Today’s Best of the Year guest blog comes courtesy of the award-winning Filipino creator Budjette Tan, one half of the creative team behind the excellent Trese graphic novels (UK & US publishers, please have a look, this needs a wider audience). Over to Budj:
FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Budj: I Am Legion (Fabien Nury and John Cassaday) I’ve been a John Cassaday fan since he started on Planetary with Warren Ellis. After Planetary was done, I was looking for something to satisfy by Cassaday-fix and was happy when I Am Legion came out this year. The story is a great blend of X-Files in the 1940s, presenting a interesting spin on the vampire mythos. Cassaday’s art provided the right feel for the story. It was very cinematic. Although there were times his rendition of the lead character reminded me of Clark Kent, so I’d always half-expect him to rip open his shirt and reveal an “S” on his chest.
(I am Legion by Fabien Nury and John Cassaday, published Humanoids)
Elmer (Story and art by Gerry Alanguilan) The story is about a family, about a father and son, about siblings not agreeing with one another, about surviving a war, and they just happen to be chickens. It’s Planet of the Apes with feathers! I’ve been a fan of Gerry’s work ever since he came out with Xeroxed-indie book Wasted. After that, Gerry did several comic book stories for Philippine magazines (as well as ink a whole lot of Marvel and DC comic book titles). So, I’ve been looking forward to see Gerry do another full-length story and he did not disappoint when he did Elmer. I’m also glad that it got picked up by SLG in America by Editions çà et là in France, so it can now be read by a bigger audience. (you can read a “director’s commentary” walk through of Elmer by Gerry here on the blog – Joe)
(do you feel like chicken tonight? A page from the brilliant Elmer by and (c) Gerry Alanguilan)
Tabi Po (Story and Art by Mervin Malonso) “Tabi po” is Filipino for “please step aside” or “excuse me, I’m passing through”. The old folks tell you to say this phrase out loud when you’re walking down a path that’s believed to be inhabited by a supernatural being, that you should announce your arrival, so that they can step aside and you don’t end up offending them. “Tabi Po” tells the story of Elias, who seems to be immortal, who seems to be an aswang (a vampire-like being that needs to drink blood to survive), and who seems to not remember how he ended up that way. Malonso’ digital-watercolour artwork looks like the love-child of Kent Williams and Josh Middleton. The story, written in Filipino, flows like poetry. Thankfully, an English translation is provided for the rest of the world to enjoy. Read this webcomic here.
(lovely work from – and (c) – Mervin Malonso; I had no idea this even existed until Budjette shared it with us. Which is why we ask different people to pick their faves for us)
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Budj: The Ghost In Love by Jonathan Carroll.
I discovered Carroll’s work through Neil Gaiman.
Gaiman once talked about how he almost didn’t write “A Game of You” because of similarities it had with one of Carroll’s novels, but Carroll encouraged him to write it anyway because even if some events were the same, it was going to be different because Neil was going to write it and it would become Neil’s story. It took me a long time before I could find a copy of Carroll’s novels because the local bookstores didn’t order them.
There is a danger in trying to label “The Ghost in Love”. It is a love story, it is a fantasy story, it’s a about a man and a woman, a ghost and a talking dog, and the love that binds them and pushes them apart. If you liked Gaiman’s “Sandman: A Game of You”, “Sandman: Brief Lives”, and “Harlequin Valentine”, and then you might want to give this novel a try.
(The Ghost in Love by the great Jonathan Carroll, one of the finest fantasy writers I’ve ever come across, up there with Neil Gaiman and Peter S Beagle for beautiful prose)
News Of The Shaman by Karl L De Mesa (Published by Visprint) This is an anthology of loosely connected horror novellas. The book lends you a flashlight that badly needs batteries and asks you to point at certain spots in Manila, giving you a glimpse of this city where angels and demons roam, where creatures of Philippine folklore and lower-mythology have found new jobs and hobbies in the metro, where people casually practice magic and shamans are hailed like heroes and treated like rockstars.
Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Yes, this is a “how to run your business” type book, but I think a lot of what’s mentioned in it can be applied to comic book creators, especially for small press and indie creators.
FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Budj: Doctor Who. I only got onboard this season with the new Doctor. I am always amazed when the writers can craft episodic stories and yet, be able to build a bigger story arc that keeps you intrigued for the whole season. The Van Gogh episode was one of my favorite episodes. (Yes, it made me cry). And yes, I have a crush on Amy Pond!
Sherlock. Yeah, I watched this to fill in the gap that was left by Dr. Who, but loved it anyway. I think they did a great job of transplanting Holmes and his entire mythos into modern-day London. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are perfect for their roles and work well together. Andrew Scott as the bratty, scheming Mortiarty was just wonderful.
Inception. I love heist movies. I love the part where the crew is put together, when they make their plans on how to pull off the heist and how it all goes wrong when they’re in the middle of it. So, to have a heist movie set in dreamtime - gets my two thumbs up. The zero-gravity fight scene in the hotel was my favourite scene. After The Matrix, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a really great fight scene that put me on the edge of my seat.
FPI: How did 2010 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Budj: I was hoping we’d get to finish Trese Book 4 this year, but we didn’t get to do so. Me and Kajo Baldisimo (Trese’s artist) sidetracked ourselves by doing projects that probably took out three months from Trese’s production schedule, one of which is Talis, which is my attempt to do a Filipino superhero story; we worked on/helped out with the production of a Trese short film; and we did a full-colour comic book story for an upcoming issue of UNO Magazine.
(a scene from Budjette and Kajo Baldisimo’s Tanis, (c) Budjette and Kajo)
Of course, the thing that made this year really great was when Trese: Mass Murders won Best Graphic Literature in the Philippine National Book Awards.
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2011?
Budj: We’re planning to release Trese Book 4 in the summer and maybe Book5 by the end of the year. In between those two books, maybe do another Talis story and whatever interesting project comes our way.
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Budj: Paolo Fabregas is the writer and artist of the “Filipino Heroes League”, which will be published by next year by Visprint (Trese’s publisher). It’s one of the graphic novels that I’m excited to see in printed form. (For the moment, it can be read as webcomic.)
He presents to us a world where the best Pinoy heroes have migrated to the United States and other countries because of better pay and we are left with the not-so-super super heroes. So, instead of driving a hi-tech Batmobile, they have to make-do with a pedicab. In a strange way, Paolo has made a super hero team that feels real in the Filipino context, where it would be impossible to imagine the Philippines having a “super hero satellite headquarters”, but it’s believable when we see the “super villain evil plot” being masterminded by corrupt government officials.
(real heroes use pedicabs! A scene from the Filipino Heroes League by and (c) Paolo Fabregas)