Saturday, June 10, 2006

Gerry’s Chicken Supreme
By Ruel S. De Vera
Inquirer
Last updated 08:16pm (Mla time) 06/09/2006
http://showbizandstyle.inq7.net/you/republicofcomics/view_article.php?article_id=4401


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 http://www.komikero.com/.

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