Have you ever imagined what lurks right under your feet? Jay B. Kalagayan offers his take on sewage systems and the people who keep things, uh, flowing, in his comic book MeSseD. Currently on its second volume, the book follows the life and times of Filipino sewer worker Lilliput and her coworkers as they use science to battle whatever’s waiting for them in the darkness.
“I’ve wanted to create a comic book since I was 9 years old,” says Kalagayan, the founder of Know Theatre who now does fund-raising strategy and patron engagement consulting for local arts nonprofits. “People might view comics as a means of entertaining escapism [but] my favorite stories involve courage under fire—characters that deal boldly and directly with their problems.”
He teamed up with painter/illustrator Dylan Speeg to create MeSseD after spending several years driving past the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati’s Queensgate treatment plant on his way to work. “I looked at a lot of photos of sewers from around the world,” says Speeg, who counts the works of Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing) and Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) among his influences. “I’m really trying to get a focused look for the comic. Keeping a storyline cohesive from frame to frame is the priority.”
Kalagayan and Speeg attended several comic conventions throughout the Midwest last year and say the response to MeSseD has been overwhelmingly positive. “I feel a thrill when someone walks up and says they read about the book,” Kalagayan adds. “My favorite response is when sewer workers come up to us and say how much they’ve enjoyed [it]. I have the upmost respect for the underappreciated yet essential job that they do.”
Available at local comics shops or messedcomics.com.