Saturday, November 23, 2002

By Fred dela Rosa
Spiderman, the Spirit, and Ptyk

My favorite comic-book character is not Spiderman. My superheroes were Superman, Batman, Captain America, the Green Hornet and Plastic Man. And before the anime cartoons came, the movie characters that helped fill my time were Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and Popeye.

Growing up, I discovered Will Eisner, whose The Spirit was a masterpiece in craftsmanship and story telling. Val Foster’s Prince Valiant was a wondrously graphic dramatization of Camelot. Terry and the Pirates by Steve Canyon introduced us to the excitement of the Cold War and the original “Dragon Lady.” Walt Kelly’s Pogo was rich in humor and wisdom, besides being well drawn. Bill Mauldin of course immortalized GI Joe.

In the days when Liwayway was king, I was among the millions who followed the Kenkoy comic strip with fervor. Tony Velasquez amused generations no end with the love story of Kenkoy and Rosing, whose dress always touched the floor. Velasquez also contributed to the national vocabulary such endearing names as Tenyente Dikyam, Talakitok and Nanong Pandak.

Comic strips were a regular staple of the weekly literary magazines—Liwayway, Sinagtala ang Bulaklak, journals that celebrated popular fiction through short stories and serialized novels. I remember enjoying the works of J. Zabala Santos, Mars Ravelo, Elpidio Torres and Francisco V. Coching. Coching was the master illustrator, the artist who knew the human anatomy and spared no detail to illustrate a body or a scene

I was present at the creation when the comic-book industry exploded in the 1950s with Halakhak, Pilipino Komiks and Tagalog Klasik. It was the Decade of Innocence and children were lapping up the works of Fred Alcala, the Redondo brothers, Larry Alcala, Roddy Ragodon, Dani Aguila and Edgar Soller, among others.

The weekly newsmagazines and Sunday supplements of the popular dailies boasted Liborio ‘Gat’ Gatbonton and Mauro ‘Malang’ Santos (This Week), Lib Abrena (The Sunday Times Magazine), Hugo Yonzon (Graphic) and E.Z. Izon (Philippines Free Press).

Soon, new cartoonists and illustrators enlivened the op-ed page and comic sections. Among the better ones were Boy Togonon (The Times art director), Sonny Bismonte, Corky Trinidad (now working for the Honolulu Advertiser), Danny Dalena (presently a full-time artist), Ben Alcantara, Roddy Ragodon, Neil Doloricon, Manny Baldemor, Pol Medina and Jess Abrera

In the Sixties, The Manila Times introduced us to a young genius, Nonoy Marcelo, a Tamaraw from FEU. At various times, Marcelo was editorial cartoonist and contributor of a daily comic strip, Tisoy. He also contributed panels to The Sunday Times Magazine and the Saturday Mirror Magazine.

Tisoy was a great hit. A teenager who dominated the campus and the kanto, he never ran out of profound observations about life and death, and quips about love and sex. Legend has it that Marcelo modeled Tisoy after Alfredo ‘Ding’ Roces.

Revolving around Tisoy’s life was a menagerie of characters inspired by Nonoy’s friends. They included mommy Aling Otik (inspired by Joan Orendain), Maribubut, (Sylvia Mayuga), the enfant terrible Caligula (inspired by columnist Tino Dauz). Tatang (modeled after Village Voice editor Joe Buhain), and Tikyo (Bert Marcelo). Zip Roxas, our former editor- in-chief and now executive editor at the Journal Group of Publications inspired Clip, Tisoy’s archenemy.

Tisoy amused Filipinos across the country for years until martial law closed down The Times and the other papers. The comic strip, with its wit and characters, reflected the national mood, advertised popular lifestyles and mirrored national trends. It captured the follies of a generation and the milestones of an era.

After martial law, Marcelo edited and published a number of satire publications and new comic books. From time to time, he drew editorial cartoons for the dailies. Some of his comic strips were a spin-off from the Tisoy original.

He illustrated coffee-table books and various book projects. He also matured into a master caricaturist, drawing his characters more densely and intimately, in the manner of Edward Sorel and David Levine. Last year, he had an exhibit of his caricatures, and it was a great success.

Nonoy has also turned into a historian and biographer. He has completed a book on Malabon, his hometown, but printing must wait because his angel ran out of cash. I have seen the book and I am amazed at Marcelo’s scholarship and sense of history. It is rich in historical detail and wonderful graphics. After his History of Malabon, every self-respecting town and city will want to have its biography written by Nonoy.

Marcelo is the only cartoonist to be honored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines when the country observed its centennial in 1998. The CCP cited Nonoy, among a group of100 Centennial Awardees, for excellence in the visual arts and for helping define national identity by taking a stand on political and social issues.

The good news is that Nonoy Marcelo has returned to his first family, The Times. Starting Monday, he and a band of irreverent writers and cartoonists will put out a weekly supplement, Ptyk, as part of the new Manila Times. Ptyk promises to be a humorous mini-magazine, a welcome addition to The Times family of publications.

Satire, sarcasm, wit, irony and devastating humor — of which there is a tremendous deficit — are back. Nagpu-pugay ako kay Nonoy Marcelo at sa kanyang Ptyk!

Fewer Filipinos read the papers
By Patricia L. Adversario

Thursday, July 18, 2002

MORE Filipinos are losing the habit of reading newspapers and magazines. A recent survey showed an alarming trend of declining readership of newspapers and magazines from 1996-2002.

The shrinking numbers ought be a wake-up call for the print industry to take measures to arrest the decline in readership, and retain the interest of the few who still read, said Vivian Y. Tin, executive director of Nielsen Media Research, who released the survey results to The Manila Times.

The US-based Nielsen Media Research is part of the VNU Media Measurement and Information Group, a global provider of information services for the media and entertainment industries.

The decline in readership was seen across all economic classes with the largest drop in the AB group. From a high newspaper readership rate of 82.6 percent in 1997, it dipped to 59.7 percent in 2001.

The DE class, or the low income groups, which already have the lowest readership rate among the socio-economic classes, further dropped to a low 44.4 percent in 2001 from 60.4 percent in 1996.

Young people not reading

The decline in newspaper readership was evident across almost all the six age groups, except for one. More young people didn’t read the newspapers compared to those who did five years ago — only 20.3 percent among those aged 10-14 said they read yesterday’s +newspapers in 2001 compared to 53 percent who said the same in 1996.

The 20-29 age group posted the largest drop in newspaper readership in the last six years — only 46.4 percent kept the reading habit last year from 71.8 percent in 1996. Only the 40-49 age group sustained the habit, posting an increase in readership to 68 percent in 2001 from 59.3 percent in 1996.

The same decline was seen in the readership of weekly magazines. The number of readers who read a weekly magazine in the past week dropped from 35.6 percent to 14.2 percent from 1996-2001. The drop in readership was evident across all economic sectors with the most significant changes in the AB and DE classes.

The readership rate of weekly magazines for the AB class dropped to 26 percent in 2001 from 59.5 percent in 1996 while the DE class, which already posted a low 31.4 percent in 1996 slipped further to 8.7 percent in 2001.

Social impact

“There are serious implications if we turn out to be a nation of non-readers,” said Tin. “Introspection comes from reading. We need introspection to become better businessmen, better voters and better citizens.”

Monthly magazines even fared worse. Those who read a monthly magazine in the past month dropped to 8.8 percent in 2001 from 18.6 percent in 1996. Fewer Filipinos also said they read a monthly foreign magazine in the past month. The slippage was most apparent in the AB and C2 (lower middle) groups.

For the AB class, 15 percent said they read a monthly foreign magazine in 2001, down from 24 percent in the previous year; while the percentage of those who read a foreign magazine in the C2 class dropped to seven percent last year from 14 percent in 2000.

Even comics reading, which is said to be a popular pastime, was not spared. Those who read comics dropped to 19.4 percent in 2001 from a high 52.7 percent in 1999. There were even fewer comics readers from the low income DE group in 2001: readership dropped to 19.9 percent last year from 51.7 percent in 1996.

Comics reading among the young (aged 10-14 and 15-19) dropped during the six-year period in review. Fewer teenagers (aged 15-19) read comics — from 71.1 percent in 1996 to just 24.6 percent in 2001, and among those aged 10-14 from 69.1 percent in 1996 to 38.4 percent in 2001.

Print media in trouble

“Prospects for the print medium are dim,” said Tin. Apart from a declining readership, another Nielsen survey showed significant decreases in advertising spend and volume for the print medium from January to March this year.

During the period in review, the print medium saw “a serious decline” in both advertising volume and cost, the first time that print contracted in double digits on a quarterly basis.

Even as costs of print ads already dropped 23.7 percent in the first quarter this year from a previous 14-percent growth, the volume of print ads further shrank by 10 percent in the first quarter this year from a previous reduction of eight percent.

Limited advertising budget is shifting to television, which is perceived to be the more effective medium, said Tin. “If newspapers fail to address this contraction in the first quarter, print is going to see further serious contraction this year,” she added.

During times of crisis, spending for a newspaper might be one of the first things a consumer would have to forego. A study, conducted in April 2001, by the Asian Institute of Management found that about 20 percent of respondents from all income classes in Metro Manila stopped buying magazines and comics, although the figure was less for newspapers.

In Cebu, 40 percent of the DE class scrapped newspapers from their list of daily needs. In Davao, the figure was 25 percent.

Lack of interest

Tin, however, said the decline in readership is largely due to a lack of interest and not because the cost of a newspaper has become prohibitive in an economic crisis.

She pointed out that the Nielsen survey showed a steep drop in readership across all income classes and age groups.

“Newspapers have to invest in knowing and understanding their readers. They also have to make them interested in reading. When readership is high, advertising spend will increase. In other Asian countries, advertising spend in the print medium is high because their readership rate is high,” said Tin.

She also said the decline in advertising spend is not because there are now about 20 broad sheets and tabloids. “There are more radio stations and they still maintain their share of advertising,” she pointed out.

Unlike print, radio did not see any serious contraction last year. While the number of advertising spots for radio dropped slightly to 0.5 percent last year, costs rose 20 percent to P13 billion.

The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews in October and November last year. A total of 1000 males and females aged 10 and above from all socio-economic groups were interviewed.

Nielsen Media Research is a global provider of media research and analysis. It provides TV and radio audience measurement, advertising information services, print readership and customized media research services to 40 markets, including the Philippines.

Monday, November 04, 2002

The Pinoy tradition
by Dirk Deppey

I first stumbled across Gerry Alanguilan's Komikero Comics Journal by accident about six months ago. I was idly running a Google search for "Comics Journal," just to see what came up, and there it was: a chronicle of the day-to-day adventures of a comic-book artist in the Philippines, written in a friendly and conversational tone, like reading letters from home written by someone I didn't know. Having essentially stopped reading superhero comics some ten years ago, I was unaware of Alanguilan's work with fellow Filipino cartoonist Whilce Portacio for Image Comics, but I liked reading the blog, so I bookmarked it and checked back every couple of weeks to see what he was up to.

For the longest time I never bothered to look at the rest of his site. When eventually I did start clicking around, I discovered that in addition to being a working mainstream cartoonist, Alanguilan was also an artist steeped in a deep and rich tradition of comic books of which most Americans are unaware to this day. Which is strange: for the past forty years, Pinoy cartoonists -- "Pinoy" being to Filipinos what "Yankee" is to us Americans -- have been making significant and high-profile contributions to the American comics scene, developing an industry-wide reputation for astonishing craftsmanship and skill.

The Filipino komiks tradition began in 1929 when Antonio Velasquez' comic everyman character Kenkoy first made his appearance in Liwayway Magazine. Kenkoy was a cartoony character -- the only image of him I could find on the web is at the bottom-right corner of this page -- and was something of a caricature of the young Pinoy male of the era, whose continuing romance of the lady Rosing entertained his readers in bi-weekly installments for decades. Meanwhile, adventure strips started growing in prominence, mainly featuring knock-offs of American strips at first.

By the time the island nation had picked itself up again after the Japanese had been sent packing and World War II ended, the industry entered its Golden Age, and the man who would become its undisputed master, Francisco V. Coching, began drawing his first comics. By the 1950s, he was at the top of his game. According to the Sunday Inquirer:

"Coching's panels are distinctive in that they are fairly bursting at the seams with virile energy, as well-muscled heroes strike dramatic poses and explode into action. Not only did Coching render his pages in mind-boggling detail, with a richness in line and shading that remains unsurpassed, he was also a master of the visual vocabulary of the komiks, choosing the most dramatic angle, zooming in for the decisive moments, creating detailed, historically accurate backdrops for his stories, and moving the plot along at a brisk pace. He was also a rarity in that he wrote and illustrated his own stories, whereas most serials were collaborations between a writer and an illustrator."

Coching's skill was impressive -- according to the same article, cartoonist Alex Raymond considered him the best in the world. And he wasn't alone. To list his contemporaries in the field is to produce a roll-call sufficient to leave any knowledgable fan of fine comics art drooling: Federico Javinal, Nestor Redondo, Rudy Florese, Nestor Malgapo, Alfredo Alcala. To be a kid reading comics in the 1950s and 60s must have been a very rich experience.

Girls' komiks in the Philippines were great during this period as well, with probably the best of the lot being Mars Ravelo's Darna, a superheroine combining elements of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel. You can even read her four-page origin story online (page one, two, three and four).

By the mid-1960s, television began to overtake komiks in the imaginations of Pinoy children, and the industry began to wind down. Around this period, editors for American comics companies, especially DC, began cherry-picking the best of the Filipino artists for work back in the States. While their overseas work brought them new levels of international fame and financial security, and while artists like Tor Infante continued to work in the Filipino market, Pinoy komiks were never quite the same again.

This is not to say that the komiks industry of the Philippines is dead, but by all accounts it does seem to be searching for direction. With the influx of Manga in the following decades, many Pinoy cartoonists began emulating the style, prompting the more traditionalist Gerry Alanguilan to remark:

"Personally, I think it's truly a missed opportunity. They have the means, they have the talent, the money, the machinery and the the will to create really good Filipino comics. It just saddens me that they chose to create Japanese comic art when they could have aspired to elevate the state of Filipino Comic Art. We really need those kinds of comics now."

As an ill-informed outsider, it seems presumptuous of me to comment, but I do wonder at such statements; it seems to me that inspiration is where you find it, and if you use the methods that appeal to you in well-practiced craftsmanship to create the stories you feel compelled to tell, everything else is but a means to an end. Like I said, presumptuous. Perhaps a better person to give the last word might be Francisco Coching himself -- in 1980, Philippine Comics Review writer Ros Matienzo tracked Coching down, finding him comfortable in his retirement, and asked him if he had advice for those who would work in comics. His reply, in part:

"Kailangan nilang pagandahin ang kanilang trabaho. Kailangan nilang magtiyaga, at magka-ambisyon na paunlarin ang kanilang sining, at ang komiks; kailangan din nilang magsikap. Hindi sa lahat ng panahon ay salapi lang ang dapat isaalang-alang. (They need to make their work beautiful. They need to be studious, hardworking, carrying with them the ambition to improve their art and the comics.)"

Local advice it may be, but it has international applications.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

'Anak ng kuwago!' Nonoy Marcelo's gone
by Joan Orendain / Inquirer News Service

Source of mirth

THE CARTOONIST from whose pen sprang Tisoy, Plain Folks and Ikabod, and who coined such originals in street Pinoy as "ermat" (mother) and "jeproks" (meaning from the housing projects, and in today's parlance "jologs") is gone from this tired earth.

Nonoy Marcelo was 63 (although someone who would know said he was perfect for that Beatles classic "Will you still need me/will you still feed me/when I'm 64?"). He would have reacted to his own death thus: "Anak ng kuwago!"

The man born Severino Santos Marcelo -- "Yikes!" can you just hear him saying? -- was perpetually grappling with a problem that was vexing for him but was invariably a source of mirth for his friends.

His buddies would rush to the then Daily Mirror to see what the latest crisis was about after hearing unintelligible sounds emanating from him over the phone. And the life-and-death situation would turn out to be this: The cartoonist was stuck for a fresh idea.

Imagine him sitting on a three-legged wooden stool at the drawing board, decked out in skin-tight black leather pants and black leather jacket. But this supposedly sexy Hell's Angels look would be all for naught because a half-gnawed chicken leg would be sticking out of his right pants' pocket and his left hand would be clutching a pen poised in mid-air.

Alejandro (Anding) Roces was the model for Tisoy, Bibsy Carballo for Maribubut, and this writer (50 pounds ago) for Aling Otik. The poet Florentino Dauz was the pipsqueak Caligula, and Gemmo was Gemma Cruz, who had then just won the Miss International crown.

Pure adventure

When in exile in the United States, Nonoy begat the mestizo Americano Rajah Mozart, and Aling Otik, by then having metamorphosed into one of the Madama's Metro Manila Aides, suddenly had a grandson. But Quincy, whom she called Kinse, was black and had a frizz in a way that only Nonoy's ultra-fertile imagination could have created.

What a time we had.

Baon money expended on cigarettes, Nonoy and the future Caligula, Aling Otik and one or two others would forage for food, more often than not in Funeraria Paz on Azcarraga, today's Claro M. Recto.

In the 1960s food in funeral parlors was to be found only at very wealthy Chinese wakes. Nonoy's instructions were to walk in together, head straight for the bier, pray in earnest for our host -- for one strange reason or another, always male -- then head to the back pew where flowed largesse for the hungry.

Sometimes there was a pack of cigarettes apiece for us on the way out, with no one the wiser for having fed scavengers.

Such was Nonoy's genius that he treated life as pure adventure, and in the end, as art.

Authority on history

If you told him you were from Malabon on such-and-such street, the small-town boy in him would say "Oh, beside Aling Liling na mangkukulot (who curled hair)?"

He himself lived on Marcelo Street, named after his father, a World War II hero. Ermat was Rita, an English teacher at the Far Eastern University.

It was at FEU and the school paper The Advocate where Nonoy got his grounding as a cartoonist.

The lady-love editors for whom he drew and composed layout were Sheila Coronel and the "I" magazine of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, and Eugenia Apostol and the Pinoy Times tabloid, which exposed Joseph Estrada's homes and paramours, but folded in December last year.

Nonoy joined the reincarnated Manila Times recently, painting the Sunday magazine covers, and writing and editing that paper's four-page Monday pullout section, Pytyk.

Well-read and an authority on Philippine history, he it was who revealed to friends the art of letras y figuras decades ago, before it came to Filipino consciousness.


That Nonoy ended up owning a Bliss condominium in Diliman, Quezon City, came as a pleasant surprise to all who knew him.

The trouble with him was that he had the habit of being overly generous, leaving nothing much for himself. From the Los Indios Bravos nights where all were treated to food and drink when he had the wherewithal, to the Tisoy television series with Bert "Tawa" Marcelo as Eutiquio, to those days when he earned hefty sums from putting together a series of comic books, "Da Real Macoy" about Ferdinand Marcos, many partook of his good fortune.

Never quite living down what he perceived to be opprobrium for the Macoy propaganda, when people who knew where his heart lay simply said, "Well, that's Nonoy for you," he went anti-Marcos with a vengeance.

His highest accolade -- the Cultural Center of the Philippines' Centennial Honors for the Arts Award in 1999 -- vindicated him.

It read: "Marcelo's works merge political issues with popular forms in drawing a commentary on Filipino society, especially during a period of heightened state oppression.

"Because his cartoons represent the temper of the times, chronicling the national experience especially under the dictatorship, the Parangal Sentenyal sa Sining at Kultura is hereby conferred on this 2nd day of February 1999 on Nonoy Santos Marcelo."


Nonoy was married to Mila Mercado, with whom he had three children.

The eldest child, Dario, was present when the father passed on at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Chinese General Hospital.

It was a life lived to the fullest, and Nonoy suffered from complications of diabetes and heart, liver and prostate problems.

His remains are lying in state at the Funeraria Floresco on 219 General Luna St. in his native Malabon. Cremation is scheduled on Friday at the Eternal Gardens.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Cartoonist Nonoy Marcelo passes away
Posted: 2:55 PM (Manila Time) | Oct. 22, 2002 /

FILIPINO satirical cartoonist Severino "Nonoy" Marcelo passed away at the Chinese General Hospital on Tuesday due to complications arising from diabetes. He was 58.

Marcelo was widely known for his multi-awarded comic strip, "Ikabod", in the 1980s winning among others the 1985 Catholic Mass Media Awards for its "serious journalistic commentary." He since carried "Ikabod" to the now-defunct Pinoy Times, where he served as art director. Apart from the daily "Ikabod", Marcelo illustrated the newspaper's editorial cartoon and a front-page cartoon complimenting the banner headline. Marcelo also wrote an occasional column, "Ni Ha Ni Ho", for the Manila Chronicle.

His last stint was with the current Manila Times, where he depicted political events and personalities through his acclaimed satirical sense in "Ptyk" - the paper's weekly mini-magazine.

Marcelo started his career as a cartoonist in the early 1960s with "Plain Folks" for the Daily Mirror. He then moved over to the Manila Times in 1962, where he created the popular daily comic strip, "Tisoy", which then spun off into two movies and a television series. "Ikabod" started in the Marcos era, where "Dagalandia" became an everyday breakfast treat for readers.

Nonoy Marcelo, 63
Tuesday, October 22, 2002 5:41:39 p.m

Cartoonist Severino "Nonoy" Marcelo died Tuesday at the Chinese General Hospital in Manila at around 10 a.m. from complications arising from diabetes. He was 63 years old.

Marcelo, who was born on Jan. 22, 1939, is best known for creating popular comic strips Tisoy and Ikabod.

He leaves behind a legacy of nearly four decades of work, ranging from newspaper spot cartoons and caricature to lavish magazine artwork and design and comic books.

In the 1960s, British cartoonist Ronald Searle took one look at Marcelo’s drawings and remarked: "He must have been born with a pen in his hand."

Marcelo's friend, Pandi Aviado, described him as talented, a good friend and one who likes to joke. Aviado added that aside from being a cartoonist, Marcelo also painted and wrote. He also played the guitar.

Marcelo grew up in Malabon with his maternal uncle, Jose Zabala Santos, a cartoonist at Liwayway magazine. Santos was one of the pioneers of Filipino comics and creator of such popular characters as Lukas Malakas and Popoy.

Malang and "Kenkoy" creator Tony Velasquez also frequented Marcelo's house.

In an interview in April 2001, Marcelo said the first word he learned was Halakhak, referring to a popular comic book in the late 1940s to which his uncle contributed.

Marcelo's freehand drawing skills were fully developed by the time he entered high school. But he was kicked out of St. James School for being sacrilegious.

At Far Eastern University, Marcelo’s talent caught the eye of then-dean Alejandro Roces. Roces, whose family owned The Manila Times, took the budding cartoonist under his wing.

Marcelo did Plain Folks, a gently sardonic look at Filipino family life, for the Times's afternoon daily Daily Mirror.

He moved to The Manila Times in 1962, where he created Tisoy. The comic strip spun off into two movies and a television series.

Ikabod started life in the Marcos era, where "Dagalandia" became an everyday breakfast treat for readers. The strip was considered an allegorical depiction of Philippine society.

The Catholic Mass Media Award recognized Marcelo for his work in Ikabod in 1985. It was one of the few times that a comic strip was recognized as serious journalistic commentary.

Before his death, Marcelo was working on a book that was to present a history of his hometown, Malabon. The book's working title was Tambobong: A Malabon Voyage, which chronicles his obsession with the minutiae of his hometown’s history.

He also planned to put up a cartoon museum that would archive the rich history of political cartoons and comics in the Philippines.

Marcelo at one time said cartoons contributed a lot to the Filipino culture, but this has remained unacknowledged. He said the Filipino language would not have been spread to the Visayas and Mindanao without cartoons.

Marcelo is also the only cartoonist to be honored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines when the Republic observed its centennial in 1998. The CCP cited him, among a group of 100 Centennial Awardees, for excellence in the visual arts and for helping define national identity by taking a stand on political and social issues.

His remains lie in state at Floresco Funeral Homes, Gen. Luna St., Concepcion, Malabon. His remains will be cremated on Friday.

Monday, October 14, 2002

A sweet, smart graphic adventure
By Ruel S. De Vera

After Eden
By Arnold Arre
(Adarna House, QC, 2002, 254 pp)

AFTER WINNING awards and rave reviews for his groundbreaking comic book series "The Mythology Class" and the futuristic one-shot "Trip to Tagaytay," Arnold Arre takes readers in an entirely new direction with his newest graphic novel, the 254-page "After Eden," the first release from Adarna House's new Anino imprint. Beyond its sheer length, "After Eden" is impressive because of its charming set of characters and intelligent exposition. At its heart, and like most of Arre's other works, "After Eden" is a love story, but it's a complicated one with a wink-wink, pop-culture feel and a sentimentality that's sincere but a bit cutesy.

The word-heavy novel spins around the lives of Jon, a hobby storeowner, and Celine, an advertising writer. The two had shared one moment as children, a moment immortalized in a photograph. A chance meeting after a riot occurs at a fantasy/hobby convention (yes, you read that correctly) leads to what appears at first to be a fairly innocuous, somewhat saccharine romance. But then, Arre throws in a novel, slightly twisted, well, twist.

Greg, Jon's loud-mouthed fanboy friend, and Lea, Celine's bitchy best friend, conspire to break the couple up. Apparently, the two miss the lives they shared with Jon and Celine prior to the fateful reunion, and now the two launch a notably mean-spirited attempt to end the romance and perhaps return everyone to a time before starry eyes and sweet nothings. Return everyone, in other words, to a life of collectible card games and shopping sprees. The fact that Greg and Lea can't stand each other only adds to the fun, as does the presence of a band called Heaven Sent, which is actually made up of pretty angels currently playing cupid.

Obstacle course

The plot winds its way through an obstacle course of near-misses and successful gambits by Greg and Lea, as well as a quick look at the lives of two other friends, gaming addict Michael and stuffed toy-collector Cathy. But the meat of "After Eden" is how lovebirds Jon and Celine are torn apart by people they trust -- and then the hijinks really begin.

To be honest, there has never been so much crying in an Arnold Arre comic book until now. Just as he pumped up the dosage on the sugary romance, he also upped the ante on the emotional confrontations and breakdowns, displaying a knack for such scenes he hadn't shown before. Furthermore, he keeps the plot running briskly and the dialogue snappy, no mean feat for a book that's more than 250-pages long. Besides, trust Arre to turn a pop culture-pervaded courtship into a battle between heaven and hell.

Fanboy culture

Arre also successfully captures the zeitgeist of two different cultures: the fanboy culture of sci-fi, comic books, fantasy and games that evokes a certain degree of otherness for the uninitiated; and the flashy, unrelenting, competitive world of the ad industry. Arre approaches these worlds with a sincere understanding as well as a discerning eye

The art is vintage Arre; strong and simple in its black-and-white lines, but also humorous and somewhat whimsical in its individual portrayal of characters. Arre throws in scenes that brim with surreal visual references as well as scenes in homage to fantasy and sci-fi. The cover and the pinups also prove that while Arre's work looks good in black and white, it looks fantastic in color.


As far as his characters are concerned, Jon and Celine are handsome lead characters; soulful to a fault, pure romantic hero and heroine material, or, as one extra calls them, "the mushiest couple on the planet." For my money, it is the supporting pair of Greg, with his funny hair and exaggerated expressions and Lea, with her naughty eyes and capacity for bile, that help make "After Eden" the vivid, catchy experience that it is. Try not to laugh too hard at the twosome's flashback sequences, or when they get stuck in a bar. While the book is actually a tale of three disparate romances, it is the central, threatened pair of Jon and Celine that propels "After Eden" to its honestly sentimental but visually grabbing climax. Arre orchestrates that denouement and the subsequent endings with confidence and maybe a smile or two.

"After Eden" is an important next step in our own comic book history because of its size, its narrative strength and its original flavor, proving that Arre continues to hone his skills. It also feels like an intensely personal work for him. He melds different worlds with his talent to craft another graphic adventure to be proud of; a book that's unabashedly romantic, one that says that fanboys and yuppies can find life-long love after all.

Available at leading bookstores and comic shops.

Thursday, October 10, 2002


Comics have flourished over the years in large part due to the variety of styles and interpretations put forth by an international cast of artists. The Philippines became a recruiting ground for the larger publishing houses when DC Comics discovered the amazing work being done there by men like Nestor Redondo and Alex Niño.

This shows the work of ten men, who from the 1950s through the end of the century have found work for DC, Marvel and Warren, as well as Disney and various production companies as storyboard and inspirational artists. The works presented here range from comic covers to stand-alone art pieces, depicting barbarians, monsters, fantasy women and men and Tarzan. Includes works by Nestor Malgapo, Steve Gan, Gerry Talaoc, Nestor Infante, Arturo Geroche and Dante Berreno, Jr. The back cover contains biographical information on each artist. Printed on heavy stock. Most of this appeared only in the Philipines and is collected here for the first time. Excellent, top-notch artwork beautifully reproduced in large size. Great price, too!

$17.95, 18 plates, 12x15, b&w.


KAKOSA interviews Arnold Arre

KAKOSA interviews Arnold Arre
interview by Bosyo

Arnold Arre does it again, covering new ground with his latest graphic novel "After Eden". Instead of populating his comic books with ridiculously dressed superheroes in tights he opts for the equally absurd life of Pinoy geeks in love.

KAKOSA: How much of this book is autobiographical?

Arnold: Hard to tell. I can say that most of the scenes were inspired by personal experiences. Some are from stories I heard from friends. But the book's message is really my own take on the subject of love & friendship. Sex and innocence. When you're writing a love or romance story there's this tendency to take a side. A writer usually spoon feeds the audience with his or her personal views and opinions (yes, I'm guilty of that too), not that it's wrong or anything, but the result is almost always the same - the main characters rule the story while the minor characters end up as either the comic relief, the forgotten confidante, or worse, second banana. If you can relate to the major characters then you got your money's worth. But what if you can't? What if you find injustice in the way the story handled the supporting cast of whom you relate to more? With "After Eden" The biggest challenge was that I didn't know how it was going to end! I avoided all that and came up with a story where there are no main characters. For me, love has so many interesting facets that it would be a shame to focus on one and ignore the rest. There are as many views on relationships as there are people on earth.

KAKOSA: From concept to finish what are the stages in writing a comic book like this? What challenges did you face in coming out with "After Eden" in particular?

Arnold: I usually come up with an outline before fleshing out the details of the story (plot, scenes, dialogue etc.). That's S.O.P., but in the case of "After Eden" I only did that up to chapter 3. The biggest challenge was that I didn't know how it was going to end! I had several endings, mostly sad endings and didn't know what to do with them (a love story is very difficult to write, believe me!). If it was going to be a sad ending it had to be in relation to the message I was trying to convey and, most importantly, it must be for a very very good reason and not the cheap "oh well, that's life" kind of route. On the other hand, a happy ending requires believability and should have enough conviction to gain the approval of even the most jaded of readers. Anyway, the book is finished so it's now up to the reader to decide whether I pulled it off or not.

KAKOSA: Your comic books have probably the most mature audience in the local scene. Do you plan to concentrate on stories like these for your next comic books?

Arnold: I believe so. I'm taking a break from fantasy and action adventure for the time being. There are enough comic books out there that deal with the subject so I guess they've got that side covered. :)

KAKOSA: You've got a great website for "After Eden" with a lot downloadable goodies? Any plans for merchandise based on any of your comic books? What's next for Arnold Arre and Cynthia Bauzon?

Arnold: Cynthia did a fantastic job on the site :) She asked me what I wanted for it and told her I'll be happy with a simple 'souvenir site'. The end result surpassed my expectations, as you can see. She never fails to amaze me :)

I'm still convincing her to do a children's comic book - ala 'scary godmother' or 'courageous princess' hehehe. I'll be helping with the illustrations.

KAKOSA: What are your wishes for the Pinoy conic book industry?

Arnold: More artists and writers, more stories, more books, more groups or companies, more diversity and, of course, more readers :)

KAKOSA reviews "After Eden"
review by Bosyo

Arnold Arre has proven himself a master story teller with his new graphic novel "After Eden". Except for a chorus of angels and demons, this book is set in familiar territory, populated by recognizable characters and is about situations we know all too well. I am talking about the world of Starbucks, Mega Mall, Close-Up toothpaste commercials, video game arcades, L.Q.'s, M.U.'s, sex and virginity; our world. This is an unabashed romance story that I suspect is a partially autobiographical as well.

Without the benefit of mythological creatures and futuristic cityscapes that characterized his previous comic books Arnold Arre has succeeded nevertheless in enchanting us with a well crafted love story. In the hands of a less endowed writer the familiarity of the setting might have become mundane. Had this been crafted by a less genuine person the romantic plot could have turned to unbearable formulaic mush. But Arnold manages to pull it off with insightful soliloquies, humorous dialogue and credible characters.

Funny, charming and honest, the story reads to me like the way a college buddy would recount how he met his girlfriend. And just like those stories this graphic novel made me laugh at the weird coincidences, cringe at the embarrassing predicaments, and nod in agreement at the sameness of its outlook with mine. I warn you, this comic book made me giggle and smile all by myself like a madman in my office. "Oo, kinilig ako sa komiks pre'. Bakit, may problema ka?"

As in his previous comic books nearly all the people that populate this book bear an uncanny resemblance to Arnold's friends and relations. This adds realism to his characters. His lines are clean and his drawings are very expressive. Arnold's illustration style is one of the many reasons this book is such a pleasure to read.

Though the 254 pages inside are mostly in black and white the book comes with a handsome full color cover and 3 full color pin-ups inside. This book will cost you 295 pesos and is worth every centavo. You can buy your copy at any Comic Quest outlet or where ever Adarna Publishing books may be found. Go get yourself one today. Not to miss is Cynthia Bauzon's gorgeous design for this book's website that has wallpapers, desktop icons, fonts and other downloadable goodies.

Thursday, October 03, 2002


interview by Bosyo and Quid

CultureCrash is a rarity in this day and age. It is a Filipino comic book that is published regularly in high quality full color print, is distributed to a wide array of establishments and is commercially successful. It is rendered in a Japanese Manga style but the dialogue, setting and characters are Filipino. Owning its own printing press and having an extensive distribution alone cannot account for its success in the last two years. There is a powerhouse of both literary and graphic talent that fuels the CultureCrash team. They enjoy a fanatical fan base that regularly contributes artworks. They have tapped a young urban middle class market that is caught between its fascination for Japanese culture and its need to appreciate something it can call its own. How appropriate that this new generation has found it in a comic book called "CultureCrash".

The CultureCrash crew is composed of: Jescie James, publisher of CultureCrash Comics and writer of "One Day, Isang Diwa". Elmer Damaso, creator-artist-writer ng "Cat's Trail" and artist ng" One Day, Isang Diwa". Taga-Ilog, creator of "Pasig" and half-art of "KuboriKikiam". Michael David, a.k.a. Tiga-kanal, story and half-art ng Dexter Lira, otherwise known as Evil Dex, who write articles and sometimes edits and colors. And Bobby Villagracia, colorist and new media artist. Absent from the interview was Jerard Beltran, creator of Solstice Butterfly.

Kakosa: What is your work flow in rendering digitally your pencil sketches?

Elmer: Una may clean-up. Mostly yung artist talaga ang nagki-clean-up. Sila ang may alam talaga ng gusto nilang gawin. So may flat coloring. Tapos noon may secondary coloring, yung shading. Pagkatapos noon background art. Kasi yung background art painted.

Kakosa: So at what stage does it become digital?

James: After inking.

Kakosa: How was CultureCrash formed? Was there a qualification o dahil magkakaibigan na kayo kaya nabuo?

James: Actually, pinili ko lang yung work.

So they went to you and applied?

James: Hindi. Ni-hunt down namin sila. Kasi si Ilog for one, talagang gumagawa siya ng independent comics. Tapos nakita ko yung isang work niya. Sabi ko, "Let's get this guy!"

Elmer: Atsaka si Ilog kasi nagha-hang out siya sa tambayan namin sa Fine Arts. Eh nakita ko rin yung work niya. So, nung pinakita ko kay James, Impressed siya kaagad.

Kakosa: Ano yung hinahanap mo sa isang artist, sa isang writer?

James: Dedication.

Elmer: Character nung artist, it's the whole package. Maganda ang art, maganda yung packaging, yung storytelling mo, maganda yung kuwento, consistent.

Kakosa: Sa work process ninyo, I presume character study muna tapos storyline. Do you follow that strictly? Are there times ba na dinederetso ninyo into paper kahit wala pang storyline or character?

James: In my case, script muna. Page flats. Actually yung page flats, lahat kami dumadaan doon. Tapos ako deretso sa script. Tapos sila more on visual artist sila. Kasi ako writer ako, so nagsisimula ako sa script talaga. Sila visual artists, sisimulan nila thumbnails, images agad. Kung ano'ng gusto nilang makita, ano yung gusto nilang mangyari, flow ng kuwento. Then after that ilalagay na yung words. Pero, iyon ang nangyayari sa amin, pag nagawa na yung thumbnails, ipe-present nila sa akin yon. Or as a group sa amin, parang ganyan, ididikit siya, parang sa animation din, storyboard. Tapos gagawin isa-isa.

Kakosa: Is there ever a time na nasasagasaan yung kwento ninyo dahil yung pagination kailangan divisible by 8 or divisible by 4? How do you deal with that?

James: Actually, hindi naman. Pero na-restrict kami kasi ang allotted pages sa amin hanggang 10 or 12 lang, Eh ang gusto namin 22 pages.

Elmer: For me, meron time dati kasi na pin-plot ko na yun. Episode 1, 2, 3,4,5,6, ganun. Tapos alam ko na mangyayari for those issues. Kaso ang nangyari dyan, dahil sa page limitations, ano tuloy, parang humaba lang yung kwento. Doon kami nagkakaproblema. Napahaba siya, na-stretch.

Elmer: Ang nagiging problema namin ang konti ng pages. Kasi minsan ang dami naming gustong mangyari for one issue, there are only 12 pages to artistically deliver. Eh alangan namang mangyari ng mangyari bara-bara.

Outside your group, sino ang pinaka ina-admire ninyo na Filipino comic artist?

James: Larry Alcala. Siyempre hindi mawawala yon. Ariel Padilla. Pol Medina, Larry Alcala, Marco Dimaano, si Arre. Tsaka si Lyndon Gregorio. Actually hindi ako familiar sa work niya. Pero nung in-interview namin siya, binasa ko yung Beerkada, natuwa ako dun.

Kakosa: Ano sanang gusto ninyong mangyari para ma-improve yung local comic book industry? I mean, what's your wish list?

James: Advertisers.

Kakosa: Have you approached any?

James: Yes. But the problem is like this: For example isa akong big company tapos ito advertising agency ko. Pagkabinibigay ko sa kanila, may budget na ako. "This is your budget for ads for TV, for billboard, for magazine." There's nothing for comics. Kaya pagka nagustuhan ng ad agency yung publication, it's uphill. Kasi i-introduce nila to some 40-year old, 50-year old in-charge person na doesn't understand it.

Kakosa: Well, ever thought of sponsorship? Or tie-up?

James: Sinong nagta-tieup sa amin? Multi-national company, AXN. It's ironic that the only people interested in us are outside the country. Someone from Japan, Hongkong and from Singapore, but no one from the Philippines. Nakikita pa ng foreigners yung potential and yung quality of work namin imbes na yung mga mismong nandito. Karamihan naman sasabihin, "Original kasi eh". Pero nagkaroon na rin kasi ako ng comment na, "Well, ba't di na lang ako mag-sponsor for Pokemon, mas sikat, di ba?" And there's this multinational Japanese animation company that says, "Wow, this is good! This is fresh!" On one hand Someone from a big giant company from Japan is praising your work while on the other hand local Filipino corporations are trashing your work.

Kakosa: Balita ko you're making money na with CultureCrash?

James: Sales. Sales alone.

How good is it?

James: It's okay.

Kakosa: Enough to buy all of you new cars or something? Puwede na ba kayong magkaroon ng attitude?

James: Hindi, basically when we were getting into this, alam naman namin na this is going to be uphill. Although phenomenal na siguro yung performance ng CultureCrash, to a point meron din kaming fault. Kasi yung production namin, actually kung monthly kami lumalabas ang dami na naming pera. Ang problema, iyong profit for one issue pinapatagal ko ng 3 to 4 months.

Kakosa: Ah kasi nae-extend kayo, nagba-bimonthly pa kayo.

James: Pero isipin mo, kung monthly namin kinikita yung kinikita ngayon, okay na.

Kakosa: I think you have a market. I just bought your latest issue, of all places, sa Tropical Hut.

James: Buti nga laging sold out yung issues namin. Kung hindi we won't be here.

Kakosa: Sa criticism ng work ninyo, what do you want to hear first, the good or the bad? Okay, the bad muna. The bad is that, if you are not familiar or neck-deep into Manga, the narrative is hard to catch on pag nagsisimula ka pa lang. Like, I only found out about CultureCrash after the first 3 issues.

James: Well, for one thing kasi, it's a serial. So it's an ongoing story. Hindi siya kagaya ng Archie na you can jump on anytime, tapusan. For one thing, we want to tell a story. I mean that's the most important thing. We really have to tell you right now that it is very important to us to tell the story. So, in that part, yung artistic ano namin, we stand for that. Dun sa part na yon, yung preference namin. Kasi ang gusto rin naming mangyari ngayon, maka-jump yung iba. So nag-iisip kami ng paraan ngayon kung anong mas maganda. Yung ginawa ko sa Issue #4, may story re-cap. We're going to do another story recap either this issue or next issue. So ayun, sagot na yung question mo doon. Kasi actually ayaw nga namin ng ganoon eh. Iniiwasan nga namin yung pagka binasa mo, naguluhan ka. Iniiwasan namin yon.

Siguro it's also the nature of your medium. Kasi ang Japanese Manga very layered yung storya. Ang daming characters as compared to, let's say, a Western-type of comic book.

James: I think that's a misnomer. Kasi meron din namang Japanese Manga na gags lang. All the way gags lang na parang ageless ang humor like Sanrio comic book. Nagkakaroon lang tayo ng misconceptions kasi ang kilala lang ng Pilipino na Manga ay yung mga sikat na talagang serious na ganun. Pero all the while nakakalimutan nila na ang daming layers diyan. Malawak ang storytelling.

Kakosa: May comment si Gerry Alanguilan. His original criticism was, "It's great. Great comic book, great art, great story. But is it Filipino? Is it uniquely Filipino? Is it original?" Ang stand niya ngayon is, it's not so much as being Filipino but arriving at your own distinct style.

James: Ang ayoko lang kasi sa ginawa niya, he took a stand. He put it in writing and then he changed it every month. For one thing, yung stance niyang iyon, it's exactly what we told people who were asking us and who were in contact with him. It's not looking for a Filipino style. He's looking for a distinct personal style. Our goal here is actually to help all the other Filipino artists. We just want to help everyone.

Kakosa: Iilan na nga lang sa comic book industry, nag-aaway-away pa.

James: Yun nga eh. it's very Filipino.

Elmer: Hihilahin ka pababa.

James: Yung sinasabi niya is finding your own distinct style. Okay, let's scour the entire world. There is probably one person out of 7 billion people in the world who draws so much like Gerry. You know, pero hindi lang nga sikat. Hindi pa lang naman siguro na-pupublish. It's a question of who gets published and who gets famous, para sa akin.

Elmer: Yung anime, it's everywhere. So, once you see big eyes, anime na iyon.

James: Mickey Mouse had big eyes.

Elmer: Yung "Witch" na comics ngayon? It's actually a Walt Disney artist. Tapos pinasok nila yung anime style.

James: Sa tingin ko meron nang distinct style sila Elmer atsaka si Ilog. For one thing, si Ilog, can you tell me someone who draws like Ilog.

James: Kumuha kami ng influence from the Japanese and they're anime. Kasi yung drawing nila is more on the American style, quite frankly.

Oo, kasi syempre iba-iba ng influence yan.

James: And his reason is American 'to, which is the melting pot of the industry. The American comic books sells at most 100,000 - 300,000 na bestseller ngayon, a title, di ba? Comic book.

Kakosa: Actually, I've seen recent graphic novels published sa “Heavy Metal” that combined Manga-type and heavy metal-type.

James: And that doesn't distinct us Filipinos na hindi tayo melting pot. I mean, we've gone through 300 years of Spanish period, we've gone through an American colony.

Elmer: And the Japanese.

James: How can you put a claim on a concept so incredibly foreign to us? Comic books and comics in general were brought to us during World War I. "Kenkoy", If you look at it, it's so much like an American strip. Yeah, it's used for propaganda. The concept itself is foreign. I think what we have to stop and think about here is, when we look for our own style, we should put our own restrictions in one box and throw it away. We should be free-minded. Art is so personal. There should be no restrictions. There should be, for something like nationalism, countries or barriers, there should be no barriers. We should remix everything and hold no limitation to your imagination. You should not put yourself in a box.

Kakosa: And I don't know if you've noticed pero it's amazing that something like comic books which is about fantasy, which is about also about children although not restricted to them, can touch on something on a nerve, about cultural identity and nationalism.

Elmer: It's the most widely read medium in the world. It's the number one literary form globally. Halimbawa meron tayong isang Filipino artist pero ang education niya purely western. Tapos nagpunta siya sa isang western country, tapos western paints, western canvass, tapos western na rin yung subject niya. And he wins the second or grand prize in the most prestigious award. Pagbalik niya, Filipino artist ba siya? "Spolarium" di ba? If you look at Spolarium and you have no idea about the background, will you tell me that it was painted by a Filipino? And yet he is a Filipino. He is hailed as a national artist di ba?

James: Lea Salonga.

Elmer: Lea Salonga, she is a US citizen. (laughter) And we are proud that she is Filipino. O di ba? Broadway musical.

Elmer: I think it's stupid to pull down your countrymen for personal preference. I think we should just stop all that and see that the comic book industry here needs help. And we are trying to do something about it. And it would be great if we could help each other out. We wanted to feature, ito ha, for the first time ngayon ko lang ilalabas 'to. Prior to Gerry's publication, we were suppose to feature him. Because we wanted, napansin kasi namin yung "Wasted", yung mga yan, alam mo hindi sila masyadong bumebenta. Kung i-feature kaya natin sila every issue para ma-help yung sales nila. Just before he published that on-line thing. And we were planning a series. Arnold Arre, Marco Dimaano...

Kakosa: Okay nga sana 'no? Kung magkakaroon ng unity sa Filipino comic art.

James: Actually, you can't argue, we are the bestselling comic book in the Philippines. Made by Filipinos, for the Filipinos. And we wanted to help people out. Tutulungan mo, sabay... So I don't think some people don't see the big picture. Comics isn't just visuals. It's the perfect marriage of imagery and literature. Yang CultureCrash. I have gone around the world. I've never seen a publication that is like it or similar to it.

Kakosa: Anyway, I think it's good nga para magkaroon ng catalyst na pag may naglabas.

James: We wanted to help them out.

Elmer: Hindi naman tayo ang lumaban doon di ba? Pero syempre nasaktan din kami sa sinabi niya.

James: Oo, kasi for one thing, obvious na kami yung tinitira niya eh. I mean, sinabi rin naman niya eh.

David: Kasi kahit papaano, bata pa ako. Kahit sinong Pinoy na makapaglabas, idol mo na eh. Pupunta ka sa mga conventions tapos magpapapirma ka sa kanya eh. Kay Gerry atsaka kay Whilce. Tapos biglang, ano nagsasabi siya ng ganun.

Kakosa: Napansin ko lang, some of you actually learned how to speak Japanese. So how deep are you into this genre, this subculture?

Elmer: Dati talaga kasi "Otaku" ako. Yung Otaku is fan boy. Talagang into Japanese ako. Nagsimula ako niyan pinahiram ako ni Gio.

Kakosa: So lahat kayo Otaku?

James: Dati. Pinahiram pa ako ni Gio ng tape. Tapos since then naghanap na ako ng comics, magazines, toys, CD's, babae (laughs).

Kakosa: Tell me if I'm wrong, kasi there's this pre-conceived notion na, "It's another Play Station 2 / Hentai / Manga fanatic." Yun yung stereotype ng tao eh. so am I right there?

James: Before siguro, you're right.

Kakosa: Why do you say before?

James: Ano kasi, siguro nung nag-start na rin tayo ng CultureCrash, di ba?

Elmer: Ironically, nung pumasok ako sa CultureCrash, ako nag-stay out ako sa anime. Ayokong ma-influence ng kahit ano.

Kakosa: Ah, you wanted to develop your own style. That's very important na malaman ng tao.

Elmer: Ayoko kasing, baka pang may napanood ako, subconsciously, sa ayaw o sa gusto ko, baka pumasok sa utak ko yon, sa kuwento ko.

Kakosa: You love Manga, the Japanese culture it brings. But now because you're doing it yourself, you're now staying away from it. So you can generate your own.

James: Yung setting ko nasa Pilipinas eh. Kasi magiging foreign yung dating ng kuwento ko if I stick to the Japanese style.

KAKOSA interviews Gerry Alanguilan interviews Gerry Alanguilan
interview by Bosyo

Gerry Alanguilan is probably the most prolific Filipino artist on the web. He has his own website and so do some of his comic book projects.

He has given plenty of interviews online. From GetAsia to comic book fanzines to the Inquirer.

He has also been very outspoken and honest about his views on Pinoy culture, manga and music.

Of course Gerry deserves all this attention. He achieved fame abroad as the comic book artist for titles such as Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Force, X-men, Wetworks and Grifter. He has also published several local comic books such as Timawa, Wasted and Dead Heart Stories. He has developed a unique style and has deeper understanding and concern for culture than most comic book artists.

Kakosa: Much has been said about your stand regarding Pinoy manga artists, originality and the people behind "Culture Crash" comic books in particular. To summarize your position in the issue is not about using any certain style but rather about incorporating outside influences and developing your own. You seem to be saying that being a Filipino comic book artist is having a distinct personal style, that your "Pinoyness" will naturally come out if you be yourself. Am I right? Aside from having an original personal style what else makes a comic book Pinoy?

Gerry: The search for the identity of the "Filipino" in comic book art has been very difficult, and I don't pretend to even begin to know the answer. What you see on the article on my site is what I stood on the subject last year and my belief on it is still evolving. More and more I'm starting to believe that regional identity is not as important as individual identity. In the age of communication through faxes and Internet, interaction between people from all kinds of races, cultures, beliefs and backgrounds are becoming more widespread. In just a decade’s time, the Internet will be as common as the television and telephone. Information will flow freely and artistic influences from the most obscure places to the most common will be easily had by almost anyone. I see distinct characteristics between styles of comic book art from Europe, America and Asia breaking down. Slowly but surely we are becoming more and more "citizens of the world" rather than citizens of any particular region. And I believe comic book art will reflect that as it is starting to now. More and more the thought of creating "Filipino" or "European" or "Japanese" style comic art will become less important to creating a distinctive "personal" style which will vary from individual to individual, based on his personal experience.

In spite of this, I still believe the basic point of my article holds true. An artist MUST strive to be original. In comic art, it is always possible to create something new and fresh. A particular style may have certain influences, but if a style is well realized under the hands of a capable artist, something true to the spirit of that artist will shine through. If the end result of that is what may be considered "Filipino Comic Art", it's not for me to say.

Kakosa: What is your dream project? What would you love to do?

I've got LOTS of dream projects! One that I'm trying to get off the ground now is an illustrated adaptation of the legends of the Seven Lakes of San Pablo City. I want to create something that will last, and something that will have significance to me culturally. San Pablo City is where I was born, where I grew up and where I hope to die some day. I'm so grounded in this place that I don't see myself staying any other place for long. I may leave once in a while, but I will always come back. I want to create something that will celebrate this place and to let other people know about it as well. My other projects also run along the same lines.

Kakosa: Do you plan to do an online interactive comic book series, something like Marvel Online?

Gerry: I most likely will not. Even though I'm so steeped into technology, what with my art portfolio available online and many of the tasks of my work needing computers, the end product of my efforts will always be in print. I'm still a traditionalist at heart and I believe taking comics into the web takes something away from the joy of reading them. Many people would disagree with me, but there you go. It's not that I haven't tried. A web-only work of mine is currently available through, in the third issue of Remote Views. I have a 6 page story there called "City of Light" as written by Antony Johnston. It was a nice experience, but it's something I'd rather not repeat again. I understand that I may be losing a certain segment of the reading public, but it's something I can live with. My work will always be in print or not at all.

Kakosa: Do you plan to take your comic book stories into other kinds media as well? I read somewhere you were doing a film based on your comic book "Wasted". What has come of that so far?

Gerry: Yes, shooting has actually begun on the movie, and it's been really terrific seeing all that so far. It's a whole new experience for me. My ultimate goal is really just creating comics. I have no definite plans to bring these stories to other kinds media like animation or films or whatever. Comics is really just what I want to concentrate on. But if other parties approach me about bringing my stories elsewhere, like the Wasted movie, that would be terrific! Other artists regard comics as stepping stones to other fields like animation and film, as if they are a natural progression from one place to another. Not me. Comics is the ultimate for me. This is the place where I want to tell my stories.

Kakosa: Among the current crop of comic book artists it is you who seems to pay most tribute to the old masters like Alfredo Alcala, Alex Nino, Francisco Coching, Nestor Redondo and Rudy Florese. What can we do to keep alive and further their tradition of comic book art? Do you consider your own style as something that builds upon their tradition or does your style have roots somewhere else?

Gerry: To be honest, my roots come more from Herge of the Tintin comic books, Barry Windsor Smith, Mike Kaluta, Frank Miller, Moebius and the like. It wasn't until much later did I come to appreciate our own local artists for their accomplishments, although I had been aware of their work ever since I was very young. Only in the last few years have I been conscious about the importance of appreciating our legacy of Filipino Comic Book art. I look at all those terrific artwork, specially those by Francisco Coching and the many artists he has influenced like Alex Nino, Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo and I just marvel at it. And I've come to realize people from all over the world marveled at the talent of these Filipino artists as well. Nino and Alcala have become famous internationally for their art and Filipinos, as a result, have gained honor and respect for it in this particular field. Those artworks were one of a kind. Obviously coming from the same pool of creativity, each artist nevertheless displayed an individuality unique to himself. To create comic book art today grossly derivative of the artwork popularized by other cultures seems to me like an insult to this legacy. To keep true to this tradition, I don't believe it's necessary to copy what they did. It's all right to be influenced, but any true artist will be able to use them, and come up something unique to himself. That is the way to carry on this tradition. Be unique. Be original. Be true to yourself.

Kakosa: Do you consider comic books an art form? Why?

Gerry: Certainly! What is art anyway? For me it is the product of a person's talent and skill in arranging and composing elements to create an aesthetically pleasing whole. That goes without saying that this pretty much covers a lot of people. A gardener can be an artist if he is able to create a garden that looks good with well-chosen and trimmed plants arranged in an aesthetic manner. A comic book artist, along with the writer, creates stories on paper that come alive in the minds of the reader. And if that writer and that artist is talented enough, amazing pieces of work has the potential for being created. Is comics art? Yes it is! Of course it is! And I'll knock anyone on his ass if he takes a look at any artwork by Francisco Coching and thinks it's not art.

Kakosa: Where do you get your inspiration? Is there some sort of routine you follow to get yourself in the mood?

Gerry: I get inspiration from many things. They could be anything as long as they impress me. They could be novels, comics stories, TV shows, movies, paintings, sunsets, fields of flowers, animals, anything. I've watched the Stephen Chow movie Shaolin Soccer now for like 5 times. What a terrific movie and yes, terribly inspiring.

Kakosa: Aside from comic books are there other creative endeavors you engage in right now?

Gerry: Aside from writing the Tagalog screenplay to the Wasted movie, I'm also trying acting in it. I'm not so good at it, but we can't afford to pay real actors. he.he.

Kakosa: It seems foreigners often judge the entire Filipino race by the actions of one person. Do you feel a need to represent the Philippines, especially when you are abroad? Do you feel a certain kind of burden not felt by other nationalities with more recognized cultures? Is there something you want to prove or be recognized for?

Gerry: I've not been abroad that much, but yeah, I guess when I'm here or when I'm there, I don't want to do anything stupid lest I be misconstrued to be typical of Filipinos. I keep that in mind a lot when working in comics. I always try to make it the best job that I can, and do it as fast as I can so I won't be late. My performance could help determine the future employment of future Filipino artists. If they know they could depend on me, then they would be predisposed to trust other Filipinos like myself. I don't feel it's a burden at all, but an honor. I just do my best, and I'm sure I'll be OK.

What is Pinoy culture? Must all artists take responsibility for it?

Gerry: This goes back to question #1. I don't feel I'm in a position to tell what is Pinoy culture as yet. Maybe in a few years I may start to have an idea, but now I'm still searching, I'm still studying. But what I can tell you know is what Filipino Culture is not. It's not Japanese Culture, it's not European Culture and it's not American. Artists must always keep this in mind. Like I've always been harping, just strive to be original, do your best and you'll be all right.

Kakosa: Are there any projects you want to plug?

Gerry: Ochlocrat #1 from Comics Conspiracy, out last January. With writer Doug Miers. High Roads #1 from Wildstorm/DC, out in April. With writer Scott Lobdell, and artists Leinil Yu and Edgar Tadeo. Dead Heart Stories #1 from Alamat, out in June. With artist Leinil Yu. The Yellow Shawl, a comic book adaptation of the classic novel by National artist Francisco Arcellana also out sometime middle of the year. With writer Emil Flores.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Arnold Arre's "After Eden"

Arnold Arre has a new graphic novel called AFTER EDEN, published by Anino Comics, an imprint of Adarna House Inc. The book will be available at this year's Philippine Bookfair (Adarna booth, Megatrade Hall, SM Megamall) from August 30-September 8, and then at all leading book stores and comic book outlets come November.

"After Eden" is a love story that involves six people, serendipitous weather disturbances, and the minions of heaven and hell. It is, by turns, strange, hilarious and heartbreaking -- a story that somehow manages to be complex and yet pure and simple at the same time. It is also the best thing Arnold Arre has done so far, and that's really saying something, considering that he's won National Book Awards for his previous works, "The Mythology Class" and "Trip to Tagaytay." Arnold has truths to tell about love, friendship, loyalty and betrayal, and he tells them with an eloquence -- in words and pictures -- that is all his own. - Luis Joaquin M. Katigbak, (Palanca Award-winning) author of Happy Endings

254 pages (paperback)• 3 full color pin-ups • one-shot special • mature readers

Friday, August 02, 2002

Here's a list of all the Alamat comic book titles published.

Comic books made by the guys who would eventually be part of Alamat (1993-1994)

Sigaw Saklolo
Pagan Press
Crest Hut Butt Shop
Dead Heart
Shadow Comics

Alamat Comic Books

Indigo Valley / P-Noise #1, #2
Shadow Comics / Scions #1
Alamat 101 #1
Tattooed #1
TKS: The Kill Stalker #1

A.R.C.H.O.N. #1
Polgas: Ang Asong Hindi
Pugad Baboy Adbentiyurs


Batch72 #1 (riso edition)

Karen Kunawicz’s On the Verge
Mythology Class #1 to 4
Pantheon #1 to 5
Avatar #1 to 3

Angel Ace: Lone Wolf and Cherub (June)

Baylans #1(August)

Angel Ace: Again # 1 (September)

Angel Ace: Again # 2 (January)

One Night in Purgatory (February)

Ange Ace: Again #3 (July)
Baylans #2 (July)

Batch72 #1 (September)

Angel Ace: Again #4 (November)
Batch72 #2 (November)

Monday, July 22, 2002

Edgar Tadeo, The Net, And Unrushed Art
The Philippine Star / Monday, July 15, 2002
Business As Usual / IT Monthly - Let's talk about technology
Headwriter: CORNELIUS S. MONDOY / Project Manager: BONG MONFORTE

The Internet has indeed provided a new frontier for everything: business, literature, pornography, music, art and animation, among others. Many of us have surely found delight with the creations of Joe Cartoon ( and his revolting gerfils and grainbusting soupahflies. But for real cartoon fanatics, especially those die-hard anime fans, the Internet provides more-than-the-usual dose of hardcore action - and of course, a few laughs.

On one lazy afternoon, I stumbled upon a website by accident. I was searching for some free hentai sites but then - I don't how it happened - CyAnime ( popped up on screen. Here was some serious anime, drawn and animated by Filipino. Checking out the site's anime archive of short flash cartoons and teasers, I soon found several gems. The Cyanime Presentation teaser, for example, is one heck of a smash, though it would have been better if it had some sound or dialogue. Then there was Round One, a short clip featuring a character patterned after the Street Fighter game versus one small fly*. Guess who wins? Funny.

The guy responsible for all this is Edgar Tadeo, comic book artist by profession, web animator on the side (if he has some free time in his hands). He belongs to the elite few Filipino artists who have cracked the comic book industry in he U. S. Dignitaries of this clique include Leinil Yu, Whilce Portacio, and Gerry Alanguilan. His portfolio of works include inks work for Wolverine, Uncanny X-Men; and colors for Iron Man, and Cable, among others.

The Internet as venue for animation holds much potential for Filipino artist like Tadeo. Dino Ignacio of the Bert is Evil fame also has his own cartoon site at This writer was recently granted a phone interview by the Rizal-based artist. Tadeo disclosed ti was only few years ago when he start to draw anime.

"I usually draw in the Western style, yung exaggerated lahat: muscles, hair, etc. It was my friends who inticed me to dabble in anime drawing. At first, I was a bit challenged because it did not know how to draw characters with big eyes and flowing hair. " Tadeo shares.
He is an undergrad of the Central Colleges of the Philippines and was introduced to the world of comic books at an early age. At age five, he drew his first comic book character, Spider-man. Currently, Tadeo accepts local freelance work but in the U. S., he is still under contract with Marvel Comics.

Tadeo shares the creating short Flash animation takes him a week or so to complete, which why he doesn't plan to make it a full-time preoccupation. It all started, he says, when he wanted to do something creative with his e-mails. One day, instead of sending ordinary e-mails, he sent flash cartoons to all his friends on the Net.

"The process was tedious the first time I did it. First, I had to draw on paper, then scan it, then polish it to Photoshop, then to Shockwave Flash. But now I draw directly to my computer," Tadeo explains.
He started his site, Cyanime, in 1999 but he maintains a personal website at Tadeo reveals that some of the animations in the archive were originally planned as a series but somehow they never got to push it through because of time constraints and commitments.

For someone who has tried to draw and put up a personal site using Shockwave Flash, the achievements of Edgar Tadeo is quite an envy. This writer can only hope to expect more anime and action from the Ed Clone.

Monday, July 08, 2002

Remembering Larry Alcala
Posted: 8:58 PM (Manila Time) | Jul. 07, 2002
By Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz
Inquirer News Service

JUNE 24 was an extraordinarily bleak day for the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) because it lost two special friends. First, there was the news from New York that Doreen G. Fernandez had passed away. Then, within an hour, there came the word from Bacolod that "Mang" Larry Alcala had died, too. The double-blow was more than anyone could handle.

Doreen would have been a special guest at this year's National Children's Book Day (NCBD) opening ceremonies at Museo Pambata on July 16 not only because she was a known consummate lover of the written word, but in her characteristic giving manner, she had donated to Museo Pambata her late husband Wili's collection of all the original artwork for Nick Joaquin's "Pop Stories for Groovy Kids," a 10-book series published by Mr. & Ms. Publishing in the '70s. The exhibit of the original artwork is one of the special offerings of the museum for NCBD.

During Doreen's prolonged hospitalization at the Makati Medical Center last year, Museo Pambata head and PBBY member Nina Lim-Yuson called to follow up on John Silva's lead that Doreen was thinking of making the donation. Doreen was not yet ready to take calls and since I was keeping watch that day, I took the message (Doreen and I were first cousins and dear friends). Even with many tubes attached to her body, she never complained or showed displeasure that we should be talking about the donation at a time like that. She quietly said that yes, she would attend to that sometime later.

She did attend to the donation. Before she died, there had been concern that Doreen might still be away on her New York vacation and thus fail to attend NCBD. Now definitely, her absence will be especially felt on that day.

Dean of illustrators

Mang Larry was the original sectoral representative of illustrators in the PBBY board. He organized workshops for illustrators at the Film Center in 1989 and the children's illustration workshop at the Goethe Institute in 1991 with German illustrator Reinhard Michl. He inspired many students at UP Fine Arts, where he taught and was department head of visual communication before he retired. He became the acknowledged godfather of Ang Ilustrador ng mga Kabataan (InK), according to founding member and former president Bernie Solina Wolf. In those days, artists specializing in children's book illustrations were unheard of.

PBBY chair Beaulah Taguiwalo succeeded Mang Larry as sectoral representative when he left for the kinder and healthier pace of Bacolod living in 1996. Taguiwalo vividly and gratefully recalls the incredibly humble manner in which this icon of Philippine cartooning conducted the PBBY-Goethe Institute workshop. A workshop requirement was an exhibit of illustrations for stories to be given to the illustrators on the spot. There was Mang Larry "humbly presenting typewritten stories he brought as possible choices." Taguiwalo says those were the early winners of the PBBY writing contest.

Taguiwalo chose "Sampaguita" by Ma. Elena Paterno, and her stunning artwork for the story, reminiscent of Ezra Jack Keats' illustrations, won in the workshop and became her first published children's book. "I only realize now that Mang Larry was there to carry his responsibilities as sectoral representative for illustrators, to help in the creation and promotion of children's books."

Young illustrator Enrico Chua never met the cartoonist personally, but he was inspired by Mang Larry's cartoon strips "Bing Bang Bum" in Funny Komiks and "Siopawman" in the dailies. This was when Chua was four. "He taught me that anything is possible with his crazy characters and their unbelievable inventions (a lotion that creates prickly heat, a hat that makes you smarter, etc.) and that there's always something funny somewhere somehow in our "slices" of life. We just have to look for it. I miss him already."

It is a tribute to Mang Larry that the InK members have become the most sought-after illustrators in book publishing and graphic design today. Mang Larry, look at where they are now.

Never selfish

Mang Larry was never selfish with his art. He effortlessly dashed off our family Christmas card one year, humoring me with his hidden profile. But there was one artwork of his where he could not quite hide himself. This was PBBY-commissioned caricature he had to prepare for a Sunday magazine cover for the 1991 NCBD. He portrayed the board members as school children who loved to read. And since he was one of us, there he was reading not a book, but "komiks." He was well out of the range of vision of National Artist and PBBY honorary chair Lucrecia Kasilag who was depicted as a librarian. Other characters in the cartoon were Nic Tiongson and Virgilio Almario fighting over a book on "Girls", Dr. Serafin Quiason, Narcissa Munasque, Karina Bolasco, the late Carol Afan, Gloria Rodriguez, Elizabeth Peralejo, Nina Lim Yuson, Rene O. Villanueva, Angelina Cabanero and this writer.

RayVi Sunico, sectoral rep for publishers, visited Mang Larry during the wake. "Mang Larry in death looked happier, cooler, and better than some of the live people I see walking around," he remarked. "Says something about his quality of life."
Thank you, Mang Larry, for the laughter and the many years of friendship and working together to bring books and children together. We are fortunate to have known you better than just your now-famous profile.

The author is a member of the Philippine Board on Books for Young People, tel. +63 2 372-3548 to 49. E-mail comments to nenisrc@

(PULP No.25, July 2002)

Most people drown their sorrow in beer and other nihilistic activities, but not this guy. Gerry Alanguilan whips up his pen and paper and starts drawing a mini comic series chronicling, among other things, a parallel story of how a girl broke his heart and the subsequent downfall of his main character, Eric. WASTED, of course, has since been released as a comic book by Alamat and later serialized in PULP magazines (PULP #8-16 / Sept 2000 to June-July 2001).

A recent development in the WASTED saga turns this Dark story into an independent film for the first time, directed by award-winning indie filmmaker Noel Lim (Wolfgang’s “Weightless” video and Magkakahoy, grand prize winner in 1st Southeast Asian Competition in Japan). “He has always been talking about doing a WASTED movie for years but nothing has really come out of it,” comments the WASTED creator. “IT wasn’t until middle of last year when everything became serious. There was really no question about Noel doing a good job. I know his work and I know he will do something good and rather unique. I agreed to the project with the stipulation that I will have final say on the script, if only to ensure that the spirit and intent of WASTED are not lost.”

Gerry has been tasked to write the script, which consisted pretty much of translating the comic book into Tagalog. With meager resources—Noel mostly funding the project with his personal money, with a pledge from Gerry to chip in later on—they have enlisted friends to play characters in the movie. “We’ve already got Uber-artist Dino Ignacio (Bert is Evil/website) to play a part in it. He’s already finish all his scenes and they’re terrific,” Gerry shares. So far, they are still looking for someone to play the pivotal role of Jenny, the girl whose infidelity drove the main character into despair.

Noel had also insisted that Gerry play the lead character himself. “I was absolutely against it. We did a screen test and people seemed to like it so I guess I’m stuck with it… I’m ugly and overweight, but I guess Noel knows what he’s doing,” Gerry dismisses.

Now, a year since it’s appearance in the pages of PULP magazine, WASTED will once again be reprinted in book format as a collector’s item featuring new artwork (Contributors include X-Men’s Whilce Portactio and Leinil Yu, among others), a new intro by Karen Kunawicz and recent WASTED convert Barbie Almalbis, and an afterword by it creator. Retail price is yet to be determined but advanced orders for the WASTED Limited Edition comic book may be phone in at 687-1709 (look for Michelle).

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Reviews in Stuff Magazine #2 by Dean Francis Alfar

ANGEL ACE by Filipino creator/artist Marco Dimaano is an exuberant rendering of a good story, told with an honest heart and drawn by a sincere hand. This small comic book unravels the touching origin of Angel and the genesis of her relationship with her guardian Gregor. Both the book's style and pacing own much to manga (Japanese comics), infusing the end result with freshness and promise-- there is nothing more breathtaking than seeing Angel in flight. (Yes, she flies!) Dimaano's rough spots are forgivable, as his potential as one of the country's young storytellers in this medium is evident. Unlike other self-proclaimed "writers" and "artists" in the medium, Dimaano sees no need for self-aware, falsely "deep", masturbatory mumbo-jumbo. Seek this out-- intelligent Filipino comics are alive in the new millennium!

ANGEL ACE is an exuberant rendering of a good story, told with an honest heart and drawn by a sincere hand. The book's style and pacing own much to manga (Japanese comics), infusing the end result with freshness and promise-- there is nothing more breathtaking than seeing Angel in flight. Seek this out-- intelligent Filipino comics are alive in the new millennium!

Comicbook Dotcoms and other Profound Shenanigans
By Dandi Galvez
Philippine Star, 12 March 2001, page S-6

I am reminded of a little-known comic book series published a few years ago called WASTED. Written and penciled by a local talent Gerry Alanguilan, WASTED followed the life of Eric, a musician who self-destructs after his girlfriend cheats on him—a common scenario that happens to the best of us, although most would rather not go on a killing spree. Eric guns down and mains everyone that pisses him off, from a door-to-door gospel preacher to some guy smoking a cigarette in a jeepney. Containing subtle but effective imagery, WASTED features a came of a certain ex-president.

Still available in most comic book shops as a compilation, I wondered if there was anything about it on the Net. A quick search revealed a site for anyone following the Pinoy comic book scene. contains the latest news by the comic book publisher Alamat Comics. Aside from WASTED, the site features comic book links on the new releases and updates on book signings and appearances.

Already hailed as an “early work by a potentially brilliant creators,” by Eisner Award-winning writer/illustrator Warren Ellis, WASTED is now being serialized in the back pages of PULP Magazine.

Another site I stumbled upon was Bobongpinoy,com. “Stumbled” is the operative word because I did not seek the site on purpose, nor did I input a derogatory attack on various Net search engines. It’s actually listed as a link on some sites with the ubiquitous warning, “Mag-ingat sa aso.” I was supposed to go to the Blue Oyster Cult page when the mouse slipped and clicked on the link directly beside it.

A member of the Internet Satirical Newspaper Association, Bobong Pinoy is a site where Filipinos can say whatever they want and anything they want it. It provides a platform for free speech that, ironically, our democracy has shackled a bit. In here, you have the right to criticize your public officials and poke fun at them in the most heinous of manners. A site that tells it like it is, Bobong Pinoy is an eye opener to the conservative who stand fast within the borders of Pleasantvile.

Not for the passive and weak of heart, the site contains social commentary that questions established institutions and way Philippine society works. Don’t let the satires fool you. All topics are serious, yet lade with humor reminiscent of The Sic O’clock News. I got a kick out of their cartoon link. Just click on “comics” at the sidebar and turn up the volume.

Sites like and will make you realize in an instant what you’re missing. It is chance to see ourselves in front of a mirror, to see our growing creativity, and to laugh at our shortcomings.

“A Book of Spells”
by Natalia F. Diaz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Thursday, June 24, 1999

It is a rare and beautiful moment when a line from a book manages to grip your soul. This usually doesn’t happen while reading cheesy romance novels or sellout lawyer stories scheduled for the next Hollywood project. Soul-grabbing moments usually occur with books that speak to you. Words are then not simply black and white prints on a page, but rather spells that summon memories, conjure moments and rekindle emotions you thought were long dead.

On the Verge by Karen Kunawicz is indeed a book of spells. A “soul-grabber” so to speak. You read lines from her essays and often stop to wonder if you’ve known the author in a past life, because it is as if she had written for you and solely you.

The book is a compilation of Kunawicz’ selected essays throughout the years, divided into chapters of “Love,” “Twilight,” “Neverland,” “Interviewed People,” and “Writing.”

Unique memories

They are unique memories and anecdotes strung together to form the tapestry of Karen’s life, with superb illustrations capturing the gothic landscape from the Alamat artists. Her topics shift from the cataclysmic to the mundane—delving into various subjects such as the pain of heartbreak, the world of solitude, the realm of vampires, the philosophy of Rastafarianism. You’re taken back to Dredd nights, you’re infected with Johnny Depp and Eric Draven obsessions and you’re suddenly craving for chocolate milk. Yet even as they relate Karen’s own experiences, you cannot help but reread them for they bring about pangs of recognition.

In one essay, “The Sound of One’s Heart Breaking,” she explores the pain of lost live, describing it with powerful metaphors that so eloquently describe the intense emotion of heartbreak—“it’s the sound of a cherub’s dying breath, the sound of all those years disappearing in the vortex of Cupid’s kitchen sink.”

The ordinary likewise becomes extraordinary in the book, for some of the essays explore such facets of our world usually taken for granted.

In the essay “Here She Comes Again,” she writes about her fascination for the rain. (After reading this, you would never want to shoo the rain again!) “Fool Moon” is another unique and dreamy piece that takes you to European castles and mountaintops drenched with the light of a full moon.

Dark undertones

The book has dark undertones throughout, but it is not devoid of humor. It is actually quite endearing for it is stewed in the author’s eccentricities. Another favorite essay is “What I Would Do With a Steak Knife on a Date,” wherein Karen relates her blind date from hell experience. “V is for Vampire” is a humorous piece on the perks of being a preternatural creature of the night.

Another reason On the Verge is highly readable is the fact that it is written with such unpretentious language, and every essay is insightful.

It could be described as midnight rain—gloomy, yet comforting at the same time. It may have cynical tones, but it is definitely NOT angst-ridden. (And thank God for that, for angst is soooo two years ago!) Even as Kunawicz dwells on such esoterica as vampires and pixie dust, she manages to keep it light and down to earth, as if you were reading the journal of an older sister.

On the Verge is definitely a literary and visual spell. Anyone with a soul should read it, preferably on a rainy night with a cup of hot chocolate on the side.

Anti-Estrada movement lives in cyberspace
By Joey G. Alarilla

AS the age of electronic democracy finally lives up to its hype, the Internet is becoming an important battleground for the groundswell of opposition to President Estrada, whose administration is now facing its worst crisis in the face of jueteng payoff allegations and the
ghost of scandals past and present.

And, in cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream in protest.

This is not only shown by the deluge of feedback and opinion poll responses that the INQUIRER's online edition at and its Bad Bets Jueteng Special Edition has generated, but also the different Philippine websites monitoring the jueteng scandal or calling for President Estrada's resignation or impeachment.

Take, for example, Pinoy.TV at, which was the first local site to focus on online audio and video streaming a few months ago. Like ChannelOne.TV at, these sites aim to be online news channels, offering audio and video coverage of the jueteng scandal.

Of course, cyberspace is also being used in support of the beleaguered Chief Executive. While President Estrada probably does not spend time surfing the Net himself, does try to present the official online news and views from Malacañang.

Following the eruption (or Eraption, as the case may be) of the present political crisis as a result of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis "Chavit" Singson's accusations, the ImpeachErapNow site at was born.

The newly set up site openly calling for Mr. Estrada's impeachment features electronic documents, an open letter from activist and intellectual leader Ed Olaguer, and links to the INQUIRER's online articles and Bad Bets website.

Another political site is the People's Action to Remove Erap or Pare site at Set up by a coalition of activist groups and nongovernment organizations, this site not only advocates Estrada's removal, whether resignation or
impeachment, but also vehemently rejects Vice President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as his successor.

"She cannot be part of the solution. A more likely scenario is that in replacing Erap she will take over as the Queen of Jueteng," the site states, referring to Macapagal's alleged close
association with jueteng operators herself.

Another interesting site is Erap Resign Central at This is actually an online movement launched by the people behind the local Alamat Comics Group that has gained a following in the country, creating quite a stir among comic book aficionados a few years back. The group has released "Baylans: Hack the Culture," a three-issue cyberpunk/dark fantasy comic book now available at Comic Quest outlets.

As the synopsis posted on the site relates, the story takes place in the year 2004, two years after a successful coup d'etat against the Estrada administration. In a Philippines once again under martial law, the hero, a hacker named Jonas Arcanghel, discovers an artifact that prophesies the return of what is supposed to be the first Filipino nation--an ancient Malayan civilization whose society is based on magic.

For the less arcane, check out for the Erap Scandals and Brouhahas page, which details the numerous Estrada administration scandals that have plagued the nation. This site has been around long before the jueteng scandal. Other anti-Erap sites include the Erap Sucks Page at, which leads me to believe that Erap and Mr. Belvedere from the old TV series were actually separated at birth.

Of course, this is hardly an exhaustive list of the different Erap-related sites that have existed for some time now or that have popped up recently. Still, as the protest movement against President Estrada grows, one thing's for sure—Philippine cyberspace will also loudly echo the people's voice.

Angel Ace: The Rebirth
By Chrissie Mata

In the mid-nineties, a small bunch of people were introduced to a darling girl--of the cute-from-the-next-door variety--named Angela Gale. She was the ideal girl: kind, charming, gorgeous, funny and independent. And, oh yes, she could fly. Huh? Angela Gale is the main character in Alamat Comics' latest offering, entitled Angel Ace and she indeed swept us off our feet.

Angel Ace had all the makings of a great comic: an interesting and involving story, a really wonderful main character, the makings of a romance, funny moments and super endearing supporting characters. But then, financing reared its ugly head and after a dismal financial showing after the second issue, project Angel Ace had to be abandoned in pursuit of more lucrative endeavors.

But you can't keep a good thing bottled up for long, so five years later, Angel takes flight once more in Angel Ace: Again.

"It's Manga (Japanese comics) by a Filipino artist," says creator Marc Dimaano, who works at multi-awarded ad agency BBDO-Guerrero. "I read this Manga called Oh My Goddess! and I was fascinated by the fact that you could actually make a love story interesting." This challenge, along with the wonderful artwork for the Manga, prompted Marc to grab a bunch of copy paper from in between magazine pages, folded and stapled them and started drawing a girl with airman's goggles who was floating. Angel Ace was born.

Angel Ace: Again is actually the second serving of the Angel Ace series. It first came out in 1995 with what is now called the "blue issue" which introduces Angel, her surrogate father Gregor, her love interest Mike the serious and dreamy journalist and his goofball video game-freak best buddy Ripley. The nice thing about it, despite being a pilot issue, is it drops you right smack into the action so you were in the thick of things at once. It was then followed by the "red issue", which featured two side-stories Night Plight and Hunter's Heart which zeroed-in on erstwhile enemy Kai, a ninja assassin, and Rip.

Then came the funding menace. The first two issues where a financial failure so Angel lost her backing. In search of good Pinoy comics to market in the States, Alamat decided to include Angel Ace among the chosen few. While the international scene has yet to bite, it was not a total loss, because Angel Ace flies once more in Philippine skies. And this time, it's got more action partnered with more Manga-ish art plus a cuter Angel. Instead of continuing where he dropped off, Marc decided to start with a clean slate so it's issue #1 again. New readers don't have to worry because you don't have to have read the previous Angel Ace series to enjoy the latest helping. Angel Ace: again #1 starts with the blue issue also but this time, it's presented as a four part series (for purposes of financial viability). A lot of new things will be happening, such as shocking revelations, and we could also expect an Angel Ace origin story somewhere in the future. And Mike might finally persuade Angel and Kai to visit the Philippines, so imagine Angel and Kai eating fishballs and isaw (barbecued pork or chicken intestines).

This time around, Angel's stronger and even cuter and she has more fight scenes. Marc also believes that she has more heart, so she's more emotional this time around. Especially since her relationship with Mike will be made more obvious. Then, there's her antithesis Kai who is broody and dark. She follows a strict Ninja code and she takes guilt seriously. Kai does have a goofy side though, and it is Angel who brings out that goofiness. The character creation of both girls were inspired by other Anime personalities. Angel, Marc says, could be likened to Kenshin of Samurai X who's cheerful, a bit goofy and very kind. Kai is more like Ninja Scroll's Kagero, the dark ninja girl.

One thing you might want to look for in the back issues is that transitional issue between the 1st and 2nd series, Lone Wolf and Cherub, the white issue of the 1st series and issue zero of the second series. It features a back story on how Angel and her foster dad Gregor got together. It's action-packed and really cute, with Angel presented as a young girl who can't even speak English! Don't bother searching for the blue and red issues though, they're out of print, so you can consider them collectors' items.

On the whole, if you're searching for a new comic series which combines fun, romance, action, mystery and a bit of the fantasy for a good measure, check out Angel Ace. Not only will you get a visual feast, but it is a satisfying read as well. To quote Marc Dimaano, "It's Angel Ace for the year 2000: so she's bigger, better, stronger, faster, and cuter." Get ready to soar!


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