More Pinoy Graphic Novels Please!!

With 2009 about to close, I hope 2010 and beyond will see more major Pinoy graphic novels being published. This year had the compiled El Indio (Francisco Coching), the compiled Elmer (Gerry Alanguilan), 12 (Manix Abrera), Underpass (Summit Media), Trese: Mass Murders (Budjette Tan and Ka-Jo Baldisimo), Where Bold Stars Go To Die (Alanguilan and Arlanzandro EsmeƱa), etc. etc. etc. Compared to previous years, a lot of major comics work. If the publishers of the above are all members of the National Book Development Board, next year's National Book Awards race will prove interesting.

It took a bit over ten years for Pinoy graphic novels to get this far, beginning with Arnold Arre's groundbreaking work on The Mythology Class. Now that book publishers are beginning to dip both feet in the graphic novel medium, it's high time for all you aspiring graphic novelists to pick your brains, hunker over those keyboards and drawing pads, and churn out material.

My personal definition of a graphic novel may not be the same as that of my contemporaries, but you don't have to start with a 140+page behemoth. A 64 to 80-page graphic novella will be a good start as any. This page count is enough to be square-bound for the bookshelf.

Start with a simple story--your epic star-spanning ideas would be good for future works once you get the hang of things. For those who don't already know, I started solo in 2001 with the 56-page One Night In Purgatory. It features only two people and the consequences of their past.

If you're hoping to get the interest of a book publisher, however, it would be advantageous to add a bit of urgency and relevance to your story. Apart, of course, from it being well-written and drawn. There are stories everywhere, from the Ondoy experience to the contact center explosion, from the Ozone tragedy to OFWs. I'm sure One Night In Purgatory wouldn't pass a book publisher's standards, simply because the story leans toward the generic end.

You can spend the next two months (December to January) working on a suitable plot, researching, making a preliminary draft of the script, and developing visuals. The month following (February) can be used for script edits and polishing, plus finalizing the overall visuals. Devote four to five months (March to July) for artwork, lettering and book design.

If you don't have a publisher, there's always the Web. But having your work printed by a professional publishing house is a snazzy reward for many aspiring authors. You may not rake in enough to make a living off of it, but it's a great add-on to the credentials.

All the best!!

image by lusi,


I think the graphic novel format is truly the way to go nowadays, as opposed to the weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly serialized format. One reason is that shelf life for books is indefinite in bookstores as opposed to periodicals that last only a couple of months. Another reason is that most new creators manage to eke out only ONE issue out of their epic 12-part mega series. It's much better to invest the time and effort to creating one because the chance to do a second one might not be there. Third, it's an awesome package all around.
Hai said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hai said…
So what's the definition of a Pinoy graphic novel? Does it have to be set in the Philippines? Does it have to be tied culturally to the Philippines by story or characters? Or does the artist/writer have to be Pinoy?
skyrocketsgalore said…
Siglo series created by renowned writers in Filipino fiction are not epic in length but provides a view of Filipino culture and perspectives via the text and visual narrative they create.
syeri said…
and we eagerly await for your work too...whether it be the next zsazsa or another graphic novel. ^_^
Anonymous said…
If it's the way to go, can a Carlo Caparaz, graphic novel be far behind? waddaya think Carv? just curious...

Carver said…
Gerry... I promised myself to do only one-shots since One Night in Purgatory, as I am among many who get frustrated over missing issues or waiting for the next issue to come out. I was thrilled when the collected Elmer came out, because I have a hard time keeping the individual issues. However, in putting together the Zaturnnah sequel, I find myself questioning my endurance and patience. I envy Arnold, a true graphic novelist, for being able to churn out major works on a regular basis. But, yes, a GN is for the long-term, and making one is not for the faint of heart.

Hai... what, indeed, is a Filipino graphic novel? To me, that would be any graphic novel created by a Filipino. :-)

skyrocketsgalore... anthologies are nice.

syeri... haaay, 39 pages na.

Adonis... Basta marami, enjoy. :-)
Jonathan said…
I'm venturing out into making a Graphic Novel. I have already 4 stories figured out and thinking of a title for a possible anthology. Can I approach any publishing company like Summit or Alamat directly for possible publication? I figure I have to go through the trenches first. Thanks.
Carver said…
Hello Jonathan... If your stories are ready for publication (written, drawn, lettered, etc.), then you can send proposals to local publishing houses. Summit is a magazine company, and Alamat is a group of enthusiasts, so it's best for you to approach book publishers like Visual Print, Adarna, Milflores, etc. You can search the Web for their contact information.

In your book proposal, mention your intended target market. This will help in the publisher's evaluation process.

All the best!

Jonathan said…
Carver: Thanks for the tips dude. That made it a little easier. I thought Summit also publishes comics/GNs, like Underpass? Anyway, does my proposal have to include the draft/script of the story on paper or will the colored and lettered Print Ready pages of the GN enough?

Regards and thanks again.
Carver said…
Jonathan: Summit does not publish comics as its main business, and if you want a graphic novel, book publishers are the way to go.

I suggest sending a one-page plot synopsis and 5 to 10 pages of the finished artwork (preferably with lettering). If the book publisher finds your pitch intriguing enough, they will contact you for more.

Oh, one more thing. Printing in color is expensive, which translates to a higher retail price. Be open to having your work in black and white.

All the best! :-)
Dream Machine said…
I do hope we create more pinoy graphic novels. Pinoy din ako, and I'm currently working on a graphic novel being published by Shatterday Comics XD:Exit Demigods. Another worthy thing to mention is that, Pinoys don't have to limit themselves to local publication. I may be the first pinoy (unconfirmed) to ever be published as a graphic novel creator internationally in digital format. With digital books like Kindle, Nook and Ipad getting popular. Pinoys could lead the comic book culture abroad!

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