Archive for the ‘Features/Interviews’ Category

Filipino Fridays 2013: Kids and Books

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 18 - 2013

It’s 22 days until the 2013 Filipino Reader Con, and as has become tradition, part of the run up to the event involves Filipino readers blogging about a particular topic every Friday, for the four weeks leading up to the event.  Today is the second Friday in “Filipino Fridays”, as the event is called, and the new topic is about the books of our childhood:

What were your favorite books as a kid or while you were growing up? Do you still read children’s books? If you could give your younger self a book to read, what would it be?

I can’t actually remember many childhood books. I have it on good authority (hi, Mom!) that I read the requisite Dr. Seus books, Bible stories, and fairy tales, but I don’t really remember them. The earliest books that I remember really seeking out and obsessing over were the Choose-your-own-adventure books — not just those with the CYOA brand, but anything that any book that allowed me to affect the outcome — Lone Wolf, Wizards, Warriors & You, Space Hawks, Way of the Tiger… Comics were the other hallmarks, but I didn’t start with superheroes: Peanuts and Asterix, those were the books most often under my pillow at night.

I still read CYOA books, although not the same ones I used to read when I was a child, and usually in their new digital form (not coincidentally, I’ve also taken to writing them).

If I could give one book to my younger self… it would be either the Soul Book or A Treasury of Stories. I didn’t stumble upon the richness of Philippine mythology and folklore until Arnold Arre’s Mythology Class came out, and I’ve always wished it could have been otherwise.

 

Dissecting Page Design: Adam David on Magnuson’s “Kuting Magiting”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 5 - 2013

Comic creator and comic critic Adam David’s long rumored dissection/analysis/love-letter to Robert Magnuson’s “Kuting Magiting” is now up at the QBCC site, and it’s a whopper. In Adam’s own words, the essay focuses on “the elaboration of various formalist aspects exclusive to comic books and how KUTING MAGITING engages and plays around with these said formalist aspects” but it also touches on Robert’s work in Poso Maximo (republished in Kwentillion) and his children’s picture books.

It’s a long read — I’m still reading it myself — but let me just say that there’s a reason why I’ve been opening recent talks/essays on comics with a story about how my 2 year old daughter “reading” Kuting Magiting. Robert is very, very good, and Adam does a fine job showing us why.

Guest Post: Eliza Victoria on Why We Read Horror

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 18 - 2013

Various commitments have me unable to post on Rocket Kapre as often as I like, so I’ll be reaching out to other Filipino writers/creators to do posts for the blog. First up is Usok and Alternative Alamat contributor (and friend) Eliza Victoria, who happens to have a new book out: Unseen Moon. Enjoy! – Paolo

I posted an announcement about my new collection of dark fiction, Unseen Moon, the same month two pressure cooker bombs exploded during the Boston Marathon. The following month, three women escaped from a house on Seymour Avenue in Cleveland, freeing themselves from a decade of sex slavery and confinement. In the face of real-life tragedy, who needs horror stories? I continue to write them, and I continue to read them, even as I sit paranoid in commuter buses and lock (and double-lock) my apartment door at night. Even my own poetry deals with crime and death.

In a recent interview with Neon Literary Magazine, I said that I am very interested in exploring the capacity of humans to be both kind and terrible. How kind? How terrible? According to reports, the alleged Cleveland kidnapper allegedly (don’t you just love/hate that word?) caused one of the captives to have miscarriages by punching her in the gut. In 2012, a 23-year-old woman in Delhi was raped by six men inside a bus, and died from her injuries days later. Can you imagine the kind of injury that woman’s body endured in order to cause her death? In 1974, five people in Utah were forced by armed robbers to drink Drano, a corrosive drain cleaner. It peeled away the flesh around their mouths.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Khmer Rouge massacres, the lynch mobs, the rape of our women during wartime, what happened in Maguindanao. And on and on.

That’s how terrible we are.

But why are we like this? Why do we commit these terrible deeds? Looking for the answer, some end up with clinical studies, and I end up with horror fiction.

Horror is a fact of life,” says Joyce Carol Oates, “and as a writer I’m fascinated by all facets of life. As H.P. Lovecraft has said, ‘The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.’ Horror or gothic literature is the most imaginative of all literatures, bearing an obvious relationship to the surreal logic of dreams.”

I enjoyed writing the stories in Unseen Moon. Dark fiction is challenging to write, and as a writer, you need constant challenges in order to improve your craft.

As a reader, I turn to dark fiction because it excites me, it intrigues me. In good horror tales, something always happens, and something always changes. And these tales share with you the kind of horror you can face head-on, unlike the horrors of the real world. You can finish a tale and be stunned and shaken, but still have enough cheer to sit down with your loved ones for dinner.

Robert McCammon, one of the founders of the Horror Writers Assocation, said, “Horror fiction upsets apple carts, burns old buildings, and stampedes the horses; it questions and yearns for answers, and it takes nothing for granted. It’s not safe, and it probably rots your teeth, too. Horror fiction can be a guide through a nightmare world, entered freely and by the reader’s own will. And since horror can be many, many things and go in many, many directions, that guided nightmare ride can shock, educate, illuminate, threaten, shriek, and whisper before it lets the readers loose.”

It “questions and yearns for answers”, but above all, it is a “guided nightmare ride”.

A horror story may be unsettling and shocking, but I know someone wrote it for me, and I know that someone will guide me, until the end.

Let me guide you, too.

Eliza Victoria‘s fiction and poetry have appeared in several online and print publications in the Philippines and elsewhere. Her work has won prizes in the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature and the Philippines Free Press Literary Awards.

 

Unseen Moon, a collection of five stories, is her latest book. For more information, visit http://elizavictoria.com.

Then and Now: Freedom of Speech via the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 6 - 2013

At present, it seems Pugad Baboy creator Pol Medina, Jr. is being penalized for the above comics strip (suspended, or fired, it’s not yet clear). For context, head over to Komikero.com.

I don’t want to talk about how the way PDI has reacted to the strip perpetuates the dangerous and malignant impression that homosexuality is somehow a slur, nor how their singling out Medina for punishment when the strip was approved by their editors is incoherent and inequitable. I doubt anything I say will be met by anything but a bland “thank you for your comments :D ” from their social media team. What I do want to do is let PDI talk to itself, in a sense.

These are statements that the Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial team has published or allowed to be published in their newspaper, on the topic of Freedom of Speech. Take them as you will.

“Who should go to prison for speaking his mind? In the modern democratic project, the answer is clear: No one. The conviction of social activist Carlos Celdran for the obscure crime of “offending the religious feelings,” then, raises many questions. Is the Philippines a modern democracy? Is freedom of speech a living civic virtue? Are religious feelings (not even religious beliefs or articles of faith, but the much more ambiguous notion of religious feelings) sufficient to block political dissent or free expression?” — Editorial, “Notoriously Offensive,” 1/31/2013. Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/46003/notoriously-offensive#ixzz2VQg6vEgG

“The first fallacy is the view that if many people find it offensive, then it can be censored. Susmaryopsep. That’s precisely why we have the Bill of Rights! It protects, in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, “not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”” — Raul C. Pangalangan, “Freedom for the Thought We Hate,” 8/11/2011. Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/9801/%e2%80%98freedom-for-the-thought-we-hate%e2%80%99#ixzz2VQgZTQl3

“The test of a society’s commitment to freedom of expression lies in its defense of marginalized forms of speech. I say in class, free speech is for speech that you hate, not for speech that you like. The logic of the principle is simple: we don’t need to protect society’s treasured ideas and institutions—they pose no danger to us; we pose no danger to them. It is for those forms of expression that disturb, offend, and even anger us that we actually need freedom of expression, as these types of speech are those in danger of being suppressed if society were not serious enough about a democratic culture.” — Florin T. Hilbay, “The crucible of free speech,” 8/15/2011. Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/9981/the-crucible-of-free-speech#ixzz2VQh0oLbE

“If any citizen is free to openly agree, but not to openly disagree, then freedom of expression does not prevail. An individual’s option to openly express disagreement without risk of any personal injury is a key part of the definition of a free society.” — Mahar Mangahas, “Disagreement and Freedom,” 3/3/2012. Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/24193/disagreement-and-freedom#ixzz2VQhRMnVM

Who Is Tintin? An Interview with Tintin Pantoja

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 11 - 2013
Filipina artist Tintin Pantoja will be at this Saturday’s Summer Komikon from 4-5 pm to launch “Who is AC?“, a new graphic novel illustrated by her and written by Eisner-award winning creator Hope Larson.
In this breakthrough graphic novel from the award-winning author of Mercury, there’s a new superhero in town—and she’s got kick-butt cyberpowers.

Meet Lin, a formerly average teenage girl whose cell phone zaps her with magical powers. But just as superpowers can travel through the ether, so can evil. As Lin starts to get a handle on her new abilities (while still observing her curfew!), she realizes she has to go head-to-head with a nefarious villain who spreads his influence through binary code. And as if that weren’t enough, a teen blogger has dubbed her an “anonymous coward!” Can Lin detect the cyber-criminal’s vulnerability, save the day, and restore her reputation?

With ingenious scripting from graphic novel phenom Hope Larson and striking art from manga illustrator Tintin Pantoja, this action-packed story brims with magical realism and girl-power goodness.

Tintin spared some time to talk to me a little about magical girls, comic workshops, and fandoms.
Q: “Who is AC?”, your new graphic novel with Hope Larson, has been described as “Who Is AC? is a love letter to the magical girls of shojo manga and anime…” Did you watch magical girl shows growing up? Who were your favorites?

As a kid I would watch SailorMoon dubbed into Indonesian, not really knowing what was going on but loving the characters and the show all the same. I’ve also seen some Card Captor Sakura (but more of the comic than the anime). I also got into a lot of western shows with magical girl elements, like Rainbow Brite and My Little Pony ( the eighties series).
Q: What do you think it is about the idea of the “magical girl” that makes it such a popular genre, especially with teens?

I think teens like seeing someone who’s their age, with their own experiences, exhibiting special powers and saving the world. Magical girls are just a feminine iteration of the superhero- emphasis on magic, romance, and of course, outfits and the relationships between characters. In popular culture, a lot of which is devoted to the heroic exploits of male characters, it’s nice to have a genre in which girls can be the star and save the world through strength and love.
Q: How did you come by this project? What’s it like working with Hope Larson?

I came by this project online. Hope was looking for an artist, and I volunteered my portfolio. She’s great to work with- very upfront about what she wants, and very clear. She sent me the script, and I was pretty much free to interpret it visually. She’s also been very supportive in other ways.
Q: You  graduated from the School of Visual Arts in New York, and now you’re based here. Why did you choose to come back and work from here, as opposed to staying in the United States?

Honestly, it’s hard to stay in New York and not already a permanent resident or citizen, especially if you’re an artist.

Q: You’ve begun teaching a Comics and Manga Workshop here in Metro Manila. Why’d you decide to put up the workshop?
The workshop is only on a dry run right now. I hope to offer it to students during the school year on a weekly weekend basis. I just went online looking for comic schools and didn’t find any, so I thought it might be a good niche to fill, if people were  interested in learning to make comics I don’t know if Elbert Or’s workshop is still ongoing? It might be nice to trade notes with him, if he is. Anyway, a couple of my Indonesian friends put up comic/manga schools in Jakarta and I thought it might be a fun thing to do here. If anyone’s interested in the comic workshop, it’s a two-hour eight/nine-session program in which we make a short comic from script to final coloring/ tones. Email me at tintinp@gmail.com! ;) The first MWF summer sessions starts April 12!
Q: While everyone learns how to create in their own way, what are the benefits that you think a classroom-based workshop has to offer, that would be unavailable to an aspiring creator working on his/her craft alone?

The classroom setup automatically forces you to do the comic itself. A lot of creators- including myself- have a hard time motivating ourselves to work. So in a classroom, you’re automatically being obligated to make your stuff. Also, making comics is so solitary. It’s more fun to be working in a setting where people can learn from each other and encourage each other. It’s true that comics can easily be self-taught. What I want is to make the comics process more social, regular, and enjoyable for the individual creator.
Q: What’s your favorite part of the creative process?

Definitely the inking, when all of the hard work ( thumbnailing and pencilling) have been done!
Q: I read in an old interview that you liked to listen to stories while working. What have you been listening to lately?
I used to listen to online radio shows on the BBC and NPR websites, but mostly I just turn the TV station to the Crime Channel these days, or when inking, catch up on HBO shows like True Blood.
Q: What works/fandoms are you passionate about at the moment? Anything you’re looking forward to picking up for yourself at the Komikon?

At the moment my biggest fandom is the TV show Supernatural ( my favorite character is Castiel), and Adventure Time- but with Fionna and Cake. As for Komikon, I’m very much looking forward to picking up anything new from Mel Casipit- he’s a great artist and I’ve been following his career. I also love discovering new local cartoonists and finding something really unique and cool.
Q: What’s next for you, after “Who is AC?”

I have no idea. the future’s kinda wide open at this point. I don’t really have plans or ongoing projects.

 

Words and Pictures at Play: An Interview with Elbert Or

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 8 - 2013
Writer/artist/creator Elbert Or is one of the special guests at this Saturday’s Summer Komikon 2013. where he will be launching his first Bakemono High compilation. I’ve known Elbert for a while, and he’s one of the most creative and driven people in Philippine comics, and he graciously agreed to sit down and talk about Bakemono High, his creative process, and comics for younger readers. He also gives us an exclusive: a colored version of a 2 page Bakemono High story that appears in black and white in the compilation.
Q: Thanks for your time Elbert! For those readers who don’t know your work, can you tell us a bit about your work in comics? You’ve certainly amassed quite a body of work through the years.
Sure thing! Let’s see…if I had to put together a bullet list of highlights, it’ll maybe be something like this:
  • Four years in college spent creating and peddling photocopied comics, at a time when there weren’t a lot of venues and opportunities to sell them. I also ran a comics org in Ateneo for a couple years.
  • Convinced my comics literature professor Jamie Bautista to try his hand at making his own comics. He ended up forming Nautilus Comics with me as the first employee, and over the course of a couple years released National Book Award-winning anthologies Siglo: FreedomSiglo: Passion, and the popular teen series Cast. I also contributed to various anthologies.
  • Conducted comics workshops across the country in an attempt to provide aspiring creators with opportunities that weren’t available to me when I was starting out, and eventually opened a comics creation elective in Ateneo.
  • Worked with various publishers like Anvil Publishing, Tahanan Books, Psicom Publishing, Milflores Publishing to try and open the doors for comics.
  • Worked with foreign publishers, from Chuang Yi in Singapore to Archaia Press and Oni Press in the U.S. The most prominent of these is the YALSA-winning Lola: A Ghost Story, which I illustrated for J. Torres.
  • Through all these, I created material across a range of genres too, from superhero stories (Jet Titanium, Super Space Ranger), to adventure stories for young girls (The Many Adventures of Stephanie Smee) to shonen manga-style stories (Card Battler Teks) to this one, Bakemono High.
Q: You’ll be at the Summer Komikon with a compilation of you Bakemono High comic. Again, for those unfamiliar with is K-Zone run, can you tell us what Bakemono High is all about?
Bakemono High is set in a school for monsters, and mostly follows three friends — Max, a vampire who’s a stickler for rules; Chuck, a werewolf who likes adventure almost as much as he likes food; and Amy, a mummy who’s a boy named sort of like a girl and is deathly afraid of everything!
Q: You’ve mentioned that there’s a lot of never-before-seen content in this compilation — around 30%. What can old readers look forward to in these new strips?
I don’t know if that’s a lot, but yeah, there’s some strips there that haven’t been published. If anything though, the biggest thing is that the cover says “book one,” which for me is an inherent promise that there will be a book two. And if all goes well, that’ll be out as soon as October. With 100% new content!

Q: So it’s true then — you’ll be continuing the series in the future?

I plan on continuing the series in the future, and have actually started work on the next book. What I’m discovering is that when it was being serialized in K-Zone, I was restricted to mostly one- to two-page installments, and I wanted to be sure they were self-contained but still be meaty enough story-wise. That meant compressing a lot of material into a small amount of space. With this new format, I’m letting myself — and the stories — breathe a bit more. Bigger panels to show off the art, or even just being able to dwell on the smaller character moments instead of speeding from one plot point to the next. It’s all getting me quite excited and reinvigorated as the creator!
Q: You are both a writer and an artist. Does one role or the other come more naturally to you? Or, perhaps, are they inseparable to you?
They’re actually quite inseparable, and if you look at my notes, whether they’re for comics projects or even for my day-to-day life tasks and work meetings, they’re littered with words and pictures playing with each other. I guess that’s really just how my mind works!
Q: What comics did you read as a child?
I read a lot of Tintin, Archie, Calvin and Hobbes, Dragonball Z, and Funny Komiks! Thinking about it now, that’s actually a healthy range of comics material don’t you think? Haha! It’s like a United Nations of Comics! I want to say it’s by design, that I’m reading Eurocomics beside American comics and newspaper strips beside Japanese and Filipino comics, but really I was just consuming whatever I could get my hands on!
Q: Does anything change, in your artistic process, in creating a book aimed at children, as opposed to one aimed at a more general audience?
I think if anything I tend to think more visually when I’m writing all-ages material. Lots of moments where I would either use a specific image in my head as a starting point for the story, or “This would look cool!”
On the other hand, for some reason, I find that I think more in terms of dialogue when writing more mature stuff. It’s not something I’m really conscious about though; really this is the first time I’ve had to articulate it! Do kids and younger characters just go and do, while adults like to talk things out? Is that how I see things? I don’t know what that says about me!
Q: What advice can you give comics creators in general, and those who want to make stories for children in particular?
In general, I always tell aspiring creators to stop aspiring and start creating. If you want to be a writer, write! If you want to be an artist, draw! The only way you get better at making comics is by keeping on using them. Just like muscles!
As for specific advice…well, it almost doesn’t matter if you’re making stories for kids or for adults: you have to write something that is true to yourself. It may be true to who you are now, or it may be something that is true to the 10-year old you, but it has to be true to some version of you.
I’m not talking about facts, I’m talking perspective. Wiser men have said, “don’t talk down to kids when you’re writing for them,” and that’s true: I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid, I could tell when some adults were trying to pull my leg, and telling me something that I know just isn’t true! (If you don’t finish your ampalaya, people in Africa will die from hunger!) On the other hand, I also can remember believing in things that were just outright, boldfaced lies, all because I admired or loved the people who said them! (Your school is built on a graveyard and it’s haunted by spooky ghosts!)

Q: What types of stories would you like to see more of, from the local comics industry?

I don’t know what I want to see more of, specifically, because what I really want to see is something I’ve never seen before, something fresh and exciting!

What I’m sure I want to see less of though are fantasy comics with characters wearing bahags and tikbalangs and manananggals. Surely there are more creatures of folklore than that! I realize we have a rich history and tradition of folk literature, and there will always be a place for that, but right now, I’m really just at the point where I want to see the future right here, right now.
And now, an exclusive colored comic preview of Bakemono High!

The Next Big Thing: Writer Blog Meme

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 19 - 2012

Sort of a chain letter for writers, the Next Big Thing is a blog meme whereby authors answer a set of questions about their next book project, and tag other writers/creators for the next cycle. I was tagged by Eliza Victoria, so here are my answers!

1) What is the working title of your next book?

Mythspace: Liftoff. It’s the first collection of what I hope will be many stories told within the Mythspace shared universe. I’m working in collaboration with the wonderful artists Koi Carreon, Borg Sinaban, Jules Gregorio, Mico Dimagiba, Cristina Rose Chua, Paul Quiroga.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

Most of my ideas come from an urge to tell speculative fiction stories that draw upon Philippine history, folklore, or mythology. There’s a growing field of creators doing the same, particularly in comics, but most of those projects are oriented toward fantasy and not science fiction. So I wanted to take some of the more familiar elements of Philippine fantasy — the monsters and ghouls that populate many of our mainstream horror movies and stories — and reimagine them as aliens to populate one of the most neglected local SF subgenres, the space opera.

Also: ever since I named the imprint/blog “Rocket Kapre” I’ve been dying to do a story that literalizes that.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Science Fiction to be general, Space Opera to be more particular, and Portal-Fantasy-Adapted-Mythic-Space-Opera-Squad-Adventure, to invent my own name for it.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

If I were to make a movie adaptation of Mythspace, I’d cast completely new actors. I honestly can’t think of many established local actors who can disappear into their roles, and I don’t want the actors to overshadow the characters they’re portraying.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Tikbalangs in spaaaaaaaace!

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published first, and then I’ll shop it around traditional publishers. No agency system here in the Philippines!

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Well the book collects 6 stories of varying length, with over two hundred pages of story in total, so it took me about six months of on-and-off work to get the first draft of all the scripts ready.

8)What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

This is really more movie inspired than book inspired. This is my attempt to give the Philippines its Star Wars.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Can I have a reverse inspiration? Every lazy use of our folklore creatures as superficial monsters, without any attempt to do something new with them.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

For Filipino readers, it’s a chance to see the monsters of your childhood in a way that you’ve never seen them before.

For non-Filipino readers, it’s a chance to see an attempt at space opera that is informed by a rich mythology that you don’t usually see in science fiction (as opposed to say, the Norse myths).

And now… TAG, you’re it:

Andrew Drilon

Mina Esguerra

Macoy Tang

Noel Pascual

Charles Tan Interview at Read in a Single Sitting

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 20 - 2012

The interview came out weeks ago when I didn’t have time to post about it, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you all to an interview with Charles Tan over at the Read in a Single Sitting blog. In the interview, Charles talks about why he put together Lauriat, his anthology of Filipino-Chinese Speculative Fiction (which contains my story, “The Captain’s Nephew”.) Give the interview — and the anthology — a read, if you haven’t already.

Budjette Tan: Trese 5 Launch Interview

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 7 - 2012

Trese 5 will be available nationwide very soon, so as has become something of a tradition for each launch, I shot a few questions out to Trese scribe Budjette Tan. I wanted to make the interview accessible to those who haven’t yet read the book, but also wanted to ask him about specific things from Book 5, so I’ve divided the interview into spoiler-free and spoiler-filled sections. I warn everyone when we hit spoiler territory, so those who go beyond the red line, do so at your own risk!

Thanks once again to Budjette for making the time.

 

SPOILER-FREE PORTION

 

The Trese 5 release seems to have taken quite a few people by surprise — was it a conscious choice not to promote the launch heavily until you were sure you’d make the Komikon?

HAHAHA! Yeah, I guess I didn’t want to jinx it. We turned over the cover to Visprint sometime early October and we were emailing pages to be proofread every time we finished a batch of them. So, we turned over the final pages to Visprint five days before the Komikon! HAHAHA! I don’t know what kind of magic spell Nida, our publisher, had to weave to make everything ready by Komikon but we are extremely happy and thankful that Visprint pulled it off. Even though I’m used to getting stuff done just minutes before the deadline, it’s always scary. I’ve already drafted the “ideal schedule” for Book 6. Let’s see if we can keep to the sched. HAHAHA!

With Trese 4 launched almost in October 2011, and Trese 5 being launched at the October Komikon, are you aiming for a new volume every October?

Yup! That’s the plan! If me and Kajo keep to our scheds and don’t get distracted by other projects then it’s possible for us to release a book once a year.

While you ventured back into the realm of episodic stories with Trese 4, this volume seems more similar to Trese 3 in that it is basically one story — only instead of being about resolving plot threads (as in Trese 3), here you’ve laid the ground work for the future. Is this book is the start of another three volume arc?

Like I mentioned in the Afterword, this story was only supposed to be a 20-page single-shot issue. But if I followed that outline, I guess I might have just ended up copying the structure of [Redacted - sharp eyed readers may spot a clue to a revelation from Trese 5 if we told you the title of the case Budj mentions here - Ed. Note].

But when those ideas from Kajo and that idea from Yvette Tan’s story came into play, the story just ran away and became a full graphic novel.

Is this laying the ground work for another thee volume arc? I don’t know. I just make this up as I go along. HEHEHE

Has the popularity of the Kambal surprised you? They display their personalities more here than in previous volumes, and I was wondering if this was you giving the readers more of what they want.

Yup, considering how they didn’t have much speaking lines in the first two books, I’m surprised at much of a following they’ve generated. Also surprising how much Happy/Long-Haired/Basilio seems to have a bigger fanbase compared to Gloomy and even Trese herself.

I do keep in mind what readers say and post. If it’s an idea worth exploring then I try to toss it into the mix.

And this was one of those moments when the Kambal just took over and the lines just came out.

Book 5 was generally written “Marvel style”. Since we were rushing this for the Komikon, I was sending Kajo scripts which just had general descriptions of the action. So, when I finally got the pages, I had to figure out what they were saying and the Kambal just filled in the lines themselves, looking at how Kajo drew their expression or their actions, it was just easy and fun to fill in their dialogue.

With each volume, Trese’s abilities increase — or at least she shows more of them. Do you ever worry about her becoming too powerful, too competent?

Nice observation. Will keep that in mind. Thanks, Paolo!

I remember someone else making that comment based on the first three books (maybe you were the one that made the comment) that Trese is always in control of the situation and never seems to falter. So, I tried to show that she’s not always perfect in Book 4; tried to make her sweat a bit before she gets to solve the mystery. (hehehe)

But she did learn a lot while she was in the Great Balete Tree. So, I guess she’s just showing us more of the stuff she already knows. Which only means, I’ll need to give her bigger, badder challenges.

You’ve always created characters which seem to have real life analogues — as with a certain famed boxer in the last volume — and this volume ratchets that up a notch. When do you decide to create a brand new character, and when do you pull more liberally from real life personas?

I’ve never really thought about that. I guess if the story calls for it, then I’ll make a new one or base them from some real life person.

If I’m paying tribute to a character or a creation, then I’ll toss in some Easter eggs from that characters history, as a way of paying tribute to him / her.

When I originally started TRESE, it was heavily influenced by Warren Ellis’ Planetary. So, I do plan / hope to explore more of Pinoy pop culture. The funny thing about Pinoy pop culture is that we tend to blur the lines between fiction and reality. I still remember the story (supposed a true story) of how an FPJ movie was shown in Mindanao. At the end of the movie, FPJ’s character died. The audience, all of them were big fans of FPJ, got so angry that FPJ’s character got killed, pulled out their guns and shot the movie screen, taking aim at the bad guy that killed FPJ.

So, if I were to make an FPJ analog, then his story might become a mix and mash up his history as an actor, movie director, Panday, and his attempt at a political career – all because that’s how we Pinoys see him.

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Komiks Review: Manila Accounts 1081: Good Criminals Wear White #1

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 31 - 2012

Let me get this out of the way first: Manila Accounts 1081: Good Criminals Wear White #1 [Wan Mañanita, Aaron Felizmenio, Alyssa Mortega, RH Quilantang], is worth your money. It stands beside Crime Fighting Call Center Agents and Tatsulok: A Vision of Dust as one of the most promising new komik properties I’ve seen in the past two years.

That being said, there are quite a few nits I have to pick, but I think that those flaws jab at me more because the concept (or what I’ve seen of it so far) is so novel and exciting that I want the execution to match it.

But we’ll get to that later. Let’s start with the good stuff. Issue #1 has two stories, GCWW, and the Coup d’etat  backup story. There isn’t as much to say about the latter, except for the fact that I love the idea of L.I.H.I.M., but I wish that Quilantang had been as rigorous with his interior artwork as he was with his cover art — the art in Coup d’etat is serviceable, but not in the same league as his beautiful line art for the cover.

[Spoiler warning.]

The art is the most striking thing about GCWW. At its best — during the scenes focused on the thieves — the characters are expressive and rendered with personality, and the soft inks give the art an overall style that fits well with the heist genre (or maybe I’ve just been reading too much Darwyn Cooke). The choice of “camera angles” for the panels also adds a cinematic flair to the presentation–the best example of this is when the thieves leave their meeting room.

Another big plus is the setting — it’s no secret that I’m an alternative history fan,  and I’m looking forward to seeing how GCWW explores the idea of a Martial Law that has an intelligence agency that trains superheroes. That hybrid nature in itself — heist + superheroes — is appealing to me, but even without that fusion, I’m itching to read a komik set in the Martial Law days. Arre’s “Martial Law Babies” aside, I don’t know of many komiks that take place in that era, much less one that mixes in speculative elements. But it’s a good choice for a komik where the protagonists are thieves–there is no other point in time, post-independence, wherein being a criminal could easily be seen as something virtuous. The use of faux newspaper articles from the period as exposition also helps underscore the historical aspect of this alternative history.

For a short comic, the issue managed to create more than its fair share of “moments”:  the reveal of the heist’s target, the “they’re past curfew” scene, and the very last image, are all moments that spur a reader to talk about this comic.

Okay, now for the stuff that didn’t work for me.

While the story has its moments, the script is rather raw. There’s a certain forced quality to the dialogue that permeates many of the scenes — not bad, per se, but awkward. It’s not much of an issue in the superhero scenes — we’re used to a certain pomp and bombast amongst masks — but it hurts the scenes with the protagonists, because we expect their banter to sound like the easy and familiar jousting of old friends. The awkwardness extends to the Articles as well.

I’ve already praised the art, but while it excels in the scenes focused on the thieves, the art gets muddled during the superhero fight scenes, with some not-ideal angle and shading choices. (The one exception was the “splash” page, no pun intended.) The death scene, in particular, would have had more of an impact if it were more readily apparent what had happened, and who the parties involved were (we can’t see the face of the victim, and the attacker came from nowhere and his chevron was obscured).

Speaking of the death, I found Anthony’s reaction to that to be a bit incoherent — he seems as shocked as the others in one panel, but in the next panel he seems rather blasé about the whole thing. (“Man…”)

Finally, for a first issue, GCWW #1 doesn’t really give us a good handle on our protagonists–we know their goal, and their costume, but not their motivation, nor their backgrounds, nor their abilities, nor of any threat primarily aimed at them. We actually get a bit more of that in the free comic book day issue, but I hadn’t read that before I picked up issue #1, and I don’t think I’ll be the only one. It’s fine not to show the reader everything, but if I didn’t have a visceral reaction to “martial law oppression”, I wouldn’t care what happened to this gang of thieves.

In sum, again, Manila Accounts 1081: Good Criminals Wear White #1 is worth your money. It’s a gem, but don’t except a cut and polished diamond ready for mounting. However, even in its raw and unprocessed form, there’s something mesmerizing about it. Here’s hoping for more.

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Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.

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