July 26, 2015

On People: Toto Madayag and his Libreng Komiks

The first graphic artist I worked with in the office was Toto Madayag, and I couldn't be happier. I never imagined that this low-key, quiet guy in the corner of our floor was an internet sensation in the world of Pinoy komiks. I also didn't expect his brand of humor to be unapologetic and politically en pointe. Armed with his cutting wit and keen eye for the obnoxious and ridiculous, he explores the minute truths in everyday life - a microcosm of Philippine society told in as few as 2-4 panels in his web page: LIBRENG KOMIKS.

 Haven't heard of him? He's been featured on plenty of websites, including FHM (with no frontal nudity, thankfully) and even on Sen. Miriam Santiago's book. I can't really capture everything he does in this intro - you have to see his work to get him. Interested? Why don't you start with this interview to know if he's going to be your next online feel-good fix?  Let's now meet the man behind Libreng Komiks.

 Tell us something about yourself.

I am a 30-year old husband to a very patient wife and daddy to the prettiest girl in the world—by day. By night, I do far less exciting things. It’s actually pretty boring but yes, I do a little comics on the side. :D

Tell us a weird quirk of yours. 
Whenever I’m writing and I’d get stuck, I would type two or three words, delete them, type them again, and repeat the process without realizing I’ve been doing the damn thing over and over for a minute. When I turn the television’s volume up or down, I always leave it at an even number. Those are about the oddest things about me that I can think of right now.

How did you start as an artist?
When I was in primary school, I’d join drawing contests. When I got older, I’d scribble a little, and I actually had wanted to take up Fine Arts but didn’t end up taking that. Yet here I am, dedicating a part of myself to getting better at being an artist, something I had always known I wanted to be for the rest of my life. 

Tell us something about your work. 
I am a team leader of two graphic artists in one of our country’s telcos.

Tell us about your typical day at work.
Designing stuff, mostly. Sorry, I can’t tell you much more. It’s pretty basic stuff. :D

Tell us about your typical day as Toto Madayag.
At around 9 or 10 pm, that’s when the *magic* begins. Haha! I’d grab my checklist of things I wrote down during the day and choose one that has the potential of being the next comic strip. I would plan a storyline I can include in my (future) comic book. I’d manage my page (oh god I love that page). That’d last for 3 to 5 hours, depending on how “in the zone” I am. I’m a night owl. Hoo, hoo.

Who or what inspires you and why?
I’m always inspired by my family, by my dreams of giving us a comfortable life. That paternal instinct, you know, it kind of kicked in by the time I turned 30. That’s why I’m always thankful for the extra money brought in by illustration jobs on the side.

What inspires your comic strips?
I’d see something on TV that might be funny if I twisted it a little. I’d overhear something somebody said and I’d let out a small laugh and make up a story in my mind about how things would go had that somebody said that certain something in a totally different situation. I’d observe all the political drama around me, and instead of being angry, I’d turn it into a comic strip. Anything and everything, really. I’m very, very observant. Always curious.

What was the best thing that ever happened to you whilst creating your comics?
When I was able to share my comics to a large group of people, that’s when I thought, holy crap, they’re enjoying this stuff. MY stuff. Weird stuff that I thought only I will be able to appreciate. That was the point, I think, when I told myself I’d have to keep doing this for as long as I can.

Can you let us in on your projects or what you're working on now?
Right now, I’m still in the process of cracking a fun food-related poster for an equally fun restaurant. I am talking to a publisher about a possible book deal (exciting!). Also, maybe a website and some comics-related merch in the future? They’re in the works. Please watch out for them!

What can you say about the art scene/Filipino comics in the Philippines?
You know what, I get asked this question too often, and right now I think it’s best that I just shut up about it. I know nothing about the Filipino comics scene. What I know I get from watching pages, communities, crazy fanboys (crazy in a good way). But I do think it’s very much alive right now. People shouldn’t be shouting “Pinoy comics is dead” if they are not consuming any of these creators’ books and merch. I’m not sure, I dunno. I’ll stop there.

What is the most memorable moment you have had as an artist? 
Aside from having contributed a comic strip to Sen. Miriam Santiago’s book, I guess this experience right here is pretty memorable. I get comments and mentions and messages from people who are expressing their support for the comics. My work gets plagiarized and several people call out these plagiarists without me forcing them to do anything. That kind of thing is pretty big for me.

What message do you have for aspiring artists?
I have been asked that several times, and although I’m not the most qualified guy to give advice to aspiring artists, I always tell people to keep at it. Keep at what you’re doing right now, what you want to do ten, twenty years from now, keep at it until your fingers are sore and you’re about ready to give up. Then pick up your pencil, guitar, football, your worn-out ballet shoes, whatever, and do it again. No excuses about not having enough time and energy to do it after work—just power through the frustration of not being good enough in your own eyes or the eyes of others.

How do we contact you?
I have my page up at http://facebook.com/LibrengKomiks and soon at http://www.librengkomiks.com. Hang out with me online!

Love his works? Go visit Libreng Komiks now. Orayt. Rockenroooll to the world.

Questions? Talk to me here: Millie's Ask.FM

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Listening to: Tsumi to Batsu by Shiina Ringo
Loving: Libreng Komiks
Watching: Hannibal Season 3

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