CLAMP and Culture Crash Comics
My History with Manga & Comics is a series of blog posts that explore the artists and works of art that have directly inspired my love for drawing and creating stories through comics.
None of the previous stories I drew ever made me think I could do this for a living. When my friends showed me Chinese editions of CLAMP works like X and Magic Knight Rayearth, it finally dawned on me that this was a legitimate means to earn money. I also realized that comics was so much more than just gags and Sunday funnies because the gravity of situations in X and the extravagant display of technical prowess on its pages cemented the idea that this was an art form unto itself.
I eagerly devoured more of CLAMP’s works including Cloverand Cardcaptor Sakura. I don’t feel any shame when I say my style was heavily influenced by these women. To me, their work was much more aesthetically appealing compared to the Western comics I knew at the time and even other typical shojo manga. Lead artist Mokona Apapa had a strong distinct style backed up by Nanase Ohkawa‘s incredible storylines and stellar art assistance by the rest of the team Satsuki Igarashi and Tsubaki Nekoi. Around this time, I started really experimenting with panel structures and composition in my personal comics. Sure, a lot of it was directly copying elements like feathers and pretty circles but that’s a natural part of the artist’s journey. Getting the feel of recreating those images on paper was an important experience for me as a budding artist.
Culture Crash Comics
It’s one thing to realize that Japanese women could draw these beautiful pages and create equally wonderful printed books loved by many, it’s quite another deal entirely to learn that local artists could create their own kind of manga and that’s perfectly okay, too. In the early 2000s, I discovered Culture Crash Comics, a magazine created by fellow Pinoys who wanted to tell uniquely Filipino stories in manga.
(Issues 4, 3 and 2 Source: CultureCrashComics on Deviantart)
Among the artists, I was particularly drawn to Elmer Damaso‘s work on “Cat’s Trail” and “One Day Isang Diwa.” By that time, “Memer” already had incredibly effective storytelling chops. His action scenes were easy to read, the range of expressions on his characters were varied and his comedic timing was just excellent. He has since found an international audience working for various companies including Seven Seas Manga who published Speed Racer and Unearthly for him. But I remember sending one of my very first e-mails out (back when the internet was this new thing*) asking him what kind of pens he used to make his comics and he actually responded! This was a pretty big deal for a kid, more so for an aspiring artist. Before I ever attended conventions, there just seemed no way to reach my artistic idols. We are very fortunate to be living in a world where this is no longer the case.
In a pre-internet age, CCCom’s publications made my worldview so much bigger. It opened my mind to the possibility that becoming a professional comic artist wasn’t impossible for someone living outside of Japan. I was sorry to later hear Culture Crash only lasted about 15 issues or so because of financial difficulties. (I have most of them, I think. They printed up my fanart and featured a pic where I showed up cosplaying at a con so I was really, really fond of this magazine!) But their publication’s impact on my growth as an artist can’t be denied.
Thank you so much, Misters Jescie Palabay, Melvin Calingo, Elmer Damaso, Jerard Beltran and Michael David! For all your hard work and the joy you brought to so many people because of your stories , I am grateful.
*Oh gods, my age is showing!