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During the early 1970s, two big publishing companies dominated the komiks-publisihing business in the Philippines: Atlas Publications, and Graphic Arts Service, Inc.

These two companies were owned by Don Ramon Roces, the original publisher of the Ace Publications.

A Decline in Komiks

There was a noticeable decline in komiks content during these years, which may have been caused by two factors: the domination of movie gossip in komiks pages, the stigma of the Bomba Komiks.

The komiks of the 1970s reflected the general view of the Filipinos to Philippine movie stars. The late 1960s decade saw the emergence of the star-studio system-wherein movie stars were groomed to become studio assets.

The drive to publicize the groomed stars (like Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, Tirso Cruz III, and Edgar Mortiz), made sure that even komiks-magazines carried their photos and gossip stories.

Some publishers even came up with komiks-magazines that bordered on the star-worship, with titles like Nora Aunor Superstar Komiks, Vilma Santos Movie Queen Komiks, and Tirso Cruz III Komiks.

These komiks (and other similar titles) turned the komiks pages mostly into photo albums of stars and gossip columns, which may have attracted a following from young fans, but alienated the more mature komiks readers. The young fans, of course, were mostly high school and university students who were spending a large portion of their allowance collecting these fan komiks-magazines.

In general, parents became concerned about this and forbade the reading of komiks, contributing to the general view that komiks had no educational value.

Bomba Komiks

The arrival of the smut Bomba Komiks also further affected the reputation of the komiks as a wholesome reading magazine. The Bomba Komiks first appeared in the early 1960s with tame contents, only bordering on suggestive adult stories.

This changed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Bomba Komiks publishers took advantage of the laxing of censorship. Frontal nudity became the staple contents of these komiks, and although they were distributed clandestinely, they nevertheless enjoyed popularity, especially among male readers.

Martial Law

When President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law, he ordered severe censorship of Bomba Komiks. It was to his credit that all Bomba publications ceased to exist during the Martial Law years.

The movie-star komiks-magazines were also ordered to change their titles so as to discourage star-worship. Thus Nora Aunor Superstar Komiks was changed to Superstar Komiks, Tirso Cruz Komiks became Topstar Komiks, and Vilma Santos Komiks became Movie Queen Komiks

President Marcos also ordered that publishers use cheap local paper materials to print the komiks-magazines. Although it was a nationalistic move to bar imported paper from being used in komiks production, it nevertheless affected the quality of the komiks, which now had to use low quality materials.

President Marcos ordered the komiks publishers to write something about the New Society which he founded. Thus, in the Martial Law years komiks stories abound that praise this or that Marcos's programs. Even the great Tony Velasquez wrote a fantasy graphic novel entitled "The Green Thing," a story about "The Green Revolution" of First Lady Imelda Marcos.

The mid 1970s up to the 1980s also saw the birth and development of the "supernovels," so called because of their extreme length. One of the outstanding examples was Nerissa Cabral's "Bituing Walang Ningning." While a komiks serial before had an average of 20 to 30 installments, the supernovel contained more than 50 issues; some of them even reached more than 100 issues, which extended into several years. Some of the popular writers of these supernovels were Carlo J. Caparas, Jim Fernandez, Pablo S. Gomez, Hal Santiago, Elena Patron, Nerissa Cabral, and Gilda Olvidado.

This last batch of writers and writer/illustrators contributed to the dominance of the drama genre in komiks in the 1980s. The romance genre in Tagalog komiks literature was spearheaded by Patron, Cabral, Olvidado, and Gomez, all of whom touched on modern social issues, such as twisted family relationships, outrŽ sexuality, and the clash of liberal versus conservative Filipino mores.

The fantasy and adventure genres were not left behind though as Fernandez, Santiago, Caparas and others continued to nurture and develop it. Monsters, weird creatures, and superheroes, still had a healthy space in komiks pages. The cartoon serials, however, once the dominant theme in the komiks, were more and more relegated to page fillers.

1990s to the Present

The 1990s saw the decline and collapse of the komiks industry. There were several factors that led to this sad state. Among them were the economic and power crises of the early 1990s, the Filipinos' diversion into telenovelas, the arrival of text messaging and the internet.

The decline of readership forced many publishers to cancel their komiks titles until, in the end, only the big publishers remained in the market. But then, these big publishers greatly reduced their budget for komiks magazines so that the remaining titles in the market were greatly compromised by using cheap labor and material, and consisted mostly of rehashed stories.

In 2007 Carlo J. Caparas took the headlines by spearheading the revival of the komiks industry in the Philippines, together with the support of Cecile Guidote Alvarez, the powerful executive director of National Commission for Culture and Arts. New and promising komiks titles are to be issued by September 2007, proving that komiks is still a popular art form that is loved and cherished by the Filipino people.


  • Marcelino, Ramon, ed. A History of Komiks in the Philippines and Other Countries. Manila: Islas Filipinas Publishing Co., 1985
  • Matienzo, Ross. Philippine Comics Review. Vol 1. No.1. Manila: Kapre Publications, 1980
  • McCoy, Alfred and Roces, Alfredo. Philippine Cartoons. Manila: Vera-Reyes, 1985

Additional Reading

See Also