Antonio (Tony) Velasquez was cartoonist and illustrator that remains a prominent founding member of the Philippine comic industry. He is famous for his serialized cartoon strip which began its run in 1928, titled Mga Kabalbalan ni Kenkoy (or “Kenkoy’s Antics”), which many believe lay foundation to the industry. He created more than 300 characters in his career, many of which became immensely popular and recognizable in Philippine society. He started two companies, Ace Productions and Graphics Arts Services Inc. with the aim of publishing comics, many of which became immensely popular.

Velasquez’ time at Liwayway (an illustrated weekly magazine) informed his work on Kenkoy’s Anntics at the urging of Don Ramon Roces (1989-1993), who acquired the publishing firm, Banaag (later remained Acme Printing) tasked with the graphics production for the illustrated weekly, where Velasquez worked part time.During Japanese occupation, his comic Kenkoy’s Antics was one of the only sole survivers. Velasquez was then commissioned by the Japanese to create comics that shed the occupation in a better light, highlighting social order and sanitation. At Liwayay he helped other artists such as Mars Ravelo and J.M. Perez get published. In 1935, again under the direction of Roces, Velasquez is also responsible for pioneering cartoons for advertising during his time, creating characters to go with each brand, such as Capatin Cortal and Nars Cafi, for their respective brand Cortal and Cafi Aspirina. He designed advertising and branding for products such as castor oil and Zamora’s Tiki-tiki (a pharmaceutical product). At the height of bomba culture, which featured sexually explicit and pornographic art and film in the 1960s, Velasquez headed a committee (the Association of Publishers and Editors of Philippine Comics-Magazines or APEPCOM) to preside over the self censorship of comics with the approval of other publishers.

Velasquez later left Liwayway to start his own company with Roces called Ace Productions, under which he also introduced several publications dedicated to komiks, such as Philippino Komiks and Kenkoy Komiks. This move has been credited as the start of the Philippine komik (comic) industry. Later after the end of Ace Publications due to a laborers strike Velasquez subsequently founded Graphics Arts Services Inc.(known as GASI) in 1962 with his two brothers, continuing to publish local comic books such as Pinoy Komiks and Pinoy Klasiks and Pioneer Komiks. Many still regard him as both the founding father of the Philippine comics industry today.

— Shelly Qiu

Further Reading

  •  “Tony Velasquez Retrospective Slated February 15.” Fringe Magazine. February 10, 2014. Accessed May 28, 2015.
  • Lent, John A. “Comics in the 2000s”in Asian Comics. Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2015.
  • Reyes, Soledad S. 2009. “The Komiks and Retelling the Lore of the Folk.” Philippine Studies 57, no. 3: 389-417. Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed May 31, 2015).