Sci-Fi author Neil Gaiman tweets about his love for Philippine folklore

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Bestselling author Neil Gaiman recently tweeted about his admiration for Philippine folklore and Filipino writers and his tweets got netizens interested in Filipino comics.

The top modern comics writer was responding to a fan tweet requesting him to write about the Philippines.

Gaiman tweeted back: “I really LOVE the myths and monsters of the Philippines. But you also have many terrific writers there who can do a better job of telling those stories than I can.”

When Gaiman first came to the Philippines in 2005, he reportedly mentioned at a writer’s workshop his admiration for several Filipino artists who had made it big in the US comic book industry — Alfredo Alcala, Alex Nino, Nestor Redondo, Tony de Zuniga and others – whose art he described in a 2010 interview as “beautiful line work, elegant lines, beauty and proportion, a sense of quirkiness and beauty.” He referred to these writers as the pioneers who brought Filipino comic art to a global audience.

Gaiman also said one of his favorite comics is Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer saying, “It’s just heartbreaking and funny and so beautifully drawn.”

Gaiman followed up his tweet, referencing to what he had to say about the Philippines, writers and folklore.

In the interview with RJ Ledesma writing for The Philippine Star in 2010, Gaiman referred to the Filipino writers having an effect on him: “But the enormous effect that these artists had on me was that it gave me a respect for the Philippines. When I first came here, these artists were all I knew about the country. I knew nothing about Filipino culture, I knew almost nothing about Filipino politics.”

The UK-born writer now based in the U.S. praised how local comics use Philippine culture and folklore revealing, “I liked the aswangs and the manananggals.” But when he was asked if he would put them in his stories Gaiman said he rather let the Filipinos write about their own culture and challenged Filipino writers to use these folklore in their creations.

“You’re getting really good, angry, smart, satirical science fiction, you’re getting heartbreaking little horror stories, you’re getting smart social commentary like the Cherry Clubbing story (by Kerry Yu, third place winner in the prose category of the year’s contest). I love it, because it’s talking essentially about sexual tourism of the worst kind and then taking it over into myth. And it’s a beautiful story of outrage and it’s all the voice that it’s told in.

Filipina: The Super Maid (by Irene Carolina Sarmiento, second place winner in the prose category), great little story, so angry and so funny. The idea of pointing out that — for some of the world and here in the Philippines — people can be product and just how wrong that is. And what happens when the people that are product become people again.”

Gaiman told Ledesma of how Filipino creators the likes of comic book professionals working for US comics — Leinil Francis Yu of Marvel Comics, Harvey Tolibao, Whilce Portacio – are bringing more of themselves to the global audience:

“But what I am seeing more now is that Filipino creators are out there and they are out there as themselves. You don’t get the feeling that people are pretending to be American or English. You now get the feeling that there are brilliant Filipino writers who are willing to write science fiction, fantasy, horror, magical realism, real imaginative stuff and draw and create their own comics. And they are going to it as Filipinos going head-to-head with anybody else in the world.”

Gaiman has been to the Philippines at least twice to meet local Filipino writers.

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