Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Check out my new comic, K-Town

Check out my new comic, K-Town
by rick olivares

Years ago when I used to regularly cover local football, I marvelled at how Stallion Football Club became a much better team when they brought in some Koreans from Central Colleges of the Philippines out of Iloilo. Around that time, K-Pop was taking the world by storm with their seemingly endless supply of boy and girl bands.

Throughout the Philippines, the local Korean population mushroomed. In fact, I was surprised (pleasantly I must admit) to see some street signs in Baguio with their English or Filipino name with the Korean translation below. And watching Filipinos embrace K-Pop was as much as an eye-opener as the AlDub phenomenon. 

It was while I was in Singapore covering the Loyola Meralco Sparks for the Singapore Cup where the germ for K-Town first came to fruition. The Sparks had about four Koreans on the squad and it was interesting to see Phil Younghusband try to speak Korean in that lovely lilting English accent much to the amusement of everyone. The Koreans also tried their hand not only at British culture but also Pinoy fare.

I wondered, what if I switch it around where the Koreans bought into Filipino pop culture? It was possible. After all, I did see that while on a football trip in Malaysia where there were billboards of Marian Rivera everywhere. Her local telenovelas were translated into Malaysian. The beautiful Rivera was probably the most famous actress in Malaysia. 

With that premise, K-Town was born. 

“K-Town” or Korea Town as Barangay Poblacion in Makati is increasingly known is it is home to the largest density of Koreans in the Philippines. The central character of Lee Yong-Sun is somewhat inspired by current Sparks and former Stallion midfielder Lee Joo-Young; one of my fave footballers in the UFL. 

The stories are a mixture of what I love about the Scooby Doo Gang that was reprised in a modern setting by Joss Whedon in Buffy the Vampire Slayer as well as Fred Chao’s Johnny Hiro character. I love Fred Chao’s work that has a simple and child-like innocence. I hoped to recapture that in K-Town.

Finding the right artist to illustrate K-Town was like a labor for Hercules. The first artist I tapped didn’t get the job done. Then a friend recommended JM Valenzuela to take care of the art chores. I had seen JM’s work on "Kanto Inc.” that hilarious ongoing series is plotted and written by the masterful husband and wife tandem of Taga-Ilog and Joanah Tinio-Calingo. 

JM was weaned on manga and anime but his style is wholly his own with a cartoonist’s flair. He has a gift for expressiveness and amazing layouts. There are similarities to how he did his line work for “Kanto Inc.” but it is also at once different. More refined. Even when he pencils in a guest character from another comic, Tanod (by Parokya ni Edgar guitarist Gab Chee Kee and artist Jerico Marte), JM is faithful to the style of the character but makes sure it blends in seamlessly.

I got in touch with JM and we spoke initially spoke not about “K-Town” but another story that I wanted to do. A few weeks later and going nowhere with the previous “K-Town” artist, I handed the story to JM whose eyes lit up at the story.

And now, “K-Town” is here. Even before it’s pre-release, it has received a stamp of approval from comic book pro Jon Zamar on my Facebook page: “This is a great comic book.”

Well, JM and I do hope so. It features a pair of short stories one of that features a cameo appearance by Pinoy rock superstars Parokya ni Edgar. For sure the next releases will be lengthier and fully flesh out the characters who have grown on both us creators. All I can say it is going to be a fun ride.

Check out “K-Town” and other titles I am releasing in the Eikon Komiks booth (near the stage) of Komikon at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City this Saturday and Sunday, November 14-15.

Other titles include the mini-graphic novel “Pader” with Bianca Lesaca, “Ang Ilog” book three with veteran artist Rey Asturias, the JM Barrie-Hayao Miyazaki-Herge-inspired “East of the Sun West of the Moon” that was illustrated by Sandy Gonzaga, and “Dez” with Ronzkie Pacho Vidal.

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