Voting for the 2009 Komikon Awards ends in less than a week, on 20 September 2009, and while it might be hard to scrounge up copies of all the nominated physical komiks, the magic of the Internet means that it’s easy for prospective voters to bone up on the nominees in at least one category: Best Webcomic. (Webkomik?)
I thought I’d do my part to promote voter education (practice for 2010 maybe?)–especially since all of the nominees have some Speculative Fiction elements–so here are links to the nominees, as well as some sample panels, because we’re all such suckers for good visuals. I’m also including a bit of personal analysis for each, but please don’t take my word for the quality of the works–just click on the links and discover these worthy kontenders for yourselves. (Yes, that was an intentional misspelling in the post title guys )
Warning though: Kubori Strips for the Soul are NSFW and NSF-Minors, whether or not you’re at work.
What the Cigarette Said by Andrew Drilon
Speculative Elements: Without spoilng anything… Philippine mythology and folklore is present. And oh, a talking cigarette.
Andrew is, as might be obvious from some of the answers in our first Rocket Round Table, one of the most admired storytellers in the country today, whether the medium be prose or komiks, since he’s as adept with words as he is with art. When he combines those two talents, as he does in “What the Cigarette Said”, the effect can be magical: Andrew uses words and images to give a dream-like quality to a surreal love story. One advantage this has over the other nominees is that WTCS is not a serial webcomic but a 12 page mini-comic that tells a complete story. Even if you’ve already voted or have no interest in the awards, taking the time out to read this comic will be minutes well spent.
By Moon Alone by Hai Ibardolaza
Speculative Elements: Magic, demons, prophecies, and an entire secondary world. (Or is it?)
Hai is another of that rare creative breed who has mastery of both prose and art. It is the latter that will first strike you however, and how–I can honestly say that Hai is one of my favorite artists, local or foreign, webcomic or no. The way he portrays emotion on a character’s face, the vivid aesthetics of his coloring, the splendor of his set pieces… and when he does his one panel “splash” pages… wow. (His recent strips showing a city under siege by giants are some of his best yet.) While the art lures you in though, it’s the writing that elevates By Moon Alone from “pretty pictures” to “awesome comic”–there is a wounded-ness to his main characters, a sense of impending tragedy that makes me read each new strip with a mixture of excitement and dread. At this point there’s no big “payoff” yet–I get the feeling we’ve barely scratched the surface of this story–but what’s there is mesmerizing.
Kubori Strips for the Soul by Michael David
(Don’t forget guys – NSFW!)
Language: Filipino, with a smattering of English.
Speculative Elements: Talking Kikiams. Need I say more?
I used to be an avid collector of Culture Crash Comics (Boo-hoo Cat’s Trail…*sniff*) so I’m familiar with the lecherous, foul-mouthed, hilarious Kikiams. I’m sure a lot of people are too–of all the nominees, I think of all the nominees, Kubori Kikiam (the name of the strip–Kubori Strips for the Soul is the title of one of the collections) has the largest established fanbase, and is also probably the longest running nominee. The strip is irreverent and deliberately offensive, with many of the jokes poking (no innuendo intended) fun at pornography and curse words… but for those whose moral feathers are not easily ruffled (or have already been plucked) not only are the Kubori Strips hilarious–they’re smart as well. Taking the black strip that was often used to censor curse words, personifying it and making it an actual character–that’s not just shock humor; that’s intelligent satire.
No Need For Kaide by Andre’ Salvatierra
Speculative Elements: Mad scientists, friendly dinosaurs, a face-transplant that makes you look like David Hasselhoff…
“No Need for Kaide” deals with everyday life at a startup technology magazine called “Really Cool Stuff”–if everyday life included talking dinosaurs. I hadn’t heard about this webcomic until I saw it listed as one of the nominees, and I’m glad the awards is giving it some attention. It’s syndicated in the Manila Bulletin, with all the attendant advantages and disadvantages of nationwide syndication. The art style is clean and distinctive, which works well in the 3-4 panel strip format.
Fifty Peso Ninja by Lico Reloj
Speculative Elements: Ninjas! Also: Getting anything of value for fifty pesos!
“Fifty Peso Ninja” is another webcomic that I only learned of through the Komikon awards, even if it has been running since 2006. FPN makes use of the shonen manga formula (40% comedy + 40% action + 10% romance + 10% drama) and while the comic is clearly set in the Philippines, the influence of japanese comics is palpable, and extends beyond the use of the titular ninja. This in itself is not a bad thing of course (manga/anime fan here) as there is a reason that the aforementioned distillation of elements is so prevalent in manga: it makes for easy, comfortable entertainment, in the style of, if I’m to pick a prominent local example, Marco Dimaano.
If you’re familiar with these comics, tell us what you think in the comments section. And if you haven’t read them yet… What are you waiting for? Taste, sample, consume… we’ll be waiting for your feedback after. ^_^