PHILIPPINE mythology has always been well-represented in cinema, for the lore translates well through costumes, makeup, lights, and special effects. On paper, it’s a different story.

Readers, especially the newest generation, aren’t as familiar with the colorful — sometimes terrifying — creatures and superstitions in our folklore. Reading the words isn’t enough for them to see in their heads a person severing their body in two so their top half could fly, or a hairy creature perched on a mango tree with a cigarette between its lips.

The rise in popularity of graphic or visual novels provides an avenue for writers and illustrators to showcase Philippine folklore in all of its brilliance and glory. Graphic novels are stories written in prose but presented alongside illustrations. They’re different from comic books and Japanese manga in that the former are shorter per issue and the main story spread out over many issues. Graphic novels on the other hand are lengthy. They encapsulate a full story, much like an actual book.

The 40th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), happening from Sept. 11 to 15 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, will display and sell graphic novels that open the world to Philippine folklore. Here are some must-reads recommended by the 40th MIBF:

Trese, which Netflix announced last year would be adapted into an animated series, revolves around titular character Alexandra Trese and her encounters with the supernatural as a hybrid crime and spirit detective. Set in Manila, where creatures out of Philippine classic folklore hide among humans, Trese combines elements of crime noir and gangster fiction with myths surrounding the streets of Manila. The product ends up being one of the most acclaimed Philippine graphic novels to date.

Nicole Lacson’s thesis might as well be a Philippine myth in the graphic novel Mythology Class. As a graduating student struggling to finally escape school, she and a group of friends are introduced to Mrs. Enkanta, who opens their eyes to a world myth and mystery. A truly Filipino comic book with its heart and creativity, Mythology Class is another novel set to be adapted into film.

A cult classic at this point, Tabi Po showcases the storytelling ability Mr. Malonzo has as he puts us in the shoes of a newly born aswang named Elias. With no recollection of how he came to be in a tree in Balete Drive, he feels his bloodlust rise as he roams the forest area. That is when he runs into Tasyo and Sabel, two more creatures straight out of myth who guide him as they seek answers about their existence. This graphic novel has been adapted into a TV series of the same name.

Titular character Janus, a gamer in a massively multiplayer online role-playing game called TALA (Terra Anima Legion of Anitos) finds himself in a deep mythical mystery following the deaths of other TALA online players all over the Philippines. His adventure starts when a man who claims to have also survived the event contacts him, spurring on a plot that throws in monsters and miscreants from local folklore into a world where the line between reality and virtual reality is blurred.

There’s something very real in the portrayal of rural life in Julius Villanueva’s Ella Arcangel. It’s not the supernatural beasts and entities that the graphic novelist pits Ella against, but rather the modern societal circumstances that surround her. Growing up poor does not stop Ella from doing what is right and living by an unshakable principle of kindness. The story skillfully blends the mythical with actual problems Filipinos today face, which makes for a read that resonates through a wide audience.

These titles and many more works by Filipino authors will be available at booths like Adarna House, Visprint, Inc., Anvil Publishing, Summit Publishing Co., Inc., ABS-CBN Publishing, Inc., PSICOM Publishing Inc., a Precious Pages Corp., and during 40th MIBF.

The MIBF is organized by Primetrade Asia, Inc. For details, call 896-0661 or 896-0682, e-mail, or follow @ManilaBookFair on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.