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Liwayway magazine is the oldest magazine still being published in the Philippines. Begun in 1923 Liwayway became the vehicle for some of the early comic strips which later launched the comics industry in the Philippines. During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese Imperial Army confiscated Liwayway and continued to publish it for propaganda purposes. The Manila Bulletin took over ownership of Liwayway in 2005. (From the article "A History of Liwayway Magazine" by Dennis Villegas on The Philippine Comics Art Museum Online web site, January 2006)
"The Philippine Sports Commission is... launching [the] Batang Pinoy-Philippine National Youth Games 2000 [using] the IEC [information, education & communication] strategy. The IEC strategy includes the launching of Batang Pinoy Komiks [comics], an innovative... and illustrative reading material espousing the very ideals of Batang Pinoy." (From an article in the Manila Bulletin, April 2000)
"Comic books have always had a special place in Filipino society, leaving an imprint on Pinoys as they grow up. This cultural significance has resulted in a diverse lot, ranging from Mars Ravelo's innovative komiks stories to the seminal tales in the serial Funny Komiks. But recently, younger artists have tried to merge Filipino sensibility with a Western-style art form: the American comic book/graphic novel." (From the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Feb 2000)
"In the '50s, '60s and '70s, many Filipino movies were based on popular novels serialized in magazines and komiks publications." (From the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Dec '99)
Filipino students usually turn to the abridged komiks versions of history books and classic novels which are required-reading in high school, such as the story of Jose Rizal and the metrical romance Florante at Laura. (From articles in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Oct and Dec '99)
The Philtranco bus company has produced an on-board comics publication, the Biyaheng Pinoy Komiks-Magasin. This 52-page color monthly is to be distributed free to all Philtranco passengers. It has a circulation of 300,000 and is the first such publication of its kind in the Philippines. (From the Manila Bulletin, November '99)
"Of the many recent techniques developed to bring basic information to our people, the use of the vernacular komiks ­ illustrated reading materials ­ has been found effective. Knowledge that our people widely read this type of material inspired the... University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital to utilize it... The Rayuma Komiks... will help many of our poor countrymen to comprehend medical terms. We hope that similar measures will be undertaken by authorities in the various other government agencies which deal directly with our people." (From an article entitled "Komiks & Education" in the Manila Bulletin, November '99) "Rayuma Komiks, which is published locally in the vernacular, was spearheaded by Dr. Amante. He observed that educational material in the form of glossy brochures, pamphlets and books are usually disregarded by Filipinos. What he noticed was that the Filipino usually reads local comics... Printing patient information materials in the vernacular is the best way to educate these patients." (From the Manila Bulletin, October '99)
"Media forms can be divided into three major categories: they are the print media, the electronic media, and special media. Print media include newspapers: broadsheets or tabloids, comic books, novels, and monographs... In the Philippines, the most widely used media forms are the print media... To date, there are ... eighty-nine serial comic books... [A 1999 Mediawatch article entitled "The Fascinating World of Pinoy Komiks"] discussed the public's continued support for the Pinoy Komiks and how these materials reflect and reinforces Filipino cultural values at best. A special Mediawatch issue [August 1993] discussed the potentials and use of the popular komiks as an educational tool." (From the Philippine Information Resources web page, 1999)
"In the post-World War II years Filipino komiks appeared, modeled after American comic books discarded by the GIs... the industry flourished; by the 1970's, about half of all Filipino movies were based on komiks, which had become the most-read medium in the country." (From the book Themes and Issues in Asian Cartooning, 1999)
"In the past, distribution problems in Asia made following weekly US comic series difficult but today many people in the region have good access to the muscle-bound superheroes' latest adventures. It is still early days but the comics have won a firm following in Hong Kong, Singapore and the Philippines, while Thailand, Japan, and Hong Kong look likely to follow suit... [but still]... far more Japanese and Hong Kong titles are sold in Asia than American comics." (From a TimesNet ASIA article, Feb '95)
"Forty percent of Filipinos read a comic every day, and only 500,000 [less than one percent] read a newspaper." (From a communications professor at the University of the Philippines in the mid-1990s)
"I often saw Japanese businessmen reading comics on the train, and many, many adults read them in the Philippines with no sense of embarrassment, as might be felt in the West. Actually, if you can be seen to be reading something it is a point in your favor because being literate is considered a mark of distinction." (From a UBS photojournalist in the mid-1990s)
The number one comic in the Philippines sells 1.5 million copies per month. (From various reporting sources in the mid-1990s)

There are fifty comic magazines published in the Philippines, with a combined circulation of more than two million copies. It is estimated that there are 16 million regular readers of the comics from Aparri to Jolo (the northernmost tip of the country to the southernmost point), if one counts those who borrow or lend their copies for a fee. When one considers that the total population of the Philippines is 44 million, the number of comics readers represents a diffusion rate of 1 to 4. Although most of the readers are not affluent, they spend an average of two million pesos a week-or more than 100 million pesos a year-on this popular medium. While most of the comic readers and buyers are obviously children, teenagers and adults also read comics. A household survey of Greater Manila in 1973 showed that 46% of the respondents 14 years old and above had read one or more local comics within a week of the survey. Among the regular comic readers, the highest percentage belonged to the 20-29 age group, most of which had reached high school and belonged to the lower class homes. The survey also showed that female comic readers exceeded male readers by 7%. (From a survery by S.S. Reyes published in "The Philippine komiks", in C. Del Mundo, ed. Philippine Mass Media, Manila: Communication Foundation for Asia, 1986)
Comics are one of the most popular print media [in the Philippines] together with newspapers which tend to be used between 1 to 15 times a month. Exposure to comics is higher among younger persons and to a lesser extent, among never-married respondents, persons with higher education, and respondents who lived in houses judged to be in good state of repair. More affluent persons tend to devote slightly more time to reading of books and comics than do the less affluent. But reading assorted kinds of comic books does not differ substantially by socioeconomic status. However, the higher the level of education, the lower the preference for comics, as the best reading materials for entertainment. (From a study on Filipino reading habits by Institute of Philippine Culture, 1980)
In the Philippines, just as in other countries with pronounced language differences between regions or ethnic groups, comics form one medium of communication that can boast of reaching every population group. The comics literature over half a century has reflected the changing position, tastes, and worldview of the Filipino masses. Today, the comic is unquestionably the most influential mass medium among the semi-literate Filipinos. (From "Komiks: The Filipino national literature" by Marcelo in Asian Culture magazine, 1980)


Illustrated Orchids will launch 4 new comics series, Bollywood, Santa Banta & Trendy, Mythology and Hawk, in India in 2006, with plans to spread to other countries in the future. Creative director Sudhir Sehgal said, "Our passion for comics turned into serious business idea earlier this year. Focusing on the 25 million strong Indian diaspora, Illustrated Orchids started developing the comics based on Indian characters. Of course there is a huge market at home but the Indian staying overseas always want to have something which can keep their kids attached to our culture." (From the Animation 'xpress web site, December 2005)

Gotham Entertainment Group, an Indian publishing licensee of Marvel Comics in the USA and leading publisher of international comic magazines in South Asia, has collaborated with Marvel to launch Spider-Man India. "Spider-Man India interweaves the local customs, culture and mystery of modern India, with an eye to making Spider-Man’s mythology more relevant to this particular audience. Readers of this series will not see the familiar Peter Parker of Queens under the classic Spider-Man mask, but rather a new hero – a young, Indian boy named Pavitr Prabhakar. As Spider-Man, Pavitr leaps around rickshaws and scooters in Indian streets, while swinging from monuments such as the Gateway of India and the Taj Mahal." (From a Gotham Comics press release, June 2004)

"India got its first comic characters 'the teenaged Dabu and his mentor, Professor Adhikari' in 1960 when Pran broke the monopoly of syndicated foreign comic strips and brought out a sci-fi series. He followed it up with Shrimatiji, and in 1973, Chacha Chowdhary and Sabu, a duo who combine brain and brawn to fight the evils of society. Published by Diamond Comics, the series captured the market. In the mid-70s, India Book House launched the mythological Amar Chitra Katha, which also proved extremely popular. However, with the advent of cable television, fables of their kind could no longer hold children's interests. The remedy for many publishers seemed to lie in introducing more blood and gore into comics. Pran, widely considered the father of Indian comics, regretted the deterioration. 'All this has a very bad impact on the child's mind,' he said. 'The objective is to give them healthy entertainment and a message to become ideal citizens.' Despite the trend, or rather because of it, Diamond Comics which emphasises on simple and clean stories, continues to be the leader of the pack. 'We are still at the top because we are clean,' said Gulshan Rai, editor and director of Diamond Comics. 'Characters like Chacha Chowdhary, Billu and Pinki are very popular because they are taken from the family environment.' According to him, too much of sex and horror in children's book and on TV is corrupting the child's mind. 'And some comic books are copying that which is bad,' he said. (From THE WEEK "India's No. 1 Weekly News Magazine", Jan 2001)
"Anant Pai of India Book House publishes a children's comics book series called 'Tinkle'. One of the characters is called Suppandi and the stories are sent in by readers, then drawn by professional artists. The publisher gets about 5-6000 letters with stories from their readers per week." (From the India comics website created by World Comics - Finland, Dec 2000)

Amul, a leading dairy processing company in India, uses cartoons, called "Butter topicals," in their advertising campaigns. These cartoons often on touch current events and are hugely popular, as is the mop-haired Utterly Butterly girl who represents the company. The round-eyed, chubby cheeked cartoon character, dressed in her little polka dotted dress and a red and white bow, first appeared on billboards in 1967 and was an instant success. The cartoon ads are now ready to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest running campaign ever. (From several web pages including the AMUL "Taste of India" site, Dec 2000)
"For the past 10 years we have been involved in literature evangelism here in Goa. In the year 1998 my wife and I gave away about 40,000 picture New Testaments (comix type) 'He Lived Among Us'. The first 'seeds' of the Gospel sown in my heart were through comics literature when I was a kid. Here in India comics go VERY fast ... I believe in publishing our own for our own culture .... Though have no formal training, I draw and sketch cartoons and drawings and explain the Good News this way. It really works here as the literacy level is low." (From a letter by a Christian national working in India, August 2000)
"From Tin-Tin to Archie and Phantom to Flash Gordon, comics are a genre among themselves. They have forever created a niche in our hearts and brought smiles on our faces when we most needed them... Comics are books that have been passed from generation to generation and people have no qualms about reading and re-reading them over and over... Granted all these guys have been brought to the small screen in an animated series or even on the silver screen in the form of movies. But nothing beats the thrill of reading their adventures and mis-adventures on those colour comic pages... Comics have provided the masses with entertainment in the days when television and computers were a figment of some genius's imagination. But they have stuck out for the long haul and a kid [in India] today is as well-versed with the comic-book universe as he was twenty years ago." (From an article entitled "Comics still rule the world" in The Times of India, June 2000)
"If you're wondering what a feature on comic book superheroes is doing on the Kulture page, don't. Right from the time Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan of the Apes swung into existence, the comic book has been quite a stalwart of 'popular culture'...'I remember when the city [Mumbai, India] was first exposed to the likes of Superman and Spider-Man. It was a rage,' says... a comic book fanatic for nigh on 25 years. 'I used to own a small comic book stall in Colaba. Spider-Man, Superman and eventually Batman digests used to sell like hot cakes.' he adds." (From an article entitled "Hero" in The Times of India, May 2000)

In Kanpur, India every two out of ten city children are suffering from some mild form of asthma according to the city's leading chest consultant. He is organising an asthma awareness program to educate children using an audio-visual programme of the "Hair [sic] and Turtle" story reinforced with a comic book version that the children can take home. (From two Times of India News Service articles, March /April 2000)
"What I like about teenagers [in India] now is that they pay more attention towards their studies... Especially the girls, and I think this is a very good thing. They are really into reading. They buy the latest comics from me like Archies, Tintin and Mickey Mouse." (From a magazine seller interviewed in Teens Today: The Now Generation Mag, published by India Today Group, August '99)
"What better way to learn history than through the comic books?" The Amar Chitra Katha comic book series is popular in India and abroad, and over seventy million copies have been sold in the last fifty years. These full length comic books contain over 384 stories based on tales from Indian culture and history. (From information on the India Book House and Times Computing Reviews web sites, May '99)
"Indigenous comics in India have been around for fewer than 30 years, but have already found an important place in Indian popular culture. In the 1970s and 1980s, comics were the premier children's mass medium. For many children, comics became an affordable and parentally approved mode of entertainment... [then] in the late 1980s and early 1990's... comics geared toward an older teenage audience appeared." (From the book Themes and Issues in Asian Cartooning, 1999)
The Indian child is an astute, observant and decisive individual, who recognises school as the most important thing in life. Securing good grades and excelling in academics was very important to him. In terms of readership, the Indian child reads mostly school books and comics. (From an A. C. Nielsen and TNT-Cartoon Network survey of almost six thousand 7 to 18-year-olds, termed "New GenerAsians," across 18 cities of the Asia Pacific in 1998)

In 1984 the Bible Society of India sold 1,041,000 copies of the first United Bible Societies "Moses" comic title. Over the next 5 years that one issue sold an additional 2,115,200 copies. During the period 1984-1989 they sold a total of 5,451 300 copies of the Moses (I & II), David (I & II), Elijah, and Jeremiah comics inthe "Heroes of Faith" series. Between 1984 and 1994, total Indian sales of all UBS comics ranged from a low of 659,700 copies ('89) to a high of 2,930,000 copies ('94). Sales never dropped below 500,000 copies, were at a million or above 6 of those years, above 2 million the last two years, nearly 3 million that last year. And that's just in India. Since beginning their comics program in 1982, the United Bible Societies have distributed approximately 100 million copies of the 13 titles in their "Heroes of Faith" series in over 100 languages worldwide. (From information supplied by the Bible Society of India in '96 and the United Bible Societies in '97)

"The heart throb of millions of comic strip lovers, [Indian cartoonist] Pran [has] created comics having Indian characters and on local themes. His characters... have become phenomenal successes one after the other [with] series running in many newspapers all over India. His strips have also been compiled into comic books. In 1983 Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi released his comic book, 'Raman - United We Stand.' [The cartoonist was] winner of the People of the Year Award [in] 1995." (From the publisher's introduction to the Chacha Chaudhary comic books)

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