Friday, August 7, 2015

Kickstart the Week(end) with Bayani and The Nine Daughters of The Moon Volume 1

By: Nicole D'Andria

This time on Kickstart the Week I am showcasing the Kickstarter for Bayani and The Nine Daughter of the Moon. The story features Filipino folklore and, in the words of writer Travis McIntire, includes “The Themes explored in Harry Potter, The Neverending Story, The Odyssey, and Alice In Wonderland... all shipwrecked on the timeless isle of Laguna in the Phillipines where all the folklore and myths of the aboriginal people are real.”

Bayani and The Nine Daughters of The Moon follows the journey of Bayani, an 11-year-old boy who is caring for his sick fisherman father. Bayani’s tasked with providing his family with food but Mother Nature has seemingly turned against him. Night has not fallen for the last month. The heat has made the island he lives on parched and has caused the fish to move away from their shores. Distressed, Bayani takes on even more responsibility when the rain god, Pati', asks Bayanti to rescue the nine daughters of Lady Moon from monsters. Alongside his friend Tala, Bayani goes on a journey, fighting monsters and attempting to save his family.

The comic book series is being written by Travis McIntire (Up the River, Wild Bullets), the President and Editor-in-Chief of Source Point Press. The penciler, inker and colorist is Grant Perkins (2000AD, The Penguins of Madagascar). The letterer is Taylor Esposito (Red Hood and the Outlaws, Batman Eternal), the founder of Ghost Glyph Studios who used to work exclusively for DC Comics. The graphic design work is done by Rich Bloom (C.O.W.L.). 

Perkins describes the experience of reading Bayani when he said, “Everytime I read a new script, it’s like watching an episode of my favorite cartoon in my head… It feels a bit like a Pixar film as directed by Spielberg!” The book is designed similarly to Indiana Jones in that it is an adventure through myth and legend. The titles also change with each issue. The first issue is called “Bayani and The Old Ghosts,” named for the Multo (Ghosts of past Babaylons—shaman—that guide Bayani’s way). The second issue is “Bayani and The Witch of the Mountain.” It is named for Lalahan, the monstrous volcano goddess who has captured the first Moon daughter. Collected, the series will be four volumes long. It is planned that two volumes will be released per year. 

The Kickstarter will help pay half the money, $5,000, which is needed to print the first of three (out of 11) issues of Bayani which will comprise the first volume of the comic book series. Travis McIntire is paying the other half of the money. This project will only be funded if at least $5,000 is pledged by August 15, 2015 at 12:50 PM EDT. If you want to pledge Bayani and The Nine Daughters of The Moon, check out their official Kickstarter. The first volume is planned to be released in September 2015.

I interviewed both the writer of the series, Travis McIntire, and the artist, Grant Perkins.

Travis McIntire

Me: You mentioned in the press release how this comic will have “Different stories, different monsters than we’re used to.  Different kind of characters carrying the story.”  How are these elements different than what comic readers typically see? 

Travis McIntire: Here in the US, we are generally fairly steeped in the storytelling traditions that evolved from European mythologies, folklore, and fairy tales.  I love those traditions, but I wanted to work with a new cast of characters.  Using Filipino stories, folklore, creation myths, etc. opened up an entirely different tradition of storytelling I could draw from.  I still bring a western sensibility to it, I don't know if I could help that, so the general “feel” of the storytelling should be familiar to a western audience, but the characters and their motivations could be completely different than what we're used to.  

Of course, there are some elements of the human condition that are universal, and I think finding those things in different culture's storytelling traditions is really interesting.  In particular, I try to make use of the concept of reciprocity that's present in a lot of these myth.  The concept of gift-giving has several different levels of meaning in Filipino culture, and that shows up a lot in the folklore.  From the appropriate type of gift, to when it's appropriate to open a gift and how those things have different kinds of consequences.  

Me: How did you become interested in Filipino folklore?

McIntire: It started with me working on a horror piece and looking for some gruesome monsters to use as art examples a few years ago.  I ended up crawling into this internet rabbit hole and reading all kinds of stuff about Filipino folklore and mythology.  It was fascinating!  I love fairy tales and I love horror.  This was a perfect blend!  The monsters and demons from the Phillipines are easily some of the coolest and creepiest I've ever come across.

Me: What are some references to this folklore that readers will see in Bayani?

McIntire: The usual stuff like names, places, creatures, gods and goddesses for sure.  Also, I tried to weave similar themes throughout the story that would appeal to both a western audience but remain true to the Filipino roots.  Like most mythologies, the stories are meant to offer an explanation of natural phenomena, like weather and volcanoes.  Being that the Phillipines are very different in climate and geology that what many of us here are used to, the stories are flavored a little differently.  I tried to bring the climate and geology into the stories in a way that made sense and gave a sense of place and a sense of realness to people that are familiar with the folklore that I'm using.

Bayani #1 Page 8

Me: What are some examples of monsters and demons from Filipino myths that you think would terrify readers (in the best way possible, of course) the most?

McIntire: There's so many that are really just incredible!  Two that I talk about a lot are the Mambabarang and the Dila.  

The Mambabarang are a group of witches that steal people's hair. They then take the strands of hair and tie it around earthworms and slice the earthworms into pieces.  Once they cut the worm up enough that it dies, the owner of the hair also dies.  

The Dila is a monster that lives burrowed in the mud under houses and is made entirely of tongues.  It can flatten and contort its body enough to squeeze through the slats of the floor and make its way to a sleeping victim where it smothers and eats the sleeper alive.  I’m really looking forward to both of those issues!
Me: If you got trapped within a folktale from Filipino culture, which one would it be and why? What part would you want to play in the story?

McIntire: That is an easy question: any story that features the Capre.  The Capre is a hulking giant that smokes huge, reeking cigars.  And likes to smash people who bother him with a club.  There's a friendly, but morose and lonely, cyclops named Bungisngis, in some of those stories that helps people against the Capre.  I think I would make a good depressed cyclops.  

Me: How would you describe your main character, Bayani, and his friend Tala?

Bayani #1 Pages 18-19

McIntire: Bayani is confident to the point of brashness.  He feels everything intensely, as kids tend to do, and sometimes he can act without thinking.  He represents bravery, determination, and loyalty.

Tala is Bayani's best friend.  She is often exasperated with him and feels a sense of responsibility to keep him out of as much trouble as possible.  She represents intelligence, strength, and resourcefulness.

Me: Since Bayani is being publisher by Caliber Comics, can you tell us a bit about the publisher’s history and why you wanted to work with them in particular?

McIntire: Caliber is one of the oldest and most respected “indy” publishers.  They started in 1988 and, with a few periods of down time, have been putting out award-winning material since then.  Caliber is best known for the horror-zombie title Deadworld that has been running steadily for over 20 years, guided by writer and Caliber EIC Gary Reed, and has been collected by both Image and IDW into trades and optioned for a film on more than one occasion.  I have known Gary for a bit from the convention circuit in the Midwest, and since Caliber is based out of Detroit, and I'm a Michigan guy, I was familiar with them and always sort of saw them as a “pinnacle” of my independent career.  Also, Caliber is where a lot of the guys that I really admire got their start.  Names like Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, Paul Storrie and Ed Brubaker all cut their teeth on Caliber titles.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?

McIntire: Keep working.  Try to do something for your writing career every day.  The more you treat it like a job, the more likely it is to become one.  Also, don't just focus on the writing.  Learn how to use Illustrator and Photoshop.  Learn about the publishing business.  Get out there and meet people.  And, please, BUY and SUPPORT independent creators!  Support and try to keep healthy the business you're trying to break into!

Grant Perkins

Me: How would you describe your art style and how it fits in with the tone of Bayani?

Grant Perkins: I'd describe my art style as fun.

I've taken from artists before me whom I grew up reading, names such as Bachelo, Matsuda, Madureira and Young spring to mind. I've always been a fan of bright eye catching "hip" work as opposed to the darker "gritty" comics that are around. Not that they don't have their place, but I believe that if we can't get the kids reading comics at an early age and captivate them, they won't grow to love the "older" "darker" books on the market. That's why having a fun style that appeals to a younger (or all ages) audience is important to me.

Me: I know you pencil, ink and color Bayani. Which process do you find the most difficult to do?

Perkins: I only ever used to pencil my own work, it's only since moving to the Cintiq that I've turned my hand to inking and coloring, both of which I'm fairly new to. The most interesting of these for me is the coloring. I must be doing a decent enough job though as nobody has noticed that I'm colorblind (shhh) although I do have a very patient wife who always lends a hand to help out with such questions as "What color is sand?" and "Is that red or brown I've colored that thing there?".

Me: What is your favorite thing to draw?

Perkins: It’s gotta be all the fun ghoulish nasties Travis scripts for me. There's this great grey (I think) three headed dude who I can twist in and out of the panel boarders and bend the fourth wall. I think there might be some baby eating vampires coming up soon which sounds like great fun.

Me: How did you connect with Travis to draw Bayani?

Perkins: Travis and I got together for Bayani after working together on an entirely different project about potatoes. I had drawn a short three page comic that Andy Lanning had penned that was based on Filipino folklore. Travis thought this was the best idea ever and with Andy's blessing took the reins and begin plotting a Zelda-like epic. 

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

Perkins: Inspirational words? Erm...

Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

Seriously, @TheRock said it best: “Stay humble, stay hungry.”

Me: Thank you for your time Travis and Grant! Find out even more about Bayani and The Nine Daughters of the Moon at, along with a free download of the first issue here:

Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have it showcased on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my personal website

Other “Kickstart the Week” features:
Red Hill Billy: Red Hill Rising Book 1
Legacy Code - Comics/Cartoon/Video Game/Toys/Costumes/RPG
Copernicus Jones: Robot Detective Vol. 1
The Legend of Everett Forge
Martian Comics #3

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