Visual Artists as Literary Artists: Fantasy and Folklore in 1950s Komiks-to-Film Adaptations


This paper explores how the komiks creator and the filmmaker became the “other” literary artists in the 1950s through the komiks penned during the era and the film adaptations that were drawn from said materials. This paper trains its focus on the deployment of the fantasy genre and the folkloric elements in both the source text and the target text. A great number of the elements from the fantasy genre have been appropriated from foreign models while the folkloric elements were scooped from earlier folk narratives in the Philippines. From komiks, the stories underwent another process of generic mediation through the cinematic adaptation of the pre-existing texts. This process of sourcing fantasy and folklore from komiks to film will be exemplified through sample extant texts such as Tulisang Pugot (1953) and Tucydides (1954), both the Liwayway komiks series and the films by Sampaguita Pictures, Inc. and LVN Pictures, Inc. respectively. The central aim of the paper is to project the role of komiks creator and the filmmaker in representing the “national-popular” life in the 1950s, namely: (1) as “appropriator” of foreign impulses; (2) as “localizer” of borrowed/imported materials; and (3) as “indigenizer” of stories by melding the foreign and the folkloric. The paper will then examine the participation of the visual artists—once obscured and traditionally dismissed as marginal—in reconstituting popular literary consciousness in their time and unofficially doubling as public “intellectuals” of their generation.