Book: Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat

"Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat"

A world that’s full of mystery and wonder. This is the world of Andong Agimat.

Yeah, the book synopsis doesn’t really give much away–but then again, Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat is a graphic novel. If it had a normal synopsis, it might have given the whole story away.

Yes, that’s a dig on how very short Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat is (and most other local graphic novels).

The thing about Arnold Arre is that he is a master at creating these fascinating worlds based on what we know and on what is real, mixing the two to produce something that’s familiar yet new, shockingly present yet timeless. It was apparent in Mythology Class and in Trip to Tagaytay, but it’s on a completely different level here in Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat.

For something that was produced in 2006, this book still holds up really well. I credit this to the fact that Arnold Arre’s works are always grounded on human emotions. The new edition’s foreword has a lot to say about the author being unsatisfied, and how that underlines the story that the book is telling. But I would beg to differ. I think Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat is all about fear: The fear of power. The fear of loss. The fear of excelling. The fear of being ordinary.

The fear of the inability to change.

Our main character, Ando, has a very checkered past; one that he’s trying to atone for, and feels that he will never leave behind. His past is what pushes him to be a hero–but it’s also what haunts his every moment, waking or otherwise.

Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat is a study on that fear–of never being more than what one has already become. Even after all the heroics, Ando never feels he is worthy to be a hero. So he doesn’t try to be one. That is, until he’s forced to.

This is where my complaint comes in. Arnold Arre creates this world with a very rich mythology: you have people yearning to be special, and being given the opportunity to do so at the risk of losing their innocence; you have an epic romance that spans lifetimes–and one that is more recent and more hurting; you have villains that have layers upon layers… And we get one rescue story out of this very rich world that the author created.

I don’t know if it’s the soap opera writer in me talking, but I felt cheated off the possible growth and development the characters could’ve had. I felt like the layers he gave the villains could have been explored more, while going into the backgrounds and drive of the protagonists at the same time.

I felt unsatisfied, to borrow a word from the book’s foreword. And it’s not something I want to feel after reading an exceptionally good book. Because Ang Mundo ni Andong Agimat is a very good book–

It’s just also frustratingly short. It ends as quickly as it begins, leaving you wanting for more. And you will want more. So I guess that means I will only recommend this book to people who like getting hurt by their favorite books. Because this book will hurt you. And it will also quickly become a favorite. So if you’re a fan of being left wanting, then pick this book up. If you’re not… you might still want to pick the book up, and then join me in trying to find a way to get Arnold Arre to revisit this world again.

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Mythology Class makes a comeback this November at Komikon!

"The Mythology Class Relaunch"

After bringing back Arnold Arre’s Trip to Tagaytay for a new generation of readers to enjoy, Nautilus Comics is at it again! This time, they’re reviving another much loved graphic novel from Arnold Arre: The Mythology Class! And you can get the new edition this coming November 15, at Komikon!

The second edition of The Mythology Class will come out with three all-new cover variants, with each variant being exclusively available at specific outlets. The one you see in the headline? That’s the convention variant, which will be first made available on Komikon, and will be available in other special events.

If you order from now until November 13 though, you can pre-order all three variant covers for the special Komikon price of 450 pesos! Find out how through this event page.

And as for where to find the other two variants after this promo, do check out Nautilus’s Facebook fan page!

In other Nautilus news, Issue #12 of Cast has another variant cover released–this time from Stephen Segovia. This is the variant cover you will find with Filbar’s at SM North EDSA, SM Megamall, SM Fairview, Festival Mall, at the Ayala Fairview Terraces, and at Comic Odyssey Robisons Galleria.

If you’re looking for the other variants; Jhomar Soriano’s cover is available at Fully Booked branches, while Harvey Tolibao’s will once again be available on Komikon, this coming November 15.

Now, if you’re looking for new stories from Cast creator Jamie Bautista, do check out Date Works–which has been nominated for Best Webcomic at this year’s Komikon Awards! If you haven’t voted, you can vote ‘here.’ But I am not obliging you to vote for Date Works.

Before I end this; Trip to Tagaytay is also still available in the mentioned Filbar branches, at Fully Booked, and at comic conventions where Nautilus Comics will next appear.

Oh, and Arnold Arre will be at Nautilus’s booth this Komikon too. So if you want anything signed…

This is not a paid advertisement, I am genuinely supporting Nautilus Comics.

I am supporting the Filipino Readers Convention too, even if I can’t be a part of it this year. If you have the time, do drop by on November 14, at the Bayanihan Center, and find out what the pressing issues with today’s generation of readers are!

Event: The Cast Comics at Indieket 2014!

"Cast, the Comics Issue 12"

Cast Comics is back! And they’re bringing a very special cover of the long-awaited twelfth issue of their series to this Saturday’s Indieket!

Why is this a big deal? Because this variant cover won’t be available in bookstores or comic shops. Oh, and because it’s drawn by Harvey Tolibao, a superstar artist who has already done for Marvel titles!

Aside from this rare variant cover of Cast #12, Nautilus Comics will also launch the reprint of Arnold Arre’s Trip to Tagaytay, one of the best graphic novels that became hard to find as the years went on. Well, you don’t have to look any further–just drop by this Saturday at Indieket, at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig!

But don’t limit yourselves to the Nautilus titles when you get there. Bring extra cash. Discover new works and new worlds at this year’s Indieket!

Book: Martial Law Babies

"Martial Law Babies" by Arnold ArreAllan and his friends are Martial Law Babies: born during the Marcos regime, raised by TV, and shaped by 80s music. Their ambitions may be dampened by third world realities and malcontention but they also proudly belong to a generation of dreamers who fight for their voices to be heard. They are among the so-called “Bagong Lipunan” children, trying their best to live up to their name. But over the years, as Allan watches his friends leave one by one and feels his sense of idealism wane, he starts to wonder where they are all headed.

I bought Martial Law Babies on a whim. I had no idea if it was going to be good or not; but from my previous experience with Arnold Arre’s works, I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed. What I didn’t know was that I was holding Arnold Arre’s best work of the three that I will have read; the other two being Mythology Class and After Eden

It’s perfect. That’s the short of it. But since this is a blog, and I don’t just give one-word reactions to the things I write about, I’m going to try to put to words what I want to convey.

Martial Law Babies is the story of my generation. At the same time, it isn’t. I mean, I’m not a Martial Law baby. And yet, I can relate to the issues presented in the graphic novel–not just because it has familiar things that really harken to my childhood, but because it a well-written, well-plotted story that pulls at emotions that even kids today would understand: friendship, separation, loss, longing, unrequited love–it’s the ingredients of a coming-of-age story. And unlike most stories that are claiming to be coming-of-age, this one actually does nail it, in my opinion. The funny thing is, I don’t think Martial Law Babies is actually claiming to be about coming of age.

What I like best about the graphic novel are the characters. They’re very well-rounded. They’re not just pieces of a puzzle, nor are they chess pieces. Each one of them, even the ones that don’t take up too much print space, are whole and complete. They are stereotypes and yet, at the same time, they are real people. The problems I had with Arnold Arre’s characterizations in After Eden was not present at all in Martial Law Babies. We have a bitch, but we can feel her hurt in the words she delivers. Her pain doesn’t get told, and yet we sense it–because the author/artist was able to show it.

The bitch stereotype is a main character, and we see that through her numerous appearance in the novel. And yet, her importance is the equal to the rest of the cast. Which is another thing I really like. Because the story is about how Allan came to be Allan. And in one’s life, no matter how many or how few major players there are, everyone makes an impact. Everyone. Even the ones you never talk to. The ones you pine for. The ones you only meet once and never again.

And when you pick up a copy of Martial Law Babies, it will make an impact on your life too.

Check out what other people have said about the graphic novel:
GMA News Blogs: Yvette Tan
Darcied Never Fancied
Luis is Listening
PhilStar.com

Book: After Eden

"After Eden" by Arnold ArreAfter Eden was written with the story of Adam and Eve, the world’s very first “love story”, in mind.

The story tackles serious relationship issues like trust, morals, and sexual intimacy, and also re-introduces the concept of friendship.

The character couplings depict the various ways in which society views relationships. Jon & Celine represent the romantics. Greg & Lea represent the cynical and jaded. Mike & Cathy represent the childlike.

The setting is intentionally vague. It has no nationality. Love after all is universal.

Ultimately, After Eden can be summed up in these words: “For every two people who fall in love, Adam and Eve are reborn.”

Thank you for your interest, and I hope you enjoy the book.

– Arnold Arre, September 2002

And that was taken from the After Eden microsite over at Mr. Arnold Arre’s website–because I couldn’t find a book description. Why am I explaining this? Well, just in case someone asks why I’m quoting the author instead of putting the book description there. . . . I just probably wasted your time with that explanation.

What won’t waste your time though, is picking up a copy of Arnold Arre’s After Eden. If you can still find one, that is. Chachic, of Chachic’s Book Nook, lent me her copy of the graphic novel after I lent her Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies. And when I return this to her, it’s going to be my turn to lend her Arre’s Mythology Class. And I can’t believe I just went off-tangent again. I have to stop doing that. Anyway–

After Eden is the story of Jon and Celine. A love story. And it’s not typical graphic novel fare. Well, not typical for the graphic novels I’m exposed to anyway. Which is why I thought it was a nice concept. Well, not nice enough to buy my own copy almost ten years ago–but a nice concept nonetheless.

Okay, now that we’ve established how nice the concept is; let’s talk about the story:

It’s actually very simple. The graphic novel isn’t very thick, and since art tells as much of the story as the dialogue, you know going in that it’s not going to be a very long read. What I really like though is how the story doesn’t feel rushed. You see the characters change as they interact with each other, and with their change comes consequences that are dealt with in real time. Well, real time within their world anyway. If it was real time in our world, I think I’d still be reading After Eden today. And that would be like following a reality show, wouldn’t it?

If there is anything I’d say against After Eden, it’s just these two: One, character development for Mike and Cathy are almost nonexistent. Which is a shame, since I thought there could be more to mine with the two–especially during the climax of the story. Two, I don’t understand why the author chose to separate the characters from each other in the end. I mean, a friend of mine is married now, a couple are with child–and we still see each other. And we already had Friendstery in 2002, so it’s not like there wasn’t a social networking platform to reconnect them.

Other than that, I think After Eden is a fantastic piece of fiction that would melt reader’s hearts.

Thank you, Chachic, for lending your copy to me!