by EK Gonzales
So. You’re new to local independent komiks. You’ve read Trese and Kikomachine, and maybe Mythology Class, and you want more. You’ve heard there are very interesting things happening in local komiks. You’d be right. But you don’t know where to start.
Recommending comics to anybody is difficult because there are as many comics as there are interests, just as there are books in every genre. This is also true of local komiks. This even gets more confusing with both readers and creators having influences from three major places: American comics, Japanese manga and Pinoy classic komiks.
The best way to find what personally appeals to your comic interests is to visit the Komikons or Komikets. Walk through all the tables and browse. Take a chance on any or all of them.
Komiket (Filipino Komiks and Art Market) a friend of the Komikon (the big Komiks Convention every April and November). The second Komiket was held just last February 20, at Centril Mall in Quezon City. Komiket’s aim is to introduce indie komiks as well as great local artists to a more general audience. That may be you, so read on.
We all love different things, so here are a few suggestions on what titles to try as a primer on what good things are currently coming out of the indie komiks scene, depending on your interest. If you missed Komiket, here are some titles that will get you going.
If you love action, adventure and pretty girls kicking butt…
Agents of Ambush by Andrew Villar and Sam Velasco (Published by Core Studios)
Amber is a special government agent, now with her team of girls and guys, all prepared to save the world from whatever absurd deadly thing Andrew Villar throws at it. It runs as a serial comic in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, but it’s fun to have as a compilation that shows the whole developing story arc.
If you love alternative comics…
- Ligaya by Fatima Bergonia and Adrienne Onday (Published by Ligaya Komiks)
- Uy! Si Crush! by Richard Mercado and Gaby Taylo (Published by Blue Indie Komiks/BLINK)
The two given titles are two of the newer and more accessible representatives of the unusual ways comics can be done. Ligaya is the brave but likeable story of Ligaya and her girlfriend Steph as they weave in and out of love. Uy! Si Crush! is the fun story of Juan, who likes Isay, who likes Juan, but neither of them know it, even if they keep hoping.
It was not so clear in issue 1, but ligaya was sulking in luneta (thus getting haunted there) because steph broke up with her. Issue 2 is about steph's side of the situation, and the incredibly understanding relatives supporting her (wow, those exist.). The art is better, smoother while retaining its alternative look and sense. The brave yet laid-back (that is, not agenda-driven, just real and honest) presentation of the relationship is a nice addition to the komiks roster, and it's nice to have. More please.
Isay likes juan. Juan likes isay. So being in a project together is cool, except that both are making it complicated for themselves. This is very nice and fun usage of the alternative comic style, especially because the humor is generally from the misguided introspection of both characters. Funny script and good pacing delivered with nicely nonconservative art makes for a good representative of the style that is easily recommended on anyone. More please!
If you love zombies…
Patay Kung Patay by Mike Alcazaren, Noel Pascual and AJ Bernardo
A TV news team investigates a tip that unusual creepy things are happening at a political family’s hacienda, and they get much more than they bargained for. Presented by the creators of Crime Fighting Call Center Agents, it is dark and darkly humorous, but incredible in its pacing and control.
A news crew follows a tip about a wealthy hacienda where people are inexplicably getting killed, but more, much more is beneath the surface. The judicious but generous utilization of the red is striking and incredible, bringing emphasis to key points and adding to the fear and horror. The story retains the snark and smart storyboarding of CFCCA but is also completely serious, thus more terrifying. The art is less confusing through judicious use of detail and space, and is therefore a better thing than all of CFCCA, which is already starting from a high point. My gulay, find it and hope it continues to finish. @noelvpascual
If you love wordless stories…
MonoKuro by Cy Vendivil (Published by Kyusi Kompanie)
Very few komikeros make no-dialogue stories. This series is the current best at it, the tales of swords-rabbit Momiji as he wanders and battles against dark monsters plaguing various regions.
If you love good comic art…
Sikami by various artists (Published by Pangalatoons)
Pangalatoons is composed of komikeros from Pangasinan, but these include the great Bong Redilla and Mel Casipit. Sikami, now in its third volume, are anthologies of their one-shot comics.
If you love…well, love…
- #cheesyfit by Mel Casipit (Published by Pangalatoons)
- The Lolita Chronicles by Maria Criselda Santos and Stacee J (Published by AYUN!)
#cheesyfit are collections of romantic one-liners, corny or otherwise, delivered with great love-related art by Mel Casipit and many great komikeros. The Lolita Chronicles are the adventures in love and lack of love of an office girl, done with nice comedic timing.
Sward-speaking lolita is an office drone making the most of a humdrum life, until cutie brando returns to the picture. This kind of comic-making, smartly funny with really good but well-controlled illustrations, suits the writer much better. This is the one out of her and stacee j that i will squeal to hopefully be more available (as part of the komiket lineup). More craziness please!
If you love manga…
- Drop Dead Dangerous by Chad Cabrera and Mike Banting (Published by Happy Lockjaw)
- Slash by Edward Echavez (Published by Section Six)
There are several komikero groups who make komiks influenced by the manga style, and it is best to go visit their tables and browse through them. The whole spectrum of possibilities (mecha, action, romance, adventure, comedy, even gothic and horror) is available.
Drop Dead Dangerous has been one of the manga-type komiks that are consistently well-told and well-rendered – the tale of a sheriff making sense of his wife’s murder, in a sci-fi western world with too many secrets. Slash, a long-running battle-type series made for an international online audience, gives the adventures of a group of fighters in saving their world while finding answers to who really owns their great powers.
Unlike the earlier action-packed issues, this one is introspective and dialogue-intensive, discussing other people involved in the murder of jack's wife, as well as a good dose of backgrounder on assistant alice. The alice semi-backgrounder is given with respect and finesse, very nicely done. Overall the art is also stabilizing to something cleaner, less derivative, more unique to the illustrator. Here's to hoping the next installment won't be a long wait.
- Puso Negro by JP Palabon (Published by Section Six)
Puso is a guy who believes in teaching good values through bad conduct. The series is popular with those who like their comedy unafraid of being offensive, and is quite insightful as it is sarcastic.
Again, this is a primer list, based on what we have already seen. There is no good way to find out what is awesome until you try on the day itself. I have always been pleasantly surprised to find something great at the komik artists’ tables I did not know about. So, whenever you’re at a comics fair, bring a good amount of cash and take a dive into whatever catches your eye. Maybe you’ll find a komik to love! ☁