May 7, 2011. I attended my very first Free Comic Book Day (a yearly event around the world) at our local comic book store. Even before the mall opened, people were lining up to get free comic books and meet their favorite artists and writers. While we wait in a line that seemed endless, my friend and I reminisce about the local comics we read when we were younger.
Back in the days, as I remember, you can buy comics from the street stands for ten or five pesos. These were local comics with all sorts of weird stories, funny stories and even love stories. Panday and Darna were the most notable, but there were tons more of stories you can read. I remember reading about Aswangs and other earthly creatures. Horror was my favorite genre of comics when I was a kid and it would always give me nightmares. But it was exciting to read them. The quality of storytelling and the artwork caught my eye too and I admired them.
And then, during my preteens, cartoons, movies, the Internet and anime replaced comics. Local comics suddenly disappeared in the bookshelves and the streets and no one was reading them anymore. Reading was replaced by watching whatever famous anime was being aired in the local channels. We were buying collectable cards with their favorite anime character, action figures, posters, video games and whatever thing that has our favorite character’s face in it. We talked about anime all the time and no sign of local comics. Artists and writers of local comics became writers and artists for foreign companies and local companies stopped publication. Filipino comic artists thrived in the mainstream foreign comics but local comic books became extinct or underground.
But then there was a glimmer of hope. During my high school year around 2000, Culture Crash Comics was published and every one was at awe. It was in full color with an anime style of comic, but it was written and drawn by local artist and writers and Tagalog. It was a big hit among comic book readers and non-comic book readers alike, as well as anime fanatics. The quality of the story and art was very promising and it gained a huge fan base. Once again people were reading local comics. Sadly it only lasted about 14 issues. But it was a great restart of the local comic scene.
Nowadays local comics are back in the bookshelves and what’s great about it is that most of them are self-published. It’s so great to see that local artists have the courage to publish their own works with such trust on their own art that they know their readers will enjoy and buy them. The talent of our local writers and artists are so great that I prefer to collect them more than the mainstream international bestsellers available in bookstores. I have such great admiration for the filipino comic book artists and writers. Recently, local comic book writer and artist Gerry Alanguilan was nominated for an Eisner award for his graphic novel Elmer. I read some part of the first issue (and I can’t wait to get my hands on all parts) and I must say, the award was well deserved.
As we approach the buffet of free comics, I couldn’t wait to get hands on Indie Maximus, the limited pinoy independent komik sample. When I got my copy plus 50 more free back issues of comic books, I saw the future of the local comic book scene and it looks like a full color print.