The Unsettling Dust: A Short Retrospective

Posted on October 22, 2011


Misspellings, misuse of the words “ng” , “nang”, “has”, and “have”, plus a bunch of non-existent words and a stack of missing commas pepper Dumot, which I have been told, is a book that might put off readers of the pedestrian kind and raise the eyebrows of grammar and spelling police. Some people might hate it for its disturbing language and unlikable main character, but some might like it for the novelty idea that such a book does exist.

It took me 3 months to complete the book and as I was making it, to be honest, I was never really able to grasp the importance of why I made certain creative decisions that defined the book’s design and content. Most of the time, I just relied on my gut feel on how things should be. Sometimes, the book’s “go signal” for production was all I had to fuel the next couple of weeks I was given to finish it, buried under a pile of illustrations, a manuscript, and a steady diet of Facebook and pineapple juice.

When I finally received the first mock-ups and began the painful process of proofreading, large chunks of doubt overcame me for a few days, planting questions in my head like, “Alan, who the hell is going to read through this shit-bible of negativity?” and “Is it even possible for you to get laid in the near future with your name attached to this monstrosity?” and of course “Why couldn’t you have just made that comic book about a mermaid with amnesia and nymphomania?”

But I trudged on, with my gut telling me to keep my balls close and finish what I started. Eventually, the book ran through Visprint’s printers and found its way into bookstores. Sometimes, more doubtful questions would jump into my face, like “Meron kayang bibili nito sa PureGold Sucat?” and “Am I even going to read this myself?” but I carried on, occasionally treating these questions out for lunch when I can and pretending to listen to them. I kind of realized that who I was as a normal, whiskey-loving person was having issues with the things I do as a whiskey-loving storyteller/creator/thing-maker. The former always doubting the latter, and telling it to sleep early and exercise regularly rather than grab microphones and stand on tables.

When I knew that I could not reconcile them both, I just decided to stop thinking about the book with these mixed feelings of happiness and anxiety and just focus on new projects. It was at that point in time and space that as a creator of things I had to “let go and move on”. Besides, I knew that I had this “skill” of forgetting everything that I write, so I wanted that to work to my benefit.

So I forgot about Dumot for awhile, until a few days ago, I had a Michael Perez-style bad day: I was furious and confused (confurious?!) about certain things that had happened: things that I could not control and ultimately became a victim of. And I could not deal with them directly since my feelings were getting in the way of my focus.

I saw the book on my work table, opened to a page and began reading passages out loud. In a speech-like manner. Passages that I had already forgotten about. As I kept reading through the thing, only then did I realize why Dumot was the way it is. Only then did I fully understand Angelo Suarez’s description of the book: “spectacularizing the hot air of angst, all scaffolding w/o the building, empty but for the frames.”

The things I could not articulate in my head when I was feeling “confurious” were given form and substance. As they were given form, they became tangible. And as they became tangible, they became clear. And when my thoughts became clear, I was able to deal with them.

That being said, I would like to apologize if this sounds like a case of “pagbubuhat ng sariling bangko”. Charming thought, but it isn’t. But this has lead me to certain things I can now say about the book. Things I would not be able to say while I was making it.

Is Dumot a kind of book that anyone can read? Yes and no. Perhaps anyone can read it, but maybe the best way to experience it is if they are at a certain state of mind similar to my experience: pissed off, hateful and floating in a sea of gurgling anger.

So yes, it is a shit-bible of negativity meant to exorcise feelings of angst. It is a monstrosity built for channeling the monster out of you. Speak through Michael Perez. Let Dumot give form to your frustration and shape to your hate, if only to be set free from the self. I call it anger porn.

And if all else fails, enjoy the stickers at the back.

Hugs and chugs (and jugs) for everyone!



P.S. I will still probably push through with that story about that mermaid with amnesia and nymphomania.

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