Pinoy superheroes make their debut at ComicCon Asia

bernardo-carpio cover By Wendell Gaa

Filipino comic book superheroes inspired by local legends were unveiled at the recent ComicCon Asia held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Writer Allison Aviado and senior artist Jerome Jagonia, both of Epik Studios, created the superhero Bernardo Carpio, who is essentially the Filipino version of the Greek mythological hero Hercules!

“Bernardo Carpio was a legend in Montalban, Rizal,” explained Jerome. “We just stumbled upon him while researching about the life and story of national hero Andres Bonifacio who prayed to Bernardo Carpio for strength in the Pamitinan Cave.” Allison did the comprehensive research, while Jerome did the illustration.

Allison went on to explain that Bernardo Carpio is originally a Spanish knight, said to be named after the legendary Spanish knight Bernardo del Carpio.

“Bernardo Carpio is well-known for his superhuman strength,” she said. “But what’s really remarkable about him is his kind soul and strong spirit.”

Popular myth in Montalban has it that Bernardo Carpio left a footprint and a palm print the size of King Kong! And even some literatures recorded how he had defended the people of the town from the Spanish colonial invaders.

Another superhero series published by Epik Studios, and based on local Filipino legend, is Pedro Penduko. He is a character created by the late National Artist Francisco Coching. VIVA Communications, the mother company of Epik, bought the license to remake him as a comic hero who is “much more edgy and
acceptable for the today’s readers,” said Jerome.

Pedro Penduko

Pedro Penduko

The first comic convention where Epik Studios participated was AsiaPOP Comic Convention in 2016. There, it launched “Pedro Penduko: The Legend Begins.” That same year, director Paul Basinillo and group head/illustrator Dennis Crisostomo even brought their creations for display at New York Comic Con at Jacob Javits Center. The Epik team is aiming to attend more international conventions.

“Our plan is to reach out to the international community in order for them to identify with the Filipino culture and also for the Filipinos residing abroad,” said Jerome.

Born and raised in Angono, Rizal, the art capital of the Philippines, Allison said she is not a big fan of comics, not having even read one comic book before joining Epik Studios. When she began to write for the company in June 2016, she slowly developed an interest in this form of storytelling, art and literature.

“Bernardo Carpio is the first character that I’ve really helped in creating since I mainly stood as a translator for both ‘Pedro Penduko: The Legend Begins’ and ‘Republika,’” said Allison. “Epik Studios is focused on the unique Filipino taste and culture that we present in our works.”

She continued: “My advice to aspiring writers. Just keep on writing. It will take time for you to find your own style but once you do find it, never let anyone stop you from developing it. Your writing style is your identity. Don’t let anyone take that away from you.”

Jerome, who helped design Bernardo Carpio and Pedro Penduko, is a native of San Francisco, Agusan del Sur, but spent much of his childhood in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte. He went to school at Centro Escolar University in Mendiola, Manila. He found great inspiration for his drawings from his childhood in Mindanao, where he said each town is rich with local myths. A lifelong Superman and Batman fan, he has also drawn inspiration from Filipino comic book artists who have worked for the DC and Marvel companies, such as Leinil Yu, Carlo Pagulayan, Mico Suayan, Alex Nino, just to name a few.

For aspiring comic artists, he urged them to “never give up.”

“Whether you’re young or old, just tell your stories. Whether the drawing/writing is good or bad, it will improve in due time. For illustrators always practice the fundamentals in anatomy, drawing, and sequential storytelling through drawings,” he said.

© The FilAm 2018

 The author (in red shirt) with Epik Studios creatives. From left: writers Allison Aviado and  Regene Estolatan, graphic artist Dannie Santos, and senior artist Jerome Jagonia.

The author (in red shirt) with Epik Studios creatives. From left: writers Allison Aviado and Regene Estolatan, graphic artist Dannie Santos, and senior artist Jerome Jagonia.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: