Arlan Esmeña, my artist for “Where Bold Stars Go To Die” turned in the completed artwork today. I can’t tell you how excited I am that we have finally come to this point. This story has literally been NINE years in development. I first wrote this story back in 2000, thinking that it’s something I will be drawing myself. I was inking something for Marvel back then, and I thought I could do it, figuring that the story would take around just thirty pages or so to tell.
I lost time to do it so I thought I’d let other artists take it over. I first offered it to Dino Ignacio, and then Noel Lim, but when things didn’t work out, I thought I’d go and do it myself again. In the meantime, 8 years had passed.
And then Arlan came into the picture.
Let me tell you a little something about Arlan. I met him way back in 1994. I had passed my Architecture board exams two years before, and I was invited to join the local chapter of Architects here in San Pablo City. Like me, Arlan is an Architect, but unlike me, he has made quite a successful career for himself practicing the profession in the city.
I could spot a geek right away, and I knew Arlan was a geek as soon as I met him. It turns out, he was a huge comics and robots fan. When he was 15 years old, he created miniature Transformers out of bristol board. Transformers that actually transformed. Incredible creations, those little Transformers.
We’ve been friends since. When I left for the San Diego convention in 1999, he gave me photocopies of his portfolio to pass around to the publishers. I had no idea he had been preparing a portfolio. It was then I realized how interested he was in drawing comics. Feedback from San Diego was positive, but fruitless jobs-wise.
He probably wouldn’t have time for it anyway because as I said, he is pretty successful as an Architect, and he’s becoming known in the city, and beyond, for his unique design style.
We continued to hang around, sharing stories about movies, comics, TV and Architecture. We’ve also come to like making videos together. We have several “Kwentong Tambay” videos at You Tube where all I do is try to make Arlan laugh.
Sometime last year as we were heading towards Manila to see if we had won a video contest we entered (we got second place!), he asked if I had a story that he could illustrate.
At that time I had already resolved to draw “Bold Stars” on my own. In fact, I’ve already drawn a page from it. But I thought I could probably give it to him, and I asked him if he could draw me a few women. He spent much of the time at the contest venue just drawing women, and I was so impressed that I gave him the job. I’ve never seen anyone so happy and excited.
Since this was Arlan’s first time at the helm, I decided to draw the layouts as I discussed the story with him.
As for the story, well…
The story won’t be for kids, and won’t be for prudes either. That goes for YOU, Manoling. And YOU, Senator Manny Villar. Yes, this will be an adult comic book, and yes, you can probably call it bomba komiks. But this is so unlike any bomba komiks that you have so far read. This is intelligent, well drawn, and will deliver sledgehammers of pure, brutal emotion.
As in 2000 when I first wrote the story, my intent first and foremost was to do an adult comic book, but treat the subject matter seriously and with respect. It’s a concept that I first tried on Elmer and the subject of intelligent chickens. Ridiculous notions, serious treatment. Bomba komiks have always been considered as lewd, cheap, and disposable. “Bold Stars” will try to achieve the opposite of that.
So yes, “Bold Stars” might be more expensive than your average ELMER issue as we would be using the best production values available with the best paper stock and the best printing that we can afford.
I’ve gotten some really awesome artists to provide the pinups. Carlo Vergara turned in a terrific one, and I’m proud and lucky to have Brice Beckham aboard to provide one as well. Google that name if you like, but let me just tell you that he’s an actor. But the reason I asked him to contribute is because he’s such a kick ass graphic artist and he turned in an absolutely terrific pinup. More pinup artists to be announced soon.
There are lots more to tell with regards to “Bold Stars”, and in the next couple of months leading up to the Fifth Annual Komikon on October 18, 2009 where this will be launched, I will be talking more about it.
Next week I will be conducting a video interview with Arlan about this project and I’ll be posting it here.