Author: Arnold Arre
Publisher: Adarna House Inc.
Arnold Arre has proven himself a master story teller with his new graphic novel "After Eden". Except for a chorus of angels and demons, this book is set in familiar territory, populated by recognizable characters and is about situations we know all too well. I am talking about the world of Starbucks, Mega Mall, Close-Up toothpaste commercials, video game arcades, L.Q.'s, M.U.'s, sex and virginity; our world. This is an unabashed romance story that I suspect is a partially autobiographical as well.
Without the benefit of mythological creatures and futuristic cityscapes that characterized his previous comic books Arnold Arre has succeeded nevertheless in enchanting us with a well crafted love story. In the hands of a less endowed writer the familiarity of the setting might have become mundane. Had this been crafted by a less genuine person the romantic plot could have turned to unbearable formulaic mush. But Arnold manages to pull it off with insightful soliloquies, humorous dialogue and credible characters.
Funny, charming and honest, the story reads to me like the way a college buddy would recount how he met his girlfriend. And just like those stories this graphic novel made me laugh at the weird coincidences, cringe at the embarrassing predicaments, and nod in agreement at the sameness of its outlook with mine. I warn you, this graphic novel made me laugh at the weird coincidences, cringe at the embarrassing predicaments, and nod in agreement at the sameness of its outlook with mine this comic book made me giggle and smile all by myself like a madman in my office. "Oo, kinilig ako sa komiks pre'. Bakit, may problema ka?"
As in his previous comic books nearly all the people that populate this book bear an uncanny resemblance to Arnold's friends and relations. This adds realism to his characters. His lines are clean and his drawings are very expressive. Arnold's illustration style is one of the many reasons this book is such a pleasure to read.
Though the 254 pages inside are mostly in black and white the book comes with a handsome full color cover and 3 full color pin-ups inside. This book will cost you 295 pesos and is worth every centavo. You can buy your copy at any Comic Quest outlet or where ever Adarna Publishing books may be found. Go get yourself one today. Not to miss is Cynthia Bauzon's gorgeous design for this book's website that has wallpapers, desktop icons, fonts and other downloadable goodies.
review by Bosyo
Interview with Arnold Arre
Arnold Arre does it again, covering new ground with his latest graphic novel "After Eden". Instead of populating his comic books with ridiculously dressed superheroes in tights he opts for the equally absurd life of Pinoy geeks in love.
How much of this book is autobiographical?
Arnold: Hard to tell. I can say that most of the scenes were inspired by personal experiences. Some are from stories I heard from friends. But the book's message is really my own take on the subject of love & friendship. Sex and innocence. When you're writing a love or romance story there's this tendency to take a side. A writer usually spoon feeds the audience with his or her personal views and opinions (yes, I'm guilty of that too), not that it's wrong or anything, but the result is almost always the same - the main characters rule the story while the minor characters end up as either the comic relief, the forgotten confidante, or worse, second banana. If you can relate to the major characters then you got your money's worth. But what if you can't? What if you find injustice in the way the story handled the supporting cast of whom you relate to more? With "After Eden" The biggest challenge was that I didn't know how it was going to end! I avoided all that and came up with a story where there are no main characters. For me, love has so many interesting facets that it would be a shame to focus on one and ignore the rest. There are as many views on relationships as there are people on earth.
From concept to finish what are the stages in writing a comic book like this? What challenges did you face in coming out with "After Eden" in particular?
Arnold: I usually come up with an outline before fleshing out the details of the story (plot, scenes, dialogue etc.). That's S.O.P., but in the case of "After Eden" I only did that up It's now up to the reader to decide whether I pulled it off or not. to chapter 3. The biggest challenge was that I didn't know how it was going to end! I had several endings, mostly sad endings and didn't know what to do with them (a love story is very difficult to write, believe me!). If it was going to be a sad ending it had to be in relation to the message I was trying to convey and, most importantly, it must be for a very very good reason and not the cheap "oh well, that's life" kind of route. On the other hand, a happy ending requires believability and should have enough conviction to gain the approval of even the most jaded of readers. Anyway, the book is finished so it's now up to the reader to decide whether I pulled it off or not.
Your comic books have probably the most mature audience in the local scene. Do you plan to concentrate on stories like these for your next comic books?
Arnold: I believe so. I'm taking a break from fantasy and action adventure for the time being. There are enough comic books out there that deal with the subject so I guess they've got that side covered. :)
You've got a great website for "After Eden" with a lot downloadable goodies? Any plans for merchandise based on any of your comic books? What's next for Arnold Arre and Cynthia Bauzon?
Arnold: Cynthia did a fantastic job on the site :) She asked me what I wanted for it and told her I'll be happy with a simple 'souvenir site'. The end result surpassed my expectations, as you can see. She never fails to amaze me :)
I'm still convincing her to do a children's comic book - ala 'scary godmother' or 'courageous princess' hehehe. I'll be helping with the illustrations.
What are your wishes for the Pinoy conic book industry?
Arnold: More artists and writers, more stories, more books, more groups or companies, more diversity and, of course, more readers :)
interview by Bosyo