Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Artist Rian Gonzales’ work on Marvel Comics’ Amazing Mary Jane

Artist Rian Gonzales’ work on Marvel Comics’ Amazing Mary Jane
By Rick Olivares

Rising cover artist Rian Gonzales has her work featured in Marvel Comics’ The Amazing Mary Jane #4 (the girlfriend and wife of Spider-Man’s Peter Parker).

Gonzales’ cover art debuted with Betty and Veronica in 2016 and since then she has seen her stylish art adorn the covers of Josie and the Pussycats, Jem and the Holograms, Marvel Rising, Spider-Geddon, and Venom.

In her latest published work, she depicts Mary Jane Watson getting dolled up by miniature versions of Spider-Man’s villains such as Kraven the Hunter, the Vulture, Doctor Octopus, and Electro.

“It’s always fun to be able to do iconic characters such as Mary Jane Watson. After all, as a young comic book reader, Spider-Man was one of my favorites,” said Gonzales during a book signing at Comic Odyssey at Eastwood Mall last Saturday, January 11, “I know it’s just a cover or a variant cover, but it is a start. It feels good when people collect your art.”

Gonzales style is a candy-themed style that while appearing to be feminine, appeals to all audiences for their striking vibrancy.

“Getting to do covers isn’t an easy one,” shared Gonzales between book signings and sketches by fans. “There has to be the right moment for the book and even the right feel to what is going on.”

Gonzales’ work will next appear on Sabrina, the Archie character who has returned to popularity with its horror-themed comic book revamp in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina n 2014 and its wildly successful Netflix series. “That should be out soon. Probably around March or April. Then I have a couple of more works for Marvel that I cannot talk about right not. But it will be worth the wait.”

The Amazing Mary Jane #4 and back issues of Rian Gonzales’ work can be purchased at Comic Odyssey or through Filbar’s

Monday, January 13, 2020

2020 31 Days of Comics Challenge - Great Holiday Comic Starman #27

2020 31 Days of Comics Challenge - Great Holiday Comic
Starman #27
Starman has to be one of my all-time favorite comics. Although Jack Knight isn’t technically a Golden Age superh-hero (I love all these Golden Age stories), he is the son of Ted Knight, the original Starman. 

Writer James Robinson, who wrote one of the greatest stories ever in The Golden Age (although an Elseworlds tale), has the knowledge and respect for these characters and Starman is a love letter to those halcyon days.

Now, Christmas stories are pretty hard to write. Many of them are really fluff pieces. But Starman #27 isn’t.

There are two stories weaved into one here. The O-Dare family (a family of cops) in Opal City prepare Christmas for their extended family while in the other story, Jack Knight, who inherited the mantle from his older brother, David, and father, Ted, helps a mall Santa Claus find the memory of his lost family. 

It is a poignant story and only shows the heart that Jack has; one of the aspects that endeared me to this character and comic book.

It is a contrast of stories on this special evening and I’ll say they do have a lot of heart.

Friday, January 10, 2020

2020 31 Days of Comics Challenge - A Comic That Totally Blew Your Mind Daredevil #227

2020 31 Days of Comics Challenge - A Comic That Totally Blew Your Mind
Daredevil #227
By Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli
I have read ten thousands and thousands of comic books in my lifetime. There have been a of comics that blew me away – the Neal Adams X-Men were some of the first but that was because of his awesome art. I’d say Uncanny X-Men #107 with the introduction of the Shiar Imperial Guard. Crisis On Infinite Earths also blew me away at certain parts. The Ultimates are certainly a comic that had my mouth agape. But if there is one comic storyline that I never saw coming it was Daredevil #227 that kicked off what is now known as the Born Again Saga.

From almost every page I was going like, “Oh, crap!”

Karen Page turns into a junkie. Sells out Matt Murdock.
The prose that Frank Miller wrote with Daredevil on the rooftops.
He wakes up one morning and his electricity has been turned off.
His account is frozen.
A cop testifies that Matt Murodck committed perjury.
Glorianna O’Breen breaks up with Matt.
Matt’s apartment blows up. And Matt knows it’s the Kingpin behind all this.

With every page turn there was this feeling of dread that I felt. Now I read this when this first came out and it was pure agony to wait for the next issue. What was going to happen? How will Matt/DD survive this?

I must have read the entire saga over a hundred times in my lifetime and I can quote lines and conversations from the entire series. When I read it today, it still has that same effect that it did all those long years ago. Right away, I knew I held a special comic in my hands. 

There were no Diamond Previews during this time. No internet. No promos. Nothing. Just pure storytelling. A sleeper that no one saw comic a mile away even if Miller had revitalized Daredevil.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

2020 31 Days of Comics Challenge - Your Comfort Comic The Rocketeer

2020 31 Days of Comics Challenge - Your Comfort Comic
The Rocketeer 
The late Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer from Pacific Comics to Comico to Dark Horse Comics are my comfort reading material.

I wasn’t fully into indie comics during my high school and college days. It seemed such an unknown thing for me then. I was intrigued by The Elementals that were sold at this stall at the top floor of the old Virra Mall. Nexus practically scream at me on the racks of Filbar’s – buy me. I held off because they didn’t seem as slickly packaged by the Big Two of Marvel and DC. 

When I saw Pacific Presents #2 at the cheap bins of Booksale at the old Fiesta Carnival, I flipped. What a cover – someone holding a jetpack but his shadow was completely different. 

It was only 10 bucks so I bought it. And I was immediately hooked. Set in 1939 right before the world plunged into a global conflagration, it was a simple adventure story that hooked me. It reminded me of those old Time and Life magazines that my grandfather collected and him of course. He was of that generation and I could really picture those dime-store Indians, Lucky Strikes, Bazooka Joes, pin-up girls, and moonshine bottles. 

It took me a long time to complete all eight issues of Dave Stevens’ The Rocketeer. And I own every version from the singles issues to all the collected editions, hardbound tomes, and even the movie adaptations. And I have the massive Artist’s Edition from IDW that cost an arm and a leg. I even have the 3-D version with an audio recording! And that film adaptation? I have the Laser Disc, DVD, Blu-Ray, VHS, VCD, DVD, and pirated copy. I have the first ever toy from ReAction to the Funko Pops. 

When I interviewed British actor Paul Bettany who played the Vision on the Avengers films, I had to ask him about how it feels to be married to an actress who came out also in a “superhero” film? That of course is his lovely wife and my eternal crush Jennifer Connelly who played Jenny (they changed the name from the comics’ Bettie) in the film version of The Rocketeer.

Reading this always brings me back to my teenage years. They remind me of my grandfather who lived through the years set in the comic book. And they too remind me that good writing and lovely art are simply timeless.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Rest in Peace, Gerry Alanguilan

My relationship and friendship with Gerry Alanguilan is one of what could have beens.
We formed a group back in 1990 with the hopes of producing a comic book. We got half-way there when two incidents prematurely ended our dreams. Even as Gerry moved on to bigger things, we remained friends and I oft visited him at Starfire Studios in Balete Drive. 
When I returned from a lengthy sojourn abroad, it was Gerry who urged me to finally release my own comics books which I did for a few years before I stopped (I will return in 2020). He was supposed to draw my comic, Dante (that was eventually illustrated by Nino Balita), but his pro comics work got in the way. He did promise to eventually work on something for me.
A few weeks ago, we planned for a trip to his komiks museum in his beloved San Pablo, but we first postponed because of a typhoon and then because of the last komikon. We figured it would be after this Christmas except while I will make that trip to Laguna, it will be to see him off.
So it hurts, you know. It’s always, but not quite. This is why you should never put off things and do them because you will never know if it is that last parting.
Gerry and I go way back. We met in the old Filbar’s along New York Street in Cubao. We were looking at Marc Silvestri’s work on Uncanny X-Men (The Fall of the Mutants storyline) but bonded over the old Chris Claremont-John Byrne stories of the same comic book, and Daredevil (particularly the Frank Miller stories). 
Eventually, we formed Kressh Comics, a group that included Mark Del Rosario, Jaime Fornoles, Richie Ramos, Sandy Gonzaga, Carl Alagar, Ariel Atienza, Oliver Pulumbarit, and others. Later on, Francis Magalona and Michael V joined the gang (and that is another story).
Gerry oft came by my old apartment in Cubao. He’d be there twice, or thrice a week along with Mark Del Rosario, Jaime Fornoles (who I invited for that trip to San Pablo a few weeks ago), Richie, Sandy, Carl, and others. Sometimes, we’d hang out at his house outside UST and work on stories or just drink and tell stories. He related his struggles trying to please his parents and his desire to draw comics professionally. 
It was at my apartment where we mostly met and hung out. We had this balcony where we’d all kick back our shoes and talk. I tell you, that was the life! We had so much fun. 
One time, in the fading sunlight, we were there drinking sodas and some beers with some snacks to go. "Man, imagine what we could do," wondered Gerry. "Yeah," I answered. Two of us dreaming.
One time, Gerry showed us all his rejection letters from Marvel and DC Comics. In spite of that, we were so proud of him (for having tried). But we all knew that he was talented (the most talented among us as well) and that he would eventually make it. It was there where he first drew Timawa and showed me and Jaime his early work on Wasted.
I will not forget that day that he arrived and showed us the first pages of that work that would be Wasted. “I know you might not like this,” I distinctly remember him saying, “Because this isn’t super-hero comics.” 
Jaime and I plopped down on the sofa to read that first story. I loved it. I loved it so much that I featured it in the pages of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. Gerry reciprocated that love by reprinting the article in the first ever collection of Wasted. 
Those single Xeroxed copies of all the issues of wasted were some of my most treasured comics. I had them and brought them with me to the United States. I hand carried them when I came back home. Sadly, I lost them to Ondoy (that was a crushing blow to me in many ways). 
How deep was that friendship? Gerry was more than a guest; a real friend of the family. He was there during my wedding and for the baptism of my first born son. When my marriage fell apart, Gerry was so angry at me. He urged me to repair it as quickly as possible. Truthfully, that frayed my relationship with him although we repaired it over time. 
As our lives moved on in different arenas – Gerry in comics and his YouTube stardom and me in media, we occasionally remained in touch talking about music, film, and the initial thing that bonded me and him – comics.
When I saw Jonas Diego’s post yesterday about Gerry’s being in the ICU, I immediately got in touch with the former. I knew deep inside that this wasn’t good, and yet, I prayed for his return to good health. I awoke around early morning as my phone kept pinging. Friends were tagging me about Gerry’s passing. How do you return to sleep after that?
My mind kept racing to what could have been and never getting to finish what we set out to do. And that hurts. Doubly hurts.
All that I have left are pictures, his signed comics, and that bit of original piece of art from our Kressh comics days that pre-dates anything else he published. But does that even matter?
I guess not.
Gerry’s passing hurts. The what ifs and should have done this in particular.
As I sat down in my work station, my mind wandered back to the day that we met inside the old Filbar’s that we loved so much. “X-Men fan?” he asked as I leafed through that issue of Uncanny X-Men #227 (Go Tell the Spartans). “Yes, very much,” I answered. 
And we quickly realized that we grew up around the same time and read all the same comics. The next week, he brought to the store his copy of Uncanny X-Men #137. I brought that and my Neal Adams issues of the X-Men. We went to the eatery next to Filbar’s and has some sodas and pancit and talked about what the story meant for us for the next two hours.
Man, you should have seen how we emoted that time over the “death” of Jean Grey. And on how the Daredevil Born Again saga (that inspired Kressh Comics and its name) touched us to our very core.
Two lads with dreams in our minds and passion in our hearts.
I am going to miss you so much my old friend.
Hopefully, next time we get to do what we set out to do.
Your grieving friend.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

6 Comics to get from Komikon Grande

6 Comics to get from Komikon Grande
by rick olivares

The last major local comic book convention has come and gone with dozens and dozens of creators showcasing their latest works at Komikon Grande (November 23-24, 2019) at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City.

Here are in our opinion, are some of the titles that you should pick up (they will be available in local comic book stores after Komikon Grande or via their respective Facebook pages).

Kenkoy Klasiks: Album ng Mga Kabalbalan (Velasquez Characters Komiks)
Only 90 copies of this special edition were printed and they sold out fast. I am told that a regular edition will be out before the month ends and should be available wherever local komiks are sold.

The apo of the late Tony Velasquez, the man called, “The Father of Filipino Komiks” produced this comic strip back in the pages of Liwayway magazine 90 years ago, and Ian thought it was not only a great way to remember his Lolo but to also reintroduce this character in what was literally, the funnies.

This is a great title to have in anyone’s collection as you will feel the nostalgia (yes, reading it dates the strips because this was during the American Colonial Period) but also the pride at having our own strip. If you like those classic American strips such as The Katzenjammer Kids, Gasoline Alley, Blondie, and Dick Tracy, then Kenkoy is worth adding to your comics collection.

Ang Mga Huling Awit ng Digmaan (Point Zero Comics)
Jon Zamar is a veteran writer and artist and despite his long involvement in the scene remains under the radar. I will say this. He soldiers on even against all trends, he sticks to his guns and stories. And he has brought artists David Sysing (who illustrated Ang Lakambini ng Kahilwayon) and Brian Balondo (who worked in the second chapter Ang Mga Bihag sa Pulang Lupa) whose respective crackles with energy.

If you liked Warlands or Elfquest, then check out Ang Mga Huling Awit ng Digmaan.

Ugh #5 (Ugh Comics)
When Hulyen first released Ugh Comics, I raved about it for its irreverence and sarcastic view on growing up and life. This was our Beavis and Butthead. Our Reality Bites even. At some point, I thought the magic wore off. But Ugh #5 finds Hulyen once more in her ornery irascible self. I thought by expounding her strips and not forcing them to end in a single page or a few panels.

I am an Ugh hipster.

Tales from the Kingdom of Tundo Book One 
A compilation of the first four issues of writer-artist Mark del Rosario’s epic alternative mythology. This fantasy epic is everything we loved about local folklore mashed with the stories mark grew up reading from The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia to name some while adding regional elements (Hindu and Buddhist beliefs). 

It is an epic in the making with loads of potential.

The Children of Bathala Volume One (Nautilus Comics)
Some stories are sacred. And we shudder to think when creators deem it time for a sequel. It didn’t work with The Dark Knight Returns and I am not crazy about anything that they have done as a prequel or sequel for Watchmen. I wondered about that too when I heard that master storyteller Arnold Arre was cooking up a sequel to his beloved tome, The Mythology Class. In fact, he didn’t just have one sequel, but five.

If The Children of Bathala is the result, then my fears have been allayed. Arre’s work here is the best that he has done. This is the best artwork he has done in his career. 

Two decades after the events of Mythology Class, our cast of characters are older and the experience of their previous adventure had faded over the years as their respective lives have moved on. But new visitors from the magical world of Ibalon have arrived and a new danger and journey unfolds.

Strap yourself in for this ride.

Bulwagan ng Misteryo (Kikomachine Komix)
It is so easy to pace any work by Arnold Arre or Manix Abrera into this list. But they aren’t living on their reputation. They are the consummate and prolific storytellers and they are once more back with some terrific work.

I love the format of Manix’ new work. It is square-bound in the manner of your favorite Calvin and Hobbes editions. It makes the art easier to look at and the words easier to read. 

When I first read Manix’ work, I thought of Gary Larson’s The Far Side. And while there are differences, the imagination, wit, and madness (I mean that in a good way) are the same.

This latest work is mind-bending.

Additional titles to pick up: Trese Deviations: Dakila & Fr. Trese from David Hontiveros and Marvin del Mundo, and D-13 #2 from Ian Velasquez and Rico Rival.