Thursday, May 31, 2007

Kasama ang mga tagpo ng hagpis at pighati: Basang-basa OMG Ang Kati, Totoy Kamote ooh sige sige..., Tigidig Patrol's Panaghoy ng Tigyawat, Sa Alon ng mga Taong Hipon! Agosto 2007 asteeg! :)
Manix Abrera's much awaited third compilation of Kiko Machine komiks is scheduled to come out in two months. Incidentally, I recently bought the second book and though it had a lot more pages than the first one it didn't let me down in the laugh department. I'm not sure if this is going to be the cover for the third book but I laud his efforts to be experimental in his book covers. I'm not sure if it's exclusive during the 80s decade when the subtle graphic approach was the way to go in wrapping products but that's something I miss these days especially in this country that mostly shuns the subtle marketing approach and embraces the in-your-face way of selling.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I was hanging out in Starbucks reading the available newspapers they have there while waiting for inspiration to arrive when I came upon this interesting article by Johven Velasco titled "‘Komiks’ on television: Recycling Pulp Fiction" which is pretty much delves on the dependency of local show business producers and writers on komiks stories of yesteryears. So it has come full circle. Where comic books and strips reigned supreme in the olden days, radio adopted its stories to create those soap operas on air then television now takes its cue from them starting with the "fantaserye" (fantasy series). But even then they only begrudgingly credit the authors of the said source materials and not the artists who did them.

Me and a friend have talked about this before, as no doubt a lot of local comic artists did and still do, what does this mean for the local industry? Is this trend of adapting comic book stories into soap operas a boon or a bane? Ideally it would be a boon, benefiting the comic industry turning the attention of a new generation of viewers towards the source of their materials. Indeed those who were fortunate enough to reach maturity during the heyday of komiks, up until the 80s at least, were treated to a wealth of worlds they could visit anytime anywhere. Visiting the neighborhood magazine stand meant going down the main roads (and not the malls) and perusing through the different titles available. Colorful covers shouted out to passersby promising good stories and good artworks to those willing enough to shell out a few pesos to buy them. They were a lot cheaper than those original issues being sold by comic bookstores which by then were being sold at P40-P70 a pop. Then came the reprints of these same superhero issues featuring the characters of Marvel Comics. We thought then this trend of reprinting foreign titles would give the stale business of publishing comics a much needed boost by introducing them to the masses. Unfortunately, it spelled out the death sentence in the long run especially during the mid-90s when the anime explosion started with the reshowing of Voltes V on local TV. People's attention then shifted to their TV sets, the young people were hooked with the the novelty of Japanese animation formerly the exclusive realm of a dedicated few. Then the anime trend spawned Chinovelas (soap operas from Taiwan mostly) and Koreanovelas ('nuff said) taking over the hysterics and blond ambitions of Mexicanovelas. Though most of the series were actually live adaptations of Japanese manga that became popular in their places of origin the local networks conveniently forgot to point that fact out. They're happy enough to have snatched a huge piece of the pie from their rival print media. They and their paid lackeys working in magazines and newspapers drew up fantasies involving the goodlooking actors and actresses thereby establishing a symbiotic relationship that exists up to this day. Despite a promising resurgence during the early 90s with the discovery of talented artists the local komiks industry slowly withered away. It didn't help at all that some of the giants of the magazine publication started buying rights to reprint obscure comic book titles featuring Japanese character-wannabes and other titles from flagging US comic publications. The explosion of the internet and mobile phones out in the scene didn't help things either during the end of the 90s. The comic market waned and dried up some more till it was pushed unceremoniously to the underground scene kept alive only by pockets of fans who congregated during conventions held here and there by comic groups and enthusiasts unwilling to let the dream die.

One good thing that came out of the internet and mobile telecommunication though was the fact that like minded people found each other and started to voice out their opinions regarding the ungrateful industry giants that churned out one superficial glittery bile that passes off as a show after another. People were turned away from reading resulting in our inability to comprehend or string proper phrases or even spell things right. Presently though, if feels like the local comic industry is ready to get back in the mainstream again after a long time's absence. All it needs is a catalyst that would trigger the explosion and be consistent enough to hold the gates for a long time till a good number of titles are able to get through. Eventually the local showbiz industry collapsed under its own weight and with the lack of writers they unceremoniously threw off before in favor of the actors and actresses is now looking back to komiks to solve their problems. Hollywood has started to do this and they're gracious enough to acknowledge and work with the right people lest the fans they're hoping to leech off would turn against them. But the apparent lack of acknowledgment of the sources on the part of the TV giants mean they haven't learned their lessons inspite of everything and we still have a long way to go. I just hope it's still within our lifetime.

Monday, May 28, 2007

My brother dropped a bomb on me earlier tonight. He's been in a meeting with the higher ups of the paper I'm submitting comic strips hoping to get me a raise after working for them for five years and apparently he was told that the strips I've been working have started to go downhill towards irrelevance. My mood also started to go downhill as we discussed the problem. How can it be irrelevant? I've calmed down after going outside and giving this some thought though I still have some problems with what they said. This isn't like some magazine where the readers are established and the editors know who they're aiming for, this is a newspaper with a wide scope of readership. As such, I tried to cover all the bases: the family guys, those in their 20s tackling jobs, salary, and girlfriends; women in college tackling the pressures of schoolwork and budding independence; and one in high school. I'd understand it more if they said I should make it funnier, although I'd probably react the same way but without misgivings because I tend to stretch myself too thin trying to come up with funny stuff for all four camps instead of focusing on one character. But irrelevant?

I try to avoid dating the strips by tackling trends and other what-have-yous that most probably wouldn't survive the decade. Besides I pride myself with concentrating on having the series revolve around the characters instead of them revolving around pop culture references. This is what I'm used to ever since I started doing comic strips professionally since the 90s. I don't go for the cheap shots where the characters laugh at their fellow characters' punch lines before the readers do, I don't like breaking the fourth wall which reeks of desperation and inconsistencies, I don't like them looking or pointing at the readers as if they're conscious about being in the funny pages. No. I treat them as if they were acting in a sitcom with the readers acting like viewers (or voyeurs) watching and listening to everything they say. I like them to be consistent, to remain as they are, never aging as I do. I raise this because it was the second time that a publication asked (or demanded nicely) that the high school characters age with the readers in a bid to become relevant. That bothers me. The first time this was asked of me was seven years ago when the first magazine that gave me my job was suffering from that same problem. The editor took me aside and asked that I make the characters of CLASS graduate into college because he feels the readers and fans of the strip were getting older and they weren't going for that kid of crap anymore. I put my foot down and said, no. They were created exactly because high school was a period of fun and frivolity for me (albeit it was also one of the most traumatic) and as such it was to commemorate both the good and bad of that period in time. I offered a new set of characters based on my current peers and classmates in college, which fortunately seemed to mirror the crass humor and deep friendships found in high school. It ran for six months before they revamped the look and layout of the publication in order to stay relevant to boost their sales. This new set of series wasn't performing as good as its predecessor understandably because I was forced to come up with it at a time when it was just a germ of an idea forming in my head. I was asked to submit a new set of series to be scrutinized as if I hadn't been with them for the better part of their existence.

So you would understand my frustration when the idea of making them grow up was brought up again. The option was out of the question! Why do you think I came up with three older characters spanning three important times in one's life? I have all these stories in my head spanning their origins to the present it's impossible to tell them all on a weekly schedule. That way they stay the same way they look but the readers get to see a deeper look on what makes them tick as time goes on. There's the relevance they're looking for if they want. It's quite ironic that these characters have to grow up in order for readers to be able to relate to them while flesh and blood entertainers lose all verges of relevance when they grow old (not necessarily mature). Incredulous as I was with the whole thing I told my brother this thing they were asking was bordering on ridiculous. Does he think they ask other comic strip artists to put their stories up to speed in order to be relevant? How about Peanuts? Dilbert? Foxtrot? Baby Blues? Big Nate? Speed Bump? Diesel Sweeties? Or Kiko Machine, Beerkada, Carpool, Kamote Komplex, and others too many to mention on the local side. Do the editors ask them to tackle present issues on politics and/or pop culture? Some of them do but they're like more on the bonus side as the creators themselves see fit to tackle but nonetheless they don't have too because they themselves set the bar for their work. My brother made the mistake of telling me that I can't compare my work with those American strips they're targeting a different market. Like my work isn't published in the same country as them. But they don't need to sell out because if they did then that would be the end of it. Do you honestly think it's fine turning a comic strip into an endorsement machine where big corporations pay big money for the artist to place their products or mention their products in their strip? I don't think so.

Click the image to read the Sunday strip

You know I would have understood what they were getting to if they gave me stats on specific ages of the readers of their paper but they can't because it's a NEWSPAPER! As it is I'll still move on my own pace. Real time moves faster and faster as time goes on, though people are weaned everyday on flashy MTV-type of graphics there will always be a clamor for substance in their daily dose of entertainment. Like I said before I would have understood it better if they asked me to be funnier, it wouldn't hurt as much as saying I wasn't being relevant.

* The Bloom County Sunday strip was lifted from this site.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The movie may have sucked but here's the whole graphic of the symbiote taking over Spider-man's costume whereas we only saw a portion of the first part in the movie promotions.

* Image copied from the archives of Nerdgasm.
With the final look of the Joker for the upcoming The Dark Knight Batman movie revealed:

It seems the purported hoax of a picture which came out earlier (seen below) closely approximates the final look of the character himself. Considering it was a fake, after the admissions of Photoshop manipulation and all, how come it was a lot closer to the final look of the villain? Coincidence? Whatever it is that guy sure hit the jackpot with this one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Your Score: Micah Sanders

You scored 54 Idealism,
37 Nonconformity,
54 Nerdiness

Can we play Scrabble tonight?

Congratulations, you're Micah Sanders! You're good-natured, intelligent, perceptive, and naturally inclined toward technology. You're also quite innocent and loving. You've got a fondness for computers and Scrabble.

Your best quality: You're extremely perceptive
Your worst quality: You can be a little demanding at times

Link: The Heroes Personality Test written by freedomdegrees on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test
What should I post about today? Not much I guess. Today's as slow as the days before it. There's not much to recount except for the fact that I firmly established the fact that I do have a cold sore after seeing the lesions and searching for the reason for it online. It's on its 4th day and it's still got 10 days to go before it finally runs its course. I first thought I got it from nuzzling my pup (never mind if they've been outside doing who knows what) and cats then this article I read last night dispelled that. Apparently 80% of the general population has it, they just don't know it yet until such time that a rash of fever or stress activates the stuff. Based on my understanding it would be a lot like the Mycoplasma pulmonis virus that exists inside rats, they're just not showing in the majority of those pets until something triggers them (forgive the comparison as that's the closest thing that came up to mind).

Right now I'm in that stage between wanting to do something creative but can't because I feel like crap. I'd probably mess up any artwork I'd be doing hence bringing me down further from the resulting frustration. I'm desperate to run out there and go someplace else but I'm all out of cash and not being able to do things or eat whatever it is I'd want to would result in further frustration. It's too humid I can't sleep. Things could be a lot better but I don't have any idea how right this minute. Did I also mention I've been having these coughing fits for almost two weeks? I've been coughing so much my hearing is starting to get affected (you know how you pinch your nose and puff your cheeks out to pop your ears? Me thinks it's the same connection with the coughing fits and hearing loss). Things could be a lot better.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Excuse me, Mr. Medina, but can you explain to me why is this supposed to be funny? And why is that kid talking back against his dad? I'm sorry but taking pot shots at soldiers and policemen and lumping their behavior together to mean they always relegate their authority to the missus or they're desperate enough to throw their principles away for money leaves a really bad taste in the mouth. Is it so hard to expect the comic page to entertain and make me laugh like you always did in the past? Why didn't you expand on the old formula instead of being preachy? How old is that kid supposed to be anyway?

Monday, May 07, 2007

This Daily Bread devotional came out in today's paper, The Philippine Star, which gave me a good chuckle before making me think about the message in the end:
‘Good buddy’

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. — John 15:14

The congregation listened intently as the pastor began to pray: "Dear heavenly Father . . . " Suddenly he was interrupted by a voice saying, "Hey there, good buddy!"

Everyone began to laugh when they realized the voice was coming from the organ. It was picking up the conversation of a truck driver on his CB radio! Not much was accomplished in the service that day, because the congregation continued to chuckle about the voice that made them think God was responding to their pastor and calling him His "good buddy."

Moses knew what it was like to be a friend of God — a relationship that went beyond buddies. The Lord often talked with Moses "face to face, as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex. 33:11). The patriarch Abraham was also called God’s friend (2 Chron. 20:7).

But can you and I be a friend of God? In our Bible reading for today, Jesus, the supreme example of loving friendship, called His disciples friends (John 15:13,15). He put it simply: "You are My friends if you do whatever I command you" (v. 14).

And what does He command? That we love Him with all our heart and love others as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). That’s how we can be God’s friend. — Anne Cetas

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