Thursday, March 30, 2006

Komiks and the Movies Update 3

Vintage Philippine literary and movie magazines are rich references for identifying komiks serials that had been made into the movies.
I am very fortunate to acquire a good number of these old magazines from the 1920s to the 1950s, a rich minefield of information about our rich comics and movie heritage. Reading these vintage magazines provides me with the feeling of travelling through a Time Machine wherin I could get a glimpse of the olden days even decades before I was born.

My project on "Komiks and the Movies" is really getting exciting as I unearth more rare materials long since been considered extinct. As a komiks and magazine collector, I know how difficult it is to find these materials. Yet, through the years, I have not stopped hunting them in antique shops, Ebay auctions, flea markets, etc. Right now, I have more than 2,000 pieces of old Tagalog komiks and original comic art, and some 300 vintage magazines/songhits.

To my knowledge, there is no existing komiks library or gallery of comics and original comic art in the Philippines, or indeed anywhere else in the world. The National Library formerly has a good number of bound tomes of old komiks donated to them by Lope K. Santos, but all of these(save a two or three tomes) have mysteriously disappeared from their shelves.
The remaining two or three tomes are either in bad condition or very bad condition, with several pages torn or missing. It seemed that librarians have a discrimination towards comics, and they tend to treat it as reading materials "without research value". I found otherwise, reading komiks gives me a profound and unique look on Philippine culture I would not normally find on some boring textbooks.

Anyway, here are some more new finds for my project "komiks and the Movies". I will only concentrate on the Golden years of Philippine comics which, incidentally also coincides with the Golden years of Philippine movies (roughly the years 1947-72). It seemed that the fall of the komiks industry also advresely hurt the Philippine movie industry. I hope that this humble project finds itself in a pictorial book that is currently gestating in my mind.

Goldiger by Dominador Ad Castillo and Nestor Redondo. Serialized in the Manila Klasiks 1953

Oops, before we continue, let's give way to a little commercial from Ginebra San Miguel. The man on the ad says:"Ang Ginebra San Miguel at ako ay malaon ng magkaibigan, at ang aming pagsasamahan ay mananatili hanggang sa wakas ng panahon". Hehe Lasenggo pala ito.

Nemesio Caravana's Kambal sa Sinukuan. Serialized in the comics section of Ilang-Ilang Magazine 1951

Rosa Rossini by Mars Ravelo. Serialized in the Espesyal Komiks, 1959

Severino Reyes' Mga Kwento ni Lola Basyang first appeared as prose fiction in the Liwayway in 1923. These wonderful stories were later adapted into comics by Severino Reyes' son, Pedrito Reyes, in the Tagalog Klasiks Komiks.

A commercial from our sponsor, Omega watches. Only 22 pesos in 1923. From the Lipang Kalabaw magazine 1923. Call La Estrella del Norte department store at tel #250 or #251. Offer is good while supplies last. Magkano kaya ang buong tindahan ng La Estrella del Norte noon, gusto ko ng bilhin e sa sobrang mura.

Tumbando Cana by Mars Ravelo. Serialized in the Tagalog Klasiks Komiks, 1956

Double-Cross by Francisco V. Coching. Serialized in the Espesyal Komiks, 1956.

Another advertisement, this time from the old reliable Alhambra Regaliz Mahaba. This cigarillo is a favorite of old women in the provinces who smoke it with the burning end inside their mouths while chewing Nga-nga or playing tong-its, hehe. Only 30 centavos per pack in 1954.

Sawa sa Lumang Simboryo by Amado Yasona and Hugo Yonzon. Serialized in the Mabuhay Komiks 1952. This movie received the first ever FAMAS Best Picture Award in 1952.

Anak ng Bulkan by Jose Domingo Karasig. Serialized in the comics section of the Liwayway, 1959. I have watched this movie several times during its reruns in Channel 5 on afternoon weekends. Starring Fernando Poe Jr. Poignant story of a little boy's friendship with a gentle giant bird. The little boy was Ace Vergel as a kid.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tony Velasquez' Kalibapi Family Cartoons

During the Japanese occupation (1942-44), Tony Velasquez created a series of cartoons called “The Kalibapi Family” published weekly in the Japanese-controlled Tribune newspaper. These cartoons told the everyday life of a typical Filipino family in Manila during the Japanese occupation, and as such, should supposedly portray the new social order of the Philippines under the aegis of the Japanese Empire. The Japanese knew well the influence of cartoons on the mind of people, and they intend to utilize it to propagandize their occupation agenda.

The Kalibapi Family’s title was derived from the KALIBAPI or the Kapisanan ng Paglilingkod sa Bagong Pilipinas (Society for the service to the New Philippines), a Japanese sponsored socio-cultural-political party for serving the new Philippines under the aegis of Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It was founded in November 19, 1942, under Executive Order No. 109, issued by Jorge Vargas, the Chairman of the Philippine Executive Commission. All other political parties were dissolved.

The party’s ultimate aim was to “unify the Filipinos, regardless of social class, sex, rank, or religion, in order to achieve, with the cooperation of the Japanese Military Administration, the reconstruction of the country and to reinvigorate in the people oriental values such as faith, self-reliance, respect and hard work” Source: A.V.H. Hartendorp, The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines, Bookmark, 1969

Like all others employed by the Japanese, Velasquez became member of the Kalibapi party. By 1943, there were already some 500,000 members of the Kalibapi. Source: Augusto De Viana, Kulaburetor! UST Press, 2003

The Kalibapi Family cartoons first appeared on a January 1943 issue of the Tribune. As earlier mentioned, these cartoons were supposed to be a propaganda material to serve the Japanese purposes, but Velasquez wisely managed to evade portraying it to be such.

In my readings of the Kalibapi cartoons, I have not seen anything that would make it appear as pro-Japanese or even remotely a propaganda material.

The first cartoon depicts the Japanese policy o "Philippinizing" the country, an attempt to throw away the acquired materialistic values we inhereted from the Americans. It is an attempt by the Japanese to empahsize on their propaganda "Asia for Asians, and Philippines for Filipinos"
The second cartoon show what can possibly happen if one is to hoard things to make profits in the future.

Actually, Velasquez “cheated” the Japanese Censors in this comic strip--and he got away with it. Instead of creating propaganda cartoons that portrayed the moral justification of the Japanese occupation, he portrayed the inherent qualities of the Filipino people in times of distress.

This cartoon escaped the supposedly keen eye of the Japanese military censors. By using an analogy to a captive bird, this cartoon plainly stated the Filipinos' desire for freedom. Had the Japanese noticed this, Velasquez would surely have been incarcerated in the Fort santiago.

Filipino values like pagtitiis, pagtitipid, and pagiging magalang were recurring themes in the cartoons. These, of course, did not conflict with the original aims of the Kalibapi Party, which only vaguely benefited the interests of the Japanese.

Another frequent theme in the comic strip focused on the malicious profiteering of some greedy Filipinos who took advantage of the current scarcity of basic necessities.

These two cartoon strips depicted the malicious profiteering of some Filipinos' during the hardest days of the Second World War.

It was remarkable that this strip was able to pass the approval of the Japanese censors. In fact, had it not been a time of war, the Kalibapi Family may well have passed for an educational comic strip intended for Filipino school children.

Velasquez’ fellow writers in Liwayway also tricked the Japanese. They would weave stories of heroism of Filipino guerrillas in between lines and pages that contained Japanese propaganda. Since these stories were written in Tagalog, the unwary Japanese thought they were publishing “excellent” propaganda materials.

Working for the Japanese was not particularly pleasant to Velasquez, and he still harbored hopes that the Americans would soon return to liberate the Philippines.

He admitted though that the Japanese showed some deference to him presumably because of his reputation as an artist, and not the least because of his popularity with the reading masses. For the meantime, he decided that it was best to serve the country in the best way he could, without compromising his patriotism. The complete originals of the Kalibapi Family that were published in the Japanese-controlled Tribune newspaper. Author's collection.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Alfredo Alcala's Voltar

Whenever I gaze at the pages of Voltar, I often wonder at the sheer magnitude of Alfredo Alcala's power. I would then shake my head in utter disbelief of how an illustrator could be able to capture so dramatic a composition even the most talented photographer could fail to capture in real life.

From my conversations with several of Alcala's friends and contemporaries, I gathered that Alcala often preferred to be alone while drawing his comics. He would shut himself for several days, often with only a few hours of sleep in between, in order to create the comics masterpieces that he became famous for.

In those days, Alcala was known as the most indefatigable Filipino illustrator. He would churn out at least eighty pages of comics pages in a week's time. The quality never suffers though, as evidenced by the innumerable classic artworks that have come out from his brush and ink in almost the same time.

Alcala's classic works in Philippine comics like Voltar, Guerrero, Barracuda, Tres Ojos, Okleng, Cuatro Vidas, Kasaysayan ng Paglipad, Battleship Yamato, and so many more bore the real essence of the master's idiosyncrasies. He could put himself into any era and for sure there will be no mistake in costumes, atmosphere and ambience. The drawings are so all intricately rendered you wondered wether they were in fact, artworks of Gustave Dore's engravers.

Certainly no other Filipino artist could duplicate the great energy of Alfredo Alcala. Indeed, he is a loner, as some of his contemporaries may say, but it is because he was the only one who could do what he was able to do.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of his immortal pages from the Voltar serialized novel that was published in his own comic book, Alcala Fight Komix in 1964. Alcala's Voltar predates Howard's Conan in comics form, and it is, according to the Comic Book Artist Magazine "one of the most magnificent adventures to have been written and drawn in comics".

I would like to thank my friend Manuel Auad of Auad Publishing for the gift of several original Alcala pages, including a very nice original Voltar page shown in the last image below. Manuel Auad is the writer of Alcala's Voltar (and the Buccaneers of the Skull Planet) that had been published by Magic Carpet in 1977. Thanks so much for your thoughtfulness, Noli!

A gift from Mr. Manuel Auad, publisher of Auad Publishing. Thanks so much Noli!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Komiks and the Movies Update (2)

Here are some more new finds for my pet project Komiks and Movies:

Guwapo by Carlos Gonda(Pablo S. Gomez). Serialized in Espesyal Komiks 1954.

Ifugao by Cirio H. Santiago and Alfredo Alcala. Serialized in the Hiwaga Komiks 1956.

Ooops, just a little advertisement from our dear sponsor Pepsi-Cola. Only 15 centavos per bottle in 1949. Ang Lugod ko..Mabuhay! Hehe

Pulot-Gata by Francisco V. Coching. Serialized in Pilipino Komiks 1954

Mariang Sinukuan by Narciso Asistio. Serialized in the Bulaklak 1953

Another commercial, this time from our dear sponsor Lifebuoy, the soap of the stars! 1955

Salabusab by Francisco V. Coching. Serialized in the Liwayway 1956

Jimmy Boy by Manuel Ramirez. Serialized in Pilipino Komiks 1956

Known as the "Great Profile", Leopoldo Salcedo was the King of Philippine Movies during the Golden Years of Philippine Cinema. He was also known as the Rudolph Valentino of the Philippines. Es muy guapito y simpatico.

Zafra by Conde Val Pierre. Serialized in Bulaklak Express Komiks 1958

Hagad by Amado Yasona. Serialized in the Mabuhay Komiks 1954

Time out for a little advertisement from our friendly sponsor, Cashmere Bouquet. Only 25 centavos in 1954.

Asintado by Clodualdo del Mundo and Fred Carrillo. Espesyal Komiks 1958

Vintage Magazines from the 1940s and the 1950s.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Alex Nino Comic Art Gallery 4

La Bamba is a serialized comics novel written by Pablo S. Gomez( who used the pseudonym Rene Rosales) and illustrated by Alex Nino in Planet Komiks in 1972.

The story revolves around the fierce rivalry of twin sisters (one is fat, the other is thin) for the love of Dante, a policeman. The twin sisters (known as the La Bamba sisters) kill for money in order to lavish gifts for Dante, who did not like them nor accept their gifts. Moreover, he long suspects that the twin sisters were responsible for the number of killings that have mysttified the police. When Dante had gathered enough proof to arrest the two, it was already too late, because the twin sisters already killed each other out of jealousy.

These originals and all the others that I have posted in this blog, are from my own collection of original comic art. I do not have yet a large scanner capable of scanning large originals such as these ones, so what I did was just to photograph them indoors using a compact digital camera, which explains why some portions of the images may look dark, or out of line. The originals themselves are well-preserved in a smoke-free environment.

To my numerous friends and blog neighbors who sent emails requesting for large scans, I have to decline because I have no time really scanning large artworks with my small scanner, and stitching them with one another. However, you can borrow any image you may want from this site. When I'm able to purchase a big scanner, I'd be more than happy to share with you my collection. I really intend to make this website a humble contribution to a better appreaciation and understanding of Filipino comic art heritage.

LA BAMBA: First Issue, Planet Komiks #104 1972

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

Page 5

Detail of Page 1

Friday, March 17, 2006

Nestor Redondo: Illustrator Par Excellence

As an admirer of comic art, I have familiarized myself with the drawing styles of great Filipino comics artists. These Filipino comics artists have made a name not only in the Philippines but also throughout the world where their names grace some of the most popular comics in the United States.

One of the greatest Filipino illustrators to have graced the pages of American comics was the brilliant Nestor Redondo.

Nestor Redondo's earlier works in Philippine comics had established a multitude of following among Filipino comics illustrators and fans. Although it would be in the Darna series where Redondo first gained prominence as an artist, yet I believe that the years 1952-57 were the peak years of his illustrative prowess.

Original cover art of Hiwaga Komiks #29 by Nestor Redondo, for the graphic serial "Raul Roldan", written by Mars Ravelo. From the author's collection.

His works on Ang Signo, Raul Roldan, and Serafin Arkangel during these years are perhaps some of the best comic arts to have graced the pages of Philippine comics.

His further works in the United States established him as one of the world's finest illustrators.


Nestor Redondo's first major work in the United States was the Swamp Thing, where he took over illustrating the mysterious mossy giant when the equally talented Berni Wrightson left the series.

While regular Swampy readers are still divided over which artist is the better between the two, it is clear from the start that Redondo was the best Wightson replacement. Comic Guide reviews the stark difference between Wrigthson's evocative drawing style against Redondo's realistic renditions of human figures. "Redondo's style was in complete contrast with Wrightson's" says editor Frank Plowright, "yet Redondo's style was also very accomplished".

The Comic Guide, edited by Frank Plowright. A critical refrence guide to collectable comics.

A couple of issues later, it was Len Wein who left the creative team (apparently out of difference with DC management) and David Michelinie took over as Swamp Thing writer. The new team of David Michelinie and Redondo had their classic moments in the continuing saga of the Swamp Thing, and Redondo would remain Swampy's illustrator for a total of 12 issues.

Cover: Swamp Thing #13, Nestor Redondo

After Swamp Thing, Redondo illustrated the Rima the Jungle Girl, which according to Comic Guide is Nestor Redondo's finest work. "Redondo's version of the South American jungles is a terra incognita full of sinous big cats and snakes, his Rima a ghostly figure of who is both majestic and innocence"
To top it all, Rima's covers were graced by none other than Joe Kubert, who had since then become one of Redondo's great admirers. Says Plowright, "Rima is one of DC's great, yet overlooked masterpieces"

The Comic Book Artist Magazine described Redondo's first double splash page of Rima as one of Redondo's finest examples of illustrative prowess.

"It is one of the most beautiful beginnings of any comic books to have been published", says the magazine. There were all in all seven Rima comic books that had been published.

A panel page from Rima the Jungle Girl. The series lasted seven issues.

Perhaps privy to Joe Orlando and Joe Kubert( yet of course, unknown to American comics readers) was the fact that even more than twenty years before, Redondo had already created a similar character to Rima, in the character of Diwani, published in the Hiwaga Komiks in 1951. It was a popular serial in the Hiwaga Komiks, so popular it had been made into a movie starring Alicia Vergel, then one of the Philippine's most popular actresses.

Diwani, the first jungle-girl created by Nestor and Virgilio Redondo in the Hiwaga Komiks.
Another cover by Redondo in Hiwaga Komiks #35 for the popular Diwani serial.

Redondo's next project with DC was the comics adaptation of the Bible, as scripted by Sheldon Mayer and edited by Joe Kubert.

Working on the lay-outs of Kubert, Redondo presented the Bible into "a wholly engaging panoramic scale of spectacular proportions. Redondo excelled himself in providing page after page of detailed, almost baroquely intricate tableux, making full use of thje comic's large format...for fans of great art, this is a must".(source: Comic Guide, edited by Frank Plowright)

After the Bible, Redondo engaged in numerous drawing assignments for several U.S. comics companies including Marvel and Warren. One of his best works was a portfolio of Conan paintings that have been much admired internationally.

The great contributions of Nestor Redondo as illustrator par excellence was fully recognized by the Americans when he was honored with the Inkpot Award during the 1979 San Diego Comics Convention. He was, so far, one of the only four Filipinos to have been honored with this prestigious award. The other two, of course, were Alex Nino, Alfredo Alcala, and Ernie Chan.

Nestor Redondo is undoubtedly ranks among the world's finest illustrators, and although he had been honored several times in the Philippines and the United States, yet he always remained humble and meek as an artist and gentleman, a fact that doubly endeared him to so many of his friends and admirers.

He passed away in 1995.