Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dean Francis Alfar
His Novel Approach

First posted 08:24am (Mla time) Sept 11, 2005 / Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on page Q8 of the September 11, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THERE are many unexpected, perhaps even fantastic things about Dean Francis Alfar. He is, after all, very particular about definitions. The tall 36-year-old is a partner in Kestrel IMC, an integrated marketing communications company, as well as publisher of Kestrel Studios, which publishes comic books locally, what Dean refers to as “grafiction.”

Yet the standout quality in Dean goes beyond his being a passionate, prize-winning comic creator or a comic book fan. It goes beyond his owning the Megamall branch of Petty Pets. It goes beyond the malong he occasionally wears to formal affairs—such as the awards night. “I am of Muslim descent, from the Alonto family of Lanao. I’m actually a datu, and my Muslim name is Salahuddin Alonto. I was raised as a Christian but I am proud of my Muslim heritage. The malong I wear bears the colors and patterns of my family.”

The confident, opinionated UP graduate wrote drama under the tutelage of the late Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero, and gravitated to fiction about the fantastic, like science fiction and fantasy, what he called “speculative fiction.” Dean says “our country has a long tradition of the fantastic, with the old stories, myths and legends of times past. I believe that the fantastic is part of the Filipino culture, and deserves a place in Filipino literature as well.”

It goes beyond the eight—eight!—Palanca Awards he’s won, or the fact that his wife Nikki won her own Palanca this year (third in Short Story for Children). Is an Alfar writing dynasty in the offing? “Already, our daughter Sage (who is 3) is making up stories on her own. I wouldn’t be surprised—in fact I’d be delighted—if she took after her parents. However, that’s her choice to make in the future—but we can hope our genetic code kicks in,” he laughs.

It’s in that Dean has won the prestigious Grand Prize for Novel, which is only handed out every four years, and he is incredibly grateful and humbled by the company of other novel winners. “I actually feel like one of my characters, living in a magic realist scenario. It’s surreal in a good way.” He wrote “Salamanca,” as part of National Novel Writing Month, where authors all over the world would attempt to complete a novel in a month’s time. Dean wrote after work every day last November and the product was “Salamanca,” which he describes as revolving around “the love story of two people, beginning in Palawan in the 1950s and ending 50 years later in Manila.” Up next for the busy Dean will be more speculative fiction, including an anthology from Filipino authors, more comic books, keeping his blog hopping (http://deanalfar.blogspot.com) and perhaps even another novel. Now that is certainly something fantastic. RSDV

Excerpt from “Salamanca”
by Dean Francis Alfar
Grand Prize, Novel

The first two things Gaudencio Rivera was made aware of—within hours of arriving by carabao-drawn cart at the secluded town of Tagbaoran on the island province of Palawan—were these: that the most beautiful woman in creation dwelt by the river, and that it was pointless to even dream of being loved by her. He was informed that her name was Jacinta Cordova, and that her beauty was of such purity and perfection that the walls of the house she lived in had turned transparent long ago, to allow both sunlight and moonlight to illuminate her incandescence. The man who told him this—old, stooped, and possessed of an explosive whooping cough—threw in a trembling imprecation against the vagaries of youth, laughed, then insisted that his geriatric appearance was just a trick of light.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

KOMIKON: The First Philippine Comics Convention
(Press Release courtesy of Azrael Coladilla)

Comic books or Komiks in the local parlance enjoyed the special status as "the national past time" during its golden age spanning the 70s to the early 80s. The local industry Illustrators gained superstar status giving them the opportunity to break into the international scene and cemented the tradition of producing world class comic book talents. The local scene on the other hand has crossed over into other entertainment mediums bringing classic comicbook characters such as Darna, Dyesebel, and Panday to the silverscreen and other titles as television series or radio drama.

For the past six years there have been numerous conventions on anime, gaming and comics. Since that time the comic industry in our country breathed life again. Many have published, lived and failed, but never lost hope. Here's the event that aims to bring together a great company of artists and celebrate this great art form called KOMIKS!

KOMIKON 2005 will be held at the UP Diliman's Bahay ng Alumni on October 22, 2005.

It will showcase the creations of Filipino artists from various genres and themes and give tribute to the creators and their creations. The 1st Philippine Komiks Convention aims to bring together different comic book artists/groups and publishers in a venue where they could present their talents, works and services to the public. Most importantly, it aims to give a break to aspiring comic artists. It would like to provide the venue for different art groups and different generations of artists for a free exchange of ideas. Hopefully it would lead to a transcending of stereotypes and broaden the scope of comics – from local to international to cross-cultural, sequential to strips, amateur to professional and traditional publication to independent comics publishing. This event will give people the awareness of the exciting state of contemporary Philippine comics industry.

Contests like the Independent Comic Book Contest, On the Spot Comic Strip Making and the Original Character Making Contest hopes to bring out the next generation of Comic Book creators to the fore front. Our Special Guests, comic book superstars from the past and present, both coming from the local and international fields will be available for questions and will be present to provide insights about the industry through their experiences. Various fun-filled activities will also be provided by our exhibitors through their respective booths.

Taking the cue from the film industry that regularly take time to award meritorious films and give accolades to their worthy creators, the Komikon Committee will open the nominations for the planned annual Komikon Awards in this event for the following year. The Komikon Awards will give the opportunity for readers, creators, publishers and retailers to nominate and vote for the best in the industry, both local and international. The Awards will not be typical; it will follow the non-traditional MTV way of giving awards, with categories such as Best Line, Best Action Scene, Best Romantic Scene, etc. The awards aim to encourage solidarity within the industry to produce quality local books and promote wider readership in the market.

This event is organized by The Artists' Den and UP Graphic Arts in Literature (GRAIL).

The UP GRAIL is a non-sectarian, non-partisan and non-political literary organization that aims to promote graphic literature as a serious literary form. The group believes that certain "comic books" or "graphic novels" can be considered as serious literary forms and that these are reflections of the society's social, political and cultural context. Their aim is to initiate and actively participate in all activities that would involve the promotion of graphic literature as a serious literary form.

The Artists' Den, on the other hand, has a long-term commitment to help art groups grow, to promote goodwill among fellow Comic Creators and support different works and activities among appreciative audiences. The organization had been witness to the ups and downs of the comic industry as members themselves are mixed up in it. The group has actively participated in the past conventions and now would like to have a convention that focuses on comics alone.

For more information and latest event developments visit http://www.komikon.blogspot.com/

Download our Event info and Sponsorship/exhibitors package


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