Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Carlo Caparas, Jose Rizal

It's already a widely accepted fact that Dr. Jose Rizal was the very first Filipino to incoporate drawings and text to tell a story, essentially creating the very first Philippine "komiks" in 1889, although the strip itself was created in 1886.

Philippine historian Ambeth Ocampo sheds some further light on Jose Rizal's creation:

"Rizal's English was quite passable, and I presume his text was edited before it was printed. He not only related the familiar story, but he also compared this with a similar Japanese folk tale and even went into some literary and anthropological analysis. We also know that Rizal drew in "komiks" form the same tale in the scrapbook of Paz Pardo de Tavera, the ill-fated wife of Juan Luna. A year ago, Reni Roxas of Tahanan Books had the Rizal drawings scanned (the originals are unlocated, so all we have is a clear copy in Austin Craig's 1913 biography, "Life Lineage and Labors of Jose Rizal") and thendigitally enhanced and colored."

Rizal's Version of a Famous Folk Tale
by Ambeth Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
July 19, 2006
Read the Entire Story Here.

Further Reading: Rizal's "Monkey and the Tortoise" Cartoons by komiks historian Dennis Villegas.


Former Komiks writer Carlo J. Caparas, creator of many characters including Panday, was recently awarded "Gawad ng Komisyon ng Wika" by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts for his accomplishments in champiniong the Pilipino language in both komiks and film.

Komiks as literature

“Ang alam lang natin ay yung nasa academe. Ang gusto naming ipakita ngayon ay yung pagpapahalaga sa mga ganitong panitikan (We only gave recognition to members of the academe. What we want to do now is to show the importance of these types of literature).

“As far as I know, this is the first time that we have given the award to a figure that is not from the academe,” Nolasco said, referring to Caparas.

Caparas Story Stranger Than Fiction
by Nini Valera
Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 2, 2006
Read the story here.

An interesting bit of news that Caparas himself said was the possibility of his komiks novels being published in English in the United States. If this is true, then I think this is fantastic, but I really hope that his artist collaborators get the proper credit and compensation that is only naturally due to them.

Artists should be considered "co-creators" when they had a part in creating the look of the characters and establishing the look of the universe that the characters exist in. In the Philippines, artists have been historically treated as nothing more than "workers" who get paid a page rate in a komiks heirarchy where the writer reigns supreme.

The form of "COMICS" is the product of the collaboration between the writer and the artist, and no one is more important than the other within that comics creation process.

I don't want to take anything away from the writers. I am only trying to impress upon everyone the importance of the artist in the process of comics creation, and I hope I can impress upon them the colossal unjustness and unfairness that our artists for many decades have had to endure, oblivious that they deserved so much more than they got.

If such working conditions were the norm of decades ago, then that is no longer the case today. Today we should recognize the severe inequality our artists have unknowingly suffered, and take all steps to rectify the situation.

Whatever acclaim and recognition that Carlo Caparas receives, it is undeniable that he deserves them fully, and for this award, I offer my heartiest congratulations. His accomplishment does nothing but uplift the medium and that's something comics really needs.

But I really hope that his collaborators like Hal Santiago, his Panday co-creator Steve Gan, and many more artists are not forgotten, and that they are deserving of such acclaim, recognition and due compensation as well.

And I think it's about damned time.