From Marco Dimaano's Message Board:
Love, drama, comedy, friendship, pop culture references and barefooted angels. This one has it all.
Arnold Arre is the mushiest man I know.
He's an incurable romantic, a hopeful (as opposed to hopeless) dreamer, a master storyteller in the medium of pen and ink. These are the things you will find out (if you haven't already gotten the hint) when you get a hold of his latest opus, After Eden.
For the knowledge of those unfamiliar with the book's origins, After Eden wasn't recently done (no, not even Arnold is THAT good- to conjure up a 254-page monster like this soon after doing two award-winning novel-size comics). It actually started at least four or five years ago, back in the olden days when he still ran with the Alamat crew. The book was a renegade comic; unsolicited and unexpected by the powers-be of the Group- it was Arnold's through and through, much like Mythology Class was. In many ways it was also quite controversial within the group, since it stabs quite bitingly at the lifestyle of the fanboy and the barkada.
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Anyway, AE was put on hold for a long time and Arnold got into other things. It was only recently that the book was picked up by Adarna Publications as part of their Anino line of graphic novels. Arnold finally had a chance to finish his work, and better yet, to see it realized in the best way possible.
The result: A 254-page graphic novel. Glossy colored covers. Three lovely color pinups. And more pages full of lovely, expressive and entertaining black and white panels than you could think possible in a single local comic book.
Just seeing this book and scanning through the consistent, clean artwork and seeing the intricate, snappy dialogue is worth the price of admission.
After Eden is the story of a man and a woman; Jon is a handsome, wealthy comic/hobby store owner who's yearning for something that will change his humdrum routine of fantasy gaming, comic book conventions and make-believe worlds. Celine is a creative director in an advertising agency (they make commercials for things like toothpaste) who's beautiful, intelligent and on the verge of a burnout in her structured, exhaustive lifestyle.
When these two former childhood friends chance upon each other after a disastrous comic book convention, their reunion starts a series of events that will alter the direction of their lives. Unfortunately, the love that seems to spring forth perpetually from the two is not appreciated by all. In particular, Jon's friend Greg and Celine's friend Lea resent the way they are replaced and seemingly sent to the back burner by the blossoming romance... and they're prepared to do whatever it takes to get things back to the way they were. Can a seemingly perfect love affair survive a concerted attack? Can Adam and Eve find happiness outside Eden? Get a copy of After Eden and find out...
After Eden is mainly a relationship drama; there are three sets of main couples; The main lovers Jon and Celine, the 'baddies', Greg and Lea, and the "innocents" Mike and Cathy. Seeing their various personalities and how they relate and interact with each other; the complexities and mechanics of friendship... and how selfishness can break it down... is compelling stuff. It's amazing how Arnold found the words and emotions to breathe life into each character, and they soon come to life from mere caricatures or archetypes to people you probably know or know about.
Despite these heavy themes, AE is liberally laced with humor, and with it tons of pop-culture references to stuff in Arnold's generation; Star Wars, Dungeons and Dragons, Alien, videogaming, anime... it's great that Arnold does not lose his humor when he writes drama.
Another facet of AE is some adult content; there are several scenes of somewhat risque material; no nudity, but definitely not kiddie stuff. It's all mature and handled quite well within the context of the story.
Overall, the pacing and plotting of After Eden, coupled with the wonderful and simply gorgeous artwork and panels (a huge improvement over Mythology Class, IMO), the snappy dialogue and the pop references make AE an enthralling, entertaining and wonderful read.
Any flaws or gripes? Well, probably just that as a matter of course, After Eden takes a bloody jab at fanboys/fangirls and singles. Plus it seems to make the unattached people of the world quite wretched... or maybe that's just because the love story is just so wonderful.
After Eden almost made me want to give up my bachelor, gamer lifestyle and get hitched.
Almost. Hahaha. That's something, believe me.
Darn, this book is incredible. A work of art and a graphic novel in the full sense of the word. No Filipino comic book reader or anyone who loves a good story should be without this one. Get it NOW.