Feb 27, 2013

Filipino Barbarians and their Teen Sidekicks

The Philippines has a huge comic book industry, dating all the way back to the 1920s.  Most are in Tagalog, with some English and Spanish loan words thrown in; a few in the other major languages, such as Ilokano.  If you can't read Tagalog, you can usually figure out what's going on anyway, by looking at the pictures: a lot of beefcake, Filipino man-mountains saving the world.

1. Conan-style barbarian heroes who battle weird monsters, such as Tartaro and Malcan (by contemporary comic artist Arman T. Francisco, who runs a Filipino Komix blog).

2. Semi-nude Tarzan-style jungle heroes, often with teen sidekicks in tow (or else kids themselves), such as  Lawin, a boy raised by eagles, or  "Haring Wupong" (King Cobra), by Francisco V. Coching

 Boy Shabu, a boxer with magical powers written by Vic J. Poblete, appeared in Aliwan comics.

Many comics offer a pleasantly zany mix of history and myth. In this"Aram" comic by Joe Lad Santos, an ancient Greek hero and his teen sidekick use the sword Excalibur to explore the Bermuda Triangle.

The 18th century European adventurer Prince Amante, by Mario Del Mar, became so popular in the 1950s that it was adapted into the first full color feature film in the Philippines, Prinsipe Amante (1950), starring Ben Rubio.

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