Aug 30, 2010

Reclaiming History: Jess Jodloman

Welcome to a new installment of Reclaiming History, an ongoing series where the Comics Cube! tries to balance out what the history books say and what actually happened! Click here for the archive!

Today, we reclaim history in favor of Jess Jodloman, a very talented, prominent, and significant Filipino artist!

It may be argued that I should devote a whole column (and perhaps I will) one day to the Filipino Invasion of comics in the 1970s. That was a time when Filipinos drew many books - mostly horror and suspense books - where the most famous names were most probably Alex Nino and Alfredo Alcala.

"Isolation" by Alex Nino. Image from Gerry Alanguilan.

Alfredo Alcala's Voltar. Image from Gerry Alanguilan.
Since then, there's always been a significant Filipino presence in comics, with Romeo Tanghal inking George Perez on New Teen Titans and Alfredo Alcala inking Rick Veitch on Swamp Thing during both titles' peak periods:

In the 1990s, of course, one of the leading artists - and one of the founding fathers of Image - was Whilce Portacio:

Currently, undoubtedly one of the industry heavyweights today is Leinil Francis Yu:

And Gerry Alanguilan, first and foremost on the komiks scene in the country, is having his graphic novel Elmer published by Slave Labor Graphics in November:

However, I want to reclaim history this time in favor of Jess Jodloman, whom I met last Saturday at the Metro Comic Convention. There were some booths where artists were selling some folios, and while I hadn't heard of Jess at the time (I am not as up-to-speed on Filipino comics as I would like to be), his work definitely caught my eye.

He was very near the Alfredo Alcala exhibit, and I love Alfredo Alcala, and here was work that captured the same kind of detail, the same kind of realism, with the same kind of quality. Here was Jess Jodloman, whom I'd never heard of, but thought that at that moment I should absolutely, definitely look into. So Peachy and I bought a folio.

Jess Jodloman worked in komiks from 1954 onwards, and really turned the heads of the Filipinos at the time with his "Ramir" in Bulaklak Komiks. "Ramir" was a heroic fantasy series, which was so popular at the time that it was made into a movie.

Unfortunately, ask anyone today to give you the list of important Filipino artists of the time, and you'll more often than not get the same answers: Ravelo. Alcala. Redondo. Jess Jodloman would likely get omitted, which is a damn shame, because look at that.

In 1965, he trained Alex Nino, who is also more well-known than he is at this point, having done a lot of internationally renowned work, including for Disney.

And in the seventies, Jodloman was one of the Filipino artists recruited by Joe Orlando to work on fantasy and horror titles! Along with Alcala and Abe Ocampo and Tony DeZuniga, Jodloman produced work that appeared in Weird War Tales, House of Mystery, House of Secrets, Creepy, Eerie, Vampirella, Weird Mystery Tales, Kull the Conqueror, and The Savage Sword of Conan. Unfortunately, that time period and the horror comics it was producing at the time has never been of great interest to me, since I thought that if I were going to try to pursue the genre, I should just look at EC Comics. Things like "Vampires Gold" is making me really reconsider.

Image from Gerry Alanguilan

Jodloman's barbarians has been compared to Frank Frazetta's, which is undoubtedly an honor for anyone who wants to work on barbarians and swords and sorcery type stuff.

I'd compare him more to Barry Windsor-Smith and John Buscema as it pertains to his ability to portray things very realistically. I mean, look at that horse!

Because I went to the Metrocon, I am now officially a Jess Jodloman fan. He was there at the frontlines, folks, and he was awesome. It was a great and wonderful pleasure to meet him and shake his hand, and I'll be scouring the bins at cons for more of his work in the future.

According to Kurt Busiek over at the Conan message boards, you can find Jess Jodloman's American work in the following comics:

EERIE #118
GHOSTS #22, 81, 83
HOUSE OF MYSTERY #226, 234, 238, 242, 243, 246, 247, 251, 254, 257, 261, 268, 284, 288, 311.
MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS #16 (Ivanhoe), 18 (The Odyssey)
SECRETS OF HAUNTED HOUSE #12, 14-16, 30, 38
UNEXPECTED #159, 176, 190, 194, 195, 210
WEIRD MYSTERY TALES #9, 10, 13, 15
WEIRD WAR TALES #32, 33, 38, 46, 79, 80, 120

According to the Comics Journal, restoration for Ramir is underway. Good!


Gerry Alanguilan said...

I just love Jess Jodloman's work for DC's Horror line back in the 1970's, in particular the work he did for Weird War Tales. His work was grotesquely terrifying, filled with repulsive people so freakingly drawn that it sent shivers down my childhood spine.

You have reminded me to go ahead and post more Jess Jodloman stuff on my site.

Duy Tano said...

The Internet would be a better place with more Jodloman resources. For me, it's just the sheer level of detail and realism that could get really freaky later on when he gets supernatural. Incredible work.

When he signed my folio and I saw his hands shaking, I really felt quite sad.

Peachy said...

I'm really quite surprised about not having heard of him prior to the Metrocon. He's clearly in the same league as Alcala, Ravelo, et. al. Any theories? Was it perhaps the genre he was most actively involved in?

Duy Tano said...

I actually have no idea what it is. I think, partly, it's just luck - movie studios kept remaking Darna, and since Darna was created by Ravelo, it kept dipping into the Ravelo well, and so on and so forth. Not so much luck there with Ramir.

I don't think it's the genre, because Alcala and others also specialized in hyperrealistic drawings of barbarians and horror stories. A lot of them worked on the same anthologies! Jodloman may not have been the least-known, but he certainly is, to me, the one who should have gotten more credit.

In short, I have no idea what it is.

Peachy said...

The first and last sentences of your response are nearly identical. :)

thingvol said...

Additional artwork:

WITCHING HOUR #57, 60, 61, 71
1984 #9
EERIE #108
CONAN SAGA #29 (reprint)

Unknown said...

I just read his Kull story in Kull and the Barbarians #2 this morning and was completely blown away by his amazing art and inking techniques. I mean WOW, totally incredible and I had never even heard of him even after reading comics for nearly 45 years. I'm definitely going to seek out more of his work.

tlyoung88 said...

I just finished collecting the Madame Xanadu series. Jess Jodloman's werewolf story in Madame Xanadu's segment was the high point of the series. It's a travesty that his stuff hasn't been reprinted in better quality trades. Hope DC puts out a classic Xanadue book someday.

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