Ian Balba’s Scuptures of Philippine Mythological Creatures

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 9 - 2010

Over at the Trese blog, Budjette Tan has (NSFW) images of the amazing sculptures of Ian Balba. The sculptures apparently come from Balba’s college thesis on Filipino Elementals or folklore creatures. Balba has a good eye for interpreting the creatures of lore in a way that would still cause nightmares for the modern man, and I can’t wait to see more from this talented young sculptor. Included in this first “Underworld Creatures Gallery” are the aswang, bakunawa, balbal, bangungut, bungisngis, mamaleu, mangkukulam, mantahungal, marcupo, nuno, pugot and sigbyn.

EDIT: The second gallery has just gone live.

Trese (and Komiks) After the Award: Budjette and Kajo Interview

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 30 - 2010

For fans of komiks, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo need no introduction, and neither does Trese, their komiks collaboration, now published by Visprint, which is one of the most popular and most successful komik series’ in recent memory. While komiks still remains, at this point, a niche market, Trese continues to make inroads into mainstream consciousness, its most recent success being recognition in the National Book Awards in the category of Graphic Literature. In what I think is their first post-award interview, Kajo and Budjette talk about the success of Trese, the importance of their fans, transmedia storytelling, and the future of Philippine komiks:

ROCKET KAPRE: First of all, congratulations to you both for winning the National Book Award for Graphic Literature. Is it somehow sweeter to win it this year, when you were up against such strong competition, in Francisco Coching’s “El Indio”? (I remember that in his introduction to the first Trese collection, Gerry Alanguilan mentions Coching, so it seems a weird symmetry for Trese to win the award this way.)

KAJO: Thank you. It feels great to be recognized. Good to have additional gallons of inspiration to do more work like TRESE (or in our case, more ‘play’).

BUDJETTE: Of course, it feels great to finally win! How I wish we could’ve been there to accept the award. Last year, me, Kajo, and Nida (our publisher) were all dressed up at the awards and my jaw just dropped when they announced that there was no winner in the category. You’d think that if you’re the only finalist in the category, then your chances for winning are pretty high. But, as it turned out, TRESE: UNREPORTED MURDERS didn’t get the unanimous vote of the judges and that’s why it didn’t win.

So, when I found out that we were up against “El Indio” this year, I didn’t want to get my hopes too high. I was happy we got in finalist status again and I just hoped for the best.

I still remember the early days when Trese came out as individual photocopied issues, each resolving a single case. Do you still remember your initial print runs for the early issues? How many times did you have to reprint/go back to press before the first collection came out from Visprint?

BUDJETTE: When we were just photocopying TRESE in 2005, the only place you could get [the komik] was at Comic Quest. So, we probably just made 30 copies and made more whenever we’d get sold out. And we’d get a call from Comic Quest every couple of weeks that people were looking for Trese.

During the Komikon of 2005, I only had 50 copies made, thinking we wouldn’t sell a lot.

We were sold out before 3pm. I was so happy that we sold 50 copies!

KAJO: During our ‘photocopied Trese’ days, Budj was technically the publisher, so he’s the one who kept track of the copies being made and copies being sold. I rarely cared how many people were buying [the komiks] because for me, the only loyal customers we needed to maintain were Budj and Kaj. It appeared that many people were like Budj and Kaj, ‘specially when Visprint appeared and gave us a giant hand regarding distribution.

Do you remember when it was that you first realized that you had a hit on your hands? That this was going to go beyond the convention circuit?

BUDJETTE: I’m not sure of the exact tipping point of Trese. I was getting an inkling of it when I would spot the occasional review online. (Yes, yes, I Google “Trese” once in awhile.) It amazed me that people took the time to write reviews that read like someone’s thesis report. These were very detailed and passionate reviews about the stories. It was also great to get feedback from guys like Gerry Alanguilan and Marco Dimaano about the book early on.

And then, when we released TRESE: MURDER ON BALETE DRIVE, me and Kajo were invited guests at the Mangaholix Con in SMX, where we sold 100+ copies. By that time, we knew that people really liked our stories.

KAJO: Honestly, I knew we had a hit when I first read Budj’s script ‘At the Intersection of Balete and 13th Street’. I knew that this would be a story that Budj and I were going to love reading, so making it was pretty easy. [Budj and Kaj] are easy customers, you see. It’s a little different now, but I still try and please those two and hope that many others are just as willing to ride along.

You two have always seemed to value Trese fandom, featuring fan created artwork in your collections and online. What role has fandom, in particular online fandom, played in the success of Trese? Has any feedback changed how the story was told, or presented?

KAJO: The fandom is very important to the success of Trese. They are the big, smiling reflections in our mirrors that tell us ‘you’re looking good, keep it up’ or ‘you look like crap, don’t go out’. The feedback they share with us is as valuable as a steering wheel in a car, IMHO.

BUDJETTE: I think the biggest change that affected Trese’s storyline was the feedback about the Kambal. More often than not, people would ask, “Who are the Kambal? What are they? Where did they come from?”

Like I mentioned in the afterword of Book 3, the original “secret origin” of the Kambal was just supposed to be mentioned in passing in the very first Trese story. I just wanted to get that out of the way and focus on the mysteries that Trese had to solve. But Kajo deleted those captions and told me that he’d like to do a whole story that just focused on how Trese met the Kambal. I said okay and thought that it was going to be a simple 20-page story where Trese rescues the Kambal and I was going to write that sometime in the future.

More people asked about the Kambal’s origin after Book 2 came out. So, I thought, I might as well tell it in Book3. I was trying to tell it in the usual 20-page structure, but the story just wouldn’t cooperate and it became the 100-page book that was MASS MURDERS.

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RRT: Favorite First Lines in Speculative Fiction

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 9 - 2010

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One year ago, 9/9/09, Rocket Kapre officially launched. In celebration of our first year anniversary, here’s a new installment of one of our most popular features: the Rocket Round Table. For this batch, the question – to coincide with the anniversary – is: “What is your favorite first line in speculative fiction?” Prose and graphic novels/comics were fair game (movies and television were not), as were local and foreign works – I only asked that the respondents include any first lines from Filipino-made spec fic that stood out for them. Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Thanks to all those who took time to participate in the round table, and for all those who have supported Rocket Kapre in its first year. Here’s to many more to come!

[Warning: Some language may not be safe for work, or children, or adults who like to pretend they're as innocent as children.]

ELBERT OR Comic book creator, university lecturer, graphic designer, freelance writer, entrepreneur (he’s part of Brain Food, which gives speech and writing workshops) Elbert is a jack of all trades and master of… well, lots. He currently runs Global Art and the Komiksabado Comics Workshop.

Happy first year, RK! How time flies!
I owe much of my interest in current Philippine SF to Dean Alfar’s “Kite of Stars,” and its first line/ paragraph which grabbed firm hold of me and has still not let me go:

The night when she thought she would finally be a star, Maria Isabella du’l Cielo struggled to calm the trembling of her hands, reached over to cut the tether that tied her to the ground, and thought of that morning many years before when she’d first caught a glimpse of Lorenzo du Vicenzio ei Salvadore: tall, thick-browed and handsome, his eyes closed, oblivious to the cacophony of the accident waiting to occur around him.

I wish I could say though that memory allowed me to remember each word, but I admit only to committing the first eleven words. But the blame lies solely on me and my poor memory.

Here’s to the next ten years for Rocket Kapre!

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CATHERINE BATAC WALDERCatherine is based in England and works as a research group administrator at the Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London. From 2005 to 2007, she moved across Norway, Finland and Portugal for a European MPhil. scholarship. Her fiction appears in Big Pulp, Demons of the New Year, Philippines Graphic, Ruin and Resolve Anthology, Expanded Horizons, and Philippines Free Press. She blogs at http://deckshoes.wordpress.com/

Just when the idea occurred to her that she was being murdered she could not tell.” – The Small Assassin, comics adaptation of a tale by Ray Bradbury

At some time near dawn, on March 25, 1913, there came a loud knocking at the front door of the Uyterhoevens’ home in the Dayton View section of Dayton, Ohio.” – The Chess Garden by Brooks Hansen

At first glance, the picture looked like any other in a family album of that time, the sepia shade and tone, the formal poses, the men in solemn Sunday suits and the women, severely coiffed, in long skirts and billowing blouses.” – Fade by Robert Cormier

““I can do this,” I told my squirrel.” - Speed Dating and Spirit Guides by Rod M. Santos

In the tiny lifeboat, she and the alien fuck endlessly, relentlessly.” – Spar by Kij Johnson

My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years.” – Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

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G.M. CORONELA Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University in 1985, he is a first-time author with no literary background to speak of other than a genuine love of reading and a passion for writing. Coming across back issues of Writer’s Digest a few years ago started his writing career. Some previous personal encounters with the paranormal convinced him to pursue the horror genre. He believes that stories to tell and experiences to share are best put in written words. He is the author of Tragic Theater.

The night wind howls like a wounded dying animal.” (Trese Murder on Balete Drive) — This is a very compelling first line and it engages the reader’s interest in the story.

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DON JAUCIAN - Don regularly reviews books for several publications, both print and on-line. He is the resident bitch of the film blog Pelikula Tumblr. His book dump is http://chinoisdead.livejournal.com

The Ascension of Our Lady Boy – Mia Tijam (PDF of Expanded Horizons #14, which includes the story.)

Let us begin with my earliest memory as a lady: Daddy had complained to Iyay who was my yaya(and his yaya before and his mama’s yaya before that) that I was lacking something strong in my bones and in my hips.

Tijam’s Lady Boy is hands down one of my favorite spec fic stories. It effectively combined Philippine culture, gay-isms and the whole ‘triumph of the heart’ thing. I like how the first line promises a wonderful story, equal parts whimsical and endearing, like Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros and it really delivers.

Visitors – Luis Katigbak

When they first arrived, they transformed themselves into everything we ever secretly wanted to be.

Stories of ‘encounters’ are never amusing. They mostly run as dubious paranoiac rants but in a few words, Katigbak manages to brush off the fluff usually associated with this tripe. ‘Visitors’ is beautiful, a different approach into the Wonderful World of Alien Mysteries; humanized and hopeful.

Brigada – Joey Nacino

When the news came, Captain Fernando Tabora of the Philippine Navy was meeting with the two-man salvage team at the top of Manila Hotel.

I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stories and Manila Hotel underwater is just too awesome to ignore. Just like the head of Statue of Liberty chopped off in Cloverfield!

Flicker – Ian Rosales Casocot

Something had apparently come to live, or stir, in the house down the road, that old mansion on the corner before one turned left down Mango Street, which led toward the coconut groves that bordered the farthest end of the village.

Suburban horror stories always fascinate me and Casocot’s ‘Flicker’ definitely sustains the tension from the first sentence to the last. It is eerie, ominous and it’s refreshing to see a horror story devoid of hysterics and cheap scare tactics.

[More after the cut]

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Metro Comic Con 2010 Photos

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 24 - 2010

The 2nd annual Metro Comic Con was held last weekend at the SM Megamall, and by most accounts it seems to have improved on its predecessor, the smaller venue leading to a better organized layout, with the komiks creators front and center, as they should be.

Flickr is giving me some issues trying to share individual images, so have a slideshow instead!

Philippine Horror Panel: Coronel, Hontiveros, Tan

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 19 - 2010

Here’s the Horror Panel (featuring Budjette Tan (Trese), David Hontiveros (Penumbra novellas, Pelicula), Bart (G. M.) Coronel (Tragic Theater)) from the “Literature From Shakespeare to Bob Ong: Bridging the Divide Between the Popular And the Canonical” conference, held at the UST on August 18, 2010. (The Q and A will be uploaded in another post)

The first question, which I didn’t capture on video, is “What are you most afraid of?”

Part 2 and 3 under the cut.

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Literature from Shakespeare to Bob Ong: Video Hub

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On August - 19 - 2010

VisEventUst2010

Yesterday, I trooped down to UST to attend the second day of the  “Literature From Shakespeare to Bob Ong: Bridging the Divide Between the Popular And the Canonical” conference, by Visprint in collaboration with the UST Faculty of Arts and Letters: Dept. of Literature, Thomasian Writers Guild, The Literary Society and The Varsitarian. Many of the speakers were horror writers from Visprint’s stable, so it was a good opportunity to check the pulse of the genre here in the country, or at least to get the opinions of some of those at its vanguard. Komiks (in general, not horror komiks) were also represented, with Manix Abrera walking the audience through several of his strips.

I took a few videos of the talks and Question and Answer segments, and I’ll use this post as a hub as I slowly (yes I have slow a slow connection) upload the different videos. I’ll upload the talks first, and then lump the open forum segments in the last post. Siege Malvar, Alan Navarra, Nida Ramirez, and Eros Atalia were also on hand for some insightful talks, but my coverage here will focus on the komiks/spec fic content, although I’ll try to sneak in some videos of the others.

(Note that some of the links below are NSFW – many of these people specialize in horror, remember? ^_~)

Video 1: Horror Panel, featuring Budjette Tan (Trese), David Hontiveros (Penumbra novellas, Pelicula), Bart (G. M.) Coronel (Tragic Theater)

Video 2: Karl de Mesa (Damaged People, News of the Shaman)

Video 3: Manix Abrera (Kikomachine, 12)

RP612Fic 2010: The Stories

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On June - 16 - 2010

If there’s one theme that I’d say unites many of the stories in this year’s RP612fic, it’s this: a need for catharsis. We’re coming off a decade under an unpopular President, and while many are hopeful for the coming administration, there still remains a lot of unsettled issues, a lot of unpsent anger. Luckily, catharsis is one of the functions that fiction can undertake in the life of both writers and readers, and I hope that participating in this year’s Independence Day micro story tweet fest helped a few of us get ready for the new challenges that face us, while helping us remember what has come before.

I’d like to thank everyone who participated, especially Dominique Cimafranca who was impressively prolific during the RP612fic period. We generated over one hundred and fifteen stories over the Independence Day weekend–here are a few of my favorite stories:

RP612fic 2010 faves

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t point to Adam David’s essay on freedom, over at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

The rest of the stories run the gamut from science fiction, to horror, to fantasy (from the fantasy that means “magic” to the fantasy that means “how I wish this were true). Some are meant to be read alone, others in sequence (although there was a limit to how I could arrange them in anything but the reverse chronological order of a Twitter search.) Some aren’t stories in so much as hopes, dreams, or ideas and that’s fine too.The usual disclaimer applies: these stories are meant as fiction, and are not to be taken as allegations of actual facts, nor as statements of actual intent.

And now, beneath the cut, are the rest of the stories. (2009′s stories are here.) Enjoy, and see you all next year!

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Komix 101: Required Reading at Fully Booked

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 6 - 2010

The Center for East Asian Languages is holding a seminar entitled “Komix101: Required Comic Book Reading for the Summer” that will tackle recommended comic books and graphic novels, for those looking for something to read this summer. Your guide on this little tour will be none other than Budjette Tan, co-creator of Trese and comics/komiks aficionado.

  • Date: Saturday, May 8, 2010
  • Time: 2:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Location: U-View Theater, Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street
  • This seminar is for free.

On May 15, a similar seminar will be held covering anime and manga, to be run by Raymond Sison, also from 2-4, at the same venue.

Chained Links: 7 April 2010

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 7 - 2010

summerkomikon2010_s

Back from Tokyo (more on that later) and there’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s get to it.

Now, here are a few new-ish SF fiction markets (via the specficmarkets lj community) and a contest (via email from chiles samaniego):

Finally, some events to mark on your calendars (Let me know if I’m missing anything):

TRESE: Pecha Kucha Short Story

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On March - 3 - 2010

I had no idea what on earth a Pecha Kucha was (but if I were forced to guess, I would have said “Tibetan curse word”), which means I can chalk up one more thing I’ve learned because of komiks. Pecha Kucha is a forum for presentations which are kept concise by adherence to the simple formula of 20 images x 20 seconds. (All in favor of a similar formula for mass homilies say aye!) Trese writer Budjette Tan gave a presentation at last year’s event, a a 6 minute 40 second Trese short story, which he recently uploaded for the reading pleasure of Trese fans everywhere. Thanks Budjette!

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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.

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