THERE must be something in our wiring that attracts us towards caricatures and the comic strip universe. I still have yet to see or meet a child from any generation that had shown no interest at all in the depiction of the real world through such a style or art form.
As a kid of about five, I would willingly accompany my aunt Pilar to the market every week, and offer to carry part of her load back home, just so I would be allowed to choose from any of the comic books sold inside Bankerohan public market as my compensation.
As I remember, our house in Ponciano had comics lying about in any of the rooms one happened to be in. These ranged from the classics which featured actual literature gems like Moby Dick, A tale of Two Cities and the Last of the Mohicans, to kiddie favorites like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck with the rest of his friends, and finally, Superman and other Detective Comics mainstays, which were the favorite among us boys. A sprinkling of Tagalog komiks was never far from the house collection though, and they were enjoyed by all. In those days, our local super heroes had included Lastikman, Captain Barbel and Darna. As it is, you could say we all grew up in the typical pinoy family that loved to read, although I admit, I have never seen my parents read any of these, our enjoyable sources of visual education.
Then of course, there had been the movies. I remember that these treats had been few and far between during our younger days, but in high school however, we got to enjoy animation films with classmates and friends. Alas, through the years until now, production had vastly improved and the usual Hanna Barbera-type cartoons of old had thankfully come and gone.
Just recently at dinner, I noticed our family chitchat slowly gravitating towards (of all things) the development of comics, animation and other similar “kiddie” fascinations we three had enjoyed in our separate childhoods. The discussion had sprung from our weekend binge of watching a first ever Filipino anime series featured in Netflix. Now, while that achievement alone may have really worthy to note, the fact that the series also featured the folklore ghouls of childhood made it truly a shared experience for us three.
Nothing earth-shaking about all these really. In one Marvel comics I found long ago among discarded papers, I read a letter to the editor section wherein the late Stan the man had said, “never forget the child in each of us.” And I would just like to share that.
Despite this pandemic landscape before us, we make do with what we can, even retracing old memories that once brought us joy so that they appease us in these mentally taxing airs. To playfully tweak at Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata, “with all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world, and where anime still rules.”
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