The Golden Age of Komiks

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The Golden Age of Komiks refers to the years when Philippine komiks achieved its highest peak in terms of the quality of komiks production, story outputs, and illustrations. For convenience's sake, we will refer to the Golden Age of Komiks as roughly from the years 1946, when the first comics-magazine was born, to 1972, prior to the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines.


In 1946, the first regularly published all-comic-magazine was born, the short-lived Halakhak Komiks. Halakhak lasted only ten issues, perhaps due to the lack of an efficient distribution system. The company went broke and Halakhak was closed down. In 1947, Don Ramon Roces and Tony Velasquez started Ace Publications, a komiks publishing house that published komik books: Pilipino Komiks in 1947, Tagalog Klasiks in 1949, Hiwaga Komiks in 1950, Espesyal Komiks in 1952, Kenkoy Komiks in 1959, and Educational Klasiks Komiks in 1962.

This was the start of one of the largest comics industries in the world, such that by mid-1950s, komiks was already considered the unofficial "national book" of the Filipinos.

Originally inspired by American comic strips and comic books left behind by American GIs , the komiks' early aim was to entertain the Filipinos with a cheap reading material. Hence, many of the strips in those early years were cartoons, a local version of the popular "Funnies" comic books being published in the United States.

But the medium steadily diverged, and by the 1950s, drew more inspiration from other forms of Filipino literature such as komedya, alamat, folklore, as well as Philippine mythology. The early Tagalog komiks magazines were therefore rich in tales of the aswang, kapre, nuno sa punso, tikbalang, and many other indigenous Philippine folklore characters .

Many komiks were also evidently inspired by specific American comics, such as Kulafu and Og (inspired by Tarzan), Darna (probably Wonder Woman, but in some trivia it is said Superman was the inspiration of Mars Ravelo, creator of Darna, and not Wonder Woman--in fact Darna's character was created in the year 1950), and D. I. Trece (Dick Tracy). The predominance of superheroes has continued into the modern day.

During the Martial Law years, President Ferdinand Marcos censored many of the contents of komiks-magazines. He also ordered the use of cheap paper to produce komiks, so the visual and the physical qualities of komiks-magazines were affected, resulting in the eventual decline of readership in the 1980s.

As a result, many of the top Filipino komiks artists went on to work in the American comic industry, including Alfredo Alcala, Mar Amongo, Alex Niño, Tony de Zuniga, Rudy Nebres, and Nestor Redondo.

After the lifting of Martial Law, the komiks industry began to generate new readership. Heavy drama komiks-novels was the trend, with such writers as Pablo S. Gomez, Elena Patron, Nerissa Cabral dominating the field.


  • 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

Additional Reading