Thursday, June 22, 2006

Y is for Yu, Leinil Francis


Y is for Yu, Leinil Francis
B: 1978, Metro Manila, the Philippines

Jammy git. That's the phrase that comes to mind when thinking about Leinil Francis Yu. Look at him! He's had successful stints on big-name US comics such as WOLVERINE, X-MEN and SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT, not to mention creator-owned work such as HIGH ROADS and SILENT DRAGON. He's massively in demand as an illustrator and designer, with his spaceship designs turning up in SERENITY. And he's not yet twenty nine years old. You'd think he'd made some kind of deal with the devil to secure his position. The reality is more prosaic, of course - it's a combination of hard work, raw talent, and good luck.

Yu has been working in comics for close to ten years. His friend and sometime collaborator Gerry Alanguilan had punted his work in the direction of Whilce Portacio, who was sufficiently impressed to offer him work at Wildstorm. Yu dropped everything and went to work with Portacio, learning as much as he could there. Unfortunately, the promised Wildstorm work didn't materialise, but his portfolio was passed to Marvel, who immediately put him to work on WOLVERINE.

The fact that his first professional assignment was on one of Marvel's flagship characters is evidence enough that he leads a charmed life, and that's only cemented by the fact that he then moved on to work on X-MEN with Chris Claremont as part of the Revolution revamp of the mutant line. Following this, he got a shot at creator-owned glory with the action adventure story HIGH ROADS, the first Cliffhanger title to be produced by someone other than one of the imprint's three founders.

It seems that Yu is one of these remarkably lucky fellas who don't have to seek out work - instead, editors come to him. He was paired with Mark Waid on SUPERMAN: BIRTHRIGHT, now regarded by DC as the official history of Superman's youth, and then with LOST writer David Lindelof on ULTIMATE WOLVERINE/HULK. He's also recently completed SILENT DRAGON, a brutal and exciting action story about duty, honour and guys getting their heads chopped off, with co-creator Andy Diggle. Once he wraps up on his Ultimate work, he's set to do an issue of the CIVIL WAR tie-in to NEW AVENGERS.

The sky's the limit for Yu, it seems, and you'd have to break a lot of mirrors to counteract the good fortune he's rightly had.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Gerry’s Chicken Supreme
By Ruel S. De Vera
Last updated 08:16pm (Mla time) 06/09/2006

WHEN Gerry Alanguilan decides he’s going to pull something you’ve never seen before, he does it. Though he’s a top-shelf comic creator whose provided inks for characters like Wolverine and Superman, it’s his personal projects that really push the limits of the panel. When he decided to write and draw a comic book series about a spurned lover’s homicidal rampage through Metro Manila, he churned out the ultra-violent tale of catharsis and carnage called "Wasted," that rare story where readers find themselves cheering for the gun-toting madman.

Now, Alanguilan’s got a chicken for you. Not just any chicken, but the ultimate chicken. Hot on the racks is Elmer Book 1, the first part of a four-issue series from Alanguilan’s newly conjured Komikero Publishing. In it, Alanguilan explores a parallel Philippines, almost exactly like our own, except that, somehow, the chickens have developed human intellect and the ability to speak, becoming a part of Filipino society. "Despite the apparent humor in the overall concept, that of a world of talking chickens, it really is one of the most serious stories I’ve ever attempted to write and draw," he explains. "It’s an idea and a story that I feel very strongly about and I didn’t want to compromise it by removing some of its edge."
The egg behind this chicken finds its origins as far back as when Alanguilan was 13, when he had a pet chicken named Solano, as recalled in his afterword: "I admit I hadn’t been as good as I should have been to my chicken, so when he suddenly attacked me shortly before he died, it made me think that they may well have emotions and could think well enough to want to poke my eye out."

This groundbreaking comic creator doesn’t pull his punches with this title that, like Wasted, is for mature readers. In the opening sequence, readers will realize that the chicken--Jake Gallo--is apparently pulling some self-loving while looking at Internet porn. "The opening scene is definitely quite risqué, but I wanted to open on a strong note, establishing that in this book, anything can happen," he says. "I also wanted to establish quite quickly the idea that chickens have indeed become as humans, and very, very few normal young lonely males would not be, even superficially, attracted to a half naked young woman, or man, if your beak pecks that way."

That chickens must deal with the problems of regular people, as well as the problems that have to do with being chickens in a man’s world goes to the heart of Elmer’s plumage. In the first issue, we accompany Jake as he tries to apply for a job, goes all pollo loco and then has to return home because something is wrong with his father--the titular chicken Elmer. Aside from the wiseacre dialogue, savor Alanguilan’s insanely detailed black-and-white art, more elaborate than anything he’s done so far. Inspired by the idea behind Elmer, Alanguilan’s artist friends sent their own chicken fan art, and Alanguilan was so impressed with the unsolicited submissions, he imbedded them in some scenes as posters and paintings, something he plans to continue doing in the upcoming issues.

In coming issues, Alanguilan promises clues as to what enabled these chickens to evolve as well as reveals the saga of Elmer in earnest. Keep an avian eye out for Elmer Book 2 which should be out by the end of August.

Beyond Elmer, fans of the San Pablo-based Alanguilan’s work will see his collaboration with fellow Pinoy penciller Leinil Yu with the July release of the Silent Dragon trade paperback from DC/Wildstorm. "I’m also writing and drawing a humor strip for Mwahaha! called Johnny Balbona, and a full color science fiction story told two pages a month in the pages of Fudge Magazine. I’m doing bit work for US companies here and there, but for the moment, I’m concentrating on my local projects."

The world of Elmer is a complicated cockpit full of contradictions, including the fact that Jake, seething with outrage at being the victim of anti-chicken sentiment, disapproves of his sister May’s fiancé because the fiancé is a human. "Yeah. Get over it," Jake thinks to himself. "It’s so f__king easy to say."

Experience the hatching of a new avian age with Elmer Book 1, a profound and profane perspective on a planet gone fowl. "I’m not a vegetarian, but as I grow older I’ve realized the wisdom of eating less meat and more fruits and vegetables," Gerry Alanguilan explains. "But yes, I do cook and eat chicken. It’s really one of my favorites."

Elmer Book 1 is available at Comicquest in SM Megamall, Comics Odyssey in Robinson’s Place, Malate and Druid’s Keep in Magallanes. For more information, log on to

Friday, June 09, 2006

Filipino comic book creators find time to blog
First posted 11:57pm (Mla time) June 06, 2006
By Erwin Lemuel Oliva /

Jonas Diego ( may not be the first Filipino to convert his comic books into a blog, but this artist is one of the prolific bloggers who has religiously posted hand-drawn comic strips online.

“I did some research and I found that I was not the first to blog comics. Someone beat me to it by about three months,” San Diego said in an online chat with

He started blogging in 2004 after his friend Gerry Alanguilan convinced him it was a worthwhile activity. In 2005, he decided to become a “serious” blogger. He’s currently studio director of Interactive Art Services Manila Inc.

“I was trying to improve my writing, and blogging seemed like a good idea because having an audience (of sorts then) will put a bit of pressure on me to get better,” he said.

One of the recent comic strips of Diego is titled “Graphic Detail,” which deals with funny situations, real-life people in funny situations, and parodies of movies like Lord of the Rings.

“It started out as a comic strip on the local geek culture, but over the months it evolved into something else,” he added. It now features Sam and Samantha, with Sam being Diego’s alter ego -- a geek comic artist, and Samantha, the perfect woman according to a geeks' taste.

All comic strips featured in his blog are drawn by hand, then dialogues and some other details are added using Photoshop software, Diego said.

But he also delves on various topics including business, technology, the mobile industry, personal experiences and insights, and comic books.

“Despite being a comic book creator I try not to lock myself in a certain genre, so to speak. Comics have been part of my life ever since I was young. When I was younger, I used to like superheroes then as I got older I started getting into mature comic books,” he said, adding that he loves the works of Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.

There are other comic book creators who blog in the Philippines. They include Elbert Or (, Reginald Ting (, and Ariel Atienza (, among others, according to Diego.

Comic book creators as bloggers target a specific audience.

“I was finally able to find an audience for my particular brand of work. It's not a mainstream audience mind you…But as an artist, an audience is always appreciated,” Diego said.

The local comic book creator does not currently have serious plans of leaving his day job to pursue blogging seriously.

“The moment I stop having fun with this is the moment I stop doing it,” he added.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin