Monday, June 20, 2005

The Writer's Life : Casting A Comic Book From High School Memories

First posted 10:42am (Mla time) June 19, 2005
By Ruel S. de Vera
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page Q5 of the June 19, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

IF YOU could mold characters out of lines and into life, if you could write the dialogue of your dreams, what story would you tell? If you're Jamie Bautista and Elbert Or, you'd tell the story of all Filipino teenagers, their high school life and your own. You'd breathe life into "Cast."

"Cast" is the charming hit comic book from Nautilus Comics. But it isn't about flying super-beings-the Spandex set-or outlandish anthromorphic protagonists. "Cast" is a vibrantly full-color story of young love and high school life juxtaposed with the staging of a play about King Arthur. It's a brave tale told with a welcome earnestness and winning humor from Jamie and Elbert, both exceptional comic book talents. It's also a tale of pursuing their own personal production despite the odds.

The 28-year-old Jamie is line publisher of Nautilus Comics and holds a Communication degree from the Ateneo. Jamie was teaching at the Ateneo when Elbert suggested that they pitch an idea to publishers early in 2003; Jamie was to write and Elbert was to illustrate. They eventually decided to put it out on their own.

"When we made that decision, I approached my uncle who became one of our financiers," Jamie says. His uncle had an idle company name that existed only on paper.

"We took that and became Nautilus Comics." And in due time, their idea-high school life, oh my high school life-was hit with a million volts and nailed with a lightning bolt, to quote two ancient pop songs.


"One of the ideas I had floating around was a semi-autobiographical story, of imagining what it would be to be part of a school play," Jamie explains. He had gone to Xavier for high school, and was a shy, introverted teen. "I think I was the well-liked geek." Participating in a high school production of the musical "Camelot" was a fond memory for him. "In an all-boys' school, this was the first time for me to be able to work with girls." Thus, "Cast's" all-boys' St. Christian is a stand-in for Xavier, while all-girls' Mary the Immaculate is a thinly-veiled nod to Immaculate Conception Academy. Jamie rolled several experiences into the King Arthur play of "Cast," fictionalized and then kept going. "There are some what-ifs, some looking back and some purely fictional," Jamie says of the comic's twists and turns. Elbert designed the characters, deliberately deciding to meld Eastern and Western illustration styles.

Elbert settled in as editor, tweaking Jamie's story and art direction and working with a group of artists to get "Cast's" look just right. "Jamie wanted his vision to be very pure and I had the task of making sure the comic was financially viable as a serial."

That serial follows callow Will Flores, a shy talented kid, who is cast, much to his surprise, as Lancelot in the school play. As the play begins to gain solidity, Will finds himself falling for his Guinevere, Ces Cheng. Problem is, Ces happens to be girlfriend to Manny David, Will's friend, acting mentor and, it just so happens, the play's King Arthur. While that situations percolates, "Cast" surrounds them with other ongoing dramas and comedies that have to do with overcaffeinated drama teacher Mr. McCready, parents and the gang of Lex, Jiggs, Maita, Mons, Elmo, Erika, Cid, Janina, Lel and Joe, among others. It's high school in full color.

The 21-year-old Elbert is the editor-in-chief of Nautilus. He graduated from the Ateneo in 2004 with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree. He went to high school at the coed Chang Kai Shiek Academy. "My time in high school was the time that I made most of the mistakes I learned from. Rebelde ako noon. I was the one always pushing the envelope in terms of disciplinary measures and in the causes I took on. In the arts, I tried to make geeks look cool. Boring na ako ngayon. I put most of my past experience in 'Cast.'

"I was experiencing angst this summer because I suddenly realized that my hobbies were also all about comics," Elbert says, adding that he also helps out with NGOs and likes teaching kids at the Nautilus comics workshops, which has brought the two to different parts of the country preaching comics. Unlike Elbert, Jamie has what he calls his "day job," which involves graphic design and the family business, a printing press. Aside from his Ateneo stint, Jamie also teaches at Assumption College. But what really takes up their time now is "Cast."

There was a lot of tinkering and testing as "Cast" slowly evolved into finished form. A prologue issue, called "Cast Pre-production," came out first, almost as a test sample. "It was our first attempt at publishing on our own. Everything that could go wrong with a first issue did go wrong," Elbert recalls, adding that they were doing press work on that issue all the way from January up to June 2004.

"What we realized with earlier incarnations of 'Cast' is that a lot of the sensibilities of Western comics and fiction don't actually apply here," Elbert says. "For example, there's a more individualistic sense in Western literature whereas we're more communal here. That's why we would naturally gravitate towards a larger, ensemble cast."

Slice of life

"Even back in high school, the short stories I used to write were relationship-and romance-oriented, sort of slice-of-life," Jamie explains. "It started out as a very Will-centric story and we later decided to focus on the supporting characters as well," Elbert adds. The characters are based more on different relationships than anything else-the long-standing twosome and the budding romance, for example. Though both Jamie and Elbert have girlfriends, Jamie notes "we still remember what it was like to be in that unsure, 'what is real love?' place."

After more tweaking and two more months, "Cast" # 1 came out and the response was indeed quite heartening-"it sold very well," Elbert says. "We were happy with the feedback. People were writing in." The comic book found its audience and then some.

"Our target audience initially was high school, but then we found out that college people liked it for the stories, for the nostalgia factor." Jamie adds that many of the elements in their high school stories still apply to college life here.

With its format of a long, main story (focusing on Will, Ces and the play) supported by shorter backup stories (usually featuring supporting characters), "Cast" is able to cast its own creative web wider, covering more plot twists and issues, as well as try different storytelling approaches.

The two make a rather unique complementary set of colleagues. The more laid-back Jamie (he would describe himself as "phlegmatic") is more prone to whimsy, while the manic Elbert is more prone to rants.

Surer ground

Now sponsors are approaching them (instead of the other way around) and "Cast" is now available pretty much everywhere. "Cast" has settled into a comfortable quarterly publishing schedule and Nautilus is on surer ground. "We aren't a fly-by-night company," Elbert says. "If we have trouble, there's a Plan Z we can go to. The mission of Nautilus ultimately is be able to prove that you can work on comics here in the Philippines and make a decent living out of it."

The fifth issue just came out, but Elbert is already at work on # 8 while Jamie's writing # 9, so fans can rest assured "Cast" is moving along briskly. Fulfilling a long-time dream, "Cast" is available and has found dealers in the United States-and there's even interest from as far away as Norway.

Even though it's already five issues old, there's lots still about to happen: There's opening night and even an action sequence. "Once we get past the issue 10 mark, we have ideas that would push the boundaries a bit more," Jamie says. "Our immediate goal is to really make 'Cast' a monthly," Elbert says, and "to get the art the way we want it."

"Cast" has become their own ongoing story, of a friendship that has given concrete fulfillment to a dream, a story that's flung itself across the void and found sympathetic roots in the imagination of a young audience. "I'm more of a fulfilled mind, because this is really more my story," read the words in Jamie Bautista's word balloon. Elbert Or adds his own: "Now that I'm doing 'Cast,' every time I wake up in the morning, I think of the next thing I have to dream of."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On the Verge
Karen Kunawicz
Mirror Weekly, June 3, 1996

It’s been about a year a three months since the first time I featured anything that had to do with Alamat (“C For Yourself”, co-written by Budjette Tan). Alamat, for those who have just joined us, is the name of an “umbrella organization” of a group of local comic book outfits which include Memento Mori, Virtual Media, Cheap Thrills Comics, Powerhaus, Deranged, etc.

Since Budjette wrote about Comics 101, I’ve gladly let Memento Mori and Powerhaus take over the pages of “On the Verge”. Lately, I’ve been approached by a number of readers who say they’re quite interested in the local (and foreign) comic book scene. In fact these last few weeks most of them have been talking to me about comics than bands, music, vampires, and all that gothic stuff.

I met David Hontiveros (a wise weaver of tales) through Budjette last year and his name should be familiar to you by now since I’ve let him take over a couple of times as well on topics that deal with comics and dark fantasy-slash-horror. Last week I said that I’d feature an article of his, on how to write stories but I figured I’d let this one go ahead. It’s a bit of an update on what Alamat has been up to lately and it’s also a bit of glimpse into what it’s like to be part of that group.

Life in the Trenches
By David Hontiveros

It all began three years ago, after a series of phone calls that would, quite literally, change the course of my life.

“It” refers to my involvement in the creation of comics, in the actual spinning to tales, of committing dreams and visions and ideas into panels and pages, for all the world to see.

Now I am smack dab in the middle of a group called Alamat, whose ongoing mission is to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations: to boldly go where no man has gone before. (Actually, it’s to create quality comic books , but hey, who can resist those immortal lines?)

Life in Alamat is… how do I put it? It’s different. It’s a constant round of chaos, and frenetic whirlwind of activity, as we, in now particular order, write and draw comics, have them printed and distributed, talk with retailers, set up exhibits, conduct workshops, and for those of us who are not participants in the 9 to 5 rat race, attempt to do some work on the side to help support the comics end of our lives.

If it sounds like a horrifying daunting amount of work, that’s because it is! Take my word for it, our Circadian rhythms are so out of whack, we’re probably immune to jetlag now. Slit our veins open and Coke and coffee would come pouring out.

This should prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, how dedicated we are to our art—we’re willing to undergo severe psychological changes, radical body alterations, in order to get our comics out there!

Alamat is now about a year-and-a-half old, and in those 18 months, we’ve come quite a long way, being the subject of newspaper articles, TV interviews, and student papers. We’ve had exhibits and talks at universities, store tours and signing sessions.

But at the heart of all this are the comics we create, the stories we wish to share with the world. Whatever else we do, whatever stories we tell is in the service of comics lovers. That doesn’t make these activities any less interesting. So here’s a quick sampling of what we’ve been up to recently.


Early February saw Alamat at U.P. (the University of the Philippines) during F.A.(Fine Arts) Week for an exhibit. There, we were greeting enthusiastically, approached by fans of our work, faculty members who gladly extended their assistance as resource persons for our various titles, as well as the plain curious.

At the exhibit, we were also treated to an initial glimpse of the work of other aspiring comic artists from U.P., among them, a talented bunch called Block Comics, whose flagship title, AGIMAT, will see print in the coming months. (Ian Sta. Maria, artist for Agimat has done inking work for Batch72, an upcoming Alamat title. Ian’s artwork is clean and sharp so watch our for Agimat.)

More recently, we spent consecutive weekends setting up exhibits in two of Manila’s nightspots. At first, we discovered the vast potential some Alamat members have in the pop music industry. (If ever out comics go belly up, we can just market the hell out of Eric and Arnold-- who have photogenic qualities for pop album covers-- and Dino-- who has the showmanship for it. To quote Captain Katarungan, “Trust me, they are the best.”)

The second exhibit was just as memorable. Along with Karen and Belle and Trish and Lara, we talked about The X-Files and danced the night away – mostly to tunes I was totally unfamiliar with (All the better to work up an appetite fro Ali Baka’s shawarma- - Karen). A high point of the evening for me was dancing to Pulp’s brilliant “Common People.” (If you were there, I was the madman singing along with the Voice of Today’s Disenfranchised British Youth, Jarvis Cocker. “I wanna sleep with common people like you…”) It’s too bad they had to play Bjork’s “Hyper-ballad” when we’d already abandoned the floor.

It was also at this exhibit that I discovered, much to my surprise, that I was now a “pop enforcer.” Cool. I’d never been called that before. Now I know how to answer people when they ask, “But what exactly do you do?”

I’ll give them a knowing grin, a patented double-thumbs-up-with-pointing forefinger, and say, “I’m a pop enforcer.” That’ll stump `em!

The hear pounds and stifles, the air thick and muggy, a dry malevolent wing that scours the land and fries brain cells as if a desert jinn has migrated to the Far East and found the change of scenery quaint.

In the midst of this meteorological oppression, Alamat holds its first ever Comic Workshop at Claret School in Teacher’s Village. With an age range of nine to twentysomething, the workshop itself is something of a minor success.

Despite the final numbers of students being around 10, there were more than 20 interested parties, who perhaps ended up not attending due to an 11th hour change of schedule and venue. (Sorry about that.)

In the end though, the number of students facilitated our hands-on method of instruction, allowing teachers more freedom to handle each individual. Incidentally, the Mistress of the Dark herself attended the workshop. (You guys should see the sketches she did of “The Heroic Head” and “The Heroic Butt”! Masterpieces, I assure you.)

I’ve been asked if we’re going to hold another workshop in the future, and I’m not really sure about the answer right now, but at least I know that we’re capable of standing up in front of total strangers and imparting some of the knowledge that experience has taught us from our life here in the trenches. And knowing that, the chances of a future Alamat workshop don’t look that slim at all.

And in the midst of all this activity, we have the usual flurry of Alamat traffic—creative work on this or that title (some to watch out for it in the coming months- - Batch72, TKS/Age of the Valkyrie, Lakan, Angel Ace, and the second issues of Tattooed and Pugad Baboy/Indigo Valley.); deals being made here and there (there’s one of interest-- I wish I could tell you more but I really can’t at this point; not to worry, if you buy our books, you’ll hear about it there); meetings with various individuals for any myriad of reasons, from picking up newly inked pages to following up on the where-abouts of a long-delayed book.

Several Alamat members have also done some pieces (short stories and art) for the new literary magazine, Chimera. In the second issue alone (“Pasyon and Penitence) April/May 1996), short stories by Alamat chairman-in-absentia, Budjette Tan, and myself, as well as art by JB “Taps” Tapia and Brandie Tan, appear. Keep an eye out for Chimera which is available in National Bookstore. Alamat is also hard at work on a joint project with Chimera publisher Yvonne Cenzon, the details of which, you’ll be hearing about in the coming mont6hs. I don’t have to tell you, we’re all excited about that!

So, you can see, being a comic book creator is a lot of hard, painstaking work. But paradoxically, it’s also a lot of fun. (At least it is for me.)

Fun thought it may be, life in the trenches still isn’t without its own head and heart-aches: missed deadlines, delayed books, artistic temperaments, procrastination. (Personally, I’m still trying being one-upped by the Big Two, but that’s a whole different horror story, believe me.)

But in the end, when things come together and everything just falls into place; when you’ve got that comic book fresh off the press in your hand, when the letter from a complete stranger find it’s way to your door with its words of encouragement, the it’s all worth it.

And then you can look in the mirror and practice that knowing grin and the patented double-thumbs-up-with-pointing-forefingers, and say, “You’re not just a bum, you’re a bum that people love!”

As I was saying, life here is fun. Hell, it’s great! One of the best things about being a part of Alamat (aside from my being able to tell the stories I want to tell) is the bunch of people I get to work with-- the people I am proud to call my friends.

And because of these friends, I met other friends, like Karen, who introduced me to still other friends, like Belle and Trish. (They’re more than friends, to me, they’re the most intimate of coven-mates, Mwahahahahaha. --Karen) It’s brilliant the way these things work, don’t you think?

They really are a great bunch of people, these brothers-in-arms in the war against mediocrity in comics, these fellow soldiers in the trenches of life, these people I hang out with-- my friends.

Since I’ve known them, my life’s been a lot less floopy.

It’s like Rachel says, “I’ve got magic beans.”

And I’m okay,

See you in the funny pages…

* * *

Oh Dave, you make it sound so glamorous. I guess you left out the part about the artists inking the comics in their own blood and the rule about Alamat not allowing its members to sleep more than eight hours - - per week.


Look out for Dave’s storytelling article in the next few weeks. I’m off to see the Wizard, Bye.

Monday, June 13, 2005

On the Verge
Karen Kunawicz
Mirror Weekly, March 12, 1998

Budjette Tan is back. And the tables have turned a bit. As President-at-gunpoint for Alamat comics, Budj is used to being interviewed for write-ups in paper, magazines, and TV (I’m just proud to say “On the Verge” was one of the firsts to feature Alamat—that was over three years ago!) Now it’s Budjette who’s writing about a new local comic and graphic literature group called ZENITH GRAPHICS—and I must say he’s written such a fun piece.

Mabuhay ang malikot na utak! I meant that in a positive, halfways wholesome sense, OK?

Xeroxed Monkeys at the top
By Budjette Tan

Ever heard of the Hundredth Monkey Effect? No, it’s not some kinky bestiality thing! Supposedly, researches were studying the behavior of monkeys in the island of Koshima, near Japan. Sweet potato is part of the diet of those monkeys. The monkeys somehow learned that if they wash the sand off the potato it tastes better. Soon enough, all the monkeys on the island learned how to wash the potatoes in the hot springs. Scientists later discovered that monkeys in an island several miles away had also learned the same habit of washing their potatoes before eating it. Scientists speculate that after the one hundredth monkey (it could be any number) learned this new habit, a sort of “critical mass” was reached and the data was somehow transmitted to the other monkeys across the sea.

Weird, but true.

What the heck does this have to do with my articles about Zenith Comix? Uhh… I’m not sure but you keep reading and I’m sure I’ll make a connection.

Scientists further speculate that a similar phenomenon happens with other living beings, including humans. Examples range from similar cave drawings found in different parts of the world, to monumental structures as the pyramids of Egypt and Peru.

We skip a couple of centuries and flash forward to 1992. Marvel Comics’ most popular artists leave the company to form their own group, Image Comics. One of those artists was Whilce Portacio, a Filipino. This generates great interest in comic books for Filipinos everywhere.

Whilce? Monkeys? Where the heck is Zenith in all of this? I’m getting there.

1993. DC Comics officially launches its “alternative” for matures readers only imprint: Vertigo Comics. Even tough so-called alternative comics have been around for decades, Vertigo Comics generated more attention an interest since it was being published by such a large company. DC Comics, who publishes the comic books of popular icons like Superman and Batman, were giving unknown, yet creative writers and artists a chance to explore stories and themes not usually seen in superhero comic books.

The monkeys of Image and Vertigo Comics sent their washed potatoes to the Philippines and influenced the monkeys here.

1994. Manila. The comic book shops experienced a deluge of ashcans—mini-photocopied comic books. It was easy to see that these aspiring comic book creators were influenced by either Image or Vertigo or both. Little did they know that they would all meet one November afternoon.

November 1994. The main monkey himself, Whilce, came home and organized those ashcan-kids into Alamat Comics.

February 1995. After Alamat’s first major exhibit, I was still exhilarated at what we accomplished and we were excited with the comic books that we were planning to publish. As we were packing up our stuff, taking down the posters and streamers, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were other people out there planning to enter the comic book scene.

We had no idea that around the same time we were organizing Alamat, a similar group was already bring formed in Iloilo.

“The underground never sleeps until it reaches… Zenith.”

ZENITH, the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body.

ZINE, self-published periodical about a particular subject matter, more often that not, concerning some aspect of pop culture (e.g. music, art, movie, TV, comics).

We go back to 1994, to Iloilo, where we see five zines being published /Xeroxed and circulated among friends and among those interested enough to read it. The forerunner of this zine revolution was Elvert Bañares.

1995. Elvert and several of his colleagues form SINING X (pronounced Sining Ekis). “We’re your usual group. We’re just friends,” said Elvert. “We are here because of the camaraderie, and of course, we got together because we are artists. We wanted to make a venue to show people how we do things, to show people who we are, how we can improve our craft…”

SINING X is currently composed of over 20 people, a collective of students, young professionals, independent filmmakers, poets, and writers. They believe that art has no limits. Which is probably why they have labeled arts as an “X”—something that has yet to be defined, something which can only be explained when they have achieve it.

Under SINING X is their publications division ZENITH, which is divide into two sections: Zenith Komix and Zenith Graphix.

ZENITH KOMIX features “superhero” stories, though not the type you usually see in Image Comics. Expect a more experimental type of superhero. Now available under this imprint are THE ILLUMINARY and THE CRIMSON.

THE ILLIMUNARY was written and created by Markus Lulandus; drawn by Mario Basilgo II and Jigger Ricardo. The “hero” of this story is Dante, who lives in on a planet that does not have a sun. Light and heart are monopolized and provided by one company. It is a story of how people struggle to find hope in a dark world.

THE CRIMSON was written and drawn by Karlm Carrascal. Set in New York during the 1930s, we follow the adventures of a detective called Kameron as he is hunted down by monsters called Oracles.

ZENITH GRAPHIX are works which they consider short films on paper. Under this imprint, titles like FUNGUS FEVER, LIWANAG, and ORAL + VIGIL use a combination of photographs and illustrations in order to tell their story.

If you’re not sure of which title to get, you can check out GRAPH-X, which is SINING X’s quarterly guide to all ZENITH publications. GRAPH-X No. 3 is now available and also features articles, poems, new comic book stories, as well as their upcoming releases.

Artists and writers are welcome to contribute their works to ZENITH. The group believes in supporting young and unknown artists. “We want them to grow with us as we go along,” said Elvert. But contributors must first present their portfolios to the editorial board which is compoed of Elvert, Jennifer Severino, Mary Anne Jimenez, Erwin Santiago, and Ned Trespeces. Elvert already warns contributors not to expect fame or financial compensation. Elvert explained, “We don’t think of it as a business. We see it as a form of self-expression. We just want other people to see out works and we just want [these comic books] to pay for themselves. We can’t keep doing this for free.”

All ZENITH publications are photocopied. According to Elvert, they are currently limited to photocopying their comic books because of financial reasons. They are not yet willing to risk thousands of pesos on a product which they are not sure will sell. With the photocopying method, at least their works are seen and read by people, and it won’t cost that much. They are working on a project called ENTER: CANNAD which will be printed and released this March.

Last December `97, SINING X held its first collective art exhibit at the NCCA Gallery called “Gothic Assembly”. The exhibit featured art works rendered in different mediums, from traditional illustrations to sculptures, to live performance art and short films viewed on multiple TV screens.

By April, you will be able to browse the SINING X web site, which will contain more information about the group, their projects and activities. This year they will also begin ZENITH PRESS, under which they will publish GOTHICA: CORPUS ET MEN, an anthology of gothic stories by Sining X writers; followed by SILENT ORB, a personal diary-esque collection of dreamscape ideas by Giovanni Respall.

Another project which Elvert has been trying to start is a local version of the zine “Fact Sheet Five,” a directory of zines in the United States and other countries. Elvert has been offering other zines the chance to advertise for free in ZENITH, but so far none have taken up his offer.

So, to all zine-monkeys and comic book-monkeys, if you want to get in touch with SINING X , here’s who and how:

Elvert Bañares
c/o Maria Calara Today Magazine
#70 18th Avenue
Murphy, Quezon city

Jennifer Severino
#2-H Alpha Victoria Homes
14th St., cor. Victoria St.
New Manila, Quezon City

For more informations, call: 141-919615, 141-137943, 1277-62272.

ZENITH is available at Comic Quest, Megamall.

Allow me now announce that the monkeys from Alamat will be releasing “Angel Ace” #3 and “TKS: The Kill Stalker” #2 in March. Now available from Alamat are “Dhampyr”, “Wasted”, and “Exodus” #2.

Thank you, I have to go now. I suddenly got the irresistible urge to go eat a banana.

Somewhere in the Philippines… alittle boy takes up a pen and starts to draw.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


The supernatural takes center stage at Oni Press this August with the release of LOLA, a 72 page original graphic novel by J. Torres and R’John Bernales. Like a story ‘round the campfire, LOLA packs equal parts suspense and folk tale, with plenty of ghosts, monsters, and things that go bump in the night.

Jesse’s family has always told stories about his grandmother and her visions of haunted farmhouses, man-eating ogres, and pigs possessed by the devil. For years his grandmother has used those visions to help the people living in her community in the Philippine countryside, but to Jesse the stories are just scary. When his family travels to her home for her funeral, Jesse has no choice but to face the monsters, demons, and ghosts from his grandmother’s stories, because he can see them too.

Longtime Oni readers know of J. Torres’ penchant for dipping into the past for inspiration, (previous graphic novels include DAYS LIKE THIS, SCANDALOUS, and THE COPYBOOK TALES), as well as his ability to create his own menaces in ALISON DARE, LITTLE MISS ADVENTURES. These elements combine in LOLA to produce a story that is both eerie and genuine.

“LOLA combines family stories about my maternal grandmother and various Filipino folk tales with a little magic realism and good old fashioned campfire storytelling,” explained Torres. “I love seeing parts of my childhood illustrated in a comic. It's a lot of fun seeing this mix of fact and fiction blurred on the comic page like this.”

Torres is joined by a relative newcomer to comics, R’John Bernales (FOUR LETTER WORLDS). “I fell in love with his art from sketch one,” commented Torres. “I love his take on different Filipino monsters and creatures and things that go bump in the night.” Bernales found the process a pleasure. “J. is a really talented writer, and for the most part allows me to have a lot of freedom in the drawing process.”

And that freedom provided great results. “There was no question that R’John should be the one to join J. on this project,” commented James Lucas Jones, Oni’s editor in chief. “Many of the subtleties of the story are nonverbal, and R’John did a great job of capturing a lot of meaning in an expression, or in someone’s body language.”

Torres hopes that the book will be something different than he’s created so far. “ I'm going for creepy and spooky in parts of this book, and I don't think I've ever played that stuff "straight" before. I don't think you can call this a horror story, but if we're successful, people will view it as horror or suspense in a "Twilight Zone" or "Alfred Hitchcock" sense.”

LOLA is a 72 page trade paperback, featuring sepia-and-white story and art. It ships to comic stores in August, and retails for $5.95 with an ISBN of 1-932664-24-6.


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