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Budjette Tan, Kwentillion co-editor: “It was put together out of a need to have a regular venue for new stories – both comic book and prose – to be told, and for those stories to be read by as many people as possible. The comics-magazine format seemed to be the most logical format to take, considering the Pinoy’s love for magazines of different topics.
The “fantasy” theme seemed familiar enough for most Pinoys to understand. I’m sure our readers have been exposed to enough fantasy movies, novels, comic books, or at the very least, the fantaserye on local television.
I also wanted the magazine to report on the latest news about the local comics scene and have in-depth interviews not found on the web, where content is cut-up into easy-to-Tweet blurbs.”
I imagined the magazine was going to be a mash-up of foreign magazines like Heavy Metal, Wizard, Comics Journal, Mark Millar’s Clint, and a UK magazine simply called Super Hero.”
Budjette: “Looking for possible content for the magazine, I remembered Paolo Chikiamco’s RocketKapre.com site. I realized that all of the content that Paolo was uploading on his site was exactly what I wanted to see in a printed magazine.
So, I pitched the idea to him and Paolo was the one that gave the magazine more focus and direction. Paolo thought that we shouldn’t just be about “fantasy stories”, but our stories should appeal and attract the “young adult” reader.
Consider how many Pinoys read and collected books like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and The Lightning Thief. After they’ve read all those books, what would they read next? Maybe we could fill in that gap. And more importantly, maybe we can offer them stories that are set in their homeland with creatures and characters from our own myths and folklore.”
Paolo Chikiamco, Kwentillion co-editor: “The first pre-requisite was that the story be young adult in tone. That means more than just aiming for a PG rating – it means we wanted stories which tackle themes that are embraced by YA literature, such as family ties, revolution, and stepping beyond one's comfort zone.
We were also looking for stories that were self-contained, yet with characters and universes that could be revisited in subsequent stories. Finally, we wanted works of science fiction and fantasy, because we believe in their immersive power, and because we believe that science fiction and fantasy are genres which have not, in the Philippines, been given the opportunity to shine.”
Paolo on the people behind the magazine: “The creators we featured come from different backgrounds, have different styles, and are at different points in their respective careers. TJ and I are primarily prose writers, Budjette is a comics writer first and foremost, and Andrew is equally adept at prose and art; Hannah and John Ray are at the beginning of very promising careers, while Chester and Manix are both rock stars in their respective fields.
The art also represents a wide variety of styles: Kajo and Robert are both excellent artists, but their styles are vastly different – you can tell that Robert is a children's book author – and the same could be said for Hannah and John Ray, or Koi and Hai.”
Paolo on Kwentillion's greatest obstacle: “Several things made Kwentillion difficult, but the greatest obstacle was that there simply was nothing like it on the market. We had no template to work from. There were comic magazines, science fiction/fantasy fiction magazines, art resource magazines, but none that combined these elements with a focus on young adult material, and no stand alone young adult magazines either. We had to start almost from scratch, putting the concept together, figuring out a target audience and a way to pitch the package in a coherent way.”
Budjette on the growing popularity of comics!: “Back in the 60s and 70s, komiks supposedly sold hundreds of thousands of copies. That all died down in the 90s. But in the past seven or so years, we’ve seen a growing number of “independent comic book creators”, writers and artists who are happy to release their comic books in a photocopied format.
We’ve also seen publishers like Visprint, Adarna, and now, National Bookstore release graphic novels. So, the option and possibility of your comic book getting printed has become a bit better. Aside from finding these comic books in bookstores, some can be found in specialty stores like Comic Odyssey, Druid’s Keep, and Comic Quest. There are also creators who release their work on the internet as web comics.”
Paolo on Kwentillion and life-changing events: “On a personal level, Budjette and I both went through life-changing events during the course of the planning. Budjette got married, and I had my first child. Lest we both be mauled by our beautiful wives, let me make it clear that both of these events brought us nothing but joy but, unavoidably, both meant less time for non-family matters.
That being said, once Summit agreed to take a chance on us, I knew that we could make things work – we were working with a very talented team of individuals, both creators and Summit staff, and they came through for us time and time again.”
Budjette on the 4 comic strips in Kwentillion: “The Last Datu is the first story that me and Kajo Baldisimo ever worked on. We finished this story around 2003, but this is the first time it’s ever been published. It tells the story of a young girl who must battle cybernetic aswang to avenge her father’s death in a galaxy far, far away.
High Society, written by Paolo Chikiamco with art by Hannah Buena, is a mash-up of an alternate Philippine history, steam punk, and anitos leading the revolution against British colonizers.
Sky Gypsies, written by of TJ Dimacali with art by JohnRay Bumanglag. In the future, cloned Badjao seafarers become space-miners, mining the asteroid belt for precious minerals, where they are still hassled and harassed by the police demanding “kotong”.
Poso Maximo, story and art by Robert Magnuson, about a plumber-for-hire who fights monsters in the sewers. Andrew Drilon’s The Secret Origin of Spin-Man, is the only prose story in the bunch, which puts a spin on the usual superhero tale.”