Michigan writer publishes comic books inspired by Philippine folklore

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Travis McIntire’s ‘Bayani’ books

Travis McIntire’s ‘Bayani’ books

By Cristina DC Pastor

Bayani, a boy of 11, is desperately trying to care for his sick father, a fisherman, and keep food on the table for his family. Unfortunately, the sun has been shining down on the islands for the last month and night refuses to fall. The land is growing parched from the constant heat, and the fish are moving further and further away from shore.

During this disaster, the rain god, Pati’, recruits Bayani to undertake a quest rescuing the nine kidnapped daughters of Lady Moon from the horrible monsters of lore. Bayani embarks on a great adventure with his friend, Tala, and using their wits, the kids defeat one hideous creature after another in their quest to rescue each of the Moon’s daughters.

The writer of this adventure tale, “Bayani and the Nine Daughters of the Moon,” about a young Filipino boy and his friend Tala, is Travis McIntire, a horror fiction writer and comic book publisher from Michigan.

Travis became enamored with Philippine folk tales when he was searching for some gruesome monsters to use as art.

“I ended up crawling into this Internet rabbit hole and reading all kinds of stuff” when he came across Filipino folklore and mythology and became fascinated by the ‘multo’ (ghost).

That digital exploration resulted in the Bayani Series. The first is “Bayani and the Old Ghosts” where the boy hero meets the Babaylons (shaman) who help guide his way. The second is “Bayani and The Witch of the Mountain,” with Lalahan, the monstrous volcano goddess, holding the first Moon daughter hostage.

“Bayani and the Nine Daughters of the Moon,” which has a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, appears to be the third in a series.

It is designed like an “Indiana Jones” movie except that the story is set in Laguna province and the heroes are children. Caliber Comics, an independent publisher of creator-owned comics, has committed to publishing “Bayani.”

Said Travis, who has established himself as a writer of horror comic books, “The monsters and demons from the Philippines are some of the coolest and creepiest I’ve ever come across.”

Travis explained how the American storytelling tradition evolved mostly from European mythologies. He sought to “work with a new cast of characters,” and so began to draw from Philippine mythical creatures such as the ‘aswang’ and the ‘multo.’

“Using Filipino stories, folklore, myths opened up an entirely different tradition of storytelling I could draw from,” he said in an email interview with The FilAm. “I still bring a Western sensibility to it, I don’t know if I could help that, so the general ‘feel’ of the storytelling should be familiar to a Western audience, but the characters and their motivations could be completely different than what we’re used to.”

The book explored the themes of natural phenomena, such as typhoons and volcanic eruptions, that Travis is hoping would appeal to a Western audience yet remain true to the Filipino experience.

“Being that the Philippines is very different in climate and geology that what many of us here are used to, the stories are flavored a little differently. I tried to bring the climate and geology into the stories in a way that made sense and gave a sense of place and a sense of realness to people that are familiar with the folklore that I’m borrowing from,” he said.

Travis said his Filipino friends who are artists have reviewed the book and “(given) me some feedback.”

“Bayani” may be a kid-friendly book, but its message and lessons will appeal to all ages, he said.

McIntire: Just a ‘pretty boring Dad with two sons and a fantastic wife.’

McIntire: Just a ‘pretty boring Dad with two sons and a fantastic wife.’

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