Saturday, April 30, 2005

Busy day. I'm finally finished with this busy day. First it was the comic workshop our support group, the Artists Den held at the conference room the wonderful people of Yehey.com lent to us. Aside from the minor panic brought on by an apparent miscommunication between some of us organizers at the start of the seminar, everything went smoothly from thereon. Ryan had the first go setting the direction of the workshop with basic anatomy (our sit-in guests, Ed and Wilson were also nice enough to pitch in a thing or two about the same subject too). I had my turn at it after a short break giving a short talk on some unwritten rules and principles on creating comic strips (some of which I already discussed in previous posts). Then after me came Jon talking about indie comic production. Oh yeah, most of the attendees were members of deviantART Manila group. We hung around for a while talking among ourselves evaluating the workshop before going down to look for a place to eat.

Sketchbook time! I'm thinking of redoing the punk he met at the door.

Friday, April 29, 2005

This one's from 1991 too.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


"The height of two men, the weight of four and the strength of sixteen!" So goes the introduction to the latest cartoon I discovered showing on the Disney Channel, The Big Knights. A British cartoon that follows almost the same of the crude method employed by the creators of South Park. The story is set in the kingdom of Borovia where two brothers, Sir Boris (the finest swordsman in the World) and Sir Morris (not the finest swordsman in the World, but the most enthusiastic) reside under the employ of King Otto as one of his loyal defenders. Only thirteen episodes have been created and so far I've only been able to catch only one. That was when King Otto asked the two Big Knights to accompany his daughters, Princesses Lucy & Loretta to the house (more of a castle, actually) of their aunts on the other side of the black forest for a month's worth of visit. The two girls manipulated them from taking the road and taking a shortcut through the forest where a load of monsters lie in wait. But even if the two brave men managed to face off with the huge monsters without any problems they did, however, met their their match with the two amorous umarried sisters of King Otto. They did manage to escape early the next morning and the episode ends when they were asked to go back to the castle again to fetch the princesses. It's shown 11 a.m. every Sunday on the Disney Channel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

He got the job much earlier than this intended to show (around January or late December last year) and the original situation I had in mind was to show how he relates to other people in the workplace, how much of a jerk he can be. But in order for me to do that I had to make a proper introduction as to what office he's working in. And the kind of working environment a publishing office has will entail a lot of research on my part which I hope I'll be able to portray realistically warts and all.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Black and white tones sometimes do look a lot better than when colored. This most apparent in this particular strip which I'm very reluctant to color right now.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Here's a whole gaggle of strips from one of my top favorite cartoonists these days, Stephan Pastis. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

We just came back from watching The Interpreter and it was awesome but very confusing. The first half of the story set the pace of the movie and the plot was clear but halfway through the movie when investigator, Tobin Keller (Sean Penn) started picking up some things from U.N. interpreter, Silvia Broome's (Nicole Kidman) past that makes him also suspicious of her motives that everything began to get complicated. Is she also part of the conspiracy to assassinate a controversial African dignitary, Zuwanie (Earl Cameron)? Tobin was often put off by bits and pieces from her troubled past that kept surfacing at inopportune times that one would also begin to question her if she's telling the truth or not. Try as I may to keep up with the plot I was hopelessly lost in the maze of controversies. Plus the fact that everyone kept spouting off names and facts out of the blue prevented me from connecting one to the other. There was way too much information and if it wasn't for the superb acting of the film's two leads I also would have been bored out of my wits.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Yehey.com finally sent me a note announcing the good news that they not only approved our proposal but they also posted the announcement of our comic art workshop in their website. It's now crunch time as we've only got a week to promote this thing and fill up the slots. We'll see what happens.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Thought it would be more prudent to post the other strips I did in the past to create some variety in the weekly strips posted here. I forgot what year this was done but I believe it was around 1990 or 1991. These were also the first characters that got me my professional gig in GLITTER Magazine before around that time too. This one's reminiscent of the old Charles Atlas ads that came out in the pages Marvel comics during the 70s.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Went to Malolos yesterday with my parents to help my aunt take care of some personal matters. The thing I like about provincial trips are the opportunities to practice my burgeoning photographic skills ("burgeoning" daw o! Hehe.). I took on to taking pictures after lunch while everyone was getting settled and letting the digestive system take its course, I puttered around the small garden surrounding the house and also outside where I saw what I believe to be Cat's-tail Grass growing in a small of patch of marsh located just across my aunt's house. All in all I managed to capture around 31 images 25 of which can be seen posted here. We went home after a couple of hours to avoid the rush hour traffic (which was totally non-existent at 4:30 pm). I went out to the mall after a few hours to browse some through some books and magazines in a bookstore. That's where I came upon this book, People in Vogue: A Century of Portraits. Fascinated by some astounding samples of photographic plates shown in an open copy I took some shots from my phone of those that interested me the most. These are but some of those shots that I took from that book:

Jay Joplins and Sean Taylor-Wood, 1998 (detail) by Sean Ellis

Ballet Society, 1948 (detail) by Irving Penn

Sybil Thorndike, 1929 (detail) by George Hoyningen-Huene

Brad Pitt, 1992 (detail) by Bruce Weber

Jean Seberg, 1957 (detail) by Norman Parkinson

Catherine Zeta-Jones, 2001 (detail) by Regan Cameron

Really fascinated with those pictures. With a bit of tweaking here and there in Photoshop I even managed to turn those low-pixel photographs into something decent. Those samples I saw in the book all the more cemented my resolve to focus (though not solely) on black and white portrait photography. I ust need to come up with a brilliant (read: cheap) solution to soft lighting to achieve the same effects that portrait photography seriously entails.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

I got the idea from my younger sister's tar shampoo. (it's one of them products her hairdresser came up with to sell). It does smell like bacon when you mix it with water and, get this, you'd get the bacon-addict's high without the bad cholesterol. Temptingly appetizing. Yow!

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

We just got back from watching the the Academy Award winning movie, Finding Neverland and as expected it never disappointed me or the others in the theater watching watching the same time as us (although the audio of the cinema we were watching could use some serious thrashing as it was all I could do to discern what it was the actors were saying). The story is about the sad story of the author of "Peter Pan," Sir James Matthew Barrie (Johnny Depp) who, at the beginning of the movie, was shown as an almost theater playwright whose latest work had bombed at the tills. His best friend and patron and theater owner, Charles Frohman (Dustin Hoffman) offers words of small comfort while some other theater goers weren't as charitable. Back at the house he lives with his wife, Mary Ansell Barrie (Radha Mitchell) but their relationship is quite obviously strained although they're still civil with each other (the reason for the strain in their marriage isn't given in the movie). Late the next day, JM Barrie goes to the park, as his custom, to walk the dog and do some thinking. There he meets a family of five that would later change the course of his life: a recently widowed mother, Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (Kate Winslet) and her four sons, Jack (Joe Prospero), George (Nick Roud), Michael (Luke Spill) and Peter (Freddie Highmore). Mr. Barrie immediately bonds with the Jack, George, and Michael as he regals them with stories of circuses that turns in a palace filled with dancing clowns as the ring master himself dances with a bear. The brooding Peter isn't impressed as he refuses to let his imagination flow. While his mother chastises him for being rude, Mr. Barrie plays along and excuses his outburst. As the days pass by, Mr. Barrie would meet the Llewelyn Davies family in the park and play with the boys. Peter eventually lets a bit of his guard down as Sylvia explained to Barrie that the sudden demise of her husband left Peter to leave childhood his behind as his way of coping. JM would always engaged the boys in imaginative games involving pirates, flying a kite, stories of mermaids and fairies, and a place called Neverland where imaginations run free. His unlikely friendship with boys doesn't escape the scandalized eyes of polite (read: ultra-conservative) society. Sylvia's mother, Mrs. Emma du Maurier (Julie Christie) vainly tried to separate them thinking it unnatural for a grown man to still be playing with boys as news of their activities went around.

But all these plays have bore some good fruit inspiring him to write a new play about a boy who refuses to grow up, of pirates, of flying with happy thoughts, of indians, a dog nurse, and a group of lost boys. His friend Frohman was reluctant to produce the play at first but Barrie managed to inspire him to take a chance on this new story, the actors and actresses tapped to star in the play though befuddled with their roles, they never played children in any of their roles, but was also prevailed upon to accept them. Meanwhile, Sylvia's sickness came to light as it was balefully exposed with a series of coughs. The worried Peter went back to his old self, angry that he would be again deprived of his only surviving parent after a bout of deceptions (Sylvia tried to comfor her children before by saying that she only had a chest cold). As if this wasn't enough Barrie's wife, Mary has had enough of the charades and decides to leave him for good while George suffers a sprained wrist after an accident on the stage set prompting Mrs. Maurier to finally ban Barrie from setting foot on their premises. All these developments threatened to drag Barrie down to the pits of depression but he knew that the show has to go on as he had already made a lot of commitments and promises to a lot of people. The pitiful number of people attending on opening day prompted Barrie to ask his friend to lower the prices of the tickets promising him that all the seats in the house will be filled. This he did by doing an unprecedented feat of inviting the young orphans to see the play along with the adults (who were at first miffed with the idea of watching alongside some children). But as the play unfolded the eager responses of the children soon spread over them making them laugh and revisit their childhood if only for a few hours. But JM Barrie's joy was incomplete because of other developments that now threaten to steal of some of those he holds near to his heart. But even in the midst of all this tragedy there was one student who was willing to ask how it is to hold on the last shred of childhood with all his might, to this he was taught to always yearn for the place called Neverland and just believe.

I can't quite capture into words what I've felt about this movie except that I found it wonderful. Might I actually mention the particularly inventive way his imagination was interspersed between the scenes as Barrie interacted with his friends or the boys. I'm sure that a lot of us who never found complete content in our present lives as adults would relate as we do find ourselves daydreaming of things that could be or those that may have been. I did however found myself straining my ears as I tried to capture every bit of dialogue as I can since, like I've mentioned before, the theater's audio system has reduced majority of the dialogue into garbled mumbles coupled with the lead actors' Scottish and English accents it was all I could do to make sense of the rich details the script presented. Please do try to watch it in the theaters or in DVD and be inspired by the story of one man's quest who never had a happy childhood create a story so wondrous it fired the imagination of generations to come all because of that one unexpected meeting with one family he met in the park one afternoon.

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

Another interesting and practical advice to doing comic strip characters (which also applies to other cartoon characters be it in animation or comic books) is the matter of knowing who they are inside and out. Come up with stereotypical characters at the start could provide enough fuel to blast your work into the stratosphere but maintaining your altitude after a couple of issues or episodes is a different story. By then you would have to introduce a new facet in your character. So how you do you go about it? Any good artist would first start off with model sheets of your characters. Now the most popular form of model sheets are the ones animators use to pin up in front of them as they work which show the different angles and guides to drawing the character in the correct and consistent manner. But the sort of model sheet that would work best for all concerned would not only feature the drawings but also include a number of facts and backgrounders about those characters as well (an excellent example could be seen here at The World of Vicki Fox and another one here at The Class Menagerie).

Those of you who might be saying to yourself that creating a character model sheet is too much work, sad to say, may not be cut out to work in the comic biz in the long haul. Knowing your characters inside and out would serve you well to realize that way your characters react to their situation is based solely on what their temperaments are and what they know at the time. It's not enough to create bullies or wimps but you should be well prepared to answer how they got to be that way. What do they like? What are they like? I betcha wouldn't believe me if I told you that the clothes your characters wear reflect the personalities of who and what they are. I got the idea from reading an interview with movie costume designer, Milena Canonero when asked how she came up with the ideas for designing the costumes for the characters of Oceans 12. The same goes for their hobbies and recreational activities. These are just a fraction of details that help plod your comic strip along but in the long run, those are the exact things that endear your characters to your readers and help you differentiate one character from the other (in case you have lots of 'em in one title).

* Next up in the series: Investing in materials to expand your character.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Meet the original cast of America's favorite 50s TV sitcom, The Honeymooners:

Original Cast (l-r): Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney, and Joyce Randolph

The comedy series centers around Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason), a New York bus driver who dreams of a better life. Together with his best friend and neighbor, Ed Norton (Art Carney) the sewer worker, they always try to come up schemes to strike it rich quick. Patiently waiting for Ralph to come down to earth (or bursting his ego if it gets too big) is his exasperated wife, Alice (Audrey Meadows). As such they'd always fight and quibble about these things while her best friend, neighbor, and Ed's wife, Trixie (Joyce Randolph) offers the needed support in case they need to check up on things. But no matter how much they fight, no matter how big of a failure Ralph is in the end he sees that Alice will always be there and knows that she is the greatest and vice versa. The series ran from 1955-1956, a spin-off of a sketch from The Jackie Gleason Show (much the same way "The Simpsons" spun-off a quick sketch from the Tracy Ullman Show). These episodes, now called Classic 39, have been given up for lost for thirty years before Jackie announced that he had copies stashed away in his vault in Florida. Now meet the cast of the 21st century remake movie version of one of my favorite shows:

New Cast: Gabrielle Union, Cedric the Entertainer, Mike Epps, and Regina Hall

It had me yelling "SAAAAAACRRRILEEEGE!!!" at first along with other fans of the show. Though I'm still angry I've got mixed feelings about this. The people at the IMDB forum are divided on this issue, those who yelled and ranted at this radical change were labelled "racists." While they hurled accusations that the original spirit of the series were not being respected and that Hollywood were messing classic shows by 'urbanizing everything' (prompting one horrified poster to ask, "What's next? An all urban 'Casablanca' or 'Gone With the Wind'???"). First of all I'm not racist nor do I look forward to being called one and second, did they actually think they could get away with this without any furor on the part of the fans? Could the very idea of 'urbanizing' the show have Jackie spinning in his grave right now? Maybe. Maybe not. Jackie could have agreed with a remake (which is a really huge leap ) if the producers took the pains to redo a show the same way that Peter Jackson, Neil Jordan, Bryan Singer, or Sam Raimi did with their respective projects. I'm mostly uncomfortable with the idea of remaking something close to being perfect. I mean why would anybody take something that's not even near to being "broken" and remaking it to fit the times? But Paramount Pictures did and now they're getting the flack for their decision.

Frankly I can't imagine Cedric going "Bang! Zoom!" or "One of these days, Alice...POW, right in the kisser!" with the same hilarious effect that the original Ralph Kramden did. But the word that would best descibe this latest outtake is recreate, not "remake." Ok let's play their game of radically recreating the cast of the Honeymooners and pick the actors and actresses I think should have been picked over the ones starring in the movie right now. Right off the top of my head I'd pick Chi McBride to play Ralph Kramden (he tackled comedic roles via Frighteners, The Kid, Revenge of the Nerds II, etc.), Jada Pinkett-Smith as Alice (especially with that no-nonsense look), Chris Tucker as Ed Norton (need I say more?), and Brandy (coming off her sitcom, "Moesha") as Trixie:

My New Cast: Wooohoo! Oh yeah!

Now compare this proposed powerhouse cast with the one pictured above. See the huge difference? They want it to be radical? Leave Mr. Mcbride's look as it is, bald and sporting a goatee. Ms. Smith could sport a short hair or swept back in a pony tail don't matter to me. Mr. Tucker could wear a hunting cap and Ms. Brandy could sport that same style of hair in that picture above, I don't care. Just recreate it right and recreate it good. I'd also do away with the dog because it distracts from the characters.

But like I mentioned earlier a lot of purists are going up in arms against what they rightly perceive to be an injustice on the possible slapdash treatment of their beloved icons. I've yet to see the movie so I'm holding off my opinions about the treatment. But in the interest of getting it right and hoping the producers intended to go the distance to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary, I've come up with a list of possible actors and actresses that could play the roles of the main characters (some of these names originally came up from a list that IMDB. com posters posted in the forum):

Overwhelming votes go to John Goodman (Roseanne, Center of the Universe) to play Ralph Kramden. Yeah, why not? He played the role of Fred Flintstone with gusto in the first movie (the 'toon was based on the Honeymooners to begin with) and he admitted to having based his portrayal of Flintstone on Kramden. He could effectively pull off the same bombastic braggadocio Gleason did with Kramden, he's also got the same booming voice that could intimidate anybody but his wife and still come off as sympathetic whenever he comes home with his tail between his legs. It could work if Mr. Goodman agrees to take on the role.

This could work!
How 'bout Kevin James (King of Queens, Hitch) for Ralph Kramden? Mr. James could inject the much needed young blood for the character enabling him to portray the character in a more sympathetic light. he would not only be effective playing the straight guy against a bumbling sidekick the way the original comedy duo did in the series, but he could also pull off playing the fool when the story calls for it (have you seen him dancing in "Hitch"? That was totally hilarious). He looks almost the same look as Mr. Gleason, just add on a few more pounds and there you go. Besides he also played the same character when they recreated the Honeymooners in his sitcom.

Jim Carrey as Ed Norton? Sure! Art Carney carried the other half of the show as Ralph's sorta goofy partner-in-crime and he's got a funny way of modulating his voice that Jim Carrey could very much imitate. Aaand Mr. Carney's brand of comedy was physical as he was quite limber, which also fits Mr. Carrey to a 'T'. Besides, he could very well improve on the character of Ed and make it his own. Proof of this are his physical transformations in the recent Lemony Snicketts movie and the Grinch which makes him a crowd favorite for for the role beside Kevin James or John Goodman's Ralph.

Could be
Or how about Christopher Lloyd? This was something I thought of myself. Anybody old enough to remember his portrayal of Doc Brown in the Back To The Future trilogy who also saw the original Honeymooners would agree that he could also be a strong contender for the role of Ed Norton! I mean, look at those expressions, those same googly eyes and half-gaping mouths and tell me they don't look like two peas in a pod. Although Mr. Lloyd ain't much limber as Jim Carrey he could still do physical comedy and pull off the character. With him in the role the work would be split cleanly in the middle with the actor playing Kramden doing some physical comedy as well.

I could see it now
Mr. Gleason's writers used to call Audrey Meadows "The Rock" because she would hold fast to the scripts and guide Gleason and Carney back to the story from their ad-libs. What better actress could there be to portray the tough missus who could stand up to Ralph's intimidating macho posturings with a voice that could match his intensity, than Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values, In & Out, House of Rock)? Have you seen the way she portrayed her role as a mom in "Raising Helen?" Whoa Nelly! She's one tough nut to crack! But at the same time she could still turn on the charm come off as the nice, sympathetic but firm, loving, dedicated, and loyal wife to her husband. Not to mention she's got the look and she's got impeccable timing as a comedienne.

This too!
Jaime Lee Curtis (Freaky Friday, Fierce Creatures, A Fish Called Wanda) would also be perfect to essay the role of Alice. She's not one to back out on any confrontation while firing off witty one liners. She's also subtle and can easily diffuse an inflated ego in a snap. I could see her using a deadpan expression on her face as she listens to her husband rattle off one angry word after another in an attempt to prove his dominance and his right to do as he pleases even though the scheme he's cooked up with his best friend is obviously full of holes. She wouldn't need to raise her voice in reply as all she'd have to do is to doing what she does best by answering him with a loaded affirmative or negative answer. She could also own the character and come up with a treatment that could improve on the original. She's also got great timing as a comedienne as evidenced in the movie, True Lies.

Killer eyes
Not much is known about the character of Trixie in the original series except for a career in theater as a burlesque dancer. The character would be pretty much open to interpretation and having Courtney Cox playing Trixie would work out well. She would be the perfect foil to Ed Norton the way her character Monica was a foil to Chandler. And look at them eyes, one minute she would be tender and loving and the next she could have Ed confessing every harebrained scheme he and Ralph had been cooking up since day one. I'm sure Ms. Cox would have great imputs on her portrayal as Trixie, elevating her from playing second fiddle to someone who could run alongside her feisty best friend.

Best friend material
Another perfect actress to play Alice's best friend would be Lisa Kudrow. As Trixie she could bounce off her easy going, girly-girly personality against Alice's strong, uncompromising nature. She would be the perfect actress to cast as the best friend who provides the emotional support and listening ear while bringing a fresh approach to the character also as someone who offers kooky shtick solutions to her neighbor. By recreating the part of Trixie to being the female counterpart of Ed Norton, Ms. Kudrow could also bring in the laughs by way of trading witty lines and reacting against both Alice and Ed as only she can.
See? It could have worked and indeed earned a lot of good speculation if the producers did as beautifully with the other previously remade films. If the others can cast Nicole Kidman, in Betwitched who bears a strong resemblance to Elizabeth Montgomery, or Raul Julia and Anjelica Huston who resembled the characters Gomez and Morticia Addams respectively, or the others in movies The Brady Bunch, Dennis the Menace, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Flintstones (at least the first one), Mission: Impossible, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Starsky and Hutch, etc. why couldn't they do the same with this one? Our beef with this film stands on the fact that the creators behind this film didn't even attempt to approximate the looks of the actors and actresses, they radically changed everything! If the producers of this film took the time to cast the right actors to the roles we wouldn't even be talking about this right now. Even then a lot of people are ranting about doing a movie version of something they should have been left alone. They're afraid (as I am) that the producers messed around with the formula seeding it with stereotypes instead of improving on it. A good example of taking the time to get things right is the Farelly Brothers' plan to do the Three Stooges movie. They're taking their time to cast the right actors in the roles because they know you don't so much as mess with the original materials without raising a howl from their fans. To mess around with beloved shows and characters without so much as showing a smidgen of respect is a huge and terrible mistake and in if this movie stinks then those people responsible behind this should be made to live with their humiliation.

* Relevant forum threads discussing this movie are The Real Reason Why We're Scared of the Casting.... and I remember a thing called respect...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Third day of the workshop is over and this being a Sunday most of them kids arrived late. This time around I taught them to create their own Sunday format strips by applying the exercise that we did yesterday. And after finishing a rough sketch of their comics I get to check it and show them how they can improve on it. Afterwards I passed by the VCF Center in Galleria to join the praise and worship part of the service before going home to take a short rest. After a couple of hours I went out again to Starbucks to do the comic stripI should be submitting tomorrow. While doing the pencils I would look out the window every once in a while and watch this group of young 'uns pass a paper among themselves and draw other people sitting across them. I went back to my work after they dispersed but after a while a stranger came up to me and introduced himself as an illustrator. He saw my work and thinking it looked familiar came up to me and struck up a conversation. He was the same guy who passed the paper among his friends outside the window. I put down the pens for a while and we talked about my work before moving on to the common struggles an artist encounters. He also opened up the fact that he was the only artist in his group of friends and he explained to me that his friends were just trying out their hand in drawing but they weren't into it. The relief he felt after finding someone who could relate to what he was talking about was ecthed on his face. I then invited Dino to join our artists' support group's mailing list and the regular Friday meetings in that same place. I jotted down his email and promised to send him the invite before he left. That's something that doesn't happen to me everytime. Cool.

* * *

This strip came out today, again tackling the subject of Star Wars. If you like this one then you should definitely read up on his takes on episodes I and II in the various recent collection of books that he came out with.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Finished with the second day of the Sining Gala workshop and I feel fine. The number of the attendees dwindled somewhat but they were replaced by three new peeps including the lone girl in the group. I taught them the principles behind the creation of comic strips by explaining to them that doing comic books and comic strips, although sports the same material on the surface, is different from each other. I told them that they have to think fast to make two different materials (visual and literary) work together in a short span and small space. that it's basically telling a story. After a couple of hours' worth of lecture I asked them to create a group and apply what I taught them to do. In the meantime I brought out my collection of local indie comics (those I bought in various conventions in the recent past) and showed them examples of what other young people like themselves can do. I also met the head organizer of the event, Larry Bacabac (friend and former college classmate of a friend, Joanna) who explained to me the whole idea behind the workshops. Apparently the barangay authorities wanted to promote the Ugong River Park as an artist's haven and what better way to start it than by holding a series of free art workshops for the residents. These series of workshops were as yet experimental and if they do get an overwhelming response to what they're doing then this will be expanded and continued as a monthly thing.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The first day of the Sining Gala Summer Art Workshop has finally come to an end and prior to all expectations to the contrary (or something like it) I did have fun. I had a total of 12 kids listening to me do a lecture on what it means to be a cartoonist doing comics and teaching them the right way to draw human figures using the standard 8-heads rule. This was done amidst the flurry of preparation for the theater, music composition, and other performances some of the kids participated in the first week of the festival. Good thing I managed to hold the kids' attention by giving them the floor every now and then, asking them to particpate and open up a little about their involvement in the arts. It's a good thing too that I managed to pull the whole thing off considering the fact that I didn't prepare pretty much on the lecture. What I did was to recall the past lectures that I did during the various campus tours with the Artists' Den, add whatever things came to mind that I belatedly realized should have been mentioned at those times and fit them to this particular audience. I also brought some comic books like Bone, Calvin and Hobbes, Pugad Baboy, Pearls Before Swine, etc. for them to look at so they'd know what it is I'm talking about. Here are some pictures taken earlier:

Welcome banner

Getting some inspiration from Bone.

Browsing through the Pearls Before Swine book

Checking out Calvin and Hobbes

Pencil sketch of Pugad Baboy character, Igno.

One of the persistent questions the kids kept asking me was if I was the one drawing the comic strip Pugad Baboy in the Inquirer. I denied it of course but after the nth question I had to ask where they got the idea. Turns out the promoters included that "fact" under my name without checking the facts prior to the event. While I can imagine their disappointment for not being THE famous cartoonist, Pol Medina Jr., my ego was also shattered. In a way I soothed their disappointment and proved that I was capable of backing up my authority to teach cartooning by drawing one of the characters from that strip, my favorite character, Benigno "Igno" Ramos rocking the guitar. Actually one kid requested that drawing towards the end of the workshop. He asked me to copy that one character from the book and draw him playing an electric guitar. Mr. Medina would be pleased to know that I didn't let the kid down although I offer a thousand apologies to him for forgetting to include his name and the title of his strip in the artwork.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

My cousins held a despedida party for their parents (our uncle and aunt) last night at their house with most of our relatives from that side of the family in attendance. I went with my parents and aside from my eldest brother and sister-in-law my other siblings didn't make it. I'm not big on parties these days, probably comes with the age but I'd rather have a quiet evening with a small group of friends talking exchanging ideas on topics whether it be business or social issues (although I do tend to stay quiet and bite my tongue if there are enough people in the group that I'm not familiar with). It's probably because we never really got close to our cousins when puberty hit. We were close back when we were kids but everything's different now. We can't discuss the same things without having a long lull in between topics. And even though there are the usual rituals of asking how you're doing these days, I can't help but feel that they don't really mean it. Like if someone asks you how you're doing (which is a general question) you'd be answering them the same way with a series of responses ranging from "Ok" and "Still alive" to "Still breathing" and "I'm doing good." If anyone asking for your welfare is sincere don't you think they'd be also more specific with their questions? Like if they're asking how you're doing they'd fish for other information from you so you'd know exactly that they're really interested in hearing how you're doing.

I stayed close with the group of aunts and my parents while they discussed household matters and those of their kids. It was also in that same table I shared with the lot of them so the topic of conversation didn't really matter to me. Other cousins who exhibit the same disposition as I do sat down around the table and sometimes contributed some anecdotes and laughter (why is it that older people tend to look at life with ease and levity while those closer to my age tend to look at it a lot heavier than they should?). We stayed till almost midnight after which it was a series of goodbyes for the cousins, cousins-in-law, and nephews along with last minute conversations and pagmano with the elders that usually delays the goodbyes for a good couple of minutes. They left for Daly City very early today, we'll probably see them again late this year. Wish I could go there myself for a vacation.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The were last minute changes in the dialogue in panels 2 & 3. Why? Because I wanted to. I wasn't happy with how the original script turned out and besides this rewritten dialogue makes a lot more sense than the first one.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Last Sunday's tour of Intramuros invigorated me to work on the Revolucionario project in earnest. I was already having second thoughts on the original opening scenes but didn't know what to replace it with or how to go about it. The introduction of the characters were totally ludicrous and embarrassing. As of now I have an idea for the introductory scene where a party is going on (something similar to the opening scene of Rizal's Noli Me Tangere):

Original thumbnails for pages 2, 3, 5, and 6 (c. 1995)

Whereas the original story had the main character introduced as a spoiled but spineless Don Juan with nary a background story to support him, his friends nor the socio-political climate of the time the new story I got planned will take care of these things. I'm also revamping the way the main character looks, how he should act given his prestigious background (those unnecessary wacky "anime" reactions shown above will definitely be lessened and transferred to the masses). Additional stories from the main character's early years will be released ahead of the planned book, probably in online comic format, to get enough readers acquainted with the plot.

In other related news I recently discovered almost famous, Carlos Celdran's blog, Walk This Way. To those of you who aren't familiar with this man or his ways this last Sunday's article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer gives enough introductions on what he does for a living, Take an unforgettable tour with the Pied Piper of Manila. And in case you have balikbayan friends or relatives or even foreign friends heading this way for a tour this month and the next, you may want to engage Mr. Celdran's services and have them experience an engaging walking tour of (Metro) Manila (dates and rates are as follows):
Intramuros Walking Tour

Php400.00 adults
Php100.00 students
Additional fees:
Php 40.00 - Casa Manila fee
Php15.00 for students
April 24 - Sunday - 3:00PM - Meet at Fort Santiago
May 8 - Sunday - 3:00PM - Meet at the Manila Cathedral

Includes San Agustin Museum, Fort Santiago, and horse carriage ride

Php500.00 adults
Php150.00 students
Additional fees:
Php40.00 - Fort Santiago fee
Php15.00 for students
Php65.00 - San Agustin Museum fee
Php35.00 for students
Php40.00 - Casa Manila fee
Php15.00 for students
Php50.00 - Horse carriage fee
May 12 - Thursday - 3:00PM - Meet at Fort Santiago

Walking Tour of Escolta and Quiapo and the North Side of the Pasig River

Php400.00 adults
Php100.00 students
Additional fees:
Php50.00 - Escolta Museum fee
Php50.00 - Bahay Nakpil Bautista fee
April 20 - Wednesday - 3:00PM - Meet at Calvo Building on Escolta
May 7 - Saturday - 3:00PM - Meet at Calvo Building on Escolta
May 19 - Thursday - 3:00PM - Meet at Calvo Building on Escolta

Walking Tour of the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex

Php400.00 adults
Php100.00 students
Please add:Php30.00 - Philippine International Convention Center fee
Php100.00 - Coconut Palace fee
April 28 - Thursday - 1:00PM - Meet at Figaro Coffee Shop CCP
May 14 - Saturday - 1:00PM - Meet at Figaro Coffee Shop

Walking and Calesa Ride through Binondo and San Nicolas

Php200.00 for the one hour calesa (carriage) ride plus a donation of any amount.
May 5 - Thursday - 3:00PM - Meet at Binondo Church
May 15 - Sunday - 3:00PM - Meet at Binondo Church

A Walking tour through the heart of Manila

Donation of any amount.
May 21 - Saturday - 2:00PM - Meet on the Northbound side of the MRT Station.

for a group of seven people or less.
Additional persons, add Php500.00 per person.
Discounts available for large groups upon request.

(Minimum group of 25 pax)

Its best to call and check if there are private tours already scheduled for the week.
Sometimes you may join those tours and its cheaper than booking a private tour just for yourself.

Public school students and government employees go free for all group tours.
Please call to reserve. The free slots are limited per tour.

* Email celdrantours@hotmail.com or text 0926 2597506 to confirm reservations.
In case you're wondering (or haven't read the article I've linked to the Inquirer) his walking tours are never boring and you'd be learning so much about this city you'd be beating yourself over your head with a stick for missing out on previous opportunities to learn these things. I'm planning to feature his tours in my strips one of these days and give the Filipino community readers in the U.S. a glimpse of what it is exactly they're missing out on here.

Monday, April 11, 2005

I'm here at an internet cafe submitting my strips to the paper after the net connection back at the house conked out on me just when I was about to go online. The thing about it was that I was supposed to insert a movie quote in the last panel to support the punchline, but without the net connection I was forced to submit it even though I wasn't satistfied with how the humor turned out. Me and the guys also attended two separate meetings earlier today with the head honchos of these two companies that would be helping us with some planned events that we have in mind. Everything was arranged beforehand by the great and powerful, Az so there wasn't much cause for concern (unfortunately he wasn't able to attend the first meeting because of school). The first meeting went smoothly as the company rep did most of the talking and the explaining of what their plans were for the big event while we handed over our written proposal for our plans and just mostly listened. The second meeting commenced some four hours later in a high-rise building in Ortigas where these pics were taken (while waiting for our contact person):

Lyndon jokes around while Patrick stares ahead pretending not to hear anything

Az takes a shot while I listened to the adlibs being thrown around

We were given a tour of the office after a short presentation of the plans and proposals on their part and ours. To say that we were excited about the whole thing is an understatement as almost everyone in our group kept repeating the name of the company (which sounds like a common expression) and coming up with silly one-liners to celebrate a done deal. Afterwards we proceeded to the nearest McDonald's for a repast and to analyze the next steps in our plan. Man, I'm whacked. Bushed. Beat. Pooped. Tired.

* Pictures courtesy of Az.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

It was my mom's idea that we give our visiting relatives from Daly City a tour of Intramuros. Not that they've probably seen it hundreds of times before in their previous trips with their kids, my mom still thinks they haven't seen everything there is to see. So right after the morning service at VCF-Fort Bonifacio and a quick side trip to its neighbor mall, Market Market (which by the way has way too cool organic market beside their outdoor restos. It's actually too cool for words) before going straight to the original old city of Manila.

Our first stop is the oldest stone church in the country, San Agustin Church but since they were closed for lunch we had no recourse but to look for a nearby resto ourselves. We took quite a long walk under the heat of the midday sun since the one in the Casa Real museum across the street was closed during Sundays. But before we did start walking I noticed this one part of the cobblestones bearing some inscriptions in Chinese (it's hard to notice but you could see it on the right corner near the street in front of the entrance to Casa Real Museum). Now I'm fairly sure these cobblestones laid down in front of the street in front of the church and the museum dates back some 200 years ago so this discovery brought about a bit of excitement. At least on my part. Then after about an hour's worth of hearty lunch it's back to the old church for us. It's quite unfortunate that our timing was off since we couldn't tour the inside the old church because of a wedding. To think that I would have wanted to show them the grave of the founder of Manila and the first Spanish governor-general of the Philippines himself, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi located at the left side of the Church's main altar (well the poor chap had to share his grave with some unkown Agustinian Friars after the invading British soldiers scattered and mixed up their bones in their vain attempt to look for gold during their brief stay in the 1700s). My mom was more excited to show our relatives and everyone else in our family willing enough to listen the antique ivory statues of saints and priestly vestments. While I do admit they are beautiful to look at they are also quite common. If ever you're going on a tour of San Agustin Church, you may want to remember these few other interesting things to see:
The Six-Fingered Friar. This one you could see on the first of a series of these old life-size paintings lining up the hall. He's the one holding up the chalice for the communion.

The Statue of a Dominican Martyr Saint. A grisly one to be sure while other saints are depicted holding the weapons of their martyrdom, this little known 13th century Saint still has the machete almost halfway through his skull. This one's located on the right side of the hall just before you turn towards the second corner.

The Grave of Revolutionary Hero and Reknowned Painter, Juan Luna. I don't know if anyone remembers him being buried here after the death of his son, the well known modernist architect, Andres Luna de San Pedro (unwilling to part with them he kept the bones of his father in a bucket under his bed). There are other graves in that same hall where Luna's grave is located containing some American soldiers who died during the Second World War (one of them as young as 17) and a marker containing the names of Agustinian priests and church refugees massacred by the panicking Japanese soldiers towards the end of that same war. And last but not the least...

The Ancestral Graves of the Aristrocratic Zobel-Ayala Family. One of the two powerful Old Riché Families and biggest landlords in the country (the other being Ortigas), they practically own most of that tract of land called Makati (where the equivalent of Wall Street is located), their ancestors' graves were given a prominent location on the left side of the entrance to the Church having financially contributed to its rebuilding in the 1800s.
We didn't go to Fort Santiago due to the insistence of our relatives that they have seen it before (of great interest among other things, are the original gas lamp where our National Hero, Jose Rizal hid his final farewell and the piece of bone from his spine with a visible bullet hole inside a smoky reliquary) so we went straight to Manila Cathedral. This is one of the few stone churches built in the gothic style that was so vogue in some parts of Europe. Nothing really fascinating about it except for the replica of the statue of St. Peter in Rome. It's fairly new and you could see it halfway on the right side of the interior of the church. Shown below are some of the pictures I took from our trip earlier today (unfortunately for me the error in the PC program for the camera still remained so I had no recourse but to use the one in my phone):

Colorful floral sprays at Market Market

Who did this and how old this is intrigues me a lot.

The old and the new

Original intramuros cobblestones still in existence

Can't imagine anyone praying to this statue without grimacing

Does anyone even notice he's buried here?

Bird's eye view of the church with a wedding ceremony going on


The Zobels' patriarch and matriarch ancestral graves

Zobels' and Ayalas' ancestral graves

Grave markers dating back to the 1870s

Arches inside the Manila Cathedral

Manila Gothic

Other places of interest are the ruins of the Ayuntamiento or the Spanish Garrison on the right side of the cathedral (where political prisoners are tried, the most famoues of which was Rizal, destroyed by the wanton bombing of American soldiers during the liberation) and the Palacio del Governador or the Governor's Palace (location of the seat of Philippine Government for centuries before an earthquake brought it down in 1863. They then transferred the Spanish seat of power to their summer getaway mansion, in a place called Malacañang. The Land Bank of the Philippines built an 8-storey building on the site of the ruins in 1978). That about concluded our tour as everyone got tired of the heat and the driving around. We dropped our relatives off at Greenhills so they could do some last minute shopping before we went home.

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