Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Are Komiks still popular culture?

Can we still call komiks popular culture? There may be some confusion to this question, so I will have to clarify my definition of this question.

There is no doubt that many old komiks properties are pop culture. Darna, Panday, Dyesebel, Zuma, Lastikman all have name recognition, thanks to continued retelling of their stories in komiks, TV and movies. There are also non superhero characters that have also risen to fame, like Kenkoy, Roberta, Dyesebel. These are, no doubt, a part of the pop culture canon.

And then there is the popular old convention of turning popular nonsuperhero komiks stories into movies. Lino Brocka made his name with these adaptations, from Wanted: Perfect Mother, to Pasan Ko Ang Daigdig and Angela Markado. On the other end of the spectrum, comedians also enjoyed adapting komiks properties to movies, like Dolphy & Panchito did with Max en Jess and again with Kalabog en Bosyo, Chiquito's Asiong Aksaya, and more recently, Jimmy Santos's Bondying. These may not be as easily remembered, but certainly made significant contributions to the fabric of pop culture.

There has also been a resurgence of interest in old komiks properties in TV, thanks to deals made by networks and the property holders. Specifically, the old komiks properties owned by the Roces companies were bought by NBS, and sold to ABS-CBN, and this is where we got the weekly TV series KOMIKS. Aside from that, however, many of the original komiks writers retained ownership, not just of their characters, but also their whole stories, which is why we got teleseryes like May Bukas Pa, Dyosa, Agua Bendita, Midnight DJ, Bakekang. Some of these are still fresh in the public's imagination, but the enduring quality of these properties have yet to be tested.

Related to this are properties similar to komiks, but made for movies or TV. Of these there are innumerable examples, including Ninja Kids, Batang Z, Fantastik Man, Batang X, Mulawin, Encantadia, Atlantika, Marina, Krystala, Volta, etc. Many of these were also written by komiks writers, and/or were imagined for the popular audience, the same way komiks used to be written.

Then there are newer komiks properties. Carlo Pagulayan's Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah was succesfully made into a musical, and subsequently, a movie. There are now talks of Arnold Arre's Andong Agimat to be made into either a movie or TV series. These series have tickled the interest of big name production studios.

However, even more komiks properties continue to hide under the limelight, whether by choice or not. Examples of  noteworthy komiks properties that fall under this category include Wasted, Kiko Machine, and Biotrog. These properties may be beloved by fans, and may even appear in a newspaper or magazine article or two, but are still not quite as famous as their older compatriots.

And even more obscure komiks properties abound. As noted earlier, komiks today have developed a cult following, ably supported online in official websites, fansites and forums, but notably distinct from the fame old properties have acquired. 

Irregardless of the merits of komiks today, could they still be considered popular culture? Or is it fair to say that komiks fans have formed their own separate subculture, perhaps even clans based on what kinds of komiks stories they enjoy? (superhero, manga, horror, underground)

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