Sunday, November 24, 2019

6 Comics to get from Komikon Grande

6 Comics to get from Komikon Grande
by rick olivares

The last major local comic book convention has come and gone with dozens and dozens of creators showcasing their latest works at Komikon Grande (November 23-24, 2019) at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City.

Here are in our opinion, are some of the titles that you should pick up (they will be available in local comic book stores after Komikon Grande or via their respective Facebook pages).

Kenkoy Klasiks: Album ng Mga Kabalbalan (Velasquez Characters Komiks)
Only 90 copies of this special edition were printed and they sold out fast. I am told that a regular edition will be out before the month ends and should be available wherever local komiks are sold.

The apo of the late Tony Velasquez, the man called, “The Father of Filipino Komiks” produced this comic strip back in the pages of Liwayway magazine 90 years ago, and Ian thought it was not only a great way to remember his Lolo but to also reintroduce this character in what was literally, the funnies.

This is a great title to have in anyone’s collection as you will feel the nostalgia (yes, reading it dates the strips because this was during the American Colonial Period) but also the pride at having our own strip. If you like those classic American strips such as The Katzenjammer Kids, Gasoline Alley, Blondie, and Dick Tracy, then Kenkoy is worth adding to your comics collection.

Ang Mga Huling Awit ng Digmaan (Point Zero Comics)
Jon Zamar is a veteran writer and artist and despite his long involvement in the scene remains under the radar. I will say this. He soldiers on even against all trends, he sticks to his guns and stories. And he has brought artists David Sysing (who illustrated Ang Lakambini ng Kahilwayon) and Brian Balondo (who worked in the second chapter Ang Mga Bihag sa Pulang Lupa) whose respective crackles with energy.

If you liked Warlands or Elfquest, then check out Ang Mga Huling Awit ng Digmaan.

Ugh #5 (Ugh Comics)
When Hulyen first released Ugh Comics, I raved about it for its irreverence and sarcastic view on growing up and life. This was our Beavis and Butthead. Our Reality Bites even. At some point, I thought the magic wore off. But Ugh #5 finds Hulyen once more in her ornery irascible self. I thought by expounding her strips and not forcing them to end in a single page or a few panels.

I am an Ugh hipster.

Tales from the Kingdom of Tundo Book One 
A compilation of the first four issues of writer-artist Mark del Rosario’s epic alternative mythology. This fantasy epic is everything we loved about local folklore mashed with the stories mark grew up reading from The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia to name some while adding regional elements (Hindu and Buddhist beliefs). 

It is an epic in the making with loads of potential.

The Children of Bathala Volume One (Nautilus Comics)
Some stories are sacred. And we shudder to think when creators deem it time for a sequel. It didn’t work with The Dark Knight Returns and I am not crazy about anything that they have done as a prequel or sequel for Watchmen. I wondered about that too when I heard that master storyteller Arnold Arre was cooking up a sequel to his beloved tome, The Mythology Class. In fact, he didn’t just have one sequel, but five.

If The Children of Bathala is the result, then my fears have been allayed. Arre’s work here is the best that he has done. This is the best artwork he has done in his career. 

Two decades after the events of Mythology Class, our cast of characters are older and the experience of their previous adventure had faded over the years as their respective lives have moved on. But new visitors from the magical world of Ibalon have arrived and a new danger and journey unfolds.

Strap yourself in for this ride.

Bulwagan ng Misteryo (Kikomachine Komix)
It is so easy to pace any work by Arnold Arre or Manix Abrera into this list. But they aren’t living on their reputation. They are the consummate and prolific storytellers and they are once more back with some terrific work.

I love the format of Manix’ new work. It is square-bound in the manner of your favorite Calvin and Hobbes editions. It makes the art easier to look at and the words easier to read. 

When I first read Manix’ work, I thought of Gary Larson’s The Far Side. And while there are differences, the imagination, wit, and madness (I mean that in a good way) are the same.

This latest work is mind-bending.

Additional titles to pick up: Trese Deviations: Dakila & Fr. Trese from David Hontiveros and Marvin del Mundo, and D-13 #2 from Ian Velasquez and Rico Rival.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Classic Filipino strip Kenkoy is one of Komikon Grande’s highlights

Classic Filipino strip Kenkoy is one of Komikon Grande’s highlights
by rick olivares

One of the highlights of this weekend’s Komikon Grande (November 23-24 at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City) Album ng mga Kabalbalan ni Kenkoy.

The 32-page compilation reprints classic comic strips from Tony Velasquez who is acknowledged as “the Father of Tagalog Komiks.”

“Kenkoy” is a character created by writer Romualdo Ramos and illustrator Tony Velasquez and who was featured in a komiks strip in Liwayway magazine on January 11, 1929. 

Kenkoy was a humorous look at Filipino life during the American Period. The strip became so popular that it was translated into several dialects and even received its own film adaptation in the 1950s featuring icons Dely Atay-atayan, Eduardo Infante, and Lopito.

The tome was repackaged and remastered by local artist and Komikon co-founder Jon Zamar according to Ian Velasquez, the grandson of another famous Filipino komiks illustrator Damy Velasquez who created the detective strip, D-13, of which his grandson resurrected with all new adventures.

“Aside from re-introducing Kenkoy to a new generation of readers, our family aims for more visibility for the character and his creator since we want to pursue Velasquez’ nomination as a National Artist in the near future,” said Ian. “More than publishing the old work, we have been active by traveling and doing exhibits.”

The reprints of Kenkoy follows the reprints of other famous nobelas or komiks stories created by the late National Artist Francisco Coching that includes El Indio, Saba ang Barbaro, Lapu-Lapu, and Dumagit.

The Art of Alfredo Alcala was also reprinted by Dover Publications in 2015.

Only 90 copies will be made available of these reprinted classics (each one has a retail price of P300) and will be available at Ian Velasquez’ table at Komikon Grande.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Comic book artist Gilbert Monsanto bares plans for more Bayan Knights stories & then some.

Comic book artist Gilbert Monsanto bares plans for more Bayan Knights stories & then some.
by rick olivares

Comic book artists Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan, and Jay Anacleto are some of the local illustrators who garner a lot of attention and acclaim for their work on American comic books. 

There is one other artist who came up alongside them in the famed Starfire Visuals that was put up by the great Whilce Portacio that opened doors for Filipino artists in the American industry, and his fingerprints as well as storytelling, pencils, and inks on many a pivotal local comic book – Gilbert Monsanto.

Monsanto along with Roy Allan Martinez were the first among the Starfire Visuals Studios artists to fully draw releases from Image Comics in the mid-1990s and that was Hellcop and Hazard respectively. Although Monsanto drew aa few more titles, he channeled a lot of his energies to the local independent scene. While working with Portacio’s art school in Megamall, he also produced the country’s version of Justice League of Americana and The Avengers in Bayan Knights; a team composed of heroes created by different artists.

Among the more popular Bayan Knights characters (that have also seen their own releases by their respective creators) include Astiging Boy Ipis that was created by Mike Ignacio and lovingly inspired by Spider-Man, Amely Vidal’s Phantom Cat, Gio Paredes’ super-strong Kalayaan, and Reno Maniquis’ Maskarado. 

Filipino artists who have made names working on American comics such as Leinil Francis Yu and Harvey Tolibao have provided covers to a few issues of Bayan Knights.

Since its initial publication in 2008 under his own independent imprint, Sacred Mountain, there have been some nine issues of Bayan Knights with a bunch of spin-off titles featuring the individual characters such Sarhento Sagrado and Phantom Cat among others. That has morphed into the logical progression of Bayan Knights which is The Demigods that has seen a few issues published.

“Hindi ko akalain na may impact yung Bayan Knights,” said a grateful Monsanto. “Hindi naman natin ito ginawa expecting that people will like it. Bonus yun. Pero nakaka-inspire lalo kasi I believe that we Filipinos can do even more good work in this medium.”

Monsanto has been approached to see how Bayan Knights can be developed into something more – perhaps a film adaptation. However, he is protective of the work. The challenge is to maintain control and to not comprise the characters. “Let’s see what happens,” he can only comment.  

The prolific Monsanto has also published several comic magazines in Rambol and Tropa assuming roles such as editor-in-chief, writer, penciller, or inker depending on the story. 

Prior to that, Gilbert was a part of the first independently produced local comic in Exodus that was published in November of 1994 that included local creators Mike Tan, Jim Jimenez, Lui Antonio, and Martinez among many others.

He also took part in the high profile new millennium release of Darna (from Mango Comics) along with Boboy Yonzon and fellow Starfire Visuals alumnus, Ryan Orosco, and the local magazine reprints of DC Comics where he pens a column on illustration techniques for budding illustrators. He has also worked on a graphic novel series for Black Ink publications titled Hands of the Dragon, and Anthony James Perez’ exorcist story, Patron.

Gilbert is working on comics full time. He just finished a Blade Runner comic book in the USA and is doing some work on projects he cannot disclose as of the moment. And hopefully, more Bayan Knights stories.

He is amazed that through this profession – once a mere hobby and a love for the medium – has allowed him to raise a family. “Nothing beats that…. Following your passion, doing something for the industry, and helping your family.”