Hatch | Comic Revolution

Bluprint Magazine, Volume 4, 2004 issue


ARNOLD ARRE: A bold combination of a fearless outlook and intense, deeply earnest stories.


"A lot of young artists end up in advertising," muses Arnold; reflecting on how he graduated from the College of Fine Arts in UP Diliman and went on to become an artist for several advertising agencies. "It's one of the few opportunities for them to be creative and still get paid." Coming up with a comic was something of a necessity. "I guess you get to tell some stories in advertising... but still it's not the same. I needed something of my own out there. To prove something to myself, in a way." His first project, "The Mythology Class" surprised him by going on to win the Manila Critics Circle National Book Award in 2000. "I wasn't out to win anything, I didn't even know comics could win any awards. I made that comic to entertain myself. It was just because I wanted to read but didn't see anywhere – a comic based on Philippine mythology."

Since then, Arnold has been known for creating thoughtful, introspective comics, as opposed to the action-driven ones created by his contemporaries. Despite whatever fantastic events or realities surround Arnold's characters, the heart of his stories lie mostly in the characters' emotions and minds. His second book, "Trip to Tagaytay" (a quietly affecting tale set in late 21st century Manila filled with mad predictions of the future – Aga Muhlach as president of the Philippines, to say the least) won him the National Book Award agin in 2001. He attributes inspiration for this and his latest comic "After Eden" to his muse, wife and fellow artist Cynthia Bauzon (who designed almost all of the album covers for the Eraserheads). "Trip to Tagaytay" is actually a love letter to Cynthia in disguise. "She was in the States at the time and i didn't want to send her the usual things, so I made the comic for her."

Arnold has an optimistic outlook on the future of the Philippine comics: "The Manga (Japanese comics) style is really hot right now, but I'm hopeful that artists will in time evolve and develop their own styles. Marketing for local comics may be shaky, because publishers tehnd to be nervous; but I think that will change when they eventually see that there really is a large reading public. As for ever lacking in talent or variety on the local scene, I'm not worried; we have so many good artists and writers here – they're just waiting for a revolution."

-Charlene Sawit