Two comic book artists from the Philippines – working as part of an international comic book project – have had their work published to critical acclaim in the Czech Republic. AJ Bernardo (33) and Josel Nicolas (29) have illustrated multiple stories for Welsh writer James Stafford (38) for the graphic novel The Sorrowful Putto of Prague. Originally launched in 2011 as a webcomic, the comic was recently collected into book form and published in Czech as Truchlivý amoret pražský by Argo, one of the Czech Republic’s leading literary publishing houses.
Spinning a series of dark, baroque tales filled with black humour and Czech mythology, the book has been met with hugely positive reviews in the Czech press and gained significant exposure on national television and radio. Just prior to its publishing, Hollywood movie legend Samuel L. Jackson praised The Sorrowful Putto of Prague to his 6.7 million fans on Twitter, calling the comic ‘dope ass’.
“This is a great example of the importance of creative industries, both from the point of view of economic results, but also as a way to bring together the opportunities between the continents,” said Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša, jr. “With the recent success of the globally acclaimed Czech board game ‘Code Names’, which only a few months ago saw its Philippine edition, the 33rd language version, and the third – after Japanese and Korean – in Asia, this shows that many more opportunities and chances lie in the possible cooperation between the Czechs and the Filipinos.”
It is hoped there will be a Filipino edition of the book in the near future, so that local comic fans can see the acclaimed work of these local artists in print for themselves.
Welsh writer James Stafford began writing the series with Putto back in 2010 and hired AJ Bernardo to illustrate several stories after finding him on an online art forum. Despite having never met in person and Bernardo having never been to Prague, the pair began a fruitful six-year working relationship. Josel Nicolas came on board several years later and is now a key part of the global project along with artists from Romania and the Czech Republic.
“It’s been hugely inspiring to work with AJ and Josel,” said James Stafford. “I was incredibly lucky to find them as before the internet age collaborating with people on the other side of the world like this just wouldn’t have been possible. I’m very proud of being able to partner with them and very much look forward to continuing with the series in the coming years.”
The project also has a free online soundtrack including music by Roger O’Donnell, keyboard player in legendary British rock group, The Cure.
For images from the book drawn by AJ Bernardo and Josel Nicolas, as well as other press materials, follow this link.