Your Favorite Millennial Web Comic Is Now a Book
Watch for Hunghang Flashbacks at the MIBF!
(SPOT.ph) In December 2016, Hunghang Flashbacks—a web comic series by D. Borja—caught the attention of the World Wide Web. It racked up more than 100,000 likes in less than six months, thanks to subjects that included everyday awkward moments, cheesy pickup lines, and dumb puns. It also puts into panels the things we experience as millennials, from scrimping on travel money to trying to avoid doing the laundry. We had a short chat with the brains behind the project in April, just so we could bug him about how he came up with all the "wholesome kahunghangans" on his Facebook page.
As it turns out, the genesis of Hunghang Flashbacks (HHFB) is far from a eureka moment. It was just, after all, a challenge posed by his girlfriend. But what Borja calls a "petty" response has now been turned into a book, which will be sold at the Summit Books booth during the Manila International Book Fair from September 13 to 17. Before the artist starts being busy, we got in touch with him from all the way in Doha (where he now works) and asked how this new chapter of HHFB played out.
How did you end up making a full book?
Hala, paano nga ba? When Hunghang Flashbacks was steadily getting attention for the past months, sobrang na-motivate ako to create regular content. It was getting a lot of love and puro good vibes lang. Then eventually, meron nang readers na naghahanap ng book. But honestly, a book?! Nag-awkward laugh lang ako. Should I self-publish then? I was inspired by so many artists na maybe creating printed materials is not that unlikely after all. Kaso I was away from home so I don’t know if I have what it takes (to print, market, and sell) on my own.
But then out of nowhere, offers came! From creating an app, to merchandise, to little interviews and features, and then finally—a book! When Summit [Books] asked if I was interested—ay wala, tara na, pack your bags, we’re going to book town. And now lookie here, nasa papel na ang Hunghang Flashbacks. I’m so glad they believed in me and HHFB. Naririnig ko na ‘yong mga characters ko na nagtitilian. It’s all thanks to the readers and followers that gave so much attention to HHFB kaya it got noticed more and more.
Are these all new comics? How long did it take you to do the whole thing?
Mid-June when I met with the team and heto na, tara na’t gumawa ng libro. The original plan was to do a comic collection lang of what I have. But not everything is book-worthy (medyo abnoy pa ‘yong looks nila) and kailangan ko pa dagdagan. [It was] one comic strip per page for a 152-page book.
Kaso I don’t want the book to just be something na nakita na before. It has to be a new experience. Something na sulit bilhin. Something you’d want to have with you and make you go “Ah! I have a copy nga pala ng HHFB!” and feel excited. And dahil medyo impulsive ang bunganga ko, I told them “I can do two comics per page, mostly new ones. Plus illustrations.” I got a good pace going on. So long as I have an idea, I think I can do it.
Tapos ayan na, the deadline. We targeted the Manila International Book Fair and if we want to make it, I have to finish everything by the end of July. Forty-five days to be exact. Doing the math, napalunok na lang ako. What did I get myself into?! I have a day job so sa gabi lang ako nakakagawa. (Joke! Gumagawa ako habang break time.) It was a hellish 45 nights of coffee, Red Bull, and The Killers playlist on loop. But I had help from my partner, I taught her how to color and she delivered with A+ results. (Joke! Ang dami niyang lagpas.)
Long story short, I wasn’t able to do the target 200 comics, pero I’m proud to say I made it to 170! I had plenty of help from friends and the Internet for ideas. I used old comics, redrew old jokes, and even reimagined some jokes from the net. Looking back, medyo nakalimutan ko ata kung paano matulog for a while.
How do you feel about all of this?
The same feeling kapag may fieldtrip kinabukasan. The same feeling na katabi mo ‘yong friends mo sa bus. The same feeling kapag may bago kang damit and you can still smell that new purchase scent. The same feeling when it fits perfectly. The same feeling getting your first suweldo. The same feeling nung nakita mo ‘yong smile ng parents mo when you gave them your first suweldo. The same feeling kapag ikaw naman this time ang nakahuli sa crush mo na sumisilay pala sa’yo. The same feeling when she didn’t look away. Super overwhelmed and hindi makatulog (na naman!). Sobrang loved and sobrang appreciated. HHFB started as something na ginawa ko lang dahil petty ako and gusto ko lang patunayan sa partner ko na kaya kong gumawa ng series. And now libro na siya, sobrang high ng pakiramdam.
What’s next for D. Borja and Hunghang Flashbacks?
HHFB web comics will be louder than ever for sure. I’m trying to participate more in art markets and conventions. This October, may table ang HFFB sa Komiket. May exclusive comics din ako sa new zine nila. I may not be there personally [next month]—I have work outside Philippines—but HHFB will be in the good hands of my girlfriend. Say hello and bigyan niyo siya ng madaming love kapag nakasalubong niyo siya. For HHFB, I’m looking into creating more prints and exclusive content like self-published spin-offs, story arcs, more characters, at kung anu-ano pang kahunghangan. [It’s] wishful thinking pero sana makagawa pa ‘ko ng another book for it. So sana it performs well (*wink wink*). It’s still all new to me pero I’m trying my best to inspire other aspiring artists din by being a speaker in cartooning workshops. There were a few invites and I’m really happy about that.
Hunghang Flashbacks will be sold for P295 at the Manila International Book Fair from September 13 to 17 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. Book signing is on September 17, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Summit Books Booth between aisles O&P at the ground floor. It will be available in newsstands, bookstores, and convenience stores after the MIBF.