Common misconceptions about my views on 
Filipino Comic Art
by Gerry Alanguilan

1. Do you hate manga? Do you think manga sucks?

Are you kidding? I've read many manga comics that just blew my socks off. Akira, Lone Wolf and Cub, GON, Blade of The Immortal...but my favorite so far has been Barefoot Gen. Simply heartbreaking. So no, I don't hate manga. I don't think it sucks.

2. Why do you hate drawing manga?

I don't.  Having grown up on Voltes V and Daimos, I grew up doodling those characters on the back of my school notebooks. In fact, I worked for a Asian comics company based in Binondo producing manga comics back in in the mid 90's.  It was quite an intense training for me. I've learned that although manga looks simple, it is in fact, very difficult to pull off correctly and convincingly. 

3. Then why do you hate Filipinos drawing manga?

I don't.  I very well can't hate what I had been myself. It's perfectly normal to draw what one grows up on. Manga and anime are very popular today so it's natural that a lot of young artists are influenced to draw that way.

4. Then what do you hate?

What's all this hate stuff? I don't hate anybody, except for one or two people like Hitler maybe. Hate I reserve for those kind of people.

5. If you were asked to draw manga today, would you?

I could, of course, in my sketchbook. But if I were to publish a comic book, I would not use manga.  I would use something that I came up myself. Manga is a Japanese invention you see, an art style that were popularized by Japanese. Whether we like it or not, manga is closely associated with Japan, Japanese people and Japanese culture. Being a Filipino, it would make me very uncomfortable to create a Filipino comic book using an art style that was closely associated with another country.

6. How can you say that when you draw so much like the Americans?

Do I? What is the "American" style of drawing comics? Look at any batch of American comic books and you will see that they are a melting pot of styles from all over the world. The styles are so varied, so wildly different that one cannot come up with a unifying set of characteristics that can comprise a single art "style".

And that is why manga is so unique. The Japanese were able to create a style that has a very specific style, allowing for a certain amount of individuality, but are so similar that they can be grouped into one unified movement of art.

7. Then what is your point, really?

When I try to draw my own comic book, I really try hard to make my work as original as I can make it. I think it would be nice if Filipinos try to find their own original style too. A lot of them already have. Roy Allan Martinez, Leinil Yu, Gilbert Monsanto, Arnold Arre, Oliver Pulumbarit...etc. All of them have managed to create a style that can be considered theirs alone..

8. Oh, so you think your work is original?

I really don't know. But it's what I  want to do and it's what I've been trying to do. I do not consciously try to draw like someone else.  With all the art that I have seen it's inevitable that influences will show up in my work. Some people say they see Barry Smith in my work, some say they see David Mazzucchelli. That's because I'm a huge fan of their work, but I don't set out to draw like them. I try very hard to study what I like about their work and use that to help me find my own style of drawing. 

Anyone can draw what they want and how they want it in the privacy of their sketcbooks. But publishing your work is a different matter all together. By creating and publicly releasing a comic book, you are presenting yourself as a Filipino Comic Book Artist and that this is Your Work. You present yourself not only to the Philippines, but also to the rest of the world. It's a responsibility that every comic artist needs to keep in mind. Your comic book will become a historical document of its time and will become part of the record of the accomplishments of Filipino artists in our history books.

What do you want that record to say about us as Filipino comics artists? Do you want it to say that we were artists with originality and unique individuality, or do you want it to say that we were drawing like other people? 

That will be your choice right here and now.

9. Well, what have YOU done for the local industry? You're off working on American Comics!

Do you honestly require every comics fan to come up with comics of their own before they have the right to say something about a comic they read? 

Doing something for the local industry is all well and good, but I'm more concerned about the art of Filipino Comics and those 2 concerns are two different things. 

I'm talking about originality of your work as an artist, not the list and comparison of our accomplishments.   It doesn't matter if you work here in the Philippines, in the US, in Europe or anywhere else. What matters is the work you create. Is it your best? Is it good? And more importantly, is it original?  You carry not only your name, but the name of your country wherever you work. Show them that you are capable of creating something unique.