New comic book brings together top Filipino artists to tell tales of love, sex, and death

Photo: Angelo R. Lacuesta

A couple whose relationship grows because of a stubborn splinter. A tale of a thorny milkfish. A monster that disturbs a family. These, and other stories, are included in the soon-to-be-launched book Stay: 21 Comic Stories. 

Published by indie company Good Intentions Books, Inc., the book will be launched on Nov. 17 and 18 at the upcoming Komikon in Pasig City.

Stay could possibly be one of the most important books released this year. All stories were written by Palanca Award-winning fictionist Angelo R. Lacuesta, who’s also the senior editor of international publication Panorama: the Journal of Intelligent Travel.

Meanwhile, all illustrations were created by the biggest names in Philippine art, such as Kajo Baldisimo, co-creator of comic book Trese which will be turned into a Netflix series; photographer Shaira Luna; musician and painter Igan D’Bayan; and screenwriter Noel Pascual, who co-wrote the movie Citizen Jake.

Currently priced at PHP800 (US$15.07), the book features stories that capture the life of the modern Filipino and covers topics such as love, sex, and death. In an e-mail interview with Coconuts Manila, Lacuesta said that writing the stories only took four months.

“The book took an incredibly short time to make. I wrote the stories from April to August, and the artists were so fast that it was hard to catch up with their work at one point,” he said.

Screenshot from the book. Photo: Angelo R. Lacuesta
Screenshot from the book. Photo: Angelo R. Lacuesta

He credits the book’s producers JV Tanjuatco and Selina Garcia for identifying and collaborating with all of the artists and efficiently managing the creation of the book.

It was Tanjuatco, who has the talent for knowing the right artist, who could bring each story to life. At the same time, Garcia’s knowledge of the local comic book industry also helped.

“JV had a knack for identifying which artist might make a good fit with the story, and he knew many of them already, so it was a quick matter of making the right match. Selina, whose tasks mainly covered production management, surprised me with her knowledge of the industry, and she also came up with great talents,” Lacuesta said.

Thanks to his partners in the project, Lacuesta concentrated on writing, and later editing, his stories.

“It was their close attention to the process that allowed me to write so fast and focus on the stories — writing them, evaluating them, and in the end (to the team’s consternation), revising and editing them down to the wire,” he wrote.

While he would explain each story, Lacuesta gave the artists the freedom to interpret what he had written.

Photo: Angelo R. Lacuesta's Facebook account.
Author Angelo R. Lacuesta. Photo: Angelo R. Lacuesta/FB

“[W]e had a roundtable story session before any work on the art began. At these sessions, I would pitch the story to them and tell them what it meant to me. And then, of course, after that, it became their story to visualize and to tell,” he recalled.

It was a method that Lacuesta wasn’t used to doing, but it eventually paid off in the end.

Lacuesta said: “It felt weird doing this because as a writer I’m used to totally having my way — nobody gets to see my stories until they’re done. But in this case, exposing my process and my intent to others, and then totally handing the stories over to them, added another dimension to everything.”

He added: “The results were humbling and liberating at the same time — there was so much care and expression put into every frame, and each artist’s unique way of interpretation added so many nuances to the stories.”

To be launched a few days after streaming company Netflix announced that it was going to create an anime series based on Trese, Lacuesta’s Stay is another proof that the local comic book industry has a multitude of talents which could help it grow further.

“I don’t think I’ll ever say it enough times, how much respect and admiration I have for the artists and for their art. Just like our film industry, our comics industry has been around for a very long time — and a lot of the really good stuff happens outside the mainstream. All that talent and genius and power deserve more recognition and readership,” he said.


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