Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Me and my mom finally got to visit the newly opened Robinson's Place mall in Pioneer Street tonight. There were still a lot of construction going on inside so there's nothing much to see except for the department store, grocery area, movie house, fast food joints and the ubiquitous tiangge that's all the rage these days. The place seems smaller than what I imagined it would be.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Garage sale continued while the storm rages outside. The government also moved tomorrow's holiday today to create an extended weekend of some sort which also suits a lot of people fine since there's another storm threatening to pass by the country. I've been feeling a little blah the whole day making any attempts to do this week's strip nearly impossible. By the way, I heard the song Above All again and while singing it the lyrics to the song struck me as something that's not only very true but also very poetic. See for yourself:

Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure what You're worth

Crucified, laid behind a stone
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
Above all

Images conjured these words are really something to behold. After all, is there anything or anybody more lofty than He who reigns above all?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

I wasn't able to attend Sunday service today after being asked to help out in the garage sale today. Dark clouds threatened to shower a heavy rains throughout much of today making most of the folks to sleep in late and not putter around our junk. I was only able to go out around halfway through the afternoon and opted to check out the "Auction Heroes" in Powerplant Mall in Rockwell Center. The auction involves the sale of collectible statues of comic book and movie characters, original comic pages from the likes of Alex Ross, and rare comic books from the 40s and/or 50s (very good to mint condition) through silent bidding and live auction. I went around and checked the pieces that were up for auction many of which were really, really nice and drool worthy but nothing I could fancy. Maybe because I'm now more focused on books, the starting price for these things cost at least 4,000 Php (roughly around $71), and because I don't have any place to display them in. After getting around the display twice I went inside the bookstore and looked around for anything real interesting. I found a good number of titles that I'm marking for purchase in the future and went out again to see how the auction was faring. What I saw very much disappointed me. It wasn't the fact that sometime musician/commercial talent/comedian Gabe Mercado was presiding over the auction but what he was wearing that got to me: he looked like a really bad caricature of a Circus Master (you could see the evidence in the picture below). I have no idea who was put in charge of the whole event but having the auctioneer dressed up like a circus clown doesn't exactly help the image of the comic industry. We're talking about priceless pieces of art and big bucks here and they treat the whole proceedings like it's a big joke?!

Couldn't they have at least took the time to put some dignity into the whole proceedings by suiting him up in suits with muted colors at least? Like how about dressing him up, say, like Batman's loyal butler, Alfred? If they were aiming for (and that's the closest reason I can think of right now) Tim Burton's version of the Joker then I would say they failed miserably.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

I've never been a fan of world music or reggae or anything of the sort. I think it's all a nosiy mish-mash, an endless cacophony that makes no sense whatsoever. My view if world music is the same as jazz which doesn't have any recognizable rhythm at all. It has nothing I could grasp and certainly nothing to enjoy. That's why I wasn't exactly thrilled when Joanne, a friend from college, invited me to watch a free concert titled Putomaya World Music at the nearby mall. I even tried to beg off from watching something I know wasn't going to be worth my while. I tried to beg off many times but she was insistent that I go, promising that I would enjoy the show. I grudgingly said yes and I would follow later.

I arrived some thirty minutes or so into the concert and there was a sizable crowd watching the concert, a third of them were standing around at the back. Given the Filipinos' penchant for being uzis (bystanders, innocent or otherwise) I guess there shouldn't be any cause for me to be surprised at all. Joanne and Karl (another friend and classmate from college) saw me immediately and ushered me to a good seat near the middle. I didn't catch the name of the band currently playing, which was just as well since their set of music exactly represented what it is that I don't like about world music. Next band to perfom was Wahijuara. Their three-piece set of music was really nice and I somewhat changed my stance on world music when I heard them play. It's unfortunate that I didn't get the titles but there's this one composition, which they said was inspired by the white beaches of Boracay that really got to me. It has a smooth jazzy feel to it, something like out of those 60s lounge music kinda thing. I wanted to get a hold of these artists' compilation album as soon as they finished their set. Next up was Makiling Ensemble. I've been hearing of these guys a lot in the past, people swear by the beauty of their music but I never paid them any heed and deliberately avoided their mall concerts. Still I've left all my expectations down so as not to be disappointed, but then when the first strains of "Spanish Dancer" started I began to regret those times past that I deliberately stayed away from them and that it was only now I was only able to discover them. It was all true! TRUE, I TELLS YA! Wow! Here are some of the pictures I took earlier tonight:

First band whose name I forgot

Wahijuara performing their brand of Latin Samba

Makiling Ensemble performing "Spanish Dancer"

Diwa de Leon deftly plucking the strings of the hegalong

Tropical Depression

'RnB' artist, JR. Kilat

Papa Dom

Singing for the cause of Filipino music

Pepe Smith making a surprise appearance

Finishing the set with a bang

Souvenir shot with the frontman of Tropical Depression

The last band to perform was the reggae band, Tropical Depression. The mall was alreafy closing and the audience has dwindled down to a few die-hard fans. I'm not a fan of reggae music but seeing the famous band live on stage made it okay. Dread heads came into the scene occupying vacated seats up front while the band was setting up, I don't normally seem them elsewhere and it makes me wonder where they go during ordinary days. Self-styled RnB artist ("Rapper na Bisaya" as he calls himself) Jr. Kilat sang the first two songs, the second being an original composition about his cellphone having a low-battery function or something like that. T.D. frontman, Papa Dom, then stepped up to the mike and sang a couple of original classics (from a decade ago or so) and while they seemed to winding the song, "Ang Himig Natin" ("Our Song") down, local rock music icon, Joey 'Pepe' Smith came out from behind and sang with the band. His appearance was so unexpected and his presence so electrifying that everyone in the place started howling and clapping in appreciation. The set ended with a bang and me and my friends had our pictures taken with Papa Dom afterwards. Joey Smith was talking with some friends so we never got a souvenir shot with him. Okay, I'm now willing to make a couple of exceptions to world music because of the wonderful talents that we have. But I'll be initially drawing the line at Pinoy.
The long awaited launching of the teen-mag whose post stayed on top of the heap for weeks on end finally arrived. Prior to today, emails were exchanged between various contributors promising to attend mixed with profuse apologies from those who can't along with requests for ways to have their complimentary copies sent to them.

I got there exactly on time. People were milling around the store entrance happily exchanging stories and greeting those whose faces they recognized. I saw Ganns inside attending to some minor details, his wife Catherine was manning the booth, happily entertaining interested buyers and would-be buyers of the magazine. I also saw a couple of familiar faces like Ricky and Harold whose works and faces can also be seen inside the mag's pages. After a round of introductions to other people (or reintroduction to those who I've already met the first time we sat down to discuss the magazine), I went straight inside to tell Ganns that I was already there and that's when I first saw pop-artist Kitchie Nadal sitting by the sidelines with her manager at her side watching the others. The first thing that entered my mind was, "This is so cool!!!" She's looks more beautiful in person (far from what I remembered during her Mojofly days) and she looks really young for her age too. After a while, the program started with a short prayer then some introductions to what the magazine is all about before the special guest sang her first song. Here are some of the pictures I took during the event:

In front of Shepherd's Staff Bookstore

Kitchie browsing through the magazine

Catherine Deen opening the launch

Ganns delivers a little introduction to what the mag is all about

Kitchie performing the song "You're Worthy"

Strumming to the beat of the k-hon

Ganns and Cath enjoying themselves before the drawing of the raffle

Ricky and friend

Kitchie sang three songs in all from her album, two of which were composed for her greatest inspiration, "You're Worthy" and "Fire" while finishing off with her current single that's being heavily rotated in all radio stations, "Wag Na Wag Mong Sasabihin" (Don't Ever Ever Say It). Afterwards people lined up to get her autograph and pose for pictures and after she left to go to her next gig, Ganns raffled off some goodies like a P3,000 gift certificate for Avia shoes and a signed copy of Kitchie's album. Although I didn't win any of those things in the raffle draw, I still went home happy because I had my complimentary copy of the magazine autographed!YOWZA!!!

Friday, November 26, 2004

These are the very rough character designs I did for the next comic of His Story. While there are no immediate plans to create a follow-up to the story of Noah and the Great Flood hence no big reason for me to do the other characters that would be appearing in the comic, the need to create a distinctive look for each character was there (like putting a sea turtle on Noah's head as was inspired by that kid I saw in Assumption). I already have ideas for other stories like Jacob and Joseph, Cain and Abel, Balaam and his talking donkey, and Moses and Aaron so with these ideas coming through the greater need for each story to have distinctive and memorable characters was pushed to the fore. Like all the comics I did before, His Story also leans towards the nutty side of every story. I'm not poking fun at the story nor am I twisting it beyond what was written in the Bible nor do I dare to poke fun at God and his message. Rather I try to think up of funny things that could have happened if one reads between the lines without losing the essence of the story. The key is finding humor in situations to introduce brevity while creating an interest in the subject. After all, God gave us the ability to laugh as He himself isn't without a sense of humor.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Yey! Cool beans I finished the Insomnia art last night! The whole process wasn't as hard as I was expecting although I did cheat on the coloring part when I saved the whole thing as a .jpeg file and transported it to Photoshop. So it's not a vector art per se but one could still call it that or rather use the term "digital art" when referring to it. You can check out the finished product here. Maraming salamat in advance if you're one of them devART members who'd like to post a comment on any of the artworks you find there.

Click to read the strip

Right now I'm setting my sights on editing the second installment of His Story for LIVEtheLIFE Magazine and hopefully get to submit it on Saturday during the launch. In the meantime, check out Lyndon's goofy story of the time Syeri met her "clone" during the Artists' Den's tour of Assumption Antipolo. That's one of the small stories I forgot to mention in my previous post.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Click to read the entire strip

Nationalists and other what-have-yous may criticize me for this but I'm seriously entertaining the idea that we Filipinos should adopt and add Thanksgiving Day to the ever growing list of holidays that we celebrate in this country. If we adopted certain customs and foreign traditions in the past and made it into something uniquely our own then I can't see why we can't adopt a holiday that celebrates thankfulness. Instead of getting embroiled in the muck that we always complain we find ourselves (and not doing anything about it) why can't we set aside a day that we could set our down our complaints and start thanking God, our parents, our peers, the government, the church, or anything and anyone to you want to direct your gratitude to for your provisions and conveniences. Isn't it time we counted our blessings instead of curses? Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Origami girl, Camy's requesting us to contribute something for a book project that's going to be part of her thesis which revolves around the theme "Insomnia". Though I do have an idea on what to contribute, I'm sorta anxious, and also excited, about my plans for going about it. I'm going to do an experiment on this piece by way of rendering the final artwork in vector and doing it in a style different from how I do cartoons. Something like how Butch Hartman does his in The Fairly Odd Parents or the way Gendy Tartakovsky draws Dexter's Laboratory with thick, clean and measured lines that looks retro. And the only way I think could do that is to recreate everything in Corel Draw. I have already done some thumbnail sketches for the thing but I've yet to finalize everything maybe tomorrow.

Monday, November 22, 2004

I already finished coloring this week's strip hours ago and seeing an opportunity to indulge myself in a bit of narcisstic fun, I included my picture in the corkboard behind the characters. Hehe... "Where's Waldo" daw o.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I like spending time in Starbucks, whiling the hours away drawing comic strips. But that's also my lament. That in the whole Metropolis, one has to pay a steep price for privacy and solitude.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Today's the second and last day of the Artists' Den's campus tour in Assumption School in Antipolo which I wasn't really looking forward to because of the vast distance from our house to that place (Antipolo's waaaay out in the fringes of the Metro where the boondocks are). But still I made a promise that I would be making an appearance after begging off yesterday (the others went ahead early in the morning). I started out right around lunch time, took the MRT, then a colorum Toyota FX taxi to the boundary of Marikina and Antipolo, and finally took a semioccasional jeep that would pass by the small road leading to Assumption. Traffic was really bad due to bad weather and travel time was extended way beyond what I expected but what really made me swear off commuting to Antipolo ever again was the fact that the jeepney driver who I requested to stop in front of the road leading to Assumption completely forgot about it. I even asked him thrice if we were there yet (I couldn't very well see through the side windows because the vehicle was packed with commuters) and each time he wouldn't answer me. The only time that he did was after a couple of minutes when he asked if I asked to be let down in front of my destination, when I did answer in the affirmative he let me off on what I thought to be the one I was looking for. Unfortunately for me that place where I went down was way beyond the school which was confirmed by the tricycle driver parked by the side of the road. I had no choice but to commute back on the tricycle this time to see where I'm going and second, to get a more personal service which further put a dent on my pocket.

After getting down a small line of tricycle drivers offered to drive me to the school gate for 15 Php. I politely refused their offer and started up the road while rain started to pour down. I was grumbling and moping in my mind on the way thinking that I wouldn't be caught going this way again for a very long time. I finally got to join the group after a couple more minutes. School grounds was muddy and there were loads of people everywhere crowding the pathways along with the booths selling their wares (I forgot to mention that it's a school fair). Lyndon, Lico, Syeri, Jon, Patrick, and some of the guys of Ronin Core were there huddling around a small table. After a hearty welcome they showed me their sketches and shared some stories of what happened yesterday and earlier today. I took some pictures soon after settling down:

The "mysterious" ninja makes an appearance

Anime Club members laughing at the antics

Reliving childhood days with plastic balloons

Az bawls his eyes out thinking he lost his balloon

Patrick contributes a piece to what is hoped to be a Pucca plastic balloon sculpture

Which turned out to be more like a teddy bear than anything else.

A boy and his turtle.

Last minute caricatures

Az and Syeri reviewing our farewell greetings to our host org, the Anime Club

One of the funny things about this particular campus tour was the rediscovery of plastic balloons. These are made out of these colorful (and quite aromatic) plastic gunk packaged in tiny metal tubes. You squeeze out the gunk on the rear end of the tube onto a small plastic straw, carefully wrapping it on one end like so, and then you slowly blow into it till you get this big transparent balloon that only lasts for so long. We were big on this stuff, especially if one grew up during the 80s. I also made a big breakthrough on the character designs I'm doing for the second installment of the comic strip, His Story, for the next issue of LIVEtheLIFE Magazine. I'm aiming to do a humorous turn on the story of Noah and the great flood and prior to this day I had a hard time creating a prototype for Noah. That is until one high school kid requested a caricature with a stuffed sea turtle on his head (I didn't catch the title of the manga he was holding where the author also sported a sea turtle on his head). I was entertaining the idea that he should meet the bunny girl of ICA when the idea struck, why not do the same thing with Noah? So I did and that finished off a good number of character designs for this story. Syeri also contributed a good number of ideas for future strips.

We made our way back to the Metro around past 6 p.m. taking a jeep passing by an LRT station and taking that express way to the MRT and back home. We're now looking forward to another big event next month, and I'm hoping to get a new comic released in time for that one.

Friday, November 19, 2004

The hype brought about the trailers was there but National Treasure didn't quite make it to what I was expecting. It wasn't anything ho-hum but it sure wasn't no Indiana Jones either. The plot is about a hidden treasure greater than anything that's ever known in all of history. Starting from the time of the Egyptians and passing hands to the Romans, the treasure got bigger and bigger as each conquest brought additional treasures from different lands to be added to the hoard. But somehow it got lost under the Romans and knowledge of the treasure passed on to legend. Sometime during the middle ages, a group of crusading English knights stumbled upon the fabled lost treasure under King Solomon's temple. Creating a covenant among themselves to protect the treasure, they established The Knights Templar. From thereon, knowledge of the secret location of the treasure was passed on through their heirs. Then sometime during the time of the United States of America's founding fathers, the treasure was transferred and hidden in a vault to protect it from the British people. Among those who were in possession of its knowledge included George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. When the last heir to the knowledge failed to pass on the information to the president as he was dying, he gave a couple of clues to his most trusted valet, the Great-great-grandfather of the story's hero, Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage). Story was continually passed on from generation to generation until Ben decided to do something about it, like find the treasure and distribute the hoard to its rightful place/s. Ben employed the services of Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and Ian Howe (Sean Bean) as they successfully located the first clue in the Antarctic. But things got might ugly when the trail of the next clue leads them to steal the original US Constitution document. Ian Howe turned his guns and goons against his two partners but failed to killed them (but of course). Then it's an amazing race across America together with the beautiful and intelligent Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) on the good guys' side.

What I got though, was a feeling that this was a fodder for the upcoming Da Vinci Code movie whose news are already eliciting a kind of eager anticipation for its legions of fans. I'm also not a fan of Nicholas Cage (although I take exceptions to his other movies like The Rock largely because of Sean Connery) and like I said earlier, I was willing to make another exception to this one but it failed to soar. I know a lot of people liked it and, hey, go ahead but it's something I'd rather relegate to the "Nyeah... It's okay" category. I do have one other question before I end this post: What's with Walt Disney Productions promoting Freemasonry? I'm sure Walt himself wouldn't approve of this if he was still alive.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I can't salvage anything funny from this strip and I had a hard time recreating those stairs. Bleh!

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I've always wanted to put down on paper the thought processes that an artist normally goes through. What is often misunderstood to be an exercise in wasting time, i.e. daydreaming, by "non artists" is in fact work in progress. Personally, I often retreat to bookstores, galleries, and parks all by myself because first of all I need to be able to think clearly, hear myself think, and carefully deliberate on those thoughts. Second, because those three aforementioned places abound with stimuli that gets the noggin inspired enough to start churning out ideas that I sorely need for the art that I need to produce in a given timeframe. The same goes with the need to acquire toys, action figures, comics, books, gadgets, and cartoons (depending on his or her art, each artist will seek to surround themselves with instruments or willingly submit themselves through an experience related to their gifting).

Dean's blog entry, appetite, vindicates that line of thinking as he describes what kind of creatures we are, feeding on the mundane and the abstract with this post written last Sunday:

Writers are creatures of appetite, needing to imbibe things in order to spew them out as words, transformed by imagination and covered in the spit of personal experience.

We drink and smoke and eat, sometimes to excess, often not enough times, to fill the vacuum within. It is not limited to oral gratification. Our eyes consume visual feasts of cinema, television, photography, drama and dance, following the varied paths of words the books we read reveal, escaping into the brilliant world of comic books and other lurid black-and-white dimensions. Our ears devour conversations, the sound of tears and triumph, quiet etudes and rock music played at dizzying volumes. Our fingers explore nooks and crannies when we make love or ****, trace history when we touch someone's face, and translate texts from texture.

We have are denizens of many worlds. We exist in the mundane and simultaneously experience life and love and madness in other times and places, some safe and predictable, some secret and hidden because of shame and the refusal to submit to judgement, or because of the innate selfishness of keeping a wellspring of inspiration to one's self.

We are gluttons of experience, vicarious or otherwise, and we constantly hunger. Not necessarily for the new, not always for the familiar, but rather for everything, slaves of the constant need to assuage our appetites.

We live secret lives in our words, creating fiction from the raw materials we cannot help but seek and savor.
Exquisite description, If I may say so myself! Although he wrote from the perspective of a writer, I could also safely claim this too since the souls of comic creators exist on the same as writers. On the other hand, I'd be lying too much if I were to boast that we are exempted from any kind of excesses and temptations to overindulge on the things (both gorgeous and grotesque) that feed our cravings. In fact we should be more on the lookout when we begin to cross set boundaries. If not we would turn to ourselves and as fits of madness begin to consume our souls we begin to entertain thoughts about our heightened abilities to influence others. Thereby creating monstrous monuments that glorify not ourselves but the monsters that lurk in the recesses of our psyche. We should then always take stock of ourselves and recognize the fact that we are after all fragile vessels. And our best works, in the end, are but pale imitations of the works of the Creator himself.

Monday, November 15, 2004

I finished the strip earlier and though I did enjoy the process of coloring it, I couldn't make the set-up for the punchline work. It just kept honking, sputtering and gasping... Arrgh!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

I bought three new books today. It was all rather unexpected although it wasn't totally unplanned. I was planning to buy a different book in Powerbooks, Megamall if the titles I've prioritized aren't available in Fully Booked, Power Plant Mall. But as local bibliophiles know very well, once you find step inside Fully Booked you'll never set foot inside another bookstore again for a very long time. While I wasn't planning on buying anything or at the most I was on the lookout for the Batman: Hush Vol. 1 TBP (trade paperback) or The Blacksad Files 3. What I saw instead made me drool in anticipation even more like The Art of The Incredibles and a couple of how-to art books. Unfortunately for me the prices of these treasureables are way beyond the reach of my wallet. Thinking I could get them at a later time I continued browsing and came upon a lone copy of Dark Horse's Autobiographix. The copy was all covered up in clear plastic protecting it from further damage but at the same time preventing interested parties from browsing the inside pages. What made me to finally decide to get it was what I read at the back of the book regarding its contents. A collection of autobiographical anecdotes rendered by each artist telling the story in his own inimitable way. Not wanting to make a rash judgment and incur some unwanted debts I continued on to look for other books and went outside to some quiet place to do this week's West Side strip and to be able to think clearly in weighing my options for the books that I saw. After finishing what it is that I've set out to do, I went back to the bookstore, got the lone copy along with that other book I saw, Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts, which was also the only copy in the whole place. I'm always on the lookout for books discussing the relevance of art in evangelism and its standing as a ministry that should be nurtured if only because it's the area that's most overlooked both inside and outside the Church. The third book I was telling you about earlier on was acquired in another bookstore in the mall near our place: Wrestling with God: Loving the God We Don't Understand. Another book that was also sitting alone in a shelf that I couldn't bear to leave behind. I didn't had any qualms on taking any of these not only because of its mint or near mint condition but especially because of the quality of the topics involved.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

I can't remember the exact date the last time the Christian PExers had an eyeball. Of course we initially planned it as a semi-regular thing but didn't quite make good with our promise due to conflicting schedules and the unwillingness to be the organizer (it's as tedious online as it is offline, believe you me). So when a one-time regular poster called us up to a get-together to welcome a balikbayan from Canada, we all said yes and had a wonderful lunch at Congo Grill (the popular choice for PEx EBs). Aside from the free flowing food a great time was had by all. There were three first timers in the group and even though there were some initial reservations to open up, they confessed they still had a good time and next month's gathering is something all of us are looking forward to with the addition of other PExers who weren't able to join us today.

Friday, November 12, 2004

LIVEtheLIFE Magazine, the country's first glossy Christian magazine for teens and young adults, is proud to announce a soft launch for its debut issue, on November 27, Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at the Shepherd's Staff Bookstore in Greenbelt 1 (across Tokyo Tokyo, near Delifrance and O Music Store) with pop-rock singer and LIVEtheLIFE debut issue cover feature subject Kitchie Nadal as special guest.

Kitchie will sing four songs from her debut CD, including her current radio smash "Wag na Wag Mo Nang Sabihin" and Christian original "You Are Worthy" as well as sign CDs and magazine covers. Buy a copy of LIVEtheLIFE Magazine at only P85, and get a chance to win books from Shepherd's Staff, a copy of Kitchie's new CD, "Kitchie Nadal," and a gift certificate for Avia performance footwear worth P3,000!

Don't miss this unique two-in-one opportunity to get the collector's edition first issue of LIVEtheLIFE, the first Christian glossy magazine and have it signed by Kitchie herself! The place seats 20 on the floor comfortably, but if we spill out into Mr. Donut, Tokyo Tokyo, and Filbar's, so be it!

Also on November 27: Listen to Wave 89.1 and Jam 88.3 as LIVEtheLIFE brings you some of the coolest, life-affirming music from Kitchie Nadal and others!

Check out PinoyExchange.com as LIVEtheLIFE's Realm of Thought goes online with thought-provoking discussion! Check out my one whole page full color comic inside the magazine too!

LIVEtheLIFE Magazine. Relevant reading for the lifestyle with purpose.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I'll never eat another Chicken strips after what I got served in Jollibee just a few hours ago. First of all, because their poster ads clearly promote that the that the chicken strips they were supposed to serve looked very bit crunchy and brittle on the outside. The three pieces of strips that I got looked like deep fried fish crackers! I thought ok, I'll give them a break. They probably messed up the batter. I got through the first piece fine, the gravy was piping hot so I didn't notice anything different. But after a couple of bites out of the second piece, the gag-reflex in my throat was starting to kick in. Said pieces of meat didn't break into pieces like what I expected from white meat while I was chewing it. After consuming about a half of it the thought that there's something wrong about the whole thing entered my mind. I looked at the strips and scraped off the outer layer. The pieces were grayish in color and had a smooth, almost shiny, surface. They used dark meat?! They used dark meat when their ads clearly show that the meat stuffed into those strips are white (taken from breast parts)? I expected juicy white meat and what I got were sinewy, slimy pieces of chicken meat that were taken from thigh parts (sinewy and slimy, these are reasons enough for me to avoid chicken thighs and legs)! Suffice to say I didn't enjoy the rest of my meal and walked away disgusted. Never again.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

I was in a quandary on how Henry would address his older brother. Initially, I had him calling Ben the more respectful "kuya" ("older brother" in Filipino) but they are from Bulacan, Malolos specifically, and in my experience from my mom's side of the family, Bulakeños address their siblings with the prefix "ka" (short for "kapatid" a generic term that doesn't distinguish any gender). I tried that too, but I remembered that Ben lived more than half of his life in the U.S. and I wasn't comfortable with the idea of addressing with the ka-prefix before his name right now. Maybe later.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

What's in a name? Lots, especially when new levels of respectability are perceived to be hinging on the proper term for sequentially illustrated and bound literature or just plain, comic books. Then came Graphic Novels, an offshoot of the traditional medium that somewhat deviates from the set path by creating one of its own usually devoid of metahumans wearing colorful tights. Debates among traditionalists and ardent followers following the swift rise of this medium naturally followed. What's an artist to do? How a "10 Commandments" of some sort? That's where reknowned cartoonist, Eddie Campbell, came in to present:
Eddie Campbell's Graphic Novel Manifesto

There is so much disagreement (among ourselves) and misunderstanding (on the part of the public) around the subject of the graphic novel that it's high time a set of principles were laid down.

1. Graphic novel is a disagreeable term, but we will use it anyway on the understanding that 'graphic' has nothing to do with graphics and that 'novel' does not mean anything to do with 'novel'. (in the same way that 'Impressionism' is not really an applicable term, in fact it was first used as an insult and then adopted in a spirit of defiance.)

2. Since we are not referring to the traditional literary novel, we do not hold that the graphic novel should be of the supposed same dimensions or physical weight. Thus subsidiary terms such as 'novella' and 'novelette' are of no use here and will only serve to confuse onlookers as to our goal (see below), causing them to think we are creating an illustrated version of standard literature when in fact we have bigger fish to fry, that is, we are forging a whole new art which will not be a slave to the arbitrary rules of an old one.

3. Graphic novel signifies a movement rather than a form. Thus we may refer to 'antecedents' of the graphic novel, such as Lynd Ward's woodcut novels but we are not interested in applying the name retroactively.

4. While the graphic novelist regards his various antecedents as geniuses and prophets without whose work he could not have envisioned his own, he does not want to be obliged to stand in line behind William Hogarth's Rake's Progress every time he obtains a piece of publicity for himself or the art in general.

5. Since the term signifies a movement, or an ongoing event, rather than a form, there is nothing to be gained by defining it or 'measuring' it. It is approximately thirty years old, though the concept and name had been bandied about for at least ten years earlier. As it is still growing it will in all probability have changed its nature by this time next year.

6. The goal of the graphic novelist is to take the form of the comic book, which has become an embarrassment, and raise it to a more ambitious and meaningful level. This normally involves expanding its size, but we should avoid getting into arguments about permissible size. If an artist offers a set of short stories as his new graphic novel, (as Eisner did with Contract with God) we should not descend to quibbling. We should only ask whether his new graphic novel is a good or bad set of short stories. If he or she uses characters that appear in another place, such as Jimmy Corrigan's various appearances outside of the core book, or Gilbert Hernadez' etc. or even characters that we do not want to allow into our imaginary 'secret society', we shall not dismiss them on this account. If their book no longer looks anything like comic books we should not quibble as to that either. We should only ask whether it increases the sum total of human wisdom.

7. The term graphic novel shall not be taken to indicate a trade format (such as 'tradepaperback' or 'hardcover' or 'prestige format'). It can be in unpublished manuscript, in partbooks or other serialisation. The important thing is the intent, even if the intent arrives after the original publication.

8. The graphic novelists' subject is all of existence, including their own life. He or she disdains the cliches of 'genre fiction', though they try to keep an open mind. They are particulary resentful of the notion, still prevalent in many places, and not without reason, that the comic book is a sub-genre of science fiction or heroic fantasy.

9. Graphic novelists would never think of using the term graphic novel when speaking among their fellows. They would normally just refer to their 'latest book' or their 'work in progress' or 'that old potboiler' or even 'comic' etc. The term is to be used as an emblem or an old flag that is brought out for the call to battle or when mumbling an enquiry as to the location of a certain section in an unfamiliar bookstore. Publishers may use the term over and over until it means even less than the nothing it means already. Furthermore, graphic novelists are well aware that the next wave of cartoonists will choose to work in the smallest possible forms and will ridicule us all for our pomposity.

10. the graphic novelist reserves the right to deny any or all of the above if it means a quick sale.
Honestly, I didn't know it existed in the first place. Of course, these 'rules' weren't written for artists to really follow but it's nice to know that these exist to somewhat set things straight. Those who aren't familiar with the term "Graphic Novel" can check this whopper of a definition with with loads of examples to boot. Link to the manifesto was provided by Budjette Tan (care of Dean Alfar's blog).

Monday, November 08, 2004

I finally finished coloring and lettering the strip in Photoshop and I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. I actually finished the drawing yesterday in a bookstore cafe (where I also committed the grievious mistake of ordering a teeny-tiny serving of lunch costing an obscene amount of cash when I could have ordered ice tea as my passport to occupying their tables). Good thing it turned out better than what I expected since I was very exhausted from a couple of late night's sleep and I was continually erasing the same parts of the panels from sheer frustration that I wasn't getting it right.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

You know that scene where Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) comes home from work and there's that neighbor's kid watching him from the sidewalk who he asks, "What are you waiting for?" The kid then goes, "'I don't know, something amazing, I guess." That's what we got from The Incredibles! As expcted the guys of Pixar came up with a movie that's yet again, well, amazing, astonishing, astounding, awe-inspiring, awesome, bang-up, breathtaking, confounding, cool, extraordinary, fantasmo, fantastic, far-out, first class, great, in spades, indefinable, indescribable, legendary, marvelous, mind-blowing, out-of-this-world, outrageous, peachy, phenomenal, primo, prodigious, rad, remarkable, singular, spectacular, staggering, strange, striking, stunning, stupendous, super, superb, surprising, terrific, top drawer, tops, unbelievable, unimaginable, wonderful, and wondrous beyond words!!! Their best work I've seen so far (and I thought Finding Nemo couldn't be topped).

The first half is very 60s. Very mod. Houses are one story affairs, white-collar jobs are done inside non-descript offices with short sleeves and ties, horned rimmed glasses, jazz-orchestra music reminiscent of the Pink Panther and vintage cars are the order of the day. Colors are toned down and there's a James Bond feel almost all throughout the story with the exception of the family scenes. Hidden fortress in an island, lava curtain, access through a waterfall, sneaking through the enemy base's corridors, etc. Writer/Director Brad Bird is the bomb! Considering that he originally pitched the idea as a 2D animation picture just like his last big hit which would probably not be as big a hit if it didn't go through the Pixar people's able hands. All the characters are a great treat to watch but my real favorites are Edna Mode (who I honestly thought was based on fashion journalist, Elsa Klensch), Dash, and Violet. Their characters come off as very interesting, and the latter two's teamwork is something to look forward to. Another thing too, I thought Syndrome was based on Mark Hamill's villainy character in Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back (hair, mask, and all). Right now, I'm thinking of doing individual fan art for each of the characters and hopefully I'd be able to get to it as soon as possible. Plus the all the movie related toys and action figures that I must simply get my hands on! Man! To echo the neighbor's kid's sentiments after witnessing the big bang that defeated the enemy, "THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED!" Indeed it is and I'm gonna watch this again and again till they take it off the big screen.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.
Yesterday's MU tournament at the Market! Market! mall in Fort Bonifacio was okay and as expected the bulk of the crowd weren't comic book fans so I didn't sign up to sell anything. I did however went over to join the others in the afternoon after finishing some work at home. The sky was overcast and there was a light drizzle on the way there but that didn't seem to stop the weekend crowd from trooping to the new mall in much the same way I was. There was no problem locating the Artists' Den booth at the fringes of the activity center. Indie comics and books were spread out and while the others entertained their customers and friends who dropped by to say hello.

Feeling a bit uncomfortable with the tinge of pain brought on by the threat of ulcer, I went upstairs to look for a place to eat. I went in to KFC and I was a bit surprised to receive a packet of mayonnaise to go with my chicken strips. One of the local mayonnaise brands apparently was having a promotion, "pepper your deep fried food with mayonnaise for that extra kick!" Extra kick in your heart that is. Yum! After eating I went downstairs and watched Lyndon fend off two of his ICAn fans with his patent deadpan humor. They, in turn, made up for their presence by buying more than half of his merchandise which pleased him no end. Next part of the entertainment that we had while sitting around was the putting on of costumes of two cosplayers in the area behind our booth. The first one dressed as a huge robot (which went on to win the first prize) from the videogame Armored Core and the second was dressed as that character from the LoTR trilogy. These were the best ones as the other cosplayers came in the usual anime inspired characters. Here are some of the pictures from that event:

Mall edifice after the rain

Putting on the costume attracted a lot of onlookers

The Artists' Den booth

Cosplayers' parade

Lico mesmerizes girl with 'bullet-time' tricks

View of the booth from way up

Main floor

Az and Syeri

Studies and thumbnails for next week's strip

Activities slowed down later in the afternoon when the amateur bands competing for the prize finally ran out and the two hosts of the event gave way to the last two groups fighting for supremacy in the MU tournament. While the games were being projected on the big screen at the side of the stage I checked out some of the indie comics being sold and the others roamed around the place. Near the end of the event, Syeri, Jon, Ryan, Kix, and the others came back and relayed the idea of watching The Incredibles after packing up our things. The prohibitive price of the digital theater of the mall made us decide to go to SM Megamall (besides it's a lot closer to where we live). This even t was okay, I guess. The area was too open and half the crowd that we were expecting to come wasn't there so it's okay. It could have been a lot better, though. Maybe next time.

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