MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Comic book lovers can soon access their favorite Filipino komiks anytime, anywhere with the all-new Penlab app, powered by Kumu, the country’s leading social entertainment platform. This new partnership makes the work of local artists and writers more accessible to a wider audience, opening the door for creators to earn a living through their passion. This has been Penlab’s ultimate goal for the past few years, and now with a readership of over 600,000 and counting, that dream is taking shape.
With the app, comic fans can browse through over 300 comic book titles, choose from various genres and explore your indie favorites all in one go. “We hope to unlock the creative potential of Filipino creators,” said Kumu Co-founder Angelo Mendez. “Coming soon, we will be launching the Penlab Create feature, where anyone can upload their stories.” The app launched to the public on September 15.
As a platform that aims to highlight authentic voices and the value of community in the Philippines, Penlab Create is Kumu’s way of providing a space to highlight local creators, as well as connect them with their fans and supporters. “Filipinos have komiks in their blood,” shared Kumu Co-founder and President Rexy Dorado. “In the ’80s and ’90s, people read comics more than they did magazines and newspapers — and while the industry is much smaller today, both the talents and the opportunities are greater than ever.”
The collaborative effort is a celebration of a rich network that went through significant losses and gains over the last decade. Not too long ago, between 33 and 40% of Filipinos read comics, a number that dwindled due to the emergence of digital entertainment. The consensus then was that komiks lost their audience as Filipinos turned to television, video games, DVDs, and online subscription services. But in recent years, thriving titles like Mythology Class and Trese make the case that the underground komiks scene is anything but dead; international publishers like Tuttle and Ablaze have even picked up Filipino comic book titles and started distributing them internationally.
“As a creator myself, I’d like to see komiks earn their place in popular culture, like our counterparts in other countries,” said Penlab Creative Director Bernie Mercado. “With the app and the continued support of our community, this might just become a possibility. We’re starting with five Kumu-Penlab Originals: Spirit Sprints, Ang Jowa Kong Crosswise Season 2, Potential!, Cross Court, and My Opis Myth. There will still be more developments in the future; it gives me hope that one day creating komiks will evolve from a community to a thriving industry.”
As a digital home for creators, Penlab has been championing local talent through its online reading platform. Now, with Kumu’s support, these creators will get the opportunity to reach a whole new level of engagement and readership. “Kumu has proven itself as a company that’s able to generate thousands of livelihoods through digital media. With Penlab’s team and community of artists, we are excited to create more economic opportunities for komikeros — and create a future where people everywhere know that some of the world’s greatest stories come from the Philippines,” Rexy added.
These potential new heights lay within reach for creators thanks to the team at Penlab, including Mercado himself, Content Development Nissie Arcega, and Product Lead Andrew Pineda, as well as Content Acquisition and Komiket Co-Founder Paolo Herras.
The Penlab app will be available for web, iOS, and Android devices. Fans can also follow their favorite artists, writers, and creators on Penlab and Kumu, available for download on both the App Store and Google Play.