I receive strange emails, all the time. People telling me how to write what I write, people telling me to change nothing at all about what I write, and people who want to know where to find Smallville wallpapers, in languages that I don't speak and that I can barely get a free translation of.
There are ups and downs, good letters, extraordinary cruel and bad letters, but the fun of this job, as a writer for the Superman Homepage, is the interaction. The enrichment. I have friends I speak to now (you know who you are) in Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Mexico, Central America, Africa, Canada... heck, the only real places I haven't heard from are Madagascar, Antarctica, and China, mostly because I'm likely banned there. This job is VERY rewarding in terms of reaching out across the globe and making contact with cultures both not far from my own and cultures that are as foreign to me as, well, the American Idol television program.
So it was a pleasant surprise when I received a complimentary email from Reginald Ting from the Philippines, telling me that he enjoyed my reviews of "Superman: Birthright", and found them informative. Reginald explained that he edits titles published through Psicom for DC in the Philippines, one called "DC Kids" and the other called "DC Super Heroes". He offered to send me a few, and I offered to do an article on them, because I was really interested in the concept of what comic books are like for kids in other countries. See, here, we have multiple formats across many differing styles, but it's never quite the same as it is in another country... I figured it would be like seeing another country's currency, which always intrigued me as a kid.
For those of you who flunked geography or remain ignorant to the fact that there is a world outside of America (and I know there are a bunch of you out there) to get a conceptualization of where the Philippines is, look here. And for those of you who want to see the currency, I found a nice site for that here.
So lo and behold, the comics arrived in the mail, and I gotta tell you, folks, the Philippines comic format gives ours a run for the money! They basically take three different titles, from the same genre and format, and put them in on big book as an ongoing. You ever seen Disney Adventures? It's about the size of that magazine in format (so the art is a little smaller, yes), but you get three issues, all for the equivalent of about a little less than two dollars American.
I looked into it a bit, and 55-60 Philippine pesos is about a dollar American, and the prices on these books were 95 pesos each. I'm not sure if the Philippines have a tax like we do, but still, that's a darned good price for three comics, even if the format is a bit smaller.
The Superheroes book comes with issues from the Byrne JLA run, "Superman: Birthright", and the Loeb Batman run. Even though I've already read all three, reading them in this format just sucked me in, because it's just a neat little book.
The DC Kids magazine takes the DC comics oriented more toward younger readers. Teen Titans Go! and Justice League Adventures round out this book, and all are in a glossy paged, really cool format. I like comics that aren't newsprint, that don't rub off on your fingers, and this is a fine example of that done right.
But that's not even the coolest part, because I know if I could get three issues of Superhero comics here in America for two bucks, I certainly would (that runs about nine bucks right now, IF they're in stock.
The coolest part is the interviews and the features. There are little games, articles, and other fun stuff interspersed all throughout the books. In the DC Superheroes issue, there's an interview with Leinil Yu, an explanation of Manitou Raven and the Oracle's background, recommended reading (The Dark Knight Returns is featured in this issue I have) and instructional articles on how to draw superheroes. In the DC Kids, there are puzzles, a Raven bookmark (tucked right into the book!), board games, and profiles of bands and games and books that are important to that age group, Blink 182, Raven, and Harry Potter.
All around, it makes me jealous, because if American comics had this extra stuff, yeah, it might be harder to peg them as a collectible (because they'd be more magazines than COMICS FOR INVESTMENT), but these comics are a lot more fun in many ways than their American counterparts. Sure, the art is a bit smaller, but it's a small sacrifice for so much for so little! It also looks like you can get a subscription in the Philippines for about 850 pesos, which is approximately 16-18 dollars. Not bad for 36 comics!
My favorite part though was the advertisement on the back. The whole book, really, was like reading an American comic book in so many ways, and I identified with the culture all the more when I realized that hey, even in the Philippines, they too have dorky ads! :)
Check it out! The young boy has a moustache! What is that?! Reminds me of the Zoom Zoom commercials over here...
And by the way, in case you're wondering, "Wala nang hotdog?!?" means, "No more hotdog?!?"
Thanks to Reginald Ting and the fine people at Psicom for the permission to reprint the cover and images, and thanks especially for sending the books, that we might see what it's like to be a comic book fan in another country!