Thursday, December 18, 2003

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; and 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. and 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.

SIGLO: FREEDOM 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, El and Andrew.

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:

and for Jolo, 1913

and for Panay, 1925

and for Cebu, 1935

for San Dig, 1944

for Chinatown, 1957

for Baguio, 1966

for Negros Occidental, 1978

and 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).

Only 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.

SIGLO, with its clean white, botanical look and heavy paper. It was too good to be true. But it there it was.

Thanks to everyone.

See you at the launch, guys!


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