Tuesday, November 20, 2018

5 Komiks you must pick up from the November Komikon

5 Komiks you must pick up from the November Komikon
by rick olivares

The November Komikon, a two-day celebration of the burgeoning independent comic book scene – from November 17 and 18 at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City -- has come and gone. And as always, we selected our favorites from the dozens of new titles that were made available over the weekend.

We picked up quite a lot of local product – 45 to be exact. And I took two whole days to read and even re-read them. I made my notes and mind you there were good ones. But these choices in my opinion, are the best and what I recommend.

Melag (Anino Comics) by Bong Redila
The beauty of comics is that is takes the reader into flights of fantasy where you suspend your disbelief and come away with wonder. With Melag, Bong Redila tells you that you do not need to go far from home to experience this. One of the most beautiful books you will read.

Sikami Volume 6 (Pangalatoon Productions)
I will be honest, I got this for Bong Redila’s beautiful “Ang Bahay Ampunan sa Mahamog.” A 30-page short story that is moving and sensitive. Just when you think you know where this is going then there’s a curve ball right back at you.

To sum it up, it feels like a Tim Burton film made into the comic book page.

I’d say that Redila is one of those few gifted storytellers. Long may he live to do more.

Liryo (Anino Comics) by Magtira Paolo
It is said that during turbulent times, some of the best songs and art are produced. Of the two books in this list (and perhaps among the entire new batch of releases for the November Komikon), only two books touched on the extra-judicial killings or EJK. Stay does partially and Liryo. The story is nothing extraordinary or one that provides something new. Not at all. But this has balls.

It is about broken dreams and well, the harsh times we live in. Bravo for making this.

DI-13 Commemorative Edition (Triple D Publishing) by Damy Velasquez and Jesse F. Santos.
It is nice to see that the late Francisco Coching isn’t the only komiks legend who is having his old works re-produced. One of the first ever Filipino komiks series – DI-13 or Department of Investigations- Agent 13 is getting not only re-printed but also modernized for a younger audience.

One thing I love about this compilation is going through each and every panel to see how everything is so detailed and yet with the perfect balance of white space and black ink. Many of today’s artists are heavy on blacks that most are hard to decipher what they are trying to convey. Learn from the masters about storytelling.

The Dead Heart (Komikero Publishing) by Gerry Alanguilan
Technically, a reprint. First published via photocopy in 1996, it finally gets reprinted and I am happy (after having lost my original copy to Ondoy).

The Dead Heart is a story about loss and dealing with that depression. A heart wrenching short story by the living legend himself, Gerry Alanguilan.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

November Komikon Must-Reads: Bong Redila’s Melag

November Komikon Must-Reads: Bong Redila’s Melag
by rick olivares

In the first few panels to his short comic book story, “Perya,” Bong Redila writes, “Ang kaligayahan ay matatagpuan kung saan-saan. Noong bata pa ako, papel at tasadong lapis lang ay masaya na ako.”

These two lines sum up the wonder and amazing read that is Melag; a wonderful trove of nine short comics written and drawn by Bong Redila. The 126-page trade paperback, published by Anino Comics, was made available at the Komikon last November 17 and 18 at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City. It will surely also be available at local comic book specialty shops after this.

Each story about this familiar yet magical town of Melag introduces you to different and nameless people. There is no need for names for most characters, but they are all too real and familiar. And most certainly, they – and the stories they are wrapped in -- will put a smile on your lips as you recall your own youthful days when even a simple walk home would find you daydreaming with the world around you terraforming and serving as one adventure.

The prose is sparse. Redila deftly makes use of words only when he needs too. For the most part, the art – alternatingly simple, intricate, and lovingly detailed to the point you spend quite a few minutes lost in each panel – tells the story. And you know what they say about what a picture is worth…

And it is his simple, yet beautiful and expressive art – that reminds me of Jeremy Bastian of Cursed Pirate Girl fame, of Mexican artist Tony Sandoval whose Doomboy is an emotive rock and roll fable, and David Petersen who crafts the most excellent Mouse Guard series of comics.

The first story, “PNR 24” reminds me of Walter Mitty. “Liwaliw” harkens back in some way to Pixar’s animated film “Up.”

“Tanawin Ni Aida” has that Calvin & Hobbes feel. “Hiling” for the life of me reminds of a Hayao Miyazaki tale.

I love the art of “Ang Sayaw” that reminds me of the art of the aforementioned Petersen while “Perya” has Gaimanesque feel.

For the last two short pieces, “Arapaap” and “Bago Pumatak ang Ulan,” remind me of the art styles of those old English fairy tales and fables. Glimpses of childhood; pleasant memories worth revisiting.

In Melag, Redila perfectly captures one’s inner child; a Ratatouille moment even for the most jaded of comic book readers.

Melag is a thoroughly enjoyable read and I found myself wracking my brain to figure out when was the last time I read a local comic book that evoked such wonder and amazement (and I read a lot)? Was it Arnold Arre’s Mythology Class?

I could be wrong, but that is what comes to mind. So this is not faint praise. You don’t need to take a train to some magic castle in the English countryside to experience something magical. Melag is close to home and this is where this comic book anthology gets its heart.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Filipino creators working on Immortal Wings sequel for international release

Filipino creators working on Immortal Wings sequel for international release
by rick olivares

It is common today to find Filipino creators working on American comic books. But usually, they work on other people’s plots, scripts, and characters. There have been Filipino-Americans such as While Portacio (Wetworks and Stone) and Jonathan and Joshua Luna (Ultra, Girls, and The Sword, and Alex + Ada) who have had their original works published abroad. But an entire creative team of homegrown comic book creators getting published abroad is a rarity.

In February 2016, Antarctic Press, the San Antonio, Texas-based comic book publishing company, released Immortal Wings, a four-issue limited science-fiction fantasy series about a space bounty hunter hired by the Galactic Shogunate to eliminate a threat to their rule.

Written by Carlo San Juan and drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Rod Espinosa, the four-issue series of Immortal Wings was a must-have for local fans.

Now, more than two years after the first series, a second one is being planned once more for international publication. “There will be a sequel,” bared San Juan during the recent Indieket comics convention. “I cannot fully divulge the plot or even how many issues will be produced. We’ve pitched it once more to Antarctic Press and we’re waiting for their thoughts about the proposal. And I hope that Rod will work on it again, but if his tight schedule doesn’t permit it, there is also a possibility that someone else will illustrate it.”

Espinosa isn’t the only one with a hectic schedule. San Juan is very busy himself as he is a practicing medical doctor. He is also responsible for the popular Callous comic strip that appears in the pages of a major newspaper. Espinosa has written and illustrated many independent books in the American market including The Courageous Princess and Neotopia for Antarctic Press.

Some of the more popular titles published by Antarctic Press include Hepcats, Ninja High School, Strangers in Paradise, and Warrior Nun Areala. The publishing company was formed by Taiwanese-American creator Ben Dunn to put out books that featured manga-inspired artwork.

“Immortal Wings was conceived to be an ongoing series,” revealed San Juan. “But Antarctic was of the idea of putting it out as a limited series and taking it from there. There is an entire universe of characters for Immortal Wings, and for the sequel, I want to focus on a soldier from the Galactic Shogunate and how he deals with his place in the world after a particular battle he took part in. You can say that he is trying to find his significance in the universe.”

Before I conceived of Immortal Wings, I wanted to read a story that had all the awesome stuff that I loved as a kid samurai films, spaghetti westerns, space operas, fantasy games, and cartoons all in one story. I didn’t find anything so I told myself, why don’t I create one myself? It was a challenge to write and I enjoyed putting it together.”

San Juan was introduced to Rod Espinosa during a comic book event. “I saw all his large body of work and he is quite a storied artist. And he was a perfect fit for what I wanted to do,” related the writer or the fortuitous meeting with the artist that led to their eventual collaboration.

“Right now, the proposal is on the desk of the editors of Antarctic Press. Hopefully, it will get the green light soon so we can have it out by early next year; three years after the first series.”

For those looking for copies of Immortal Wings, check out Comic Odyssey and Carlo San Juan’s Facebook Page.

Monday, August 13, 2018

What did I love about Fantastic Four #1 (2018)?

What did I love about Fantastic Four #1 (2018)?

Before I answer that question, I will take you back at my history with the comic book.

It was 1974 when I got my first Fantastic Four comics. That was issue #147 when the FF went up against Namor the Sub-Mariner. I distinctly remember where I first got that. My grandfather bought it as this general store along with some other comics (Thor included).

I was enthralled. The FF became an instant favorite along with the X-Men that I only read from an uncle of mine. At that time, I hadn’t read the Avengers, Daredevil, and Captain America who would go on to be my fave comics.

I began to collect the Fantastic Four when I could afford to buy it. By the time I could, John Byrne was on board.

What did I like about the FF? I like the fact that they were a family. Their adventures were star-spanning and cosmic. Sure they went up against the mundane such as the Salem Seven but I like them going up against Galactus, Annihilus, and others. I liked that Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman were married. And throughout all their upheavals, they remained a couple. I was upset when that stupid One More Day invalidated the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson and how the marriage of Scott Summers and Madelyne Prior was invalidated. To this day, I hate Marvel for that.

I like that the Thing was tortured inside by his being a monster. Johnny Storm was someone you wanted to be – the cool kid who every girl fell for.

Their headquarters – the Baxter Building – had the coolest name. They rode the Fantasti-Car. They had Luke Cage, Medusa, Crystal, and She-Hulk as members. Hell, Spider-Man nearly joined up! And I think I have a pretty good collection of FF comics.

Anyways… let’s go back to the present.

What did I love about the newly released Fantastic Four #1?

First of all, it was released on the exact 57th anniversary of the publication of the original Fantastic Four #1. Much has been made of their not being in a regular Marvel comic for years and that in my opinion is criminal. Anyway, the anniversary touch, August 8, was a nice and poignant touch for the old fans like me.

Second, I loved the four-page tribute to Steve Ditko that opened the comic. I was a fan of Steve’s work on Amazing Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

Third, it was great seeing some old characters back. Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters are together again. They should be together and not apart. I loved that Ben proposed to Alicia. And how about the Yancy Street Gang (one of the longest running jokes in Marvel Comics).

I liked seeing Wyatt Wingfoot again! Hopefully, he and Jennifer Walters will hook up again.

And speaking of all the former FF members, it was nice to see them make cameo appearances. Even Doctor Doom or is this the real Doom or someone else? And the Impossible Man is there too!

And fourth and last (exactly, right)… it was great that for much of the issue, we didn’t see Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman except for two panels and in the last pages too. That sort of whet your appetite for their inevitable return. And that giant 4 signal? That was an awesome way and cliffhanger for the way to end.

I really liked Dan Slott’s writing on Amazing Spider-Man and I am looking forward to his work on FF. I have liked Italian artist Sara Pichelli’s work on Ultimate Spider-Man and I think her “pop” style works well adding a lot of expression to the FF comic. I look forward to see her depict the cosmos and interstellar adventures of Marvel’s First Family. Assuming she stays on that long.

And Esad Ribic on the cover? How’s that for an international cast of creators?

Loved the first issue. Looking forward to the next!