Comic books are a safe place. Every page, for fans like you and me, are a safe recluse. I lose myself in many of these stories; and while many comic universes grown to be little more than cash-grab franchises, the magic of losing one’s self in a comic book’s pages remain. I find great enjoyment in reading independent, more obscure titles, and of course, works from our fellow Filipinos.
Here are ten Filipino titles that I think you’ll enjoy.
Elmer is Gerry Alanguilan’s opus, a brisk story about a humanly intelligent chicken who inherits a diary that chronicles the struggle for equal rights some many years ago. It’s Animal Farm on acid. I love it.
Trese gives the Philippines its proper female badass. In the running comic, Trese is the police department’s muscle-for-hire when the case exceeds beyond the natural realm.
Trese also appears in this series by Mervin Ignacio, Budjette Tan, and Ian Sta. Maria. Where Trese takes the form of a police procedural, Skyworld is a proper fantasy adventure, replete with warring clans of Filipino mythical creatures like the tikbalang and the asuang.
Patay Kung Patay
This graphic novel recently came out to much-deserved praises. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic Philippines, and where other zombie stories shy away from letting its readers know it’s a satire, Patay Kung Patay has no problems whatsoever in talking about the ruling class.
A gorgeous, worldless comic book is an affecting, touching story. Its magic is innate; you never quite know how it does its magic.
Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah
A fabulous take on the classic Filipino superheroine story. Transsexual subtexts aside, Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah is a well-written, emotionally honest story of an outcast who is handed a destiny much bigger than anything she could have ever imagine.
I grew up reading Pugad Baboy books. I’m yet unsure if the growing up has come, but I still flip through Pol Medina’s strips and find myself laughing and aching because his close observations are, while funny, also true.
Manix Abrera’s collection of stories (in comic book form) is, to say the least, prolific, and every volume are worth reading. “Sorrowful, Sorrowful Mysteries!” and “Mga Tagpong Tila Nagpapaka-Weird, Kunyari Pa-Deep, Sarap Sapakin…” are the best volumes in my opinion.
Perhaps the Filipino equivalent of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Mervin Malonzo’s Ang Subersibo is a handsomely produced, relentlessly enthralling graphic novelization of Jose Rizal’s famous works. I’d read it now, if you haven’t. It’s perfect.
I’ve had the opportunity to read this as a standalone issue, a few years ago, and I’m quite pleased to see it flourish into a full volume, which, I should say, is just incredible, something that I was rooting to happen. It’s a great, science-fiction-y take on mythical creatures we’ve grown to know.