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Pioneering PH publisher Visprint to turn final page in 2021

The publisher behind Bob Ong, 'TRESE,' 'Kikomachine' and other modern Pinoy classics announces its imminent shutdown
By: - Staff Writer
/ 11:30 PM January 14, 2019

Fans line up to get their books signed by Manix Abrera at the Visprint booth at the 2016 Komikon–PDI PHOTO

The pioneering publishing house that brought Bob Ong, Manix Abrera and “TRESE” to the mainstream Filipino reading audience will be ceasing its operations in 2021.

Visual Print Enterprises, Inc.—better known as Visprint—announced the decision in a Facebook post today after weeks of speculation. Visprint noted the retirement of two of its founders in 2021 as the reason behind the move. This marks the end of a remarkable publishing era.

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The post went on to say that, while Visprint would no longer be releasing any new titles, the company would keep running to sell their existing stock until 2021: “Ikinalulungkot naming hindi na kami makapaglalabas ng mga bagong akda, pero tiwala kaming madaling mapupunan ng mga kapwa namin publisher ang puwang, kasama na ang puwersa ng independent publishers (kung saan kami kabilang noon) na unti-unti na ring nakikilala at nagbibigay daan para sa mga bagong manunulat. Umaasa at naniniwala kami na mababasa at mababasa pa rin ninyo sila.”

Visprint did note they would still be attending events such as the Manila International Bookfair, Komiket and Komikon.

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Visprint is best known as an independent publisher who pushed Filipino-language work in popular genres and Philippine comics into the mainstream. In 2015, Visprint was named Publisher of the Year at the 34th National Book Awards; it won four National Book Awards that year.

Visprint began life as a commercial press in Pasay City, beginning publishing operations after Nida Gatus (now Ramirez) came on board as administrative manager in 1999. Ramirez was big fan of an online writer with the pseudonym Bob Ong (not his real name). The first Bob Ong book, 2001’s “ABNKKBSNPLAko?!,” was also Visprint’s first bestseller, quickly racking up hundreds of thousands in sales. Ong has since published books regularly for Visprint, the latest being 2014’s “Si.” The first Bob Ong book, “ABNKKBSNPLAko?!,” received a big screen adaptation in 2014 with Jericho Rosales in the lead role. In 2016, another of Ong’s books, 2011’s “Lumayo Ka Nga sa Akin,” was also turned into a motion picture.

Visprint has been a champion of many other writers then, including Eros Atalia, whose 2009 novel “Ligo Na U, Lapit Na Me,” was also adapted into a motion picture. Others include Edgar Calabia Samar, Eliza Victoria, Beverly Siy and Joselito Delos Reyes. While the vast majority of Visprint titles are in Filipino, the company has published in English, Last year, Visprint published “Twisted Travels: Rambles in Central Europe” by Jessica Zafra.

Visprint’s lasting impact can also be seen in its support of Filipino graphic fiction. One of its bestselling authors is Manix Abrera, whose “Kikomachine Komix!” strip from the Inquirer has been compiled into 14 graphic collections.

Manix Abrera signing at the Visprint booth

Visprint was also the publisher who published in collection form Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo’s “TRESE” series, which is set to become a Netflix Original Anime series.

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“TRESE” creators Kajo Baldisimo and Budjette Tan at the Visprint booth at Komikon

Mervin Malonzo’s aswang saga “Tabi Po” was also first collected by Visprint. “Tabi Po” became a TV series on Cignal’s Sari-Sari Channel. That show was produced by Epik Studios, which is set to adapt Abrera’s “Kikomachine Komix” into live-action.

Carlo Vergara’s “Ang Kasila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah” was another comic book series first published in collected form by Visprint. That property would become a movie and a popular stage musical.

Abrera, “TRESE,” “Tabi Po” and “Zsazsa” have all received National Book Awards and sold well.

In its post, Visprint pushed its campaign #SaveFilipinoAuthorsKomikeros, emphasizing the importance of supporting in any way as well as inserting into discussion Filipino writers, independent publishers and comic book creators. Visprint stressed that the future of such great talent lay in the hands of the readers.

“Suportahan ang independent publishers at self-published authors/comic artists. Nasa kamay ninyo, mga mambabasa, ang kinabukasan at pagpapatuloy ng mga akdang Filipino.”

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TAGS: Bob Ong, manix, Manix Abrera, tabi po, Trese, visprint, visual print enterprises, Zsazsa Zaturnnah
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