Sunday, October 31, 2004

When Hurricane Charley slammed into Florida in mid-August 2004, battering the state with up to 100 mph winds that knocked over signs, uprooted trees, and left thousands of homes destroyed or uninhabitable, one billboard on Sand Lake Road in Orlando survived the onslaught relatively unscathed. The storm peeled off the most recent advertising message displayed on the board, however, revealing in its place an ad from an earlier campaign:

The words aren't mine but it's all true. No kidding. It is a bit funny though.

Haha! That's Halloween for ya!

Saturday, October 30, 2004

I bought some classic original Filipino movies on DVD like Jologs, Ang Tanging Ina, and Academy Awards Nominee for Best Foreign Film, Crying Ladies. The best thing about it is a great number of the available selection are marked down a third of their original price and even more!

Sample page from "Arctic Nation"

I also went back to the bookstore and bought Blacksad 2: Arctic Nation to nicely round off my acquisitions. Artist Juanjo Guarnido's work in these books are really something.

Friday, October 29, 2004

There's an anecdote about a little boy who everyday would go to a store on his way home from school, press his face against a store window display and stare at a shiny bauble. He terribly wanted to give that bauble to a classmate who is his biggest crush but there's no way he could afford it. One day, while he was looking at it the old store owner came over to the window display and took the shiny gewgaw from its place and began to wrap it. Crushed by his loss, he stood outside and began to cry. But before he could even begin to whimper, the old store owner met him outside and grumpily handed him a small package wrapped in brown paper. Amazed by this sudden outpour of generosity he looked up to the store owner and before he could say anything the store owner told him to beat it. It turned out that he was losing a lot from buying glass cleaners that giving away the bauble was more of a bargain.

Don't we all wish the same to happen to us? Should I have pressed my face on the store windows of different bookstores to avail myself of a freebie? As tempting as that sounds they wouldn't have figured out what I wanted since it wasn't being displayed in the window anyway. And besides books cost a lot more than glass cleaners these days. That's why I took advantage of the mall sale in Megamall and bought Blacksad, The Artist's Mentor: Inspiration from the World's Most Creative Minds, and Nick Bantock's new book, Urgent 2nd Class: Creating Curious Collage, Dubious Documents, And Other Art From Ephemera.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

This piece was originally drawn during the ICA campus tour some weeks ago. I was inspired to do this after watching an entire episode of Space Ghost Coast to Coast for the first time. Of course, now I'm inspired to draw other characters from other toons that I like (Time Squad and Fairly Odd Parents are next on my list of fan art). I'll get down to it as soon as I can get to plan what they would look like using my style of drawing. Hehe...

This wasn't the final version that saw print in the paper, actually. The reason for which was because I was working very near against a deadline and I had to make do with the material that I had on hand. Unfortunately for me it wasn't much.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

We just finished watching Ladder 49 which is one of the gaggle of new movies showing this week. Based on the trailer alone, the story showed a lot of potential in storytelling alone and thankfully it did deliver more than what I expected. The story is told in a series of flashbacks that firefighter, Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix) remembers as he lays injured inside a burning warehouse. He got there after saving a lone man that was trapped near the top floor. As he was trying to get out the floor beneath him collapsed sending him crashing down hard some floors below. Captain Mike Kennedy (John Travolta) arrives at the scene to be greeted with the heart wrenching news that his best friend was the one trapped inside the burning building and though there's a very slim chance that he could be saved he took that big risk just the same. While steps were being undertaken to rescue him, Jack was swung back and forth from the waking and dream world while important moments from his life like his first arrival at the firehouse, to his first firefight with Capt. Kennedy instructing him step by step how to douse a fire, to his first meeting and date with his would be wife, etc. replayed in his mind. You'd definitely commiserate with Jack as he tries to juggle his time and relationship with his wife, kids, and friends while dodging fire traps, collapsing floors, caving ceilings, and smoke inhalation that are part of his job. Just where and when do you prepare your loved ones for the possibility of them losing you?

While watching this the numbers 9/11 kept crossing my mind and it sort of hit a lot closer than I thought possible. Truth to tell I didn't like how the movie ended at first and then I slowly realized that it has to be ended that way because not everything in real life ends with everyone living happily ever after. I would have rather had Jack walking out of the burning warehouse alive and well after being given a second chance in life (well not strictly a second chance but something like it). But in doing so the weight of the story would lean towards absurdity and the movie would be torched and burned by real firemen themselves before it could even hit theaters for regular screening. I actually got renewed respect for firefighters, something I never really felt even after watching that 2001 tragedy in New York. Here they are risking life and limb for complete strangers and what kind of gratitude do they get? Maybe a pat on the back or two for a job well done but what happens after that? Of course, let's not to forget the real heart of the movie is the bond of friendship between two men who had come to greatly respect each other after seeing in the other the very same conviction and pride in saving lives even if in the process of doing so they lose their own. Definitely one for the video library of great movies!

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

Monday, October 25, 2004

This is half of what I'm accomplished and submitted for publication in the paper earlier tonight. I wasn't ready with the storyline and was supposed to do it after office hours in a cafe somewhere but after getting a call from my brother telling me to get my strip ready as early as possible because he's rushing the layout for the whole thing after the regular guy got sick.

Doing this strip was no picnic as I had to research a couple of needed poses from the internet. I had to come up with the punchline as quickly as possible and struggled with "directing" the characters in each panel. If there's any reason at all why I should be a little happy with this is because of the way Photoshop hid the imperfections. I'm doing this again and this whole thing won't be seen in full color for a very long time.

The song Any Other Love by the Smalltown Poets inspired me to do this drawing the first time I heard it.

Any other love
Is misplaced identity
Pairing pride and shame
With the life it fakes of me
Faces of familiar loves
Fall in shadows on the floor
Chased there by
The light that pours
When you open every door

This part of the lyrics, in particular, gave me the idea on how to go about it.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

My parents and sister just flew in from visiting my brother in Moscow and they got me these souvenirs:


Comrade! This looks good? Yes?

The wind-up pocket watch is the BADDEST souvenir I ever got (emblazoned with the Romanov Family's Royal Crest)! And that fur hat is just so kewl! This one I got as per my request.
Our second day at the Immaculate Conception Academy was way better than yesterday possibly because the students are now more at ease with our presence in school. I got there a lot later than yesterday too. I was past 10:30 am and I was almost finished dressing when Az sent me a text message that Lico and Elbert were on the verge of a panic because they were the only ones there and that he would be a little late since he was feeling a bit under the weather. However, when I got there Lyndon was already there along with the Ground Zero Comics guys, and El's sweetie, Camy.

I forgot to mention in detail some of the different characters found inside the campus like this one we dubbed Bunny Girl because of the way she would carry her stuffed toy around with her on her head like a fashion statement or something. There were others a lot less daring on personal statements but were in no way less interesting as the others were. We also met two lovely sisters, Gem and Gwen, who stayed for a little chat with us. What we learned was that Gem was at Starbucks last Friday the same time we were making those posters I was talking about in a previous post, and she told us that she thought that we were those posters just for kicks or something (plus the fact that we were indeed boisterous that time doesn't help things any). Gem's a graduate of ICA and she's now studying in my alma mater while Gwen's still in High School and quite an accomplished artist. Here are some of the pictures from today's campus tour:

Bunny Girl

RG talking about basic game design and programming

Remnants of the class during a short break

Rex tutors a latecomer while Elbert dreams of another project

Gwen's a rare young artist who doesn't draw Japanese manga inspired figures

Two sisters showing off the drawing I did of them

Pretty good work

Caricature one

Caricature two

Elementary tutorial for future artists

RG, Kix, Ryan, Lyndon, I didn't get the name, and Ludz

Campus grounds at the conclusion of the fair

Lico holds his own as he also lectures on cartooning

Group shot one

Group shot two

There weren't that much crowd inside the campus today as compared to yesterday. That translated to a slow morning with not much people attending the lectures but it started to pick up in the afternoon when mothers and some high schoolers would approach our table and inquire about the scheduled classes. I was also able to do a lot of caricatures today though regretfully I wasn't able to record some of them on the camera. At the end of the day we packed up and went to Jollibee to celebrate and assess everything that we did. We had a very good time these past few days and we're very much hoping we would be invited again next year to this school as everyone we met in that school has been a lot of fun and made a lasting impression on all of us with their perkiness and adorability.

I managed to drag myself out of the house last night to scrounge for food in the mall and got to watch Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow in the process. I loved it even if there were confirmed news that the movie failed to make a profit in the U.S. of A because of one reason or another. This movie harks back to the days when SFX in cinemas was just starting out. The plot is reminiscent of the 1930s B-movies involving giant robots, secret headquarters, brilliant weapons guy behind a dashing hero, a beautiful brave news reporter who is also damsel in distress, kidnapped scientists, blueprints and/or secret formulas left as clues, a nefarious secret plot hatched by a shadowy villain that has something to do with the destruction of the world. Production design stayed faithful to the time replete with Art Deco that in turn influenced the imaginative sci-fi designs of comic book and movies:

Robot designs

Costume designs

Weapon designs

Storyboard samples

The noise generated by naysayers talk about the crummy story and script have to keep in mind that keeping faithful to the 1930s movie-making is what the whole project was all about. To update the dialogue and plot to suit a jaded 21st century audience defeats the entire experience. Old sci-fi movies fed off the expectations of comic book geeks weaned on Orson Welles' War of the Worlds, Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Jerry Siegel's & Joe Shuster's Superman, and Alex Raymond's Flash Gordon, to name a few. I'm not sure where Tim Burton failed with his movie, Mars Attacks, but one thing's for sure is that he came up with a film that basks in its cheesiness unlike this movie that guns for the classics feel without going overboard in any of its design and intent. Whether other people feel the same or not at least CNN and SoundtrackNet were kind enough not to shoot it down with preconceived notions and judgments in mind.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

We just ended the first day of the Artists' Den's campus tour at the Immaculate Conception Academy (ICA). We had a moderate turnout for the art lecture but they were attentive and asked the right questions too. There were a few people passing by checking out the indie comics we were selling and most of them were every bit a colorful and unique character. I aways thought that teenagers make for the best candidates for comic or cartoon stories and these personalities are most obvious during those times inside the campus than outside, even those who are too quiet to make an impression. Being an exclusive school for girls a lot of them were perky, peppy, and animated, and seemed glad to see new grown-ups come to their school. Even Lyndon, whose books attracted most of the crowds to our booth, seemed surprised, any shocked, that a group of freshies would come screaming to our tables after recognizing his work. But that's not the reason for his being shocked, it was because they were also fresh enough to ask for his underwear! But it was all in good clean fun and indeed they were funny as they talked and talked non-stop while buying his books and asking for his autograph (you could see them in the 6th and 7th pictures below):

This is the group's booth

Lico's and my artworks posted outside the classroom's door

Syeri giving a lecture on basic female human figure

Wilson giving a lecture about dynamic action poses

Wilson's drawing while we were taking our lunch break

"Lagay mo yung pangalan!"

Lyndon poses with his rabid ICAn fans

Lyndon starts the lecture on comics and cartooning

Looking for good samples of comic strip thumbnails

Lecturing on the basics of comic stripping

Last self-portait shot before we packed up at the end of the day

Hare-raising shot

Earlier I mentioned about the lectures in passing which some of us voluntarily did to promote the art of comics and cartooning. The whole thing was fun although I was particularly hard on myself after evaluating how me and Lyndon did on the discussion. I still have a LOT to learn about public speaking if I'm going to be doing more of this lecture thing in the future. We packed up sometime around 6 pm after seeing there won't be any more people going around to check our booth. There was a concert inside the gym that we could see for free but being so much exhausted the day's activities most of us opted not to.

Friday, October 22, 2004

These are three of the four posters I did for the Artists' Den's Immaculate Conception Academy campus tour tomorrow. Me, Az, RG, and Mark did an occular inspection earlier today and we all agreed on needing more posters announcing the existence of the group's booth inside the campus. So the guys pulled together and did some of their own right on the spot.

I've been following this Nicktoon in earnest sometime after those hilarious discussions about different cartoons a couple of weeks ago. To tell you the truth I was sorely disappointed with this one after Nickelodeon bumped Rocko's Modern Life off their active list but after watching a couple of episodes I realized it wasn't that bad. Then I became a convert after watching it everyday. The series revolves around a little kid named Timmy Turner who gets an odd pair of Fairy Godparents named Cosmo and Wanda one night after his parents left him for some time under the care of a cruel nanny named Vicky. Set in the town of Dimmsdale, Timmy's parents don't have names and they're called exactly that or the more proper "Mr. and Mrs. Turner." The wealth of humor is there although this series is aimed towards teenagers and grown-ups rather than kids. Sure I still miss the gang of R.M.L. but this series' characters' inanities are too good to pass up like Dexter's Laboratory and Time Squad. They also make good references for art styles and humor. If you're a big fan of the series you could sign up in their own mailing list.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The frustration continues as I continue to try to come up with new ideas for the CLASS strip that would bridge the existing gag strips to come up with a continuity that would reintroduce the characters. But it's not all that bad as I was able to come up with some fairly good ones after beating one idea to a pulp and cleaving it further. It has something to do with the last character to be included in the strip and how he was changed from being a nerdy new comer to school to being an obnoxious member of the group of bullies and popular campus figures. I haven't figured yet how many strips this one storyline would take to tell. Maybe twenty? I'm thinking around that number since it was the same number of strips that my friend Syeri submitted to the paper when she first applied.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Yep, she's back! Originally I wanted her to look more like she's into the grassroots level of Filipino culture since she's studying in THE state university. She's packing a lot more surprises than just her looks, I'll be getting to it in the coming weeks and months ahead.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I'm still working on the CLASS strips for the dailies and though the results have been very encouraging so far, I'm now being bothered by the lack of ideas. I have these all these gag strips and I'm nearly out of ideas as to how I could bridge these ones with new gag strips thereby creating a continuity. It also seems like the usual haunts where I draw are getting a bit too noisy and there are a lot of distractions going on making it very hard for me to concentrate and come up with new ideas. Plus, I'm nearly out of cash from buying beverage (serving as a "passport" to overstaying) everyday. Actually, I'm more irritated with the distractions than with the expenses. Wish I could stay somewhere near without those loud folks filling the air with their boisterous laughter.

Monday, October 18, 2004

I'm well pleased with how the West Side strip I drew today came out. I sorta departed from the traditional photo background I'm using and incorporated a drawing rendered in a painterly style after getting some practice with those drawings I edited in Photoshop. I'm nearly done with it and will be able to submit it much earlier than I expected.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

I'm so happy I finally got the children's book that made me laugh hard while browsing through its pages some months ago, Elijah: Prophet Sharing. It's actually one of six books from the Heaven and Mirth Series that author Mike Thaler created to teach kids lessons from the Bible while entertaining them and making them laugh at the same time. The book has five stories revolving around one common theme. In this case it's about understanding God's faithfulness to His people. This is a copy of the first page of the first story in the book:

Click here to learn more about this book

The 68 year old author who has been called "America's Riddle King" and "The Court Jester of Children's Literature" came up with the idea because he thinks that humorous retellings of Bible stories made it all the more vivid and alive for kids. This is the same route that I want to follow for a new series of strips that I hope will generate an interest in reading the Bible. He's also an animated storyteller who has no problem getting school teachers to provide sound effects and school principals to act and a City Mayor to join in on the fun. He also gives out funny interviews, leads a campaign for kids to enjoy reading books, and encourages them to have a dream (I was even surprised to know that he was the creator of the "Letterman" character for the popular "Electric Company" series on PBS. If you're one of those who grew up during the 1970s then you'd be familiar with the football player uniform clad superhero who would take off a letter from his chest and throw it to an attacking word to change its meaning and save the day). Hopefully I could also get my hands on the other books that he wrote.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Birthday boy Gerard was able to join me, Karl, and Joanne this time around in our weekend escapade around the mall. We ended up sharing a huge Yellow Cab pizza between the four of us while creatively thinking of different names for ourselves among others. We also asked hundreds of questions about the birthday boy's girlfriend who could pass off as a commercial model and is many years his junior. After having our fill of all the pizza we could eat, Karl bade his goodbye to catch up with his other friends while the those of us who were left found a quiet place to hang out on the fourth floor of the mall where the art galleries were located. We continued where we left off in the conversation till it was past the mall's closing time.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Funny, funny strip from last Wednesday. Wish I could come up also with a situation that ridiculous and a come-back that witty.
I've been redrawing the old CLASS strips that I did for an old magazine in preparation for another try in the dailies. These strips were published for many years spanning almost all of the 1990s and it's where I got to know the ins and outs of doing comic strips. Prior to this stint I applied at the now defunct Daily Globe, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Manila Times and each time I got the same reply: there were no space available. The chief editor of the entertainment section of this last publication thankfully referred me to the editor of GLITTER Magazine where I got my first job as a cartoonist.

It's been some years since I tried applying the strip to local publications and with constant ribbing from some friends and well meaninged relatives I thought I'd try again after hearing an opening in another daily newspaper. Since they have a size requirement a lot smaller than the existing materials that I have right now, I've started redrawing them and arranging them like a puzzle in such a way that the introduction of the characters would be done through a storyline using different gags and characters depending on what the situation calls for. For example in this strip:

When I first introduced the character of Jason in the strip, he was more of a pest that continually interfered with the affairs of his schoolmates while Stan (in glasses) and Mike (crewcut guy) were one of the most popular guys in shool. During its seven year run in the magazine other characters were gradually introduced and roles were reversed so original characters involved in gag situations had to be recast although the dialogue were left the same. Reactions will also be exaggerated than ever before to suit and highlight the punchlines.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

They're not really sweeties but rather share a bond not unlike between two of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream's four protagonists. In this case Joan would be like Hermia and Jason would be in the stead of Demetrius (read the short of it see what I'm getting at). It's a complicated issue but this doesn't stop Joan from asking for help from Jason if it serves her purpose and Jason doesn't mind helping Joan if it means scoring brownie points with her... or not.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

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