How did you start as a comic book writer?
I started writing when I was a kid because I loved reading comics. I felt like I wanted to write my own, and write my own heroes. As a kid, I did a comic called Cosmic Man, who was like a Batman in space. He had a cosmic ship, a cosmic belt, and a cosmic ray gun. [firstpara] As I got older, I realized I couldn’t draw, so I just ended up writing more. I started to meet better artists in college, and we decided to collaborate with each other. It was in college when finally we decided that we should do a real series, and seriously make a comic book.
I was graduating from college then, and for my grad gift what I asked was for my parents to send me to the San Diego Comicon. That was in '94. And I thought, if I'm going to go there, I wanted to be able to show stuff to editors. Because before the wonderful age of the Internet, I'd type up stories and mail it to them, and I would receive rejection letters. I’ve been rejected by Marvel and DC, and stuff like that. I was like “Wow, the editors recognize that I exist, but they rejected me.”
So reading about how people submit, it’s better if you submit a complete story. it’s easier for editors to look at finished comic book pages than a script. So I told my barkada, “let’s release our own book.” So we put together a book called Comics 101. It was an anthology as well, because it was the quickest thing we could put together. It was me, Bo Guerrero, Mark Gatella, JV Tapia, my brother Brandy, Gerry Alanguilan, and Arnold Arre. I brought that book over to San Diego. And we got rejected more.
But that trip made me learn stuff about what editors are looking for, and how small you are when you’re standing in the middle of everyone else trying to pitch their stuff. When I got back, that was around the time when we formed our own group, Alamat comics, partly thanks to the prodding of Whilce Protacio, who at that time drew the X-Men comics.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My first comic book stories were really picking up from an attempt to do my version of the works of my idols, I guess. I had a comic book before, which I did with Bo Guerrero, called the Flying Phantom. It was our attempt to do something like Indiana Jones mixed with something pulpy and pulp-type superheroes. Then I came up with a comic book called Batch 72 with Arnold Arre, which was kind of our attempt to relive college. When we were writing this, it was at the tail end of college. I was like “I don’t want college to end.” I felt like I was pouring that stuff into the page.
INTERVIEW BY: GELO GONZALES