Designing houses, that’s what I should have been doing. Not my first choice, but that could have been the career I’ve had. In my life I’ve designed several houses, a couple of restaurant interiors, an apartment, and a resort. Some of them are still standing. But even while I was an active practitioner of Architecture, I escaped as often as I could to Filbars to get my weekly fix of comic books.
I should have seen the signs. Even as I attended high school my notebooks were filled with little doodles and comic strips. In college, my Architecture presentations were filled with comic book people straight out from New Mutants and Daredevil.
Even as I supervised the construction of residential condos in Escolta and restaurant interiors in Robinson’s Galleria, I always carried a portfolio of my comic book art with me.
My only failing was perhaps I was too young and too immature to realize what I really wanted. I wanted to be a comic book artist. I wanted to be IN comics. I wanted to be involved in it as a reader, and as a creator. I didn’t fully realize in those younger days that comics could have been a career as early as I wanted it.
I had blamed my parents for steering me to Architecture, but ultimately, it was my choice and I could have insisted on what I really wanted. But as I said, I was too young. I didn’t know better.
I started to have a sense that I could do comics for real when I met Whilce Portacio. Something just clicked. I realized I could do this. That this was what I really wanted.
In the meantime an old classmate of mine who was working in Makati invited me to apply at an animation company over there. He reasoned that since I was into drawing cartoons, drawing for an animation company is probably a good fit for me.
Yes, there is a perception that animation and comics are similar, but they’re completely different things. They’re completely different discplines and completely different sensibilities. I didn’t want animation, I wanted comics.
Other people have told me to go ahead and enter animation since it’s supposedly a natural progression from comics. After all, many active animators today have come from comics. I respect that it is a belief that many artists may have, but that is not what I believe. To me animation is not a progression from comics. To me they’re different but equal things. One is not a stepping stone to the other. I’m in comics because I love the medium of comics, not the medium of animation. I love telling stories in comics form, not in animated form.
Other people have also told me to move on to film. Once again, I’m told it’s a natural progression from comics. I wish them all the best of luck in their cinematic endeavors, but no, I’m not here to create film. I’m here to create comics. I don’t believe comics is a stepping stone to film, and I don’t believe film is in any way a step up, a progression or any way superior in telling stories than comics. To me they’re completely different but yes, equal things.
I can sense eyebrows raising, aching to disagree, but please feel free to do so. I don’t expect anyone else to agree. But as far as I go, that’s what I believe.
The pattern is repeated over and over with other fields of art. Painting, music, sculpture, architecture, literature, etc.
Many artists seem to feel that every other art is a natural progression from comics. As if comics is something a child would do before they grow up to be adults. They feel other art is finer, more lofty, more important and more culturally significant. And they may all nod their heads in acceptance and agreement.
But I’m here to say…. “Not for THIS artist.”
I respect the opinion and regard that other artists may have for their chosen field of specialization, but I hope they offer me the same respect when I say that comics is not substandard to any of these, that comics is a true art form that is as important, as culturally relevant and significant and is not in any way inferior to any other form of art.
Comic book pages (including balloons, letters, captions, drawings, panels and all), and not simply pinups, are in themselves works of art and are worthy of exhibit and appreciation as any painting, mural, sculpture, illustration, engraving or print. It takes keen artistic insight to create stories told through consecutive panels, and history has now proven that these can be windows through which our very history and culture can be expressed and perceived.
Just look at the numerous comics pages I have displayed in this blog for the past several years. Each komiks page can take you back in time be it the 50s, 60s or 70s, and you can see how Filipinos lived, how they talked, what they wore, what they rode on, how the dressed. Through the stories you can see what lives we have had, what traditions, customs, and beliefs we held on to. What issues we faced, what distractions we had in our daily lives. If this is not art, if this is not TRUE art at its most fundamental, I don’t know what is.
As far as my life and my career are concerned, comics is the ultimate goal. It is the pinnacle to which I’ve always aspired to reach. Now that I’m here, creating better stories and art for better comics is what I’ve set out to do. I never aspire to be an animator, filmmaker, painter, book writer or sculptor. I am exactly where I want to be.