One More Page Reviews Mythspace #0

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 14 - 2012

Top book blogger and Kwentillion reviewer Tina Mataguihan has just reviewed Mythspace #0 on her blog One More Page and she’s given it 5 out of 5 stars! Here’s an excerpt:

This new series plays on the idea that the creatures we know from folk tales and movies not simply monsters from our grandparents’ stories, but you know, creatures from outer space. Sounds crazy, yes?

But you know what? It actually works.

I also liked reading the previews for the two longest stories there, with Liftoff having that mystery-in-space type of story with a somewhat angst-ridden hero, and Unfurling of Wings reminding me so much of the chimaera world in Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone.

Budjette Tan: Trese 5 Launch Interview

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On November - 7 - 2012

Trese 5 will be available nationwide very soon, so as has become something of a tradition for each launch, I shot a few questions out to Trese scribe Budjette Tan. I wanted to make the interview accessible to those who haven’t yet read the book, but also wanted to ask him about specific things from Book 5, so I’ve divided the interview into spoiler-free and spoiler-filled sections. I warn everyone when we hit spoiler territory, so those who go beyond the red line, do so at your own risk!

Thanks once again to Budjette for making the time.

 

SPOILER-FREE PORTION

 

The Trese 5 release seems to have taken quite a few people by surprise — was it a conscious choice not to promote the launch heavily until you were sure you’d make the Komikon?

HAHAHA! Yeah, I guess I didn’t want to jinx it. We turned over the cover to Visprint sometime early October and we were emailing pages to be proofread every time we finished a batch of them. So, we turned over the final pages to Visprint five days before the Komikon! HAHAHA! I don’t know what kind of magic spell Nida, our publisher, had to weave to make everything ready by Komikon but we are extremely happy and thankful that Visprint pulled it off. Even though I’m used to getting stuff done just minutes before the deadline, it’s always scary. I’ve already drafted the “ideal schedule” for Book 6. Let’s see if we can keep to the sched. HAHAHA!

With Trese 4 launched almost in October 2011, and Trese 5 being launched at the October Komikon, are you aiming for a new volume every October?

Yup! That’s the plan! If me and Kajo keep to our scheds and don’t get distracted by other projects then it’s possible for us to release a book once a year.

While you ventured back into the realm of episodic stories with Trese 4, this volume seems more similar to Trese 3 in that it is basically one story — only instead of being about resolving plot threads (as in Trese 3), here you’ve laid the ground work for the future. Is this book is the start of another three volume arc?

Like I mentioned in the Afterword, this story was only supposed to be a 20-page single-shot issue. But if I followed that outline, I guess I might have just ended up copying the structure of [Redacted - sharp eyed readers may spot a clue to a revelation from Trese 5 if we told you the title of the case Budj mentions here - Ed. Note].

But when those ideas from Kajo and that idea from Yvette Tan’s story came into play, the story just ran away and became a full graphic novel.

Is this laying the ground work for another thee volume arc? I don’t know. I just make this up as I go along. HEHEHE

Has the popularity of the Kambal surprised you? They display their personalities more here than in previous volumes, and I was wondering if this was you giving the readers more of what they want.

Yup, considering how they didn’t have much speaking lines in the first two books, I’m surprised at much of a following they’ve generated. Also surprising how much Happy/Long-Haired/Basilio seems to have a bigger fanbase compared to Gloomy and even Trese herself.

I do keep in mind what readers say and post. If it’s an idea worth exploring then I try to toss it into the mix.

And this was one of those moments when the Kambal just took over and the lines just came out.

Book 5 was generally written “Marvel style”. Since we were rushing this for the Komikon, I was sending Kajo scripts which just had general descriptions of the action. So, when I finally got the pages, I had to figure out what they were saying and the Kambal just filled in the lines themselves, looking at how Kajo drew their expression or their actions, it was just easy and fun to fill in their dialogue.

With each volume, Trese’s abilities increase — or at least she shows more of them. Do you ever worry about her becoming too powerful, too competent?

Nice observation. Will keep that in mind. Thanks, Paolo!

I remember someone else making that comment based on the first three books (maybe you were the one that made the comment) that Trese is always in control of the situation and never seems to falter. So, I tried to show that she’s not always perfect in Book 4; tried to make her sweat a bit before she gets to solve the mystery. (hehehe)

But she did learn a lot while she was in the Great Balete Tree. So, I guess she’s just showing us more of the stuff she already knows. Which only means, I’ll need to give her bigger, badder challenges.

You’ve always created characters which seem to have real life analogues — as with a certain famed boxer in the last volume — and this volume ratchets that up a notch. When do you decide to create a brand new character, and when do you pull more liberally from real life personas?

I’ve never really thought about that. I guess if the story calls for it, then I’ll make a new one or base them from some real life person.

If I’m paying tribute to a character or a creation, then I’ll toss in some Easter eggs from that characters history, as a way of paying tribute to him / her.

When I originally started TRESE, it was heavily influenced by Warren Ellis’ Planetary. So, I do plan / hope to explore more of Pinoy pop culture. The funny thing about Pinoy pop culture is that we tend to blur the lines between fiction and reality. I still remember the story (supposed a true story) of how an FPJ movie was shown in Mindanao. At the end of the movie, FPJ’s character died. The audience, all of them were big fans of FPJ, got so angry that FPJ’s character got killed, pulled out their guns and shot the movie screen, taking aim at the bad guy that killed FPJ.

So, if I were to make an FPJ analog, then his story might become a mix and mash up his history as an actor, movie director, Panday, and his attempt at a political career – all because that’s how we Pinoys see him.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.”

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!

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.

Mythspace Monday: What is Mythspace?

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On October - 8 - 2012

“You are wise to doubt the tales of your youth…
… but all myths, all monsters, are founded on truth.”

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.

Back in 2009, when I was first thinking up a name for the blog/imprint, I wanted to have a name that would contain elements of both science fiction and fantasy, while also drawing upon my Filipino heritage. That’s how “Rocket Kapre” was born, and while it started out as just a name, the image that the joining of those two words summoned up within me was so novel, so fun, that the seed of a story was planted inside me. I’d seen our folklore monsters used in modern urban settings, and re-imagined pasts, but I’d never seen them used in a straight up science fiction setting.

Sample page from Borg Sinaban

The more I thought about the idea of “Tikbalangs in Spaaaace”, the more I liked it. I’d read somewhere before that the idea of aliens had, in some ways, taken the place of the monsters from folklore in modern day narratives, and the thought of these monsters, in turn, “usurping” the position of aliens in science fiction, appealed to my sense of reverse colonization.

Nuno concept art from Paul Quiroga

So I did some world building on the side, while working on other projects. Fast forward to 2011, where Koi Carreon, creator of “Marco’s Delivery Service”, approached me with an offer: he had a group of talented artists who wanted to do a science fiction anthology, and they were wondering if I’d be able to help? A chorus of rocket kapres and space tikbalangs screamed “Yes!”

Teaser art from Cristina Rose Chua

That’s how Team Mythspace was born, with myself handling sole writing duties and collaborating with six of the most talented artists I know: Koi Carreon, Borg Sinaban, Jules Gregorio, Mico Dimagiba, Cristina Rose Chua, Paul Quiroga. Mythspace: Liftoff is an anthology, the first of many we hope, of stories that will explore a universe where monsters such as the Nuno, Manananggal, Kapre, and Kataw are in fact alien races with technology far more advanced than are own, each of them players in a galactic power struggle that has humans squarely in the crossfire.

Laho Warlord concept art by Jules Gregorio

While we’re planning to launch the complete anthology next year, at this month’s Komikon (Oct. 27, Bayanihan Center) we will be making Mythspace #0 available. This zero issue will have the first part of the two longest stories in the anthology– Borg’s “An Unfurling of Wings” and the titular “Liftoff” story from Koi–as well as preview pages from the other 4 stories, and excerpts from a special “diary” that we  may not have the space to include in the final anthology. So not only will you get an advance look at “Mythspace: Liftoff”, but material that will not be available anywhere else.

Preview art from Koi Carreon.

For the next few Mondays, I’ll be talking more about Mythspace. If you’d like more regular updates, please visit our Facebook page — I’ll be uploading content there more frequently as we get closer to the Komikon.

 

Kapre concept art from Mico Dimagiba.

 

 

 

Rappler article on Komiks Scholars

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On September - 24 - 2012

Remember that fundraising event for Philippine representatives to the Global Graphic Novel Conference at Oxford, England? Well, our reps are back from the conference, and Karl de Mesa has an article on Rappler covering their journey, with profiles and excerpts from their papers. Go check it out!

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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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