Posted February 4, 2016 by Norby Ela in Comics

LET’S TALK KOMIKS: Russell Molina and the Future of Sixty Six

Sixty Six creator Russell Molina balances the jump from being a children’s book author to komiks writer quite well. How does he manage now that his bromance with artist Ian Sta. Maria has become a long-distance relationship?

This is Let’s Talk Komiks.

LTK Russell Molina 01

FLIPGEEKS: From being a children’s book author, why did you jump to komiks?
: I wanted to continue the conversation with my audience. Readers who picked up my books in the early 2000s would be hitting their teen years now and I still wanted to connect with them and tell them new stories that are relevant. So I decided to write comics to reach out to them again, and also to start a conversation with a new audience.

How was the transition to making comics?
The same rules apply, I think: Tell the story in the most impactful way possible, pick the best words to push your narrative forward, think in pictures – these are the same techniques I’ve been using in writing for children’s books. In children’s books, you get to play with limited spreads. Here in comics, limited panels. So everything is purposive and the writing has to hit hard.

I’m also a big fan of collaboration. I’ve collaborated with so many great artists for my children’s books and that’s what I also bring to my comics writing – partnering well with artists to produce the best output possible.

How did you meet Ian Sta. Maria?
In our past lives, we worked together in advertising. I was doing copy and he was doing art. We’ve been friends for a long time now. And most of the ideas you see now are products of long nights on alcohol, hehehe. We more or less know how each other’s work style so the process has been really smooth for Sixty Six.

LTK Russell Molina 03

How did both of you mold Sixty Six, especially the main character?
Even before the character studies, we wanted to know Mang Tino and the gang first. So we had to talk about personal histories, dreams, motivations, fears, etc. I think once you have the emotions down pat, the look would come easy. We also tried to find people we know who resembled the characters and used them as jump off boards for the look. We really wanted a Pinoy character and that Pinoy look.

When Mervin (of SkyWorld fame) left for Denmark, the clock has been ticking.

I actually did a whole timeline of Mang Tino’s life – from his birth to the time when the book starts. It’s important that you have the timelines right and a good grasp of the period especially when you do flashbacks. Even the dialogue depends so much on knowing the time frames.


Before releasing it as a graphic novel, you released them as single-issue komiks. How did that work for you?
The single issues gave us traction for the story and I really thank the readers who initially picked it up and gave their reviews. Word of mouth did wonders for us. The single issues also affected the writing because we had to study the narrative and how we should break it down to sustain the attention and curiosity of the public.

With Komikon, Indiket and now Komiket, the creators have an avenue to discuss their work with the readers. That’s the main difference, I guess, from children’s books. In a way there’s a bit of co-creation there too because you get to interact with the readers and get the pulse of the market.

LTK Russell Molina 04

Sixty Six the graphic novel is under the Anino Comics imprint. Would you recommend this to anyone who does independent komiks?
I don’t think that getting published is the yardstick by which you should judge your work. And I really think creators should go indie at the start because you get to learn a lot about merchandising your work. Going indie also lets you interact with the reader more. Face-to-face selling is the best for me. Hehehe.

Do you miss being indie?
Well, I’m indie in my day job. Hehehe.

I think Anino, at least how they operate now, is sort of indie. They give you as much control and freedom to do your stuff.

Last year, Ian sold his soul and got work in Lego.
Yes! Bwahaha!

How did you find out that he’s leaving for Denmark? Were you emotionally, um, affected?
When Mervin (of SkyWorld fame) left for Denmark, the clock has been ticking. But thanks to technology, we get to communicate often. We’re happy for them because they get to pursue a new creative platform and hopefully we get Lego toys when they visit.

 [CHECK OUT… IAN STA. MARIA, Leaving the Philippines. Leaving Komiks?]

Would you label your status with Ian ‘a long distance relationship’?
Hahaha! Bromance.

Yes, very much like Mang Tino and Aura. Maybe we should write letters again.


Would you consider having a fill-in artist now that Ian is away? Who do you think can fill his shoes?
No comment ako diyan. I might pick the wrong artists and I have a lot of artist friends. Haha! But I really admire Kajo (Baldisimo)‘s work. I’m happy that I got to collaborate with him on 12:01.

What’s the synopsis of Sixty Six, Vol. 2?
That too I cannot tell you. Hahaha!

Aw man. Kahit teaser lang?
What I can tell you is – this is going to be the last book.

Yes, just two books.

I want to end it with book 2 and maybe another artist-writer tandem can pick it up and weave new stories from what we’ve started. I think that’ll be amazing!

I would love to see Mang Tino also in a new platform. Maybe a game or a film. I think the Sixty Six universe has so much potential. You can actually do a Donat spin-off with the tambays.

Would two volumes of Sixty Six be enough to build a foundation of an expanded world?Yeah, maybe not. But they would have more legroom, don’t you think?

Norby Ela

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