Archive for October, 2012

Komiks Review: Manila Accounts 1081: Good Criminals Wear White #1

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 31 - 2012

Let me get this out of the way first: Manila Accounts 1081: Good Criminals Wear White #1 [Wan Mañanita, Aaron Felizmenio, Alyssa Mortega, RH Quilantang], is worth your money. It stands beside Crime Fighting Call Center Agents and Tatsulok: A Vision of Dust as one of the most promising new komik properties I’ve seen in the past two years.

That being said, there are quite a few nits I have to pick, but I think that those flaws jab at me more because the concept (or what I’ve seen of it so far) is so novel and exciting that I want the execution to match it.

But we’ll get to that later. Let’s start with the good stuff. Issue #1 has two stories, GCWW, and the Coup d’etat  backup story. There isn’t as much to say about the latter, except for the fact that I love the idea of L.I.H.I.M., but I wish that Quilantang had been as rigorous with his interior artwork as he was with his cover art — the art in Coup d’etat is serviceable, but not in the same league as his beautiful line art for the cover.

[Spoiler warning.]

The art is the most striking thing about GCWW. At its best — during the scenes focused on the thieves — the characters are expressive and rendered with personality, and the soft inks give the art an overall style that fits well with the heist genre (or maybe I’ve just been reading too much Darwyn Cooke). The choice of “camera angles” for the panels also adds a cinematic flair to the presentation–the best example of this is when the thieves leave their meeting room.

Another big plus is the setting — it’s no secret that I’m an alternative history fan,  and I’m looking forward to seeing how GCWW explores the idea of a Martial Law that has an intelligence agency that trains superheroes. That hybrid nature in itself — heist + superheroes — is appealing to me, but even without that fusion, I’m itching to read a komik set in the Martial Law days. Arre’s “Martial Law Babies” aside, I don’t know of many komiks that take place in that era, much less one that mixes in speculative elements. But it’s a good choice for a komik where the protagonists are thieves–there is no other point in time, post-independence, wherein being a criminal could easily be seen as something virtuous. The use of faux newspaper articles from the period as exposition also helps underscore the historical aspect of this alternative history.

For a short comic, the issue managed to create more than its fair share of “moments”:  the reveal of the heist’s target, the “they’re past curfew” scene, and the very last image, are all moments that spur a reader to talk about this comic.

Okay, now for the stuff that didn’t work for me.

While the story has its moments, the script is rather raw. There’s a certain forced quality to the dialogue that permeates many of the scenes — not bad, per se, but awkward. It’s not much of an issue in the superhero scenes — we’re used to a certain pomp and bombast amongst masks — but it hurts the scenes with the protagonists, because we expect their banter to sound like the easy and familiar jousting of old friends. The awkwardness extends to the Articles as well.

I’ve already praised the art, but while it excels in the scenes focused on the thieves, the art gets muddled during the superhero fight scenes, with some not-ideal angle and shading choices. (The one exception was the “splash” page, no pun intended.) The death scene, in particular, would have had more of an impact if it were more readily apparent what had happened, and who the parties involved were (we can’t see the face of the victim, and the attacker came from nowhere and his chevron was obscured).

Speaking of the death, I found Anthony’s reaction to that to be a bit incoherent — he seems as shocked as the others in one panel, but in the next panel he seems rather blasé about the whole thing. (“Man…”)

Finally, for a first issue, GCWW #1 doesn’t really give us a good handle on our protagonists–we know their goal, and their costume, but not their motivation, nor their backgrounds, nor their abilities, nor of any threat primarily aimed at them. We actually get a bit more of that in the free comic book day issue, but I hadn’t read that before I picked up issue #1, and I don’t think I’ll be the only one. It’s fine not to show the reader everything, but if I didn’t have a visceral reaction to “martial law oppression”, I wouldn’t care what happened to this gang of thieves.

In sum, again, Manila Accounts 1081: Good Criminals Wear White #1 is worth your money. It’s a gem, but don’t except a cut and polished diamond ready for mounting. However, even in its raw and unprocessed form, there’s something mesmerizing about it. Here’s hoping for more.

Mythspace Komikon 2012 Aftermath

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 30 - 2012

What you see above is the last copy of Mythspace: Liftoff #0 at Komikon 2012, minutes before it too was purchased. Yes, we sold out of our print run, and while that is a mixed blessing usually, we didn’t play it safe with the print run, so sales really did exceed reasonable expectations — we sold almost double what High Society did, and HS was already considered a success for a Komikon indie. Thank you to everyone who bought a copy or spread the word!

A few post Komikon notes and links:

Again, thank you everyone for your support, and the team is now hard at work to ensure we have the complete anthology ready by 2013. I’ll keep updating you on the progress of Mythspace here and on the Facebook page.

Komikon 2012: Trese 5 Preview

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 25 - 2012

The 2012 year-end Komikon is this Saturday, and while I hope Rocket Kapre readers have all added Mythspace to their pull lists, there are a lot of great new titles coming out, so best hit the ATMs before hitting the Bayanihan Center. One of the most eagerly anticipated releases is, of course, Trese Book 5: Midnight Tribunal, by the team of Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. Budjette was kind enough to provide us a sneak preview of the volume, where we see hapless “morgue man” (and star of Budjette’s Trese story in “Alternative Alamat” ) Spunky in a bit of a pickle, and see the Trese once again shooting down the (awesome) ideas of the Kambal. Plus, some concept art!

TRESE 5: Midnight Tribunal
ISBN: 971-05451-8-3
Creators: Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo
SRP: P150.00

“In a city where the aswang control everything that is illegal and where ancient gods seek to control everything else, enforcing the law can be a very difficult task.

When crime takes a turn for the weird, the police normally call Alexandra Trese. Lately, it seems like others have been taking that call.

Trese must confront these supernatural crime-fighters and bring order back to the city, before the underworld attempts to seek balance in its own way.”

Read Lit District: Call for First Pages for Critique

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 24 - 2012

On the first day of the Read Lit District event, several critically acclaimed writers will be critquing selected first pages of novels. The NBDB is looking for submissions. Here’s the announcement from Facebook:

On November 14, top writers and mentors Tim Tomlinson, Jose Dalisay, Jr., and Juliet Grames will critique “first page” submissions at the Read Lit District. The aim of the workshop dubbed “Coming Strong” is to help writers create a great impression at the beginning of their novels. 

We are now accepting manuscripts for consideration. The first page must be part of a longer work that may or may not be finished. 

Slots are limited and manuscripts will be chosen according to merit. Send your first page to Camille Dela Rosa at cvdelarosa@nbdb.gov.ph. Deadline for submission is November 5. 

Read Lit District adult fees are P2,000 for the 3 days or P800 per day. Senior citizens get 20% off. Student fees are P1,500 for the 3 days or P600 per day.

Rocket Kapre Featured in the Katipunan Online Magazine

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 23 - 2012

 

A month or two back, a pair of Ateneo students asked if they could interview me for Katipunan, the online magazine of the Guidon, for a feature on Rocket Kapre. It was a particularly busy time, but I always try to make time to spread the word about science fiction and fantasy in the Philippines. I meant what I said in the interview: “I don’t think there’s even been a better time to be involved [in the genre] as either a reader or a writer.”

The article was just published a few days ago, and you can see it here.

One thing though: A couple of the stories mentioned in the original introduction of the article aren’t really connected with Rocket Kapre. I think they reference both Skygypsies and the God Equation — neither I nor RK have any connection with the latter (aside from the fact that I enjoyed the story and admire its author) and while I had a hand in re-publishing Skygypsies as Kwentillion co-editor, strictly speaking that magazine was not a Rocket Kapre project. FYI

Mythspace Mondays: Advance Reviews

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 22 - 2012

For the three Mondays of October before the Komikon, I’ll be talking about my newest comic book project, “Mythspace: Liftoff”. The #0 issue will be available at the Komikon on Oct.27. The first Mysthspace Monday was a look into the concept behind Mythspace, the second was about the way we re-imagined folklore creatures as aliens, and today we feature some advance reviews.

Last week I began to send out digital review copies of Mythspace: Liftoff #0 to bloggers/critics/reviewers, and a few have been kind enough to post their impressions of our zero issue online. So today I’ll let other people do the talking… it should be patently obvious by now that I love what our team has been doing, but does that translate to the impartial reader?

Short answer: YES. (So far!)

 

The most recent is from none other than Noel Pascual, the co-creator of the wonderful Crime Fighting Call Center Agents comic. Here’s an excerpt from his review, the full text of which is here:

Koi Carreon’s art is amazing. As I was browsing through the pages the first time, it’s the character design that really stood out. There’s quite a bit of a manga influence in there but the human characters— from the lead character to the secondary characters (especially the secondary characters!)— all look quite Pinoy. In a story dealing with Pinoy myths, that goes a long way when it comes to adding to the overall effectiveness of the piece.

The plotting really works, going from flashback to present day without confusing the reader. The scenes picked enhance the drama of the story without crossing into melodrama. The rebellious teen who is our lead also doesn’t come close to crossing the line into being an unsympathetic character. Chikiamco also manages to provide his life history without sounding like it’s being done for the sake of dumping info onto the reader. In Liftoff as well as in the other stories, we get a sense that this is a fully realized world, with one element resonating with the next.

The first one is from EK over at Jumper Cable:

“Collectively the comics are all presented on a professional level rarely seen outside of the Sacred Mountain, Komikero, Gunship Revolution, and Point Zero groups. Some of the best inking and detail work among the recent komiks releases are here — and I’ve just seen partial results. The typesetting for the dialogue balloons are grammar-corrected and nearly faultless. The paneling is also professional, at par with the best of the Western comics.

On the script level, the two presented stories are as unique from each other as adobo and sinigang, even if they are made by the same cook. Be assured that there is much variety expected among the six presented stories, that it would not be boring even if they were all from the same writer. Both given stories are paced without a glitch, with a clear understanding of writing in general and the comic medium in particular. The author’s hand in the development process is also visible. There is almost no useless panel, and it is clear that the illustrators understand what to illustrate and how.”

The second is from Francis at Hawkersmag.com:

“Just enough information is given about the main character, Ambrosio, leaving a lot of room for speculation and anticipation of what’s to come.

Although I tend to stray a bit away from angst-ridden teenagers, reasons for Ambrosio’s anger are justified, and it would be interesting to see how his character has changed now that his whole worldview has turned itself over.

There is scarce dialogue, which makes for very efficient story-telling. Chikiamco’s dialogue does what it is intended to do: move the plot forward and reveal character. It doesn’t get in the way of the action and suspense that spills throughout the pages, and that’s a very good thing when it comes to pacing.”

Thanks to both EK and Francis! We’d love for you all to come by the Rocket Kapre booth this coming Saturday and see for yourselves what Mythspace is all about. If you post your reviews online, let us know and we’ll link to them here on the site.

See you all on Saturday!

Get High Society for Free from Wired – Geekdad

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 21 - 2012

As an old geek and a new father, I frequently turn to Wired’s Geekdad section for inspiration and consolation. It’s thus very exciting for me to announce that the good folks at Geekdad enjoyed “High Society” (my steampunk comic with Hannah Buena) enough that they’re running a promotion for it, giving it away for free until Friday, but providing links for people to buy the comic if they like it enough and elect to support it. Getting mentioned on Wired is quite awesome, and I hope it helps bring to the attention of steampunk fans that there are steampunk stories being created in places and times other than the usual.

Here’s hoping I can get back to exploring that world soon, but in the meantime, don’t forget that “On Wooden Wings”–my short story that is being republished in the just released “Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution“–takes place in the same world, albeit at an earlier time. They also share a “leading man”, although that’s not explicitly stated…

Thanks again to Wired, Geekdad, and my publisher Flipside Digital!

Mythspace Monday: The Aliens of Mythspace

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 15 - 2012

For the next three Mondays of October, I’ll be talking about my newest comic book project, “Mythspace: Liftoff”. The #0 issue will be available at the Komikon on Oct.27.

The first Mysthspace Monday was a look into the concept behind Mythspace, and today we go a little into the world building.

I wanted to take some time here to talk about how we re-imagined some of the classic Philippine folklore monsters for the science fiction setting of Mythspace.It also gives me the opportunity to show off some art from Team Mythspace — not that I ever need much of an excuse to do that.

A Kapre and a Human. Art by Koi Carreon.

The Kapre:

“He is as tall as the tree beside which he stands…

His skin is rough, dark, and hairy…

He appears under a new moon and a soft shower.

He smokes a big cigar that doesn’t grow shorter.”

- “The Creatures of Midnight” by Maximo D. Ramos

In Mythspace, the Kapre are the ultimate commandos, equipped with stealth technology and the ability to safely inhale toxins, which helps them minimize the smoke emissions of their projectile weapons. The Kapres are few in number after their home planet was destroyed, but it is known that there is a sizeable contingent on Earth, watching humanity as it sleeps.

Nuno Concept Art by Paul Quiroga

The Nuno:

“The Tagalogs call him matanda sa punso and nuno.

Matanda sa punso means ‘old man of the anthill.’

Nuno means ‘grandfather’ or ‘old man’…

His shirt and pants are red, and he wears a salakot…”

- “The Creatures of Midnight” by Maximo D. Ramos

The Mythspace Nuno stem from a combination of the traits of the traditional Nuno and the Dwende. The Nuno are divided not along racial lines, but along political lines, with factions permanently tinting their skins to symbolize their affiliations. The most important object for a Nuno is his or her “Helm”, which symbolizes that they are worthy of piloting a personal mobile suit, usually called a Bungis.

Early Bungis design, with Nuno pilot to scale, by Paul Quiroga

The Bungis:

“The lives deep in a dark forest.

He looks like a big man but with one eye.

A long tusk sticks out of each side of his mouth.

His name means he is always smirking.”

- “The Creatures of Midnight” by Maximo D. Ramos

It’s easy to see why the Bungis-class mecha of the Nuno were mistaken for one-eyed giants by our ancestors. While coming in a variety of designs, most feature a prominent glass cockpit for the Nuno occupant, and from a distance it does appear to be a gigantic eye. Most humans who found themselves close enough to a Bungis to verify their first impressions did not live to disseminate that information.

Young Tan’gal heroine, early design, by Borg Sinaban

A fully mature “Sixth”, from “An Unfurling of Wings”. Art by Borg Sinaban.

The Tan’gal:

“She is called manananggal by the Tagalogs.

Her name means that she can drop off part of her body.

Her name comes from the Malay word tanggal, ‘to drop off’…

She flies with her arms which she turns into wings.”

- “The Creatures of Midnight” by Maximo D. Ramos

Mythspace’s version of the “manananggal” combines the characteristics of the different self-segmenters in our folklore (the part of the woman-monster which grows wings and flies varies–in some reports, for instance, it’s just the head and spine) into a single entity characterized by an incredible healing factor and a mysterious symbiotic relationship with winged creatures that live within them. The Tan’gal go through distinct phases of maturity, and there is a great difference between a Tan’gal in his or her second decade, and one in his or her fifth.

 

Cover Reveal: Mythspace: Liftoff #0

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 11 - 2012

I couldn’t wait until the next Mythspace Monday, so here’s the cover for Mythspace: Liftoff #0 by the inestimable Koi Carreon. It’s still subject to change, but at the moment, I wouldn’t change a thing. We revealed it last night for those who are part of the official Mythspace Facebook page, so come join us there if you’d like more news about Mythspace, as well as exclusive art.

“By Moon Alone” is Back!

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 10 - 2012

Great news for fans of webcomics: Honoel “Hai” Ibardolaza’s Komikon award-nominated webcomic “By Moon Alone” is once again updating. The updates on the 1st and 8th of October are the first back-to-back weekly updates that the comic has had since 2009, and I know that Hai has been dying to get back into the swing of things. I’ll try to get Hai on the blog to answer some questions, but until then, rejoice!

TAG CLOUD

Sponsors

About Me

Rocket Kapre is an imprint of Eight Ray Sun Publishing Inc. (a new Philippine-based publisher), dedicated to bringing the very best of Philippine Speculative Fiction in English to a worldwide audience by means of digital distribution. More info can be found at our About section at the top of the page.

Photos

PSF6_P1020212PSF6_P1020211PSF6_P1020193PSF6_P1020190