Wednesday, September 23, 2015

AsiaPop to return to Manila in 2016

AsiaPop to return in 2016
by rick olivares

We spoke with Rita Magnus, General Manager of AsiaPop Comicon at Universal Events & Entertainment and she had good words for the first ever international comics convention in Manila last September 17-20 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

"The first-ever AsiaPOP Comicon Manila (APCC) was a resounding success,” related Magnus. "We, at Universal Events & Entertainment, remain overwhelmed by the positive response from more than 29,000 pop culture lovers across the region. It was a great four-day spectacle for the fans who came to support and experience the biggest pop culture gathering to hit Southeast Asia.”

Manila was chosen to host the inaugural comics convention in Asia because of the Filipinos’ passion for pop culture. Added Magnus, "We chose Manila to be the venue for this mega event because we know that the fan base for everything pop, geeky, and entertainment is big in this country. Filipinos are known to be very passionate and expressive. And they did not disappoint. They showed up and embraced our concept. And we are more than happy with the outcome of APCC Manila 2015!”

The four-day event featured comic book stars like David Mack, David Yardin, Whilce Portacio, and Leinil Yu to name a few alongside actors Paul Bettany, Nathalie Emmanuel, Colton Haynes, and Jeremy Shada also to name a few. Cosplay superstars Alodia Gosiengfiao, LeeAnna Vamp, Monika Lee, and Vampy Bit Me were also some of the guests who drew massive crowds.

Magnus also revealed that because of the resounding success of the APCC, next year’s offering is going to be bigger. “APCC is going to be an annual gathering and the succeeding installments are definitely going to be bigger as we plan to bring in more stars, artists, and surprises for everyone’s pop-culture pleasure. This is our way of making real the fans’ dreams of experiencing a comicon of this caliber! So yes, we will see you again next year for AsiaPOP Comicon Manila 2016! We are all going to be in full geek mode!”

One name floated around by an event insider for next year’s AsiaPop include comic book artist John Cassaday who made a name for himself pencilling Planetary, Astonishing X-Men, Captain America, and lately, Star Wars. 

Our insider also said that actor Chris Evans who plays Captain America in the Marvel Comics films was initially slated to top-bill the first AsiaPop Comicon but was unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

AsiaPop Comicon: Filipinos & Singaporeans doodle on Mini-Cooper.

Filipinos & Singaporeans doodle on Mini-Cooper.
by rick olivares

One of the incredible highlights of the just-concluded AsiaPop Comicon was the live doodling on a pair of white Mini Coopers by artists from Singapore and the Philippines.

Band of Doodlers, a doodle art group from Singapore, was invited by AsiaPop Comicon organizers to do a mural on  Mini Cooper during the four-day event. The Singaporeans however, thought it was just right to invite the local chapter of Doodle Art Enthusiasts to collaborate on the project. And the final product, after three days of doodling, was nothing short of amazing. 

“I think that this collaboration was just right to work with Filipino doodlers,” said Band of Doodlers head Mas Shafreen while looking at the pair of Mini Coopers that had been given a massive art facelift. “This comicon is their show after all.”

“It was a great team-up,” crowed Lei Melendres, head of Filipino chapter of Doodle Art Enthusiasts. “Worthy of those great team-up comics. This was so much fun and such a great event."

“A sticker or what they call “vinyl wrap” was placed on both cars so we could doodle on them,” added Melendres. “The car owners were impressed with the art that they decided to keep it for a while."

Meeting Hank Kanalz at AsiaPop Comicon

While closely watching the formation of Image Comics during the early 1990s, there was this dude who wasn't part of that founding group yet was there at the same time... Hank Kanalz. It was Hank who created the now iconic Image Comics logo and who wrote the very first Image comic in Youngblood #1!

Most people asked him to sign their program or whatever during the first ever AsiaPop Comicon in Manila. Me? I had my Youngblood #1 in hand for him to sign. Wish I had time to talk to him about those Image days as well as what he does for Vertigo. Nevertheless, it was a thrill meeting him. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Cebulski says three Pinoys from AsiaPop Comicon will be working for Marvel soon

Cebulski says three Pinoys from AsiaPop Comicon will be working for Marvel soon
by rick olivares

Marvel Comics’ Vice President for International Development and Brand Management, C.B. Cebulski said that comic book fans everywhere should look out for the debut of three Filipinos in the pages of their comics very soon.

“I’d say out of the 100 portfolios I looked at there are three who could begin working for Marvel very soon,” divulged Cebulski who refused to name the comic book prospects. “Two are interior artists while one is a cover artist."

The Marvel executive who frequently travels the world in search of new talent liked what he saw during the first ever AsiaPop Comicon held at the World Trade Center at Pasay City. “There’s a lot of talent here,” said Cebulski who is in town for the second time. “I walked past artists’ alley and saw a lot of good stuff.”

“The Philippines has always been a goldmine for comics talent. The country has sent a lot of talent to the United States to draw comics books from the 1970s with Alfredo Alcala (who made a name for himself first illustrating is own Voltar comic then with Conan), Tony De Zuniga, Rafael Kayanan (who drew Conan the Barbarian), Steve Gan (who co-created Guardians of the Galaxy’s Star-Lord) and right up to While Portacio (The Punisher, X-Factor, Uncanny X-Men, and Wetworks) in the 1990s to Leini Yu and many others today.”

Prior to moving up the corporate ladder, Cebulski served as a writer and editor for Marvel penning titles such as the Marvel Mangaverse, War of the Kings, and the Ultimates Saga to name a very few.

Pics from AsiaPop Comicon

With Strawburry Girl as Captain Marvel (the Carol Danvers version)

With some Iron Ladies at the Hulkbuster promo

With LeeAnna Vamp

The Marvel Zombies Philippines with Marvel VP CB Cebulski. We did a podcast with the Man!

Paul Bettany is enjoying his place in 21st century mythology

Paul Bettany is enjoying his place in 21st century mythology
by rick olivares

Paul Bettany stood just outside the media room that had a curtain that shielded him from anticipating eyes. In a few seconds he would meet members of the Philippine press for an early morning session.

Right before entering, the 6’3” English actor then softly said to no one in particular, “This is amazing.”

The second act of Bettany’s career is in full swing. Not too long ago, Bettany, married with three children, sat on the curb along Sunset Boulevard wondering “how to put food on the table” as he put it. It wasn’t like Bettany was destitute however after being told one’s career was practically over cast a pall on the man who played key roles in films such as “A Knight’s Tale,” “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” “Wimbledon,” and “The Da Vinci Code."

Scarcely had Bettany sat down to mope when his cellphone rang  — it was a call from Joss Whedon who offered the role of the Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron -- that started a remarkable turnaround for an actor’s career. “It’s was nice to know that I was going to have a few more films in the bag,” as he later remarked that was tinged with equal parts glee and relief.

Bettany was in Manila for AsiaPop Comicon, the first international comics convention in the country. He was introduced during a special sneak preview of the upcoming Captain America: Civil War where he was received by a thunderous ovation (Bettany also appears in the film). Kilometric lines snaked around the World Trade Center in Pasay City where thousands and thousands of fans came over for a four-day pop culture fest. And Bettany, was easily the star of the weekend. “I am amazed and humbled by that thought,” he said during the hour-long interview. “Going to conventions has put people like me in touch with the fans so we have an idea if they love our work or not. Happily, it is the former.”

While Bettany wasn’t weaned on comic books like many American and Filipino kids, he had this passing knowledge about them. He also incredibly admitted to not having seen his wife’s superhero genre films. Bettany’s wife, is American actress Jennifer Connelly who appeared in the 1991 film “The Rocketeer” and the Ang Lee directed “Hulk” in 2003 where she played Eric Bana’s Hulk/Bruce Banner’s tortured girlfriend, Betty Ross.”

“I haven’t seen her superhero films,” sheepishly admitted the English actor as the media heaved a collective sigh of shock at the revelation. “I’m not sure she’s seen mine,” he continued to stammer. "I haven’t seen many of the movies that I make. Jennifer’s seen even less of the movies that she’s in. My kids like them. She didn’t come to the premiere in Los Angeles (referring to Avengers: Age of Ultron). I was alone and miserable in the room and at the mini bar.” 

Bettany previously appeared in the “Iron Man” and the first “Avengers” film as the voice of “Jarvis,” the semi-sentient program that runs many of the fictional Tony Stark’s programs and serves as his digital butler/sounding board, and ally. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Jarvis finds form as the Vision after the villainous killer android Ultron hopes to turn the program against his master. 

Yet in spite of this, Bettany said that he has a lot more respect for comics and the superhero genre today. “These are some of the highest grossing films in the world. They are a modern-day mythology that has become popular the world over and I am happy to be a part of it. And to be appreciated everywhere especially here in Manila, it is wonderful and I am grateful. The response by Filipinos is phenomenal. I’d love to comeback here one day with my family — not on business — but to have a look around."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

C.B. Cebulski on “Attack on Avengers” and being a Marvel Zombie

C.B. Cebulski on “Attack on Avengers” and being a Marvel Zombie
by rick olivares 

I sat down with the amiable and quotable C.B. Cebulski, Marvel Comic’s Senior Vice President of Creative and Creator Development during Day Two of the AsiaPop Comicon, and we touched on a topic outside the never-ending search for talent. And this was that huge “Attack on Avengers,” the mash-up of Marvel’s Avengers and Hajime Isayama’s “Attack on Titan” eight-page story that came out during the last Free Comic Book Day.

“The crossover between Avengers and Attack on Titan or "Attack on Avengers" as we call it that was published on Secret Wars #0 on Free Comic Book Day was just something that came out very generically,” related Cebulski, a huge comics and manga/anime fan who himself wrote and edited Marvel Mangaverse stories that came out in 2002 and 2006. "I have a friend who is an editor in Japan and he came to me and said, 'Look, we’re doing this special on Attack on Titan and Isayama sensei is a big Marvel fan.’ So the initial inquiry came from the Japanese side, 'Would you be interested in doing this eight-page story?'”

"We came back and said that if they can open up the rights to Kodansha (the Japanese publisher of Attack on Titan) and Marvel will contribute the Avengers, we do a one-shot and see what it’s like. Sure. We’d love to take that chance. Attack on Titan is big. Guardians of the Galaxy just came out at that time just to give you the time frame. Isayama saw “Guardians of the Galaxy” and he loved it. He wanted his characters and Marvel’s to combine and he had an idea to do it. He submitted the plot and we broke it down from there. Tom Breevort did the dialogue. Gerardo Sandoval did an amazing job illustrating it. We put it out there and expected it to be a hit in Japan because "Attack on Titan" is where it originally came out. But when word came out, it just blew up online everywhere.” 

"People to this day are still re-Tweeting my initial Tweet from back then. And you know, it was a great success. Isayama sensei was happy with it. We love it.” 

The eight-pager ended on a cliffhanger leaving fans clamoring for more. "We would love to do something more combining the two universes,” admitted Cebulski. “But if we’re going to do it, when we’re going to do it, or what the story could be we haven’t really discussed it yet. He’s been really busy doing his stuff and we’ve been really doing our stuff and you know, the way we built that eight-page story was like a movie trailer. Wouldn’t it be cool if, “In a world where the Titans attacked the Avengers…” Then we ended with that cliffhanger with the Guardians of the Galaxy coming down and hey, go see the movie, go see the rest.” We don’t know if the Avengers are going to his world or the Titans are staying in the Avengers’ world. There’s a way of doing both. There are a million things we could do. It’s a matter of sitting down and talking about it in the future. But Marvel would be completely open to doing something more given the response we got. It would be amazing from a creative and artistic standpoint."

Cebulski has been to Manila before and this time around, he’s a part of the historic AsiaPop Comicon, the first international comics convention in the country, searching for local talent aside from representing Marvel.

Talking about his job, Cebulski paused for effect then said, "I wake up every day with a smile on my face going to work and not a lot of people can say that. I always say this, “I have been working at Marvel for 16 years, since 1999. The truth of the matter is, I have been with Marvel for 40 years. Since I was a kid. I read my first comic book in the 1970s. I remember the first Marvel comic book I read and that was an X-Men comic book, Chris Claremont and John Byrne, and I have been a big fan of Marvel ever since. I’m not just a Marvel Zombie. You cut me, I don’t bleed red, I bleed Marvel red with the logo runs out of me. That is what Marvel means to me. And there are two other things that I loved as a kid — that’s Star Wars and Disney (the latter owns the Marvel and Star Wars franchises). Now, it’s like it’s like I get to work for every company. And that is a dream come true.”

Now hopefully, he can also help a few other Filipinos live and breathe their Marvel dreams.

Friday, September 18, 2015

LeeAnna Vamp: Globe trottin’ in costumes & high heels

LeeAnna Vamp: Globe trottin’ in costumes & high heels
by rick olivares

LeeAnna Vamp stands up from her table to oblige a bunch of fans for a selfie. 

“Gosh, you’re so tall,” gushes one female fan.

“Oh, no,” protests the self-proclaimed nerd who must be the prettiest and sexiest super-model nerd of them all. “I’m just wearing boots with high heels.”

LeeAnna Vamp, in Manila for the AsiaPop Comicon, high heels or not, cuts an imposing figure in the guests area where there are comic book stars like David Mack and David Yardin to local heroes like Mico Suayan and Stephen Segovia to Cosplay goddesses like Vampy Bit Me, Alodia Gosiengfiao, and Monika Lee. 

For one, she’s still tall at 5’9”. 

And second, this California native is like an Adam Hughes and Frank Cho pin-up come to life. 

LeeAnna’s got long brown hair, olive skin, and a whistle bait figure. She’d oust Penny from the Big Bang Theory cast in a heartbeat if she chose to do so. She’s got the looks and the nerd and geek cred.

"I grew up on all the classics,” she says with a lot of zest. “Sci-fi, fantasy, horror. I grew up watching Star Wars with my brothers so I have been a fan of this stuff ever since I was a little kid.”

Okay, geek me out with Star Wars.

“I know how many parsecs Han Solo claims it took the Millennium Falcon to make the Kessel run,” she drops.



“But I don’t know everything,” she admits with a smile that disarms you so that you are willing to forgive her for anything.

"People ask me a lot what I love about Cosplay,” she ventures. “For some people it is making costumes, dressing up, or traveling.  For me it is the fact that I can inspire someone else. One of my favorite things is when people come up to me and say, “You know, what you have done is inspire me to put myself out there.”

Fourteen years ago, LeeAnna attended her first San Diego Comicon. “I was looking at all the comics, art, toys, and whatnot. Just being a total nerd. I saw people in costumes and it looked like fun. It was like Halloween all year round. So I decided to make a couple of costumes and I had such a great time that it stuck with me. I have been doing it ever since. It wasn’t a conscious decision of like 'this is the path I want to take.'" 

Cosplay has been around for the longest time although the term is fairly recent. There were the old Star Wars and Star Trek conventions where fans dressed up as Stormtroopers, Wookies, crew members of the Starship Enterprise or Vulcans among many others. “People would say, ‘Oh, those people who dress up during comics conventions.’ It was like saying they were weird or a freak. Like you had to conform to their notion that pop culture was shallow or kids’ stuff."

Adds LeeAnna passionately, “If you look at how far comics and pop culture has come, they are box office draws, are top-rating television shows. It is now cool for what was seen as “kids’ stuff” or for the weird. It is now better for us nerds that we get more conventions, we get more comics, we get more movies. There is something positive and negative about everything but I see Cosplay as something positive. I personally think it is great. It has also opened up doors for a lot of other people."

“Cosplay inspires people in different ways. They make a costume or play a character. In doing so it teaches them to become more outgoing. As for me, when I first started out doing Cosplay, it was just for fun and I loved it as a hobby. If my wearing costumes can inspire people then it’s incredible. I never thought that I would make an impact on others." 

LeeAnna has over half a million followers on Facebook and over 47,300 followers on Twitter. Not much compared to super-models or celebrities. But her popularity has allowed her to make a career of modelling and earn an honest living.

On being in Manila for the first ever AsiaPop Comicon, LeeAnna switches to her fangirl mode, "I think this is something that is going to be a phenomenon for Filipino pop culture fans. As for me, this is incredible. The fact that I can put a costume on and travel the world and meet amazing people like you (the author of this article) and have amazing conversations with you, the media, fans this is unbelievable. I am so grateful for all these opportunities.

And travel the world in a costume and high heels?

“Oh, yeah,” laughs this Adam Hughes pin-up that has come to life as she tosses her brown hair back while flashing those pearly whites. “Most definitely." 

LeeAnna Vamp’s Five Favorite costumes:
Stormtrooper (Star Wars)
Freddie Kruger (Nightmare of Elm Street)
Catwoman (Batman)
Lara Croft (Tomb Raider)
Ash Williams (Evil Dead)

David Mack on his indie origins & working on comics icons

David Mack on his indie origins & working on comics icons
by rick olivares

The late 1980s were an exciting time for comics books. Marvel Comics was in the midst of an incredible run where its creators were turning out character defining stories for the X-Men (Chris Claremont & John Byrne), Fantastic Four (John Byrne), Thor (Walt Simonson), and Daredevil (Frank Miller). DC Comics was in its post-Crisis On Infinite Earths phase and came out with two game changing books in Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns.

The independent scene emerged from the underground movement of the 1970s and gained a lot of mileage with Mirage Studios’ “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Pacific Comics’ “The Rocketeer,” First and Capital Comics’ “Nexus,” Fantagraphics’ “Love and Rockets,” and Aardvark-Vanaheim’s “Cerebus.”

One company that put out a lot of groundbreaking work was Caliber Comics. The Michigan-based company made some noise with the publication of Michael Allred’s quirky and entertaining “Madman” and James O’Barr’s tragic magnum opus, “The Crow.” Not soon after, they put out David Mack's “Kabuki,” a story about a Japanese assassin and her struggle to find her identity and place in the world.

"I was a very young college student back then and for someone so young, it was a really exciting time,” shared Mack who is in Manila for the AsiaPop Comicon, the first major comics convention in the Philippines. "Before Kabuki, I did some smaller projects for Caliber. This was the pre-internet days. It was 1992 and there were no cellphones, no internet. I found the publisher’s address in phone books and sent things through the mail to them. I had this very naive look at things such that I called up Caliber and asked, ‘Hey, I sent some things through the mail. Did you get it? And they were like, ‘No, we never got it.’ So I described it to them and they said, ’That’s interesting.’ So I sent it again and it did very well for them."

"In January 1993, I had my first published work for them. Then I said I had this other project called “Kabuki” and they were interested in that. I made these little ashcan comics for Kabuki and they began publishing that as well. It was very exciting because it was creator-driven. James O’Barr was doing “The Crow” and it was a very small independent publisher but they gave you complete freedom to do whatever you wanted to do. I was barely 20 years old and looked like I was 14 so I was a young kid getting to do what I wanted.”

While “Kabuki” was a critical hit, it didn’t dent the mainstream. That is not until Mack himself took a stab at a childhood favorite. 

"When I was doing Kabuki, I was doing fairly well with it, enough to make a living, but I felt like the rest of comics fans were aware of it but it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Suddenly, when I was writing ‘Daredevil’ it opened up a whole new demographic of people who discovered ‘Kabuki’ overnight. Maybe they only paid attention to mainstream titles so when they were reading ‘Daredevil,’ they went ‘oh, this is the guy who does ‘Kabuki.’ I’ll read it.” I have to admit that I appreciate it on that level." 

“I read ‘Daredevil’ as a child and when I began writing the title, it was like continuing where the child-version of me left off and those were the Frank Miller stories. While writing 'End of Days,’ it was a thrill for me to work with Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz who are some my comics heroes as they were part of Frank Miller’s creative teams on those classic ‘Daredevil’ stories.”

“So, yes, you could say that I am grateful to work on a character like Kabuki that I created that has been around since the early 90s and to work on a character like DD and add to its rich legacy. And it is certainly great to travel to this part of the world (the Philippines) and to see people who know and love my work. I am blessed."

With some folks at the 2015 AsiaPop Comicon

With David Mack

With David Yardin

With Vampy Bit Me

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Hot Toys at the Filbar's Booth at Asia Pop Comicon

Check out these cool toys from the Filbar's booth at AsiaPop Comic Con. These are the stuff that I really like.

Floating Iron Man Mark III 
Shellhead is a flashy, new updated color variant of Beast Kingdom's Floating Iron Man Mark III featuring red and chrome markings. The statue includes an arc reactor base, with Iron Man floating above it in a flying pose. Php 8,500

Iron Man Mark III (Stealth Mode Version)
The movie accurate Mark III Figure is highly detailed and specially crafted based on the image of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man in the movie featuring a helmeted head sculpt with authentic likeness, an interchangeable helmeted head with LED light-up eyes, metallic red and gold painted armor, interchangeable armor parts, and an LED light-up figure stand. Php15,000

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - First Order Stormtrooper Squad Leader 
The highly-accurate collectible figure is specially crafted based on the image of the First Order Stormtrooper Squad Leader in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This collectible figure features the brand new design First Order Stormtrooper armor and helmet, the white pauldron that indicated the rank of squad leader, a highly detailed blaster, and a specially designed hexagonal figure stand with the First Order's emblem! Php 10,500

What to look forward to in Asia Pop Comic Con

What to look forward to in Asia Pop
by rick olivares

It is T-minus 1 by the time you read this. And this means that there’s one day to go ’til the much awaited Asia Pop Comic Con, the biggest comic book and pop culture convention to hit these shores. And when that happens, some folks will be in Geek Heaven.

There are going to be a lot of activities but personally, here is what I am looking forward to this Asia Pop (September 17-20 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City):

Thursday, September 17
Checking out all the comics, toys, and merchandise on sale!

Friday, September 18
The special screening of the new Lance Henriksen (who famously played Bishop in the Aliens films and ex-FBI agent Frank Black in the television series, “Millennium”) film, "Harbinger Down," a film with alien-like beings that takes the actor back to his roots. 
Meeting writer and artist David Mack whose Kabuki and Daredevil stories I read and collected.
Meeting artist David Yardin whose work on Image Comics’ “Aria” following our very own Jay Anacleto and Lan Medina on the wonderful series of magical stories.
Meeting American Cosplayer Monika Lee who did a great interpretation of Final Fantasy X’s Yuna and anime character, Sailor Mars.

Saturday, September 19
The Cosplay event our very own goddess Alodia Gosiengfiao & Vampy Bit Me
The Comics Artists Panel with DC Comics’ Hank Kanalz who famously helped start Image Comics with Jim Lee as well as Filipino superstar artists Mico Suayan, Stephen Segovia, and Carlo Pagulayan.
Check out the Marvel Special Panel on Captain America: Civil War. I figure they will feature new cut for the trailer.
In Conversation with actor Paul Bettany, who played the android Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron
The Cosplay Authority Global Challenge where the winner can take home up to US$10,000!

Sunday, September 20
The Comics Panel with Marvel Comics’ C.B. Cebulski and Filipino superstar artists Whilce Portacio and Leinil Yu, and David Mack, and David Yardin.
Checkpoint Movie Preview and Panel featuring former pro-wrestler Bill Goldberg
The Toy Panel featuring J’Ryu, Chris Ryniak, Amanda Spayd, and Simone Legno
The Cosplay Authority Global Challenge Awards Ceremony

Some toys worth checking out:
The Hot Toys Booth, powered by Filbar’s or Booth K#19, will delight action figures hobbyists with six Hot Toys 2015 Toy Fair Exclusives—the Iron Man Mark XXIV Tank, Iron Man Mark III (Stealth Mode Version), Maria Hill, Luke Skywalker (Stormtrooper Disguise Version),  Star Wars: The Force Awakens - 1/6th scale First Order Stormtrooper Squad Leader, and Metal Gear’s Raiden (Inferno Armor Version). 
There will be Lego and Star Wars booths as well!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Sketches from my new comic titled Dez

Since I was in high school, I was fascinated with Goth culture. It somewhat frightened me, spooked me, but I have since gotten over the darkness of it all. 

While living in New York, like many of my other passions, I began to look into them since it was much easier to locate them. I am referring to comics, magazines, and whatnot. One of this was Goth culture. I would go to Goth shops and buy the music and stuff. I just never wore them.

When I came across Serena Valentino and Ted Naifeh's Gloomcookie (yes, I have it), I was intrigued. A Goth comic? Why not?

Not soon after, I began jotting down ideas for a story that would eventually become Dez. After a couple of stop-starts, it's finally happening. And I guess, I needed to get the right artist in Ronzkie Pacho Vidal who creates the incredible Sulsi and Karit komiks. When I first saw her work that wasn't only highly imaginative but also deep, I was blown away and wished I'd get a chance to work together one day. That happened recently after Indieket.

And what you see are some of her initial sketches of some of the characters who will make up Dez.

Oh, Dez is like a Goth version of Archie except it's weird. School life and young adulthood for Goth kids. 

Dez is short for December because her mother thought she would be born on the 12th month except she gave birth to Dez in November.  Naturally, Dez hates the name December and she gets cross at anyone who calls her by her real name.  She has an Alaskan Malamute named "Fondue" who can get real grumpy when there are others around Dez. Think of Muttley minus the deviousness. But if you miss Muttley's "sassafrassum" expression... well, it's here!

For this first time in all the different komiks I am doing there's a tie-in. Turns out that Dez is Dante's half-sister!

Her best friend is named Ioalana who is in a band. Iolana is patterned after former X-Mal Deutschland singer Anja Huwe. Naturally, Iolana is in a band with "X" who is this tall waif of a guitarist.

Jimmy (named after Jimmy Olsen but instead of being a photographer, he writes a blog about aliens and vampires who he believes will destroy the world). One of the school snoops who believes Dez and Iolana to be vampires and are ready to turn their fictional town into something akin to Sunnydale (my tip of the hat to Joss Whedon’s most excellent Buffy the Vampire Slayer) into the mouth of hell. He may be a pest but he isn’t a bad person.

Ulf is the school jock who has to maintain a cool veneer as the King of Cool and the Big Man on Campus but has a crush on Dez who he thinks is weird. We only know he is a jock because he wears letterman jackets.