28 November 2008

Manila Times column for 28 November 2008 "Yes, comics is art and literature"

original post here.

mali lang yung pagkaka-edit sa komikon detail. dapat last satuday yun. binago nila. oh well...

By Libay Linsangan Cantor
Yes, comics is art and literature

Sometimes, I’m bewildered at the lack of respect some people afford comics in general.

Yes, comics is an art form. Perhaps the reason why comics were/are considered as the “sick man of art” or something like that is its association with humor. In the west, comics are also called “funnies” especially those syndicated in daily newspapers. Another reason might be because the drawings and illustrations of comics are cartoon-based or caricature types, hence the association—again—with humor (sarcastic or otherwise). Do all art and literary works have to be “serious” to be considered seriously? That’s highly debatable. Humor fuels art and literature as well, so why shouldn’t comics be in these same leagues?

But a look at the real history of comics, one could see that there’s more than meets the eye, so to speak. Even humor-designed comics have occasional serious subject matter that people tend to overlook. Our usual superhero comic dose finds stories about our heroes’ angst, burdens and hardships. No laughing matter, that. And with the surging popularity of the “graphic novel” format of comics, it seems that darker themes and storylines abound, even becoming the “norm” associated with this format.

Our own komiks history is ripe with rich and interesting stories that range from the comical/humorous to the serious/earth-shattering. Movie producers—and even giant TV networks—have been tapping this cornucopia of stories for decades now, beginning with Mars Ravelo’s creations (e.g. Darna, Dyesebel) up to Carlo J. Caparas’ treasure trove (Bakekang, Panday and the latest GMA7 fantaserye called Gagambino, to name a few). Some memorable tearjerkers and award-winning films in Philippine cinema trace their roots to komiks stories written by the likes of master storytellers Gilda Olivadado (Sinasamba Kita, Dapat Ka Bang Mahalin) and Nerissa Cabral (Paano Ba Ang Mangarap, Bukas Luluhod ang mga Tala), among others.

My generation grew up reading local komiks and foreign comics as well, and that was fun times. It’s just sad that the local komiks industry “died” with the advent of the digital age (Internet, playstation, dvd) during the last decade. Nonetheless, I’m happy that people are trying to rediscover comics in newer forms and more modern content. A look at the sellers and enthusiasts eagerly populating the fourth Komik Kon (local Comics Convention) on Saturday at UP Bahay ng Alumni testifies that comics are slowly making waves again.

Here’s hoping that these waves rise higher, without signs of falling or crashing like it did before.

Comments? Suggestions? E-mail libay.scribevibe@gmail.com.

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