how siglo: freedom came to be
It was one of those nights in early September . The gang was waiting in front of
Vin's condo as usual.
Conversation steered towards comics - what each of had planned for the last quarter of the year. In terms of output, we had written, illustrated or produced only a small number of books - TEXTMEN, HAINAKU
Carl's ZSA ZSA ZATURNNAH
. A paltry few (which, of course, includes the National Book Awardee for Best Comic).
So what shall we do?
Something serious. Something mercenary. Something different.
An anthology. About freedom.
"Hey, what is the Filipino term for century?"
"That's it, then."
Plans for SIGLO
hijacked whatever other conversation topics we had planned for dinner. In addition,
Marco began solidifying details for ANGEL NEXT
Jason for his own releases under PSICOM
. We would end the year with a bang.
We all committed to contribute to SIGLO
and pay for publication ourselves - because, contrary to what some people might think, we are really still small independent creators.
would be co-editors for SIGLO
As part of the anthology's conceit, I wanted 10 stories set in 10 decades with 10 creative teams. It would held thematically by the notion of freedom. It would center on one character per story. It was to have gravity.
would be unlike anything we had ever done previously.
So we created the roster, inviting the people in our immediate circle, like
Arnold, and extending invitations to the young turks that impressed me earlier,
At the Palanca Awards, I took advantage of
Hai and recruited him whether he wanted to join us or not (hi Hai!).
We were afraid to ask
Gerry (because, well, nakakahiya naman), but asked him anyway - and
said "yes". Thank you,
After juggling and various creative decisions, the final story rosters were:
for Jolo, 1913
for Panay, 1925
for Cebu, 1935
for San Dig, 1944
for Chinatown, 1957
for Baguio, 1966
for Negros Occidental, 1978
for Batangas, 1983
for Pasig, 1998
for Manila, 2004
And so work began. And we had to work faster than lightning if we wanted to hit our goal of having the book out before Christmas.
Not counting production, we had two months to create the book from scratch.
One month for story pitches, scriptwriting, editorial passes and final approval.
One month for design, pencils, inks, letters.
Then off for post-production and printing, release target: 2nd week of December.
Did it bother us that the schedule was insane and had not been done before? Yes and no. The more important thing was that we wanted to do it.
Along the way, like the Princes of Serendib, fate smiled upon us and delivered a great publisher. Sometimes, the world helps those who help themselves. In the course of negotiating with Nautilus Comics
(as they are known now), we secured the means to make SIGLO
more than we expected.
And it all worked out.
toiled in Negros, balancing the demands of other books and projects, and coordinated with
over the web.
went through a gazillion drafts, throwing away pages that did not satisfy him, while working on his thesis.
went through the experience of seeing betadine spilled on his finished pages, forcing him to restart - by the way, at 18, he's the youngest of the creatives.
juggled producing ANGEL NEXT
with all the other things on plate, but managed, somehow.
took people to Batangas to look at stuff that pertained to his story.
We only saw
once, because of his wedding prep schedule, and his pages arrived via courier.
was in the middle of Superman: Birthright
and a thousand other things - but his pitch was so interesting we gave him leeway to do things as he wanted.
had to manage my own company and talk to the publisher and be the bad cop to the creatives (Vin, of course, was the good cop).
maintained her surreal calmness, because, as usual, she was the first to submit a complete script way before deadline.
There was a time when everything was just too much, but thanks to the quiet determination of
to give the book the consistency we agreed on, we managed. We finished and sent the package to printers.
Then, in one week in December, all our books came out and SIGLO: FREEDOM
, like an unbelievable miracle, was among them.
, with its clean white, botanical look and heavy paper. It was too good to be true. But it there it was.
See you at the launch, guys!