Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Conan vs. Panday!

Okay, maybe not. *grins* But still, thinking about an earlier post about the 'possible' dearth of Pinoy sword & sorcery, my thoughts turn to why or why not stories of the most iconic komik heroes, Ang Panday (The Blacksmith), by Carlo J. Caparas is one.

Aside from the medium used-- Conan was part of Robert E. Howard's diverse cast of protagonists that peopled his short stories in pulp magazines whereas Caparas created Panday as a character in komiks or a local comic book-- it's obvious that the differences are in the form of the story but the similarities therein are in the sensibilities. (A disclaimer though: I've never had a chance to read Caparas original komiks so I'm basing my assessment on the movies.)

Taking away the obvious differences between graphic and fiction, Conan's character was part of a created world (granted a part of a "lost" history of our real world as dreamed up by REH) in which he explored the ruined jungles and lost wastelands while adventuring. Here and there, he would defeat an evil wizard/god/beast and save the princess/slave girl/sorceress as well as gain treasure. On the other hand, Caparas' creation was intent on defeating his usual nemesis Lizardo and his evil army from overrunning his town. There is no sense of uncharted territory in Panday as compared to the wilderness beyond the normal ken of men in Howard's work. (On the other hand, I do remember reading komiks of Francisco Coching's Pedro Penduko whose adventures are more similar to Conan's pulpish ancestry. And no, I've not watched the movie and TV versions.)

However, after reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I've decided that Panday and Conan are similar in spirit (well, sensibilities) at least as the two adhere to the pulpish need for heroes during the time they were created. The impression I got was that Conan was quite popular during the US Depression, which was apt as Americans could empathize with a man who "got things done" (the way Howard was prior to his mother's death) or as sean cites, the "one-man-against the world" mentality. On the other hand, a comment by someone(?!?I can't remember!) makes mention the fact that Panday was a simple hero who would take the side of the masses, perfect for the real-world poor who loved reading his fictional battles against the powerful Lizardo.

It does make me think though that it's possible to make a Pinoy S&S story. For example, given the fact that there's a lot of "lost" history or "pre"history before the Spaniards came. Why not weave the real and the imagined like REH did with Conan, yes?

And to the question why should we-- we don't have to. But as writers, it would be nice to imagine it, yes? *grins*

(Which leads me to the next question: if I were to say, open up a nice little group blog called Pinoy Pulp, would anyone be interested in making that kind of stories? Just asking...)


Sean said...

On your point about Panday taking the side of the masses, I would argue that this is more a consequence of marketing than it is of writing. I feel that Panday was created and written in order to gain the empathy of a certain target audience -- as an everyman who used his powers to fight an evil presence bent on taking over his home, he provided a clear analogy with regards to how the lower-income classes felt about the rich.

This marks a distinct difference between Panday and the heroes of American sword-and-sorcery epics: Conan and his colleagues are more morally ambiguous characters -- they do things that may or may not hold against the contemporary moral code, and we therefore don't see them as fine examples of "heroes" in the strictest sense. I see pulp heroes are "anti-heroes", more often than not.

As a result, I don't feel that Panday belongs in a similar classification. In fact, I can't think of a single fictional Pinoy hero who would fall under this category -- Pinoy serials tend to concentrate on heroes who follow our base code of morality and righteousness. As a result, I have a hard time lumping Panday together with the American pulp creations; he's either in a different league altogether, or he just comes from a completely different sociological background.

Ironically, however, this might imply that Zuma would be closer to a "pulp hero" mentality. What say you, Cat?

dodo dayao said...

Pinoy Pulp - - -has a nice ring to it. :)

The world needs more pulp culture more and more these days, if you ask me, banzai - - -pulp art, pulp cinema, pulp fiction.

Agree with Zuma, sort of. Although Zuma's technically a pulp villain - - his sole motivations being to rape women and eat their hearts. He's closer to the Karloff Mummy (and I think that was the template they drew from) or those early incarnations of Godzilla before he got bit by the world-saving bug.

banzai cat said...

sean: Hehe sorry for the late reply. Damn SEO writing has me racking my brains all night.

I agree with your point on marketing Panday as I mentioned in an earlier comment. However, I would put up a disclaimer to my own comment by saying it's hard to gauge the intent in any creation being that I wasn't there to begin with.

Still, with regard to the American pulp heroes, it's not that they were anti-heroes but more like they were akin to the heroes of the Western pulp stories. They aren't morally ambiguous but more of a kind of anti-establishment figure, i.e. doing what's right rather than following the law. In the case of Conan, how can he be morally upright in a time when being moral would get him killed. Besides, there wouldn't be much adventures there. (Ironically, the American pulp heroes have that in common with our Pinoy movie heroes.)

(On a side note, the term "heroes" is such a misnomer since they're not "heroes" in the real sense but more of protagonists. But I digress...)

As for Zuma, yes, agree with you and dodo. It would be a good case to make.

dodo: Yeah, I actually think that your comic books would fit perfectly in a Pinoy pulp sense. *grin*

i still think you should check out los chupacabras band. it's perfect for askals.