Monday, December 29, 2008

The Filipino's Resurgence in Comics, Here and Abroad

I'm all but retired from collecting monthly comics, and even from posting on this blog, which was purportedly supposed to be devoted to "pop culture" such as comics, movies, books and TV programs after I'd designated my "multiply" blog as the site of my ruminations and after I pretty much stopped following Formula One after watching Ferrari throw a potential driver's championship away. This blog has, for the last couple of months, actually felt by and large irrelevant as I find I have surprisingly little to say even though I've been busier, and happier, in the last year than I EVER have. Maybe the problem is that "tantrum" now sounds like a complete and utter misnomer. Still, someone once said not to get rid of the stuff I write as this is actually inventory.

Well, introspection aside, I thought it worth writing that even though 2008 may not have been the best year for comic enthusiasts in general in terms of the available reading material, it's been a great year for fans of Filipino comic book creators, who got to flex their artistic muscles in both local and foreign publications.

2008 was the year that Gerry Alanguilan concluded Elmer, his highly engaging, if flawed miniseries about talking chickens. It was the year Budjette Tan and Ka-Jo Baldissimo presented not just one but two collected editions of Trese, their refreshingly original and distinctly Filipino series about an investigator into the paranormal. It was the year that Arnold Arre, the creator of the beloved Mythology Class, launched another graphic novel.

It was also a continuation of the Filipino artist's long-running winning streak in drawing American comics. For eight months of this year, Secret Invasion, a Marvel miniseries drawn by Filipino Lienil Francis Yu, topped the sales charts, and this month has seen the launch of Marvels: Eye of the Camera, the sequel to the groundbreaking miniseries by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, with Filipino Jay Anacleto taking over the art chores from Ross this time around. Of course, Filipinos are making their presence known all over the comics landscape with artists like Carlo Pagulayan, Phillip Tan, and Mico Suayan to name a few, landing regular gigs among the big comics companies like Marvel, DC and Top Cow/Image, also to name a few.

Unfortunately, the recent financial crunch has meant another price hike for some mainstream comics, and the decrease in spending on luxury items, which is essentially what comics are, may inevitably hit the industry, but it's nice to know that, for this year at least, Filipino talent has continued to make quite an impression on comics readers around the world.