‘TRESE’ gets animated
It was a most unusual, almost supernatural 24 hours. On Nov. 8, Netflix announced during its See What’s Next: Asia event in Singapore that the comic book series “TRESE” would be transformed into an original anime series on the streaming site. Within the next 24 hours of the announcement, the “TRESE” Indiegogo campaign—launched by creators Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo to distribute the “TRESE” comic book internationally—rocketed from the 85 percent of backing over the last week to 129 percent, fulfilling its funding goal. In a day, “TRESE” went from the Filipino comic book series that could to an international animated series and an internationally distributed comic book.
While he still can’t talk too much about the Netflix Original Anime show, Tan credits the deal to their producers from collaborators BASE Entertainment, Tanya Yuson and Shanty Harmayn. “I actually met Tanya eight years ago. She had just come back from the US and was looking for some local screenplays to produce,” he said. “Someone recommended she read ‘TRESE’ and got in touch with me. Around five years ago, that’s when Tanya and Shanty started to actively pitch ‘TRESE’ to foreign studios and they also met with local studios and networks.” The show boasts Jay Oliva—who’s worked on a ton of superhero projects in both animated and live-action form—is director and executive producer.
Tan, who is now based in Billund, Denmark, working for LEGO, explained how the original idea of a live-action series evolved into an animated show: “For the past four or five years, we have been trying to pitch ‘TRESE’ as a live-action movie or TV series. But for some reason or another, those deals and pitches did not push through. When we heard that Netflix Anime division was looking for new content, we pitched ‘TRESE’ and they liked it! Somehow, it makes more sense that the first adaptation of ‘TRESE’ would be an animated series, since we don’t need to worry so much if we have enough budget for SFX and CG to render all the monsters and creatures in the best way possible. But, who knows, maybe we’ll still get to see a live-action ‘TRESE’ in the future!”
“TRESE” was spawned as individual issues of a komiks series in 2005 through the iconic Alamat Comics imprint and later published in collected form by Visual Print Enterprises (Visprint). The stylishly black-and-white “TRESE” followed the cases of mysterious investigator Alexandra Trese, part of a family with a long history in the supernatural. The series relocated Filipino mythology and folklore in a gritty, modern urban setting, with Trese getting called in by the police when the inexplicable happens. Among Trese’s first cases: a white lady is murdered on the corner of Balete Drive and 13th street, as well as a tikbalang with a passion for drag racing. Trese, who operates a bar called the Diabolical as her day job, is assisted by the gun-wielding twin bodyguards known as the Kambal. As the series went on to popular acclaim, it expanded its own mythology as it explored the tortured history of the Trese family and the enemies it had made over the years.
Through the years, “TRESE” transformed from single issues to trade paperback collections to hardcover omnibus back to single issues and into merchandise such as T-shirts, stuffed toys and even resin figures. It stands to figure that a TV series is its most magical form yet.
Tan is, of course, grateful. “The cliché answer would be ‘It’s a dream come true!’ One of our readers just showed me the Afterword I wrote for Book 4 where I talked about dreaming of the day there would be a ‘TRESE’ movie or TV show, but I said that things didn’t work out that year and that me and Kajo will just focus on doing what we do best: tell comic book stories. So, I am thankful and excited and ecstatic that a ‘TRESE’ series will finally happen and even more excited that it will be under Netflix! This would be that we’ll finally get to share our love for Philippine myth and folklore to a global audience.”
The Indiegogo campaign was Baldisimo’s idea when the duo’s attempts to pitch “TRESE” to foreign comic book companies failed to produce results. From Sept. 13 to November, the Indiegogo campaign gathered backers but seemed to have stalled right before the Netflix announcement. That’s been fixed, of course at the end of the campaign, it has been funded 189 percent) and now Tan and Baldisimo are preparing to release the original “TRESE” series in a redrawn English edition to the rest of the world. “We are extremely thankful to everyone that contributed and to everyone who helped promote it—our readers, our family and friends, and Neil Gaiman!—in the past couple of years, we have tried to pitch ‘TRESE’ to US publishers but got rejected. So, it was Kajo who thought of running this Indiegogo campaign and I’m happy he convinced me to do it, the same way he convinced me to do a monthly comic book 13 years ago.” The first issue of the “TRESE Global Edition” ships in February.
For Filipino fans of the ongoing series, there is no need to worry as Tan has updates about the seventh book: “If you check out the ‘TRESE’ Facebook page, we have uploaded some panels of ‘The Exorcism of Linda Blasco.’ This case, which features Father Matthias Trese, will be one of the stories in Book 7. We target to finish Book 7 next year.”
There is indeed a lost awaiting fans of “TRESE” in the immediate future. While no details or release dates of the Netflix show (you can read more at the offcial “TRESE” Netflix homepage (netflix.com/title/81012541), its arrival will be the single most important development for Filipino komiks on the world stage. In the meantime, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo will return to the process of unleashing “TRESE” in comic book form, both unexplored and revisited. “So, yes, Kajo will be juggling doing art for the Global Edition and Book 7,” Tan said. “Don’t know what magic spell he’ll use but he said he’ll make it happen!” It must be magic—after all, “TRESE” was indeed born 13 years ago, a lucky number recognized by its creators and fans.
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