Arnold Arre launches new graphic novel ‘Halina Filip­ina’ at Komiket

The ‘Mythol­ogy Class’ cre­ator ex­plores the idea of dis­cov­er­ing one’s Filipino roots in his new book, as well as up­com­ing projects in­clud­ing a pos­si­ble ‘Myth Class’ film by ‘Hen­eral Luna’ di­rec­tor Jer­rold Tarog

Philippine Daily Inquirer - - LIFESTYLE - By Ruel S. De Vera @RuelSDeVera For more in­for­ma­tion, visit www.face­book.com/Hali­naFilip­ina or e-mail or­[email protected]­tilus­comics.net.

IT HAS taken seven years, but Arnold Arre fi­nally has another graphic novel that he wrote and il­lus­trated.

The award-win­ning Filipino comic book cre­ator launched “Halina Filip­ina,” pub­lished by Nau­tilus Comics, last Oct. 3 at “Komiket: The 1st Filipino Komiks, Books and Art Mar­ket,” at El­e­ments Cen­tris, Que­zon City. “Halina” is the first graphic novel Arre has writ­ten and drawn since 2008’s “Mar­tial Law Ba­bies.”

He en­joyed work­ing on the new book. “It feels great,” he said, af­ter paus­ing from sign­ing for fans. “I feel like I wasn’t do­ing any­thing be­fore, and now I’m do­ing stuff that I like.”

Arre first won the Na­tional Book Award for Comic Books in 1999 for “The Mythol­ogy Class,” a tale of young Filipinos en­coun­ter­ing myth­i­cal crea­tures in an oth­er­worldly place. He won the award again in 2000 for “Trip to Tagay­tay,” set in a fu­ture Philip­pines.

“Ac­tu­ally, ‘Halina’ is 13 years old,” he ex­plained. The novel was orig­i­nally in­tended to fol­low 2002’s “Af­ter Eden.”

But he said he didn’t want another re­la­tion­ship story, so he wound up writ­ing the supernatural “Ang Mundo ni An­dong Ag­i­mat” in 2006.

It was Arre’s wife, artist Cyn­thia Bau­zon-Arre, who found his old draw­ings for “Halina.” She con­vinced him to re­lease it. “I just lost in­ter­est in the story,” he said, “but now I’m back into it.”

Iden­tity

The tit­u­lar char­ac­ter Halina is a Filipino-Amer­i­can who trav­els to the Philip­pines for the first time to dis­cover her roots and meet her rel­a­tives. Along the way, she meets jaded film critic Cris. The two hit it off, Halina get­ting a crash course in Filipino life and Cris see­ing the cul­ture around him in an en­tirely new way.

Arre said he wants read­ers to know “the feel­ing of be­ing proud of the Philip­pines. At least you have an iden­tity... You don’t have to get some­one else’s iden­tity. This is your iden­tity, and you have it the same way Halina has in look­ing for her Filipino roots.”

Happy to have his book out, Arre said he was now look­ing for­ward to what comes next. “I’m go­ing back to Philip­pine mythol­ogy,” he ad­mit­ted, adding that it would be com­pletely dif­fer­ent from ‘Mythol­ogy Class.’”

He hopes to re­lease the new novel in a year.

Speak­ing of “Mythol­ogy Class,” the prop­erty is a hot topic af­ter Jer­rold Tarog, di­rec­tor of the phe­nom­e­nal film “Hen­eral Luna,” an­nounced that he was now de­vel­op­ing “Mythol­ogy Class” as a fea­ture. Arre re­mained tightlipped about de- tails, tersely say­ing “Mythol­ogy Class” is “un­der de­vel­op­ment,” that he and Tarog are talk­ing. He ended the state­ment with an enig­matic smile.

In the mean­time, he said he hopes fans give “Halina Filip­ina” a look. “It’s like meet­ing old friends,” he pointed out. “It’s been com­pletely rewrit­ten and re­drawn be­cause my style is dif­fer­ent from 2002. It’s fun. It was like go­ing back to the past. I didn’t know I used to write things like this. But things have changed. I’m wiser now, more ex­pe­ri­enced. It’s like go­ing back to the past and chang­ing stuff. The idea is there from 13 years, but the draw­ing and the writ­ing pro­vide a com­pletely fresh read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.”

ARNOLD Arre

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