Posted December 11, 2014 by Norby Ela in Comics

LET’S TALK KOMIKS: Budjette Tan & Kajo Baldisimo swim to HIGH TIDE AT MIDNIGHT – Trese Book 6

With the premiere launch of Trese – High Tide at Midnight this Saturday, Flipgeeks got a chance to have an interview with the creators of the series – Budjette Tan & Kajo Baldisimo about the new installment that revolves around Alexandra Trese, The Madame and such.

FLIPGEEKS: In early middle November was supposed to be the launch of Book 6 and you’ve announced it back early at November 4 that it will not go through, when did you really realize that Book 6 will not make it? Who first realized it? How did that person break the news to the other guy? How did the other guy react to it?
BUDJETTE TAN: We were really targeting to finish the book in time for the November KOMIKON. When we realized that we still had artwork to finish and revisions to do, we realized it wasn’t going to get printed in time. So, we just pushed back the deadline and decided not to rush it for the KOMIKON. But we still wanted to release it this year, so it’s finally coming out this December 13.
KAJO BALDISIMO: Just speaking for myself, I knew the book won’t make it when I had 60 days left, 30 pages to do and then several storyboard projects came in. Feeding my family takes priority over anything else.

How many pre-ordered? What were your reaction about the number of people who pre-ordered for Book 6?
trese 6 BUDJETTE: I was told around 150 people pre-orders at Komikon. We are very thankful for all our excited readers who want to get their hands on Book 6.
KAJO: We are very thankful to our readers who patiently endured our delays and remained very excited for the next Trese book.

How is TRESE BOOK 6: HIGH TIDE AT  different from past Trese books?
BUDJETTE: If you liked Book 3 and 5, then you might like Book 6. If you liked reading TRESE stories with a long story arc, then this book is for you! What makes it different? Trese shares the spotlight with her “kuya” – Carlos Trese aka THE VERDUGO.
KAJO: Storywise, I think it’s different in a way that it’s ‘bigger’. Readers will see Alex’s universe expand even wider in this chapter. We’ll see in the next books how she will, or won’t, cope with it. Artwise, It’s different because I want every Trese book to look different every time so I experimented with new techniques.

In Book 6, Taga-Dagat creatures invade, how are they a bigger threat than any past creatures in any of your previous books?
BUDJETTE: Compared to all the other enemies of TRESE, the Taga-Dagat are probable the most savage. They’re like barbarians – like Vikings!—who just want to invade your section of the city and pillage it. They don’t respect The Agreements, the set of rules that’s being followed by our world and the underworld.
KAJO: Most Aswang kill for ritual or from hunger. The Taga-dagat gangs will kill and die just for fun. They’re not even crazy. They’re just addicted to that thrill.

Could you please explain more about ‘the Shift’? How is it going to affect throughout Book 6? Can a human take it?
BUDJETTE: Simply put, the Shift drug will allow you to gain the abilities of other creatures. Can a human take it? You’ll see what happens when a human takes it in Book 6.
KAJO: The Shift pill gives you creature abilities. If your mind and body can take it, it will benefit you. If not, let’s just say it makes you regret taking it quite a bit.

Compared to all the other enemies of TRESE, the Taga-Dagat are probable the most savage. They’re like barbarians – like Vikings!

What’s the most difficult part of making Trese 6?
KAJO: For me, the self-doubt. The second guessing. That illusion of making a ‘perfect’ book. That ‘perfect book’ is not real and won’t ever happen. Once I got over that, I’m back on the FUN.

Kajo, have you tried practicing different art styles and techniques in Book 6?
Yes sir! I had loads of fun experimenting with new tools and techniques. Now it’s time to move on, try out a new style for book 7.

Budjette, how do you plot/script a story? Is it very well detailed, like a screenplay with thumbnail images? Is Kajo the kind of artist where he needs full-detailed scripts or loosely-detailed scripts?
For TRESE Books 1 to 4, I always gave Kajo a full-script. With Book 5 and 6, we shifted to a semi-Marvel style. Since our workload is now heavier, there’s not much time to so a full script. So, I’d send Kajo a plot of what the new book is about and then send him general descriptions of the action on the page. After he’s done with them, he sends me the art and I write the dialogue for it.

Well, in a strange sort of way, the re-imagined Bangungot is the closest we have to a “unique creature”.

Kajo, now having worked with six volumes for Trese, have you noticed any change from Budjette’s style of writing? Does he ever say “kaw na bahala” in some point, like in designing characters or in making page lay-outs (paneling, positioning of characters and such)?
For Book 6, we opted to try the old Marvel style so Budj’s script for this is not as detailed but still retains the important notes and directions that points very clearly where the page and the story needs to go. Budj always allowed me creative freedom for the visuals since book one so the fun experience is still very much the same.
trese6online chapter4 page11 SEEPUL

Kajo, who is the most difficult character to draw in Book 6?
SEEPUL! She’s got wind tribe tattoos all over. Fans who bought the TRESE poster featuring Hannah and Ammie will see what I mean. But I love this character so much that I actually enjoyed putting all the details.

Budjette, have you ever requested Kajo to revise a design of a character in that will be featured in Book 6?
I think the only character I asked him to revise was the look of the new Bagyon. For all the other new characters, include The Verdugo and his Squad, they were all approved after the first pass.

I always picture you, having an old typewriter, writing Trese scripts in a dark old Filipiniana room with a single candle lit and an open window where you can blindly see a vast tropical forest in the night. Is that your formula when you write Trese scripts?
BUDJETTE: Hahaha! How I wish I had a “writing shack”, similar to where Gaiman writes (whenever he’s at home). Nope, I think I did most of the writing of Book 6 at home, in coffee shops, and at the car wash.

With many sets of previews posted in the Trese site, is there still a bigger chunk (more number of pages) of the that your audience haven’t seen that will be in Book 6? Can you give us hints on what’s more to come?
BUDJETTE: We uploaded the first four chapters of the book. The last chapter of the book is over 50 pages long. So, yes, there’s still a huge chunk of the story that will hopefully surprise and delight the readers.
KAJO: We posted about 79 pages of chapter 1-4 at the TRESE site. Chapter 5 is 52 pages long so I think, yes, there are still quite a few goodies to see in book 6.
trese6online chapter3 page03 MADAME

Will be ‘The Madame’ be a bigger character in Trese in the future? Is she human? From my assumption, she is kind of similar like to Imelda Marcos. But, if she is, have you had any hesitations in using her as the inspiration for the ‘The Madame’ character?
BUDJETTE: The Madame will play a very important role in future TRESE stories.
KAJO: Let’s just say that The Madame is a ‘big deal’ in the TRESE universe.

Budjette, with signs of male Trese family members being in Book 6, do you approach them as they have same or different personalities? If ‘different’ how are they different apart from one another? If they are going to be featured equally, how do you find balance when writing them in Book 6?
If you take a book at the dedication in Book 3, I dedicated the book to my four uncles. They’re the basis for the four brothers of Trese. So, the readers will hopefully see how different they are, once you see them all together. And yes, the plan is to introduce the other brothers in future books.

In Book 5, we gave Prof. Trese some screen-time with Alexandra. I wanted to show that she still relies on her brothers for information, that she still hasn’t mastered everything about the underworld.

Book 6 (I did not tell Budj) somehow, indirectly, featured a ‘Pinoy Expendables’…

In Book 6, I tried to make it a book about The Verdugo, as well as Alex.
Kajo, I always picture you that you would be in a batcave with this state-of-the-art super computer where you can do your Trese magic. With you drawing Trese digitally, what tools do you use?
Yes. Pretty much, I live in a batcave. Surrounded by dolls and robots, I draw pages on my tablet with Photoshop. But now, I miss sunlight and I miss pen and paper . Expect pages for Book 7 to be drawn entirely on paper.

Who was more stressed during the making of Book 6?
BUDJETTE: I think we got the same amount of stress. Hehehe!
KAJO: Budj and I are equally ‘stressed’. Making ‘words’ make sense and making ‘doodles’ make sense and putting ‘words’ and ‘doodles’ together to make sense is not very easy. You gotta love it to do it over and over again. After 600+ pages, you can assume that Budj and I really love it.

What’s your approach with regards to your fans’ suggestions about adding characters and bending plots? How open are you to them?
BUDJETTE: It’s always great to hear/read what our reades have to say. We keep them in mind, but don’t always allow it to influence where we want to take the story.
KAJO: We love reading them and speculating with them but ultimately, Budj and I will follow and listen to the very first 2 Trese readers and the 2 most absolute Trese fanboys there are. Their names are Budjette and Kajo.

Yes. Pretty much, I live in a batcave. Surrounded by dolls and robots…

Have you both ever tried making your own unique creature?
BUDJETTE: Well, in a strange sort of way, the re-imagined Bangungot is the closest we have to a “unique creature”. As explained in that story, people normally attribute the bangungot to the batibat or to eating too much rice before sleeping.

For Book 6, I’d like to think we’re offering a different spin to the traditional way of portraying the siokoy.
KAJO: We have and we’ll continue to do so.

[Check out… LAST SEEN AFTER MIDNIGHT Interview with Budjette Tan & Kajo Baldisimo]

What happened to Captain German?
BUDJETTE: As far as I’m concerned, he valiantly died during the Battle at the Great Balete Tree. Or maybe he didn’t.

What local komiks woud you like to have a cross-over with in the future?
BUDJETTE: Hmmm… that list would include: Timawa, Zsazsa Zaturnnah, the cast of Tabi Po, the guys from Crime Fighting Call-Center Agents, Pastor Jesus “Banal” Sagrado, Kadasig, the cast of Skyworld, and Andong Agimat.
KAJO: Carl (Vergara)’s Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Arnold (Arre)’s The Mythology Class, Manix (Abrera)’ Kiko Machine and Gerry (Alanguilan)’s Wasted (I know Eric is dead but still…).

trese6online chapter2 page04 kambal

Will Books 4-6 be compiled in hardcover? Ideally, when will it be released?
BUDJETTE: Hahaha! We’ll have to ask Nida (our publisher) if she’s open to that idea. I guess it’ll depend on the sales of (Trese) The Book of Murders.
KAJO: I hope so. We need to ask first our publisher, Nida.

What comic books have you been reading these days?
BUDJETTE: I’m now picking up SAGA, EAST OF WEST, Vertigo’s CMYK.
KAJO: Not much. Money is being burned on food and dolls these days. I do my catching up on Wiki. But I’ll be buying more trades and reading more this coming 2015.

Have you both tried switching roles, where Budjette would draw and Kajo would write?
BUDJETTE: Wait for it… !!!
KAJO: Hehe. SOON! People might hate it but I’m pretty sure Budj and I will love it!

By any chance, if you two will ever get to meet Imelda Marcos in the future with the knowledge that she has read Book 6, what do you think she’ll say to you?
BUDJETTE: HAHAHA! I just hope she enjoys reading the story.
KAJO: I hope she likes the book.

Will we see any romance storyline in Book 6?
BUDJETTE: There’s going to be a lot of action in Book 6.
KAJO: I’m not sure. Readers can judge. Hehe.

On Chapter 4, page 8 – who is that ‘great friend’? Will that person be revealed more in Book 6 or will it be played through future books?
BUDJETTE: I have no idea. When Trese tells me, I’ll tell you.
KAJO: I need to ask Budj, also. It excites me to not know.

If there will ever be spin-off series of Trese characters, who would they be? Who in the local comic book community would you let him/her write and draw them?
BUDJETTE: Once we’ve introduced all the brothers, it would be great to do spin-off books for each brother. As far as other characters are concerned, we’ve already started with PRECINTO 13. Of course, it would be great with work with David Hontiveros, Gerry Alanguilan, Carlo Vergara, Paolo Chikiamco, Ian Sta. Maria, Mervin Ignacio, Mervin Malonzo, Noel Pascual, AJ Bernardo, Tepai Pascual.
KAJO: I’m pretty sure the brothers will have their own book in the future. I hope the Trese fans are willing to wait.

Who would you let be Alexandra Trese in a ‘Trese’ film, Bianca King, Nikki Veron Cruz or Rinko Kikuchi? Why?

BUDJETTE: Would still be great to find a new actress to portray Trese. Or we could put Bianca King, Rhian Ramos, Nikki Veron Cruz and Rinko Kikuchi in a ring and let them fight for the role.
KAJO: As of now, Ellen Adarna, minus the sexuality, is how I imagine Alexandra as a person. But in film, Bianca, Nikki, Rinko and Rhian Ramos can do Alex justice in their own unique ways.

Kajo, did you base the Verdugo’s physical features from Julio Valiente?
Yes. I love that movie when I was a kid and that look stayed with me forever. Back In the early 80’s, I was I big fan of Pinoy action movies (starring Lito Lapid, Dante Varona, Bembol Roco, FPJ and Ramon Revilla Sr.) and Book 6 (I did not tell Budj) somehow, indirectly, featured a ‘Pinoy Expendables’ of some type. Hehe.

If you could have any foreign publisher, publish the Trese series, who would it be? Would it be ok if there would be any editiorial changes/revisions?
BUDJETTE: Image Comics or Dark Horse (Comics). If we got approved by one of those companies, then I don’t think we need to worry about editorial changes.
KAJO: Image Comics! Editorial revisions are welcome as long as the core of the character remains intact.

trese6online chapter3 page15 verdugo

How do you fix a writer’s/artist block? If one of you has it, how do you help/assist him?
BUDJETTE: Hmmm… I don’t think we’ve ever had the chance to help out each other when one of has writer’s block. In a strange sort of way, Kajo’s suggestion to start uploaded the pages of Trese online was a way to keep him drawing. It “pressured” him to finish drawing of “the next 8 pages” to meet the weekly deadline.
KAJO: I don’t really know how I can help Budj with his process but I’m hoping sending new pages inspire even just a little bit. Budj emails me stories and artworks sometimes that inspire me to do something different.

What is your favorite movie this year?
BUDJETTE: I haven’t had the chance to watch a lot of movies. I guess GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY was the last movie I enjoyed watching.
KAJO: (Captain America) The Winter Soldier, hands down.

Which would you save first from a massive flood: your comic book collection or your car? What things would you sacrifice over comic book collection?
BUDJETTE: Is this a variation of the question, “If your house was burning, which comic book would you get first” ? My most treaured book would be my copy of SANDMAN: SEASONS OF MIST, which was gift from my brother Brandie. And I was able to get Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, and Matt Wagner to autograph it. It even has a sketch of Morpheus by McKean.
KAJO: My family is my one and only concern. I don’t really care much if all my comics and dolls get eaten by the water or fire.

Hahaha! How I wish I had a “writing shack”, similar to where Gaiman writes

With a typhoon happening throughout Book 6, how do you deal whenever there’s one hitting our area? How would you deal it if there would be Taga-Dagat creatures capturing you as part of a sacrificial ritual?
BUDJETTE: HAHAHA! We’ll just stay in the upper floors and arm ourselves with cans of Spam. We can throw them at the Taga-Dagat. While they try to open the Spam without a can opener, we’ll get to run away.
KAJO: The apartment we’re renting is four floors high so flooding won’t be a problem. As for the Taga-dagat, I’ll make sure I’m equipped with a hot frying pan filled with hot cooking oil and ready a batch of soy sauce with calamansi. We are meant to eat fish and that’s how I’ll maintain it to be.

Norby Ela

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