Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Special Feature: Countdown to Fully Booked and Neil Gaiman's 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards

Every Wednesday until August, I'll have a special feature on the 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards.

Just reminding Filipino writers, comic artists, and filmmakers that the deadline for the 3rd Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards (see guidelines here) is on Sept. 30, 2008. (On a side note, Filipino speculative fiction authors should also remember that the deadline for Philippine Speculative Fiction Vol. 4 is on September 15, 2008.)

Now the cash prize for first place in the competition (based on the previous two years) is P100,000.00 (roughly $2,222.00) and that's certainly more than half my annual salary so both aspiring and existing authors, artists, and film directors have a lucrative chance to not only gain prestige but earn some lucrative cash as well.

Anyway, to help promote the event and encourage participants (this is all voluntary on my part and neither Fully Booked nor Neil Gaiman is supporting this blog), I'll be posting some interviews I had with the previous winners starting next Wednesday (at the very least, you can look forward to interviews with Joey Nacino and Ian Casocot and Andrew Drilon).

In the meantime, you can treat yourself to some excerpts from Neil Gaiman's speech during last year's awarding ceremonies. You can also download and listen to the RAW mp3 of the event here (Gaiman starts talking at around 5 minutes into the recording).

Would you tell us Neil why you're so involved in these awards?

So I came up around two and a half years ago and one of the first things I had to do, more or less getting off the plane was judge an art competition and I was astonished by how good the art was and then I kept going around and talking to people and meeting people. And I got a sense of how smart everybody was, how good they were, how really cleaned up on science fiction and fantasy and horror and how much science fiction and fantasy and horror was part of the walk of life of society here. How well they understood it and nobody seemed to be writing it. There wasn't really a tradition of Filipino fantasy and Filipino horror despite the fact that you got the coolest and richest folklore in the world. And you do! And you have such amazing, intelligent people. When I grew up, when I was around fourteen, the best artists in American comics were Filipinos. They were Alex Nino, they were Alfredo Alcala, they were Tony de Zuniga, Nestor Rodondo. There were lots of them and they were amazing. And then these days you don't seem to be playing very much, just started at it again. There are a few people who are playing on a global stage. And I thought I wanted to encourage them so I phoned up Jaime Daez from Fully Booked and I said okay, I will deal with you. We talked about it a bit and I would put up the prize money personally if you run the competition. So that's the way it turned up. I put up the prize money. Putting up the prize money is the easy bit. Jaime Daez, they really have the hard bit because they have to organize it and then to run it. About a year ago, the first round of winners were announced. And then a year later, I've written the introduction and we have two collections of the winners so you can actually read them. It has the winners and has a lot of good stuff in there, but if you're can't be good enough to be runner up or worse, what we'll be doing later today is announce the winners of this year's competition and we'll always talk, I think I'll mention it now. We're going into year three, we're going to do the competition for year three and the quality of the prose entries I actually thought was excellent in year one. You have better writers, better writing than we did in year one. The comics entries weren't actually as good. I should warn you ahead of time that when we talked this evening, we have no first prize. We have two second prizes and a third prizes but no first which we thought was good enough. And we got the --- that we're not giving you long enough so so you have about a year. This year. We are announcing right now, there will be a third year.

How would you describe or define Filipino Unrealism?

Filipino Unrealism is really, it began as a comment by me out of reading about why are the things coming out of the Philippines is if you come to the Philippines, people will give you things. And they give you really cool things you've never encountered before if you're me like Calamansi juice and strange little wooden carvings with enormous penises. Even Chocnut. One of the things I was given in quantity were books of the literature of the Philippines including short story collections and great Filipino short stories and I've been reading this stuff and loving it and wondering why do you have an amazing tradition here of Filipino realistic literature. There's great realism but there doesn't seem to be any unrealism. There's no tradition of great fantastic literature, of great horror, of great science fiction. That's really what I'm looking to pick up the --- tube to use an English expression and see if we can push on Filipino unrealism.

How can writers of fiction, especially speculative fiction, engage themselves in social causes? How can writers be agents of change?

Which is a really good question because I think that sometimes people think that you cannot talk about something real when you're talking about something unreal. Whereas I think it's the other way around. I think it's very very hard sometimes to talk about things that people are very very familiar with. Why did I write ---? I could have written a novel about homelessness in London and nobody would have ever read it except those people who are interested in homelessness in London. And instead I wrote a novel called Neverwhere. And somewhere you get --- taken away from him about the people who fall through the cracks and I get to write about the dispossessed, I get to write about the people whose lives fall through the cracks, I get to write about the homeless and the land in a way which makes people read the book and look at the homeless encounter possibly for the first time because it's talking about the way that all the people who've become invisible to the people who have jobs working income. But you can do that better sometimes when you sort of go around the prom.... in the same way that you talk about these feelings that you had when you were a kid whether you're gay, whether you're sloppy, whether you're weird, whether you were a nerd, whether you were lonely. And suddenly you're a --- and you could have helped that in a way...

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