There has never been a local magazine devoted to YA fiction in the SF and fantasy genres. (Which is a bit weird really, as most of the books that sell in our bookstores belong to this genre.) Kwentillion aims to change that, as it features YA graphic fiction, short stories, interviews of graphic novelists, a few artworks of up and coming graphic artists, and a lineup of YA fiction in 2012.
I'm a bit surprised that it's selling for only Php 150 (around $3.50), considering the extent, the quality of the paper, and the full-color pages in the middle. But this is good, right? This means that teenagers need not shell out a significant fraction of their allowance to get a copy. It's basically almost the same price as a venti mocha frappuccino.
I feel that the strength of Kwentillion lies in the graphic fiction that appears on its pages. For the maiden issue, it featured a story steeped in Philippine mythology by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo (the team behind the popular Trese series), the weirdly funny 'Poso Maximo' by Robert Magnuson, the wonderfully steampunk-ish 'High Society' by Paolo Chikiamco, and the space opera (space operatic?) themed 'Sky Gypsies' by Timothy Dimacali and John Bumanglag. For these stories alone, the magazine's price is totally worth it.
Of course, being in the book publishing industry for some years now, I'm particular about the layout of printed work. Some of the sections in the magazine have very few 'resting spaces' for one's eyes, such as the short story by Andrew Drilon entitled 'The Secret Origin of Spin-Man', the only non-graphic work of fiction in the magazine. I'm apprehensive if young adults would take the time to read it, since it does appear to be lengthy and text heavy, something which is all the more ubiquitous in a magazine that has lots and lots of visually stimulating panels of graphic fiction. The layout of the interviews featuring Manix Abrera and Chester Ocampo could use more write areas too.
Also, there seems to be a dearth of local YA non-graphic fiction available in bookstores. The magazine did feature a lineup of highly anticipated YA fiction to be released this year. The writers chose 11 titles, but only 1 is local. Maybe Kwentillion would change all this. It's the perfect time for publishers to tap local talent to come up with genre novels for this market.
It's an exciting time for YA fiction. We have the talent and ingenuity to succeed in this genre. Kwentillion makes us aware of this potential. Thumbing through its pages and seeing the artworks, I am amazed by the artistry of individuals, some just barely out of college. I have a huge admiration for this kind of talent, as I can't even draw stick figures.
Oh, one other thing. Perhaps Kwentillion can be less testosterone-y in the next issue? The short story and the graphic fiction all had male writers and artists. Must female writers be delegated to produce the feature articles only?
But hey, this is just the first issue. I'm sure that Kwentillion will just get more awesome with each issue. Kudos to Paolo Chikiamco, Budjette Tan, and their team for coming up with this magazine. Now I'm off to get my subscription!
Addendum (made after Paolo Chikiamco's comment):
There's a single female involved in the graphic fiction featured in Kwentillion -- the uber talented Hannah Buena. My apologies if I missed this in my original post.