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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Agimat vs Aswang

If you were around during the early years of Alamat Comics, you might have heard about this much-awaited comic book called LAKAN.

The story was set in a post-apocalyptic Philippines, where aswang pillaged the cities and countryside, where Filipinos once again banded together as tribes and fought back the aswang using swords and their agimat.

Here are the preview pages that first appeared in COMICS 101:

I put together those preview pages using my dad’s laser printer and his office’s Xerox machine. (Thanks dad!)

LAKAN must have been the first comic book I wrote as a work-for-hire guy. It was 1994 and my friend Ma-an told me about some friends of her friend that were going to publish a comic book and they needed a writer.

At that time, I didn’t have any published comic book work, so I just printed out a scifi story I wrote and brought it to the meeting with Ian Orendain and Chris Bernardo, the editors of the book.

They read my short story and considered me good enough to be brought on board as the new scriptwriter of the comic book. Ian and Chris explained to me the plot of Lakan and what they wanted changed.

They showed me pages and sketches of LAKAN artwork by guys named Gerry Alanguilan, Oliver Pulumbarit, and John Toledo. Little did I know that, later on, we’d eventually meet and become the founding members of Alamat Comics. I saw Gerry’s fantastic and insanely-detailed pages and asked if we were going to retain those pages. Because all the artists were getting reshuffled to do other scenes, all those original pages would never be used. I actually felt bad that those pages wouldn’t see print.

Here are links to Gerry’s blog where he talks about LAKAN and shows us those pages:

Lakan: Kings and Queens

Lakan: Bloodshed and Tears

The Hive

From my point of view, LAKAN was the result of our many years of reading X-Men, Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and growing up at the time when Francis M rallied the youth with “Mga Kababayan Ko” while wearing his ethnic-inspired clothes. It felt like the sort of story that would be produce during such a time.

Unfortunately, because of so many reasons, the book was never published.

But, I guess, the idea of “man vs aswang” is something that will forever be told by the Filipino storyteller and it will just take on different forms in the years to come.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


(click the pages to enlarge)

PAYASO must be the first horror story I wrote in comic book format. I got my brother Brandie to draw it. As you can see, he was still in his Vertigo phase, when he emulated Dave McKean, Bill Sienkiewicz and Kent Williams.

I was channeling Stephen King when I was writing this story, which was inspired by that evil clown from King's "IT".

I really didn't know where this story was going. All I knew was that there was going to be this clown, who would magically appear, saving children from abusive parents, siblings, neighbors, etc.

This story came out in COMICS 101, the first comic book me and my barkada self-published. We rushed this comic book because I was on my way to the 1994 San Diego Comic Con.

At the comic con, I gave a copy to Dave McKean. I flipped open the comic book to PAYASO and asked him what he thought of the art. He looked at it for a bit and said, "It's good."

When I told Brandie what Mckean said, we joked that when the second issue comes out we'd have a blurb on the cover that says, "It's good!"-Dave McKean

When we started planning the second issue, I turned over the reigns of writing to Mark Gatela because I wanted to focus writing The Flying Phantom. When Mark asked me what's supposed to happen next, I said, "I don't know. Just have the clown kill more child abusers."

So, when Mark and Brandie started to brainstorm about the next issues of PAYASO, Mark decided to focus on the detective who appeared in the last panel of the story. That's Michael Andara. Brandie patterned him after the actor Michael Williams -- pony-tail, five o'clock shadow, and all.

So, instead of putting the spotlight on the evil, magical clown, Mark fleshed out the character of Detective Andara and began to build this whole backstory about the detective getting involved with unsolved crimes with supernatural origins.

Mark's PAYASO scripts made me realize that there was an entire supernatural underworld to be explored, right here in Metro Manila.

Which is why, in one of first drafts of the Trese script, I made Anton Trese a tabloid reporter and he would go to Andara, trying to get the scoop on the latest unusual, unearthly murder in town.

Of course, you already know how I took Trese down a different route.

As for Detective Andara and the mystery of the Payaso, you might still get to see them in the future. Mark's still working on this massive Andara graphic novel when he's not busy being a dad and being snarky on Twitter.

One final note to all writers and storytellers out there: as you can see, from this first story that I wrote, which I thought as a masterful masterpiece, you don't also get it on the first try. Which is the reason why you need to keep writing. Get published. Get rejected. Get great reviews. Get really bad reviews. Write some more. It's the only way you'll get better. 

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Blade fights aswang in Manila

In episode 3 (Vampire Hunter) and episode 4 (Juvenile Days) of BLADE the anime, he travels to Manila and encounters a type of aswang that's rarely seen in Philippine literature / pop culture. Keep reading to find out what it is.

Check out the setting and background of the next couple of frames. I liked how they researched and illustrated a very realistic looking Manila.

Blade vs mandurugo
The mandurugo is a variety of the aswang that takes the form of an attractive girl by day, and develops wings and a long, hollow, thread-like tongue by night. The tongue is used to suck up blood from a sleeping victim. --Wikipedia


Take a look at the mandurugo in human form. Does she look familiar to you? Is that... nahhh... no way... maybe she just goes to the hairstylist?

Screenshots from the episode where Blade fights a manananggal in Siquijor:

Friday, August 05, 2011

in an alternate reality, TRESE was nominated for a Hugo Award

What I Would Have Nominated for the Hugos If I Weren't Such a Goober
by Andrew Wheeler

In the end, though, these five books below are the ones I should have nominated, and, in some better world, I have to hope that I actually did so. Some are pretty obscure, but all are distinctive, powerful works of imagination that both entertain and provoke thought, and all are, in my humble opinion, entirely worthy of the Hugo award: 
Trese: Mass Murders by Budjette Tan and KaJo Baldisimo. Yes, I know that it's probably impossible to find in North America, and that it could never have gotten on the ballot. But it's some of the very best urban fantasy I've ever seen, set in a distinctive culture I don't already know everything about, with wonderfully atmospheric art from Baldisimo.

Andrew Wheeler has toiled in book publishing for 20 years. He spent 16 years as a bookclub editor (for the SFBC and others), and is now a Marketing Manager for John Wiley & Sons. He was a judge for the 2005 World Fantasy Awards and the 2008 Eisner Awards. He also reviewed a book a day for a year. He lives with The Wife and two mostly tame sons (Thing One, twelve; and Thing Two, ten) at an unspecified location in suburban New Jersey. He has been known to drive a minivan, and nearly all of his writings are best read in a tone of bemused sarcasm. Antick Musings’s manifesto is here. All opinions expressed here are entirely and purely those of Andrew Wheeler, and no one else.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Blade battles aswang in Siquijor

There's an episode of BLADE (Episode 5 : Island of Lights), the anime series by Madhouse, where Blade travels to Siquijor, Philippins and fights manananggal. He also meets a tribe of aswang hunters named Lupit, Cimarron, and Hagibis. (Thanks to Ace Enriquez who sent these screencaps and promised to lend me a copy of this episode.)

UPDATE: Just confirmed it-- yes, the outline for this series was written by Warren Ellis . This isn't the first time Warren Ellis has written a story set in the Philippines. His graphic novel STRANGE KILLINGS was set in the Hundred Islands.

(La! La! La! La! La! La! Laaahhh! Nanggigigil kami...!!!) 

The Verdugo Guardians in action

Blade vs the Manananggal 

See screenshots from the episode where Blade fights a mandurugo in Manila: