100 Araw ng Komiks (100 Days of Comics) is an online event organized for the purpose of spreading awareness of Philippine Komiks through Twitter, Facebook, DeviantArt, blogs and other online venues. Click here for the event page on Facebook. The Komikero Comics Journal will be posting everyday for the month of July news, opinions and commentary on aspects of the Philippine comics industry. Today, I will talk about Johnny Balbona.
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Back in 2004 I was contacted by Mr. Boboy Yonzon to ask if I could contribute to a humor magazine he was going to publish called “Mwahaha!”. “Johnny Balbona” is one that I came up with. Sometimes, friends of mine would inspire me to draw them into my comic books. Johnny was a different case because I was inspired not just to put my friend in as a cameo, but I was inspired to create a main character after him. I’m talking about my old buddy Johnny Danganan, who is probably one of the more unique individuals I’ve come to know.
Johnny’s character is so singular that I decided to base Johnny Balbona’s look around him. For those who are unfamiliar with Tagalog, “Balbona” is a take on the word “balbon” which means, well, HAIRY. And hair is something that Johnny has… everywhere.
Although Johnny Balbona looks like Johnny Danganan, the character itself resembles me, albeit a really exaggerated version of me.
Johnny Balbona represents an evolution of how I express my opinions and viewpoints on everyday life. In the beginning I was more emotional and dark, expressing what I felt through violent stories like Wasted and Dead Heart. After getting over a lot of the anger of those years, humor has slowly crept in my work, but I’d like to think my commentary is as pointed as ever.
In this first installment of Johnny Balbona, I presented my admittedly cynical point of view of Philippine politics. While I usually try to be subtle in how I want to say things, here I say my points directly, without euphemism or subtlety. Knowing the magazine would get wider circulation, I wanted to slap readers with what I wanted to say, and I didn’t want them to miss anything. It’s been my experience in my other writings here on my blog and in my comics that subtlety doesn’t work with most people, and some pointed things I want to express go completely over people’s heads. I didn’t want to do the same thing here.