Character in Setting: 1011 Ricaforte Street
If there was one thing I learned while working for Real Living that I'm applying in comics is the idea of character in setting--that a place has a life of its own. That setting contributes significantly to the story experience by inviting a reader to immerse him or herself into the new world. If I had taken up architecture in UP during my college days, I'd think that my sense for setting would've then been developed.
Setting has always been an important element when I make comics, ever since I started with Flashpoint in 1993, but a lot of it has been on the surface. I didn't study it extensively back then--as long as I gave my settings enough detail, it should be fine. But now, I'm more conscious of history, of design, of detail, of styling, of culture, just through my magazine work. Add to that my conversations with friends who were into interior decor and production design, and I consider myself forever changed as a comics creator.
Whenever I'd go to Manila for a Real Living shoot--the most recent one being in Tondo--I'd have my eyes peeled, taking in as much visual information as I could, plus any emotional impressions the area would give me. This became my basis for 1011 Ricaforte Street, where Ada's friend Gwyneth lives. The idea was to make this area a living, breathing space. A place where things happen and can happen.
The downside of all this is the tendency to overdo it. The two panels shown above took some time to complete, and there's still a bucketload of settings in the story. But I guess the more I do this, the easier and faster it'll all be.