Friday, June 19, 2009

P1.00 comic book

To celebrate PRIVATE IRIS's 1st anniversary, Powerbooks will be selling all copies of "Private Iris" for only P1.00.

Only on June 20 at Powerbooks, Megamall Branch.

Learn more about PRIVATE IRIS at:

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

a report on the Komikon Summer Fiesta

Komikon Summer Fiesta sizzles
RIOT OF JOY By Ramon De Veyra
Updated May 31, 2009 12:00 AM

Despite the oppressive heat and humidity, dozens of intrepid comics fans trekked to UP’s Bahay ng Alumni last May 16 for the “Komikon Summer Fiesta,” braving the crowded lanes and lack of breathable air. Komikon is usually held around October or November, this was the first time they held it during summer. Speaking to some friends at the event, I learned that a Komikon is being planned for the latter part of the year, but this time in a bigger venue like Megamall, though plans might still change.

The first “Summer Fiesta” Komikon focused more on independent and self-publishers. It was a good idea. One of my frustrations with the annual Komikon is that because it has become the venue for independent publishers to debut new work, many of them become complacent by making only one new book a year.

I was actually toying with the idea of holding a separate comic convention-type event just to provide an excuse for creators to make another book. This saved me the trouble. Also, one comics show a year does not seem sufficient. I want more chances to see my fellow comics’ fans and creators to talk shop, catch up, and look for hidden gems in the long boxes of sellers. A lot of people came up with new work, some with modest printing jobs from offset printers, others literally stapled and folded themselves. Seeing these labors of love is heartening, even if I don’t always find myself interested in their subject matter. It shows a love for the medium that continues to grow, and seeks to show itself despite the lack of major financial support. Gerry Alanguilan showed an exquisite-looking Special Edition of the collected Elmer — a handmade hardcover in a slipcase with a sketch and card, with only seven copies made. Elbert Or had merchandise from his The More The Manyer series of books, including postcards and T-shirts.

Emil Flores, Ron Escultura and Guidong Reyes were there with Amerikanong Hilaw, which Emil told me about at the last Komikon.

Robert Magnuson showed some preview pages of an upcoming Anino graphic novel called Taguan, which looked like it could be the book of the year on art alone.

Mary Ranises, whose The Girl Who Turned Into A Fish was my find at the last con, unfortunately didn’t have a book out on time, but did manage to edit an anthology of works by other people. Sadly, it sold out before I arrived. She did show me original pages of her upcoming book, which looks very different from Girl, and is a refreshing and entirely welcome surprise. My favorite find this year was Josel Nicolas’ Bearkdowns, starring… well, a bear. I’m not familiar with Nicolas’ work, but I’m always excited and eager to see new talent, especially one whose style stands apart as his did in the sea of well-meaning-but-still-slightly-derivative titles. Impressively, in the same issue he goes through several style changes in the art for the different stories, and it’s very dense so I felt my money was well spent. Komikon still has its usual cons (pun intended). The layout can be confusing, with not enough space given to lanes for people to weave through. It’s stifling when the sun is doing its worst, and the programming still leaves much to be desired. Being assaulted by a cappella versions of ‘70s hits wasn’t my idea of proper accompaniment while browsing through the exhibitors’ area.

When I looked towards the stage some kind of Komikon Idol was going on, and it mystified me as to why. Turns out oneof the exhibitors was selling obviously pirated goods — this wasn’t the kind of thing I wanted to see in a show allegedly meant to showcase independent artists and creators.

This brazen disregard for intellectual property rights is antithetical to the spirit of the Komikon.

Finally, booth design was almost uniformly awful. Some people just don’t care: the ones trying to sell off old books, for example, and that’s fine. But exhibitors, creators, and publishers who’ve been to previous Komikons and will continue to attend other shows should be more creative in trying to catch the eye of passers-by and giving them a reason to stay and walk away with their wares, not just take it on faith and hope that each person who buys a ticket will look at every table. Still, despiteee all the discomfort, it was delightful to see so many people at what I thought would be a less-than-usual turnout. In this case I was glad to be wrong.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Anacleto & Manapul's works in DC COMICS

Written by Chuck Kim, Josh Williamson, Rich Fogel and others
Art by Mahmud Asrar, Adrian Syaf and others
Cover by Jay Anacleto

Written by Geoff Johns; co-feature written by Geoff Johns and Michael Shoemaker
Art by Francis Manapul, co-feature art by Clayton Henry
Covers by Francis Manapul

Superboy is back and living out his teenage years in Smallville. But all is not as it seems in Superman’s hometown. And while Conner reunites with his former girlfriend, Wonder Girl, to see if they have a future together, Lex Luthor and Brainiac form a partnership that will cause havoc throughout the DC Universe. But what do their plans have to do with Conner and the other students at Smallville High?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

ANG MASKOT (comic book review)

48-pages, black-and-white (P50.00)
Available at Comic Odyssey and Sputnik Comics

If I were to do the Hollywood-pitch for ANG MASKOT, I’d say : it’s WASTED meets ELMER which then crosses-over with CREST HUT BUTT SHOP

ANG MASKOT tells the story of what happens when you put a very angry man in a very cute, chicken mascot suit -- someone’s going to get hurt. (Thankfully, nobody gets killed, which is what sets it apart from “Wasted” and “Elmer”.)

The story starts with a guy wearing the chicken outfit and he’s seated on the sidewalk, outside of a McBird fast food store. The chicken’s head/helmet sits beside him, ogling at something in the distance. He’s smoking and realizes that his shift is about to begin and the first words out of his mouth is, “Siyet.”

He gets called in and is introduced as Jholeebird and the kids mob him.

He counts down his mandated 15 minutes, sweating and cursing while inside the chicken suit. At the end of his shift, he stands in the middle of the party, with hands raised up high, and we see an x-ray shot of the guy inside the suit: he’s got both middle fingers raised and he’s thinking, “ MALAYA NA `KO, MGA P#@NG-INA NYO!”

And just when he thought he’d be free of his feathery prison, the zipper gets stuck and he needs to spend the rest of the day in the suit.

So, we’ve got angry man stuck in a ridiculous looking chicken suit walking around the city. You just know he’s going to get into trouble.

As happy endings go, he does get out of the suit with a little help from a cast of characters. And as happy endings go, he realizes that he needed to get out of something else, more than just the chicken suit; which is where Macoy brings the story to a neat and heartwarming conclusion.

It is also great to see a local creator do a “pop comic” like this. A “pop comic”, as Warren Ellis defined it, is a finite story, a done-in-one, a wakasan-story, that even a non-comic book reader can appreciate. We need more stories like this, to get more people reading comics and to get more people reading locally produced comics.

Macoy’s art style uses simple, clean lines, reminding me of the art style used in some animation story boards (which made me think that this story would make for a great animated short film). His style also reminds me of Mike Kunkel’s BILLY BATSON AND THE MAGIC OF SHAZAM and Art Baltazar’s TINY TITANS. It’s the sort of art and story that can easily fit into an anthology like Image Comics’ FLIGHT. This kind of art is brings in something new in the local comic book scene.

I hope it won’t take Macoy long to finish and release his next story.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Balut in a Superhero’s Underpants

The Balut in a Superhero’s Underpants
by Budjette Tan

These days, the “Easter egg” has been given new meaning. It refers to the secret scenes and paths hidden in DVDs and video games. They’re the “in-jokes” left by the creators of movies and TV shows for their fans to discover.

If the Americans have their “Easter eggs”, we Filipinos have our “Balut eggs”. (Okay, I just made up that term, but it seemed appropriate anyway.) “Balut eggs” are those moments when Filipinos (or something Pinoy) suddenly pops up in foreign movies, TV shows, novels and comic books.

You know what I’m talking about, right? Like that scene in “Constantine”, starring Keanu Reeves, where the possessed girl says, “Papatayin natin siya!” (Seems like demons converse in Tagalog.) Pinoy speaking characters were also seen in movies like the maid in “Her Alibi”, the pirates in “The Life Aqautic”, and Rob Scheinder’s mom in “The Animal”. (I could also include every single Chuck Norris/ninja/Michael Dudikoff/B-movie shot here in the Philippines, but that would detract us from the point of this review.)

These “Balut eggs” have also been popping up in the panels of American comic books.

In “Black Panther”, one of Mephisto’s minions says, “Kumusta ka na?” (What’s up with these Tagalog-speaking demons?!)

In “The Copybook Tales”, written by Fil-Canadian J. Torres, the lead character gets a call from his young brother who refers to him as “kuya”. Torres’ upcoming graphic novel is called “Lola” and it’s about stories that were told to him by his grandmother; stories about the supernatural creatures of the Philippines.

In Lynda Barry’s “One!Hundred!Demons!”, she’s got an entire chapter devoted to her Filipino speaking grandmother, where she spells out the dialogue phonetically. You’ve got to read it out loud to understand what they were talking about. She’s even got a chapter where compare her boyfriend to “kuto”.

In the epic graphic novel “Kingdom Come”, Superman crashes into the United Nations building, sending people into a panic and someone from the crowd blurts out: “NANDIYAN NA ANG SIVA ULO! PAPATAYIN NIYA ULO!” (So, that was either a typo or some Filipino dialect that we’re not aware of … OR the guy was so shocked and surprised that he forgot how to speak Filipino properly.)

One of the earliest “Balut egg” I can remember was spotted in an issue of “Uncanny X-Men”, drawn by Filipino comic artist Whilce Portacio. In that story, we saw Colossus wearing a jacket with the word MAKULIT written on the back, as well as the Philippine flag. This, of course, got all the Pinoy fanboys excited. It was Whilce winking at us, telling everyone that there’s a Pinoy in Marvel bullpen.

We were all hoping that he’d introduce a Filipino mutant in the team, but that didn’t happen. He did, however, place a Pinoy, front and center, in the “Wetworks” team. That was guy was Grail, one of the team’s top assassins. He was a martial artists and an expert in Escrima, Arnis de Mano, and Kali. His real name was Joel Alonday (named after a friend of Whilce).

Years later, Whilce introduced the world to more characters and creatures from the Philippines through the comic book “Stone”, which starred the agimat-weilding Gerry Alan (named after Filipino comic book artist Gerry Alanguilan). Thanks to “Stone”, the Western audience got their tongue all in a twist trying to pronounce words like manananggal and duwende and tikbalang. The story was even set in the Philippines and showed familiar scenes like Megamall.

Around the same time Whilce and Gerry were drawing “Stone”, Leinil Francis Yu and Edgar Tadeo started drawing “Wolverine”. In one scene, Yu snuck in a bottle of White Castle Whisky, being drunk by one of Wolverine’s enemies.

In an “X-Men Annual”, also drawn by Yu, we got to see our favorite mutants munching on Chow King take-out food. (Which is weird, because the X-Men were supposedly in Hong Kong. Maybe Chow King had a mutant delivery guy who could teleport!)

Most recently, in “Secret Invasion”, Yu drew President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as one of the people who welcomed the invading Skrulls to our planet. We also got to see Captain Marvel and Marvel Boy fight in the parking lot of Ali Mall. It would’ve been interesting to see the MMDA try to arrest them for traffic obstruction. I can imagine Bayani Fernando saying, “I don’t care if you’re a captain! I’m the commissioner! And I’m more metro gwapo than you!”

Also seen running around the streets of Manila were members of G.I.JOE. Stalker, Roadblock, and Recondo were chasing after their target, with the help of Nestor, their Filipino driver. We also got to see Snake-eyes sneaking around Manila’s rooftops. I wonder if Nestor got to ask them, “Hey Joe! Wanna buy watch, Joe?”

Meanwhile, in Marvel Comics’ “Agents of A.T.L.A.S.”, Mt. Pinatubo erupts again and Sentry flies in just in time to rescue a damaged Philvocs helicopter. That particular issue was drawn by Pinoy artist Carlo Pagulayan.

In Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer’s STRANGE KISS, secret agent/magician Gravel traveled to one of the Hundred Islands to hunt down a scientist who had the brilliant idea of creating a zombie army. In the comic book, we saw Gravel riding a jeepney and drinking San Miguel Beer. He even met a waitress named Kori-- who was later eaten by the zombies. (I’m not so sure if that was meant to be a political statement.)

Comic book artist Harvey Tolibao is another guy who likes putting “Balut eggs” in his pages. In YOUNG AVENGERS, you can spot a billboard of Druid’s Keep, a local comic book store. In DARKHAWK, you’ll notice that the hero is wearing a Manny Pacquiao shirt. The Pac-Man is definitely the super-heroes’ hero, you know!!

In the pages of “The Invincible Iron Man”, writer Matt Fraction introduces Marvel’s first Filipino super-team: The Triumph Division. (Which resulted to a whole lot of jokes online, because Pinoys asked if the team all wore Triumph underwear.)

There was also some online debate about the authenticity of the setting and the heroes. In the story, terrorists disguised themselves as Buddhist monks, which allowed them to get close enough to the team and assassinate them. Some of the fanboys argued that there aren’t a lot of Buddhist monks in our country.

Iron Man artist, Salvador Larocca, at least accurately depicted our pot-bellied policemen, as well as, what looked like Quiapo Church blowing up.

The members of the Triumph Division were: Red Feather, St. George, Mighty Mother, Fighter One, The Wishing Man, The Great Mongoose and Anitun.

Iron Man and Thor were shown attending the funeral of the Triumph Division. Thor specifically came because of the death of Anitun, who turns out to be someone who had power over the wind and rain. A quick wiki search reveals that in Visayan and Tagalog folklore, there was a character named Anitun Tabu; believed to be a goddess who dwells in the sky.

Iron Man later returned to Manila to meet the new Triumph Division, now composed of the sons and daughters of the assassinated team; where he made this observation about these new super Pinoys:

“Interesting thing about super heroes in the Philippines—the legacies are familiar and run back centuries.

“The songs and daughters of these heroes will one day replace these heroes… they train for it their whole lives. They’re excited, nervous, eager, and full of energy.

“If they’re scared, they cover it with bravado, pride, and hope. Reminds me of the early days of the Avengers.

“The Philippines is in great hands. Long live The Triumph Division.”

With more and more Filipino comic book creators getting gigs in American comic book companies, maybe we’ll soon see a Pinoy hero fighting side-by-side Superman and Spider-Man. And maybe, when that Pinoy hero defeats Lex Luthor or the Green Goblin, he’ll say, “Sinong tatay mo?

In Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #6, we see someone wearing a it looks a Francis M. "Three Stars and the Sun" jacket.

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