Launch: The Quarterly Bathroom Companion Comics Compendium #2

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 16 - 2011

The Quarterly Bathroom Companion Comics Compendium is an independent comic/komik anthology which has an “underground” feel and aesthetic. (The first issue had a comic that starred a lamp post as its protagonist. No, not an anthropomorphized, talking lamp post. Just an ordinary lamp post for the reader to project his/her emotions on.) The second issue will be launched tomorrow, December 17, at Sputnik Fantastik, Cubao X, near the Gateway Mall, from 7pm onwards. I’m not sure who is in the latest volume, but it is co-edited by DJ Legaspi, Josel Nicolas (Windmills), and Mervin Malonzo (Tabi Po and our very own Alternative Alamat illustrator). Give it a shot!

 

Filipino Bibliophile Podcast: Interview with Paolo Chikiamco

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 19 - 2011

You know you’ve moved up in the world of speculative fiction when Charles Tan sits you down for an interview. After all, for years he’s been interviewing the likes of  RA Salvatore, Tim PrattEllen Datlow and Catherynne M. Valente on his personal blog as well as the official blogs for the Nebula and Shirley Jackson Awards. So I was more than happy to sit down with him this week for his new “Filipino Bibliophile” podcast. We spoke about Alternative Alamat, High Society, Rocket Kapre, and slush reading for Fantasy Magazine–Charles has a more comprehensive list of topics on the episode page, either at his blog, or at the podcast site.

Thanks to Charles for the opportunity, and for once again finding new ways to promote Filipino authors. Do check out the first episode of his podcast, where he has an interview (two interviews really) with Eisner-award nominated komikero Gerry Alanguilan.

Supermaker: Andrew Drilon Interview

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 17 - 2011

Andrew Drilon (“Pericos Tao“) is one of the most respected komiks creators in the country today. His latest mini-comic, “Supermaker” has garnered praise from creators such as Chris Roberson and Jeff Lemire. He talks about the inspiration for the comic here, but I still wanted to know more. I asked the always busy Andrew if he’d be willing to answer a few questions about “Supermaker” and he graciously agreed:


So… I take it you come from the “characters have a life of their own” school of thought?

 

Sometimes. Well, really, they’re all fictional constructs, but my feeling is that the act of creation is really a conversation with oneself, so some of the creator’s internal logic bleeds into the characters. You can play around with archetypes or create well-rounded personalities, but with each line/panel/image you set down, you’re building rules for them which have to be followed (or subverted with good reason). 

So yeah, I feel that once that “rule set” is established, you can extend it forwards and backwards with your imagination, giving the impression of a life outside the actual story, which allows for things like sequels and fan fiction. However I do like the thought that they exist somewhere in the second dimension, living lives outside our purview. It’s a romantic idea that I tend to obsess over.

You mentioned in your journal entry that “Supermaker” was originally a longer work, but you decided to make it shorter. How long was it, originally? What sort of cuts did you make?

It was originally designed to run in monthly 8-page installments for three years. The first “season” would have been a year, clocking in at around 96 pages, with the whole thing running to almost 300 pages. I had a ton of ideas for it–the overall stylistic theme being rampant references to (and reflections on) all the superhero comics I grew up reading—all anchored in this “real” cartoonist’s story. I wanted to do a “Supreme” or “End League”-style work, which usually starts out being derivative of other stories but evolves into own thing. I love Barth and Borges and Burroughs, and I think there are lots of ways to do metafiction comics that we haven’t seen before. In the end, though, I decided to just cut out the body and leave the heart of it–that sentiment expressed in those 8 pages, which I think is the most important aspect of the story.

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Events of Note: October 2011

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 29 - 2011

It seems that there’s an awful lot going down this October that could be of interest to a reader of this blog. Let’s do a rundown shall we?

Let me know if I’ve missed anything!

Mervin Malonzo Talks “Tabi Po”

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 12 - 2011

Mervin Malonzo’s “Tabi Po” is a beautifully illustrated webcomic that until recently was only available in Filipino. Now, Mervin has released an English language version on the Kindle and will be releasing another version on the Nook and the iBookstore. (Note that the Kindle version has a different layout than the original comic – the “sample” button is your friend.) I took the opportunity to speak to Mervin about “Tabi Po”, the pros and cons of webcomics, and the new English international editions.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Did you always want to create comics?

Yes, I’ve always wanted to create my own comic ever since I took hold of my first issue of Funny Komiks, ever since the days I watched cartoons on TV as a child. And I did! I remember creating my first comic on my used notebooks, a story about mutant ants! “Mutant” because they have powers not entirely different from the ones the X-Men have, and ants because at the time I was obsessed with watching the line of ants in the roadside canal near our house (I still do that, by the way). Watching ants always made me wonder how it would feel to be as small as them. Of course, thinking about it right now, I guess we really are as small as them when you really think about it.

Anyway, my love for drawing comics led me to take up Fine Arts – Painting in UP Diliman instead of Chemistry in UP Los Baños (I passed there as well), to the great dismay of some of my relatives. “Walang pera sa fine arts”, they would say. I resigned from work two years ago to form my own design team with my friends (Pepe&thePolygons) so that I could work whenever I needed to and do comics whenever I wanted to. :)

How would you pitch “Tabi Po” to new readers? What’s it about, and why should people read it?

Hmm.. for most of my readers, it turned out that saying it had “UNCENSORED NUDITY, BLOOD, VIOLENCE AND SEX” did the trick. Haha!

But to publishers and other people I’d like to impress, I would say, “It’s my own interpretation or deconstruction of the Philippine mythology and folklore. I made the aswangs, engkantos, diwatas and anitos as real as I could, putting them in our history, creating a feasible origin story for them and how they were affected by and will in turn affect the human race. Are aswang really different from humans? I am also fusing some Christian beliefs with the old nature worship. Ultimately, it is my explanation of how our world would work if these beings really existed. The purpose of this whole epic is to make the reader think about human nature, the environment, religion and the meaning of life, the universe and everything–all while still being entertained.”  Of course, you do not see this yet in our story so far but that’s the grand plan. It’s not really all violence and nudity, you’ll see.

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Komik Review: Filipino Heroes League, Book 1

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On July - 5 - 2011

Paolo Fabregas’ “Filipino Heroes League” is the latest Visprint acquisition from the world of independent komiks. The back copy does a good job of describing the central concept of the work: “Undermanned and under-funded, the Filipino Heroes League does what it can to fight against injustice. It’s tough being a superhero, but it’s even tougher being a third-world superhero.” This low budget angle immediately sets it apart from the more traditional take on super heroes found in komiks such as “Bayan Knights“, as does the fact that FHL is not meant to be a launching pad for a universe of spin-offs, a fact which allows it to concentrate on telling a more focused story.

On a thematic level, the story benefits from this. As Gerry Alanguilan points out in his blurb, (referencing his blog post on “The Difficulty of Doing Superheroes in the Philippines“) our country’s socio-economic reality means that simply transposing the Marvel/DC super-heroic paradigm to the Philippines stretches the bounds of credulity. FHL deals with this issue multiple ways, the most effective of which is the idea that superheroes simply can’t make a living here, so most become “Overseas Workers”, either because of the money or because the ideal of success for many, even superheroes, is to be seen as having “made it” in America. Another tactic FHL employs is to show how poor the remaining local heroes are–this would have been more effective, however, if it was made more clear why these heroes were unable to use their celebrity status to acquire higher levels of income. (Very, very few celebrities in the Philippines are poor, even those without any talents to speak of.) Non-compliance with a law against secret identities may help explain this (ala Spider-Man post One More Day) but without more in the way of context, we’re left guessing.

Nevertheless, the dirt poor status of (most of) our heroes leads to another of the book’s strengths: let’s call it the tragicomedy of poverty.  The image of Kidlat Kid and Invisiboy on the pedicab at the back of the cover (which, to my mind, should have been the front) encapsulates the style of FHL’s humor best. Other winning scenes include the revelation of the real FHL headquarters, the obsolete supercomputer, and the last line of dialogue during the Payatas recruitment. The book’s light hearted sense of humor is its best quality, but not its sole selling point.

FHL is paced well–with the exception of the superhero staple of “briefings in front of the big screen”, which go on for too long–and the action scenes are, in general, well choreographed. Add a vague, yet unambiguous, narrative conflict, and you get a comic that is an enjoyable and easy read, in spite of its flaws.

[Spoilers from here on out.]

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This Weekend: Free Comic Book Day 2011 and Metro Comic Con

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On May - 4 - 2011

This coming weekend is a big one for comics lovers, and I just thought I’d remind everyone (as if you guys don’t have the dates encircled in your calendars yet).

May 7 is Free Comic Book Day, as is every first Saturday of May. As has become the case in recent years, Comic Odyssey in Robinson’s Galleria seems to be the place to go, if you absolutely must raid only one store on that day, with plenty of guest artists arriving, and exclusive FCBD comics from local creators. For those wondering what the big deal is (although why one would need to go farther than “free” “comics” is a mystery to me), Gerry Alanguilan (should I say Eisner-award nominated Gerry Alanguilan now? ^_^) has a great post that places the event in context.

May 7 is also the first day of the Metro Comic Con, which lasts until May 8 and takes place at SM Megamall. Special guests at the event are David Lloyd (V for Vendetta), Tony DeZuniga (creator of Jonah Hex) and Philp Tan (Batman and Robin, Green Lantern)

Filipinos Nominated for the 2011 Eisner Awards

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On April - 12 - 2011

Komix 101 has a post up listing the Filipinos with work that has been nominated for the prestigious Eisner Awards for this year. The big news of course is the nomination of Gerry Alanguilan’s “Elmer”, but other Filipinos have made the ballot this year, and Komix 101 also lists those who, as Gerry pointed out, have made the ballot or won the award in the past.

Congratulations and good luck to this year’s nominees!

Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics: Free for February

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 9 - 2011

As part of the Art Access promotion, the Rothledge/Taylor and Francis Group will be giving free online access to their complete range of visual arts journals throughout February 2011. Of particular interest to Rocket Kapre readers would be the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics – you can browse the articles from the journal’s first two issues (there have only been two so far) online, or download the articles as PDFs. Here are a few articles that look interesting, just based off the titles:


Hey Baby! – Gerry Alanguilan Signing Event at Sputnik

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 27 - 2011

Can’t really put it any better than Gerry does: “Save your money! Buy comics at Sputnik on January 29, 2011! Let me vandalize your stuff! You know you want to!” The event is at Sputnik at Cubao X and will be held this Saturday, January 29, from 9PM-2AM.

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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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