For the 35th Philippine National Book Awards, there was a lone contender under a new category, “Best Book of Graphic Literature (Wordless).” Rob Cham’s Light, published by Anino Comics, an imprint of Adarna House, Inc., is a quiet but ambitious work, rich with world-building and adventure, without utilizing any verbal narrative push. The protagonist is a simple humanoid creature, the perfect entity to let loose in each of his sprawling made-up worlds.
Having started on Light originally as a set commissioned by Neonmob, an online collectible trading card site, Rob conceptualized it as something based on a narrative, “where you piece together the story as you collect more and more cards.”
“I worked for about two months just planning because I had to figure out the composition of each page, if the story I was telling was clear, if there were unnecessary pages, what character designs worked,” he shares. “It was eight months after starting that I had finished all 100 pages, give or take what time I devoted to freelance work and video games.”
Rob, who has been working professionally as an illustrator and graphic designer for seven years after completing a bachelor’s degree in management — “I had it in my head I was going to be an accountant” — has also been independently publishing his comics for about six years. “The first professional illustration gig I ever did was for Young STAR, actually,” he says. “That’s my timestamp.” It’s his personal work, published on Tumblr, that has gained a lot of attention, though, for its humor and its slice-of-life micro-dramas and punchlines, echoing the work of artists like Adrian Tomine, who Rob names as someone he idolized at the time.