We won! Yes, we did! Siglo: Freedom received the National Book Award for Best Comic Book (along with Mars Ravelos' Darna by Mango Comics) last night!
Thanks go all around to the people who made such an incredible thing possible: the creatives (Gerry, Arnold, Hai, Carl, Lan, Nikki, Andrew, Marco, Jason, El, Yang and my co-editor Vin); Nautilus Comics - Jaime, Choy Cojuanco, Pat and Marj with Kestrel IMC and Questventures; our distributors and outlets; our readers; and of course, the Source of All Things Wonderful.
This anthology started with a need to do something different, to push at the boundaries of the medium we love, and to see if critical agenda could be so obviously promoted. I wanted comics with teeth, that used its abilities to do more than entertain. I wanted something that would provoke thought and overturn the sad notion that comics were limited to just a certain kind of reader. With the help of friends old and new, Siglo: Freedom delivered.
It's my first National Book Award as an editor (and creative, I guess, although really the award belongs to everyone involved, because it was a collective effort and no single person has the right to claim the achievement as his or hers alone) and it covers my comics work for the previous year. I am so thankful to the Lord because of His abundant blessings, giving me encouragement in the three aspects of writing I engage in: plays, fiction (via the Palancas) and now, grafiction.
I am all the more driven to produce Siglo: Passion, the next logical step for the anthology's evolution (on our terms, in our selected context). My faith in the assembled set of Passion creatives is rewarded with every bit of new work that comes in. For example, Ariel's inspired and inventive pages knocked my socks off when I saw them at ComicQuest (well worth the wait, my friend!).
I also believe that the act of creation should never stop, not while we can imagine and act to make things real. And so the gang has already started throwing ideas around, in terms of what happens after Passion. Too early for anything definite, but I'm leaning towards either doing something that is the polar opposite of Siglo or perhaps something for children, those readers who will become the next generation of creatives.
The latter part of this year and the next one should be quite invigorating. In addition to everything I've mentioned, I hope to see Alamat Comic's 10th Anniversary anthology (go, Budj!), the whole gamut of comics from the University of the Philippines, and more stuff from established and upcoming creatives. That's how things should be.
Thanks again to the Manila Critics Circle and to Ruey de Vera for a touching citation (and kudos to Zach and the Mango crew!).
It was good being in the company of powerful writers again, those authors whom I look up to: Krip Yuson, Cirilo Bautista, Gemino Abad and many more. I didn't get to chat much, but that's what the Palanca venue will be able to provide.
I was happy to see Siglo: Passion creative Vince Groyon pick up the Best Fiction prize for "The Sky Over Dimas". This man of Negros (one of the few writers who is a lot taller than I am) is one of the best writers of our generation and deserves the recognition that comes his way.
During the awards ceremony, I also could not help but be dazzled by Rosario Cruz Lucero, author of stories like "The Death of Fray Salvador Montano" and "Doreen's Story" (both Palanca prizewinners). I am quite impressed by her ability, consistency and discipline. Fanboy that I am, I asked for a picture.
Thanks to Charles, I got a copy of Hai's book, "The Greediest of Rajahs..." and watched the gang pounce upon the fact that mysterious author had a picture on the book flap.
El signed his first book for me, "Ang Parusa ng Dwende". I am particularly proud of my young friend because in such a short time he has become one of the movers of our little industry.
In conversation with the Yonzons, I happily learned that Lastikman (written by Gerry and illustrated by Arnold) is scheduled for release this November, at the same time as Jam, the Mango all-woman anthology that Nikki is editing and writing for. We spoke about challenges we faced in common - price points, distribution, sponsorships, ad revenue and other commercial concerns. The Yonzons are wonderful people and I wish only the best for them and their endeavors.
After a failed attempt to have dinner at Malate (involving horrendous traffic, heavy rain and an altercation with the police), we opted to have dinner at Burgoo's in Rockwell, gorging ourselves in the manner of happy, starving people. I believe that creatives must be creatures of appetite (of some sort) - to many, this means San Miguel Beer; to us it means lots of food and conversation. We like to eat and talk a lot (actually, it doesn't matter if we're celebrating something or not), and we did more of that over coffee at Country Waffles, before voicing our happiness at Music21.
I promise to put some up by tomorrow, over the DSL line at the office.
Oh, and you know the saying "Hair today, gone tomorrow"?
Yes, I did do something.