Posted April 28, 2016 by Norby Ela in Comics

How DAVID HONTIVEROS writes his 5 comic books

This month of April, Alamat Comics writer David Hontiveros released 5 comic books. He did a great feat. FlipGeeks got to question on how does he manage writing multiple books, and separate characters in each book to have his/her unique voice.

[CHECK OUT… 6 DAVID HONTIVEROS Books premiering this Summer 2016]

DAVID HONTIVEROS: I’ve always made it a point to differentiate characters (and in a broader sense, the comic they headline) through a number of things.

The most primary, is of course, character, personality.

Is the character male or female? How old is the character? What kind of backstory does the character have? Did he or she grow up rich or poor? What kind of education did they have? Are they from a foreign country?

All of these elements are just some of the factors that determine how a person speaks, the kind of vocabulary they use, the personal points of reference they have.

I feel that a character’s dialogue–how he or she speaks, how a character expresses him- or herself–is fundamental to giving them their own particular voice.

And that, for me, entails knowing each character and their backstory, and ensuring that they have an interior life, that they are as 3-dimensional as I can make them.

In a broader sense, some of the other elements that serve to differentiate one character from another also have to do with the comic they headline, the tone and mood of the book.

Now, The ‘Verse is currently made up of 5 titles, DAKILA, KADASIG, URIEL, TATSULOK, and AGYU.

All 5 titles are set in the same shared universe, so there are a number of common elements that can be found in all of them, such as the strong presence of myth and folklore and the supernatural.

Alphabetically, they are:



The main character here is Elias Sandoval, who is half-human, half-enkanto, and the chosen champion of thebuwaya.

Agyu 01

Following the tragic death of his human mother, and living homeless and on the streets of Manila for a number of years, Elias is taken in and adopted by the enkanto royal family (who are currently in exile). Elias becomes part of the Royal Enkanto Guard, and has, essentially been raised in the military life, so at his core, he’s a soldier.

Certain strands and echoes of the Manobo legend of Agyu also find their way into the DNA of the comic itself.



The main character here is Brandon Ramirez, a teen-aged geek who suddenly finds himself with the power to transform into the cosmic champion of the almighty Hari ta mga Magbabaya.

Speaking the Divine Oath while wearing a magickal costume, Brandon becomes Dakila, and faces adversaries that include demons, fallen angels, creatures of myth and folklore, and Magbabaya’s own dark and shadowy brother, Mangilala.

Dakila Metronom 02 covDakila Makina 03 cov

Because of Brandon’s age (he’s 17 when he first becomes Dakila), there’s a sense of impulsiveness to the character, as well as a sense of fanboy awe and excitement (as least at the beginning).

Some of the comic’s DNA include elements of coming of age, of Brandon growing into the powers and responsibility of being a divine champion, of finding himself, of defining his identity in the face of such a weighty role.

This is also the most overtly spandex/superhero title in The ‘Verse.



The main character here was once a warrior whose family and tribe faced the threat of an invading aswang horde. He makes a deal with the Lady Ibu, who turns him into Kadasig, a walking arsenal, who can draw weapons from out of his own body.

So here, we have the long-lived demon/creature hunter/killer. This is really the only life he’s ever known. Once he became Kadasig, a certain part of himself, that part that was once a caring human, was sealed off.

Kadasig 01

So, in the narrative of the comic, part of what needed to be there was an arc that would gradually “re-humanize” the character, to make him reconnect with all those parts of himself that he shut away in order to do his job as Kadasig.

(Because this kind of character, the “long-lived demon/creature hunter/killer” can so easily fall into the boringly mind-numbing trap of being portrayed as a cardboard automaton, repetitively facing the demon-of-the-week with some new, never-before-seen weapon-of-the-week, I needed to make sure that there was actually aperson there, whose journey would keep me interested in telling his story.)

This is also the ‘Verse comic where the horror elements are the most overt.



Its 4 issues completed and compiled, TATSULOK: A Vision of Dust follows three protagonists: Lucio, a half-human, half-demon hybrid; Miguel, a half-human, half-angel hybrid; and Lora, a succubus.

Lora’s one of Ibu’s ladies-in-waiting, and she’s suddenly run off. Lucio, who also works for the Lady Ibu, is tasked to bring Lora back. Miguel, meanwhile, is keeping close tabs on one, and is intimately connected to the other.

Tatsulok cov

Taking place over Holy Week 2009, I’ve always said that TATSULOK is about an individual’s freedom to decide who they are, regardless of all the personal baggage that they bring with them, regardless of who their parents are and how they are perceived by others. (Self-determination and self-actualization are recurring themes through all of my work, whether comics or otherwise.)

Of the 5 titles, TATSULOK is also probably the least superhero-ey book, with no masks or capes in sight.



The main character here is the titular warrior angel, whose current mortal charge is 7-year-old Maleck de los Santos.

Grievously wounded, Uriel is forced to use Maleck’s body as a safe haven to heal, but inadvertently causes the boy to lapse into a coma that modern medicine cannot explain.

So it’s up to Uriel to find a way to safely leave Maleck’s body, and deal with the traitorous angel who put all these events into motion in the first place.

Uriel 3B cov

Similar to Kadasig, but even trickier, Uriel is the kind of character who is also their function.

Warrior angel.

He’s not even human, and this is what he was created for. He is his function.

So, again, there needed to be an arc that would serve to forcibly remind Uriel that his actions have very real consequences, and in the human, temporal realm, those consequences are very grave.

Otherwise, again like Kadasig, there is the risk of having an automatonlike protagonist.

This is the realization that hits home to Uriel: that he may be a significant champion of Heaven and a formidable force in the Perpetual War between Light and Dark, but he’s also doing what he’s doing because he needs to protect the human race, who are far more fragile, far more mortal, than he will ever be.

Norby Ela

Now residing in San Diego, CA, I strive to work in art and further grow FlipGeeks around the world.