Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mang Kepweng Returns

Mang Kepweng was a gag comic strip in the 1970s to 1980s about a village healer and his quirky patients, created by Al Magat.
The success of the comics led to a series of movie adaptations with one of Philippine cinema's great funnymen, Chiquito in the title role.

The movie versions incorporated local folklore's mythical staples like diwatas, kapres, manananggals and aswang and a healer using dark arts or black magic as an arch-nemesis for Mang Kepweng.

The new movie, "Mang Kepweng Returns", shown last January of this year (2017) continues the Chiquito series, now with Mang Kepweng's son played by Vhong Navarro taking over as healer after inheriting his father's magical bandana, with my favorite model turned actress, Kim Domingo as his love interest.This sequel plays out as much as a continuation and tribute to the series for the older audiences as much as an update of the franchise for the new, younger viewers.

Mang Kepweng Returns marks the director and co-writer, Giuseppe Bede Sampedro's debut into the mainstream film industry after a successful string of indie movie projects.
Direk Giuseppe, or "GB" (read GeeBee) as he is known to friends and in the showbiz industry was a high school and college batchmate of mine who I only got back in touch with after a recent Letran Homecoming event. He contacted me to draw up a couple of sequential pages to tell a comicbook type origin story of the old movie version of Mang Kepweng.

The pages were to be used to introduce new audiences to the concept of the movie as an adaptation of a comic book but in the same "universe" used in the old movie series rather than the original gag strip so we could use Chiquito's more familiar likeness in the drawings and give the old followers of the cinematic version a sense of nostalgia and to show that the new movie is a continuation and not a complete reboot.

I dug up whatever images of the original comic strip are available online to get in the groove of the humor before I was handed the script for the pages that I was going to draw beforehand, and these are some that I found:

   I went for a more loose drawing style than I usually do when I draw comics so that the pages still pull off a cartoony look that won't look old but also not too modern. Direk GB also wanted to go for earthy colors to Mang Kepweng's costume to keep the old aesthetic of the original comic instead of the trademark white shirt with red polka dots used by Chiquito while still keeping to his unmistakably distinct likeness.

Here's another image that was done for promotional materials.
This is a practice portrait of Vhong Navarro as the new Mang Kepweng.
Here's the trailer showing bits of my drawings: