Saturday, November 05, 2005

Filipino comic book artist Roy Allan Martinez draws SON OF M

Preview art can be viewed at:
Filipino comic book artist ADRIAN ALPHONA interviewed in CBR

by Dave Richards, Staff Writer Posted: November 2, 2005

"Runaways" is one of Marvel Comic's most unique titles. In addition to writer Brian K Vaughan's entertaining and innovative take on the superhero team, "Runaways" also has a great, signature look provided by the series artist Adrian Alphona. Yesterday we spoke with series writerIn part two of our look at "Runaways," CBR News spoke with Alphona about the art, both past and present, that he's done for the series.

Like many artists, Alphona does not like to go back and look at his previous work. "'Runaways' #1 was the first comic I ever drew, so out of shame, I avoid looking back at it or any other issues unless I have to," Alphona told CBR News. "I think my work has evolved gradually along the way, but I'm not sure if it's anything too drastic. I'm not as clueless as I was in the beginning."

A diverse cast of characters populates "Runaways" and Alphona drew upon a number of inspirations when designing the look of each character. "Different characters have different stories," Alphona said. "Gert was probably the most fully realized character of Brian's before I did any designing. Some were taken from movies, fashion magazines, celebrities and such. Mrs. Wilder, for example, was just a bad attempt at Sade."

Alphona has two favorite cast members who he loves to draw. They are team leader Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean, who recently left the team. "They're the most subtle of the principal characters," Alphona explained.

The kids have faced many opponents and Alphona's favorite's turned out to be the immensely powerful beings who created the Pride, the villainous group composed of "The Runaways" parents, as shown in the first volume of the series. "The Gibborim were my favorite villains to draw, mostly because they looked so stupid and I got away with it," Alphona said. "Although when I was designing them I didn't know they where to eventually get all 'killy'."

Since they have been working together for a few years now, Alphona and writer Brian K Vaughan have a routine for their collaboration. "I do the mockups once I get his script and wait for him to rip it apart," Alphona said. "His scripts are pretty detailed, but he gives me a lot of freedom on how I want to execute it. I love his dialogue. He can give so much information with so few words, so it makes it a lot easier for me to visualize some scenes."

One thing you won't find within the pages of "Runaways" is the cast wearing traditional superhero spandex garb. With the kids being LA's only real resident heroes, their encounters with the other costumed crime fighters of the Marvel Universe has been kept to a minimum. However, Alphona will be getting his chance to draw a number of the Marvel Universe's more prominent residents with the kids travelling to New York City in the recently begun "East Coast/West Coast" arc. "I feel a bit out of my element drawing superheroes, but I must admit I'm looking forward to some of the scenes."

With "Runaways," Alphona discovered what it was like to work in the medium of comics and how much fun it was. "The more I work in comics the more I realize what an amazing medium this is," Alphona stated. "Where else can you be a storyteller, director, set designer, costume designer and (with the colorist) cinematographer in one job?"

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Reserve your copy of Siglo:Passion now


Siglo: Passion is the full-color graphic novel follow-up to the National Book Award-winning Siglo: Freedom, and puts together a roster of award-winning writers and artists with some of the country's most promising new talents. Each of the stories in this long-awaited anthology explores different forms of passion and how they affect the lives of people – for better, or for worse.


Reserve your copy of the limited edition full-color Siglo: Passion now to avail of the SPECIAL PRE-ORDER DISCOUNT (more than 40% off the regular price!), and an exclusive invite to the GRAND LAUNCH on December 10, 2005 at Fully Booked Promenade!

Note that this edition of Siglo: Passion will be in full-color, the first full-color graphic novel in the country, and will be limited to only two thousand (2000) copies. This limited edition of the book will be the only full-color edition that will ever be released in the country and will NOT be reprinted.

Here's how:

1. Visit any Fully Booked or Comic Quest branch and pay the pre-order discount of Php500 (from the original SRP of Php850) at the counter.

2. You will be given a ticket stub that will also serve as your invite to the Siglo: Passion grand launch at Fully Booked Promenade on December 10, 2005. Claim your copies of the book during the launch to get free limited edition Siglo postcards from Nautilus Comics.

3. You may also claim your copies of the book after the launch, at the Fully Booked or Comic Quest outlet where you made the reservation.

4. For more information, you may also inquire via e-mail to letters @ nautiluscomics (dot) com.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Halloween home-reading list
By Ces Cabangon
First posted 01:50am (Mla time) Nov 02, 2005 / Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on Page C2 of the November 2, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE DARKNESS NEVER FAILS to seduce and haunt us. Its void gives birth to nightmares and beings that dance outside the limits of reason. Thus we search for sanctuaries, or create works that mirror our fragility. From our well of emotions, art and stories bleed onto a blank page, fueled by angst, pain, fear—ingredients that can rouse the macabre and the fantastic from the hidden depths of our soul. Perhaps you’ll recognize your own monster from the abyss, shrouded in pictures or words from another’s whispers or screams.

This Halloween, wander through borderlands past witching hours with some self-contained graphic novels. These titles may cause your heart spasms. Yet they are also for you to reflect on the things that gnaw in the stillness of hours—your own mortality, truths in shades of gray, the delirium of change.

These comics must be approached with an open mind as themes revolve around the farthest levels of Dante’s inferno where redemption and happy endings are not as
you know them to be. They are not for everyone, but then again, neither is the darkness.

‘Arkham Asylum’ by Grant Morrison

The gut: It’s April Fool’s Day and the inmates of Arkham Asylum have taken control. In exchange for the hostages’ lives, Batman must accept the Joker’s challenge to play a game of hide and seek. Sounds easy? Not if you have to deal with the likes of the Scarecrow, Two-Face, Mad Hatter, and other demented villains under one roof.

The stake: This is not your typical Batman tale as our hero explores the intricate maze of insanity and questions his own mental stability. The disturbing narrative is a triptych of Bruce Wayne, Batman, and the asylum’s founder, Amadeus Arkham. From their points of view, we delve into their psyches and the villains’ own broken ones, and what plagues their emotional core.

‘The Crow’ by James O’Barr

The gut: Eric is killed callously and his girlfriend made to suffer a brutal end. The immensity of his pain allows him to return from the dead through the power of the crow. With his voodoo smile, wicked poetry, and arsenal of rage, Eric seeks vengeance on the murderers.

The stake: It took James O’Barr 10 years to complete the story of “The Crow.” The anguish of losing his fianceé after a hit-and-run was the catalyst that drove him to create this tale where justice can be sought even beyond the grave. “The Crow” just tugs at your heart as every page encapsulates the author’s/character’s hurts and sorrows. Amid the killing rampage, Eric breaks through emotional walls and brings touching insights on humanity and love.

‘Death: The High Cost of the Living’ by Neil Gaiman

The gut: Once every century, Death of the Endless takes mortal form in order to understand and experience what it means to be mortal and what it takes to leave your life behind. In mortal form, Death befriends Sexton, a teen contemplating suicide. Together, they spend a day strolling through New York, searching for a witch’s heart and eating bagels.

The stake: Death is no grim reaper but someone sweet, honest, witty, friendly, and quite cheery. She makes you think, laugh, and treasure the spontaneity of every moment. This book gives a very good introduction to Death that one who is unfamiliar with “The Sandman” series can follow the story.

‘Dhampyr’ by David Hontiveros

The gut: Nikolai is a dhampyr, born from a human mother and an undead father. In order to save his soul from restlessly wandering for eternity, he must find and slay his father. Nikolai’s personal journey leads him through a train wreck of memories, where the collision of the past and the present both haunt and strengthen him in his battles.

The stake: This comic bites you from the start and gets your blood humming. Its narrative is a vicious delight and the detailed artwork is darkly seductive and amazing. In its pages you will stumble into snippets from notable bands and icons from the goth movement you might want to look into.

‘From Hell’ by Alan Moore

The gut: A very complex take on one of history’s most gruesome and mysterious personalities—Jack the Ripper. From the beginning, readers know who the killer is and are assailed with the depths of his genius and his unraveling.

The stake: This work is brilliant as it is grounded on meticulous research from Victorian London to the Freemasons. The intriguing conspiracies and intelligent theories are mind-blowing. What adds to the horror is that fact and fiction seem to fit perfectly, as the White Chapel murders are true accounts.

‘In The Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe’ by Jonathan Fuqua

The gut: A scholar is forced to re-examine his vision of Poe as he leafs through a diary which may have been written by the author before his death. The memoir begins with Poe consenting to demons to escort him through life and the grave.

The stake: When demons are no longer imprisoned in one’s mind, what does one do? Facts and speculations on Poe’s tormented character are woven to produce this perverse and disconcerting tale. The artwork, composed of manipulated photographs, adds to the distressing tone of the narration.

‘The Thief of Always’ by Clive Barker

The gut: In the Holiday House, Harvey Swick discovers many wonders where seasons pass in a day and every night is Halloween. But something is not right in this magical place and Harvey vows to get to the bottom of it.

The stake: Classic reading takes you through the innocence and magic of childhood. Though the plot seems simple, its elements are striking and leave you awed. This not-so-ordinary children’s story has many lessons to impart despite its edgy creepiness.

All titles available at Comic Quest and Fully Booked.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

LNA reviewed in Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan, Oct. 2005 issue
By Maggie Adan and Leslie Lee

Lexy, Nance & Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll by Oliver M. Pulumbarit

THE GIST: Lexy, Nance and Argus make up a trio of friends who typify the urban Pinoy. Lexy is the macho, high maintenance gay, Nance teeters between girls and guys, while Argus is probably the “tamest” among the trio, being straight. First published in Pulp Magazine, this comic series presents issues relevant to the modern Pinay such as pop culture, complicated relationships, and homosexuality.

YOU’LL LIKE IT IF… You’re into local talent, you don’t mind cuss words, you enjoy an eclectic mix of friends, and don’t think “dildo” belongs to the lexicon of bad words.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Nautilus Comics Press Release



Ask graphic artists Jamie Bautista and Elbert Or, creators of the hit comic series Cast, what would give them a really big kick this Halloween and you'll most likely get this response: Creating a 24-page comic book in 24 straight hours.

Believe it or not, these young, fearless artists are psyching themselves up for more than 24 sleepless hours as they take on the 1st Philippine 24-Hour Comic Book Challenge, which will take place on October 28 to 29, 2005, at Coco Aroma, White Beach, Puerto Galera.

Inspired by the 24 Hour Comics Day of Scott McCloud, a leading comic book theoretician in the United States, the 1st Philippine 24-Hour Comic Book Challenge will fuse creative visual storytelling with indigenous Philippine martial arts and folklore to give Pinoy audiences a different kind of visual experience. During this event, Bautista and Or will capture different fighting poses and techniques inspired by kali and arnis, the Philippines's own martial arts,
and will attempt to create compelling stories that will capture the grace, the strength, and the valor of Filipino warriors.

It won't be their first time to touch on themes of Philippine history, culture, and heritage. The graphic anthology Siglo: Freedom, which won the 2004 National Book Award for Comic Book, and on which Bautista and Or collaborated with renowned writers and comic book artists Gerry Alanguilan, Dean Francis Alfar, Nikki Alfar, Arnold Arre, Jason Banico, Marco Dimaano, Andrew Drilon, Honoel Ibardolaza, Lan Medina, Vin Simbulan and Carlo Vergara, captured stories of life, love, and the struggle for emancipation set in each decade of the 20th century.

The 1st Philippine 24-Hour Comic Book Challenge, however, is even more demanding than the pair's previous projects because it requires them to produce credible work on an aspect of Philippine heritage which has not been sufficiently documented in the

Paul Zialcita, an arnis practitioner and a musician who has been advocating the integration of Philippine indigenous martial arts and folklore into mainstream media, hopes that this first attempt to create kali -and arnis-inspired art will pave the way for more creative collaborations. He lends his percussive power to the 1st Philippine 24-Hour Comic Book Challenge by marking the hours with a Kali Drum, a large instrument made of a recycled garbage can and cowhide that is played using arnis strikes.

Aside from Zialcita, more local and foreign martial arts enthusiasts, visual artists, and comic book fans will join Bautista and Or on the shores of White Beach, Puerto Galera to learn and to demonstrate new fighting techniques, to create their own versions of martial arts-inspired art, or simply to enjoy Puerto Galera's emerald-green waters.

Interested to join in the fun but not quite confident with your artistic or fighting skills? Don't worry: Bautista and Or will kick off the 1st Philippine 24-Hour Comic Book Challenge with a FREE comic book workshop. Meanwhile, Zialcita's team of local warriors will be patrolling White Beach's shores, all game to teach novices a thing or two about responsible stick-fighting.

The 1st Philippine 24-Hour Comic Book Challenge is made possible by the collaboration of Likha Communications Consulting, Nautilus Comics, Digipost, and Coco Aroma. Email Niña Terol of Likha Communications Consulting at
nterol.likhacommunications (at) gmail (dot) com , or call (0917)644 45 66, for details.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Press release from BLITZWORX MAGAZINE

Greetings! I’m here to announce we will be releasing issue 1 of our comic anthology magazine this Oct. 22.

Our four feature tales in our comic section includes:

Dragon’s Bane
Words by: Reginald Ting (ATX, Legend of Kanlaon)
Art by: Jim Jimenez (Maynilad, Alamat ng Mais)
Colors by: Gilbert Monsanto (Hellcop, Houdini)

By: Armand Roy Canlas (Armor Troopers, Ibangis)

Words and colors by: Gilbert Monsanto (Biotrog, Darna)
Art by: Ryan Orosco (Darna, ODID)
Inks by: Roy Allan Martinez (Wicked, Son of M)
Letters by: Reginald Ting (ATX, Legend of Kanlaon)

Hell’s Legion
Words, art and inks By: Anthony Yap (Baylans)
Colors by: Omi Remalante
Letters by: Joel Chua (Bundoks)

Side Comic:
Speak Zero
Story concept by: Emmanuel Javier
Art and inks by: Michael Jason Paz
Colors and letters by: David Richardson

With Pin ups by:
Jun Monares
Michael Jason Paz
David Richardson
Fritz Casas

Also included in the mag:
Review of K.I.A. (Alamat Comics)
Interview with Carlo Pagulayan (Fantastic Four)
The return of Exodus Studios
A fantasy game review of Dragon’s Bane
Letter Segment by a mystery guest
2-page silent comic by Zero Cool Studios
Biotrog of Kickfighter vs. Gerry Alanguilan of Stone
Basix: Comic Creation tutorials
Art Arena battle between Ronin Core’s Rex Espino and Michael Jason Paz

BlitzWorX Magazine: Tales of the tape
Price: P135
Pages: 80 (including cover)
Color: Fully-colored

There are only limited copies for issue 1 so those who are interested in reserving a copy can e-mail Blitzworx at and give your full name, contact info, location and the no. of copies you wish to purchase.

The magazine will only be available through BlitzWorX representatives and expect it to hit comic stores in the weeks after release.

We will be selling copies at the Komikon this coming Oct. 22… see you there!

Emmanuel Javier
BlitzWorX ComiX Magazine, Editor-in-chief

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dean Francis Alfar
His Novel Approach

First posted 08:24am (Mla time) Sept 11, 2005 / Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on page Q8 of the September 11, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

THERE are many unexpected, perhaps even fantastic things about Dean Francis Alfar. He is, after all, very particular about definitions. The tall 36-year-old is a partner in Kestrel IMC, an integrated marketing communications company, as well as publisher of Kestrel Studios, which publishes comic books locally, what Dean refers to as “grafiction.”

Yet the standout quality in Dean goes beyond his being a passionate, prize-winning comic creator or a comic book fan. It goes beyond his owning the Megamall branch of Petty Pets. It goes beyond the malong he occasionally wears to formal affairs—such as the awards night. “I am of Muslim descent, from the Alonto family of Lanao. I’m actually a datu, and my Muslim name is Salahuddin Alonto. I was raised as a Christian but I am proud of my Muslim heritage. The malong I wear bears the colors and patterns of my family.”

The confident, opinionated UP graduate wrote drama under the tutelage of the late Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero, and gravitated to fiction about the fantastic, like science fiction and fantasy, what he called “speculative fiction.” Dean says “our country has a long tradition of the fantastic, with the old stories, myths and legends of times past. I believe that the fantastic is part of the Filipino culture, and deserves a place in Filipino literature as well.”

It goes beyond the eight—eight!—Palanca Awards he’s won, or the fact that his wife Nikki won her own Palanca this year (third in Short Story for Children). Is an Alfar writing dynasty in the offing? “Already, our daughter Sage (who is 3) is making up stories on her own. I wouldn’t be surprised—in fact I’d be delighted—if she took after her parents. However, that’s her choice to make in the future—but we can hope our genetic code kicks in,” he laughs.

It’s in that Dean has won the prestigious Grand Prize for Novel, which is only handed out every four years, and he is incredibly grateful and humbled by the company of other novel winners. “I actually feel like one of my characters, living in a magic realist scenario. It’s surreal in a good way.” He wrote “Salamanca,” as part of National Novel Writing Month, where authors all over the world would attempt to complete a novel in a month’s time. Dean wrote after work every day last November and the product was “Salamanca,” which he describes as revolving around “the love story of two people, beginning in Palawan in the 1950s and ending 50 years later in Manila.” Up next for the busy Dean will be more speculative fiction, including an anthology from Filipino authors, more comic books, keeping his blog hopping ( and perhaps even another novel. Now that is certainly something fantastic. RSDV

Excerpt from “Salamanca”
by Dean Francis Alfar
Grand Prize, Novel

The first two things Gaudencio Rivera was made aware of—within hours of arriving by carabao-drawn cart at the secluded town of Tagbaoran on the island province of Palawan—were these: that the most beautiful woman in creation dwelt by the river, and that it was pointless to even dream of being loved by her. He was informed that her name was Jacinta Cordova, and that her beauty was of such purity and perfection that the walls of the house she lived in had turned transparent long ago, to allow both sunlight and moonlight to illuminate her incandescence. The man who told him this—old, stooped, and possessed of an explosive whooping cough—threw in a trembling imprecation against the vagaries of youth, laughed, then insisted that his geriatric appearance was just a trick of light.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

KOMIKON: The First Philippine Comics Convention
(Press Release courtesy of Azrael Coladilla)

Comic books or Komiks in the local parlance enjoyed the special status as "the national past time" during its golden age spanning the 70s to the early 80s. The local industry Illustrators gained superstar status giving them the opportunity to break into the international scene and cemented the tradition of producing world class comic book talents. The local scene on the other hand has crossed over into other entertainment mediums bringing classic comicbook characters such as Darna, Dyesebel, and Panday to the silverscreen and other titles as television series or radio drama.

For the past six years there have been numerous conventions on anime, gaming and comics. Since that time the comic industry in our country breathed life again. Many have published, lived and failed, but never lost hope. Here's the event that aims to bring together a great company of artists and celebrate this great art form called KOMIKS!

KOMIKON 2005 will be held at the UP Diliman's Bahay ng Alumni on October 22, 2005.

It will showcase the creations of Filipino artists from various genres and themes and give tribute to the creators and their creations. The 1st Philippine Komiks Convention aims to bring together different comic book artists/groups and publishers in a venue where they could present their talents, works and services to the public. Most importantly, it aims to give a break to aspiring comic artists. It would like to provide the venue for different art groups and different generations of artists for a free exchange of ideas. Hopefully it would lead to a transcending of stereotypes and broaden the scope of comics – from local to international to cross-cultural, sequential to strips, amateur to professional and traditional publication to independent comics publishing. This event will give people the awareness of the exciting state of contemporary Philippine comics industry.

Contests like the Independent Comic Book Contest, On the Spot Comic Strip Making and the Original Character Making Contest hopes to bring out the next generation of Comic Book creators to the fore front. Our Special Guests, comic book superstars from the past and present, both coming from the local and international fields will be available for questions and will be present to provide insights about the industry through their experiences. Various fun-filled activities will also be provided by our exhibitors through their respective booths.

Taking the cue from the film industry that regularly take time to award meritorious films and give accolades to their worthy creators, the Komikon Committee will open the nominations for the planned annual Komikon Awards in this event for the following year. The Komikon Awards will give the opportunity for readers, creators, publishers and retailers to nominate and vote for the best in the industry, both local and international. The Awards will not be typical; it will follow the non-traditional MTV way of giving awards, with categories such as Best Line, Best Action Scene, Best Romantic Scene, etc. The awards aim to encourage solidarity within the industry to produce quality local books and promote wider readership in the market.

This event is organized by The Artists' Den and UP Graphic Arts in Literature (GRAIL).

The UP GRAIL is a non-sectarian, non-partisan and non-political literary organization that aims to promote graphic literature as a serious literary form. The group believes that certain "comic books" or "graphic novels" can be considered as serious literary forms and that these are reflections of the society's social, political and cultural context. Their aim is to initiate and actively participate in all activities that would involve the promotion of graphic literature as a serious literary form.

The Artists' Den, on the other hand, has a long-term commitment to help art groups grow, to promote goodwill among fellow Comic Creators and support different works and activities among appreciative audiences. The organization had been witness to the ups and downs of the comic industry as members themselves are mixed up in it. The group has actively participated in the past conventions and now would like to have a convention that focuses on comics alone.

For more information and latest event developments visit

Download our Event info and Sponsorship/exhibitors package

Monday, August 15, 2005

This Fil-Canadian Writes Comics About Teens and Titans
By Ruel S. de Vera, Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page Q4 of the August 14, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

LIKE many great ideas transformed into reality with a roar of thunder and a puff of smoke, J. Torres began writing comics because he dreamed of doing so.

“I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and comic books were my first love. So it made sense to get started there even though I had aspirations to write children’s books or work in TV as well. I wanted to both write and draw at one point, then realized I sucked at the art part so I concentrated on writing. So, yeah, I wanted to work in comics really early on, I just didn’t know how to do it.”

The 35-year-old Joseph Torres has certainly come a long way, because he is now the regular writer for DC Comics’ “Teen Titans Go!” and the Oni Press series’ “Love as a Foreign Language,” and adds to the zany happenings over at the Cartoon Network’s “Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi.”

A former elementary school teacher, J. Torres was born in Manila but left for Canada when he was 4. After completing his B.A. in Communications Studies with a Diploma in Elementary Education from McGill University in Montreal, Torres broke into the comics scene with his semi-autobiographical “The Copybook Tales.” This would lead to a zooming career in comics for both independent and mainstream publishers, writing, among others, stories for The Batman and the Uncanny X-Men, garnering nods from the Eisner, Harvey and Shuster Awards.

His upcoming project from Oni, the graphic novel “Lola: A Ghost Story,” bears his unmistakable mix of humor and wonder, as well as a palpable Pinoy mystique. Reflecting on his comics career and his Filipino roots, the Toronto-based Torres talked with SIM through e-mail about all that has happened and what comes next:

Q: How young were you when you began reading comic books and which made an early impression on you? Who are your big comic book influences?

A: I can’t even remember how old I was when I first started reading comic books. Some people can remember the first comics they ever read, I can’t. I guess I was pretty young at the time. But I do remember being a big fan of the DC characters, particularly the Justice League and Teen Titans. I’m sure watching the “Super Friends” cartoon nurtured that. As for influences, it’s a long, long list. And it’s different for different times in my life, different projects I’ve worked on, etc. But I can thank everyone from Charles Schulz and Bill Waterson to Grant Morrison to Evan Dorkin to Rumiko Takahashi, for making me want to create comic books in some way or the other.

Q: “The Copybook Tales” came out in 1996. How do you feel about the series now, years later?

A: I’ve always said it was “semi-autobiographical.” Half the cast consisted of composites of family members and friends, but the main characters Jamie and Thatcher were very much me and Tim Levins, who drew the book. Some of the situations they found themselves in were things that actually happened to us, while others were fictionalized. Looking back, I sometimes cringe at some of the storytelling, the corny lines, bad jokes, etc. But overall, I’m pretty proud of it. We were still learning our craft at the time, and everything that happened because of that series led me to this point in my career. People tend to say they wouldn’t change a thing when they reflect on the past. I tend to say I wouldn’t change much.

Q: You’ve written for Batman and The X-Men and are currently the regular writer of Teen Titans Go! How does it feel being able to write these characters? Any favorites?

A: It’s great. I mean, I grew up reading these characters, imagining stories of my own starring them in my head, and here I am actually being paid to do that for an audience now. I feel very lucky that I’m in a business that allows me to be creative and childish and love what I do to the extent that it doesn’t feel like work most of the time.

I’ve always had a special place in my heart for the Teen Titans. And sometimes I still can’t believe that I’m working on a series based on characters who were favorites of mine in high school. A series that’s even seeing print in Psi-Com’s DC Kids in the Philippines! Who would have known that would happen to me? And not only that, but the series I work on is geared towards kids. I’ve been writing all-ages comics for years with the hope that it would bring more readers to the fold. So, I see “Teen Titans Go!” as an opportunity of a lifetime, one that I feel comes with a certain responsibility. I take this job seriously, but I’m having a blast doing it!

Q: Your upcoming graphic novel, “Lola: A Ghost Story,” clearly carries a Pinoy flavor. Tell us, how did this come about?

A: “Lola” combines family stories about my maternal grandmother and various Filipino folk tales with a little magic realism and good old fashioned campfire storytelling thrown in for good measure. It’s inspired by parts of my childhood and is a blur of fact and fiction.

Q: Any other projects in the works after “Lola”?

A: “Dead Goombas” is my next project for Oni Press. That one’s about zombies terrorizing some mobsters. It’s a comedy. I’m also working on some more Teen Titans-related stuff for DC, but can’t really talk about that just yet. Outside of comics, I’m contributing stories to Cartoon Network’s “Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi” show. I’ve got a story in season two and two stories in season three. Hopefully, you’ll see more work from me in animation in the coming years. I should also be doing more for Scholastic on the kids book front, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally publish some original material that you’ll soon see in a children’s library. Wish me luck!

Q: You’re currently doing a mix of independent comic work and mainstream work. Is this a balance you intentionally set out to do, or is it something that you’re planning to change?

A: I think I’d go crazy if all I did was superhero stuff and I’d probably go broke if all I did was the vanity press, indy stuff. But fortunately, I love doing both and will continue to do so as long as editors and publishers will have me. I think one sort of also feeds the other, both creatively and financially speaking, so I don’t plan to change that.

Q: You write a lot of comic books about teenagers. Any particular reason why?

A: Probably because I’m immature and refuse to grow up.

Q: You reside in Toronto. What do you do in your spare time when you aren’t working on your comics?

A: My fiancée and I like to travel, do dinner with friends or entertain at home, go to movies, plays and concerts now and then, maybe try our luck at some casino action. Usual stuff. We’re not into extreme sports or underground culture or anything like that. We can be pretty boring.

Q: Have you seen the local comic books being produced in the Philippines and do you have any impressions on the local comic scene?

A: It appears to be thriving creatively from where I stand. I keep in touch with a number of Filipino creators online, and follow the work that they do on this side of the pond. I’ve even met some of them in San Diego at the annual comics convention. I’d love to visit there again someday soon and check out the shops, hang out with local artists, and meet the fans. I really enjoy doing that sort of thing. And it appears to me that there’s an exciting scene happening over there and I wish I could somehow be part of it.

Q: How Filipino do you consider yourself?

A: Well, it’s odd. When I’m among Filipino friends, sometimes I feel more Canadian. Like when everyone’s complaining about the cold and I’m actually sweating. And when I’m among Canadian friends, I feel very Filipino. Like when a group of us is trying to decide where to have dinner and I’m the only one craving rice. I guess it’s all relative. In any case, I’m proud of my Filipino heritage, where I come from, my family, my culture and what it all represents. I think it even shows in some of my work, as early as “Copybook. ”

Q: Is working in comic books something you see as a long-term gig for you, and is there something specific you’d still like to do in the future, comic book-wise?

A: As I said, as long as editors and publishers will have me, and as long as there are people out there willing to read my work, and as long as I’ve got stories to tell, I’ll keep writing. I love comic books and I think they’ll always be a part of me, my life, who I am. So, one day if you hear about some crazy old man who put in his will that he wanted to be cremated along with his entire comic book collection, that might be me!

For more information about J. Torres, please visit

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Filipina comic book artist in Tokyopop manga


Irene Flores (artist)

I'll try to keep this short. I was born and raised in the Philippines. I now reside in California's central coast. Lots of stuff happened in between.

Now that I've caught everyone up on the last 22 years of my life, let's talk about what really matters... like why my self-portrait looks so peeved. Some subconscious manifestation of my frustratration at my artistic inadequacy, perhaps. Or maybe I just thought it looked funny. I dunno, really.

I also have this habit of writing bios in the wee hours of the morning... when I tend to ramble... and am quite incoherent... and use too many ellipses.

I also draw, occasionally.

Newsarama interview with Irene:
Filipino comic book artist in Top Cow's NECROMANCER

"Top Cow’s Necromancer by Joshua Ortega and artist Francis Manapul is set to debut at WizardWorld:Chicago next weekend.The series follows the adventures of Abigail van Alistine, a stunning, smart 17-year old high school student who has “a knack for the Way.” “Abigail has a natural talent for magic,” Ortega told Newsarama in March. “In the world of Necromancer,there are natural magic users and there are those whocan only use magic through training – Abby’s anatural, but she wants to learn more about her burgeoning powers and how to use them more effectively."

UPDATED! Call for comic book ghost stories

***New ghost story anthology open for comic book submissions***

Danton Remoto is editing a new anthology of ghost stories in English. Aside from prose, writers may also submit comic book scripts, 8 to 12 pages long.

Your story needs to be approved first before you can start drawing it or before you pass it on to your artist. The writer can choose his artist, but the artist should first send one or two sample pages so that publishers can check if art style fits the book’s editorial slant. (Black&white artwork only.)

The writer and the artist will get P2,000 each.

Deadline for stories and script: September 30, 2005
(Deadline for artwork will be set after your script gets approved. )

Submissions can be sent to:
dremoto (at) ateneo (dot) edu

Danton Remoto
English Department
Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights, Quezon City

Monday, August 01, 2005

New blog about Pinoy Komix

Found this new site set-up by "Aklas Isip".

He said the blog is: A candid and personal examination of the Philippine comics scene from a social, cultural, economic and business point of view.

In his first blog entry, he posted: "Aklas isip here from Manila, Philippines. In this blog, data on the history and business of comics publishing will be collated. It will serve as a guidepost for personal reflection. If any of you out there share the same interests and aspirations appearing on this blog, your posts are most welcome. Thank you. "

Monday, July 11, 2005

PAGE45 reviews SIGLO

"Siglo: Freedom (£9-99, Mango) by various. A Filipino anthology of comics onthe theme of freedom, a subject dear to the people of the Philippines, forobvious reasons. It's the sort of thing I instinctively want to applaud.Straight fiction, new points of view, something to say. And the first story,"Jolo, 1913" (each title has a date, which together span the last century),definitely boasts both those two characteristics. It's told by a boy as hemoves through the alphabet in the top two-thirds of each page, being taughtEnglish. Along the bottom, he begins to talk about the school where he'slearning this new language.

"None of the Muslim children went to my school. Maybe they attended adifferent one or learned directly from their parents. At that time I didn'tunderstand why. I considered them lucky."

But then other things happen thathe doesn't understand, things he's not told, as smoke begins to rise in theMuslim districts. Soldiers are said to be arriving in great numbers. "At the end of that long week, my father told us it was all over. Things went backto normal and once again I went to school. Whatever happened suddenly seemed so distant. The Americans looked very happy. Everyone else tried to look happy."

This one worked for me, worked very well. You're never told what happened,but you don't need to be, and the juxtaposition of the underlying story with the humiliating English lesson above makes its point their own account, it's early days for comics in the Philippines - too much outside influence. Which is where we came in, with the first story."

Post by Dean Alfar in his blog:

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Writer's Life : Casting A Comic Book From High School Memories

First posted 10:42am (Mla time) June 19, 2005
By Ruel S. de Vera
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page Q5 of the June 19, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

IF YOU could mold characters out of lines and into life, if you could write the dialogue of your dreams, what story would you tell? If you're Jamie Bautista and Elbert Or, you'd tell the story of all Filipino teenagers, their high school life and your own. You'd breathe life into "Cast."

"Cast" is the charming hit comic book from Nautilus Comics. But it isn't about flying super-beings-the Spandex set-or outlandish anthromorphic protagonists. "Cast" is a vibrantly full-color story of young love and high school life juxtaposed with the staging of a play about King Arthur. It's a brave tale told with a welcome earnestness and winning humor from Jamie and Elbert, both exceptional comic book talents. It's also a tale of pursuing their own personal production despite the odds.

The 28-year-old Jamie is line publisher of Nautilus Comics and holds a Communication degree from the Ateneo. Jamie was teaching at the Ateneo when Elbert suggested that they pitch an idea to publishers early in 2003; Jamie was to write and Elbert was to illustrate. They eventually decided to put it out on their own.

"When we made that decision, I approached my uncle who became one of our financiers," Jamie says. His uncle had an idle company name that existed only on paper.

"We took that and became Nautilus Comics." And in due time, their idea-high school life, oh my high school life-was hit with a million volts and nailed with a lightning bolt, to quote two ancient pop songs.


"One of the ideas I had floating around was a semi-autobiographical story, of imagining what it would be to be part of a school play," Jamie explains. He had gone to Xavier for high school, and was a shy, introverted teen. "I think I was the well-liked geek." Participating in a high school production of the musical "Camelot" was a fond memory for him. "In an all-boys' school, this was the first time for me to be able to work with girls." Thus, "Cast's" all-boys' St. Christian is a stand-in for Xavier, while all-girls' Mary the Immaculate is a thinly-veiled nod to Immaculate Conception Academy. Jamie rolled several experiences into the King Arthur play of "Cast," fictionalized and then kept going. "There are some what-ifs, some looking back and some purely fictional," Jamie says of the comic's twists and turns. Elbert designed the characters, deliberately deciding to meld Eastern and Western illustration styles.

Elbert settled in as editor, tweaking Jamie's story and art direction and working with a group of artists to get "Cast's" look just right. "Jamie wanted his vision to be very pure and I had the task of making sure the comic was financially viable as a serial."

That serial follows callow Will Flores, a shy talented kid, who is cast, much to his surprise, as Lancelot in the school play. As the play begins to gain solidity, Will finds himself falling for his Guinevere, Ces Cheng. Problem is, Ces happens to be girlfriend to Manny David, Will's friend, acting mentor and, it just so happens, the play's King Arthur. While that situations percolates, "Cast" surrounds them with other ongoing dramas and comedies that have to do with overcaffeinated drama teacher Mr. McCready, parents and the gang of Lex, Jiggs, Maita, Mons, Elmo, Erika, Cid, Janina, Lel and Joe, among others. It's high school in full color.

The 21-year-old Elbert is the editor-in-chief of Nautilus. He graduated from the Ateneo in 2004 with an Interdisciplinary Studies degree. He went to high school at the coed Chang Kai Shiek Academy. "My time in high school was the time that I made most of the mistakes I learned from. Rebelde ako noon. I was the one always pushing the envelope in terms of disciplinary measures and in the causes I took on. In the arts, I tried to make geeks look cool. Boring na ako ngayon. I put most of my past experience in 'Cast.'

"I was experiencing angst this summer because I suddenly realized that my hobbies were also all about comics," Elbert says, adding that he also helps out with NGOs and likes teaching kids at the Nautilus comics workshops, which has brought the two to different parts of the country preaching comics. Unlike Elbert, Jamie has what he calls his "day job," which involves graphic design and the family business, a printing press. Aside from his Ateneo stint, Jamie also teaches at Assumption College. But what really takes up their time now is "Cast."

There was a lot of tinkering and testing as "Cast" slowly evolved into finished form. A prologue issue, called "Cast Pre-production," came out first, almost as a test sample. "It was our first attempt at publishing on our own. Everything that could go wrong with a first issue did go wrong," Elbert recalls, adding that they were doing press work on that issue all the way from January up to June 2004.

"What we realized with earlier incarnations of 'Cast' is that a lot of the sensibilities of Western comics and fiction don't actually apply here," Elbert says. "For example, there's a more individualistic sense in Western literature whereas we're more communal here. That's why we would naturally gravitate towards a larger, ensemble cast."

Slice of life

"Even back in high school, the short stories I used to write were relationship-and romance-oriented, sort of slice-of-life," Jamie explains. "It started out as a very Will-centric story and we later decided to focus on the supporting characters as well," Elbert adds. The characters are based more on different relationships than anything else-the long-standing twosome and the budding romance, for example. Though both Jamie and Elbert have girlfriends, Jamie notes "we still remember what it was like to be in that unsure, 'what is real love?' place."

After more tweaking and two more months, "Cast" # 1 came out and the response was indeed quite heartening-"it sold very well," Elbert says. "We were happy with the feedback. People were writing in." The comic book found its audience and then some.

"Our target audience initially was high school, but then we found out that college people liked it for the stories, for the nostalgia factor." Jamie adds that many of the elements in their high school stories still apply to college life here.

With its format of a long, main story (focusing on Will, Ces and the play) supported by shorter backup stories (usually featuring supporting characters), "Cast" is able to cast its own creative web wider, covering more plot twists and issues, as well as try different storytelling approaches.

The two make a rather unique complementary set of colleagues. The more laid-back Jamie (he would describe himself as "phlegmatic") is more prone to whimsy, while the manic Elbert is more prone to rants.

Surer ground

Now sponsors are approaching them (instead of the other way around) and "Cast" is now available pretty much everywhere. "Cast" has settled into a comfortable quarterly publishing schedule and Nautilus is on surer ground. "We aren't a fly-by-night company," Elbert says. "If we have trouble, there's a Plan Z we can go to. The mission of Nautilus ultimately is be able to prove that you can work on comics here in the Philippines and make a decent living out of it."

The fifth issue just came out, but Elbert is already at work on # 8 while Jamie's writing # 9, so fans can rest assured "Cast" is moving along briskly. Fulfilling a long-time dream, "Cast" is available and has found dealers in the United States-and there's even interest from as far away as Norway.

Even though it's already five issues old, there's lots still about to happen: There's opening night and even an action sequence. "Once we get past the issue 10 mark, we have ideas that would push the boundaries a bit more," Jamie says. "Our immediate goal is to really make 'Cast' a monthly," Elbert says, and "to get the art the way we want it."

"Cast" has become their own ongoing story, of a friendship that has given concrete fulfillment to a dream, a story that's flung itself across the void and found sympathetic roots in the imagination of a young audience. "I'm more of a fulfilled mind, because this is really more my story," read the words in Jamie Bautista's word balloon. Elbert Or adds his own: "Now that I'm doing 'Cast,' every time I wake up in the morning, I think of the next thing I have to dream of."

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On the Verge
Karen Kunawicz
Mirror Weekly, June 3, 1996

It’s been about a year a three months since the first time I featured anything that had to do with Alamat (“C For Yourself”, co-written by Budjette Tan). Alamat, for those who have just joined us, is the name of an “umbrella organization” of a group of local comic book outfits which include Memento Mori, Virtual Media, Cheap Thrills Comics, Powerhaus, Deranged, etc.

Since Budjette wrote about Comics 101, I’ve gladly let Memento Mori and Powerhaus take over the pages of “On the Verge”. Lately, I’ve been approached by a number of readers who say they’re quite interested in the local (and foreign) comic book scene. In fact these last few weeks most of them have been talking to me about comics than bands, music, vampires, and all that gothic stuff.

I met David Hontiveros (a wise weaver of tales) through Budjette last year and his name should be familiar to you by now since I’ve let him take over a couple of times as well on topics that deal with comics and dark fantasy-slash-horror. Last week I said that I’d feature an article of his, on how to write stories but I figured I’d let this one go ahead. It’s a bit of an update on what Alamat has been up to lately and it’s also a bit of glimpse into what it’s like to be part of that group.

Life in the Trenches
By David Hontiveros

It all began three years ago, after a series of phone calls that would, quite literally, change the course of my life.

“It” refers to my involvement in the creation of comics, in the actual spinning to tales, of committing dreams and visions and ideas into panels and pages, for all the world to see.

Now I am smack dab in the middle of a group called Alamat, whose ongoing mission is to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations: to boldly go where no man has gone before. (Actually, it’s to create quality comic books , but hey, who can resist those immortal lines?)

Life in Alamat is… how do I put it? It’s different. It’s a constant round of chaos, and frenetic whirlwind of activity, as we, in now particular order, write and draw comics, have them printed and distributed, talk with retailers, set up exhibits, conduct workshops, and for those of us who are not participants in the 9 to 5 rat race, attempt to do some work on the side to help support the comics end of our lives.

If it sounds like a horrifying daunting amount of work, that’s because it is! Take my word for it, our Circadian rhythms are so out of whack, we’re probably immune to jetlag now. Slit our veins open and Coke and coffee would come pouring out.

This should prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, how dedicated we are to our art—we’re willing to undergo severe psychological changes, radical body alterations, in order to get our comics out there!

Alamat is now about a year-and-a-half old, and in those 18 months, we’ve come quite a long way, being the subject of newspaper articles, TV interviews, and student papers. We’ve had exhibits and talks at universities, store tours and signing sessions.

But at the heart of all this are the comics we create, the stories we wish to share with the world. Whatever else we do, whatever stories we tell is in the service of comics lovers. That doesn’t make these activities any less interesting. So here’s a quick sampling of what we’ve been up to recently.


Early February saw Alamat at U.P. (the University of the Philippines) during F.A.(Fine Arts) Week for an exhibit. There, we were greeting enthusiastically, approached by fans of our work, faculty members who gladly extended their assistance as resource persons for our various titles, as well as the plain curious.

At the exhibit, we were also treated to an initial glimpse of the work of other aspiring comic artists from U.P., among them, a talented bunch called Block Comics, whose flagship title, AGIMAT, will see print in the coming months. (Ian Sta. Maria, artist for Agimat has done inking work for Batch72, an upcoming Alamat title. Ian’s artwork is clean and sharp so watch our for Agimat.)

More recently, we spent consecutive weekends setting up exhibits in two of Manila’s nightspots. At first, we discovered the vast potential some Alamat members have in the pop music industry. (If ever out comics go belly up, we can just market the hell out of Eric and Arnold-- who have photogenic qualities for pop album covers-- and Dino-- who has the showmanship for it. To quote Captain Katarungan, “Trust me, they are the best.”)

The second exhibit was just as memorable. Along with Karen and Belle and Trish and Lara, we talked about The X-Files and danced the night away – mostly to tunes I was totally unfamiliar with (All the better to work up an appetite fro Ali Baka’s shawarma- - Karen). A high point of the evening for me was dancing to Pulp’s brilliant “Common People.” (If you were there, I was the madman singing along with the Voice of Today’s Disenfranchised British Youth, Jarvis Cocker. “I wanna sleep with common people like you…”) It’s too bad they had to play Bjork’s “Hyper-ballad” when we’d already abandoned the floor.

It was also at this exhibit that I discovered, much to my surprise, that I was now a “pop enforcer.” Cool. I’d never been called that before. Now I know how to answer people when they ask, “But what exactly do you do?”

I’ll give them a knowing grin, a patented double-thumbs-up-with-pointing forefinger, and say, “I’m a pop enforcer.” That’ll stump `em!

The hear pounds and stifles, the air thick and muggy, a dry malevolent wing that scours the land and fries brain cells as if a desert jinn has migrated to the Far East and found the change of scenery quaint.

In the midst of this meteorological oppression, Alamat holds its first ever Comic Workshop at Claret School in Teacher’s Village. With an age range of nine to twentysomething, the workshop itself is something of a minor success.

Despite the final numbers of students being around 10, there were more than 20 interested parties, who perhaps ended up not attending due to an 11th hour change of schedule and venue. (Sorry about that.)

In the end though, the number of students facilitated our hands-on method of instruction, allowing teachers more freedom to handle each individual. Incidentally, the Mistress of the Dark herself attended the workshop. (You guys should see the sketches she did of “The Heroic Head” and “The Heroic Butt”! Masterpieces, I assure you.)

I’ve been asked if we’re going to hold another workshop in the future, and I’m not really sure about the answer right now, but at least I know that we’re capable of standing up in front of total strangers and imparting some of the knowledge that experience has taught us from our life here in the trenches. And knowing that, the chances of a future Alamat workshop don’t look that slim at all.

And in the midst of all this activity, we have the usual flurry of Alamat traffic—creative work on this or that title (some to watch out for it in the coming months- - Batch72, TKS/Age of the Valkyrie, Lakan, Angel Ace, and the second issues of Tattooed and Pugad Baboy/Indigo Valley.); deals being made here and there (there’s one of interest-- I wish I could tell you more but I really can’t at this point; not to worry, if you buy our books, you’ll hear about it there); meetings with various individuals for any myriad of reasons, from picking up newly inked pages to following up on the where-abouts of a long-delayed book.

Several Alamat members have also done some pieces (short stories and art) for the new literary magazine, Chimera. In the second issue alone (“Pasyon and Penitence) April/May 1996), short stories by Alamat chairman-in-absentia, Budjette Tan, and myself, as well as art by JB “Taps” Tapia and Brandie Tan, appear. Keep an eye out for Chimera which is available in National Bookstore. Alamat is also hard at work on a joint project with Chimera publisher Yvonne Cenzon, the details of which, you’ll be hearing about in the coming mont6hs. I don’t have to tell you, we’re all excited about that!

So, you can see, being a comic book creator is a lot of hard, painstaking work. But paradoxically, it’s also a lot of fun. (At least it is for me.)

Fun thought it may be, life in the trenches still isn’t without its own head and heart-aches: missed deadlines, delayed books, artistic temperaments, procrastination. (Personally, I’m still trying being one-upped by the Big Two, but that’s a whole different horror story, believe me.)

But in the end, when things come together and everything just falls into place; when you’ve got that comic book fresh off the press in your hand, when the letter from a complete stranger find it’s way to your door with its words of encouragement, the it’s all worth it.

And then you can look in the mirror and practice that knowing grin and the patented double-thumbs-up-with-pointing-forefingers, and say, “You’re not just a bum, you’re a bum that people love!”

As I was saying, life here is fun. Hell, it’s great! One of the best things about being a part of Alamat (aside from my being able to tell the stories I want to tell) is the bunch of people I get to work with-- the people I am proud to call my friends.

And because of these friends, I met other friends, like Karen, who introduced me to still other friends, like Belle and Trish. (They’re more than friends, to me, they’re the most intimate of coven-mates, Mwahahahahaha. --Karen) It’s brilliant the way these things work, don’t you think?

They really are a great bunch of people, these brothers-in-arms in the war against mediocrity in comics, these fellow soldiers in the trenches of life, these people I hang out with-- my friends.

Since I’ve known them, my life’s been a lot less floopy.

It’s like Rachel says, “I’ve got magic beans.”

And I’m okay,

See you in the funny pages…

* * *

Oh Dave, you make it sound so glamorous. I guess you left out the part about the artists inking the comics in their own blood and the rule about Alamat not allowing its members to sleep more than eight hours - - per week.


Look out for Dave’s storytelling article in the next few weeks. I’m off to see the Wizard, Bye.

Monday, June 13, 2005

On the Verge
Karen Kunawicz
Mirror Weekly, March 12, 1998

Budjette Tan is back. And the tables have turned a bit. As President-at-gunpoint for Alamat comics, Budj is used to being interviewed for write-ups in paper, magazines, and TV (I’m just proud to say “On the Verge” was one of the firsts to feature Alamat—that was over three years ago!) Now it’s Budjette who’s writing about a new local comic and graphic literature group called ZENITH GRAPHICS—and I must say he’s written such a fun piece.

Mabuhay ang malikot na utak! I meant that in a positive, halfways wholesome sense, OK?

Xeroxed Monkeys at the top
By Budjette Tan

Ever heard of the Hundredth Monkey Effect? No, it’s not some kinky bestiality thing! Supposedly, researches were studying the behavior of monkeys in the island of Koshima, near Japan. Sweet potato is part of the diet of those monkeys. The monkeys somehow learned that if they wash the sand off the potato it tastes better. Soon enough, all the monkeys on the island learned how to wash the potatoes in the hot springs. Scientists later discovered that monkeys in an island several miles away had also learned the same habit of washing their potatoes before eating it. Scientists speculate that after the one hundredth monkey (it could be any number) learned this new habit, a sort of “critical mass” was reached and the data was somehow transmitted to the other monkeys across the sea.

Weird, but true.

What the heck does this have to do with my articles about Zenith Comix? Uhh… I’m not sure but you keep reading and I’m sure I’ll make a connection.

Scientists further speculate that a similar phenomenon happens with other living beings, including humans. Examples range from similar cave drawings found in different parts of the world, to monumental structures as the pyramids of Egypt and Peru.

We skip a couple of centuries and flash forward to 1992. Marvel Comics’ most popular artists leave the company to form their own group, Image Comics. One of those artists was Whilce Portacio, a Filipino. This generates great interest in comic books for Filipinos everywhere.

Whilce? Monkeys? Where the heck is Zenith in all of this? I’m getting there.

1993. DC Comics officially launches its “alternative” for matures readers only imprint: Vertigo Comics. Even tough so-called alternative comics have been around for decades, Vertigo Comics generated more attention an interest since it was being published by such a large company. DC Comics, who publishes the comic books of popular icons like Superman and Batman, were giving unknown, yet creative writers and artists a chance to explore stories and themes not usually seen in superhero comic books.

The monkeys of Image and Vertigo Comics sent their washed potatoes to the Philippines and influenced the monkeys here.

1994. Manila. The comic book shops experienced a deluge of ashcans—mini-photocopied comic books. It was easy to see that these aspiring comic book creators were influenced by either Image or Vertigo or both. Little did they know that they would all meet one November afternoon.

November 1994. The main monkey himself, Whilce, came home and organized those ashcan-kids into Alamat Comics.

February 1995. After Alamat’s first major exhibit, I was still exhilarated at what we accomplished and we were excited with the comic books that we were planning to publish. As we were packing up our stuff, taking down the posters and streamers, I couldn’t help but wonder if there were other people out there planning to enter the comic book scene.

We had no idea that around the same time we were organizing Alamat, a similar group was already bring formed in Iloilo.

“The underground never sleeps until it reaches… Zenith.”

ZENITH, the highest point reached in the heavens by a celestial body.

ZINE, self-published periodical about a particular subject matter, more often that not, concerning some aspect of pop culture (e.g. music, art, movie, TV, comics).

We go back to 1994, to Iloilo, where we see five zines being published /Xeroxed and circulated among friends and among those interested enough to read it. The forerunner of this zine revolution was Elvert Bañares.

1995. Elvert and several of his colleagues form SINING X (pronounced Sining Ekis). “We’re your usual group. We’re just friends,” said Elvert. “We are here because of the camaraderie, and of course, we got together because we are artists. We wanted to make a venue to show people how we do things, to show people who we are, how we can improve our craft…”

SINING X is currently composed of over 20 people, a collective of students, young professionals, independent filmmakers, poets, and writers. They believe that art has no limits. Which is probably why they have labeled arts as an “X”—something that has yet to be defined, something which can only be explained when they have achieve it.

Under SINING X is their publications division ZENITH, which is divide into two sections: Zenith Komix and Zenith Graphix.

ZENITH KOMIX features “superhero” stories, though not the type you usually see in Image Comics. Expect a more experimental type of superhero. Now available under this imprint are THE ILLUMINARY and THE CRIMSON.

THE ILLIMUNARY was written and created by Markus Lulandus; drawn by Mario Basilgo II and Jigger Ricardo. The “hero” of this story is Dante, who lives in on a planet that does not have a sun. Light and heart are monopolized and provided by one company. It is a story of how people struggle to find hope in a dark world.

THE CRIMSON was written and drawn by Karlm Carrascal. Set in New York during the 1930s, we follow the adventures of a detective called Kameron as he is hunted down by monsters called Oracles.

ZENITH GRAPHIX are works which they consider short films on paper. Under this imprint, titles like FUNGUS FEVER, LIWANAG, and ORAL + VIGIL use a combination of photographs and illustrations in order to tell their story.

If you’re not sure of which title to get, you can check out GRAPH-X, which is SINING X’s quarterly guide to all ZENITH publications. GRAPH-X No. 3 is now available and also features articles, poems, new comic book stories, as well as their upcoming releases.

Artists and writers are welcome to contribute their works to ZENITH. The group believes in supporting young and unknown artists. “We want them to grow with us as we go along,” said Elvert. But contributors must first present their portfolios to the editorial board which is compoed of Elvert, Jennifer Severino, Mary Anne Jimenez, Erwin Santiago, and Ned Trespeces. Elvert already warns contributors not to expect fame or financial compensation. Elvert explained, “We don’t think of it as a business. We see it as a form of self-expression. We just want other people to see out works and we just want [these comic books] to pay for themselves. We can’t keep doing this for free.”

All ZENITH publications are photocopied. According to Elvert, they are currently limited to photocopying their comic books because of financial reasons. They are not yet willing to risk thousands of pesos on a product which they are not sure will sell. With the photocopying method, at least their works are seen and read by people, and it won’t cost that much. They are working on a project called ENTER: CANNAD which will be printed and released this March.

Last December `97, SINING X held its first collective art exhibit at the NCCA Gallery called “Gothic Assembly”. The exhibit featured art works rendered in different mediums, from traditional illustrations to sculptures, to live performance art and short films viewed on multiple TV screens.

By April, you will be able to browse the SINING X web site, which will contain more information about the group, their projects and activities. This year they will also begin ZENITH PRESS, under which they will publish GOTHICA: CORPUS ET MEN, an anthology of gothic stories by Sining X writers; followed by SILENT ORB, a personal diary-esque collection of dreamscape ideas by Giovanni Respall.

Another project which Elvert has been trying to start is a local version of the zine “Fact Sheet Five,” a directory of zines in the United States and other countries. Elvert has been offering other zines the chance to advertise for free in ZENITH, but so far none have taken up his offer.

So, to all zine-monkeys and comic book-monkeys, if you want to get in touch with SINING X , here’s who and how:

Elvert Bañares
c/o Maria Calara Today Magazine
#70 18th Avenue
Murphy, Quezon city

Jennifer Severino
#2-H Alpha Victoria Homes
14th St., cor. Victoria St.
New Manila, Quezon City

For more informations, call: 141-919615, 141-137943, 1277-62272.

ZENITH is available at Comic Quest, Megamall.

Allow me now announce that the monkeys from Alamat will be releasing “Angel Ace” #3 and “TKS: The Kill Stalker” #2 in March. Now available from Alamat are “Dhampyr”, “Wasted”, and “Exodus” #2.

Thank you, I have to go now. I suddenly got the irresistible urge to go eat a banana.

Somewhere in the Philippines… alittle boy takes up a pen and starts to draw.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


The supernatural takes center stage at Oni Press this August with the release of LOLA, a 72 page original graphic novel by J. Torres and R’John Bernales. Like a story ‘round the campfire, LOLA packs equal parts suspense and folk tale, with plenty of ghosts, monsters, and things that go bump in the night.

Jesse’s family has always told stories about his grandmother and her visions of haunted farmhouses, man-eating ogres, and pigs possessed by the devil. For years his grandmother has used those visions to help the people living in her community in the Philippine countryside, but to Jesse the stories are just scary. When his family travels to her home for her funeral, Jesse has no choice but to face the monsters, demons, and ghosts from his grandmother’s stories, because he can see them too.

Longtime Oni readers know of J. Torres’ penchant for dipping into the past for inspiration, (previous graphic novels include DAYS LIKE THIS, SCANDALOUS, and THE COPYBOOK TALES), as well as his ability to create his own menaces in ALISON DARE, LITTLE MISS ADVENTURES. These elements combine in LOLA to produce a story that is both eerie and genuine.

“LOLA combines family stories about my maternal grandmother and various Filipino folk tales with a little magic realism and good old fashioned campfire storytelling,” explained Torres. “I love seeing parts of my childhood illustrated in a comic. It's a lot of fun seeing this mix of fact and fiction blurred on the comic page like this.”

Torres is joined by a relative newcomer to comics, R’John Bernales (FOUR LETTER WORLDS). “I fell in love with his art from sketch one,” commented Torres. “I love his take on different Filipino monsters and creatures and things that go bump in the night.” Bernales found the process a pleasure. “J. is a really talented writer, and for the most part allows me to have a lot of freedom in the drawing process.”

And that freedom provided great results. “There was no question that R’John should be the one to join J. on this project,” commented James Lucas Jones, Oni’s editor in chief. “Many of the subtleties of the story are nonverbal, and R’John did a great job of capturing a lot of meaning in an expression, or in someone’s body language.”

Torres hopes that the book will be something different than he’s created so far. “ I'm going for creepy and spooky in parts of this book, and I don't think I've ever played that stuff "straight" before. I don't think you can call this a horror story, but if we're successful, people will view it as horror or suspense in a "Twilight Zone" or "Alfred Hitchcock" sense.”

LOLA is a 72 page trade paperback, featuring sepia-and-white story and art. It ships to comic stores in August, and retails for $5.95 with an ISBN of 1-932664-24-6.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

K.I.A.: She's not human!

Posted 06:36pm (Mla time) May 27, 2005
By Pepe Diokno, James Gabrillo
Inquirer News Service
Editor's Note: Published on Page C3 of the May 28, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

HEY GUYS, wanna interview a comic book character?

Normally, we'd say no-like, we're not Steve Martin--or David Hasselhoff--we just don't do... fake people.

But, at the risk of death, we had to. The subject: Kai aka Agent K, aka K, (the list goes on to negative K)-femme fatale, assassin chick off the pages of K.I.A., this new graphic novel created by Marco Dimaano. (The book is already out, peeps! Get it! Get it!) (She threatened us!) She was really nice. (She told us she'd cut it off if we refused to interview her!) She told us it's okay if we didn't have time for her. (She's weird.) She's great. It was really fun (e-mailing) sitting down and talking to her.

Q: Hey, Kai! Would you kick our asses if we ask the wrong question?

KAI: (Smiles pleasantly) No, of course not. Contrary to what you may have heard, I only start ripping spines out when attacked first.

Q: You're sexy and deadly. What makes you Super! compared to other femme fatales like Elektra, Sydney Bristow, Le Femme Nikita, Aeon Flux?

KAI: Thanks for the compliment. My main power is the ability to learn an opponent's skills and counter them. Secondary is my partial immortality, which lets me keep ticking even after I get "fatally" hit. Sydney Bristow and Nikita are just not in my league. Elektra would probably get some good stabs with her sai, but, when close, I'd grab her and that's that. As for Aeon Flux, I can probably snap her like a twig. Did you see how thin she is?

Q: You were created to be the nemesis of another heroine, Angel Ace. But we hear that you're more than a simple ruthless killing machine. Reveal your real self to us.

KAI: Originally I was Angel's best friend, who became her enemy but was revealed eventually to be still her best friend. Well, after that, I was assassinated by my own commander and resurrected with new powers and no memories of my past. My main motivation is recovering my past, no matter where that search leads.

Q: Your comic book's main issue is how you search for your identity in a world that continually seeks to dehumanize you. Why do you think this is such a big personal battle for everyone in the real world?

KAI: Well, in the real world there are few things people really have control of without corporations, governments and even religion having something to say. A person's identity, whether he/she reveals it to the world or not, is his/her own. It's the one thing unique to anyone, so keeping it safe is paramount.

Q: Do you think this "search for identity" has to do with faith, morality or mind work?

KAI: I'm a soldier and an assassin, and all I have are my mission and my code. I have no real home, not even in the KALI organization. The only place where you can be safe and secure in is in your own body, in your own mind. If I'm going to stay alive either as Kai or as 'Agent K', I'm going to have to like who I really am and live with her. That's why identity is so important.

Q: What is the scum of society? How do you plan to kick it into oblivion?

KAI: The most despicable scum are those at the top; the ones who control all and are, by most standards, untouchable. That's where professionals like me come in. How do I plan to kick them into oblivion? With pleasure.

Q: On to more serious stuff...Does size matter?

KAI: No. I've fought opponents twice and half my size, and it all boils down to how honed their combat skills are. (Eyes narrow) That IS what you were asking about, right...?

Q: If you were a plant, how would you want to die?

KAI: I'd be a nice shade tree where kids can play under. My ultimate fate would be to become a nice, comfy rocking chair. Silly, really...

Q: What is your opinion of graphic novel artists? Are they hot?

KAI: The ones I know are really funny and good conversationalists. I guess they're hot for me, but I don't know if my definition of "hot" is like most girls'...

Q: What about Super! writers? Are they hot?

KAI: (Smiles) Yes, you guys are hot.

Q: If you were to assassinate a real person, who would it be and how?

KAI: I think it would be really nice to bury my foot in some kidnappers' faces. I'd also like to do the same to at least half of your politicians.

Q: Do you have a fitness regimen?

KAI: Strangely enough, I don't. My body is always this fit, no matter what I eat, so usually I just sleep or read in between missions. Now you know why most of the other girls in KALI hate me.

Q: Is Osama Bin Laden dead?

KAI: I've killed three of him already. They'll just clone more, so why bother.

Q: Did you find Hayden Christensen hot... after he was scorched by lava?

KAI: Not at all. They say good girls always fall for the bad guy... I'm hardly what you'd consider a good girl. Anyway, I think Obi Wan is quite... hot.

Q: Do you watch The Contender? If yes, do you feel it's right that they let the children watch their dads suffer on the boxing ring?

KAI: I'm more of an Amazing Race person. I just find American boxing so boring since nobody uses their legs. Give me a Muay Thai version of that show and maybe I'll consider giving it a look.

Q: What is love?

KAI: I think I'm going to start kicking asses now...

Q: To creator Marco Dimaano, Who are the main influences in your work?

MARCO: Hayao Miyazaki, Kosuke Fujishima (Oh! My Goddess), Frank Miller, Jim Lee, Joe Madureira, J. Scott Campbell, Frank Cho, Pol Medina, Jr. Too many to count! I find influences every day.

Q: Your comic book is a big collaborative work. How was it like working with 20 different storytellers and artists?

MARCO: It was so interesting and exciting to be able to work with so many talented individuals, both newbies and veterans in the comic biz. I still find myself looking back and saying,"How did I manage to pull that off?"

Q: Did you fear that the 20 people wouldn't be able to capture who KAI really is? That they wouldn't be able to handle her well?

MARCO: Not really... I felt that I gave very clear directions for the character. Also, I oversaw all of the stories and scripts at every stage, so things were kept in order. The variety in look that resulted was one of the first book's strengths. I love input and, seeing the character from more than one viewpoint, is always good.

Q: Where do you think is the Pinoy comic book world going?

MARCO: As far as I can tell, it will continue as it always has. The Filipino comic book creators will always have stories to tell, and they'll go for it the best way they can, whether in a well-printed independent comic or a photocopied ashcan. I just hope that there will always be Pinoy comic book fans out there to support them.

James Gabrillo and Pepe Diokno are contributors to the Philippine Daily Inquirer

Friday, May 13, 2005

The new urban species
By Vives Anunciacion
(Inquirer Libre, Monday, January 17, 2005, page 10)

Lexy, Nance and Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll
Comic book by Oliver Pulumbarit
Bittersweeetness Comix

Kanya-kanyang hirit lang ‘yan. Isang machong bading si Lexy. Si Nance naman, namamangka sa dalawang ilog, if you get what I mean. Samantalang si Argus nama’y isang tunay na barakong Pinoy—sort of. Kwento ba ito ng Pusong Mamon? In a way, it is.

Lexy, Nance and Argus form the trio of cartoon characters whose alternative lifestyles and frank observations celebrate the diversity of the metropolitan Pinoy. The cartoon for mature audiences is created by freelance writer and artist Oliver Pulumbarit.

Readers of Pulp magazine would be familiar with these flamboyant characters. Unang lumitaw ang komiks sa mga pahina ng Pulp noong September 2001 and was serialized in the magazine nine times until September 2002. Pulumbarit compiled the serial and added previously unpublished material and came up with Lexy, Nance and Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll. Pulumbarit and buddy John Toledo published the comic book.

The trio of Lexy, Nance and Argus are ideal representations of that section of Manila’s yuppie, hip and urbane natives. Their lifestyles are popularized nowadays mostly through TV shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Sex and the City. The comic book is much more frank than the serials in Pulp, since the added material presents more risqué images and expands the trio’s discussions on relationships, religion, sexuality and pop culture with a wry sense of humor. Hindi pambata ang ganitong babasahin bagama’t nakadaragdag ito sa pagpapalawak ng pag-unawa sa iba pang kasapi ng ating lipunan na may ibang pananaw sa buhay.

However, I must say that the book feels like one endless introduction to the characters’ lifestyles despite the seeming progression of time, as their individual and collective encounters tend to repeat throughout. As if there’s neither a beginning nor an end, the epilogue is practically perfunctory. Maybe it’s the author’s way to present existentialism. Maybe not.

Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll isn’t the first comic book of this theme. Sex and homosexuality as theme or content appeared early in Pinoy komiks history. Though unverified, Mars Ravelo’s Jack & Jill was probably the first gay-themed (transvestite) komiks in the Philippines. It was published around 1953 and was so popular nationwide, it was adapted into a movie twice. The 1954 version of Jack & Jill starring Dolphy was most likely the first gay-themed movie in the Philippines. Who knows, with characters this interesting and fun, we may soon see Lexy, Nance and Argus on the big screen; siguradong magpupusong-mamon ang manonoood ng pelikula.

Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll is available at Comic Quest branches and soon in other bookstores

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Power to the people
Jessica Zafra
Weekend: May 7-8, 2005

She's brave. She's sexy. She loves her family. She's the perfect Filipina. And now she's a hit on television.

The TV appearance this month of Darna, a venerable local superheroine, is seen by some in the media business as a triumph of packaging in the seemingly endless ratings battle between the two big networks.
But for the less cynical, plucky Darna, a Philippine version of Wonder Woman who is in her sixth decade as an icon of popular culture, seems to capture the struggle of a depressed people trying to find a way out of poverty and despair.

This month, her show premiered on a local network and, according to its press releases, garnered some of the highest ratings for a new series - an audience share of more than 50 percent.

Small wonder. Darna is probably the most recognizable literary character in the Philippines, certainly better known than the protagonists in the novels of the Filipino national hero, Jose Rizal, or any other piece of local literature.

Read the complete article at:

Monday, May 02, 2005

'K.I.A.' pride
Posted 09:21pm (Mla time) May 01, 2005 By Ruel S. de Vera / Inquirer News Service Editor's
Note: Published on page D2 of the May 2, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

"K.I.A. Vol. I, Kai: Indomitable Assassin"
Created by Marco Dimaano 2005, 160 pages

EVEN when Marco Dimaano introduced her as the preeminent rival to the titular begoggled super-heroine in his "Angel Ace" comic book, the raven-haired, flinty-eyed assassin Kai Mishima (a.k.a. Agent K) always stood out from her introduction very early in the series.

Unlike the cookie-cutter, super-powered protagonist, Kai had a darker, edgier side to her, as Agent K had lost her memory and was all business all the time. Dimaano portrayed her as a rather thoughtful, intelligent and ultimately tragic figure, one that seemingly met her doom near the end of the last arc, "Angel Ace Next."

Now Agent K steps into the limelight, obviously alive and very much kicking (and stabbing and chopping, among other deadly movements). The self-published "K.I.A. Vol. I, Kai: Indomitable Assassin" features 13 short stories plus pinups in an affordable, black-and-white manga-sized anthology.

Dimaano writes most of the stories and illustrates three of them. Meanwhile, he has assembled a talented roster of other writers and artists to join in what is effectively an assassin's jam: Gerry Alanguilan, Dean Alfar, Nikki Alfar, Jeremy Arambulo, Arnold Arre, Michael Banting, Chad Cabrera, Karen Cheung, Joel Chua, Andrew Drilon, Honoel Ibardolaza, Jon Mallari, Marvin del Mundo, Elbert Or, Jennyson Rosero, Michael Seludo, Edgar Tadeo, Taga-ilog, Wilson Tortosa and Anthony Yap, indeed a murderer's row of Filipino comic talent.

"K.I.A." effectively provides not only the further adventures of Agent K and a satisfying explanation of her otherwise surprising survival following her apparent death. In "K.I.A.," we see Agent K at her busiest, doing the one thing she knows: killing.

From ingenious new ways of getting to the target to having to dispose of entire gangs of opponents, "K.I.A." gives what amounts to a workaday view of Kai as the consummate professional. We will doubtlessly see more of these elements in the anthology's future installments as Dimaano uncovers more of Kai's back story.

Strong art

Dimaano's clean, strong art combines western comic book influences and a more obvious manga effect: the resulting product really is something else altogether. It is funny and sardonic at times, and grimly action-oriented at other times. Indeed, "K.I.A." is a survey of the hitperson at work, so it is fiercely, unapologetically violent with much bloodshed and graphic blade work.

It's always something else when Dimaano gets to write and illustrate the adventures of his darker creation. There is a fluidity, a focused intensity, even delight to Dimaano's handling of Kai's stories in "The New Girl," "Mouse Trap" and the essential "A Shock To The System," all welcome departures from the cheerful escapism of "Angel Ace."

There's the tragic anime-flavored "Dreamkiller" and the cartoon-laced "Battery Included." The edgiest story is "Zindernuef," which refers to both Kai's inner fears and some of the unseen dynamics of the K.A.L.I. organization.

The book's depth is also derived from the fact that Kai herself is a compassionate lady liquidator-a contradiction she lives with constantly, particularly when it comes to the up-and-comers who seek her place as the top assassin. And the book's energy comes from Kai's acrobatic dance of death as her killer moves fly across the page like spinning shurikens.

Similarly, "K.I.A." also shines with the combined diversity of its cast of capable contributors, be they writers or artists. The varying styles and interpretations of Agent K maximize the power of this particular format, with something for everyone.

The revelation of "K.I.A" is artist Jennyson Rosero, whose story, "Intercept," vibrates with dynamism and elegance. A tale of Kai's escape with a purloined item from a well-guarded building, "Intercept" is the story that skews most closely to Japanese manga conventions as well as a taste of the evolution of a beloved character as portrayed by others, done to great effect.

With a few witty light moments thrown into the mix and Dimaano confidently leading the cast behind a fabulous character now deservedly on her own, "K.I.A. Vol. I" deploys solid, unabashed butt-kicking action in a world where the killer ladies have killer bodies, the battles are furious and all the roads available are forked.

Dimaano ties all the disparate stories together, weaving the tangents and the mythology into a very efficient book with different looks, much like Agent K herself, a hitwoman with all the right moves.

Available from all Comic Quest branches.

Friday, April 29, 2005

A Comic Outing

A sexy and yet intellectual comic book that pulls no punches, Oliver M. Pulumbarit’s Lexy, Nance & Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll offers a delightful look into the lives and loves of three queer dorm mates. In an interview with ICON, Oliver reveals, among other things, which comic book characters and superheroes are 'on our side'.

What was your inspiration for writing LNA?
Mostly, people I know and admire. And the need to tell a story that's distinctively socially relevant and entertaining at the same time. I believed in the project, so I really pursued it.What are your upcoming projects?There are plans to do something totally different and removed from Lexy, Nance & Argus. But nothing really concrete yet, since I'm really busy doing freelance writing and art jobs just to survive. I'm about to do a few pages for the Alamat Comics anniversary special, but I've yet to really sit down and start working on it. But when everything's sure, I'll definitely announce it in my blog ( and everywhere else.

Will you continue to have gay characters in your future works?
Oh, yes. Definitely. Although I might approach doing gay characters differently from what I did in LNA, which is, obviously, gay-centric.

Which superhero do you think is gay?
There were rumors that Storm of the X-men was gay during the eighties. She had a total makeover off-panel (she cut her long hair to sport a mohawk!) courtesy of her gal pal, Japanese ninja/ wild girl Yukio. But of course, they eventually gave her a boyfriend, so there went that.
I think Brainiac 5 of the Legion is gay. He's a genius from a super-smart race, so I would think that gender identity issues wouldn't be a problem for him. But that was never really confirmed.

Lately, superheroes have been coming out in superhero books. There are only a handful, but it's very important for young readers. In the early nineties, Canadian mutant Northstar made headlines after the character admitted that he was gay. He joined the X-Men about four years ago, but was recently killed. Other Marvel characters that have been declared gay (or bi, or lesbian) include Phat and Vivisector of X-Statix, Karma of the X-Men, and their foes Mystique and Destiny. DC's Wildstorm imprint The Authority has a married super-gay couple, Apollo and Midnighter.

There are characters that have slowly been appearing all over the international comics scene that aren't token representations of homosexuals. Again, I stress that this is important because young gay people need to be represented and feel accepted. They need every hero they can relate to, even in the two-dimensional world of comic books. It's about time.

Who do you find hotter? Superman or Batman? or Wonder Woman or Jean Grey?
Oh, I think they're all hot. They don't really age. They'll always be physically fit epitomes of perfection that will always appeal to different generations of readers.

Lexy, Nance & Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll is now available at Comic Quest branches (SM Megamall, SM City-North Edsa, Festival Mall Alabang) and at Pride Exchange, located at Orosa corner Nakpil Streets, Malate, Manila. It's right on top of Komiks Cafe. Their store hours: Mondays to Thursdays, 4 p.m.-12 midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays, 6 p.m.-3 a.m. (Sundays-closed).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The long, hot, gay summer
By Niño Mark M. Sablan, 2bU! correspondent
Inquirer News Service

SUMMER oozes with possibilities: meeting people, discovering destinations, learning, loving, living.

With a little more time on your well-moisturized hands, summer is the ultimate date for whatever. For all gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, it's a hot time to support the community by being immersed in GLBT-related activities. When the sun is out and you feel as if there is nothing to do, consider the following good stuff to keep you preoccupied this summer.


Gay magazines are proliferating now! L magazine will give every gay man something to smile about.

Icon magazine is helpful and educational but not limited to gay men. All we need now is a magazine for the lesbian Pinay.

Writer-artist Oliver M. Pulumbarit has just released a graphic novel called "Lexx, Nancy & Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock and Roll." Eye-friendly drawings plus nod-inducing lines equals applause!

Go grab "Rolling the R's," a novel by R. Zamora Linmark. Set in a Hawaiian community in the '70s, it sheds new light on gay identity and the trauma of assimilation. It tackles realities of cultural confusion, prejudice and desire. And according to Jessica Hagedorn, the book explores "taboo sexuality and ethnic identity with refreshing candor and sly wit."
If poetry's your thing, grab a copy of Danton Remoto's "Pulotgata: The Love Poems." It is a collection of poetry in English and Filipino that's too lovely and not limited to the GLBT community.

Zsazsa Zaturnnah, the lovely hero of Carlo Vergara's comicbook "Ang Kagilagilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran Ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah," is a hit in bookstores. Filled with fab illustrations and quotable lines, the comic book is one fast and fulfilling read.

Jessica Zafra, an icon of gays and lesbians, believe it or not, comes up with another edition of her Twisted columns. "Twisted 7" is out now. Its design is so gay that the cover alone should make you part with your hard-earned cash.

Check out "Want Two," the brilliant follow-up to the "Want One" album of the gay and great Rufus Wainwright. Exploring darker themes, Wainwright sings about his battle with drugs and the ever-present love.

Ladies and ladylikes, gentlemen and gentlegirls, get ready for Scissor Sisters, the hottest act in Great Britain. They sound great, they look fab, plus they're gay (most of them are)-definitely something to be happy about!

Who needs Barbra or Diana when we've got Mimi aka Mariah Carey? Reborn and refreshed, our favorite banshee is back with another album. Feeling freer and happier than ever, the new album called "The Misadventures of Mimi" oozes with happiness and positivity, no trace of ballads and tears and heartbreak in this album! Goodbye drama!


Before winning an Oscar for that punch flick with Clint Eastwood, Hillary Swank won her first trophy for "Boys Don't Cry," a powerful film about the true story of a transgendered woman who was raped and murdered after being exposed.

Starring Macaulay Culkin as the flamboyant Michael Alig, "Party Monster" traces Alig's friendships, romantic relationships and series of parties that drove everyone nuts. It also tackles the murder that sent him to the bars. Fun costumes and rah rah-rah performances from everyone!

"Sex and the City" is probably more straight than gay, but the clothes worn by the foursome are enough for the series to be gay. Purchase the whole series and rate the clothes. For gay and lesbian nights, watch the episodes where Samantha gets it on with a lesbian artist, argues with her tranny neighbors or where Stanford kisses the queen doll collector. You can also probe

Cynthia Nixon's performances now that she has separated from the father of her kids and has a lesbian lover.

E-mail the author at marksablan_2bu


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