Philippine Komiks Industry (1922-41)

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The years 1922-41 are considered the Platinum Age in Philippine komiks history. In the year 1922 very first Filipino komiks serials appeared as page fillers in Tagalog magazines.

Two popular periodicals, Telembang and a resurrected Lipang Kalabaw, carried anti-American or anti-Federalist satirical cartoons. These two magazines could be considered as the precursor of today's komiks.

There were two prominent comic strips in these magazines that were very popular with the Filipinos during those years: Kiko at Angge in Telembang, and Ganito Pala sa Maynila in Bagong Lipang Kalabaw.

Art historians Alfredo Roces and Alfred McCoy attribute the illustrations of both these comic strips to Fernando Amorsolo. Indeed, Roces featured one of the issues of Ganito Pala sa Maynila in his seminal work on Amorsolo.

In 1923, another Tagalog magazine, the Liwayway, was born. Although the magazine did not contain any comic serials in its early years, this was about to change in 1929, with the publication of Album ng Mga Kabalbalan ni Kenkoy as a filler in the entertainment section of the magazine. Kenkoy was the star of the series, a funny everyday Filipino teen-ager representative of the colonial-minded youth of the early 1930s.

Goaded by the success of his Kenkoy strip, Tony Velasquez created more cartoon strips in the Liwayway: Ponyang Halobaybay (a female version of Kenkoy), Saring Bulilit(a diminutive movie-ticket seller), Totong Barungkol (a kid boxer), Nanong Pandak (the lovable millionaire midget), and Talakitok (a fish-eyed dimwit).

Other cartoonists soon created their own cartoon strips in the Liwayway. Francisco Reyes created Kulafu in 1932, and J.M. Perez created Si Pamboy at si Osang and Pakitong Babuy also in 1932.

Meantime other cartoonists were bringing the cartoon art to another level. These were E.Z. Izon, Jose Perreira, Liborio Gatbonton, and Irineo Miranda. Their cartoons--mostly printed in The Philippines' Free Press and the Independent--contained political and social criticism known as editorial cartoons. Editorial cartoons were like a double-edge sword. They provided entertainment, as well as commentary on relevant issues of the day.

Thus, during Platinum Years of komiks in the Philippines, two types of cartoons were popular: The entertainment cartoons (batch of Velasquez, Perez, and Reyes), and the editorial cartoons (batch of Perreira, Izon, Gatbonton, and Miranda).

These cartoons were the precursors of the komiks which were to emerge after the Second World War. The Japanese Occupation was to momentarily put an end to these cartoons, but at least they had already planted the seeds of what was to become the big komiks industry in the Philippines.

References

  • Arevalo, Cynthia, ed., "A History of Komiks in the Philippines and Other Countries" Manila: Islas Filipinas Publishing Co., 1985
  • McCoy Alfred and Roces, Alfredo, "Philippine Cartoons" Manila: Vera-Reyes, 1985

Citation

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