Sunday, August 7

Dream Walker: A peek into the process of Noel Layon Flores

Illustration by Noel Layon Flores

WHILE THE story is important, visuals are usually what hook readers. The haunting and unsettling paths remain in their memory. Horror comic books are usually designed to warn about things that go bump in the night — things that are unknown.

Dream Walker, a horror fiction comic book, was created and written by Filipino-American writer Mikey Sutton and international visual artist Noel Layon Flores. They started creating the series in 2019 and eventually got published in February 2021. It can be purchased online via the Second Skin Comics website. 

The story revolves around Kat, a survivor of a tragic bus accident in Pampanga that killed women and children. After the incident, she learns she can steal items from people’s dreams and use them to combat monsters and demons.

“Inspiration comes from anywhere, the familiar, the unfamiliar. With the comics, which is horror-themed, the commodity is fear, and it’s fun to play on fear when story requires it, on people’s fear,” Flores told The Flame. 

In the making

According to the series’ illustrator, Filipino actress and model Kate Valdez, who appeared in the remake of GMA 7’s Encantadia, was the main inspiration of Dream Walker’s protagonist. Kat will have to fight villains inspired by Philippine folklore throughout the story.

The series is influenced by the elemental mythology and deeply ingrained superstitions of Filipinos. 

Flores shared that it all began when he noticed Sutton’s social media post about Valdez.

Sutton wrote on social media about the stunning actress who played the role of Mira in the fantasy series in 2016. Sutton virtually met the actress, thanks to Flores, who was the show’s chief visual designer.

After Sutton developed the plot, Flores would create sketches for full creative control over the layouts and the script’s flow.

“When it comes to creating the comic book of course Mikey comes up with the story then I would read the script on the comic strip and then see how many frames it would take or how many pages it would take to draw a particular scene,” Flores said. 

He occasionally changes a scenario if it is unnecessary, overcomplicated, or too simple. He asserted that comics are usually created by “different colorists” and “separate letterers.”

Every aspect of the comics’ creation, from layouts to inking, coloring, and finalizing the titles and letters, is under Flores’ command. 

“It’s like a very Western illustrative style, and the images would go to people’s dreams, the visuals would change,” he said. 

Dreams, Flores explained, are theorized to be perceived differently in every person. Aside from his desire to illustrate the individualism of dreams, he also hopes to draw material from mythology. 

Illustration by Noel Layon Flores

“Mythology is one of the foundations of human intellectual constructs such as religion and culture […] We love a great story—we believe in them,” Flores said.

“Stories are for everybody, young and old,” he added.

Flores’ views on horror comics combined with the “semi-super hero” theme of the Dream Walker is manifested in his hope for the readers to be entertained while learning from the characters in the story. 

Searching for the right fright

When it comes to horror-themed comics, according to Flores, the commodity is terror, and when the plot calls for it, playing with fear is entertaining. Using Photoshop as his medium, he also mentioned banking on the familiar and the unfamiliar as inspiration.

Illustration by Noel Layon Flores

Flores typically creates his art at night, when everything is quiet and dark. However, there are also days when he encounters creative blocks, particularly from exhaustion or personal problems.

“Creative blocks really happen and sometimes we need some rest,” Flores said. 

When in a creative rut, he advises people to take a break from completing a task and do something else for a moment. Among the activities he mentioned are gardening, cooking, walking, and exercising.

Stargazing the horizons

Flores said Dream Walker is not yet finished, noting that it is a limited six-issue comic book. 

As Dream Walker continues to gain a following, its creators hope for the comic to live on and eventually become a Netflix series.

Flores is not closing his doors to a new series; in fact there are plans to expand their comic book collection. 

“In Dream Walker, we might have a new title, included in this collaboration are other artists like my wife […] My wife is a writer and an illustrator [and] we are coming up with stories that are planned to be published globally,” Flores said.

“There are plenty of possibilities and opportunities,” he added. FArielle Chelsea P. Garcia and Pauline Joyce C. Pascual

 

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