Who says Pinoy ‘komiks’ are dead?


Writer Mervin Ignacio and artist Ian Sta. Maria. DANRY OCAMPO/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Last Oct. 27, the eighth Philippine Comics Convention or Komikon was held at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig. Eighth, you say? You bet! But isn’t Pinoy komiks dead? Breaking news, son: it never died!

Let me take you back some two decades to 1993. The once giant Philippine comics industry was on the wane, with decades-old komiks companies closing their doors one by one.


But at the same time, something strange was happening. Without any venues to showcase their work, talented young comic book fans started creating their own comic books. They photocopied the page, stapled them together, and sold the comics themselves. Some even went further by actually going to the printing press and have multiple copies printed.

Where did they get the money? Most likely some of them had jobs, some of them probably saved up for it, and some probably borrowed money from their parents. Whatever the case, what resulted was the birth of a unique Filipino independent comics industry driven by young people who created, distributed and sold their own comic books.


Even as early as 1994, comics shows were already beginning to be held, starting with a mini convention at the Robinson’s Galleria where enthusiastic comics creators like Budjette Tan, Arnold Arre, David

Children’s book writer and artist Robert Magnuson. DANRY OCAMPO/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Hontiveros, Gilbert Monsanto, myself and many more gathered for the first time. It began an explosion of self-published comic books of all kinds: “Comics 101,” “Exodus,” “Wasted,” “P-Noize,” “Shadow,” “Memento Mori,” “Flashpoint,” “Archon,” “Dhahmpyr,” “Indigo Valley,” “Scions,” “Tatooed,” “Pagan Press,” “Angel Ace,” and so many more.

There were quite a few shows that followed there and at other malls, each event growing bigger than the last. The year 2003 saw the very first San Pablo City Comics Festival organized by the Komikero Artists Group, which signaled the growth of such events outside of Metro Manila.

Along the way, remarkable self-published comic books started to appear,

including Arnold Arre’s four-issue “Mythology Class” and “Trip To Tagaytay,” Carlo Vergara’s “Ang Kagila-Gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni ZsaZsa Zaturnna,” Volumes 1 and 2., Budjette Tan and Arnold Arre’s “Batch 72,” and the anthology books “Siglo: Freedom” and “Siglo: Passion.”

In 2004,  a group of particularly dedicated comic book fans and creators called The Artists’ Den decided to organize the first Komikon and hold it at the University of the Philippines, Bahay ng Alumni. Within a few years, the venue had become too small to accommodate the growing number of comics creators and fans. The event moved several times from Star Mall in Mandaluyong, to the Megatrade Hall in Megamall, and eventually to their current home, the Bayanihan Center in Pasig.


Komikon is now held twice a year, once in the summer called Summer Komikon, and the main Komikon held around the end of the year.

That the growth of Komikon and that of the independent comics industry go hand in hand is worth considering.  Most of these creators create, sell and distribute their own comics. With no huge distribution arm at their disposal, they sell their comics at every place they are capable of reaching.

They can sell at the various comic book stores across Manila, including Comic Odyssey, which has always been supportive of local comics, and of course, they take full advantage of the local comic book conventions, wherever and whenever they are held.

Big publishers

Big publishers have noted the success of this growing industry, and have taken it upon themselves to select some of the more popular and successful titles and publish them, affording the comic books a larger audience than what they would normally achieve.


Adarna has taken on Arnold Arre’s works and have published “After Eden,” Visprint has published both Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo’s “Trese” as well as Carlo Vergara’s collected edition of “ZsaZsa Zaturnnah,” and National Bookstore has published “Skyworld” by Mervin Ignacio and Ian Sta. Maria, as well as “Elmer,” 2nd Edition by yours truly.

With the big publishers getting into the act, it necessited a third spin-off convention of the Komikon called the “Indieket,” which emphasizes and showcases the very roots of the independent comics industry, the self-published comic book makers who photocopy and print their own comics.

That the Komikon has held such a spin-off event shows how they staunchly want to stay true to their roots, at the same time being open to growth and maturity.  While these small groups are still a very big part of the main conventions, I think that it’s only fitting and right that they have a show all their own.

At the Komikon last October, more new and better comic books were released by an even younger generation of creators as the venue struggled to accommodate the sheer number of people in attendance.

Across the country, even more comics conventions are being held. There have been conventions in Baguio, Bicol, Cebu, San Pablo City, Los Baños, and this year sees the very first Iloilo Comics Convention in December. In January, next year there’s possibly another one in General Santos City.

Pinoy komiks is dead? You must be crazy!

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  • Cesar Tolentino

    I was there back in 2004!

  • Kajo Baldisimo

    Great article, ser Gerry! 

    Im proud to say that Budj and I were there at the very first komikon selling xerox copies of Trese 1. Wow. 8 years na yon?Korek ka. Hindi ever namatay ang Pinoy Komiks. Natulog lang, nanaginip, at ngayon gising na gising na, nagre-ready na para lumipad ulet.  

  • EdgarEdgar

    Mabuhay Pinoy Komiks!

  • dennis

    Great achievement and “Two Thumbs Up!” Keep up the good work!…May konting ideas lang ako na baka pwedeng mapaunlad pa…..Why don´t you try to have it downloaded! Kung merong e-Books,then possible to create an “e-Komiks” di ba?….Or can it be also downloadable through “Android apps”…WHY NOT? Just my 2 cents of opinion!

  • buninay

    I grew up with comics during the 70s and 80s and those were the years Bakekang, Zuma and Leon Guerrero among others came to life and held the imagination of the whole nation captive.  In fact Leon Guerrero is now in the senate as proof that Filipinos dont easily forget the images imprinted on their minds by reading komiks during their free times.  Reading komiks is the closest we have to reading fullblown books and it could have led to regular book reading for some.  Unfortunately the comics industry in our country has been dying if not completely dead because of the sudden loss of interest of the masses, its main market, in patronizing it or because the masses suddenly woke up deprived of free time which they would rather devote for eking a living than spend on enjoying comics.

    The country is grateful that there is a growing tribe trying to revive comics here.  Let us support them in their endeavour even as we await the next comics character who will enrapture us to great heights with his story and will inspire us to dream a world where odds however daunting are vanquished in the end.  Bravo and Mabuhay to the artists and writers rebuilding the comics literature from its ashes! Long live Pinoy Komiks!

  • where_I_stand

    Yes, there is a passion and dedication of the new breed of skilled and talented artists and writers, whether self-published their works or published by heavily financed companies. However, the Filipino readers are practically absent. What market are they talking about? I am working in some depressed communities and have not seen these people going crazy about a particular komik. Compared to its prominence in the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s era, komiks are not widely circulated today.

    I appreciate the effort of these individuals, but they are simply trying to resuscitate a dying cultural phenomenon.

    • idolhunter

      “However, the Filipino readers are practically absent. What market are they talking about? I am working in some depressed communities and have not seen these people going crazy about a particular komik.”

      – kailangan ba mahirap yung reader para maclassify na Filipino reader ka? hindi ba puwede yung mga high-school/college students or young professionals who like good stories to be classified as a Filipino reader?

      Yes local comics are not circulated widely and out of reach to most people nowadays but the current komiks industry right now has it’s niche, the current market are those people I mentioned above.

      I think you spend too much time in the depressed areas that you forgot to visit National Bookstore that sells books to both rich and poor: placed in their top 10 selling books for 3-4 months now (if i am correct on the length of time) are Alamat comics’ “Skyworld” graphic novel vol. 1 and 2 (another form of comics)

      Baka naman you like cheap entertainment? Movies? Yung sikat na pelikula ngayon ni Dingdong Dantes na Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles also came from komiks! YES! KOMIKS. Also being sold in National Bookstore malapit sa section na merong Pugad Baboy.

      Bumili ka niyan pagkabasa mo nito instead of being all too negative, it might change your perspective that the komiks industry is dying. May panahon para sa lahat ng bagay, at hindi lang pagtatrabaho sa depressed areas ang may sariling panahon para iukol. May panahon ka din para iukol sa pagbabasa. Komiks included.

      Our komiks industry did not die, it actually adapted to survive. And perhaps in the future, yung “perceived” market mo mabentahan na din ng komiks.


      I agree on many of your points but i think  if komiks will not be costly, it can be resuscitated.  The   Internet has done a lot of damage to paper entertainment and information.  In just one click one will have komiks like games, information and movies.

  • redkinoko

    It’s not as though komiks is dead. Cheap komiks is the one that died. The ones that you can buy in a newsstand for the paltry price of 5 pesos twenty years ago (adjusted for inflation, 20-30 pesos today)

  • moshki

    …komiks???…in generation-R (ritalin) ???!!!… i miss the old dayzzz…..

  • Benjamin

    I miss the days when komiks were lording it over newspapers and radios. Pilipino komiks, Tagalog klasiks, Espesyal at Hiwaga were the prime movers of komiks then in the Philippines. Komiks authors like Francisco V. Coching, Larry Alcala, Mars Ravelo, Carlo Caparas and others were looked upon so high by Pinoy readers.  Kailan babalik ang mga komiks na ito?

    • DestronLeader

      Likely never which is sad. None of the publishers you mentioned were able to adapt to the changing conditions of the market. It is also sad that no effort is made to print the stories in collected form as the Americans, Japanese and European publishers do with their more popular titles.

  • DestronLeader

    It makes me scratch my head whenever TV/movie studios release a movie based on a komiks classic like say Dyesebe, Pandayl or any of the drama or love stories. The trailers and credits will proudly proclaim “based on the komiks by yada yada” to inform the audience of the source material and yet said source material can no longer be found and very much out of print.

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