At the Metro Comic-Con 2010

Posted by on September 1st, 2010 at 7:07 AM

The Metro Comic-con, which held its second year from August 21 to 22, was only one of at least seven major annual comic book events happening in the Philippines in recent years. This particular event was geared mostly for fans of Marvel and DC, although there was quite a large contingent of independent Filipino comics makers situated right at the center of the venue.

The Philippines has had one of the biggest comics industries in the world since the 1950’s that has since faded away in the early 90’s. So it might come as a surprise to many that the country can still maintain so many comic book events in spite of the absence of any major comic book publisher, confounding the notion by a few obtuse veterans who insist Philippine comics is “dead”. This new industry is mostly powered by a new generation of self-publishers who have taken it up upon themselves to keep comics alive. Indeed, the conventions themselves are organized by both fans and comic book creators who saw the need to have such events as a means to promote and sell these new comics in the absence of a nationwide distributor.

Very few creators are doing comics full time. Most of them are students or professionals who create comics in their free time, publishing their work out of their own pockets. Most of them hardly make any money for their efforts, further confounding pundits used to the ways of the old industry who believe comics cannot be revived by sheer love of the medium alone.

More and more comics veterans are finding value in joining such conventions, open minded to what must have been a gigantic shift in how comics are produced and distributed. One touching moment occurred during a panel of veterans where 66 year-old Danny Acuña told of how inspired he was that young Filipinos are taking it upon themselves to create their own comics. He was amazed at the fire that he saw in the eyes of these young creators, spurring him to attend every single one of these events, inspired and invigorated.. Danny Acuña is in fact the first among his generation to work on his own one-shot graphic novel entitled “Majarlica: Bayan ng Agimat” in 2009.

Also in 2009, other veterans including Rico Rival, Abe Ocampo, Clem Rivera, Nar Cantillo, Tor Infante, Nestor Malgapo, Ferdee Bambico and Art De Guzman self published their own title called “Philippine Adventure and Romance Stories”.

It’s difficult to definitively declare if this is a new Golden Age of Philippine Comics just yet. The self-published nature of the comic books come with the unfortunate inevitability that many titles will exhibit substandard quality, free as they are from rigid editorial scrutiny.

As someone who observes new releases closely, I can offer the opinion that while many comics published are not so good, the overall quality of releases in recent years has been improving, brought about no doubt by healthy competition.

Here are a few of the sights and sounds of Day 1 of the Metro Comic-Con 2010.

The Jess Jodloman Art Exhibit.

Indie creators Macoy and Gio Paredes with local celebrity/comics fan RJ Ledesma.

Eisner Award nominated writer and artist Rod Espinosa self published a full color adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

Indie Creators Ron Tan (left) and Rommel Estanislao (right).

The cartoonists’ panel with Manix Abrera, Freely Abrigo, Lyndon Gregorio, Hazel Manzano and Andrew Villar.

Danny Acuña sketches a couple.

Indie creators Jerri Barrios, Carlo Valenzuela and Gerald Asbucan.

Medical Doctor Carlo Jose San Juan and the compiled print edition of his online comics about a doctor and her talking duck.

Cartoonist Lico Reloj will give you his comic book, after you get a tarot reading for 100 pesos.

Veteran artists Don Santos and Jun Lofamia sketch and sell their artwork.

Budjette Tan of “Trese” and Manix Abrera of “Kikomachine Komiks”, powerhouses of Philippine independent comics.

The Artists’ Den group: Melvin and Joanah Calingo, Jon and Sherry Zamar, Lei Muncal and Ariel Atienza. Exhibitors at this event, but organizers of KOMIKON, which will have its 6th consecutive year this coming November 13, 2010.

The author selling chickens with the Komikero Artists Group: Zara Macandili, Enzo Vega and Attorney Jason Torres.

The Marvel Comics panel: Leinil Francis Yu, RJ Ledesma (panel moderator), Jeff Huet, Mico Suayan, Carlo Pagulayan, Gerry Alanguilan and Edgar Tadeo
A short video showing the convention crowd during the Marvel Comics panel.

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