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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The thought of wanting to be book illustrator never entered my mind till I heard that one of my favorite cartoonists became one after an early retirement. A children's book illustrator to be more precise. His first storybook A Wish for Wings That Work: An Opus Christmas Story (1991) also became his first animated work. He came out with five other storybooks and it seems there is no stopping him from doing so. Then came another storybook by another retired famous cartoonist, There's a Hair in My Dirt! A Worm's Story (1999) by Gary Larson. Then the idea was further cemented when I discovered some books illustrated with quirky painted and collage works by Lane Smith, which among the titles that he illustrated, The Stinky Cheeseman and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1992) and Glasses: Who Needs 'Em? (1995), are those I loved the most. That set me off to look for other books with weird illustrations, spending lots of dough and coming up with the conclusion that these books were far too eccentric for kids to like anyway. Another artist whose books I also started to collect was Sandra Boynton's titles. Or at least I've been trying to ever since I first came upon my brother's copy of The Compleat Turkey (1980) when I was 14. My friends were sold out to the idea of coming up with an informative but humorous picture book when I discussed it with them but the problem was I didn't know where to start or even how to go about it. I sort of laid that dream for some temporary rest while I concentrated on doing comics.

Then came a wonderful discovery (albeit belatedly) that further cemented my resolve to come up with a storybook when I visited the British Council's Magic Pencil gallery currently on exhibit at the Shangri-la Mall (a joint exhibit actually together with Ilustrador ng Kabataan's Meme Na). Actually there were two wonderful discoveries, that it was possible to create children's books in comic book format. Prime examples of those that I've seen so far are two English books like:


Posy Simmonds' Fred (1987), and


Raymond Briggs' Ug, Boy Genius of the Stone Age and his Search for Soft Trousers (2001)

If it's possible for storybooks to be laid out like comic books and for comic books to be laid out like storybooks (like Piranha Press' series of Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children) then the possibilities are endless! And who's to say that I can't combine both in one book? A hybrid children's book that's both a comic and picture book. While I have yet to draw up plans for this for this hybrid kiddiebook I do have plans to do a series of graphic novels that deal with the Philippine Revolution from 1896 to 1901. Pretty ambitious, I know, but I aim this to be the culmination of my life's work. I've already written the script for the first issue and planned out the thumbnails which totals to a whopping 72 pages. But before that I hope to come up with a, as yet unnumbered, series that will introduce the story and main characters starting from the botched Cavite Mutiny of 1872. Hopefully I'd be able to realize this dream in the coming months ahead.

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