BY MADS BAJARIAS | There is so much to learn and enjoy from Gerry Alanguilan's online museum of Philippine comics art and I find it has become an indispensable resource for the keen student of Pinoy comics.
Recently, I read with relish the feature on Leandro "L.S." Martinez, the creator of Nognog, Superkat, Bulol en Tangak and other characters which appeared in the late-lamented Filipino Funny Comics (1978-2004). Written by daughter Cristina, the article revealed that Martinez came from a large family with 10 siblings. Ah, so that's where he got the funny, rowdy and rambunctious spirit in his works!
After reading the Martinez piece, I spent a fair amount of time looking at the various Pinoy comics luminaries whose profiles and sample works Alanguilan has meticulously collected and posted on his site. Alanguilan has devoted his time and resources to rescue nearly-forgotten Pinoy comics artists from oblivion. It is a laudable undertaking.
Among the many artists featured by Alanguilan is the astonishingly gifted Francisco V. Coching. Born in 1919, he created an incredible 53 titles in a career that spanned 39 years. His career was interrupted by WWII (he joined an anti-Japanese guerrilla unit), but took up his pen and brushes again after the war as if nothing had happened.
His cover art for Pinoy Komiks's September 10, 1955 issue is a fine study of timeless optimism and youthful exuberance. The pair still look fresh and chic all through the years. The bright yellow skirt decorated with colorful splotches is something that today's fashion-conscious girls will still wear. Same with the gold lamé pumps, ankle bracelet and summery pink sleeveless blouse. The other night I watched the "Sex and The City" movie and was surprised to see that large hoop earrings are in vogue! Open one of the ubiquitous teen-fashion magazines today and you're bound to find something similar to what Coching dreamt up in 1955.
The man's fashion isn't too shabby either. The blue jeans, white tee and tan belt ensemble is classic male. The biker's cap and rolled-up pantslegs may not be in fashion now—but they should be! Although the cap and rolled-up pants may not be something that ordinary Pinoys can get away with on a regular basis today, they wouldn't be out of place in the trendiest night spots. I swear while I was writing this, a Korean teen idol was on TV wearing virtually the same "look" as Coching's 1955 man.
In his interview with Ros H. Matienzo, Coching had said that the late 50s up to the 60s were the Golden Age of Pinoy comics.
"You can see for yourself," said Coching in 1980. "Get an old copy of Pilipino Komiks and compare it with the best that they have today. There's just no comparison."
In 1998, Coching passed away at age 79. But his genius, and his young lovers of 1955, will shine on forever.