Pearl of the Orient: The History of Filipino Comic Industry

The outbreak of Covid-19 had a significant impact on boosting the manga industry. According to JapanInsider (2022), “Japan’s manga industry generated over 675.9 billion yen (almost 5.4 billion USD) in sales of paper comics and electronic material in 2021, setting a new sales record for the second consecutive year in a row following a 10.3% increase since 2020. Manga now accounts for 40.4% of Japan’s entire publishing market, with 2021 being the first time it has exceeded 40%.” People were stuck at home, looking for new hobbies they could do in the comfort of their rooms. The recent rise of audiences who consume both manga and anime worldwide paved the way for more titles being licensed into multiple languages by international publishers. This growth applies to the Filipino comics industry as well.

When did Filipino Comics Start?

Philippine comics or Filipino komiks have been around since the 1920s. Since then, more comics emerged, created by talented Filipino artists. Classics such as Captain Barbell, Darna, Pedro Penduko, and Panday are just some of the most famous comic superheroes whose stories were adapted into live-action movies and TV series. New comics have received the same love as their predecessors, with Trese becoming a Netflix animated series. Subtitled and dubbed into multiple languages, it placed a bigger spotlight toward local Filipino comics.

Filipino Comics Translation and Localization

Filipinos are exposed to many foreign media such as manga and anime. Translating and localizing international comics is not a foreign concept in the Philippines, especially manga. In fact, the first-ever Japanese to Filipino dubbed anime was Little Lord Fauntleroy or locally known as Cedie: Ang Munting Prinsipe, which became a hit with Filipino kids. Since then, many anime have been dubbed to cater to the audiences, such as Doraemon, Voltes 5, Slam dunk, and Ghost Fighter. Along with this, manga was also introduced to the Philippines. However, Filipino book retailers still do not carry a wide variety of manga titles despite the demand. However, the tides have changed due to the undeniable demand for manga in the country.

In 2015, VIVA-PSICOM published Filipino-translated Japanese manga such as Fairytail and One Piece. However, this was not the first attempt of Japanese to Filipino translation for manga since Doraemon and Detective Conan were its predecessors in the industry.

The comic industry has had a steady rise since its early days. In the 21st century, more people see manga’s entertainment and educational value and appreciate the beauty of Filipino comics. 

With Filipino comics continuing to pave their success, here are three must-read Filipino comics that are easily accessible on many platforms.

Must-read Filipino Comics in 2022

Trese written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo.
  1. Trese

Trese is a Filipino comic that revolves around Philippine mythical creatures locally known as engkantos. In a world where humans and engkantos coexist, the police cannot handle crimes involving the supernatural, so they call the one person who can–Alexandra Trese.

This Filipino comic written by Budjette Tan and illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo has been translated into languages such as English and Italian. Not only that, it was adapted into a Netflix animation ten years after its publication. With the industry’s big names voicing the characters in different languages, it was a hit both locally and internationally.

Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan
  1. Elmer

This is a Filipino comic book created, written, and illustrated by Gerry Alanguilan. It was initially self-published as a four-issue miniseries under a Komikero Publishing imprint. It is about a chicken that fights for equality. The chicken, Elmer, longs to be treated equally to humans. This comic tackled social injustices and issues and was described as comparable to George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The Filipino comic garnered much recognition abroad, such as the French ACBD Prix Asie (Asia Prize for Criticism) Award and the Prix Quai des Bulles Award (2011), and was nominated for the 2011 Best New Graphic Album Eisner Award. This was also published in multiple languages. 

  1. Mythspace

Mythspace is a comic book about space opera tropes and monsters from Philippine folklore. It is a critically acclaimed graphic novel anthology published in 2014. It showcases the creativity and beauty of Philippine folklore. It’s a taste of the monsters unknown to the rest of the world.

The expansion and demand for comics became a catalyst for Trese, a Filipino comic, to be produced into a Netflix animation. This opportunity will soon give way for more titles to be licensed and demand Filipino comics to be translated into multiple languages as well. 

In order for manga or any comic to have a lasting impact, translation is very crucial. How a project is translated and localized will directly affect how readers and watchers interpret and understand it. That is why publishers must choose a reliable and high-quality translation and localization company dedicated to creative translation, such as manga and anime.

Reaching a Wider Audience Through Translation

For a manga or comic project to reach its maximum potential, it has to be relatable and understandable. Translation and localization will be crucial in taking the first step to making your work global; just like with how Japanese anime and manga broke into the Philippine market.

Creative Connections & Commons Inc. offers translation and localization services for over 30 languages worldwide. CCC has expert translators who are also manga and comic enthusiasts. We guarantee that your project will receive utmost quality and accuracy.

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