The Cartoonist: Tonton Young and his “Pupung”
About the Cartoonist: Washington “Tonton” Young
Washington “Tonton” Young was the creator of Pinoy Komiks icon ‘Pupung’ and author of ‘The Best of Pupung Vol. 1-11’.
“I’ve been drawing cartoons since I learned how to hold a pencil”. Tonton was greatly influenced by his elder brother who is also an artist. But Tonton never pursued cartooning not until after the circumstances that lead him to pick up his versatile pen again and resume a childhood interest. After he finished his college degree, Commerce Major in Business Administration, his mom needed healthcare and had to be attended at home so he started to look for a job that doesn’t require him to work on an eight-hour basis. He started doing cartoons again and because of his talent, he was hired by the late great Nonoy Marcelo (creator of Ikabod and Tisoy) and became his mentor. He didn’t have formal art training from Art Schools but was trained and got pointers and techniques from legendary cartoonists Larry Alcala and Roni Santiago.
Through the years of doing cartoons and comic strips, Tonton received numerous awards and recognitions here and abroad. In 2004, he was the Grand Award Recipient in the Catholic Mass Media Award for Best Comic Strip and won grand prizes in cartoon contests held in USA, Japan and Thailand. He also did several art exhibits in Japan, Singapore and Korea. Tonton is currently based in New Jersey, USA and is teaching cartoons at an Art School for Kids and an editorial and comic strip cartoonist in Express, NY edition and Periodico, Canada edition. Pupung comics strip still appears in The Manila Bulletin. “Nothing beats the good old newspaper”, Tonton expressed when asked about his take on digital and web-based comics. He’s not against modern-day comics but he doesn’t think it can totally replace the conventional way of reading it on a comic book or newspaper.
When asked about his most rewarding project in his professional career, Tonton shared his fave summer activity when he was still in the Philippines – a Cartoon Workshop for Kids with his fellow cartoonist friends every year during summer. “It’s a great feeling to pass on what I’ve learned from the ‘masters’ and teach them to create a good, wholesome comic strip”. A lover of children as his works show, a part of Tonton will forever stay young.His advice to aspiring comic strip cartoonist, “Keep on drawing and creating different characters and stories to improve your craft. Don’t stop trying.” He remembers a fan who asked for his advice when he was starting cartooning; he is now a cartoonist in the Manila Bulletin and several Filipino Comics, William Contreras (Tok en Mol).
Pupung was created in 1983 by Tonton Young and he was real. The real-life Pupung is Tonton’s 6-year old nephew, Jeff Young with a nickname Pupung. He chose the name Pupung for his comic strip title because it sounds cartoon. Pupung dad’s was created after his likeness in basketball. Just like Daddy, Tonton is a big basketball fan and was a self-confessed basketball buff during his teen years.
The comics strip revolves around the family of Pupung and their hilarious adventures. The story is based on Tonton’s everyday life, tending to his family’s restaurant business (like Lolo Dom and Dad), play basketball on weekends (just like all the characters in Pupung). The comics strip focuses on Philippine pop culture, fascination with basketball as well as business trends and rarely tackles political issues. Pupung became popular for its punchlines and the humor used in the strip is lighter than other Filipino comic strips which gives it a family-oriented theme. Up to this day, Pupung appears in Manila Bulletin and continues to make Pinoys laugh everyday.