Friday, December 24, 2010

How ZUMA Saved Christmas

More of a villain than a hero, Zuma is nonetheless one of Philippine comics' most iconic characters. Created by writer Jim M. Fernandez (who, as an illustrator, co-created Captain Barbell with Mars Ravelo), the serpentine demigod first rose from his tomb in the serial Aztec, but really came to prominence in the classic komiks novel Anak ni Zuma, serialized in Aliwan Komiks and published by Graphic Arts Service, Inc. (GASI). Illustrated by Ben S. Maniclang, it ran weekly from 1976 to 1984, making it one of the longest-running series in komiks history. It also introduced other memorable characters such as Zuma's children: his kind-hearted daughter Galema, and his dinosaur-headed son Dino. _

Art by Ben Maniclang

So great was Zuma's fame that he was practically a household name. He would come to star in a succession of spin-offs, some of which even ran concurrently with his main series. Among these was Dugong Aztec ("Aztec Blood") by Fernandez and artist Elmer Esquivas (who delineated a much more sinister-looking portrayal of the character), which appeared from 1978 to 79 in the pages of Rex Komiks, published by Rex Publications, Inc. Another series was the prequel Angkan ni Zuma, written by Fernandez and drawn by Mar T. Santana for Pinoy Klasiks from 1978 to 83.

Art by Elmer Esquivas
_ With Zuma reaching the peak of his popularity, a movie adaptation would not be far behind. Imposing actor Max Laurel would portray the Aztec anti-hero in 2 films, Zuma (1985) and its sequel Anak ni Zuma (1987). Here's a clip from the latter film, dubbed in English (and sounding kind of like an old kung-fu movie). _ By the way, it appears ABS-CBN will be producing a new television series, Galema, Ang Anak ni Zuma ("Galema, The Daughter of Zuma"). I'm looking at its Wikipedia page, and I don't know how accurate the information on it is, but apparently, this version of Zuma is going to have a last name ("Zuma Asuncion?" Seriously?) That sounds weird as hell to me, but we'll see how it goes. _ Anyway, Zuma's popularity had somewhat waned by the 1990's, but he had one last run when he was given his own magazine in 1993. Published by GASI, Zuma And Other Amazing Stories (also known as Zuma And Other Horror Stories or simply Zuma Komiks) was a horror anthology book whose main feature was Zuma The Series. Written by various writers, with art by Clem V. Rivera and, later, Vic Catan Jr., the character was revived with a new twist. Zuma now had the ability to heal the sick, which he used to make up for all the evil he had caused in the past. That doesn't necessarily make him a good guy, though. There's some moral ambiguity in that he has amassed himself a fanatical cult of worshippers, and he was still required by his religion to make virgin sacrifices to the Aztec serpent god Kukulkan. _
Art by Vicatan
_ Although the character of Zuma may have been watered-down a bit, the new stories did cast him in the interesting role of the outsider who commented on and (violently) reacted to the foibles of "civilized" human behavior. In this yuletide tale from Zuma Komiks #112 (December 29, 1995) by writer Arman T. Francisco and artist Vicatan, Zuma makes observations on the gaudiness of Christmas celebrations, and gives a blind beggar boy the gift of sight... a gift that not everyone appreciates.

[Special thanks to Reno Maniquis and Komiklopedia for the additional info.]


  1. According to "A History of Komiks of the Philippines and Other Countries" Anak ni Zuma was the first Zuma novel, while Dugong Aztec is actually the fourth.

    1. He is the main antagonist/protagonist son of Lord Kulkukan god of snakes/serpents in Aztec mythology inspired from 1974 novel by Jim Fernandez originally retitled as Aztec :Snake King in sequels and spinoffs film television and media was serialized in comics/manga animated series action figures dolls and media in Philippine history. Thanks for the information. From:Wayne

  2. According to Sir Ollie Roble Samaniego, a former GASI EIC, the first Zuma novel was entitled "Aztec" which was published in one of Atlas komiks (not sure of the title of the komiks and the date it was serialized). Itong "Dugong Aztec" ay sequel lamang ng Aztec.

    Sinubukan kong i-account ang Zuma novels:
    1. AZTEC (?)
    2. ANAK NI ZUMA (1976-1984) Aliwan Komiks
    3. ANGKAN NI ZUMA (1978-1983) Pinoy Klasiks
    4. DUGONG AZTEC (1978-1979) Rex Komiks
    5. GALEMA (1987-1988) Holiday Komiks
    6. ZUMA-MARIA (1989-1990) Pinoy Komiks

    1. Zuma is a hero/villain in comics television and film/animated series in Philippine history. Thanks!

    2. A crossover characters between two men statue warrior against the snake warrior in comics soon to be released by 2015 Zuma vs Machete by Jim Fenandez and Pablo S Gomez. Thanks! From:Wayne

  3. He is a snake warrior and anti-hero turn hero becomes a good guy based from Jim Fernandez novels became a comic book character of all time he is the son of lord kukulkan snake god in Aztec deity in pre-columbium Mexico long before hernan Cortez discovered then remains a iconic figure in Philippine comics history is also my favorite since 1974-76 & 1979-90 and again 1999-present day up till now thanks for the information.from:Wayne

  4. Who will win the fight two comic book icons Indian warrior against snake warrior in a power struggle for supremacy zuma is from Mexico versus machete from an Indian village will be held in smart coliseum in Manila Philippines in main event Super Bowl World Series thrilla in Manila NBA finals combined in one event who will win the fight for his comic book leadership thanks! From Wayne