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I remember back when I was 11 years old where my older brother bought the 1st issue of Culture Crash Comics. Currently, we only have 8 issues but we borrow the other issues from a friend of his.

What’s Culture Crash Comics (or CCCom)?

Culture Crash was a bi-monthly Filipino comic magazine published by Culture Crash Comics and J. C. Palabay Ent., Inc.. It features different stories of anime-styled comics drawn by their staff, these include Cat’s Trail, Pasig, Solstice Butterfly, One Day, Isang Diwa and Kubori Kikiam. Aside from these series, the magazine also includes articles like Movie Reviews, Music Reviews, Special Events, and How We Draw which shows the staff’s techniques on how they draw comics. The comic anthology was created by Jescie James Palabay and his college friends in 1999. (Source: wikipedia)

I’ll start with the five stories featured in this comic:

Solstice Butterfly by Jio Beltran

The year is 2135, the world is now composed of five major nations: The United Aafro-Arabia (UAA), the European Union (EU), Unis Americas (UA), the Regent Orients (RO), and the Antarcticas. It is a time of unparalleled peace and prosperity and the dream of ultimate unification was at hand. “One world, one people” became the standard dogma of humankind. Unfortunately, mysterious cataclysmic events lead to the destruction of the Martian Colonies, the spectacular crash of the floating cities of the EU, and the eventual collapse and fragmentation of the UAA. With the world on the brink of destruction, the UA decided to take the situation under its control. In a stirring and historic speech, the UA president revived the dream of “One world, one people”. Taking into account recent events, only the Regent Orients seemed to be the culpable party, and as a result, war erupted between the two great nations. But all is not what it seems, and in the end, it may be a group of ordinary soldiers from both sides that will uncover the truth. Solstice Butterfly delves into the story from the standpoint of these ordinary soldiers. Those who are taken for granted from the grand scheme of things and yet make a world of difference. It is they, who see the true meaning of war on a personal level

-I love this story. It reminds me of Gundam and Ghost in the Shell. The characters were very interesting most especially the female protagonist, Raya, who used to be a bratty kid and later evolved into a badass soldier. The art style is somewhat weird most especially the noses and there’s some bloody violence and slight nudity in it. But sadly, it was cancelled, ending in a cliffhanger. A lot of people were sending letters to the staff, asking why it was discontinued. But then, there were different responses: Beltran said that he need more time to work on other things which is why he left the staff. But there were rumors such as Solstice Butterfly being a ripoff from another anime or that there is too much violence. I don’t know if these rumors are true but it’s a mystery on why this story is cancelled.

One Day, Isang Diwa by James Palabay and Elmer Damaso

Jun is your everyday normal high school kid. You know, the type that’s not really special, too shy, and with that irritating tendency of thinking too much? Yep, that’s Jun, normal, everyday, all-around nice guy. Except he has a little secret. He has a duwende (a forest creature or spirit much like a fairy or elf) friend named Diwa. Anyway, Jun is a recent transferee who lucks out and meets the darling of the school: Clarissa. Clarissa introduces him to her friends, who range from eccentric, to downright weird. He even gets introduced to a giant Tamaraw! Everything is set for that ideal romantic high school love story. A bit of magical action, a pinch of comedy, some drama, and all the wonderful craziness love brings during the wonder years. That practically sums up what One Day, Isang Diwa is made up of. Most of all, it’s about growing up normally in an otherwise abnormal situation.

-This is really one of the most anticipated stories that I’ve seen when buying this magazine. There’s a lot of comedy and slice-of-life scenes with a touch of Filipino culture. There’s also drama and magical action in it which is very much shounen.The characters were very likable until the plot twist where Jun’s friends go against him (hint: flag ceremony). The art style is neat and fresh. I can’t help it but some of the character designs were based off from well-known anime characters (e.g.: Misato of Evangelion).

Pasig by Taga-Ilog

In the not too distant future, Pasig, a city in the Philippines has become totally autonomous and is edging out for true independence. Torn by war, crime and anarchy, the city revives the slave caste called “esclabos”. Previously of little consequence to the rest of the world, the discovery of a new mineral found only in the area has put its fate under close global watch. Mina, a runaway who became a bounty hunter by training in Bataan for the past five years is finally returning home to Pasig. She has a chance encounter with Dante, an enigmatic esclabo with the mark of the legendary warrior class. She later finds out that while she was away from home, Dante became their esclabo and that he has been like a big brother to her two younger sisters. The situation gets sticky when Dante becomes one of the most highly prized bounty in town. Mina is torn from her profession and Dante’s association with her family. Meanwhile, the best bounty hunters in Pasig have Dante in their sights. Why has Dante, a man who has lived quietly with a normal family for the past few years now one of the most wanted men in Pasig? What does the special mark on his forehead really mean? What will Mina choose to do? The answers lie in their future and Dante’s past. And as they uncover each dark secret, they will find that the very future of Pasig, indeed the world, may very well be at stake.

-What I like about this story is the setting. Pasig city set in a dystopian future is really what I want to see in Filipino stories which is too bad because of those stories are victims of the standards clichés of the old days.The art style is very unique. The artist really sketches his drawings. It does have some of the anime tropes but it is a very serious story with violence in it.

Cat’s Tail by Elmer Damaso

Set in a fantastical world with impossible sciences, Cat’s trail follows the loopy adventures of Airee Collette, a notorious thief wanted in two continents. Despite her ostentatious style, her slippery skills (not to mention incredible luck) has so far helped her in evading respected law-enforcer Sheriff Poppy. Something of a legend in crime school, Sheriff Poppy has become obsessed with capturing Airee. But her luck runs true, and with the help of Polaris and the mysterious Butler, it has become an even more perplexing situation. Together they hop around the globe meeting strange characters visiting varied locales and encountering the stuff of legends. Their adventures will bring them all together to face some of the world’s most ancient evils and dangers. Of course all this happens with that occasional heist on the side, otherwise Airee would probably quit the series altogether.

-This story is like the medieval version of Lupin III but it has a lot of dark moments too. There’s also some fourth wall breaking like Airee, explaining that she can’t remember  Butler’s name because the author himself intentionally did that XD. The art style is similar to One Day, Isang Diwa.

Kubori Kikiam by Taga-Kanal and Taga-Ilog (I know, weird pen names XD)

Filipino street food has never been this fun. Or strange. Meet Dodon, Benjo and Manny. They love arcade games, malls, snacks, and the occasional peek up a pretty girl’s skirt—ordinary pursuits perhaps, but for kikiam? If talking and walking street food strikes you as bizarre, then you aint seen nothing yet; these kikiam are often seen in fierce combat with other talking and walking street food, mainly the fishballs and their commanders the squidballs. These guys maybe puny, but they kick major ass! (Suggested for mature readers)

-Apparently, when CCCom was still publishing, all the mature content was censored including the bad words. I was a kid back then and I didn’t know that this story is dirty except I was able to know that the words censored are Filipino bad words (like gago, bobo, putang ina etc.). But not very dirty since there’s also dark moments such as the origins of kikiams, fishballs and squidballs. BTW, the comics is still ongoing. You can visit the official website (NSFW) or their Facebook page.

CCCom have been a step in paving creativity and originality for aspiring Filipino comic artists to publish their works. The five original stories were indeed entertaining to read and the art is very anime. The comics did received a lot of criticisms but still, CCCom continued to shine in which they even started their own anime conventions back in 2002 (if I remember correctly). Asides from the comics, the staff also put of some interesting features. They even interviewed Mahiro Maeda (of Blue Submarine No.6) back in 2001 during the AXN anime convention and other Filipino comic artists like Pol Medina (of Pugad Baboy) in which they gate crash his house XD.

Issue 14 is back-to-back cover. Alodia’s cover is at the back of this issue.

But sadly, the last news that I’ve heard of them is in 2004 where they published their 14th and last issue which features the cosplay cover of Alodia Gosiengfiao and her sister. But I heard that there are only 16 issues? Idk. But it’s sad that they closed down due to financial issues. Currently, from I’ve heard and read, the artists did some illustrations for the other Filipino magazines and newspapers like K-Zone and Inquirer while Palabay did some freelance work. It’s sad that it’s been 7 years since CCCom close down. I wish there were more Filipino artists out there who could also come up with something like this. But it’s unfortunate due to the economic status of this country. But I really want to see CCCom come back again and maybe buy their old issues. Though, I was wondering if the old issues are available online.

You can visit CCCom’s dA account: http://culturecrashcomics.deviantart.com/