Via Filbar’s Online FB Page – June 28, 2015
Ronan the Filbarbarian investigates…
ARNOLD ARRE: PINOY COMICS’ GOLDEN BOY
Filbarbarians get a exclusive sneak peek at “Halina Filipina”
Does having two A’s on your name make you an A-list artist, author and animator? I would like to think there’s some kind of formula to be prolific as Arnold Arre, who I could not contain in one category.
But last Saturday, I met Arnold Arre, the comic book creator, signing copies of his award-winning books “Mythology Class” and “Trip to Tagaytay” at Filbar’s SM Megamall. First published in 2000, “Mythology Class” is about an anthropology student who gets a crash course on engkantos; while “Trip to Tagaytay,” printed a year after, is a 40-page illustrated love letter to his then-girlfriend and now wife, Cynthia, set in the future. Both books have won Manila Critics Circle National Book Awards.
Together with his publisher, Nautilus Comics’ Jamie Bautista, Arre met Filbarbarians, gave away posters and showed preview pages of his new graphic novel, “Halina Filipina.”
ARRE MEETS THE FILBARBARIANS
“The thing with Arnold’s works is that they’re timeless. Most of his stuff were released in early 2000s pa but if you read it now, it still feels fresh,” said Filbarbarian Jason Inocencio. “You know, all these other creators were able to tap Philippine Mythology and they’re exceptional, ang galing sobra. We already know that Trese and all the other books have done it but Arnold was doing it before all of them. Kita mo, he’s transcended comics; he has done animation, so I’m just dying to read his next work.”
Does Arre find his works timeless? “I can’t say,” Arre said. “It has to come from them. When they say they’re timeless, then it’s good. Okay na ‘ko.”
Seeing Filbarbarians lining up to have their books signed was also fulfilling. “It was fun! It started at 1 pm and then people came in. Masaya kasi at least there is demand. Medyo scared at first because I thought the new generation might find it old. Pero okay naman, they love the stories,” he said.
Arre’s flair for one-shot stories has captivated a new generation of readers who find satisfaction in getting the full story right away.
BACK IN SHELVES
The road to resurrecting Arre’s books started when Bautista, his writer on the girl detective comics “Private Iris”, asked him if he could reprint “Trip to Tagaytay,” and subsequently, “Mythology Class.”
“These are the stuff that I like to read, not only from Arnold, but also comics in general, mostly real-world stuff and relationship-based, romantic comedy kind of thing,” said Bautista. “We enjoy the same kind of stories, same kind of comics so more often than not, whatever he pitches to me, I’m always game to release it.”
To gain traction, they toyed around with producing variant covers released to specific markets. “In printing, we mock up four covers anyway and doing four covers cost mostly the same as one cover. So he said, ‘Okay, so just for fun, let’s have different covers.’ ”
Having worked in advertising, Arre not only learned how to enhance his illustrating and storytelling, it also taught him to inject strategic thinking in terms of marketing his books.
“We decided to do different covers per outlet to push traffic to outlets we want to support, for example, the hardcore fans who come to events who want to meet Arnold, we have a special Tala cover for them; and because we have relationships with shops like Filbar’s, we want fans to come to the comic book shops, not just to the big bookstores, so okay, we’ll have a special cover for people who look for stuff in comic book shops,” shared Bautista.
SUPER SECRET SURPRISE
“It’s about a girl named Halina. She’s half American and half Filipina. She goes here to find her roots and meets a guy. She goes through a journey of rediscovering our culture,” said Arre.
He shared that he started writing and illustrating the graphic novel in 2002 but he rewrote and re-drew some parts of it this year. Eraserheads frontman Ely Buendia also gave his blessings to use some of his song’s lyrics for the graphic novel. A sidenote here—Arre’s wife, Cynthia, designed some of the band’s album covers and CD sleeves.
“Halina Filipina” will be Arre’s first book to be originally published by Nautilus Comics, following a series of reprints. “Basically, he says, ‘Jamie, there’s a project I wanna do. Is this something you wanna publish?’ And 99 percent, I say yes,” shared Bautista.
“He’s more prolific than me so I never have to ask him, ‘Arnold, make something [original for me], so he has so many ideas anyway. It’s just a matter of how to release it, how do we time it properly.”
And speaking of timing, “Next year is the 10th anniversary of Andong Agimat so that’s a good time I think [to reprint the book.]” Out of curiosity, I asked how the reported Andong Agimat movie was doing, but Arre only responded with a smile. “Hmm, parang magandang balita ‘yan ah,” I quipped. Then he tilted his head and smiled again.
Arre may have been excelling in a lot of things, but he is certainly not stopping anytime soon in creating comics, always mining our culture and drawing inspiration from our mythology and history. (Ronan the #Filbarbarian)
CATCH UP ON THE MAGIC AT FILBAR’S
Trip to Tagaytay – P150
Trip to Tagaytay gives a speculative glimpse of what the Philippines will be like years from now, showing how the country’s unique culture and quirks will mingle with futuristic technology, creating a tomorrow both novel yet also strangely familiar. Yet the story also talks about the timelessness of love and the country’s history, all framed in an electronic love letter between a young couple.
Mythology Class – P500
The Mythology Class centers around anthropology student Nicole Lacson who after screwing up her thesis defense gets a first-hand experience on the subject of enkantos.