Sol Dalusung and the Nameless Hero is a komik that mixes Kapampangan mythology with a Filipino LGBTQIA+ story in a fantasy-adventure setting.
Over the past decade, comic book movies have been some of the hottest and most popular forms of entertainment. With this rise in popularity also comes the rise in more people buying and reading comic books. What was once seen as a hobby only enjoyed by geeks is now more widely accepted in public.
While there is nothing wrong with reading Marvel, DC, or other foreign comic books, we should also remember that the local scene is also viable and should receive its fair share of attention. After all, the success of the Netflix adaptation of Trese earlier this year showed that there is an appetite for local komiks. And you don’t have to look far to find local komiks as there are places like Penlab that host dozens of materials for you to read.
One such komik that you may want to pay attention to is Sol Dalusung and the Nameless Hero by Cams Cabezas, who goes by Breezami online. The komik was just launched this September on Penlab and is currently ongoing. Inspired by Kapampangan mythology, as the author has Kapampangan roots, it follows the story of Soledad Dalusung, a demigod living a quiet life amongst humans as an archaeologist. However, an artifact she discovers releases a curse on her, and Sol must now delve into the world of the gods and mystical creatures to break the curse and discover her past. If that isn’t enough to entice you, then know that the komik is set to be published as a physical comic in 2023.
NYLON Manila recently caught up with the artist and anthropology student to talk about their komik, their inspirations, and why you should give Sol Dalusung and the Nameless Hero a read.
HOW THE KOMIK CAME TO BE
Sol Dalusung isn’t Cams first komik and has already written a few komiks under their belt. Cams credits this to their love for the medium. “I enjoy reading comics, and I love to draw and write, but it was only recently that I thought of merging those two interests together to commit to making and publishing some comics online.” They said that when they was doing part-time work as an illustrator, Atomos Publications Team reached out to them to collaborate on some of their comic projects. This opportunity motivated Cams to write their own komiks. “And when I learned more about the komiks convention scene and local online platforms like Penlab, I was all the more motivated to really get into it.”
Cams describes Sol Dalusung as a “queer mythic fantasy adventure.” The journey for how the komik came to be started on Twitter. “I like to post concept art and talk about my ideas on my art Twitter, so a few months ago I had posted the idea of a Filipino archaeologist character and the very first sketches of Sol’s character design.” Penlab soon reached out to Cams to see if they was open to pitching the project, which they agreed. “Along the way, I created new characters and began brainstorming ideas for what Sol’s story would be. That was when the project of Sol Dalusung and the Nameless Hero really began to materialize.”
INSPIRATIONS BEHIND SOL DALUSUNG
Cams cites two major inspirations for Sol Dalusung. The first is Kapampangan mythology and folklore. “I wanted to revisit my heritage with my dad, who grew up in Apalit. He would talk about Kapampangan language and culture being at risk of dying out. So I wanted to do something in my art and comics that featured it, mainly for both of us.” The second was Cams taking archeology and art history classes and “learning how the fields still carried many Western biases, especially in Canada where I’m studying.” This resulted in them conceptualizing a Filipino archaeologist character whom Cams described as “A Lara Croft who knew to say ‘tabi-tabi po, or rather, makilábas pu!”
When it came to incorporating Kapampangan mythology into the komik, Cams says it is based on a mix of research and what they already knew. “For most of the mythology, I had to do my own research as I didn’t get to learn a lot of this information growing up.” But they add, “My parents would tell stories from their childhood which has some details of old traditions and folklore, like superstitions. So I’m exploring how to incorporate those into the comic.”
A STORY OF HERITAGE
While Sol Dalusung features regional folklore as central to its story and setting, the komik is also a way for Cams to remember and celebrate their heritage. This was a message Cams hoped current and potential readers get from the komik. “A big theme in Sol Dalusung is the idea that nothing is ever truly forgotten, that your heritage remains a part of you no matter how distant you may seem from it. I hope that the comic inspires readers, especially young Filipino readers like me, to keep exploring their own heritage.”
With over hundreds of local komiks available to read both physically and online, some komiks may fall by the wayside. When asked why Sol Dalusung is worthy of a read, this is what Cams had to say. “Sol Dalusung is a new, personal spin on Philippine mythology komiks! It’s an adventure featuring regional folklore, and it aims to tell a Filipino LGBTQIA+ story in the fantasy genre.”
And for those people who may not be into local komiks, Cams wants them to know that they are missing out on a lot. “Buhay po ang Pinoy komiks! Whether or not you’re familiar with the local komiks scene, please give komiks a try. Even just starting small with any one title you might be interested in! There are many amazing and diverse stories the komiks community has, and we have a rich komiks heritage, too, so reading these komiks goes a long way into supporting them.”.
FUTURE PRINT RUN
AAAA I can finally announce!!— Breezami used Rest 🌤 (@breezamiii) September 3, 2021
My comic #SolDalusung is under development as a Kalabaw Kolektib original for @penlab_ink AND it’s getting published by @Officialpsicom under the Penlab Fresh imprint! Look out for it in select bookstores nationwide in 2023! ✨ pic.twitter.com/jFNpVlY3Mz
While Sol Dalusung and the Nameless Hero is still a new story, the komik is already slated to be published physically by PSICOM Publishing Inc. under the Penlab Fresh Imprint in 2023. Cams shared how that came to be. “After I made my pitch, I got an invitation from Penlab to have Sol Dalusung be part of the Penlab Collection, and it would be developed as a Penlab Fresh title. There’s a lot of work ahead to get the comic done and I’ve been nervous throughout the whole thing, but also very happy I get to do this.”
They described the situation and opportunity as surreal. “I never imagined Sol Dalusung would be a project of this scale, and it all happened because people at Penlab and Kalabaw Kolektib saw my first concept art posts and were interested in a pitch.”
If you want to check out more of Cams’s work, you can find them @breezamiii on Twitter and Facebook where they shares works-in-progress, concept art, and their thoughts on folklore and storytelling. You can also check out the komiks official Facebook page. You can read Sol Dalusung as well as their other comics on Penlab.ink.
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