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April 14, 2014

A Love Story Told Differently


It is so easy to mistake love for lust, but what happens when the opposite occurs? Such is the peculiar way in which Gerry Alanguilan’s hero, Daniel, finds himself in his comic book, “Where Bold Stars Go to Die”.

Reprinted by SLG Publishing in 2013, this collaborative effort between Alanguilan and architect/artist Arlanzandro Esmeña tells the story of how a young man, Daniel, discovered the faded 80s bold star Anna via old soft-porn videos. Initially serving as an outlet for his carnal desires, Daniel somehow falls for Anna, and his hopeless infatuation led him to a longing akin to a lover pining after an unreachable beloved.

Seeing that Anna is beyond his physical reach, Daniel’s obsession has him taking matters literally into his own hands. After a particularly exhausting session, he falls asleep and wakes up in a seeming dream that had famous sex symbols frolicking in a forest. He sees Anna, who tells him that it was through his thinking and fantasies of her that helped keep her real within the realms of that forest. Anna shows Daniel her thanks that had the young man’s fantasies coming true. But in a twist that is reminiscent of “Somewhere in Time”, Daniel wakes up to find himself in his own bed again, never to go back to that fantastic world where, briefly, Anna was a woman in the flesh to him.

“Where Bold Stars Go To Die” is an erotic story imbued with the idealism of romantic love. On the surface, it may appear to objectify women by sexualizing them, but Alanguilan’s story actually posits women as holding power over men. The bold stars may have long been dead and gone, but as long as men still lust for them, their memory is kept alive, as symbolically represented by the sylvan scene of the starlets cavorting in the magical forest. The women’s nudity may appear to show everything, yet they give nothing away of their inner selves, while men, as symbolized by Daniel, are held in thrall by their obsession over the women.

As a celebration of the naked female form, this work is also a look-back and a homage on how the classic Pinoy komiks illustrators sensuously recreates the curves and lines of woman on paper. It is not pornography, but rather erotica, as seen in how Esmeña rendered even the most sexual scenes with an eye towards sensitivity and finesse. Adding to the charm of the comic book is the addition of a pin-up gallery of the female nude as rendered by noted artists like Francisco V. Conching, Tony De Zuñiga, Leinil Francis Yu, Brice Beckham, Carlo Vergara, Carlo Pagulayan, Edgar Tadeo, Philip Tan, Gilbert Monsanto, and Arnold Arre.

“Where Bold Stars Go to Die” can be ordered online at or check out the local comic book outlets.

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