Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Redondo, Niño, Alcala

Something We Can Be Proud Of

Several years ago, I posted my thoughts on the state of comics art in the Philippines, specially with respect to Japanese, American, European, and what I perceived to be Philippine comics art. It elicited a lot of really heated and passionate replies. I think it's a good thing because it made people think about what I feel to be a very important topic, and something worth talking about much more.

I realized it was probably not the wisest move to go on a kind of offensive, because it made other people defensive and it caused valid points of the discussion to be ignored and misunderstood.

Malakas at Maganda by Nestor Redondo
Nestor Redondo
Malakas at Maganda
Men, Maiden and Myths Portfolio, 1979
Copyright 2005 Nestor Redondo Estate

I had a few good years to think more about my beliefs about Philippine comics art and the question whether it exists or not. And I think it does. If you have been visiting this journal regularly for the past couple of years you would get an idea of what our art is like, and you are subconsciously aware of what characteristics and qualities it has.

I have regularly posted the art of the likes of Nestor Redondo, Alex Niño, Alfredo Alcala etc., not to tell our young artists to copy them and to draw just like them, but to give our young artists an awareness of the existence of a style of art that has been considered worldwide as uniquely Filipino. There has been international acclaim for our artists, not only for their accomplishments, but for a style of art that only Filipinos created. The three artists mentioned above all won prestige and honor for our country for winning the much coveted Inkpot Awards at the San Diego Convention in 1976, 1977 and 1979.

VOLTAR by Alfredo Alcala
Alfredo Alcala
Voltar Portfolio, 1979
Copyright @2005 Christian Voltar Alcala

These artists and their accomplishments are something that we Filipinos can be proud of. But I would not advise any young artist to draw like Nestor Redondo or Alex Niño, but rather use their art to inspire them to create something unique on their own. Those artists were able to create a body of work that is considered internationally as "Filipino" but it doesn't mean that you can't be Filipino in your art when you don't draw like them.

I find it limiting as an artist to restrict your art to a certain style for the sake of nationalism. Artists are free to explore their own artistic sensibilities in the hopes of finding something unique to offer.

Isolation by Alex Niño
Alex Niño
Satan's Tears 1977
Copyright 2005 Alex Niño

There is huge potential in comics art, and a lot of avenues and possibilites yet to be discovered. I would want to create something new than do something that other artists have already done. I like the works of many artists like the artists mentioned above, but also of Moebius, Katsuhiro Otomo, Goseki Kojima, Barry Windsor Smith, David Mazzucchelli and Frank Miller. I let them inspire me, not to do what they do, but hopefully to create something new.