LOOK: Buffy the Vampire Slayer releases exclusive PH cover featuring Pinay slayer

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2020 11:51 AM

LOOK: Buffy the Vampire Slayer releases exclusive PH cover featuring Pinay slayer 1
Courtesy of Filbar's

MANILA — After last year’s exclusive cover of Archie and friends eating halo-halo in front of Rizal Park, the next major comic series to feature the Philippines is Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

ABS-CBN News got a sneak peek of its upcoming cover designed by Trese artist Kajo Baldisimo. It shows a young vampire slayer garbed in traditional Filipino attire and brandishing a stake and a sword that looks like a bolo.

Ivan Guerrero, chief creative officer of comic book store Filbar’s, said they approached the publisher BOOM! Studios last year after the series featured a variant cover of a “very striking” Filipino slayer from the 1910s. The unnamed character was wearing a Maria Clara outfit while in a trophy room of what seems to be monsters that she had killed.

“The idea of a period Filipino character in the Buffy universe really excited us, so much so that we actually wrote to the publishers and asked them if they would develop the character further,” Guerrero said.

LOOK: Buffy the Vampire Slayer releases exclusive PH cover featuring Pinay slayer 2
Courtesy of Filbar's

After several months, BOOM! told them that the character will finally have its first full appearance in Buffy: Every Generation #1, which features three stories set in the universe of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The oversized one-shot comic book is also supposed to introduce a new and important character of the series.

BOOM! chose Baldisimo from a list of artists because of his work with Trese and supernatural characters in the Philippine setting.

Trese is a popular graphic novel created by Budjette Tan and Baldisimo. Set in a modern world, the heroine Trese is a detective who deals with crime involving supernatural beings. Trese was recently picked up by Netflix to be turned into an anime series.

Guerrero, whose team was also behind the iconic Archie cover last year, said they made sure to give the Buffy the Vampire Slayer variant cover a Filipino twist as well. However, because many well known monuments did not exist yet in the 1910s, the group had to think of other references.

“During this period, people could be arrested for being in possession of the flag. We wanted to hint at this historical period somehow, so elements and colors of the flag are hinted at on the cover that Kajo designed, without showing the actual flag,” Guerrero explained.

The final design gives a fitting nod to the Philippine flag, with the cover split into three sections like the flag. Baldisimo said it also made the cover “somewhat recognizable and familiar to all Filipinos when you're looking at it from a shelf 4 to 8 meters away.”

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Courtesy of Kajo Baldisimo

Courtesy of Kajo Baldisimo

Courtesy of Kajo Baldisimo

Courtesy of Kajo Baldisimo

Courtesy of Kajo Baldisimo

Baldisimo, who took some time off from working on Trese, said he was honored and excited that he was chosen to do the design.

“Buffy is a badass who dedicated her life fighting supernatural evil. I like that trope,” he said. “Like Trese, the protagonist is also a cool Filipina who's wielding something pointy and charging towards unseen monstrosities.”

Baldisimo, who is most known for this black-and-white drawings for Trese, said he was most excited rendering the Filipina slayer’s “beautiful, intricate, traditional Philippine battle garb.”

He said the general design of the characters was made by the illustrator of the book. “They showed me the story and I based my reinterpretation of the design from there. I added details and nuances that were not obvious in the story,” he said, explaining how he researched Filipino battle uniforms used before the 19th and 20th century. 

Baldisimo said even before he was given the project, he was quite interested in the time period of the unnamed slayer.

“I'm interested in the simplicity and the subtle sophistication of that era. The absence of internet and convenient technologies, I think, lend themselves to very simple but effective stories about basic human drama. Plus, I find the fashion and architecture back then very pleasing,” he said.

Baldisimo said he made sure to capture the other elements in the book, which apparently includes the creepy manananggal featured on the cover.

“We love our monster myths… I imagine, a vampire slayer based in the Philippines will elicit a pleasant and familiar reaction from Pinoy readers,” he said.

At one point, he said he had to ask the editor if the cover will push through despite the COVID-19 pandemic. “He said yes and here we are. That made me very happy to know that art and storytelling is still a part of people's priorities even during a crisis.”

Asked if he can share any updates on the much-anticipated animated version of Trese, Baldisimo said, “Honestly, regarding the show, I'm as knowledgeable as any Trese fan. Which means, I also know almost nothing. I like it that way. I want to be as excited and surprised as everyone when it finally streams.”

The comic book special Buffy: Every Generation #1 is now available for pre-order at Filbar’s and will arrive in the Philippines by June 2020.