Filipino comic platform


Many Filipino comic enthusiasts may be more familiar with foreign webtoons than stories written and illustrated by Filipinos. For those looking for local comics, Penlab.ink is a free platform where you can read Filipino comics by a myriad of creators.

The website has 7 different genres of comics – sci-fi & fantasy, comedy, romance, drama, indie, and suspense – written in Filipino, English, and Taglish. We’ve listed below the ones we think would draw you into Filipino comics and immerse you in their own unique alternate universes.


1. PASIG: Unbound by Taga-ilog – set in post-apocalyptic Pasig


Filipino Comics - PASIG Unbound
Image credit: Penlab.ink

PASIG: Unbound is a sci-fi-fantasy dystopian comic set in post-apocalyptic Pasig City that follows Mina, a female rookie bounty hunter. While it is post-apocalyptic, it reflects current social issues such as the war on drugs.

The creator, Melvin Calingo or Taga-ilog, shared on Facebook that the comics follow a non-linear timeline, something like the US sci-fi movie Back To The Future. The comic is written in English, so even non-Filipinos can enjoy it.

So far, there are 2 issues of PASIG: Unbound on Penlab.ink. Issues are only published either digitally or physically, so you’ll have to do a little bounty hunting for physical copies yourself.

Read PASIG: Unbound here


2. Katipunera Warrior by Bernie Mercado, Nina Torralba, and Sampay – monsters in a re-imagined colonial Philippines


Filipino Comics - Katipunera Warrior
Image credit: Penlab.ink

Katipunera Warrior follows a nameless girl outcasted by her townsfolk and accused of being a demon in a reimagined colonial Philippines. However, the same girl plays a hero to her village when evil forces strike. With the help of the demons’ ancestor Mahinhin, the girl becomes a spiritual pagan Katipunera (female member of the Philippine colonial revolutionary society) warrior.

The comics’ issues are uploaded in two languages – English and Filipino. 4 Filipino issues and 3 English issues are on Penlab.ink so far and the English issues include context for Filipino terms and myths for non-locals to understand the story.

A new issue of Katipunera Warrior is to be uploaded on Penlab Day on 5 September.

Read Katipunera Warrior here


3. Sagala by Tori Tadiar – a fantasy featuring nobles, courtesans, and a gunslinging girl


Filipino Comics - Sagala
Image credit: Penlab.ink

Those who love fantasy anime and video games will love Tori Tadiar’s Sagala. It features an alternate Philippines – Hiraya – with nobles, courtesans, and royal guards for characters.

The comic follows the story of Riel, a young, female gunsmith who becomes a courtesan at the Palacio. She is also the sister of a handsome sargento (sergeant) of the guardia civil (colonial police force), so you can expect to see Riel’s cute sibling dynamics with her overprotective but caring brother.

While the characters’ relationships are heartwarming, there’s a reason it involves guns. They have to fight assassins and deal with ambassadors and courtesans – some being their close friends- who are hiding their true intentions.

This Filipino fantasy comic is written in English and has 4 issues so far.

Read Sagala here


4. Na-Reincarnate Ako Bilang Isang Pirated DVD ng Isekai Anime by Charlie Dealca – main character turns into a DVD


Na-reincarnate ako bilang isang pirated DVD ng isekai anime
Image credit: Penlab.ink

In Na-Reincarnate Ako Bilang Isang Pirated DVD ng Isekai Anime, Narutosasuke, a Filipino anime fan’s family’s pirated DVD store gets raided by authorities. In the midst of chaos, he gets transported into an isekai anime but turns into a pirated DVD. 

The comic plays with irony, as isekai is a genre in anime and comics where a character gets transported into a different world and now has to navigate it.

It’s also a comic on crack filled with pop culture puns. If you can’t tell yet, the protagonist’s name alludes to the characters of the anime Naruto. Plus, one of the policemen looks like one of the popular policemen in the Filipino TV series Ang Probinsyano

The comic, written in Filipino, has 2 issues so far. It is updated seasonally, so take heart that slow updates do not mean it’s discontinued.

Read Na-Reincarnate Ako Bilang Isang Pirated DVD ng Isekai Anime here 


5. Kanto Inc. by Joanah Tinio Calingo, Taga-ilog, and Kilayman – a nuclear physics grad endures ridiculous supernatural encounters at work for a big salary


Filipino Comics - Kanto Inc
Image credit: Penlab.ink

Kanto Inc. follows the adventures of Gwen, a nuclear physics graduate, who starts to encounter supernatural things and beings at her new job as a computer tutor, but nothing she’d give up her P84,000 monthly salary for. 

She found the job through a print ad that brought her to a mansion in the middle of the slums owned by a weird tisoy (a half-Filipino, half-Western man or a man with European features). 

The things she encounters aren’t scary, anyway, but ridiculous, such as her extremely honest doppelganger that appears out of nowhere and vents about her frustrations to her new employer.

If you’re a fan of the comic-turned-animated TV series Trese, the special appearance of the titular character and her protectors, Basilio and Crispin, is also something to check out in the comic.

As of now, the ongoing comic written in Taglish has 2 issues on the website.

Read Kanto Inc. here


6. Ang Jowa Kong Crosswise by Tsambolero – a series of short BL comics starring a manananggal


Ang Jowa Kong Crosswise
Image credit: Penlab.ink

Ang Jowa Kong Crosswise portrays an unconventional couple, Tomas and Leo. They are an unusual pair not because they are gay, but because Tomas is a mananaggal, a Filipino mythical creature that has wings and can separate their upper and lower body.

The comic’s issues are brief like comic strips, and show funny snippets of Tomas and Leo’s daily life as a couple. Short and entertaining, it makes the ideal, light read for people who can’t commit to reading full-length comics.

This ongoing Taglish comic on Penlab.ink has 22 issues, but it’s easy to catch up on because each part will only take you a minute or two to read.

Read Ang Jowa Kong Crosswise here


7. Bukang Liwayway by syzygees – one-shot GL comics between a Tagalog goddess and a city girl


Filipino Comics - Bukang Liwayway
Image credit: Penlab.ink

In the one-short comic Bukang Liwayway, Hanan, the Tagalog goddess of morning, falls in love with Sila, a city girl who loves mornings. It shows Hanan’s cute and godly attempts at wooing Sila at the beginning of their relationship.

More importantly, however, the comic discusses anxiety and depression – depicting these as the demons that Sila face during the night – , the importance of self-acceptance, and how things are easier with people you love by your side.

Heartwarming, this girl’s love comic between a goddess and a mortal makes the perfect quick read in the morning.

Read Bukang Liwayway here


8. Life in Orange by Lizmi – completed BL comic series about being true to oneself


Filipino Comics - Life in Orange
Image credit: Penlab.ink

If you like BL comics but don’t like having to wait for updates, the completed BL series Life in Orange by Lizmi is the Penlab.ink comic for you.

The story tells about Vito, who was raised to follow societal norms and makes sure to stay within the lines of what he was taught. 

His views change when he gets partnered up with a new student, Kahel, who’s confident about being the way he is despite being seen by others as feminine. Kahel, whose name means orange, loves sunsets, singing, and cooking.

The completed comic has 14 issues written in English that can occupy you on a nice, lazy afternoon. 

Read Life in Orange here


9. In His Universe by Chocnut-san – completed comic that deals with unrequited love


In His Universe
Image credit: Penlab.ink

After Joanne’s crush stands her up, she finds herself in alternate universes in which her crush likes her back. This is the plot of Chocnut-san’s In His Universe.

The comic talks about how difficult it is for many to confess their feelings in fear of being embarrassed and rejected.

It also depicts a fascinating take on alternate universes – particularly, how something you may want so badly in one universe may be something you have but don’t want in another. With this, it is sure to make you come up with your own what if’s.

In His Universe is written in English and is a completed series with a total of 8 issues on Penlab.ink.

Read In His Universe here


10. How My Boyfriend and I Confessed to Each Other by kwag0s – a one-shot comic based on the author’s true confession story


How My Boyfriend and I Confessed to Each Other
Image credit: Penlab.ink

How My Boyfriend and I Confessed to Each Other is an adorable comic with a cute backstory. It’s actually an anniversary gift author Ryeanne Alaon made for her boyfriend. 

The comic shares how their love story began and how they confessed. Compared to most comics on the platform, it has simple illustrations but these perfectly encapsulate how weird first meetings can get and how awkward confessions can be.

A one-shot, it is the perfect read for when you just want to remember how kilig (romantic excitement) feels. It’s mostly in English, too, so non-Filipino speakers can also enjoy reading Alaon and her boyfriend’s confession story.

Read How My Boyfriend and I Confessed to Each Other here


11. Nagmamahal, Maria Clara by Marianie – Maria Clara navigates the 21st century


Filipino Comics - Nagmamahal Maria Clara
Image credit: Penlab.ink

Maria Clara from national hero Jose Rizal’s 19th century-set novel Noli Me Tangere gets transported to 21st century Philippines in Marianie’s Nagmamahal, Maria Clara.

She finds Crispin, a fellow Noli Me Tangere character – only that the child in the book has aged into a grandpa and warns her of what truly awaits her in the present. But besides this conflict, the comic also talks about finding friends, family, and oneself.

Nagmamahal, Maria Clara is actually the illustrators’ college thesis but has become a hit on the site. It’s an ongoing series in Filipino with 7 issues so far.

Read Nagmamahal, Maria Clara here


12. Growing Pains by Dany – depicts the realities of being an adult


Filipino Comics - Growing Pains
Image credit:
Penlab.ink

If you’re looking for something that’s truly relatable, you should read the comic Growing Pains by Dany.

It follows the story of a corporate graphic artist who, no longer fulfilled with what she does, quits her job to pursue her animator dreams.

The comic depicts a young adult’s thoughts about life honestly, showing how they often feel the need to catch up with more successful peers, and how they may believe they’re not good enough at what they do. It also expresses the misconceptions of being an adult, such as the idea that you’ll feel a hundred percent fulfilled when you pursue the path you want.

Growing Pains is an ongoing series in Filipino that has 4 issues so far and is updated seasonally.

Read Growing Pains here


13. Ang Mga Pusa ng Barangay Masikap by Julius Villanueva – suspense comic with cats as main characters


Ang Mga Pusa ng Barangay Masikap
Image credit: Penlab.ink

In Julius Villanueva’s suspense comic Ang Mga Pusa ng Barangay Masikap, a group of cats protects their slum community from evil supernatural beings and a monster. It follows the premise that cats can detect disasters before they even arrive.

It is set in the same magical barangay (neighborhood) as Villanueva’s other comic series, Ella Arcangel, but shows how the community’s stray cats deal with the occult.

The comic is written in Filipino and has 2 issues published on Penlab.ink so far.

Read Ang Mga Pusa ng Barangay Masikap here


14. Filtered Lenses by ExpressityART – a mystery that revolves around a dead person’s camera


Filipino Comics - Filtered Lenses
Image credit: Penlab.ink

ExpressityART’s Filtered Lenses is a creepy mystery comic that revolves around Benjie’s dead uncle’s camera.

A college freshman, Benjie joins a photography club but things go downhill when the human subjects of his photos start disappearing. He starts to believe the camera he inherited from his late uncle is cursed and that he should give up photography.

There are still people who believe in him, and let him take their photo to show their trust, but they end up going missing in the following days.

The comic is written in English with 15 parts uploaded so far. The series is also set to conclude on 5 September, so you won’t have to wait too long to know how this puzzling story ends.

Read Filtered Lenses here


15. Patay Kung Patay by Kowtow Komiks, Kwanimation Studios, and Josel Nicolas – zombie comics set in a remote hacienda


Filipino Comics - Patay Kung Patay
Image credit: Penlab.ink

A showbiz TV crew crashes a party in a remote Hacienda Muguerza and finds themselves surrounded by bolo (machete)-carrying zombies. The nosy, scheming characters, the art style, and the use of Taglish give Patay Kung Patay afternoon drama vibes.

While it is a zombie-slash-high-society drama comic, it also tackles relevant social issues such as land-grabbing.

Patay Kung Patay has 6 issues on the platform so far. A new issue of the comic is also going to be uploaded on 5 September.

Read Patay Kung Patay here


Penlab.ink – a trove of Filipino comics


Talented Filipino illustrators have long been creating comics. However, Penlab.ink makes Filipino comics more accessible to today’s comic readers.

If one of the comics above piques your interest or if you’d like to see more Filipino comics you can read for free, now is the perfect time to check out their website. Many comics listed on the platform are set to get published or updated on Penlab Day on 5 September.

Also check out:


Cover image adapted from: Penlab.ink, Penlab.ink, and Penlab.ink

 

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