National Artist Francisco Coching's Ang Barbaro makes a comeback as a graphic novel 65 years after it was first published as a comic series.

National Artist’s Classic Comics, Republished After 65 Years

March 14th, 2017

National Artist Francisco Coching's Ang Barbaro makes a comeback as a graphic novel 65 years after it was first published as a comic series.

National Artist Francisco Coching’s Ang Barbaro makes a comeback as a graphic novel 65 years after it was first published as a comic series.

National Artist Francisco V. Coching’s Ang Barbaro makes a comeback as a graphic novel for a new generation of Filipinos 65 years after the iconic series first saw publication.

Originally published as a comic series in Pilipino Komiks in 1952, Coching’s Ang Barbaro gained prominence for its exciting narrative and fine illustration. Set during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, Ang Barbaro tells the story of Sabas, an honest citizen who turns into an outlaw after suffering from injustices in the hands of corrupt officials. Assuming the name “Ang Barbaro,” he sets out to champion the poor and oppressed despite becoming a target of the state’s ire.

Published by Vibal Foundation, Vibal Group’s philanthropic arm, the graphic novel comes with an introduction by renowned art critic Patrick Flores, a foreword by National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, a synopsis, and an expanded character list.

“The length of time it took for Francisco V. Coching to be proclaimed a National Artist tells us how long it took for comics to be seen as a form of art,” Coching’s daughter Lulu Coching-Rodriguez said. “Now, we’re proud to be reintroducing his series to the new generation of Filipinos as not just sources of entertainment, but pieces of art and literature.”

Francisco Coching's daughter Lulu Coching-Rodriguez (extreme left) poses with family and friends for a photo at the launch of her father's graphic novel, Ang Barbaro.

Francisco Coching’s daughter Lulu Coching-Rodriguez (extreme left) poses with family and friends for a photo at the launch of her father’s graphic novel, Ang Barbaro.

Comics used to be the main source of entertainment in the Philippines after World War II. During this time, self-taught illustrator and gifted storyteller Coching made a name for himself with action-adventure comic series, such as Hagibis, El Indio, and Lapu-Lapu. By the time he retired at the age of 54 in 1973, all but three of his 53 series were adapted into popular movies.

In 2014, Coching was proclaimed National Artist for Visual Arts, the first comic book artist to achieve such distinction, 16 years after his death. Today, numerous comic book artists cite him as a major influence and affectionately regard him as the Dean of Philippine Comics.

Renowned Filipino comic book artists Harvey Tolibao, Jann Galino, Randy Valiente, and Danny Acuña talk about the legacy of National Artist Francisco Coching in the Philippine comic book industry.

Renowned Filipino comic book artists Harvey Tolibao, Jann Galino, Randy Valiente, and Danny Acuña talk about the legacy of National Artist Francisco Coching in the Philippine comic book industry.

Coching’s Ang Barbaro was launched on February 8, 2017 at Fully Booked, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. In attendance were members of the Coching family, visual artists, and comic book enthusiasts. National Artist Lumbera introduced the book and a panel of comic book artists, composed of Harvey Tolibao, Randy Valiente, Danny Acuña, and Jann Galino, discussed the legacy of the master artist.

Ang Barbaro is the latest addition to Vibal Foundation’s Francisco Coching Master Collection, together with The Life and Art of Francisco Coching and El Indio, a graphic novel. Coching’s Ang Barbaro is available for purchase at select Fully Booked branches. It is also available at 15% off at Vibal’s online shop with the discount code: AngBarbaro.