Reading daily broad sheets daily is a self-taught habit.
Being the youngest in the family, one of my chores was to buy the newspaper all the way from the village entrance. That was a good eight minute walk, which I rewarded myself with hot chocolate, PB&J sandwich, and I get first read on the comics. I equated Philippine Daily Inquirer with the satirical and witty works of Jess Abrera and Pol Medina Jr. The Philippine Star boasted of the classics of Larry Alcala, who I thought of as the Filipino version of “Where’s Wally?”
Forward to some years later and I came across one strip in Manila Bulletin. It featured college kids and their relations. But their humor ranged from dry wit and one-liners to slapstick and spoofs. About two weeks into reading it, I thought that it was like Kiko Machine colliding straight on with Pugad Baboy with a hint of The Born Loser.
Then on, I became a fan, who bought the first three compilations of the comics some time ago but only came around to reading it this year.
“Life in Progress” is a Filipino comic strip that uses mostly college kids as its characters who spout comments on current issues on government, school, lifestyles, movies, and comic books. Every once in a while they could be deeply philosophical then be downright ridiculous the next.
Zeke, the lead character, is the center of that universe—though he’s told that he isn’t. The books retell how he tries to woo love from a distance, attempt to fight foes five sizes bigger than he is, and revels in rock music, dinosaur fantasies, and dark dreams.
Having read the books, my curiosity about how the gang started out is now satisfied. The group was relatively small but began adding members with each book. Sometime though I couldn’t get it if their addition is formal or informal, since I’d see the characters a few strips back but there would be no interaction with that character or there would be interaction but no name would be mentioned. Soon enough, that character would make frequent appearances and dealings with the others.
One other thing: I keep expecting story arcs, especially after being weaned on Pugad Baboy books. Sometimes there are and sometimes, even when they’re compiled for a supposed uniting theme in a chapter, a strip or three are out-of-place. Maybe the grouping is flawed but it’s still okay.
Speaking of strips, I am aware that the books include the older strips. Maybe that contributes to their individual quality. I miss the little details in the shirts or school bulletin boards. Either the scanning or the cropping went wrong.
Despite whatever minutia escaped me, I get hit with most of the humor presented in the book. And that’s what I love. I even got my best friend to read it and the girl who lives with him easily devours the book, even faster than he does. Which is good, I believe.