Saturday, November 20, 2010

Komikon: A celebration of creativity and literacy

(Published Nov.20, PDI-Super)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Photos by Andrew Tadalan

The Komikon remains a welcoming haven for comic book fanatics, whether they’re creators or fans, bargain-hunters or autograph-seekers, avid or casual readers. Previously held at the Megamall’s Megatrade Hall, Komikon this year was held at the smaller but similarly accessible Starmall Edsa Trade Hall.

As with previous conventions, comic-reading geeks found the Sixth Annual Komikon an opportunity to get the latest titles, gain some insights on the creative process, and meet more fellow lovers of the storytelling medium.

Early in the afternoon, eight indie creators talked about their inclusion in the “Sulyap” anthology. “Trese” fans lined up and had their copies signed by co-creator Kajo Baldisimo. Aspiring artists got to meet their idols, Marvel illustrators Carlo Pagulayan (“Incredible Hulk”), Harvey Tolibao (“Psylocke”) and Stephen Segovia (“Dark Wolverine”).
Ariel Atienza, one of the organizers and creator of the strip “West Side,” expounded on choosing the Starmall venue.

“It’s more accessible to commuters,” Atienza said. “The foodcourt is just outside the entrance, which is very convenient for attendees, too. The Komikon core group has a tendency to think out of the box and see the potential of a venue. It’s keeping it as close to the grassroots level, the same way UP Bahay Ng Alumni does with Komikon.”

Atienza added that the event had a slightly bigger turnout than previous Komikons.

“Just a smidgen, but the difference comes in the pleasant surprise that the exhibitors, especially the indie komiks creators’ side, sold record numbers of their works. We’ve kept track of their sales and the number of ecstatic feedbacks. There’s a higher buying spree, which comes naturally. People recognize quality when they see it, and are willing to buy it at a reasonable price.”

The more diverse lineup of indie comic books, Atienza said, offered readers more imaginative stories and storytelling styles.

“This year’s comics creators and exhibitors are getting bolder. They’re not afraid to experiment with topics or stories; they keep getting better and better. Indie comics creators are leading the charge in crafting something very Filipino but still not something you can put a label on. Their works definitely cut across the board: there are titles out there for almost every genre you want. It’s something that took us by surprise and something we’re very, very proud of showcasing!”

Professor Emil Flores, who teaches comic book writing and analysis, and writes the action comic book “Cadre: Amerikanong Hilaw,” considers the Komikon a consistently important event for Filipinos who wish to tell stories using the medium.

“Komikon is a wonderful opportunity, even for students, to actually have their comics released,” Flores said. “Because of Komikon and the indie comics scene, they now have a venue for their creative energies.”

Flores added that Komikon and similar events emphasize the existence of locally made titles, which deserve to be appreciated by newer readers. He also stressed that it’s a good time for getting people interested in comic books.

“Comics content is everywhere even if Pinoy comics are not as visible. So I actually get to use the popularity of comics-influenced media to get people interested. There is always a movie, TV show or game to connect to comics. In a way, it’s how I sometimes teach mythology and literature to students who don’t read. I always make connections to movies and point out the literary traditions that filmmakers reference.”

Aside from Flores, creators who attended the recent Komikon were David Hontiveros (“Bathala: Apokalipsis”), Reno Maniquis (“Maskarado”) and Inquirer cartoonist Manix Abrera (“Kikomachine”), among others.

For information on Komikon events, visit

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