Sunday, October 25, 2009

October is Filipino American History Month...

... but to me, Fil-Am History Month is every month.

Whirlwind Wonderland by Rina Ayuyang

However way you observe FAHM, it's the perfect time for me to put the spotlight on comics that were drawn by Filipino talents, whether they're American or non-American. Several Pinoy illustrators have lent their pencils to Marvel and DC titles, such as former Flash artist and Secret Identities contributor Greg LaRocque (who, like many Filipino artists this month, did a wonderful gesture by auctioning off comic art to raise money for typhoon relief) and Secret Invasion artist Leinil Francis Yu.

I don't have any of Yu's Marvel work in my collection, but I dug up from my shelves the 2005 Batman/Danger Girl crossover special he collaborated on with inker (and komiks art historian) Gerry Alanguilan:

Batman/Danger Girl cover by J. Scott Campbell and Edgar Delgado

Batman/Danger Girl page 29 by Andy Hartnell, Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan

Batman/Danger Girl by Andy Hartnell, Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan

The superhero artwork by these Filipino artists frequently looks spectacular, but as Budjette Tan noted in a 2003 Comic Book Resources column about the abundance of Filipinos in the American comics industry since the days of Alfredo Alcala and Whilce Portacio, "so few are writing and drawing about who they are and where they are from." The autobiographical comic strips by Bay Area cartoonist Rina Ayuyang are an example of a Filipino creator writing and drawing about the Fil-Am experience for a change.

Whirlwind Wonderland cover by Rina Ayuyang

I first caught some of Rina's underground comics at a Cartoon Art Museum exhibit earlier this year and liked what I saw. Her Whirlwind Wonderland compilation, which she debuted at APE last week, is one of several books I grabbed at the expo.

An occasion that would make Bill Maher check his watch, from Rina Ayuyang's Whirlwind Wonderland.Good thing I brought my copy of Whirlwind Wonderland with me while I was at my parents' house. I had my mom translate for me the Ilocano-speaking auntie's dialogue that went untranslated during a strip in which Rina can't understand what her relatives are saying. For instance, "Pagtartarabahuam? Taga ditoy ka kadi? Ilugan nak to man nga agawid no malpas ti pangaldaw?!" means "Where do you work? Are you from here? Can I get a ride so I can go home after we eat?!"

I'm bored with the superhero genre these days (my current favorite superhero comic is an anti-superhero title, Dynamite's The Boys, in which Garth Ennis takes the piss out of supers), but if I ever feel like creating a Fil-Am superhero, instead of an inability to see through lead, I'd make his weakness be an inability to understand his Ilocano-speaking aunties.

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