Comic Book Artist #4 Sept 2004 (magazine review).

I was aware that ‘Comic Book Artist’ had been published under Top Shelf Comics, but this is the first time I’ve encountered an issue from a job lot I purchased. Aside from the initial news section, there aren’t many changes compared to its later iteration under the TwoMorrows imprint.

Of particular interest is Jon B. Cooke’s interview with Filipino writer Manuel Auad. Auad discusses his upbringing in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation in World War 2, a perspective reminiscent of artist Alfredo Alcala’s, whose interview I read earlier. The accounts remain profoundly unsettling today, yet it’s remarkable how both Auad and Alcala emerged relatively emotionally intact, later pursuing artistic careers.

Shaun Clancy’s interview with Filipino artist Tony DeZuñiga delves into his career, emphasizing his work on Jonah Hex which ensured the character didn’t resemble “a Hulk in a cowboy hat.”

Jon B. Cooke also spoke to Alex Niňo about his journey. Many Filipinos artists, including Niňo, moved to the U.S., and eventually secured better compensation for their artwork, especially after realizing they were being paid significantly less than their American peers by DC Comics.

I concur with Cooke on the limited recognition Filipino artists receive. As far as I’m aware, he’s the lone champion for their cause in American publications. A similar obscurity surrounds Spanish artists in the UK who contributed to British comics from the 1960s onward. I’m uncertain whether prejudice plays a role, or if the challenge lies in gathering firsthand information after so many years.

A review of the Filipino artists who have worked in the USA doesn’t clarify why, despite their commendable credentials, subsequent editors didn’t hire them. Some, like Romeo Tanghal and Alex Niňo, achieved success, yet their Filipino heritage rarely gets highlighted.

John A. Lent’s examination of the history of Philippine Komiks traces its roots back to 1885, just a year after the inaugural British comic book and a decade before its American counterpart. This sheds light on the global nature of visual continuity in comics.

The Top Shelf Editions are a rare find. If you chance upon one, I recommend grabbing it for an insightful read.

GF Willmetts

August 2023

(pub: Top Shelf Comics, 2004. 114 page illustrated magazine. Price: varies)


Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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