Friday, October 31, 2014

Publishing my own komiks: ANG ILOG & DANTE

Today, Friday, October 31, I got the printed copies of Ang Ilog, marking a dream come true to be able to write and publish a comic book. Actually, by next week, I will have a second out in time for the year-end Komikon. It's a book titled, Dante.

First, Ang Ilog. This was something that dates all the way back to my childhood when I would spend my Christmas and summer vacations with my grandparents in Tarlac. There was a river next to the dike and my grandfather and I used to get on those rafts and paddle away. I had all these thoughts about kapres and the supernatural lurking in the trees and the woods nearby if not the water. But those figments of my imagination just as they were -- thoughts. That is until 2004 when in a two-week period, I penned scripts and short stories at Central Park in hopes of landing a writing gig at Marvel Comics. Joe Quesada once took a two-page proposal of mine for Quasar but I never heard from him (I waited for a year before I gave up all hope). Ang Ilog was one of those stories. 

When I attended the summer komikon for the first time in my life, an old friend Gerry Alanguilan told me that I should put out those stories that I always wanted to do. I have about seven of them in fact. I refined the stories and it wasn't until Indieket that I finally mustered the wherewithal to get them done. 

There is much to be learned from scripting and drawing sequential art as opposed to long rose and simple storyboarding (I am an advertising veteran who wrote copy and did art chores -- thumbnails and sketches for the visualizer). It's revealing and I tend to appreciate comic book writers more now. And that's something I will definitely work on in my succeeding works.

Nevertheless, seeing the actual comic book roll out from the printer and get a thumbs up from them -- it warms my heart. And I am excited. As a long time comic book fan (since I was three years old) and one who had things derailed 20 years ago, this one is a long time coming. 

As I said earlier, I have a second comic book coming out by November 10 and in time for the Komikon. It's titled, Dante that is drawn by the talented NiƱo Balita. 

Ang Ilog is about a journey of a young kid down the river outside familiar confines to sell produce and fruits that would enable them to buy medicines from the American soldiers encamped at Fort Stotsenberg in the early 1900s. Along the way he faces dangers from flesh-eating sirens to bandits to a nefarious river troll with only his wits to survive. It's a coming of ge story told in two parts. Book One sets up the story while Book Two goes into overdrive. I am releasing Ang Ilog in two formats -- regular and oversized formats and with English and Filipino versions. The regular size comic costs P80 while the oversized version is priced at P120!

Dante is about the son of Charon, the Ferryman of the River Styx who enjoys life more than transporting the dead to the Netherworld. Its mayhem and teenage angst amongst the dead and undead. No word yet on the pricing for this! Next week.

The cover to Dante.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Comic book collections I am trying to complete

Stuff I am trying to complete?
The Marv Wolfman-George Perez run on Teen Titans.
George Perez' run on Wonder Woman
pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Justice League of America
Mark Gruenwald's run on Captain America
Peter David's run on The Incredible Hulk
The Roger Stern run on the Amazing Spider-Man
Denny O'Neill's run on Daredevil

I used to have complete collections of these but lost them all during a typhoon. It's been tough trying to get them back. I really don't care about getting them in mint condition. I just want to have them. 

Halloween ComicFest & stories to scare you

Halloween ComicFest & stories to scare you
by rick olivares

Last Saturday, October 25, the second free comic book day was held across comic book specialty shops all over the world. Only this was called Halloween ComicFest; an event designed to bring in new readers to the world of comic books.

The major and independent publishers use this occasion to give away free and short comics that are either made-for-the-occasion stories or samplers of previous stories mostly with a horror/supernatural bent.

This is what I picked up (among titles I do not collect):

Max Brooks’ Extinction Parade #1 (Avatar Press Inc.) From the creator of World War Z comes a new imagining of the zombie apocalypse. As the undead gorge on whatever is left of the human race, that other race of the undead, the vampires, are upset that their food chain is dying off. So the vampires try to eradicate the zombie horde with the humans caught in between this hellish and nightmarish battle. The first five issues have been collected in trade paperback format. The free comic book features the entire first issue of this new best-selling series! Not for kids with all the blood and gore.

Hero Cats (Action Lab) These aren’t your ordinary house pets! Hero Cats of Stellar City are a super-powered team of cats who battle threats to humanity! In this free 10-page freebie (it is back-to-back with another Action Lab comic titles, “Princeless”), the cats’ imaginations run wild after a scary movie marathon at a local drive-in.

Rachel Rising (Abstract Studios) From Terry Moore, the creator of the indie comic book hit Strangers In Paradise comes something completely different. Rachel wakes up believing it’s a Wednesday only it’s a Friday. She’s been murdered and she aims to find out her killer. Moore provides a new cover to the reprint of the first issue that hopes to bring aboard new readers.

Scooby-Doo Team-up (DC Comics) Re-prints the first issue of the Scooby Gang’s team-ups with the various heroes of the DC Universe. In this special Halloween issue, Scooby and the gang team up with Batman and Robin to catch Man-Bat!

And a few more mini-comics:

Betty and Veronica (Archie Publications) Betty and Veronica plan to spend Halloween watching a screamfest of horror films. When Archie, Jughead, and Reggie plan to scare the girls, little do they know that he girls along with Veronica’s Aunt Gladys plan to flip the script on their mischievous pals.

Boom Studios Halloween Fright Fest (Boom Studios) Features stores from Adventure Time, Peanuts, and Fraggle Rock! Definitely for kids.

While the free stuff might be tame and not enough for those looking for some thing to scare the daylights out of them, then you might want to look for these titles.

30 Days of Nights (IDW Publishing)
No, this did not begin in the movies. This was a three-issue series published from August to October in 2002 by writer Steve Niles and artist Ben Templesmith. Not only did this mini-series give the creators much-needed popularity but it also gave the whole vampire milieu new life (pun intended).

For those who have been living inside the bat cave, 30 Days of Night is about a clan of vampires who descend to the small town of Barrow, Alaska where they have to endure 30 days of night at a certain time of the year. The vampires use the occasion to sow carnage among the townsfolk. Sherriff Eben Olemaun saves the town by injecting himself with vampire blood to fight off the blood suckers. This features one of the best and most original endings ever.

Afterlife with Archie (Archie Publishing)
After Jughead’s pet, Hot Dog is killed in a hit and run (by Reggie of all people), Sabrina brings the dog back to life. But the spell goes awry and Hot Dog begins turning Riverdale’s folks into zombies beginning with… Jughead. It’s mayhem but not in the traditional Archie day-glo atmosphere way. This is not your mommy’s Archie Comics.

Wytches (Image Comics)
From Batman writer Scott Snyder comes one of the most terrifying comics in a long time (and that is saying a lot considering only one issue has been put out). They don’t fly on broomsticks. Nor do they go to Hogwarts. They live in the woods and will freak you out. The Blair Witch Project of comics!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

At the Halloween ComicFest at Fullybooked

Each year, Halloween ComicFest is  celebrated at your local comic shop the Saturday before Halloween. On this day, you can walk into any participating comic shop and get a FREE Halloween ComicFest comic!

And of course there's CosPlay! These guys below doing the Spider-verse are simply amazing!

Michael Cho’s Shoplifter is more than just chick-lit

Michael Cho’s Shoplifter is more than just chick-lit
by rick olivares

I just had a 'why do you do this?' Moment, you know?

Michael Cho's 'Shoplifter' might be chick-lit but like The Devil Wears Prada or even Persepolis, the message is for everyone.

The danger of walking into the trap of boredom or a routine is the capacity for stupidity. After six years working as a copywriter for an unnamed ad agency, Corinna Park is bored and burned out. She deals with life in the rat race by waxing toxic during a brainstorming session. She turns anti-social and shoplifts magazines just for kicks.

She becomes her own worst enemy. But interestingly, her misdeeds also provide the path to coming to terms with who she is. By disengaging from what is causing her unhappiness and getting on with what she believes she needs to do with her life -- and that’s to write her own books – she finds freedom and happiness. Thus, bringing a smile to her lips that had all but evaporated.

While it isn't a complex storyline as Prada, the road to ruin is the same. And yet amid all the loneliness, there’s a glimmer of hope and a window of opportunity.

There’s a part of me that wonders of Cho should have extrapolated a little more on Corinna’s week from hell but why belabor the obvious?

Drawn in two colors – the pink color is daring in itself -- this 96-page graphic novel is a beautiful story that reminds us while pursuing our own dreams is important, the grind of corporate life is a necessary part of the journey for there are lessons and experiences to be learned.

Though limited to a more minor role, the cashier at the mini-mart where Corinna shoplifts magazines, has that impact of that copier store clerk (played by Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell) in Jerry Maguire who said, “That’s how you become great, man. Hang your balls out there.”

The cashier lets on to Corinna that he has known all along that she has been shoplifting. But he knows she is a good person who is doing something stupid. Sometimes, when things grow dark around you, it’s that gentle nudge that works. And that’s the turning point for Corinna.

And the cool thing about Shoplifter is Cho doesn’t present any villains you’ll want to hate like Miranda Priestly of Prada or Bob Sugar of Jerry Maguire. The characters are believable, real, and even sympathetic.

And that’s the triumph of Michael Cho’s stellar first effort.


I purchased my copy of SHOPLIFTER from Gosh Comics in London. I am sure you can order this from FullyBooked or even Comic Odyssey. It is published by Pantheon Books. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Notes: On writing letters to comic books

As a kid, I wrote lots of letters to comic books that I read. It seemed every month guys like T M Maple had their letters printed in every book. Even letter hacks were like rock stars to impressionable young comic book readers like me. It was such a disadvantage living in the Philippines with snail mail taking forever to arrive in the editorial offices of Marvel or DC. That changed in 1994, before the publication of Aster by Entity Comics, Billy Lim-it of CATS asked me if I wanted to write a letter based on the ashcan so it would be printed. Of course, I leapt at the chance and felt great that I finally had a letter printed. 

Not soon after that, I had another letter published… first in the pages of Nexus: Executioner's Song and Big Bang Comics. Then finally I got a couple of letters printed in a Marvel Comic -- Daredevil and Fantastic Four. That was the last of it as over the next several years my interest in comics waned. I still read them but wasn't too into them. It was partially because of work and because of other interests.

In the past year or so, my love for the medium had returned and I plunged back into it wholeheartedly. In doing so, I started writing letters again. Imagine how cool it is to have them printed on newer books like The Mercenary Sea, Low, and Manifest Destiny. That makes it three Image Comics in a row and four total. And what makes it even more cool is that Rick Remender, writer for Low, used my suggestion for the book's letter page (I recommended, Lowdown).

As a fan who only recently decided to start publishing my own comic books again, writing letters to my fave books is part and parcel of the whole cycle. If you love the medium, you love the medium. Now it would be a kick to have one published in the pages of Uncanny X-Men. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MMA star Brand Vera hopes to attend local Komikon

MMA star Brand Vera hopes to attend local Komikon
by rick olivares

About two months ago, we spoke with Portland Trailblazer Robin Lopez who is an unabashed comic book fan. Imagine our surprise when we learned that MMA star Brandon Vera is another hardcore comic book geek.

When you talk to Vera, you will notice that he peppers his sentences with words like “zap” or “send them down with a sickening thud.” Or at times, he will even wonder aloud if a zombie apocalypse will weed out the bad guys so the good may finally claim the earth.

Vera laughs. “I said all of that, huh?”

The 6’2” MMA fighter now with ONE FC is massive comic book and fan of The Walking Dead. “One of the perks of living in San Diego (California) is I get to go to the annual Comicon (Comics Convention that is arguably the biggest in the world).”

The Incredible Hulk is one of his all-time favorite characters with the story arcs of Peter David and Bruce Jones as one of his best. You know the saying, ‘You won’t like me when I’m angry?’ Yeah, that’s from the television series of the Hulk, brother. But it’s still the Hulk.”

One of his best friends is an artist for DC Comics. “I love going to the Comicons, man. Reading all that stuff, seeing the Cosplay, the anime… there’s a lot to like. I’m like a kid in there.”

When informed that the November Komikon (this coming November 15 at the Unilab Bayanihan Center along Pioneer Avenue) is the biggest in the country, Vera got all excited. All of a sudden, he didn’t look like this tall and bad fighter but that kid who read the Fantastic Four and Batman while growing up. “I gotta make sure I am here,” he said. “A Komikon here in Manila? This is something I have to see and be here for. This is just mind-blowing. My hair’s standing up (even the ones I don’t have on my head.”

The Komikon is held twice a year in Manila. There’s the summer event and the year-ender that is even bigger. It features many of the works of current Filipino artists working on Marvel, DC, Image, and other American comic book companies as well as many other local independent creators.

Comic books are something Vera and his two other brothers got into as kids and the passion has never left the Fil-Am MMA fighter. When asked how he is able to keep a composed self in spite of being let go by the Ultimate Fighting Championship after eight years with them and going through a painful divorce, Vera simply says points to his father as a source of strength and that “cracking is simply out of the question. I’m a super hero, brother.”

But Vera isn’t one living a fantasy world. His love for the medium (remember The Walking Dead is started out as a popular comic book) opened him up to reading other genres. “Yeah, it’s not simply kids’ stuff. It’s really grown that it can be read by people of all ages.”

He admits to also being a massive fan of the television series, The Walking Dead. “I missed the past couple of episodes because I have been traveling but when I get back to the States, I really have to catch up on what I have missed… Don’t tell me what I have missed…”

Vera says that his two favorite characters are Michonne and Darryl who are respectively played by Danai Gurira and Norman Reedus. Darryl’s so bad ass, man. And Michonne? At first I didn’t like here but she kind of grew on me. She’s now one of my faves.”

“I know I am asking too much and it probably won’t happen but I hope they don’t kill off any more of the characters,” added Vera. “But what a series? It really says a lot about people who remain the biggest danger even in the zombie apocalypse.”

Monday, October 20, 2014

Doomboy creator Tony Sandoval replies to my message about metal music & Doomboy

From Doomboy creator Tony Sandoval on the music he was listening to while writing & drawing Doomboy: I have been fan of metal ever since I can remember. I guess I was pretty young when I began listening to that music. At the time I was writing Doomboy, I was listening to Swallow the Sun (from Finland), Mournful Congregation (from South Africa) and some other death and doomy bands. Well, Doomboy has many autobiographical details, but I can´t say its totally about me. A lot of authors, painters, and musicians influenced me. The list is long.

Cheers from Switzerland!

Check out my review of DOOMBOY from Magnetic Press (click on the link below)