DAVID HONTIVEROS talks about Alamat Comics and creating comics

Alexander Sison's transcript of interview with Alamat Comics writer David Hontiveros: 7 Nov 2013

(photo from MCC)
Hi, Alexander. :)
Again, thanx for choosing to write about Alamat in your paper.

Okay, I’ll try and answer your questions in one long-ish, comprehensive reply, but, while I’ll answer briefly in a general sense, I also hesitate and would not presume to speak for any of the other Alamat creators. I’m sure there are differences (some slight, some significant) in regards to things like approach to comics or our individual motivations for working in the medium.
Similarly, I can’t really speak as to how other groups approach comic book creation. I can’t really say how their approach would differ from mine since I’m not privy to their inner workings.
All I’m certain of, and all I can really speak about, is my own approach.
So most of my answer(s) will be from a strictly personal viewpoint; I’ll be largely answering for myself and not as an “Alamat spokesperson.”
Okay. Here goes.
I think what ties all of the Alamat creators together is our deep sense of love for the comic medium. We all grew up with comics and at some point in our lives decided we’d like to tell our own stories in that medium.
We’ve also chosen to direct an insane amount of dedication towards our craft.
For all of us, this is not our “job,” we’re not getting a salary for working on our comic books, so however much time we choose to devote to writing scripts or drawing pages or whatever else needs to be done to get a new comic book out there, that’s time that needs to be juggled along with all the other responsibilities we may have, whether a 9-to-5 job or family or freelance work or school.
So this takes commitment.

Now, at this point, I’ll forego the “general” and start to answer your questions personally.
This is why I, David Hontiveros, am doing what it is I’m doing in Alamat.
(photo from Gerry Alanguilan)

I grew up with comics, and I was also a part of that generation who experienced comics growing up with them as well; that period during the ‘80’s when Watchmen exploded on the scene and undeniably proved that comics could be substantial and literate.
So for me, it was always this sense of a struggle to have comics get recognized by the general populace as a legitimate medium of expression, that it was a medium where you could say things.
That’s how I approach my writing in general (whether it’s in comic book form or in prose): to have the story be about something else other than just the story itself.

These days, a far different world than the ‘80’s, comic books are now looked at as prime fodder for massive Hollywood summer tentpole films, and while that’s made the medium a little more “acceptable” and brought it into the mainstream, I still feel the same struggle in making readers see that comics can be so much more than two guys in spandex pounding the crap out of each other.
That you can actually tell significant and substantial stories, even if your characters are two guys in spandex (pounding the crap out of each other, optional).

(photo from Paolo Chikiamco)

We had a Q&A panel at UST one time, talking about the horror genre, and I’ve always loved it when horror is used as a stealth bomber to deliver significant subtext to the audience, beneath all the surface shocks and screams.
That’s how I also approach my writing, hopefully giving the reader the surface entertainment (say, two guys in spandex pounding the crap out of each other), while layering in and embedding all the stuff I’m really talking about within the architecture of the story itself.
Genre as stealth bomber. To use the tropes and the conventions, whether of horror or superheroes or science-fiction, and turning those into vectors for all these other ideas and themes and sentiments.
(Something I’m also doing in the SEROKS collections.)

I’ve also made it a point to bring over my other non-comic book interests into my comic book writing. Film, music, literature, language, art, poetry, all these other elements that may not necessarily be commonplace in comics.

True story: I learned the meaning of the word “rubicon” because of Chris Claremont’s X-Men, a comic that also made me acutely aware of the horrors of the Holocaust.
So there’s also always that at the back of my head. If the story I’m writing in a comic can teach a person a new word, or make him see the world in a slightly different light, or even just become interested in a film director or a band or a writer or a painter or a poet, then that would be great!
I’ve had people come up to me at conventions, thanking me because my work had inspired them to work harder at their own writing. That’s so awesome.

I think it’s all about broadening horizons, of opening up the readers’ worlds, not just to a new story, but to other real world elements that they can interact with if they choose, in their real, actual lives outside of the fictional world created in the comic book.

I think it’s also about having a unique “voice,” of writing and crafting stories from my own perspective.
At the moment, I’m busy with The ‘Verse, severaldifferent comic book titles all set in the same shared universe. And while I strive to give each book its own particular voice, I also make it a point that each title has my sensibilities in its DNA.
That, for better or worse, when someone reads a ‘Verse comic, they’ll go, “Oh, yeah, this is definitely written by David Hontiveros.” That the work isn’t seen as something interchangeable with any other comic book out there.

That’s what I’ve got off the top of my head, Alexander.
Hope that answered your questions.

If you’ve got any follow-up questions, or if there are things you’d like me to clarify or expound on, please don’t hesitate to email me back.
Thanx again, for choosing Alamat as your research paper subject, and best of luck with the paper!

All the best,