Komik Review: Urban Animal #1 by John Amor

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On February - 24 - 2011

John Amor’s “The Urban Animal #1″ tells the beginning of the story of a young man (apparently in college, although he looks like a high school kid) who crosses the wrong person and is placed under a monstrous curse–although, to be frank, none of that is evident from the cover, which does a poor job of giving the prospective reader any idea as to what the comic will be about. The cover also does little to showcase Amor’s stylized art, which is a shame, given that the art is the highlight of Urban Animal. Amor has a hyper-expressive, stubby-figured style that reminds me of the early work of Humberto Ramos. While there are some panels where the facial expression of the characters seems off, or where there were better angles from which to view the scene, the art in general is clean, bold and sufficiently detailed–though nowhere near as polished as Amor’s more recent  work (Urban Animal was drawn ten years ago, and the comic released by Super Debil Robot Comics contains the original art, touched up slightly). The artwork reaches its pinnacle toward the end of the issue, where the story takes a step toward horror, of the “creature feature” variety.

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I’ve got another review up on Filipiniana.net that may be of interest to readers and writers of Philippine speculative fiction–not that you’d know it from the title. “Over a Cup of Ginger Tea: Conversations on the Literary Narratives of Filipino Women” is a collection of essays/articles by Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo that revolve around the written works of Filipino women. Two of these articles, “Released by the Story: Gilda Cordero-Fernando’s Modern Tales” and “Genre Fiction: Pinay Style” are great reads for those interested in non-realist (not necessarily speculative) and non-”literary” works of fiction by Filipino women writers. Hidalgo’s writing has a warmth that makes the book easy reading, and, as I say in the review, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in what Philippine literature is capable of, especially literature produced by women, as well as those curious about areas of literature which have been neglected in the local literary scene.

You can read the full review here.

Review: From Darna to Zsazsa Zaturnnah…

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 11 - 2011

Few people are more keenly aware of the rift between “literary/realist” and “popular” than genre authors and komiks creators. For those who would like an overview of that debate within the Philippine context, from an academic perspective that is sympathetic to the possibilities inherent in non-realist forms, I recommend From “Darna to Zsazsa Zaturnnah: Desire and Fantasy” by Soledad S. Reyes. My review of this collection is up on Filipiniana.net, and I hope it leads more readers to Reyes’ essays–particularly the abovementioned genre authors and komiks creators.

[Image from Goodreads.]

The 2010 Philippine Spec Fic Review Roundup

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 30 - 2010

This post continues my 2010 roundup of reviews that may be of interest to Rocket Kapre readers. A few days ago I posted my list of 2010 komiks reviews, whether or not the komiks were speculative in nature. Today I’m doing the same for reviews that came out this year for books by Filipinos in the fantasy, science fiction, and horror genres (regardless of the publication date of the book – it’s the date of the review that matters). The list is much shorter than that for komiks, but then, there are fewer works of prose speculative fiction than there are komiks. I do hope that this changes in the future, both in terms of content and commentary, but I’m heartened that we have a very active book blogging scene here, and Chachic over at Filipino Book Bloggers notes when someone has reviewed a local book. With due respect to Bob Ong, I believe that both reviews and critiques (two different things, really) play a part in both improving the quality of fiction and increasing public awareness of a book, something which is very helpful to writers who aren’t residents of the bestseller lists. All of the book bloggers and reviewers I’ve met do what they do out of love, and I agree with Marianne Villanueva when she says that every review is a service. I hope that those who provide these services, whether they be bloggers or academics, receive more respect in the future.

Now, on to the list. As always, if I missed anything, please let me know in the comments section.

The 2010 Komiks Review Roundup

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On December - 28 - 2010

Christmas is over and the year is winding down, and I thought this week would be a good time to roundup all the reviews of komiks and Philippine spec fic I could find from the year that was. I decided to start with komiks because there were, or at least it seems to me, a great number of komiks reviews this year as compared to previous years. When I was handed editorial duties for Pinoy Pop, one of the first things I did was pester Gerry Alanguilan for an interview to discuss his post “The Need for Serious Criticism“.  The result was the two part “The Levels of Komiks Criticism” (Part 1) (Part 2) and while Pinoy Pop isn’t a going concern anymore, I still believe that a vibrant community of vocal and critical readers is essential to the development of good komiks. I understand that many creators do what they do out of love, and certainly there are ways to be critical without being mean-spirited, but we all need to accept the fact that if you put something out there for public consumption, you need to be able to take the good with the bad.

I’ll continue to do what I can from Rocket Kapre and in other venues, and I hope more readers decide to critique komiks in the future. For now, however, a shout out to all the reviewers who took the time to put virtual pen to virtual paper, and to all creators who never cease trying to better themselves.

Here’s my list of online komik reviews for the year 2010. As always, there’s no way for me to ensure that this is comprehensive, so please feel free to add any I’ve missed in the comments section:

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Chained Links: 15 January 2010

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 15 - 2010

Still adjusting to my new schedule, and trying to balance Metakritiko editing/writing duties with Rocket Kapre and my own fiction, and couple that with my Internet outage (attributable to my router dying apparently) and that means I’ve been a bit behind on my news-of-relevance-to-Pinoy-SF… but that’s nothing a Chained Links post can’t fix!

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Philippine Spec Fic News:

  • Lola: A Ghost Story (with a story by J. Torres and art by Elbert Or) is a graphic novel from Oni Books that tells the story of a boy who returns with his family to the Philippines for the funeral of his grandmother. Elbert says it should be out in comics stores this week, so you all know what you’re shopping for this weekend. You can check out some reviews at School Library Journal and Comic Book Resources, or check out the 17 page preview at the sites Elbert mentions here.
  • A list of indigenous tribes and languages of the Philippines by F. Blumentritt which briefly describes each tribe’s location, culture and religion. Handy resource eh? (Filipiniana.net)
  • Project 20:10 is a project with the two-fold mission of drumming up support for local creators, and increasing the amount of local content in fiction, comics, animation and gaming. I’ll have an interview with project organizer Ria Lu (of Talecraft fame) at Metakritiko soon, so watch out for that.
  • Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels Seminar by Glasshouse Graphics from January 30-31. You can find the details here – warning, the site has audio. (via Komikero)
  • Speaking of comics, komiks creator macoy (I recently reviewed his “Ang Maskot“) posts embedded video of a Kubori Kikiam motion comic (which is obviously NSFW) and an animated mock opening to “The Metro” by Jerome Jacinto –which, I confess, I’ve never heard of before, but it looks awesome.
  • The Philippines’ second solar car (there was a first?), aptly named Sikat (see what they did there? *nudge*) is embarking on a nationwide tour. (Good News Pilipinas)
  • Spirit Photography is the topic of a recent blog post of Spec Fic author Yvette Tan . Speaking of Yvette, have I mentioned that she plugs our Ruin and Resolve anthology here?
  • Trese 5000: No, that’s not a far-future story arc, it’s a sales figure estimate for books 1 and 3. Congratulations to Budjette, Kajo and Visprint on the continuing success of Trese.

Genre and Fandom:

  • The Bibliophile Stalker Awards 2009 went up last January 13, in case you missed it.
  • Neglected Books and Authors get some love over at Tor.com
  • Fandom, Participatory Culture, and Web 2.0 is the title of a course which I’d love to take up, but as that’s unlikely to occur anytime soon, I’m glad that Professor Henry Jenkins has posted his syllabus at his site.

Reading and Writing:

Chained Links: 5 January 2009

Posted by Paolo Chikiamco On January - 4 - 2010

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Happy new year everyone! If you’re anything like me, the holidays were less a time for rest and more a time for oh-my-god-why-are-they-here-we-don’t-have-a-gift-quick-rip-that-fruit-cake-in-half… you get the picture.  Here’s your latest batch of chained links to catch you up on what you might have missed during the holiday season.

We’ll lead off with a few from the Metakritiko section of the Philippine Online Chronicles. I’ve recently been named editor of the section (which is the POC’s arts/culture and reviews portion) so if any of you have arts news of interest, events that need attention or creative works that you’d like reviewed, drop me a line and we’ll see what we can do.

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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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