Friday, December 08, 2006

Tony Velasquez Photo Gallery 3

Tony Velasquez, age 3, with the bike that was a gift to him by his father, Eusebio Velasquez, circa 1913.

Tony Velasquez, age 5, circa 1916. Unknown to many, Tony Velasquez was a vistuoso violinist who studied under the great Filipino composer, Bonifacio Abdon.

Studio Portrait, taken the year Kenkoy was born in the pages of the Liwayway in 1929.

The Don Ramon Roces Swimming Team, circa 1936.

The very first Kenkoy greeting card sent by Tony Velasquez to Ms. Pilar Tongco, during the Japanese Occupation, 1943. Tony Velasquez was employed as graphic artist by the HODOBU, a Japanese information service bureau located in Escolta. Ms. Pilar Tongco was employed as librarian there.

A Kenkoy Birthday Card sent to Ms. Pilar Tongco during the last year of the Japanese Occupation, 1944.

Velasquez in 1946, right after the founding of Ace Publications and Pilipino Komiks, 1947.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

GRUAGA: The Fantasy World of Alex Nino

Gruaga: The Fifth Corner of the Earth, was ALEX NINO's first attempt at writing fantasy novel. Although a relative beginner in the comics industry in the 1960s, Nino proved that he was a master not only of fantasy illustration, but writing as well.

Here in Gruaga, a young Nino attempts to enter the select class of great Filipino artists who not only write but also illustrate his stories. It was a bold attempt, at a time when some of the best artist-writers in Filipino comics were still at their heyday, including Nestor Redondo, FV Coching, and Fred Alcala.
Nino, however, succeded well and even the great Redodndo was able to remark "He is someone we must watch".

A few years later, Nino was on his way to international stardom as American comics publishers discovered his rare talent in fantasy and horror illustration.

I have several issues of Pioneer Komiks that contained several installments of GRUAGA, and I would regularly feature these rare pages here as part of my attempt to give due honor to one of the greatest illustrators of all time. Cover of Pioneer Komiks #113 by the great Filipino international illustrator Alex Nino.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Philippine Vintage Cartoon Strips

I have a liking for vintage cartoons and have spent a lot of time hunting for them in vintage magazines and newspapers, where they usually reisde prior to the birth of the komiks form. IThrough the years , I have acquired hundreds of interesting titles and I would like to share some with you from time to time (or if my time would permit me).

Here are some vintage cartoon strips from the early 1920s. Published in an obscure news-magazine called "Telembang" these strips are entitled "Si Kiko at Si Angge", a husband and wife comedy which antedates Kenkoy at Rosing for about seven years.

A cartoon strip which satirized the political issues of its era, the "Kiko and Angge" comic strip was written by Tagalog novelist Inigo Ed Regalado, and hilariously illustrated by the young Fernando Amorsolo, National Artist for the Fine Arts. it also reflected the life of the Filipinos during that era when the Philippines was still occupied by the United States.

Here are some of the earliest ones found in my collection:

You can see here that even at that early time of Philippine politics, many politicians are already making into campaign "fever" for their respective candidates against their opponents. Some Filipinos, however, like Kiko, are too naive to even notice this. (It should be noted that Filipinos were allowed then to vote only for Senators and Representatives. The country was still ruled then by the American Governor General)

To understand this period cartoon, one must first know the context of socio-political background of the 1920s era. During that time, the Filipinos longed to have the United States grant Philippine independence. The Filipino leaders at that time, such as Quezon, Osmena and Aguinaldo, were sent to the United States to discuss hilippine independence from the the U.S. with the American PresidentHarding. Funded by public donations, these travels of Filipino leaders to the United States were known as "The Philippine Mission", the mission to acquire our independence. Yet, as this cartoon shows, some Filipinos believed that it would just be a waste of time, and that the "mission" will just spend the public fund for their personal luxuries and sightseeing.

This is a typical cartoon cover of the Telembang, a biting satirical Tagalog newsmagazine of the 1920s. No wonder it was hounded by libel suits so that a few years later, it was forced to close down.

Friday, October 27, 2006

BEMBOY: Ravelo's First Comic Strip, 1939

I recently purchased an old 1939 magazine called MABUHAY EXTRA from my local antique dealer, and while I was reading the magazine, I was stunned to see this:

All the while everyone thought that Mars Ravelo started cartooning in Bulaklak magazine in 1947, with his supposedly "first" comic strip Rita Kasinghot. He had applied earlier that year in Ace Publications but then Ace editor Clodualdo del Mundo rejected him.

It was a bruise on the confidence of the young Ravelo, but being a fighter(as he always say he was), he shrugged his shoulder and went straight to Dona Bating, publisher of Bulaklak Publications. Maybe Ravelo was lucky, since he found Dona Bating in a serene mood: she was lazily seated on one of the steps of the stair, her hair being removed of lice.

The old lady liked Rita Kasinghot, and there and then hired Ravelo as a regular cartoonist of Bulaklak. Ravelo's Rita Kasinghot comic strip gave a new life to Bulaklak which was until then a no match to the popularity of Ace's komiks-magazines. For Ravelo, it was a sweet success, because afterwards, it was Del Mundo who wanted to recruit him back to Ace. He did, and the rest was history.

I re-read the classic "History of Komiks in the Philippines", and there it definitely says that Ravelo's first comic strip was Rita Kasinghot. I suppose R.R. Marcelino interviewed Ravelo and it could be possible that Ravelo himself confirmed this.

Now, a rewriting of this portion of history is needed. It was not Bulaklak who gave Mars Ravelo his first job as cartoonist, it was Mabuhay.

I can therefore safely say that Bemboy, and not Rita Kasinghot, is the very first cartoon strip of the great Mars Ravelo.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I was fortunate to have a free afternoon last Saturday (october 21), to attend the 2nd annual KOMIKON, a local mini version of the San Diego Comics Convention.
I really did plan to set a booth there to sell some old komiks and original arts but at the last minute i decided to just be a spectator, so I can visit my friends' respective booths and give support to their comics creations.
I arrived almost 3 O'clock in the afternoon, so I already missed some activities in the morning. But I was glad to see some of my friends there like Erwin Cruz(Cruzifix), Gerry Alanguilan, Randy Valiente, and the illustrator Mario Macalindong.
I also purchased several new comic books like Alanguilan's ELMER, Manix Abrera's KIKO MACHINE 2, KC Cordero's Filipino Komiks #1, as well as some indie comics by young comics creators. It is important for me to support their efforts to continue the tradition of comics making in the Philippines.
I am very impressed with the enthusiasm and the energy manifested by these people when it comes to local comics. With them leading the way, it would come as no surprise if the once glorious era of Philippine comics will be revived, which is a sort of Renaissance.
I am very enthusiastic with Gerry's Elmer, a modern fable about chickens freely interacting, living, and even marrying with humans. Whoa..if you haven't read it yet, go buy one from your local comics dealer (ComicQuest or Filbars), and you'll certainly like the poignancy of the story(even if it's not yet 3 and 4 are still in the making).
I salute Gerry for having the courage to come out with his own publishing company at a time when the comics industry is at its ebb. Will it take a chicken to revive the industry? Hehe that is a great great possibility since Elmer is a great great comic book.
I also commend the efforts of former Atlas Editor KC Cordero for spearheading the publication of Filipino Komiks#1, an attempt to revive the comics industry from its very roots. Some of the contributors to this comics are veterans of the Philippine comics industry like writer Joemari Lee, and illustrators Randy Valiente, Carl Comendador, Gibert Monsanto, Dante Barreno, Rico Rival, Nar Castro, and many others.
I am also very pleasantly surprised to find out that once again the ALCALA LEGACY has an exhibit of Alfredo Alcala's original works. I marvelled at the artworks of Voltar, Ukala, Yamato, and some other very rare pieces of comic art from the master's personal collection. What a great collection it is and deserves a permanent place in a museum devoted to comic art.
I didn't have enough time though to visit everyone like Reno Maniquis, who is managing the Mars Ravelo booth, Gilbert Monsanto, and Carlo Vergara. I have wanted to see them but it was already getting late, and I know they're very busy, too.
Lastly, I was very pleased to meet some of the veterans from the Golden Age of Philippine comics. It is very heartwarming that they went there to show that the love for comics is always in their blood. I didn't want to go without a picture of all of it's here:

Left to Right: Nar Castro, Yong Montano, Jess Jodloman(Alex Nino's teacher!), Mar Macalindong, Me(as in, me), and collector and comics archivist Orvy Jundis (Thanks to Erwin Cruz for this photo)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Blog Update


I would like to apologize to regular visitors of this blog for not being able to update it as regularly as I had wanted to. I've been quite busy lately scanning originals and old komiks materials for the future home of this blog..which is
Yes, I have decided to expand this blogsite into a website so that it will be more comprehensive and more accessible. So I hope you will understand my silence for a while..

Anyway, during the last few months I received emails and invitations for talks, interviews by various organizations, students with thesis, as well as Channel 7 ( for their Bakekang series). From this time on, however, I am no longer accepting any of these requests for interviews.

I think it is because I felt used by Channel 7 production crews who interviewed me three times in one week two months ago. All the while I was made to believe that they were going to present a nationally televised presentation of Philippine komiks history, so I generously welcomed them to my home where they interviewed me about the history of komiks, and let me haul from my shelves my old komiks collections for them to shoot and photograph. My neighbors were alarmed why Channel 7 crews kept visiting my house and they thought that I'm already a celebrity...duh???
And then when the production was shown on Tv, not a significant portion on komiks history was included...all that was included was about Captain Barbell, and his new costumes etc..obviously geared to promoting their Captain Barbell series...And to think that they interviewed me close to two hours about komiks history...

I am not assuming that students will do such thing...but no I cannot accomodate all of you for interviews...So I am making it clear and simple..send no more emails asking for interviews as I will not answer them.

If you want to know something about the history of Philippine komiks, you can go to my previous posts in the archive section of this blog. Those articles are by no means complete of course, ..(hint you have to research further in libraries or just google them).. Plus you can also browse GerryAlanguilan's wonderful website, which offers a fascinating section on komiks history in his Philippine Komiks Art Museum, as well as his previous wonderful articles on komiks history.

I also recommend you to read the classic "History of Komiks in the Philippines and other Countries" by Cynthia Arevalo, et al, as it offers a fascinating, albeit biased, overview of the komiks tradition in the Philippines.

As for libraries...well, I don't know any library that has a wide selection of Tagalog komiks materials but you can try the Lopez Memorial Museum located in Benpres Buiding in Ortigas Avenue.. They have a large inventory of rare Philippine cartoons from 1800s to 1930s, as well as complete set of the Liwayway from the earliest issues to the 1950s. They may also have a few pieces of Ace komiks materials.

The National Library has two or three tomes of bookbound komiks but do not expect to find rare they have disappeared long time ago because librarians usually discard komiks tomes annually because they felt komiks have no "research value".


I also receive frequent emails regarding photocopying of old komiks. I'm sorry but I only entertain illustrators(or writers) or their families to xerox their or their relatives' works...So if you are an artist who want to search for your early works and they happen to exist in my collection..I can photocopy with only a minimum charge, i.e. xerox and paper expenses..

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Tony Velasquez: Photo Gallery 2

Class Portrait: Sta. Ana Elementary School 1917. Young Velasquez is third boy from left in the third row.

Studio Portrait 1929, around the time of the birth of Kenkoy

Ms. Pilar Tongco, the real-life Rosing of the Kenkoy Album, circa 1943

The long-awaited marriage finally happened in 1967

When they were kings...the kings of komiks in a rare photograph taken while on a beach holiday, circa 1958. Tony Velasquez is second from left, first row.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Tony Velasquez: Photo Gallery

Self-Portrait, 1946
Acceptance Speech, Gawad CCP Grand Award for the Culture and Arts, 1993
Tony Velasquez(1910-1997), Educator, Editor, Publisher, Storyteller, Cartoonist, Illustrator, Poet, Essayist, Fine Artist, Founder of the Pilipino Komiks, and the recognized Father of The Tagalog Comics Magazines.
The last known portrait..celebrating his 86th birthday on October 29, 1996.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Gallery of Philippine Original Cartoon Art

Bing Bigotilyo is Francisco V. Coching's first cartoon character. It first appeared in the Silahis Magazine in late 1930s, was censored during the Japanese occupation, and continued after the war. Although Coching was more well known for his serious comic art, which by the way influenced generations of Philippine comics artists, yet unknown to many, he started out his career as a cartoonist in the Silahis Magazine. His style of cartooning was different from the style of Tony Velasquez or Francisco Reyes, but more in the vein of style by Mauro Malang and Romeo Tabuena.
I happen to keep an extant, although badly damaged original of Bing Bigotilyo from the 1930s. Yet this in itself is a proof of Coching superior cartooning technique, as well as his hilarious sense of humor.

Mars Ravelo's BUHAY PILIPINO may well be the master's greatest work, and for a reason. It was Ravelo's most popular and enduring work. I really think that Ravelo was at the height of his writing prowess when he created Buhay Pilipino. It was more than a comic strip, it reflected the very life of the typical Filipino family of those golden years. More than any other cartoon strip, Ravelo manifested his deep knowledge of sociology and psychology in Buhay Pilipino.

Even Ravelo's former critic, the veteran writer Clodualdo del Mundo, was forced to admit that "Buhay Pilipino" amused him. "Ravelo's writing is admirable, his Tagalog is deep, and he has a great sense of humor".. "Buhay Pilipino" satirized Philippine life during the 1940s and the 1950s. The older generation of Filipinos will never forget its immortal characters Tekla, Gorio, Lola Belay, the spinster Kety, and a whole lot of others that Ravelo added to its roster as it made its success through the hearts of the Filipinos. Quite simply put BUHAY PILIPINO is a tour de force. If you can find an old copy of the Liwayway containg this strip, you will see what I mean.

When Ravelo left the Liwayway to concentrate on his own comic publishing, he could not bring with him his Buhay Pilipino because of legal reasons. It was continued under different titles by other writers like Pat Justimbate (who was a student of Mars Ravelo) and Andres Cristobal Cruz. The above featured originals are the only two known extant originals of Buhay Pilipino from the 1951 series.

One of Larry Alcala's most famous cartoon characters, Asyong Aksaya dubuted in the Tagalog Komiks in the 1970s. It was later adapted into a movie starring Chiquito in the extravagant title role.
Perhaps no other duo in Philippine cartoon history is more memorable than Larry Alcala's Kalabog en Bosyo, who debuted in the Pilipino Komiks in 1947 under the original title ANG KALABOG and the now famous byline "Kalambogesyones ni Larry". Made into several movie adaptations, kalabog en Bosyo is our everyday fumbling detectives who solves the crimes.....accidentally. Other duos that have been partially influenced by Kalabog en Bosyo include Bert Sarile's Ping at Pong and Max en Jess.

A contemporary of Tony Velasquez, Jose Zabala-Santos and J.M. Perez, Francisco Reyes great contribution to Philippine cartoon art is his immortal KULAFU. Of course, none of us younger geneartion living today will know that, because Kulafu existed only during the pre-war years of Philippine cartooning.

Influenced by Rice Borrough's Tarzan, Kulafu was the first ever cartoon strip to cover two whole pages of the Liwayway, and in full color! It was a very popular cartoon at that time, even competing with Kenkoy in terms of mass readership, yet after the war, Reyes surprisingly did not continue Kulafu, but instead created Talahib, another Tarzan-like character in the Halakhak Komiks. Yet despite his early demise, KULAFU will always be remembered as The Lord of the Philippine Jungles.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Kenkoy: The Beginnings

In the 1930s up to the 1960s Kenkoy entertained our lolos and lolas with his wit and humor, as well as his crazy antics, colonial mindset, and carabao english.

Wrote Tony Velasquez in his memoirs "It was all pure coincidence that I created Kenkoy in 1928. The original cartoonist assigned to create the character, Procopio Borromeo, was approached by writer Romualdo Ramos to start a series of cartoons for the Liwayway magazine. But Borromeo, busy with his other deadlines, could not come up with the character, so the job was given to me"

Where did Tony velasquez get his inspiration for Kenkoy's character?
"During those times (the 1920s), in our neighborhood in Paco, there was a group of ukelele-weilding young lads who called themselves Kalatog Pinggan. They would roam the streets up to the early morning hours, searching for wakes(lamayan), and beautiful girls to serenade(harana). They were quite naughty boys but they were all well-dressed in the style of the Jazz Age, what you would call today as "maporma". It was from them that I got the inspiration to create the character of Kenkoy".

So it is not true that Kenkoy was influenced by Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse?
"No, Kenkoy was not influenced by Mickey Mouse. Mickey Mouse and Kenkoy were born on the same year(1928), possibly Kenkoy was even older because I created him sometime in the mid of 1928, but the first issue did not come out until the January 11, 1929 issue of the Liwayway"

How much was he paid during his first years as cartoonist of Kenkoy?
"Romualdo Ramos (who wrote the earliest Kenkoy stories) and I received 20 pesos each for every issue of Kenkoy. And since Kenkoy appeared in the Liwayway four times a month, that means we have 80 pesos each every month..not bad for a beginner cartoonist like me, at a time when the daily wage was only one peso a day".

The first issue of the Kabalbalan ni Kenkoy consisted only of four frames. But later on, due to is success with the readers, the strip was expanded into six frames, and much later, half page. After three years, it already occupied a whole page of the Liwayway, with four colors to boot. A few years later, Kenkoy appeared in translation in all of the magazines of the Roceses including the Ilocano Bannawag, the Bicolano Bikolnon, and the Hiligaynon's Bisaya.
Thus Kenkoy was also the first character to transcend the language barrier of the Philippines, with his presence in some of the major dialects in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, after two years, Romualdo Ramos died, and Tony Velasquez was left to create the scripts as well. "Yet, I still gave the half of my earnings to Romualdo's widow for a full two years afterwards. It must be that way. Yan ang utang na loob, dapat lahat ng tao nakakaalam niyan".

Kenkoy, the first Filipino cartoon character, with his creator Tony Velasquez (aged 19) in the background, the recognized Father of the Tagalog Comics. (This is actually an old Kenkoy figurine doll from the collection of Tony Velasquez, and I placed his vintage picture from 1929 as a background)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Gallery of Rare Komiks

As an identification guide, I will regularly feature in this blog some of the rare pieces in my collection of Philippine comics.
"Komiks" from the 1950s and 1960s are especially hard to come by, as even local antique shops do not carry an inventory of them. Unlike in America, where they have catalogues of all their known published comic books, the Philippines has no such publication in existence.
The closest publication I know that features only a partial list of Philippine comics-magazines is the book "Catalogue of Philippine Periodicals", published sometime in the 1950s. And even that book only lists some three or four titles of komiks.

Through the years, the komiks has gained a somewhat nostalgic value, a look back from the time when Filipinos regard it as their "national book". Sad to say, only a few people in the Philippines have managed to save komiks in their collection. I remember that the National Library had a few nice bound komiks sets that included some of the early issues of Pilipino Komiks, but over time, these somewhat had been lost, or became part of the "discarded" books the National Library regularly sells to the junk shops. Of course, this is because the librarians there regard komiks as publications "without any research value".

Why the rarity? Some important factors led to the rarity of komiks materials: Human neglect, termites, floods, fires, and the humid tropical climate easily destroy the pulp paper of komiks.

People who visit my house often wonder why I collect these things, and the reactions I usually hear from them are "how have you managed to collect them?", "have you read them all?", "My goodness, this komiks is older than me", or "Your collection is unique and weird" hehe...

So for those who had been emailing me to start a continuing gallery of old komiks, here it is. Enjoy!

Friday, June 23, 2006

The Essential Guide to World Comics

I finally bought a copy of "Essential Guide to World Comics" after being tipped by my friend Reno Maniquis that it is already available in Powerbooks.
I think this book is very important since it is the first book to examine in relative detail the comparative comics culture of the different countries of the world.
I am very glad that the rich Philippine comics tradition, hitherto neglected by international comic historians, has earned a generous space in this book, as it relates the unique contributions of the Filipinos to world comics.

Tony Velasquez, the Father of Philippine Comics, was also chosen by authors Tim Pilcher and Brad Brooks, as one of their choices for world class comics creators, together with Japan's Ozamu Tezuka, Argentinian Alberto Breccia, India's Anant Pai, and Belgian Herge, among the few selected others.

A special two-page spread tribute to Tony Velasquez, father of Philippine Comics.

I am also happy to find on the cover of the book our very own Kenkoy(as well as on the back), happily at home among the world's immortal cartoon characters like Astroboy, Dennis the Menace, Captain Marvel, and Tintin.
Interestingly, the book focuses more on the other lesser-known comics industries of Thailand, Vietnam, Hongkong, India, and many other Asian countries.

The Philippines occupies some six pages in the book (including the two-page tribute to Tony Velasquez), as well as some mention on the other sections of the book.

Also noteworthy are the sections on Africa, Europe, and the rest of the so-called "non-manga" and "non-superhero" comics industries.
Perhaps comics researchers and scholars may find the book to be disappointingly too brief and general, but I think the authors succeded in putting together in one compact, fascinating, and lavishly illustrated book a real essential guide to world comics, for the comics enthusiasts and collectors. Or for just anyone with even the slightest interest in comics.

So go ahead and treat yourself a tasteful of a book, and don't expect to borrow someone else's copy, I bet they will never lend their own copy :-)

Book details:
by Tim Pilcher and Brad Brooks
Illustrated, 319 pp.
A Chrysalis Publication, 2005

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A Gallery of Francisco V. Coching's Early Cover Art

Finally, here's a gallery of some of the earliest komiks covers of the great Francisco V. Coching from my collection. For your viewing pleasure.

Halakhak Komiks #9, 1946. This is the only Coching cover for the extremely rare Halakhak Komiks, featuring Bulalakaw, one of his early komiks characters.

Liwayway Cover, Issue for October 9, 1947

Hiwaga Komiks#47, July 16, 1952

Pilipino Komiks#22, April 3, 1947 . Unknown to many, Coching was also a master of the cartoons, as shown in these following covers for the early issues of Pilipino Komiks. Actually his first comic strip in the Pilipino Komiks was Paloma, a cartoon character about a worldly and hilarious young Filipina who was possibly influenced by Tony Velasquez' Ponyang Halobaybay cartoons in the 1930s.

Paloma, the first cartoon character of Coching in Pilipino Komiks, 1947.

Pilipino Komiks#35, October 2, 1948

Pilipino Komiks#31, August 7, 1948

Pilipino Komiks#41, December 25, 1948

Pilipino Komiks #47, March 19, 1949

Pilipino Komiks #51, May 14, 1949

Silangan Komiks #10, September 28, 1950

Tagalog Klasiks #33, October 7, 1950

Silangan Komiks #5 July 13, 1950. This is one of my favorite Coching covers.