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.