Create, end and find an audience

The cover of “TRESE: Murder on Balete Drive” (Photo courtesy of Avenida Books)

The future is bright for comic book creators who strive to be creative and expand the reach of their audience through various platforms.

This was the message from Trese’s co-creator, editor and producer during the webcast titled “Trese: from Komiks to Netflix” organized by the National Council for Book Development (CDNB).

The ten-year journey of the first Netflix anime adaptation to the Philippines was no easy task and required a lot of process, said writer Trese. Budjette Tanning.

Tan urged writers and artists to persevere in their work, just as he and Kajo Baldisimo did to complete the series of graphic novels:

“Sometimes when people see how passionate you are about your story, that’s what draws them to you instead of you trying to toss it left and right and knock on every door. Just keep telling the story you want to tell and someone will find you, ”he said.

    Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo.
Trese designers Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. (Instagram / @ budjette)

To get a publishing deal, be it local or foreign, he said it was best to present it from “the beginning, the middle and the end”. He added, “If it’s not a series, sell it as a one-shot. It is mainly about doing it.

Tanya Yuson, Writer and executive co-producer of Trese emphasized the importance of seeing the “big picture” to connect with the creators’ target audience.

“There are people who just want to write for themselves, and then they wonder ‘Why no one wants to read my story,’ she said.

“If you envy someone who has a bigger reach, you have to think about the big picture. There may be different factors to this [and] their target audience is what attracts them, ”she added.

In the case of “Trese,” Yuson said he caught people’s attention with his “thoughtful and mature way of telling stories.”

Bringing Filipino folklore to life

In 2005, Tan and Baldisimo had to step out of their comfort zone to reach the “turning point and starting point” of “Trese”.

“We made Pinoy superheroes with a twist, other fantastic stuff, and fantastic sci-fi stories. But we’ve never done anything related to the Pinoy mythology other than telling it like a sleuth and murder story, ”Tan said.

“Trese” follows the adventures of the supernatural detective Alexandra trese face to face with a criminal underworld made up of evil supernatural beings in Manila.

The comic book creators started with 30 black and white copies, which they sent to office mates, family and friends at Comic Quest, a comic book store in SM Megamall.

The duo completed eight issues and were chosen by pioneer publisher Visprint Inc. in 2007. However, they went out of business this year.

Nida Ramírez, former publishing director of Visprint, said the decision to publish “Trese” was not difficult.

“Our main consideration is always ‘this story.’ Is it the Philippines? Are these Filipinos? Is this something that a lot of people can relate to? Is this a story that we haven’t seen much in bookstores? “Trese” was able to tick all of those boxes, ”she said.

After reading the graphic novels in 2009, Yuson introduced it to her production partner Shanty Harmayn, who was convinced to pitch the idea and adapt it to animation.

“To get something into Netflix, it’s a great collaboration on so many levels. The start of the journey was really about finding the gem that was “Trese” that Budjette and Kajo wrote and that Nida fearlessly posted and that was the tie-in to it all, ”she said.

For Tan, meeting Yuson was an “eye opening”, which made him realize that “Trese” has “potential to reach a global market”.

“It wasn’t a ‘Let’s make a TV series or a film for the film festival’ discussion. It was like ‘This is something we can present to a foreign studio’ was the speech in 2009, ”he said.

“Trese” has received both commercial and critical acclaim, with six graphic novels published. In 2010, he won the award for “Best Graphic Literature” at the National Book Awards.

Promote Pinoy komiks

Using the power of social media, Tan said various publishers and producers are looking for new Filipino comic book properties that would be great for adaptations as well.

He called on creators to promote their own work in order to reach their target readers.

Once you’ve finished the story, how do you find a way to make sure the most readers read it and redirect them to where they can best read it? It’s always up to you, the creator, to promote your own work at the end of the day, ”he said.

He also encouraged komikeros join communities that can help them protect and save their work.

To increase film and TV adaptations, Ramirez suggested training programs for creators and festivals similar to the German Berlinale, where “producers meet publishers, writers and filmmakers.”

The NBDB Translation grant program, she said, could “help increase the capacity of the publishing industry to make more local books available for translation rights, especially internationally.”

How Filipino Creativity Can Become a Cultural Wave

When asked if “Trese” would have a revolution like the Hallyu Wave, Yuson said Filipino designers should focus on creating a “creative ecosystem”.

“For the Philippines, we have great artisans and geniuses for the creatives. If we are to do that, we have to start realistically taking into account where we are at, ”she said.

“A more concrete goal is how we can create a creative ecosystem that is thriving and sustainable and can raise generations of creatives who can support themselves by making creative efforts,” she added.

Produced by Filipino-American director and artist Jay oliva, “Trese” has gained ground since its announcement in October 2020.

Thanks to its supposedly vandalized billboards, the show surfaced on social media a few days before its premiere on June 11.

Related: Is Trese in your area? Series co-creator snaps photos of upcoming Filipino anime on Netflix

“Trese” topped the Netflix Philippines charts on the weekend of its premiere.

Lisa M. Horner