Sarge Lacuesta's 'Stay: 21 Comic Stories' Reminds Us That Comics are Also Literature
After Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer-cited Maus, or even Neil Gaiman's The Sandman series, no philistine has dared suggest that comic books (aka graphic novels) aren't capable of being works of art themselves. But if we ever need that reminder, Sarge Lacuesta's Stay: 21 Comic Stories demonstrates the potential power of the form.
Lacuesta, one of the brightest lights of Philippine arts and letters (and, full disclosure: Esquire Philippines' editor at large) has written a collection of poignant, eloquent short stories for this outing. That he chose to publish them as an ambitious collaboration with 17 comic book artists, along with photographer Shaira Luna and visual artist Igan D'Bayan, is a bold and novel move—though perhaps not surprising, given his love for comics.
"As a kid I really really loved comics. Because I couldn't afford the imported ones I resorted to borrowing from friends or buying local reprints. So much of my comic-reading was a matter of whatever-I-could-get-my-hands-on: stuff that ranged from Sgt. Rock and Jonah Hex to Heavy Metal and Maus," says Lacuesta. "Very recently, as I was preparing to write another book, I realized that I could go back to comics, this time as a creator."
Lacuesta had previously written Open Doors, Open Hearts, a comic book about President Manuel Quezon's Open Door policy of World War II. This foretaste showed him the possibilities of the format. "I also realized that I had so many stories that were lodged inside me waiting to get written. Writing them out as comic stories liberated them from oblivion—and, I soon found out, liberated me as a writer. All of a sudden the stories crystallized into shape more easily. I also found that working with these great artists helped give them more dimension and meaning."
Stay: 21 Comic Stories will be released in a limited-edition run at the 2018 Komikon on November 17 to 18 at the Bayanihan Center in Mandaluyong City. To pre-order or reserve, visit Good Intentions Books on Facebook.