When were told that TRESE: MASS MURDERS was a finalist for the 2009 National Book Awards, I felt happy and excited, but tried not to get my hopes up. And yet, I couldn't help up but dig up that speech I wrote, thinking that maybe November 13 (the day of the awards) would be our lucky day.
Since I knew I'd still be in the UK during the night of the awards, I emailed my speech to Nida Ramirez, our publisher and asked her to read it in case we won.
As it turned out, November 13 was our lucky day as TRESE: MASS MURDERS got awarded the National Book Award for Best Graphic Literature of 2009.
Here's the speech I would've wanted to read on the night of the awards:
To the National Book Development Board and the Manila Critics Circle, thank you very much for recognizing our work and giving us this award.
To Ruey de Vera, who has shown support to local comics since 1995, writing reviews and interviewing local comic book creators, introducing them to Pinoys through his newspaper articles.
Thanks to Bow, Taps, Arnold, and Mark --the skeleton crew who conjured The World of the Unknown, a radio show about ghosts, aswang, and witches and most especially to Mark who thought of the name Trese.
My dad, who told me all those stories that start with … There’s aswang outside the window!
My mom, who told me all those stories that ended with “happily ever after”
My brother Brandie, who drew my first horror comic book story and made me want to write more
Ka-Jo, my partner-in-crime, who asked me to do the impossible
Nida, our publisher and willing accomplice
Wella, who stands by my side during those days that seem like nightmares
Let me just take this opportunity to make an appeal to all the publishers in the room, to all the writers and artists in this room, to consider creating one comic book next year, to publish one graphic novel next year. (Although I’m not sure if my publisher will agree with me, that I’m encouraging you to become our competition.)
We once had a golden age of komiks, when supposedly it sold in the hundreds of thousands and reached millions nationwide.
We once had a golden age of komiks when it was the source material of many TV and radio programs -- and movies as well.
But maybe the age of the 10-peso newsprint komiks magasin sold at the bangketa is over.
Maybe this new age of comic books will flourish in the bookstores, sold at the price of a value meal.
I understand that as publishers, you have an editorial line to maintain. So, maybe aswang-hunting kick-ass women are not your thing and maybe gay beauticians swallowing giant magical stones that turn them into superwomen are not your thing-- but please do consider, the next time you plan a book about Rizal, why not tell it as a comic book – he was our country’s very first comic book artist after all.
The next time you do a biography of Ninoy or Cory, why not tell it as a comic book?
When I picked up Dolphy’s autobiography I thought, “This should’ve been told as a comic book!”
The next time you do a cook book about paella – maybe it the instructions can be told using comic book panels.
We once had a golden age of komiks.
I invite you to take the leap – to take a super human leap and bring back that marvelous age, that wondrous age, that fantastic age.
Thank you and good night.