Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interview with Anthony Perez of Patron Comics

Cover of Patron Comics

1. How did you arrive at the idea of writing Patron comics? Any inspirations from other stories? 

 You could say that. Part of being a good story teller is remembering the stories that pass you by in life. I got my inspiration for Patron from a lot of stories – from friends, friends of friends, former retreatants, anecdotes I heard somewhere, movies, and even videogames. Back then, when I come across a good story that is either funny or inspirational, my first reaction is always, “Ah, I could use that in my talks and retreats.” I had the same habit while I was creating the story for Patron.

2. What are the challenges in producing this graphic novel? What are your roles here? 

Currently, I am in-charge of creating the story (finished as of press time), promoting the book, going person to person, school to school asking people if they would be interested in offering this book to their students or community, knocking on doors of influential people to either promote the book or ask for funds, and some other stuff related to the book. In short, since this is a personal project representing only myself, I am creator, promoter, advertising, and sales all in one. The only things I don’t handle are the artwork – sorry, I am unable to draw anything beyond stick people – and financials. So yes, there are certain challenges every day. I am glad that God sends me friends who help me here and there. Some donate; some introduce me to other people who can help. It’s a wonderful Bayanihan and everyday more and more people get involved and take the load and pressure off my shoulders.

3. What is the story in four sentences? 

A small rural city is rocked by CPS, or comatose possession syndrome, a kind of demonic possession where the victim is comatose and cannot be exorcised the usual way. A group of teens have to enter a spiritual dimension called the Portal, a dimension that reflects the sins of the possessed, in order to release his soul from CPS and the exorcism to take place. While they are not doing exorcisms, the team is mentored by a priest who develops their talents and character in an effort to lead them along the path to holiness. But they struggle along the path to sainthood, as they battle their personal and family issues. In a nutshell, they battle demons, while waging war against their own inner demons.

4. If you were one of the characters in the story, who would you be and why? 

Oh, how I would love to be in Fr. Zarate’s shoes! He’s the mentor of the team, and I wrote his character based on my own experience with the Salesians and how they educated us through reason, religion, and loving kindness. On the other hand, and I only realized this after writing everything down, traces of own life could be seen in Ace Noble, one of the team members. He was a basketball hotshot and top 10 in class too, until we realize that he was doing that to win the affection of his father; once he saw that neither his exploits in the court nor his academic achievement translated to his father showering him with love and attention, he simply stopped caring. His performance both on and off the court dipped. This is the issue that Fr. Zarate is trying to work out with him throughout the series.

5. What is the main message of the story? 

When they invoke their patrons, each of our protagonists say a prayer: Crux sacra sit mihi lux / Non draco sit mihi dux Which means: "Let the Holy Cross be my light / Let not the dragon be my guide. That is the message of the series. Let God be our light, and let not the dragon (devil) be our guide

6. Can you tell us more about yourself. What is your background? Have you tried writing stories for comics or films before? 

I am founder and currently president of a pro-life group called Filipinos for Life; we educate people on the value and beauty of life, the importance of true love and chastity especially among the youth, and lobbied against the RH law, among other things. I used to study screenwriting for film and TV under the famous Ricky Lee. Since my background was more of film, I had to seek the help of Jayboy Acosta, another pro-lifer and a comic enthusiast, to translate the story into comic panels. He in turn assembled the creative team, and got one of the best pencilers of our generation, Gilbert Monsanto, into the team.

7. How is your graphic novel project related to your work in the pro-life movement? 

I have always wondered how we could capture the hearts and minds of the young, especially nowadays that the Culture of Death casts its shadow even upon our country. I thought comics should be a good start. Imagine, with our young as captive readers, I could insert very pro-life and very Catholic elements into the story without sacrificing the plot or being too preachy. This is why I urge every Christian living teacher or head, school admins, youth leaders, principals, and parents to buy our series for your kids. The series will start with an introductory book called Patron: The Temptation of Strange, which will be launched late October or early November, and the next books will be available via monthly subscription starting next school year. God-willing, it will run for the next 3-4 years. Imagine your kids will read something entertaining and catechizing them at the same time during their formative years in high school.

8. Who are your target audience? Why should they read your work? 

The target readers are pre-teens, teens, and young adults, which means Grades 6-12, and college level. They should read the books because the story is very good, the characters very relateable, and the values very clear.

9. Is the graphic novel already complete? Where can the readers buy them? 

The book should be out by last week of October or first week of November, barring any snags. When it comes out, it will be offered to schools via subscription. I am still negotiating with popular bookstores for Patron to be available on their shelves. But I do accept pre-orders. Contact me at ajuperez@gmail.com or 0922-827-7772.


A sample page from Patron Comics 


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