THE TALL TALES OF TALBOT TOLUCA - EVERY DAY A GREAT NEW QUEST

-
Talbot Toluca Cover According to the author of 'Talbot Toluca', Ken Lamug, his book is not a typical comic book. Because of his love for games and puzzles, he decided to integrate a unique format. Throughout the book, the characters encounter situations that they need to solve. And he has incorporated hidden-object games (similar to Where’s Waldo), mazes, and various types of puzzles as part of the story. He hopes that it is something that will be enjoyable and fresh for the readers.


Ken Lamug On Amazon


1) What are your own origins, Ken? Plus what path did you take in life prior to getting to where you are today?   I was born in Manila, Philippines in 1978. Like most kids, I gravitated towards drawing. My early influences were the Garfield Sunday comic strips, cartoons, video games, and a lot of 80’s movies.

We owned a convenient store located in front of our house, which transformed to a movie rental store (betamax at the time), and finally to a video game store. We were to my knowledge, the first in our neighborhood to have the Nintendo Famicom game system (which was NES in the US). We purchased more systems as well as a Sega genesis and would rent them out to kids in the neighborhood. It turned into a small business that kept me busy since I helped manage the store. At one point we also had a Xerox copier that randomly spit out bad prints. I gathered those pages, folded them and created mini-comics.

I always wanted to be a cartoonist. But it wasn’t something that was considered a livable profession at the time, and my parents steered me away from it. I was on the other hand fascinated with technology, and it was a natural move for me to get into computers.

When we finally moved to the US in the mid 90s, I concentrated on computer programming (which is creating but in a different way).

After over a decade of not doing anything artful, I picked up a hobby: photography. I enjoyed looking at common scenes and moments from the perspective of the camera. I went as far as learning how to shoot and develop film. I had my images shown in galleries and books. 

PhotographyDuring this time, I was also interested in filmmaking. And with the help of many friends, co-created two independent feature films and some short films. I really enjoyed the technical aspects of filmmaking as well as video editing.

Filmmaking felt like the complete art form, encompassing story telling, visual, audio, costume & set design, and acting – it’s all there.

After having my second child, film or photography wasn’t something that I could do anymore while maintaining a full time job. It was time to take it seriously and treat it as a hobby.

I moved to a different type of art – writing and illustrating my own books. Being interested in picture books for the longest time, I made the jump.

In 2012, I self-published my first picture book, “A Box Story”. It received several awards and was well reviewed. I found myself gravitating to children’s macabre/horror fairy tale stories, which is reflected in a majority of my art. Most would associate my style with Tim Burton and Edward Gorey. I would often illustrate for a children’s macabre magazine Underneath the Juniper Tree. And one of my pieces was selected and used in HitRecords Tiny Book of Tiny Stories 3. 

In 2013 I collaborated with local artists and published a group comic called Tales from Lost Vegas. It was successfully funded via Kickstarter and all sales benefited the local Library district as well as the local comic book fest. 

Although I have several projects in different stages at all times, I decided to pursue Talbot Toluca book while I was still fresh from my previous comic. 

Broken Watch
2) How did ‘The Tall Tales of Talbot Toluca’ come about? It’s ‘secret origin’ so to speak.   When I was in elementary, the school I went to had classrooms below street level. We had one hallway that was extremely dark towards the end. Rumor has it that there were supernatural and paranormal beings there and none of the kids would go farther in. 

I had a digital wristwatch that was broken, but for some reason, every time I got close to the dark place, the watch would turn-on and the numbers would sort of blink in and out. In my mind there was definitely something monstrous lurking about, validated by my pseudo PKE meter.

The Philippines has a rich supernatural culture. From folklore to old mans tales; there’s always something you should or shouldn’t do for any given situation. It is definitely a great source of stories.

In high school I was very much into puzzles, trivias, IQ tests, and adventure games of the 80’s and 90’s (from Sierra and LucasArts – Day of the Tentacle, Leisure Suit Larry, Indiana Jones etc.). I spent many hours in the library with Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, and Choose Your Own Adventure books. While there were comic books available, the selection was limited and something I could not afford.

I had a couple of friends and we formed “The Nerds Club”. I created various tests that people could take and if they passed, they could be part of the club.

When I was first conceptualizing Talbot Toluca and his friends, I was thinking of this “Nerds Club.” Here we have a group of kids who discover something unexpected, forming a closer bond and overcome challenges.

Talbot Toluca Art
In the origin story, Talbot, Damien and Samantha, kids of opposite interests and backgrounds, uncover an underground military base full of hidden secrets. Upon this discovery, a dark force arrives and causes chaos to their little town.

Talbot finds out that his science teacher, Professor Bozwald, was one of the last few scientists who knew of the lab’s existence. Talbot and his friends team up with the Professor to stop the mysterious being from accomplishing its goal.

While I don’t want to divulge the entire origin story at this point, Talbot finds out the existence of alternate worlds and universes. It is also revealed that his grandfather (who disappeared years ago) used to work with Professor Bozwald on these experiments. This hints to Talbot’s origin as well, after he finds out that he was an adopted child.

3) In your own words how would you describe this story?   A group of friends uncover an abandoned military lab underneath their school, which unleashes dark secrets from the past. They now have to help their science teacher, Professor Bozwald, to protect the lab and make sure that none of its secrets are used for evil. 

While my original goal was to release the origin story first, I decided to do a shorter “one-shot” version, which is “The Quest For The Ore Cyrstals”. The events in this book occurs a year after the discovery of the lab. 

A former scientist, who was lost in an alternate world, returns to exact his revenge against those who abandoned him. Talbot and Damien come to aid their science teacher whose atomic particles have been zapped and sent to various dimensions.

4) What song would you say best represents this project and why?   Right at this moment, I’d probably pick Danny Elfman Music Box Main Theme as well as Pee Wee’s big Adventure theme. These songs are a great combination of mystery and adventure.




5) If you could get a celebrity – either living or dead – to promote your wares, who would you choose, and why would you want to choose this particular person?   I’d probably pick a robot – Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. He reminds me a bit of Talbot’s robotic friend, “Joe-bot”. 

6) What have you learnt about yourself through this endeavour? And were their any unforeseen obstacles you had to contend with along the way?   I haven’t had the luxury of working on my projects full time. It’s always late at night, after work, after the kids have gone to bed… or early in the mornings, or on the weekends. Time is always the obstacle and the one thing we can’t get back. I always feel the need to be working on something and I actually feel guilty when I’m not. But I also have other responsibilities that I can’t ignore.

But overall, a few lessons come to mind:
  1. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Take it one day at a time. You must have the stamina to go all the way or don’t even commit in the first place.
  2. You must finish it. Good or bad. Even if it sucks, you would’ve done something that the other 99% of the world didn’t.
  3. Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone has his or her own path to take.
  4. Do it for yourself. Do it because you love it.
  5. Keep working, you’re always behind.
  6. Know when to take a break.
  7. Be thankful.

Talbot Toluca Art
[ Ken Lamug On Amazon ]
7) During your time in this field, what is the one thing that has kept you in good stead?   Good days or bad days, having a supportive family has kept me grounded. I’ve discovered that creativity has been a sort of an obsession.

If I weren't illustrating, I would probably be doing something else. But as long as I enjoy it, I’ll keep doing it. I've made some great friends and met many individuals who inspire me throughout my adventure. 

8) If ‘Toluca’ had a motto, what would it be?   Everyday is a new quest.

So there you have it, my friends. My pal Ken and his wonderfully innovative comic book, 'The Tall Tales Of Toluca'. I'm sure that when you have the time you'll pay him a visit by clicking on over to his website, facebooktwitter, and kickstarter campaign. Go on. It'll be fun, fun, fun.