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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I was hanging out in Starbucks reading the available newspapers they have there while waiting for inspiration to arrive when I came upon this interesting article by Johven Velasco titled "‘Komiks’ on television: Recycling Pulp Fiction" which is pretty much delves on the dependency of local show business producers and writers on komiks stories of yesteryears. So it has come full circle. Where comic books and strips reigned supreme in the olden days, radio adopted its stories to create those soap operas on air then television now takes its cue from them starting with the "fantaserye" (fantasy series). But even then they only begrudgingly credit the authors of the said source materials and not the artists who did them.

Me and a friend have talked about this before, as no doubt a lot of local comic artists did and still do, what does this mean for the local industry? Is this trend of adapting comic book stories into soap operas a boon or a bane? Ideally it would be a boon, benefiting the comic industry turning the attention of a new generation of viewers towards the source of their materials. Indeed those who were fortunate enough to reach maturity during the heyday of komiks, up until the 80s at least, were treated to a wealth of worlds they could visit anytime anywhere. Visiting the neighborhood magazine stand meant going down the main roads (and not the malls) and perusing through the different titles available. Colorful covers shouted out to passersby promising good stories and good artworks to those willing enough to shell out a few pesos to buy them. They were a lot cheaper than those original issues being sold by comic bookstores which by then were being sold at P40-P70 a pop. Then came the reprints of these same superhero issues featuring the characters of Marvel Comics. We thought then this trend of reprinting foreign titles would give the stale business of publishing comics a much needed boost by introducing them to the masses. Unfortunately, it spelled out the death sentence in the long run especially during the mid-90s when the anime explosion started with the reshowing of Voltes V on local TV. People's attention then shifted to their TV sets, the young people were hooked with the the novelty of Japanese animation formerly the exclusive realm of a dedicated few. Then the anime trend spawned Chinovelas (soap operas from Taiwan mostly) and Koreanovelas ('nuff said) taking over the hysterics and blond ambitions of Mexicanovelas. Though most of the series were actually live adaptations of Japanese manga that became popular in their places of origin the local networks conveniently forgot to point that fact out. They're happy enough to have snatched a huge piece of the pie from their rival print media. They and their paid lackeys working in magazines and newspapers drew up fantasies involving the goodlooking actors and actresses thereby establishing a symbiotic relationship that exists up to this day. Despite a promising resurgence during the early 90s with the discovery of talented artists the local komiks industry slowly withered away. It didn't help at all that some of the giants of the magazine publication started buying rights to reprint obscure comic book titles featuring Japanese character-wannabes and other titles from flagging US comic publications. The explosion of the internet and mobile phones out in the scene didn't help things either during the end of the 90s. The comic market waned and dried up some more till it was pushed unceremoniously to the underground scene kept alive only by pockets of fans who congregated during conventions held here and there by comic groups and enthusiasts unwilling to let the dream die.

One good thing that came out of the internet and mobile telecommunication though was the fact that like minded people found each other and started to voice out their opinions regarding the ungrateful industry giants that churned out one superficial glittery bile that passes off as a show after another. People were turned away from reading resulting in our inability to comprehend or string proper phrases or even spell things right. Presently though, if feels like the local comic industry is ready to get back in the mainstream again after a long time's absence. All it needs is a catalyst that would trigger the explosion and be consistent enough to hold the gates for a long time till a good number of titles are able to get through. Eventually the local showbiz industry collapsed under its own weight and with the lack of writers they unceremoniously threw off before in favor of the actors and actresses is now looking back to komiks to solve their problems. Hollywood has started to do this and they're gracious enough to acknowledge and work with the right people lest the fans they're hoping to leech off would turn against them. But the apparent lack of acknowledgment of the sources on the part of the TV giants mean they haven't learned their lessons inspite of everything and we still have a long way to go. I just hope it's still within our lifetime.

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