TicTiger! is short for “Talk Is Cheap, Tiger!” (Yes, the exclamation is included.)

Miam would always remind me with that expression whenever I would get pompous with my idealism. She likes tigers. She thinks they are the best-looking cat species. We also both happen to be fans of the comic strip Calvin & Hobbes by Bill Watterson.

TicTiger! Productions puts out small press publications popularly known as zines. (For the clueless, zines, pronounced ‘zeens’, are small press publications with a circulation of less than a hundred copies. They are usually black and white, photocopied, eclectic and uncensored in content. Anyone who can express himself or herself through writing/drawing can make a zine.) We also make other things like stickers and informational pamphlets, but zines are our focus because we believe that zine makers and writers (‘zinesters’) deserve to be given recognition and credibility for their works. TicTiger! Productions was created in the hopes of assisting in elevating the status of zines as an art form and literary medium in the Philippines and Asia. While there are at least a hundred or more zines already in existence in the archipelago, few have lasted beyond the first issue, and aesthetic quality is seldom encouraged, with a few exceptions, as in the case of Dumpling Press in Makati City and Acid Cow Collective in San Pablo, Laguna, creators of Thought Market Zine.

Zines tend to disappear after one issue due to the fact that, like other people, zinesters are burdened with survival issues, especially in a Third World country like the Philippines where self-fulfillment, individuality, self-expression, spirituality, relationships and personal ethics are being degraded to insignificance by a society conditioned to place material wealth, selfishness and greed above these values. In the film “Dragon:The Bruce Lee Story”, a young Linda Lee-Cadwell’s mother tells Bruce Lee (played by Jason Scott Lee), “People want hamburgers, not kung-fu“. While such a statement shows the reality of how people generally think, it illustrates people’s misplaced sense of values. A hamburger may satisfy immediate hunger, but it does not provide essential nutrients needed by the body, and is only temporal in nature. Kung-fu, on the other hand, if properly learned and administered, provides discipline of the body and mind, teaches self-restraint, and occasionally helps in self-defense. Which one would we rather learn then, in order of priority? Which one is more valuable? We leave that for you to answer.

We look forward to a time when zine makers and creators can focus on being creative, less bothered (if not totally unburdened) by pressures to get into undesirable 8-5/6-days-a-week jobs to work as wage-slaves, where repetitive work routines kill creativity, and eventually end up as irritated, frustrated and mindless zombies when they go home after a hard day’s work. While older (and supposedly ‘wiser’) nitwits that appear to be properly-seasoned adults will contest such an idea with questions like “Where are you going to get your source of livelihood?” and “What about your wife and children?”, such concerns, we believe, can be addressed by encouraging artists/writers/intellectuals to be self-sufficient, to learn new skills like food preparation, alternative gardening/hydrophonics, recycling, home-schooling and home repair basics, plus a simple lifestyle in order to sustain themselves.

It is a sad fact that feudal-capitalist consumer society has relegated the pursuit of self-fulfillment, personal health, recreation and artistry to the moneyed, mostly hedonistic upper crust that lives in executive subdivisions and condominiums (some of us have been admonished with ‘pabayaan mo na lang sa mga mayaman ang mga art-art na ‘yan, may perang panggastos naman sila!‘(leave the pursuit of art to the rich, they can afford it and we can’t). In contrast to elitist art exhibits where the paintings are only accessible to the rich, we believe that artistry and creativity is a natural thing (just look at small children drawing on the ground or on pieces of paper. Children are admirable, they do not think in terms of class or status. It is eventually their parents who teach them not to associate with the other kind). The appreciation of beauty belongs to everyone. Art should be a social equalizer.

We intend to create zines that will be accessible to a wider audience, if not everybody (we can’t please everyone). While potential readers may not necessarily abandon their usual reading diet of SPIN, Rolling Stone, Inquirer, Philippine Star, etc., we hope to provide zines as alternative sources of intellectually-stimulating opinion, information and entertainment that may possibly open new horizons and help in promoting tolerance, respect, open-mindedness, personal enrichment and a deeper sense of community.

It is our desire to elevate the quality standards of zine production in the Philippines so that it can attract more audiences beyond the constraints of subcultures. The mistake of some subcultures is the tendency to keep to themselves, to be exclusivist, instead of sharing their skills and knowledge to society. We hope to see, in the possible near future, creative subcultures making efforts to make a connection with surrounding communities with the purpose of helping and influencing those whose hearts are driven to promote social change and equality. Sounds too idealistic? You bet. We’re idealists, and proud of it. I was an idealistic eight-year-old, I am now an idealistic father and I will always be until death. Times will change, trends will come and go, but zines and idealism will always go together until dissatisfaction is totally addressed (which will be a very long time).

Zine Topics

Our publications cover the following topics:

  1. Personal stories/experiences/opinions/biases; or Creative Non-Fiction 
  2. Self-sufficient lifestyles aka DIY, do-it-yourself. It can mean putting out your own zine, making your band’s recording from your own pocket, urban hitchhiking, homemade soap-making, grassroots music concerts, gardening, making your own clothes, or simply just living on your own wits.
  3. Home-made Comix(aka Indie Comics, for you cultural hipsters)
  4. Personal Perspective on Radical Politics (as opposed to classroom theory)
  5. Plant-based diet movements (vegetarian/vegan/animal rights)
  6. Practical application of philosophy
  7. Critical Christian Thought (as opposed to nominal or mainstream Christianity) and its applications in the modern technological society. We are interested in discussing the spiritual writings of Soren Kierkegaard, Leo Tolstoy, Ammon Hennacy, the Peace Churches (we are not anti-war advocates but we nevertheless criticize technological warfare and its social implications).   
  8. Independent Art (Visual, Music, and Film)

Origin of the name “TicTiger!”

We released our first zine in early 2001, then called Talk Is Cheap. On issue number 8, after discovering that there is a fan magazine of the same name devoted to the Rolling Stones (sorry, we’re more into the Beatles here.), we decided to change the name into Talk Is Cheap, Tiger!

Being convenience junkies, one of us mindlessly just scribbled TicTiger! on the back of that 8th issue. It stuck. The rest is history. While we carry several titles of zines in varying sizes, TicTiger! is our flagship zine. It covers cultural aspects rarely mentioned in popular publications and other zines, like grassroots music, intellectualization of entertainment mediums, and unusual informative articles.

Oh, by the way, it’s pronounced ‘tick-tigerrr’. Not ‘tick-teegger’.