Monday, August 29, 2016

It's so cool when the great Mike Zeck posts a photo of him signing your comics on his FB page

Stuff I got signed from AsiaPop Comicon 2016

My Mike Zeck signed stuff!

My Ken Lashley signed stuff!

My Billy Tan signed stuff (have the singles of the Rise and Fall of the Shiar Empire along with the hardcover).

Became a fan of Riddle after watching Heroes of Cosplay. So glad to meet her and get some signed prints.

My last two unsigned (not anymore) comics done by Whilce Portacio. 
My local comic haul from AsiaPop!

APCC Comicon Day 3

With Vintendo of the Philippine Wrestling Revolution

Millie Bobby Brown of Stranger Things talking to the press 
With Myrtle Sarrosa in her awesome Captain Marvel outfit.

With Tokidoki creator Simone Legno 
With the creative team of Pedro Penduko

With Eman Casallos

Sunday, August 28, 2016

English actor Nicholas Hoult talks Mad Max and X-Men

Nicholas Hoult talks Mad Max and X-Men
by rick olivares

The Pokemon, football and basketball, and travel-loving English actor Nicholas Hoult is in Manila as one of the headliners for the AsiaPop Comicon. 

Hoult who is best-known for his roles in films such as “About A Boy”, the X-Men franchise, "Mad Max Fury Road”, and the British soap drama, “Skins", arrived in Manila two days ago and immediately went out with fellow actor, “Game of Thrones” star Joe Dempsey to check out the city. "“We went to visit the memorial of Rizal and a couple of bars last night. The weather has been a little a bit stormy so we’ve had to stay in. We also went to see some of the old churches in the old town (Intramuros)."

During the second day of AsiaPop, Hoult talked to the media and met with the fans for photos and autographs.

The actor admitted to playing the popular online game, Pokemon Go, and is on Level 13 while competing for Team Mystic. “Pokemon is going terribly,” shared Hoult to expressions of delight by Filipino fans. "I’m on Team Mystic and on Level 13 and it’s not very good. I’ve kind of falling off playing Pokemon.”

When told that there were loads of Pokemon in Manila, Hoult promised to “catch them all."

Despite growing up in football-mad England, Hoult played basketball for a local club and admits to following the game up to today. “I’m also a football fan though,” he added swearing allegiance to Reading Football Club since it was closest to where he grew up in Wokingham, Berkshire (22 minutes away by car). 

Because of the pop culture theme of AsiaPop, Hoult was oft asked questions about his role of Hank McCoy aka “the Beast” in the X-Men First Class trilogy, and his recent role of Nux in Mad Max Fury Road.

Hoult read comics as a child though not of the superhero kind. “I read the children’s stuff — Dennis the Menace and Beano (a British comic strip),” he shared. “To prepare for the X-Men, I read First Class and Dark Beast comics in which I enjoyed the darker side of that character. "I read a load of comics because Hank has a distinct way of speaking. He’s a very eloquent and intelligent man. And he’s very smart in the sciences as well. I read the comics to see what I could try to gain from that in terms of his movement and relationships with other characters as well. And there's Hank’s relationship with Professor Charles Xavier as well. (Scottish actor) James McAvoy and I are really good friends outside of filming so that is something that helped us develop for the movies as well." 

"My casting in that film was last minute. We were meant to be shooting Mad Max and I was in Australia when the film got delayed. So I called my agent and said, ‘I need a job.’ So he said, ‘audition for X-Men. They were interested for you.’ So I put a tape down and the next day I was flying to London to audition and back to Australia. Before I knew it I had a job and was on set." 

The X-Men and Mad Max films have been massive successes and they have certainly vaulted Hoult into the A-List of stars. 

"I feel very fortunate,” he reflected on his successful run of films. "The roles (of Beast and Nux) are great characters to play. The films have great directors and filmmakers and the crews on those movies are incredible. Like for instance, the stunt teams on Mad Max are incredible. For them to go out to the Namibian desert with 700 people, hundreds of vehicles and to be sat amidst all those hotrods - when all those engines fire up; you know you get chills. You see the stunt hanging underneath trucks, people are shooting at you, things are blowing up. There’s fire, there's noise, there’s the smell of petrol — it’s an intoxicating atmosphere to be in. The scale of those movies is incredible. And the fact that people really enjoy them and they enjoy the characters and the things you bring to life. I feel very lucky and proud to be a part of it.”

Nicholas Hoult is current appearing in Dark Places with Charlize Theron (for a second time) and will play the lead role in Rebel in the Rye, a biopic about the late and famous writer, J.D. Salinger, that is currently in post-production.

Japanese anison vocalist Hiroshi Kitadani happy with Pinoys’ love for anime

Japanese anison vocalist Hiroshi Kitadani happy with Pinoys’ love for anime
by rick olivares

It was a very surprised Hiroshi Kitadani who graced the second day of the AsiaPop Comicon at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City last Saturday, August 27.

The Japanese anison (short for anime song) vocalist was pleasantly surprised that Japanese pop culture — anime and manga in particular — are very popular in the Philippines. "I am very surprised that anime has a big audience here,” he said through an interpreter right before his scheduled mini-concert during Day Two of the second staging of the country’s biggest pop culture convention. “It makes me feel happy that Japan is sharing its culture with other people and that they appreciate it. In my country, everyone grows up watching anime and reading manga. I have heard that Filipinos have embraced it. So I look forward to seeing them respond to the songs.”

The 48-year old Kitadani has sung the theme songs to such popular anime shows such as "One Piece", "Yu-Gi-Oh", and "One Punch Man” with the JAM Project (Japan Animationsong Makers) to name a few. “I grew up watching ‘Lupin the Third’ and ‘Ikkyu-San’ which I enjoyed,” related Kitadani of the animation that he was weaned on. “Then I learned of ‘Mobile Suit Gundam’ and the other mech anime.”

However, before he decided to plunge into a career of music, Kitadani had dreams of glory on a baseball diamond. “I played a lot of baseball when I was younger. I still do although it is more recreational,” shared the singer who roots for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in the Japan Central League and the New York Yankees in the American Major League Baseball. “I was chubby when I was younger and played the catcher position. I think being chubby helped me hit some power home runs. But life has a funny way of throwing you curve balls. So I found myself also becoming a professional in singing songs from popular anime shows.”

Kitadani, who also plays the guitar, also gravitated to American glam rock ’n roll band, Kiss, as a youngster. Kiss is a four-man outfit from New York City that was known for wearing make up and its fiery pyrotechnical shows. They were so larger than life that Marvel Comics produced two special comic books featuring the band during the 1970s. “That band appealed to me not only because of the music but because they wore kabuki-like make-up. But it was their songs and musicianship that got me."

The Japanese musician performed a 30-minute show at the Main Stage of AsiaPop Comicon to a rabid crowd that sang along to the words. 

He is currently working on the theme song for the upcoming anime series titled, “DragonQuest”. 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

AsiaPop Comicon 2016 Day 2

Man, this lady is positively pretty! 
With Myrtle Sarrosa

With Billy Tan

Billy Tan signed and sketched Daredevil on my Daredevil: Shadowland hardcover.

Billy Tan signed and sketched on my Uncanny X-Men: The Rise and the Fall of the Shiar Empire hardcover. 
With Mervin Malonzo and Harvey Tolibao at the signing of their iPad created comic

With Gerard Sison who channeled his inner Christopher Reeve! Jane Seymour.... man, classic beauty.

With one of my fave Cosplayers -- Riddle wearing her Snow White costume.

International comic book illustrator Billy Tan in town for AsiaPop Comicon

International comic book illustrator Billy Tan in town for AsiaPop Comicon
by rick olivares

Malaysian comic book illustrator Billy Tan is in Manila for the 2016 AsiaPop Comicon this August 26-28, 2016 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

“It’s nice to see Asian artists doing well in the international comic book scene,” said Tan whose booth at AsiaPop is next to Filipino-American trailblazer Whilce Portacio. 

Tan discovered fantasy and comic book art only when he moved to the United States as a teenager while taking up business at the University of Kentucky. "In Malaysia we used to do traditional water color and scenery,” shared the bespectacled artist who is in the country for the first time. It wasn’t until I moved to the States and stumbled into the work of (noted fantasy art painter) Frank Frazetta that my world changed. I had never seen this type of art before. It just opened me up to a whole new world, new possibilities. Then I got into comic books where I discovered Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio and the other guys who were all back in the early 1990s were the hot artists over at Marvel before taking their act to Image Comics.”

With his art background, it made it easier for Billy to put his pencilling to work where he was soon discovered by Silvestri’s Top Cow Studios since then, he’s drawn comics for Marvel and DC. “It is tough for me to put into words how I feel about these opportunities for me, a Malaysian kid to do this,” admitted Tan who is known as the first from his country to work in American comics. Since then another Malaysian, Tan Eng Huat also broke into the industry illustrating DC’s “Doom Patrol” in 2001 after which he has drawn a plethora of titles from the major American publishing companies.

Tan’s body of work is impressive drawing some top storylines for Marvel from Daredevil’s Shadowland arc, X-23, Uncanny X-Men, New Avengers including the Star Trek/X-Men story from 1996 to name but a few.

Tan now works out of Shanghai, China where his wife is now assigned. He has opened a studio there that is deep into production of a Chinese superhero universe. "We always see Superman saving the world. Where is the Asian hero?,” he asked. “I think it is time for Asian comics to thrive and it has. We have seen more Filipinos working in US comics and creating their own local folklore and stories. It is the same in Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. It is an amazing time for all of us. The work we are doing in China has been received well. We look forward to the initial published work soon."

In the meantime, Tan is in town, happily surprised that he too, has Filipino fans. “It has been a pleasant surprise to see Filipino fans come up and say that they enjoy my work. I never assume people like it so it’s great to see. Hopefully, we can inspire more people to pursue their comic book dreams.”

AsiaPop Comicon 2016 Day 1

With Billy Tan who drew one of my fave X-Men story arcs in the Rise and Fall of the Shiar Empire

With a Cosplayer for Magic: The Gathering

These Stormtroopers didn't believe that I wanted to join the Empire. A rogue Jedi looks on as did this evil Jawas.

With the beautiful Riddle.

With Ken Lashley who is doing an amazing Uncanny X-Men now. But he also drew Black Panther!

With the great Mike Zeck who sketched Cap for me.

With Jon Zamar! Got a print of Starfire!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Comic book artist Ken Lashley in Manila for AsiaPop 2016

Comic book artist Ken Lashley in Manila for AsiaPop 2016
by rick olivares

Canadian comic book illustrator Ken Lashley is one of the few to successfully transition from the 1990s all the way into the second decade of the new millennium. 

Lashley, who has drawn over 320 comic books in his career, is in Manila for the second staging of the AsiaPop Comicon that will be held from August 26-28 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

“I’m excited to be here,” said Lashley during the press conference that kicked off the festivities of the country’s biggest pop culture event last Wednesday, August 24, at the Conrad Hotel. “I’ve heard so much about the passionate fan base for comics and pop culture here so it’s good for me to see it myself and experience it."

Lashley broke into the comic book industry following a legend. “I followed the legendary Alan Davis on Excalibur,” he reminisced with a smile. Exaclibur is one of the successful spin-offs from the then hugely popular X-Men line of comics published by Marvel. "It was my first job and a tough one at that. I was young and learning the chops. At that time, Image had broken into the business and everyone was clamoring for that kind of dynamic style that Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Todd McFarlane, While Portacio, and Rob Liefeld espoused. I was caught in between my influences who were John Byrne — who is my all-time favorite artist and not only because he is Canadian but also because he drew my absolute all-time favorite comic book in Uncanny X-Men, George Perez, John Buscema, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez among others, and the new guys making waves. I was learning on the job.”

“Apparently, a lot of people love those books and they still ask me to sign them. So I am grateful for that although I won’t say it is far from my best work,” Lashley added.

Since then, the big man has gone on to illustrate comics from other companies including DC and Image such as Justice League of America, Superman, Flash, The Darkness, and Tomb Raider among many others. “What started out as a passion and a hobby became my life. And it’s so much fun to be able to draw comics and attend conventions like AsiaPop in Manila and meet new people.”

Aside from comics, Lashley has also made the transition to design where he has worked on products from toymaker Hasbro (G.I. Joe, Transformers, Marvel, Star Wars to name some) and Lucas Digital. He’s also currently pencilling Uncanny X-Men which he has attacked with a lot of fervor. “I know that the comic isn’t as big or popular as it once was,” he noted. “Growing up, this was the book for me and many others. That is why I pour in my heart and soul into the work. I want to help bring it back to where it was. And I guess, it has paid off because I have been asked to work on a new arc."

Lashley also hinted about working on an animated series that was massively popular during the 1970s and is slated for a big comeback. Voltron, one of those Japanese animated series from also the same time was recently brought back and updated for a modern audience by Netflix and Dreamworks. “There’s another one in the works,” was all Lashley said. 

When pressed if it is "Battle of the Planets” Lashley refused to comment. “Let’s all just have fun this AsiaPop and when it comes out, let’s celebrate.”

Fans can meet Ken Lashley and other comic book artists like Mike Zeck, Billy Tan, While Portacio, and others during AsiaPop Comicon.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

AsiaPop Comicon 2016: Mike Zeck reflects on the Punisher, Cap & Spidey

AsiaPop Comicon 2016: Mike Zeck reflects on the Punisher, Cap & Spidey
by rick olivares

For American comic book illustrator Mike Zeck, attending the AsiaPop Comicon 2016 in Manila was another chance to come back to the country.

Even when he was one of the hottest and most in demand comic book artists back in the 1980s and early 1990s, Zeck would routinely visit Asia and the Philippines in particular. “I always wanted to see the world and in Asia, I chose to go to the Philippines first because people spoke English here and it wouldn’t be difficult to get around. Cebu was the first place I went to outside Manila.”

Now back for the umpteenth time, this will be the first time that Zeck will be attending a major comic book convention in the Philippines. “I’ve always been aware that the Philippines was a hotbed of talent. We’ve seen that with Tony DeZuniga, Alfredo Alcala, and many others through the years then you have Whilce Portacio who opened the door for many other Filipinos to draw American comic books. This gives me that opportunity to interact with the Filipino fan base that is one of the most passionate in the world.”

Zeck has been removed from mainstream comic book illustration for over a decade now as he has transitioned into product and toy design that is still related to the genre. Yet in spite of not being actively busy in today’s four-colored fanfare, the 66-year old native of Pennsylvania is known for illustrating some of the most memorable stories in the whole of comicdom.

In the 1980s, he scored what is the equivalent of a film director’s three consecutive blockbuster and critically acclaimed movies when he drew Secret Wars, Punisher: Circle of Blood, and Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt in succession. 

“I’ve only got one word to describe that — lucky," beamed Zeck during the AsiaPop Comicon press conference held at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City last Wednesday, August 24. "There’s no way I can ever plan to make three successful comic book stories in a row. And all three are still in print today, 35 years later, and that is extremely gratifying.”

"Secret Wars (published May 1984-April 1985) was the first ever comic book limited series that was a massive crossover event. I think I earned that because of my work on Captain America,” reflected Zeck. “For the Punisher, timing was an incredible thing. (Writer) Steven Grant was showing Marvel that story that he had in mind but they didn’t think that the Punisher was a character that would sell and that he couldn’t support his own title. Eventually, they reluctantly agreed and the rest is history. As for ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’, Marc DeMatteis was trying to get this story punished. It was first done for a Wonder Man story that was rejected. He took it to DC for a Batman proposal and it too was rejected. When he brought it back to Marvel, Marc re-wrote it for Spider-Man and Kraevn the Hunter and now it was approved. I think it took about eight years for that story to see the light of day but it took a life of its own and was published at the right time. The fact that it is considered one of the greatest Spider-Man stories is a blessing for me.”

Zeck points to "Kraven’s Last Hunt” as his favorite work for its depth and tone as a psychological thriller. In that story, Kraven, long a foil for Spider-Man, finally defeats his nemesis and takes his place hoping to prove that he is his superior. When accomplishing that goal, Kraven commits suicide. “I think that story contributed to the Spider-Man mythos. When you think about the character, he’s had a lot of ground-breaking stories — from the death of a major character (Gwen Stacy) to the use of drugs in a comic book (Harry Osborne who later became the Green Goblin). ‘Kraven’s Last Hunt’ isn’t simply a story about suicide and how it affects people but also the relationships between people. When I received the plot, I knew it was going to be one of the best Spider-Man stories. The questions for me were, can i do this justice and, will the fans see what i saw in this story?"

Even if he doesn’t draw comics anymore, Zeck still enjoys the genre especially their success in film. “When I was drawing Captain America, it was an incredible fun time for me. (The late) Mark Gruenwald was my editor and John Beatty was inking. All three of us were Captain America fans growing up. We all got together and as professionals, to be in that office and putting out the comic was really fun. I did three years of that comic and stayed on doing covers. The film versions — I love them. They nailed the essence of Cap perfectly. I wish Mark Gruenwald were still alive to see them."

“For me, I have been in a lot of comics conventions in my life. And it sure is nice to be doing one here in the Philippines,” summed up Zeck. “And I sure can’t wait to meet the Filipino fans.”

AsiaPop Comicon 2016 will be held from August 26-28 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Alodia Gosiengfiao one of headline Cosplayers for AsiaPop 2016

Alodia Gosiengfiao one of headline Cosplayers for AsiaPop 2016
by rick olivares

Alodia Gosiengfiao, who is one of the more popular Cosplayers not only in the Philippines but all over the world is once more one of the main guests for AsiaPop Comicon 2016. The Cosplay darling will also be one of the judges for the Cosplay Authority Global Challenge during the event that saw a winner from last year’s staging take home $10,000 as the grand prize. 

“I love the fact that Cosplay (costume play) has elevated from a hobby to an art form and a worldwide event,” said the 28-year old who first got into role playing game when she was in high school.  "When I started out, it was a hobby. Now, it still is a hobby but it is also work. I took up Information Design in Ateneo and cosplay has helped my career tremendously. When I was still in school, my parents thought that my hobby was getting too expensive and they told me to do something more practical. I would save my allowance just to buy materials for cosplay. But they see where it has taken me and they are very much supportive now.”

Gosiengfiao has used her success in cosplay to professionally host, model, sing, and act! She is also appearing in the new Resident Evil film, “The Final Chapter.” It will be her second international film after “Crossroads” a Japanese drama that was released last year.

“It’s incredible, isn’t it?” she wondered during the press conference for AsiaPop Comicon held last Wednesday, August 24, at the Conrad Hotel in Pasay City. “I still have to pinch myself just to see if I am dreaming up all of this. I am very honored and very lucky to be recognized for this craft. I never expected to be where I am. I am just doing something that I love."

“I'm still thinking of ways to improve the community. I hope just as cosplay has been good for me, it inspires more people to succeed,” she added pointing out to the CAGE event that will open more doors for its participants. Who knows what this will lead to?”

For this event, Gosiengfiao will be donning a costume of DC Comics’ anti-hero Harley Quinn. “Not the film version,” she said of the make over the character was given in the recent film, Suicide Squad, where the character was played by actress Margot Robbie. She cited her cosplay of Go Go Tomago from the film, “Big Hero 6” as the one that fans love the most. “Especially kids! I love the way their eyes light up when I wear Go Go’s costume!" 

AsiaPop Comicon 2016, the second staging of the country’s biggest pop culture event will be held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City from August 26-28.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Former Hulk artist Carlo Pagulayan talks about Thor Ragnarok

Jason Paz, Carlo Pagulayan, Romulo Fajardo, and Stephen Segovia.

Former Hulk artist Carlo Pagulayan talks about Thor Ragnarok
by rick olivares

During the recent San Diego Comics Convention, the trailer of the new Thor film, titled: “Thor: Ragnarok” confirmed that the Asgardian tale about the world’s end will mesh one of the most popular stories in the lore of the “Incredible Hulk” comic book, “Planet Hulk”.

We caught up with Filipino artist Carlo Pagulayan who drew that popular “Planet Hulk” storyline (with other art chores handled by Aaron Lopresti) that was written by American film director and writer Grek Pak from the pages of “Incredible Hulk” that ran for 15-issues ten years ago in 2006.

“I had mixed feelings when I saw the news about how they were weaving the 'Planet Hulk’ story with a crucial part of Thor, the hero, and Norse mythology, which is Ragnarok,” revealed Pagulayan who is currently pencilling the DC Comics character of Deathstroke that came out last week. 

“When Hulk punched Thor in the first ‘Avengers’ film, it seemed natural they they would either develop this ‘rivalry’ or come up with a ‘buddy buddy’ type of story. I would have rather that they have a solo Hulk movie rather than have him guest in another character’s movie. I think the character deserves it.”

“I might be biased since I was part of the creative team that worked on the ‘Planet Hulk’ storyline but that’s just my thinking — to develop the Hulk as a film titan, like Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man."

In the comics, the “Planet Hulk” plot revolved around the Hulk being sent to outer space as he was deemed too dangerous to be running loose on Earth. The Hulk’s shuttle crash lands on the planet Sakaar where he is taken into slavery and forced to fight like a gladiator for survival. The Hulk ends up leading a rebellion and becomes the king of Sakaar. After the shuttle that took him to outer space detonates killing many of Sakaar’s citizens, he returns to Earth to fight the heroes who exiled him.

Ragnarok in Norse mythology, and woven into the Thor comic book lore as published by Marvel is literally, “the Twilight of the Gods” where all the gods perish after a great battle and the world is submerged under water only to undergo a rebirth.

“In any or whatever comics convention I go to, no matter what title I am working on at the moment, people always ask me about the Hulk and discuss the ‘Planet Hulk’ storyline and they tell me it is their favorite,” said Pagulayan. “And there is no shortage of requests to draw the Hulk. It is flattering although I have yet to get used to the idea of people asking for autographs and selfies."

Pagulayan also shared that his first big art influence was Rick Leonardi who had celebrated runs on titles such as "Cloak and Dagger", "the Uncanny X-Men", "Spider-Man 2099", “Nightwing", and later “Superman" among others.

He then discovered the work of Joe Quesada, John Romita Jr. Marc Silvestri and the other Image founders.Today, he keenly follows the work of Italian artist Sara Pichelli, Frank Cho, and one of his all-time favorites when he gets some work done, Travis Charest. 

Pagulayan and fellow Filpino artist Jason Paz are currently illustrating “Deathstroke” that is about the DC Comics’ most dangerous assassin and mercenary. The first issue came out last week and should be available in your favorite comics specialty store.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Filipino comics artist Carlo Pagulayan talks about working on DC’s Deathstroke & more

Filipino comics artist Carlo Pagulayan talks about working on DC’s Deathstroke & more
by rick olivares

Last Sunday, August 14, Filipino comic book artists Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, and Stephen Segovia signed copies of their latest works at Comic Odyssey inside FullyBooked at Bonifacio Global City.

All three artists had new first issues for DC Comics Rebirth line with Pagulayan and Paz tag-teaming on “Deathstroke" while Segovia pencilled "Action Comics".

The new comics under the “rebirth” line cannot be more apt for both Pagulayan and Segovia who worked the publisher’s “Convergence” event that was soundly panned by fans and critics alike. “I think I live in a cave,” said Pagulayan. “Maybe because I am so busy with my work and making deadlines that I have no time for anything else let alone listen to feedback. Even if it was the story that was criticized, it also hurt because I worked on it and I know the writer personally.”

That all seems forgotten now as the publisher’s line-wide “re-boot”called “Rebirth” (the second time they are using that tag) has garnered rave reviews for its seemingly back to the basics and “nostalgia” approach. The comic “Deathstroke” is about Slade Wilson, the world’s most dangerous assassin and mercenary who was introduced in the pages of "The Teen Titans" back in the 1980s. Pagulayan and Paz are tending to the art chores and bringing to life the prose of acclaimed writer Christopher Priest. 

“With ‘Deathstroke’, my interaction with the writer is discussing how I envision the action scenes and the designs for certain characters,” described Pagulayan of the work process. The veteran artist who hails from Batangas is probably best known for his work on the “Planet Hulk” storyline on the “Incredible Hulk” title for DC’s chief competitor, Marvel Comics.

Pagulayan is signed up for five issues of “Deathstroke” — issues 1 and 2 and Nos. 6-8. “The book is on a bi-monthly schedule right now and I am okay with that. If it were monthly I will be unable to get them out on time. So after the second issue, another artist will take over and both Jason and I return by the sixth issue. Beyond the eighth issue, I don’t know what’s next."

Several dozen fans braved Sunday’s inclement weather for the signing (while some 50 other fans left their copies to be signed by the Filipino artists). Comic Odyssey reported that their entire orders for 100 copies of “Deathstroke” sold out. 

“I still cannot believe that people like my work,” said Pagulayan. “I think it is natural for artists not to like their work. After the work comes out, I see the mistakes and look at how I can improve it. On the other hand, I was just like everyone else. As a kid, I only got hand-me-downs as I had no money to buy comics. When I started earning my own money, that’s when I bought my comics. Like other fans, I talked and lived and breathed comics.”

“Now it’s a job,” he laughed switching gears. “It’s a livelihood now. It gets stressful and tiring with the deadlines and the revisions but ultimately, it is satisfying. Plus, I remain a fan who still reads comics — when I am not busy. I try to get the works of some artists who I follow — Sara Pichelli (working on the Miles Morales “Spider-Man”) and Frank Cho (who is famous for his comic strip “Liberty Meadows” but is now working on the covers for “Wonder Woman”). So I alternate between artist-mode and fan-mode especially when I attend comic conventions in the United States.”

“Two years ago, I met Todd McFarlane (who became a fan favorite for his work on Spider-Man and his own character, Spawn, and his McFarlane Toys that became famous for their lifelike and intricate designs),” recalled Pagulayan. “I must have spent a long time in his booth getting his autograph, picture, and asking for a sketch. That was fun.”

“So if it is the same experience for the fans here then it makes me happy too.”

Sunday, August 14, 2016

At the signing for Action Comics #961 and Deathstroke Rebirth #1

There was a comic book signing this Sunday afternoon at Comic Odyssey at FullyBooked, BGC for the twin release of Action Comics #961 and Deathstroke #1. Got my stuff signed and interviewed both artists for a story. Watch out for that.

With Stephen Segovia who pencilled Action Comics #961. 

With Jason Paz and Carlo Pagulayan (L-R), inker and penciller for Deathstroke #1.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Grant Morrison needs to crank up the Heavy Metal

Grant Morrison needs to crank up the Heavy Metal 
by rick olivares

I picked up the latest two issues of Heavy Metal magazine. 

It has been three decades since I purchased a copy of this avante-garde comic magazine that was a blend of science fiction-fantasy and erotica and served to introduce European stories and art to a worldwide audience. 

I picked them up only because one of the foremost writers working in the comic book industry today, Grant Morrison, has come aboard as editor-in-chief. I can’t say whether the magazine’s content has been good or bad because it has been quite a while. However, when you bring on board someone of Morrison’s caliber; someone whose highly-creative and deliciously wicked imagination has revitalized or pushed mainstream American comic book titles like Justice League of America, Batman, and the X-Men into another stratosphere of success and acclaim, you have to excited about what magic will be weaved by the Scotsman into a title that has lost its relevancy. 

Thus far, two issues — Heavy Metal is now published every two months — have been released; May 2016’s #280 and July’s #281. As Morrison’s ornate introduction in #280 puts it, this is his “first time in the command of this vast star-machine that’s been sailing off the map’s edge of imagination and graphic madness”.

That is exactly what this magazine is.

The Scot’s first issue comes in the Spring where death and rebirth is the seasonal theme. Save for French creator Enki Bilal’s - more on him later — “Julia and Roem” that re-works William Shakespeare’s start-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet into a post-apocalyptic life, and Erika Lewis and J.K. Woodward’s “49th Key” that tells the story of an archeologist and young mute boy’s journey from the magical land of Enochia to modern world, most are new stories.

It should be noted that “49th Key” is the first story from the magazine to be adapted for a television series. The “Heavy Metal” animated film from 1981 used different stories featured in the magazine that were tied together by one common thread.

Having said that, here are my favorites from the first two Morrison issues of Heavy Metal.

280 “Still they come"
Morrison kicks off Heavy Metal #280 with his own story titled “Beachhead” (with artist Benjamin Marra) about aliens conquering the Earth and featuring some ugly looking aliens in a sad sack like story. 

Canadian writer Ryan Ferrier, whose amusing look into life on Earth after the machines have taken over the world in “D4VE” (from IDW Publishing) pens a story that Spanish artist Hugo Petrus drew (in a style that would appeal to fans of renowned fantasy artist Charles Vess). “Goddess” is about a forest deity who leads a bloody reprisal on a village that has hunted and killed creatures like deer and such with wanton abandon. 

There’s a small portfolio and interview with German artist Mimi Scholz whose work features females and animals in bizarre and surrealistic surroundings.

And there’s “Lepidopteran" by the Argentinean duo of writer Emilio Baalcarce and artist Gaston Vivanco that is about a Russian fighter jet that goes up against a U.F.O.

281 “Sex in the Summertime"
“Option 3 “ by Morrison and Simeon Aston, "The Last Romantic Anti-Hero" by Dean Haspiel, and “Zentropa" by John Mahoney.

As a youngster in the mid-1970s, it was the pre-internet age and the comic specialty shop had yet to be introduced, I would glance at the Heavy Metal magazines that were sold in only two shops in Manila — the Rastro and Christhareth — that were both situated in Greenhills and have long since closed. The magazines were expensive even if many of them were sold as second hand copies courtesy of American servicemen from Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base looking to make an extra buck.

It was hard enough collecting comics during that time let along picking up a magazine that was considered racy and subversive by many. 

To digress a moment about reading Heavy Metal, one must not be encumbered by anything else. Each and every issue must be read and digested with an open mind and without the element of time. The stories, more often than not because of the art styles, are vastly different from mainstream or even most American indie comics. So it requires some reading. This isn’t a comic that can be read and devoured in five minutes. Most issues are mind-blowers.

Around the time that the "Heavy Metal" film was being promoted, I had saved enough money to buy my first ever copy of the magazine and that was the 53rd issue cover dated August 1981. The cover art featured this beautiful fairy that was painted by Spanish fantasy artist Esteban Maroto. I actually could have gotten some earlier issues but I had to make sure that I got one with a cover that wouldn’t catch the attention of my parents. Nevertheless, that issue featured works and stories from Richard Corben, Rod Kierkegaard, Howard Chaykin, Tom Yeates, and Jim Steranko among others. And there too was a Bilal story so getting #280 a little under 35 years later was a bit of serendipity. 

All in all, the first two Heavy Metal issues under Morrison’s baton has some interesting stuff. However, to be honest, nothing so far that has me raving 'this is a must read’. The hype is over-hyped. It’s a shame because one of the variant covers to #280 shows Morrison flipping the bird. So much about sending a message because there’s nothing so far except some creator putting his mug front and center. 

Hopefully, the third issue will find some new and interesting series we can really latch on to and place this magazine firmly on my comics pull list. Or else, I will respond by flipping Morrison and Heavy Metal the bird and just re-read those old magazines that have a warm place in my fanboy’s heart.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Stranger Things’ star Millie Brown to grace AsiaPop Comicon

Stranger Things’ star Millie Brown to grace AsiaPop Comicon
by rick olivares

British child actress Millie Bobby Brown who was the breakout star of Netlix’ science fiction horror series, Stranger Things, will be in attendance at the second staging of the AsiaPop Comicon Manila from August 26-28 at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.

Brown is the second actress named in as many days by AsiaPop organizers after the stunning pullout of Agent Carter and Captain America actress Hayley Atwell due to scheduling conflicts with her new television show, Conviction.

The 12-year old Brown plays the character of Eleven, a young girl with psychokinetic abilities in the critically-acclaimed show whose popularity was spread by word of mouth. Stranger Things is set in the 1980s and has received positive reviews for its writing directing, pacing, acting, soundtrack, and homages to 80s films by John Carpenter, Stephen King, George Lucas, and Steven Speilberg.

Speilberg lauded the show as the best on television for the year.

Brown was one of the show’s stars along with the comebacking Winona Ryder, an actress who coincidentally started out her career in the 1980s. 

The young Brown has an interesting story where her family sold all their belongings just to give her acting career a chance. Millie was able to land small parts in television shows but wasn’t able to snag major roles. The family, flat broke, moved back to England in the summer of 2015. Life got so difficult for the Brown family that during an audition for Stranger Things where she was asked to cry among other things. Given her highly emotional state, Brown let it all out and she got the part

Within weeks, the family was on a plane to Atlanta to film Stranger Things. Since the runaway success of the short television series, producers have lined up to sign Brown. And now, the 12-year old Barcelona-born Briton is going to make her first comics convention appearance. And in AsiaPop Comicon Manila of all places.