As Tony Velasquez lived his retirement years in the 1990s, he witnessed the continuous decline of the komiks industry in the Philippines. It was in such a sad state that he knew he could no longer do anything about it. The task belongs to the new breed of artists, writers, editors, and publishers.
Even in the 1980s, Velasquez foresaw that the coming of new technologies would adversely affect the komiks readership in the Philippines. By the 1990s the rise of consumerism brought about the affordability of television, computer, internet, cellphones and other new technologies that would outdate the komiks. Indeed, it was something inevitable. Velasquez correctly foresaw that if the Filipino komiks industry was to survive, a return to the classical style of making komiks was not only necessary but expedient.
He said “People no longer read komiks because they found its art to be visually unappealling, and the stories only rehashed from the ones that had been written before. People are intelligent, and you cannot force them to buy anything that they know is not even worth their money. This is more than true right now. People have a lot of choices where they want their money to go”.
He detested the quality of komiks that were being published.
“These komiks look like they were half-heartedly produced. You could hardly appreciate them. During our time, which was considered the Golden years of the komiks era in the Philippines, the komiks lorded over the people’s interest and appreciation. Our komiks back then could compete pound for pound with the others being published abroad, even those in the United States. We are very proud of what we have produced then. For instance, in one ACE or GASI komiks magazine, I usually have the collaborative efforts of Coching, Ravelo, Redondo, Del Mundo, Alfredo Alcala, Pablo Gomez, Fred Carrillo, and many other talented artists and writers. The komiks magazines virtually sold out once they came out in the newsstands because the people thought they were buying something that is worth more than their money. Our komiks magazines then were truly beautiful works of art, and we are very proud of them”. These words could not have been more well put indeed.
“Now”, he continued, “the komiks look anemic with their ghastly coloring, sloppy drawings, and rehashed stories. You cannot begin to compare them with what was being produced during the olden days”.
What then was his view in order for the komiks industry to survive?
“Nothing replaces excellence in komiks production. I still believe that people will buy komiks if they see that it is good, that it is equal to their hard-earned money’s worth. Maybe we could no longer bring back the time when there were hundreds of thousands to be printed just for a single issue, but who knows? But I tell you, the industry will still be there, if only diminished. If we only hold on to the relatively few who still buy komiks because they loved the stories and art in them, then I think it would be the starting point".