• Mikey Sutton • Editor in Chief • Owner

'Encantadia' Designer Noel Layon Flores Draws Mikey Sutton Comic Inspired by Kate Valdez, 'Sabrina'

There is a new Filipina superhero in comics, and even though she hasn't made her debut yet, her face will be familiar to viewers of the GMA Network.

It was in 2018 that artist Noel Layon Flores introduced himself to me. At the time, I didn't who he was, the Lead Visual Designer of 2016's Encantadia, the immensely popular Philippine TV series that unleashed a Game of Thrones-styled fantasy to daily soap opera programming. I had never seen an episode. Noel and I discussed working on a comic book together -- me writing, him drawing. I had an idea about a Filipina protagonist with extraordinary powers. I was struggling with depression at the time, and I decided to attempt uplifting myself with a project that veered from the dark material which was my comfort zone. So I envisioned a Pinay in a humorous shojo-type comic. After months of struggling with making it spark, I stopped; it wasn't funny, it wasn't working.

And then, the worst happened: I had a stroke.

I couldn't write, my hands barely able to move for weeks. I was in the hospital for months,

actually lucky to be alive. Shortly after being released from the hospital, I accidentally discovered the Filipino TV show Onanay that my mother was watching and saw actress Kate Valdez for the first time. My initial reaction was, who is that? It was like inspiration took the form of a person and was waving hello. Immediately, I knew she was the Filipina comic-book character I wanted to write but prior to seeing Kate I couldn't visualize her.

Time passed.

Despite that I knew who I wanted the Pinay to look like, the shojo style proved to be too challenging to write.

I interviewed Kate thanks to Noel, who introduced me to her manager Christelle Mamaril. It was during a conversation with Kate that she told me she liked the Netflix TV series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Upon Kate's recommendation, I started watching Sabrina, and the path suddenly lit up like a plane runway at night. Drop the shojo and go full-on horror. So I did. After over a year of blank pages, I wrote the script in two weeks.

This comic is scheduled for publication in 2021, hopefully after the pandemic has drifted into the abyss. I am thrilled and awestruck by Noel's gorgeous artwork, some of which is being publicly shown here for the first time. I will announce more details closer to the release date.

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