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!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

An old Pilipino Komiks character – Agent Trese – is dusted off for a modern audience

An old Pilipino Komiks character – Agent Trese – is dusted off for a modern audience
by rick olivares

There a saying about art imitating life. In the case of Ian “Damy” Velasquez III, it is life… imitating art.

The 42-year old former Mass Communications teacher from Far Eastern University recently published “The New DI-13” (Department of Investigations Agent Trese) during the recent Indieket, last August 4 at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig.

DI-13 was originally serialized in Pilipino Komiks back in the 1940s as conceived and created by the team of Damy Velasquez – the grandfather – and artist Jesse F. Santos.

“My grandfather, Damy Velasquez and his brother, Tony Velasquez were some of the pioneers of Philippine komiks,” stated the grandson. “They worked with some icons and national artists in the business from Mars Ravelo to Francisco Coching. In fact, you can find an illustration by Mr. Coching of Agent Trese in the inside from cover of the coffee table book, A History of Komiks in the Philippines (published in 1985).”

The original DI-13 recounted the adventures of an agent simply called “Agent Trese” as he solved various crimes that plagued the city.

“At first, I planned to re-print my grandfather’s works – much like Coching’s old nobelas getting a second life today in trade paperback form – as an uncle of mine recently unearthed my lolo’s old works,” bared Damy. “I attended a komiks camp by the people who organize Komikon and one of the requirements was to produce an original komiks. That’s when it finally dawned upon me to continue my grandfather’s work.”

The original series ended back in the early 1950s. So, is the new series a retro book?

“It is actually set in modern Philippines and this time, the agent…. is the grandson of the original Agent Trese,” revealed Velasquez with a chuckle. “Modern times and modern crimes.”

Life imitates art.

“Exactly,” laughed Velasquez. “But as an old time comic book fan who this is a gratifying experience to be able to continue a legacy.”

The new comic published under the banner, Triple D Publishing, is also a family thing. Damy’s brother, Tommy is doing all the art work.

“We just released the Zero Issue with the regular first issue planned for either late this year or early next year,” summed up Damy. “We hope to do our grandfather proud. And of course, the Filipino comic book fan.”

Interested comic book fans may check out the Facebook page, “The New DI-13” for more information and how to purchase copies of the comic.

Monday, August 6, 2018

The 2018 Indieket features some new and recent gold mines in local komiks

The 2018 Indieket features some new and recent gold mines in local komiks
by rick olivares

The seventh Indieket (or Independent Komiks Grand Market) was held last Saturday, August 4, at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City with over dozens of new creators showcasing their wares across a hundred titles.

I have been away – as a creator and as a fan – for the past two years so the komiks I picked up might not all be exclusive to the Indieket but here is what I liked among the bunch.

Captain Cliffhanger, The Unoriginals, and Manila 4016 AD (Chemical Comics)
At first glance, these four titles all look like children’s drawings and sketches. And Chemical Comics’ creative director and artist Vincent Lapuz freely admits to them. “They were my drawings as a kid and I wanted to revitalize them,” he says. And in a sea of manga and traditional Filipino style of comic book illustration, Lapuz’ work stands out.

If you are a comic book fan who purchased the work of Tom Scioli in the recent GI Joe vs Transformers series for IDW Comics, Lapuz’ work might just be right up your alley. From a Robert Crumb-esque twist of Jack Kirby art, Lapuz’ work is plain fun.

DI-13 #0 (Triple D Publishing)
DI or Department of Investigations Agent Trese was first published in 1947 written and created by Damy Velasquez and illustrated by Jesse F. Santos as a part of Pilipino Komiks. Now 71 years later, Velasquez’ grandson, Damy Velasquez III and his brother, Tommy who contributes as an artist, is continuing the legacy but not as a period piece but one in a modern setting.

Issue Zero is a preview of what is to come and also includes a reprinting of some of those old strips from Pilipino Komiks. Damy had the limited black and white cover (only 13 copies were printed) and the regular issue with a colored cover.

In this preview, Agent 13 is mysteriously re-assigned when he tries to re-open a murder case setting up an intriguing first issue that will be out in 2019!

Queen’s Scouts
Created by Steffi Delly with background assists by David Daang. I picked this up because it felt like an old Gold Key or Dell funny animal comics. The story revolves around two agents assigned to protect the children of the president of the fictional country of Gemino from criminal cartels. The children are kidnapped however Agents Tris and Gaia manage to rescue them by issue’s end.

In the last couple of years, Boom Studious published the celebrated anthropomorphic sci-fi trilogy of Wild’s End from the creative team of Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard that is an incredible read (ala War of the Worlds).

And there is the Marguerite Bennett’s Animosity (from Aftershock Comics) where animals revolts against the humans.

Both foreign series have darker tones while Queen’s Scouts is more for a young audience; a kid’s book, if you will. Not bad.

Tabi Po Issue 3.5 (Haliya Publishing)
In between tomes and a television mini-series, horror-meister Mervin Malonzo comes out with this short story that tells some back story to the entire series. A must-have if you’re into this aswang story that is a game changer.

Ugh Vol.1 and April & May Forever!! (Haliya Publishing)
We featured Ugh in our komiks features since it was first published several years ago and during Indieket too. Ugh, as created by the talented Julienne Dadivas or who goes by per her pen name, Hulyen, is irreverent, slapstick, and humorous in the vein of Robert Crumb, ZAP comics, Rick and Morty, Beavis and Butthead, the Simpsons, and I Hate Fairyland.

Ugh Volume 1 compiles the first three issues of Ugh while April and May Forever is like a Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion in komiks form! Set in the 1980s, the two girls who are probably lovers as well have to attend a concert by the Dawn at all costs. And they will do everything just to make it. High jinks follow. Hilarious!

Pasig Unbound #1 and 2 (Point Zero)

Reminds me of the world of Battle Angel Alita. Except the setting is in Pasig. This has been out for a while but what makes this different are the colored covers! Had to get them.