The Official Student Newspaper of the Ateneo
De Manila University
August 2007 Volume LXXV, Number 3
Our National Superhero
By Cathy N. Dellosa
“I wanted to stay true to Rizal’s character,
but bring him into the world of the fantastic.”
What is a hero?
Is it superhuman clad in high-powered gadgets,
colorful capes, and underwear worn on the outside?
Comic book artist, writer and inker
Gerry Alanguilan sheds this stereotype by creating one that is closer to
The Marvelous Adventures of the Amazing
Dr. Rizal is an original Philippine comics series following the life of
the country’s famed national hero. With his own interpretation, Gerry,
creator of ELMER, Humanis Rex! and Wasted, aims to portray Dr. Jose Rizal
as both a hero and an average human being.
“Jose Rizal, in so many different
ways, was already a hero of the super degree in this country. But he was
also just a man, and a flawed one at that, who had the same problem as
any other Filipino of his time,” says Gerry. “It just so happens that he
was far brilliant than most people, and he was ready to die for his country.”
A marvelous idea
The comics series was six years in
the making. “A friend of mine, Adam David, proposed a Jose Rizal project
to the Alamat mailing list,” Gerry recalls. “He wrote a lot of other things
describing his idea, and he went into really far out places which included
Jesus Christ and rewriting history books. He was looking for an artist
interested in drawing it.”
It was Adam’s proposed title, The
Secret Adventures of the Amazing Dr. Rizal, that inspired Gerry. “I didn’t
‘feel’ the rest of his descriptions, but the title alone was enough to
launch my imagination in a thousand different places,” he shares. “I congratulated
Adam on the project and I told him how great an idea it was, and that I
could not wait to read it.”
But after several years, Adam still
wasn’t able to find an artist for the comic series. Towards the end of
2006, Adam decided to give the project to Gerry.
The Filipino way
“I have long waited to do a superhero comic
book of my own,” says Gerry. In a country very much exposed and influenced
by Weatern pop culture, it is rare to find graphic publications with plots
of local origins.
“Doing heroes in multi-colored costumes
became out of the question. I think people like Alan Moore and Frank Miller
pretty much squeezed all there is to be squeezed and do innovative stories
of that sort,” says Gerry.
Comics for all ages
Aside from wanting to stem away from American
comic concepts, Gerry had also been thinking of doing an all-ages comic
book for quite some time.
“[None of my] many other works… are
fit for kids to read,” he explains. “Perhaps all I really wanted to do
was to explore the idea of an icon, a hero in all senses of the word that
people can look up to and be inspired by. I also wanted a hero, and [a]
comic book as a whole that would be very Filipino, and make people appreciate
Filipino culture. So when the Rizal idea came along, I thought, “This was
Hero in the making
Once Gerry knew how he could do the
Rizal comics series, he geared up for it right away.
“I put together all the books on
Rizal that I have, and bought several others, especially collections of
correspondences that Rizal has had with friends and relatives,” he says.
For him, reading words written by
Rizal’s own hand is a way of getting into Rizal’s head for a better understanding
of who he was and how he conducted himself. Gerry also visited places significant
to Rizal including his home in Calamba, also to just get a feel of who
Rizal was as a person.
“I also wanted to stay essentially
true to Rizal’s character, but bring him into the world of the fantastic.
In many ways, it’s not our historical Rizal, but an interpretation of him,”
he explains. “This will be what Rizal and the Philippines could have been
if certain events flowed a different way.”
The first installment of The Marvelous
Adventures of the Amazing Dr. Rizal will be published in Fudge Magazine
this September, with each story of the open-ended series spanning 40 pages
Up, up and away!
Even with all the anticipation for
the release of his new comic, Gerry keeps his feet firmly on the ground.
“I actually don’t create my stories
with speculation on what its public perception would be. That’s a strange
notion to take,” he says. “I think that any creator, if he puts all his
passion into his work, [will see that] people will perceive [his work]
to be an honest piece of work, and will respond to it accordingly.”
Awaiting the release of Gerry’s comics
series is Omi Castañar (IV AB DS). He believes that The Marvelous
Adventures of the Amazing Dr. Rizal has a two-fold effect – one on Rizal’s
persona, and another on a renewed interest in Philippine comic series.
“I am very excited to read this new
series by Sir Gerry. I think it may revive interest in Rizal. After all,
[Rizal] is one of our famous alumni!” Omi says.
Some find the idea of a comic series
about the national hero as something too fantastic and childish. Of course,
I disagree with them. I really do have high hopes for the series,” he continues.
“For me, it’s something fresh, and depending on the storyline, I hope that
it would also be hip. If that would be the case, I think Ateneans would
make time to read it.”
What, then, is a hero? With proudly
Pinoy comic creators like Gerry Alanguilan, people won’t need to look up
in the sky for superheroes – because the country’s own national superhero,
Dr. Jose Rizal, is just around the corner.