Outside the birb cage: a sneak peek into Misa’s first‑ever comic

Cover Art Erka Capili Inciong

Words by

Contributor

Known for randomly posting self‑portraits in cafés, and illustrating her pet bird “Pippo the birb,” Misa, a.k.a. Elisabeth Alag, is a fixture in the animé community. Her adorable cartoon and animé characters, as well as other handmade art products, are anticipated by people at conventions.

A freelance artist and a comic enthusiast, she has been told time and again to create her own comic. But for the longest time, she had preferred doing commissions and fan art.

But after almost six years, she is finally releasing her very first comic. To be launched on October 14‑15 at Centris Elements, Quezon City, where the Filipino Komiks Market (KOMIKET) will be held, Misa finally enters the local comic scene. In an interview, Misa talks her her identity, her influences, and what inspired her to venture into comics.

Art Erka Capili Inciong

Who is Misa?

Misa is a somehow nocturnal visual artist, serial crammer and a bird mom. She likes to drown herself with ungodly amounts of coffee during her free time. She also managed to join numerous exhibits and won awards during her peak. She is also currently a member of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan.

You are known for your distinct animé style, and the way you play with facial expressions. What and who are your major influences?

Personally I have lost count of my major influences. It was more on dissections of different artists’ styles I like then mashed together beyond recognition. I think of mine as a hybrid of chibi (a style of drawing which usually deforms the original way it was drawn using oversized heads—Ed.) and western cartoons. They’re weird.

Can you tell us something about your first encounter with comics?




My first obsession were mangas (Ranma 1/2, You’re Under Arrest, Love Hina) then discovered Komikon and local comics around 2011 and became a regular con goer/buyer. The rest was me throwing money, chasing good books and looking for hidden gems in every event.

For years, people kept telling you to do comics and finally you gave in. Why do it now?

I honestly feel that my skills are not ready yet to create one but an acquaintance offered me to share a table at the said event. I promised to myself that if I happened to get a table at a local comic convention, I have to make one as well.

Tell us something about your first comic, and what inspired you to do it?

Loop was actually made around 2014! It was more of a semi-comic diary about my frustrations as an artist. I never thought about publishing it after so many years.

Art Erka Capili Inciong

Many of the comic artists in the field right now also draw about their frustrations as an artist. What do you think will set you apart?

Hindi ko rin alam. Sakin kasi hindi ko naman pinush yung part na kelangan I set apart ko yung gawa ko. Since comic diary sya, it’s more about yung rawness ng feelings ko noong mismong panahon na yun. Subjective yung experience. Sobrang glimpse lang ng frustration ko noon yung nagawa ko. Nasa ka nila na yun if may mararamdaman silang empathy kasi they’ve been there.

What do you want readers to take away after they read your first comic?

Siguro yung sense na lahat nakakaranas at makakaranas ng ganung moment sa buhay nila. Na minsan mastustuck ka lang talaga and it’s okay to get stuck sometimes. Ganun.

About the process, did you do it traditionally first or straight digital? And what software did you use?

Traditional then digitally drawing it again via drawing tablet using SAI Painter.

Would you like to collaborate with other comic artists in the future? If yes, who?

I’m open with collaboration with anyone! As long as we can get along throughout the project!


Follow Misa’s social media accounts on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Misamisatoto and Instagram through the handle @misamisatoto