Filipino comics, colloquially known as “komiks”, have a prestigious legacy, dating back as early as the 1920s when the Liwayway magazine first published the still-ongoing Mga Kabalbalan ni Kenkoy. Many consider the 1940s the “golden age” of komiks with the birth of superhero characters like Darna and Captain Barbell, symbolizing hope and escapism in the years following the Second World War.
Today, the local komiks scene remains relatively small. However, its new generation of artists have found a new home online and they stand out by promising narratives that speak to the Filipino story.
Founded by the creative content group Kalabaw Kolektib, Penlab.ink launched in September last year as a non-profit depository of Filipino komiks. Artists can publish their comics on Penlab free of charge, making them readily available for readers to view or, if afforded, to support directly by purchasing a copy. Indeed, when you consider the declining local print industry today, having this consolidated platform outside of the usual komik convention sets a precedent by democratizing the publishing and distribution process for komik artists.
Among the range of genres available include Arnold Arre’s award-winning fantasy “The Mythology Class,” the action-packed “PASIG: Unbound” by Taga-ilog — even the serial collection of the classic Kenkoy by Tony Valesquez, known as the “Father of Filipino Komiks.”