became a serious threat to Pilipino Komiks’ popularity. At about this time, however, a young Mars Ravelo started the popular Darna series, and Prinsipe Amante and Darna became the two most popular series being anticipated by Filipino komiks readers.

The komiks industry continued to grow. Old publishers were closing but more new ones emerged in their place. Some komiks changed ownerships but they continued to be issued.

Atomik Komiks #1 with a gorgeuos cover by Sir Fred Alcala. What a cool title this komiks has!

By 1954, there were at least 20 or so komiks titles that were being sold in the newsstands. The Filipinos passion for komiks had reached an unbelievable peak. Komiks reading had become the Filipinos' national pastime. Marte Komiks#1 by Marte Publications Inc., Manila Philippines. Possibly the first all Sci-Fi komiks-magazine in the Philippines. Cover art by Nestor P. Redondo. I really loved the way Redondo composed this worms-eye view of the lead character! I am very impressed!


Tsampiyon Komiks #4. "Domino" character by Ruben "Rubeny" Yandoc. Champion!

17 comments:

Wylz said...

Marte? Dyan ba nila kinuha yung pangalan ng planeta ni Darna sa pangit na tv series ni Angel Locsin? Planet Marte? Ang gaganda ng mga Komiks na iyan ah! Bakit, ngayon sa panahon ko hindi na sila nakakagawa ang atlas ng ganyan kagandang style? At tsaka hindi rin nakakagawa ng mga magagandang istorya? Kaya hindi na ako bumibili eh! Sa totoo lang! Wala na yatang next Redondo at Coching!

blogtoonistmiel said...

Hi Dennis,

sori for the delayed reply-thanks for visiting my blog nga pala-
oo, ako nga yong dating kartunist ng jingle:) galing ng mga research mo on pinoy comics-may libro ka na ba on them?

miel

Dennis said...

Wylz:Di ako sure kung dyan nga nila kinuha yung pangalan ng planeta ni Darna. Alam mo noong araw kasi ay maraming Pilipino ang nagbabasa ng komiks kaya malakas ang kita ng mga publishers kaya nababayaran nila ng maganda ang mga artists at writers.Kaya magaganda din ang mga drowing at istorya, mahigpit kasi noon ang kumpetisyon. Kung sisigla lang muli angf industriya ng komiks sigurado akong makakagawa pa tayo ng ganyang kagagandang mga komiks dahil marami tayong mga talented na writers and artists. Kaya nga ang payo ko sa mga young artists e pagandahin ng husto ang kanilang drowing kahit maliit ang bayad, kasi exposure din yan di ba? Mamuhunan muna wika nga tapos pag nagugustuhan na ng tao ang drowing niya e tiyak na dadami ang offers sa kanya at pwede na siyang magtaas ng presyo diba? :)
Sir Miel:
Sabi ko na nga ba kayo yung cartoonist doon sa Jingle Magazine! Ang dami naming inipong Jingle magazines noon kaso sa ngayon di ko talaga mahanap dito sa bahay namin. I remember may isa pa akong cartoonist na paborito doon kaso di ko matandaan yung pangalan..teka parang Rox lee yata. Well, bata pa po kasi ako noon kaya pero cartoons yung binabasa ko samantalang yung ate ko ang nagbabasa ng mga lyrics nina Neil Young, Styx, etc. hehe classic seventies talaga.
I like your cartoon style, intelihente at talagang nakakatawa, kaya regular visitor ako ng inyong blog.
Yun nga po palang mga sinusulat ko dito ay galing sa aking research pero di pa po ako nakakagawa ng aklat sa history ng komiks. Siguro po e balang araw :)
More power po sa inyo at Happy New Year na rin!

Dennis said...

To previous readers of this post: I have made some corrections on the titles and dates on some of the komiks, because I had been writing this during the peak of firecracker blasts in our neighborhood, and had been a little confused hehe. so if what you are reading differed on the first time you read this post, please be guided, thanks!

Wylz said...

Hay, sana madevelop ko rin yung drowing ko gaya nila para maging comic artist or kahit book illustrator man lang ako(pangarap ko talaga yun since noong maliit pa ako)...Simula noong una kong nalaman sa Komikero ang pinoy komiks ay talagang namangha ako dahil meron tayong original filipino style sa Komiks na kumbaga sa mga Hapon ay iyong Manga! Sayang lang talaga ang ganitong mga Komiks! Mas magaling pa yata si Redondo't Coching kaysa kay Jack Kirby...Magaling pa rin naman ang Pilipino ngayon sa Komiks eh lalo na sa mga foreign styles like Manga! Ang nakakainis nga lang sa komiks ngayon ay kung makagawa sila ng istorya'y walang kapinoy-pinoy kasi kung makagawa sila ng istorya sa Komiks ay kung saan-saan pinipick-up kagaya ng mga hollywood films at anime! Ang mga europe, america at hapon, kung makagawa sila ng fantasy stories ay binabase nila sa nakagisnan nilang kultura! E bakit tayo hindi man lang makagawa ng ganun ang karamihan sa atin?! Iisipin pa tuloy ng iba masagwa! E kung noon ngang golden age komiks nagagawa pa eh! Puro Japanized at Americanized na ang karamihan sa Komiks ngayon!!! Tapos karamihan ay taglish pa kung magsalita (hindi gaya noon matalinghaga at buong-buo ang pagkapinoy sa bawat-pahina)...Yung mga nagpapantasyang manga komiks artists at writers naman, hindi man lang masubukan iinterpret ang hitsura ng sinauna't modernong Pilpino sa aztig nilang istilo! Sana kasi kahit manga yung style nila'y labas ang pagkapinoy (yun bang manga nga pero about filipino culture ang story) sa bawat pahina lalo na sa istorya...E bakit yung mga hapon ay madali naman nilang naiinterpret ng maganda ang hitsura ng singkiting samurai sa manga/anime?! Tapos puro na lang Manga ang bukam-bibig ng mga makabanyagang Pinoy at sasabihin sa Komiks style makaluma!!!Ito'y yaman ng sining ng kultura natin...

Wylz said...

Ang ibig kong sabihin kasi dito'y ginagaya-gaya nila yung stories nila sa mga napagbabasehan nila sa mga banyaga like Manga, anime at hollywood films! Gaya-gaya puto maya ika nga at walang originality...Hindi man lang magawang maipakita ang kinagisnang kultura ng bayan sa kanilang makabanyagang istilo ng pagguhit at pagsulat!

Erwin said...

ok ka talaga Dennis, hanep ang mga koleksyon mo.. ngayon ko lang nakita 'tong mga komiks na 'to.

nagulat din ako dun sa cover artist ng cover ng Mabuhay komiks, si Bes Nievera kasi was the father of my boss and i think Bes is now retired after working for so many years in animation. Anak din ni Bes si Maritel Nievera, the owner of Cabalen, Mangan, and Oodys food chains.

dado said...

Hi Dennis!
Your collections are really impressive. How did you manage to get all these materials and information? What made you so interested with these old comics? I am also interested with old comics just because I want to see again the old comics I used to read when I was still young.
I hope you will publish a book on this comics history just like what you did on Kenkoy comics. I look forward to it.
More power to your site. I expect to see more suprising information and comic photos about Pilipino comics here.

Anonymous said...

Beautifull!! Astig!!Galing ng mga Pinoy Komiks!!

Gerry Alanguilan said...

O diba Dennis? Kelangan mo na talaga gumawa ng book. Ikaw lang talaga ang may kayang gumawa nyan ngayon. Good Luck!

Dennis said...

Wylz: Good luck sa iyong pagdo-drowing! I do not believe in over-practice, kaya araw gabi pagsanayan mo para mapaganda mo pa ang iyong sining. Tulad mo, gustong gusto ko din ang estilong Pinoy sa komiks bagama't ayos din naman ang Manga, yun nga lang mas personal kong gusto ang estilong Pinoy! Salamat sa iyong pagiging makabayan!
Erwin:
Nakakatuwa naman na kilala mo pala ang pamilya ni Bes Nievera! At nag-animation pala siya! Sana makapanayam natin si Mang Bes minsan para makapagkuwento siya ng mga karanasan niya noong nagsisimula pa lang ang industriya ng komiks sa Pilipinas. Ang pagkakaalam ko ay kasabayan niya sina Redondo at Coching noon sa Ace. Salamat Erwin!
Dado:
Matagal na panahon din ang ginugol ko sa pag-iipon niyang mga lumang komiks. Naisip ko kasi na walang nangongolekta niyan kaya sinimulan ko. Napakasaya palang mangolketa ng mga lumang komiks, kasi para akong nagta-time travel. Bukod dito ang sining ng ating mga sinaunang mga ilustrador sa komiks ay talagang kahanga-hanga. Sa tingin ko nangunguna tayo sa paggawa ng mga de-kalidad na komiks noong 1950s hanggang 1960s. Yan ay dapat kong saliksikin sa mga susunod na panahon at ilalagay ko ulit dito sa aking blog. salamat!
Anonymous:
Salamat sa pagbisita
Gerry:
Salamat sa iyong palagay na makakagawa ako ng isang aklat ng kasaysayan ng komiks. Hayaan mo, gusto ko lang makumpleto muna ang mga research ko tungkol sa ating komiks, tapos pag sa palagay ko e karapat-dapat ng isaaklat ay gagawin ko agad. May isang kilalang publisher nga na kumontak sa akin, kung gusto ko daw ay sila ang gagastos sa paglilimbag pero ang sabi ko ay di pa ako handa. Napakarami ko pang dapat isaliksik! :)

erni said...

Hi Dennis,

Agree ako sa kanila. Ikaw lang may "K" gumawa ng aklat ng history ng komiks dito sa atin. Sana maka-gather ka na ng enough materials para matuloy na. Una me sa pila ng mga bibili. HAPPY NEW YEAR sir, to your family too.

erni =)

Dennis said...

Salamat uli Erni :)

mark said...

sir Dennis, kayo po siguro ang makakasagot ng katanungan ko kasi po mtagal ko na nireresearch kaso wala akong mahanap.. alam nyo po ba yung komiks na "Sirena Shiera"? gusto ko po kasing magkaroon ng kopya ng komiks na iyan..Diyan po kasi kinuha ang pangalan ng aking asawa, sabi ng biyenan ko.. Salamat po!

Besflores Nievera Jr. said...

As the son of one of the artists featured in this fine collection, I was immediately struck by the quality of the magazines, as well as the representation of the other artists.

It's good to know that someone out there has taken great pains to recognize these great talents and their place in the art world.

Thanks for sharing this with the world,


Besflores Nievera Jr.
Chicago, IL USA

Dennis said...

Thanks Bes,
Do you havew an email address so we can keep in touch from time to time?
Dennis

bladimer said...

im bladimer usi,
isa ako sa tagahanga ng mga makalumang komiks sa pilipinas at nangangarap din maging isa sa mga pinaka-magagling na illustrator sa larangan ng komiks at diyaryo.
habang pinagmamasdan ko ang mga lumang cover at year 1952, labis akong namangha dahil dati na palang may magagaling na pilipino artist na hindi lang dito sa pilipinas kinikilala kundi maging sa ibang bansa.
sa ngayon, lalao akong nananabik na matuto ng serious at realistic na drowing, kya maraming salamat sa pag-publish ng mga lumangcover ngkomiks. salamat po.