Kanto Inc. is your tambayan for fun

Rick Olivares (The Philippine Star) - September 1, 2014 - 3:54pm

My Big Bang Theory is when komik book talents were showered upon these 7,000-plus islands, Joanah Tinio-Calingo and her husband Melvin (otherwise known as “Taga-Ilog”) and artist Kilayman were not only gifted with the wacky wit and storytelling chops of Keith Giffen but they were also given an extra funny bone.

Kanto Inc. is the heir to Alamat’s Batch 72.

Kanto Inc. is a rollicking ride through what we love in pop culture – Philippine mythology and the supernatural, mad cap science, comic/komik books, and comedy; and it is a pleasure to read. Perhaps more importantly, it leaves me chuckling in delight; a sure-fire way to get me to re-read it and recommend it to the world at large.

It tells the story of Gwen, an overachiever and a nuclear physics graduate who ends up settling for a job in a call center (a Pinoy Kitty Pryde). After a disastrous conversation with a client over the phone, she gets fired from her job. She ends up being employed by an eccentric millionaire who has a weird knack for hunting down cursed objects and antiques.

And that’s where all the weird fun gets started!

Gwen accidentally duplicates herself when she looks into a mystical spoon (think Calvin and Hobbes’ awesome transmogrifier). Gwen is possessed when playing a board game (a nod to the early criticism levied at that once famous game Cluedo). And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

There are references and situations that mirror The Ghostbusters and they even pre-date the return of the Sony Walkman in the Guardians of the Galaxy film by bringing back Nintendo’s much-loved and Game and Watch.

What makes Kanto Inc. a terrific komik is that the characters are memorable, the writing is fun and flowing, and the art by Kilayman makes every page a delight for the senses. I love the facial expressions of his characters evoke the best of Disney and manga.

Kanto Inc. is the ultimate chill out komik in the local scene today. And best of all, it’s ongoing (five issues and counting).

Interview with Melvin Calingo

According to Melvin, “Kanto Inc. is basically our take on Philippine mythology, pop culture, local customs, beliefs and traditions. Note that I said "our" take because these stories are very loosely based on our myths and legends. By doing this, we hope to give a fresh new take on the subject.”

Rick: Are the characters based on people you know?

Melvin: It's mostly a mish-mash of extreme personalities from people we know. And yes, we know a lot of weird people.

Rick: It looks like there are a lot of pop culture references sprinkled all throughout from robots to Game and Watch to Ghostbusters etc. Is this also a homage to what you enjoyed as a youngster?

Melvin: Yes, definitely. We also hope that the people reading Kanto Inc. would recognize them and have that sense of nostalgia that we all share. There are also a lot of recent pop culture tidbits for the younger readers too. People may or may not get the references, but the ones that do feel that the jokes are intended for them, making it more personal, and thus funnier.

Rick: Where will Kanto Inc. lead? Is this ongoing or is there an ending to the story?

Melvin: From the start, we planned to make Kanto Inc. episodic, meaning you can grab any issue and read it as a stand-alone story with a definite beginning, middle and end, without actual knowledge of previous issues. There will be issues of Kanto Inc. that will delve into the actual storyline, but this would probably be sometime after we establish the main characters of the story.

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