Alternative Alamat Interview: Budjette Tan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 25 - 2014

For the digital release of Alternative Alamat, I ran interviews with several of the contributing authors, asking them about writing in general and their stories in particular. I wasn’t able to interview everyone, however, so for the print launch today– yep, the 25th — I went back to the contributors I wasn’t able to interview last time.

 

BUDJETTE TAN

 Without spoiling anything essential, could you tell me a bit about your story?

One of favorite bits from Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS was this vignette of how Egyptian Gods now run a small funeral parlor in Middle-America. Which made me wonder, where are the old gods of death from Philippine mythology? What are they doing now in the city? I then remember a story my mom told me, about a story she heard from the sales lady in the mall, who heard it from the security of the mall; about how, every now and again, senior citizens were found dead in the movie theater of the same mall. Obviously, they died of natural causes. Well, maybe they did.
This one was also a bit different, in that it didn’t start with a call from the police, but from Spunkmeyer…
I guess I just wanted a break from the usual way Trese gets brought in for a case (Captain Guerrero calling her up). It was also an opportunity to shed more light on Spunkmeyer of the City Morgue, who’s actually patterned after fellow author, David Hontiveros.
How different is it, writing a prose Trese story as opposed to a comic book script?

Whenever I write a TRESE prose story, it allows me to immerse myself (and the reader) in her world more.
When I’m writing the comic book script, I can easily just tell Kajo, “Page 1, Panel 1: we are inside The Diabolical. It’s a Saturday night. Full of people bouncing up and down the dance floor.”

But when I’m writing a short story, I need to guide the reader into that world and get to spend more time talking about the details of Trese’s Manila. So, I end up knowing more about it and at the same time the reader comes along for the ride.

What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most fun for you?
I had fun revealing those bits about Spunkmeyers’ back story.
What part of the story–or the writing process–was the most difficult for you?
Usually, it’s the middle part. I usually know how things will end and sometime I know where things start. So, it’s trying to figure out how to get there that’s the problem.
How were you first exposed to Philippine mythology?
Oh wow! I have no idea. Does the legend of Malakas at Maganda count? That was probably my first exposure to a “creation myth”, which confused the hell out of me, since as far as we were taught in school, we all started from Adam and Eve. So, who the heck were Malakas at Maganda? Took me awhile before I sorted all that out.
Is there any myth, epic or legend that you wish would be adapted into a novel, or comic, or movie?
Unfortunately, I can’t really name a specific one. I think all of our major myths and epic poems should be adapted into some new form. I recently attended a book conference in Singapore and the featured country of the year was India. One talk specifically focused on the Indian comic book market, which has numerous adaptation of their myths. It seemed like every couple of years, they’d have a new version of their myth, retold for a new generation. It would be great to see that happen for the Philippines.
Who is your favorite character from Philippine mythology, and why?
What about the myth of The Honest President? No? That doesn’t count?

Alternative Alamat (Expanded Print Edition)

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 15 - 2014

FAQ: ALTERNATIVE ALAMAT, THE EXPANDED PRINT EDITION

Hello there! I’m Paolo Chikiamco, editor of Alternative Alamat, and thank you so much for showing interest in the new, expanded, print edition! I’m here to give you some basic information about the book in a more informal manner, since that’s how I roll (and apparently, you as well!) but if you found your way here by mistake and want the more formal press release, I’m working on that. But for now…

What is Alternative Alamat?

Short version: It’s an anthology of short stories that re-imagine Philippine myths and legends, written in English by Filipino authors.

Long version: Philippine mythology is full of images that ignite the imagination: gods of calamity and baldness, of cosmic time and lost things; the many-layered Skyworld, and weapons that fight their own battles; a ship that is pulled to paradise by a chain, and a giant crab that controls the tides… yet too few of these tales are known and read today.

Alternative Alamat gathers thirteen stories by contemporary authors of Philippine fantasy, which make innovative use of elements of Philippine mythology. None of these stories are straight re-tellings of the old tales: they build on those stories, or question underlying assumptions; use ancient names as catalysts, or play within the spaces where the myths are silent. What you will find common in these thirteen stories is a love for the myths, epics, and legends which reflect us, contain us, call to us–and it is our hope that, in reading our stories, you may catch a glimpse, and develop a hunger, for those venerable tales.

“Alternative Alamat” also features interior illustrations by Mervin Malonzo (“Tabi Po”), a short list of notable Philippine deities, and in-depth interviews with Professors Herminia Meñez Coben and Fernando N. Zialcita.

What is the Expanded Print Edition?

Alternative Alamat was originally a digital-only anthology with eleven stories. This is the first print edition of Alternative Alamat, and we’ve taken advantage of this opportunity to add some new content that keeps with the theme of re-imagined mythology.

What is the additional material?

This print edition adds two more stories,  a short comic from Andrew Drilon, and a new story from Eliza Victoria, set in the same universe as “Ana’s Little Pawnshop on Makiling St.” I’ve also done a minor update to the Appendix on researching Philippine mythology.

Where is it available?

It’ll be available at the launch on July 19,   Saturday [EDIT: LAUNCH HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO JULY 25, FRIDAY, 4PM, SAME VENUE] , as part of a four-title launch that takes place  at Powerbooks, Greenbelt. It will be available at bookstores nationwide soon after, but we don’t have exact dates yet.

How much does it cost?

250 pesos.

What are the non-fiction sections?

I have five appendixes at the end of the book, meant to provide greater context for the stories, and aid those who want to study Philippine mythology.

Appendix A: A Few Notable Philippine Deities

Appendix B: Interview with Professor Herminia Meñez Coben

Appendix C: Interview with Professor Fernando N. Zialcita

Appendix D: On Researching Philippine Mythology

Appendix E: Glossary of Selected Terms

Is it illustrated?

Yes, each of the original eleven stories is preceded by an illustration of a Philippine deity by Mervin Malonzo (“Tabi Po”). Aside from Andrew Drilon’s comic, there is no new artwork in the print edition, although a greyscale version of Mervin Malonzo’s cover for the digital edition is included.

Is the anthology suitable for young children?

In general, no, as there are several stories which tackle difficult/mature material.

Any there specific trigger warnings?

Sexual abuse; violence against women and children.

I’d like to review this book!

Great! Look forward to hearing from you.

Um, could I get a copy to review?

Drop me a line at rocketkapre[at]gmail with a link to your site/blog or name of your publication and I’ll try to set you up with a digital copy (of the print edition).

Should I buy the book?

I certainly think so! But then, I may be biased, so take a look below at what some people had to say about the original edition:

 

Studio Salimbal Website Launch

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 2 - 2014

Ladies and gentlemen, thanks to Mervin Malonzo’s herculean efforts… WE ARE LIVE!

http://www.salimbalcomics.com/

Consider this an active beta of the site. Webcomics by/involving Filipino creators, on a weekly basis. Please, if you have any affection for me — or more likely, my studio mates Mervin Malonzo Cristina Rose Chua John Michael Carreon Robert Sinaban Jules Gregorio Paul Quiroga Mico Dmgb Tintin Pantoja Elbert Or John Amor Butch Mapa Noel Pascual and Budjette Tan — please, please, help us spread the word, and let us know what you think!

Trese 6: Preview Art and Online Serialization

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 3 - 2014

Budjette Tan recently posted on Facebook about the status of Book 6:

News about TRESE Book 6! I’ve got good news and bad news. The bad news is YOU WON’T ABLE TO GET YOUR HANDS ON BOOK 6 at Summer Komikon. The good news is YOU’LL BE TO READ BOOK 6 NOW!

Starting today, we will be uploading preview pages of TRESE: HIGH TIDE AT MIDNIGHT on the Trese blog EVERY WEEK!

TRESE Book 6 will not be ready by Summer Komikon. It will be done when it gets done

So, consider the Trese blog as the “progress bar” of how we’re doing with finish the story.

Thank you very much for waiting and all the encouragement for us to complete this new Trese tale.

http://tresekomix.blogspot.com/2014/04/trese-book-6-preview-1.html

Here’s some preview art to help the disappointment go down easier:

 

 

 

Preview – Trese: Night Gallery / Trese: Book of Murders

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 21 - 2013

Hey, Trese fans! We’ve mentioned the upcoming Night Gallery exhibit and Book of Murders collected edition before, but here are some preview pages and details, straight from Budjette Tan:

This Halloween season, the Crucible Gallery becomes a gateway to Manila’s supernatural underworld as they present TRESE NIGHT GALLERY, the first one-man show of Kajo Baldisimo, artist of the award-winning graphic novel “Trese”.

The exhibit will feature thirteen limited-edition digital prints featuring a modern take on creatures from Philippine folklore and myth, as well as original art depicting the cast of characters of “Trese”.
Dare to venture into the TRESE NIGHT GALLERY from October 22 to November 3, 2013 at the Crucible Gallery, 4th F, SM Megamall, Ortigas.
Meet the creators of “Trese”, writer Budjette Tan and artist Kajo Baldisimo, when they attend the official opening of TRESE NIGHT GALLERY on October 26 at 5pm.
On that same night, they will launch TRESE: BOOK OF MURDERS, a 360-page, 6.7” x 10.23”, hardcover collector’s edition compiling the first 13 Trese stories with digitally-updated artwork and new short stories with a cover price of P950.00.
The autograph signing session will start at 6pm.

Trese Night Gallery and Book of Murders Launch

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 15 - 2013

Budjette Tan dropped a bombshell over the weekend with two announcements: first,  a one-man art show from Trese co-creator Kajo Baldisimo, at the Crucible Gallery (SM Megamall, Level 4), running from from October 22 until November 3. The exhibit, Kajo’s first one-man show, will feature 13 limited-edition digital prints, featuring the creatures and characters from the award-winning graphic novel Trese,  as well as the original artwork from the recently released illustrated shorty story collection, Stories from the Diabolical.

The second announcement is that, on the official launch of the exhibit on October 26, Budjette and Kajo will also launch a new collection of the first three Trese volumes, called the Book of Murders, with digitally updated art. Looks like Trese fans have a lot to look forward to, even before the new volume arrives.

Manila Noir Book Launch This Saturday

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 3 - 2013

Specfic isn’t the only genre (*gasp*) that the country could use more of. Crime fiction is even less represented here — but that could change with the advent of books like the upcoming Manila Noir. An anthology of stories curated b y Jessica Hagedorn, the book’s been available for a while but officially launches this Saturday. Spec fic fans also have reasons to rejoice, because, in a departure from other books in the Noir series, there is a spec fic story included in Manila Noir — and it’s a new Trese comic, from Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo.

Details of the launch are below:

What: Manila Noir Book Launch with special guest Jessica Hagedorn

When: July 6, 2013, 4 pm

Where: National Book Store, Glorietta 1

New York-based Filipino writer Jessica Hagedorn will visit Manila for the launch of the book Manila Noir on July 6, 4 pm, at the National Book Store flagship in Glorietta 1. Plus! Meet and greet Filipino contributors such as Angelo Lacuesta, Budjette Tan, F.H. Batacan, Jose Dalisay, Jr., Kajo Baldisimo, Lourd De Veyra, R. Zamora Linmark and Rosario Cruz-Lucero.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Brand-new stories by: Lourd De Veyra, Gina Apostol, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, F.H. Batacan, Jose Dalisay Jr., Eric Gamalinda, Jessica Hagedorn, Angelo Lacuesta, R. Zamora Linmark, Rosario Cruz-Lucero, Sabina Murray, Jonas Vitman, Marianne Villanueva, and Lysley Tenorio.

Manila provides the ideal, torrid setting for an Akashic Noir series volume. It’s where the rich rub shoulders with the poor, where five-star hotels coexist with informal settlements, where religious zeal coexists with superstition, and where politics is often synonymous with celebrity and corruption.

ABOUT JESSICA HAGEDORN

Jessica Hagedorn is the author of Dream Jungle, The Gangster Of Love, which was nominated for the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, and Dogeaters, which was nominated for a National Book Award. Her works include Danger And Beauty, a collection of poetry and prose, musical play Most Wanted, a collaboration with composer Mark Bennett and director Michael Greif at La Jolla Playhouse, Fe In The Desert and Stairway To Heaven for Campo Santo in San Francisco, the stage adaptation of Dogeaters, and the screenplay for Fresh Kill, a feature film directed by Shu Lea Cheang. She wrote the scripts for the experimental animated series The Pink Palace, which was created for the first season of the Oxygen Network.

 

 

SF Signal’s “Outside the Frame” reviews Trese

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 20 - 2013

, who writes the Outside the Frame column for major SF site SF Signal has reviewed the Trese series by  Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo and found a lot to love. Specifically, she mentions five things, and says that “Those of you who are just hearing about Trese for the first time have been missing out on something amazing.”

It’s a great opportunity for more people to be introduced to Trese, but even long-time fans will enjoy the review. Go check it out!

Trese 4 Wins National Book Award

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 22 - 2012

Congratulations to Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo (and Visprint) for their most recent National Book Awards win! Here’s a Press Release from the team, followed by the text of the introduction to the volume from Ruel de Vera. (Also, don’t forget that Budjette and Kajo will be at Alabang Town Center on November 24!)

Trese Book 4: Last Seen After Midnight, written by Budjette Tan, illustrated by Kajo Baldisimo was awarded Best Graphic Literature for 2011 at the National Book Awards.

The award was received by Tan, Baldisimo and their publisher Nida Ramirez of Visprint, Inc.

This is the second time that National Book Development Board and the Manila Critics Circle have recognized and awarded the works of Tan and Baldisimo. Last 2010, Trese Book 3 won the same award.

Trese follows the adventures of paranormal investigator Alexandra Trese. She is the main consultant of the police whenever they encounter crime involving supernatural creatures. In Trese Book 4, she is called to solve the murder of a manananggal, stop a plant elemental from committing a massacre, investigate a case involving a bangungnot, and reveal the secret of the country’s champion prize-fighter.

Ruel de Vera of the Manila Critic Circles, wrote in his introduction for Trese 4: “With each case, Budjette and Kajo raise their levels of artistry to new heights without ever resorting to gimmickry, relying instead on an expertise in the unexpected twist and self-awareness, a feat that transcends the tropical islands Trese originates from. From a cult hit, Trese has now become a true mainstream success—which it deserves—and the next step should be widespread international recognition—which it deserves as well.”

In the past two years, Trese has received much praise from here and abroad.

“Trese continues to impress and surprise, daring to go where no Filipino comic book dare to go,” said Gerry Alanguilan, creator of the award-winning graphic novel Elmer.

Leinil Yu, artist of Marvel’s Indestructible Hulk said, “Trese excites the little child in me which used to believe in the wonders of Filipino folklores, and my adult self who enjoys intelligently written and drawn tales.  Budjette and Kajo’s Trese is a gem”

Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, Executive Producer of Southland and writer/producer of CSI:New York, had this to say about the graphic novel: “The late Steve Sabol of NFL films once said, ‘Tell me a fact and I’ll remember. Tell me the truth and I’ll believe. But, tell me a story and it’ll live in my heart forever.’ It is a unique and admirable skill to craft a well told story set in an intriguing world, inhabited by compelling characters. Yet, every time I open a chapter of the Trese saga, I’m blown away by Budjette’s imagination and by Kajo’s imagery. They’ve created a series full of swagger, featuring one of the most dynamic heroines you’ll ever see. Trese is thrilling, engaging and epic.”

“From the first moment I got a glimpse into the world of Alexandra Trese, I was hooked,” said Shanty Harmayn, CEO at Salto Film Company, Producer of the award-wining Indonesia film “Sang Penari” (The Dancer) “It was wonderfully new and exciting, yet somehow familiar as many of the supernatural creatures and their stories were similar to the tales I grew up hearing in Indonesia. With Budjette’s masterful ability to weave a great mystery and Kajo’s beautiful graphic imagery, I look forward to visiting Trese’s world many times over.”

In 2011, after Trese 4 ended up on National Book Store’s Best Seller List, Tan received this email from Neil Gaiman, “So ridiculously proud of you! When I came out all those years ago for the first time, that was what I wanted to see happen… I feel like you and all the smart Filipino writers and artists out there are doing something really brave and powerful, making a whole new wave of Filipino art and story. Well done!”

National Book Awards was held last November 17, 2011 and was presented by The National Book Development Board and the Manila Critics Circle in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. The event was held at the Old Senate Session Hall of the National Museum of the Philippines.

TRESE Books 1 to 5 is now available book stores and comic shops nationwide. For more information, visit: www.tresecomics.com

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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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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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