Sunday, September 29, 2002

If I Had a Billion Billion Dollars

After taking care of all the necessary (like kill off Osama, put up schools, hospitals, libraries and offer financial help to people with illnesses they can't afford to cure), I would:

Put up my own coffeeshop called "Coffeekero Cafe" which will be like a local version of Starbucks, the difference being all coffee recipes will be based on Barako. So instead of Cafe Latte or Cappuccino, you'll have Barako Latte of Barakoccino. Instead of cookies or donuts, you'll have bibingka or puto bumbong or buko pie. All the chairs, tables, napkins, utensils, straws, cups, tablecloths etc. will be made of native materials. A section of this cafe will be reserved for members of Alamat (or to anyone interested in comics) to just hang out, talk comics, share stories and artwork. And I promise that for the first time ever, Alamat will have a hang out place that will not close down on them. The cafe will also have a section where alternative comics and zines are sold. If you have a comic book you have produced yourself, you can sell it there. Comics launchings and signings and all sorts of similar activities can be held there.

I would put up a publishing company that would produce comics for the Philippine market. To this end, I would put up studio which will house editors, artists, staff artists, printers, color separators and all the necessary machinery that would produce well written, well drawn and well colored comics that are offered at inexpensive prices on a monthly basis. There will be requirements however, no black and white artwork shall be created with the help of computers and lettering shall be done by hand directly on the artwork itself and not added later via computer. Coloring however, can be done in the computer but without the overexaggerated shades and lighting effects. Colors will be simple and direct to the point. All the artists must exhibit singular identity in their work and must not be derivative of popular styles. As a result, everybody will be paid extremely well, better than how much someone like Leinil Yu is paid right now by American companies. I will put Budjette Tan in as editor in chief.

Here I'd create all the comics I want to create and have the money to publish them without compromise.

To help distribute the comics, I will put several comic book booths in every mall, theater, school, palengke, street corner of every major thoroughfare, in every city in the entire country. The comics will be available in English, Tagalog, Visaya, Bikolano, Ilokano, Kapampangan, and every other major language or dialect in the country.

I would finance Noel F. Lim's short or feature length movies including providing the latest in equipment and most talented of crew and give him total creative control.

I would finance all efforts to restore and preserve our classic motion pictures by those made by Manuel Conde, Gerry de Leon, Lino Brocka, etc. and make them available publicly via Filmfests and as high quality and feature packed DVDs.

I would buy, restore and preserve SUPREME Theater here in San Pablo. I would have the latest in movie audio and video presentation technology from THX to DTS to an actual Digital Screen and Projection system. It will have the best seats (pre assigned upon buying the ticket), the coolest air conditioning and no one can get in once a movie has started. Best of all, the cinema will have a jamming field that will render all cellphones inoperative for the duration of the movie. And of course, I will show nothing but the best film has to offer.

That is, if I have a Billion Billion dollars.

Of course, if I can achieve at least one of those with the money I have I'd be happy.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Culture Crash and Me
Updated below Sept. 25, 2002

Mike Simbulan of Comicquest extended me an invitation from Culture Crash for a meeting last Saturday. Apparently, lots of guys would be there from Pol Medina to Arnold Arre to Dean Alfar, etc. Unfortunately, me who don't have Internet for much of the week received Mike's email only yesterday, Sunday, when it was all over.

Additionally, Budjette Tan sent me a text message telling me about the meeting, but unfortunately again, my Saturday was busy with a Wasted shoot. The shoot involved other actors who had committed to the schedule. We're damn lucky just to have other actors commit like that and since we're running behind schedule, I'd be crazy to postpone it after we had planned it for sometime.

I hope no one makes up stories of why I wasn't at that meeting, considering my feelings about Culture Crash and their comics. If you are from Culture Crash and you want to get in touch, just email me:

I'll get back to you guys as soon as I can as I'm away from my computer a lot of the time these days.

My thoughts about Filipinos publishing comics using the manga style pretty much hasn't changed. A lot of people have asked me to read the stories and I would discover that they're as Filipino as bibingka and puto bungbong. I will not doubt that. I have 3 or 4 of their comics and I've read them.

I wasn't talking about stories. I was talking about artwork. I have to make that distinction. And this is just a personal opinion. There have been accusations that I'm a crab that won't let others get ahead and bring others down, that I'm envious of Culture Crash's success, that I don't have a right to say what I say because I'm doing nothing for the Filipino Comics Industry.

I disagree with all of that. I'm not envious of Culture Crash's success at all. And I'm not saying what I'm saying because I want to bring them down.

I was just offering my opinion, and I think I have the right to say it, whether or not I contribute to the industry or not. If people have the right to praise them, I reserve the right to point out what is bothering me about them. Everybody else is free to disagree with me, that won't be a problem. I just hope that those people who rise in Culture Crash's defense will keep their cool and not label me as a bigot and call me all sorts of colorful names. I'm just a guy offering an honest opinion.

I have very particular sentiments about Filipino Komiks. I have been reading them for a long time, I have been appreciating all the varied kinds of artwork for a long time and I've idolized guys like Coching, Alfredo and Larry Alcala, Nestor Redondo, Tor Infante, Vicatan, NiƱo, etc. What stood out to me was that our stuff, and I'm talking just about Artwork here, our stuff could stand toe to toe with the best of what the rest of the world had to offer.

As the years wore on, quality of comics has gone down. Because of poor working conditions, artists were forced to find work elsewhere to survive. Some of my friends and I toyed with our own comics to offer an alternative to readers who were looking for something to read. We made our own comics to the best of our abilities, but we could not produce them as often as we would have liked simply because we did not have the money.

Simply put, we were artists and writers. We were no businessmen. What did we know about running a business? All we knew was making comics. And that was what we did, as best we could.

We were always glad when we saw new comics being produced by other people. Good or bad I enjoyed all of them. And I enjoyed them because they were the product of the imagination of those who created them. Some of them were bad, but at least they were original and were drawn in ways I've never seen before.

So it bothers me a lot when a lot of professional artists started to draw in the manga style whenever they drew their comics, for whatever reason. I don't hate manga per se. I'm a big manga fan. I have lots of manga books here at home and I even have reference books about the history of manga and anime. And when I was younger, I even belonged to a comics outfit that produced manga comics. But as I grew older, I believed that if I were to publish anything, I would not use manga, or American or European styles of drawing. I'd use my own, whatever it was.

It's allright to draw manga for the fun of it, whether it be at home or whatever. But if one is going to publish something, it really is better to draw using a style of one's own.

Yes, comics ought to be fun. And it should be. But something that must not be forgotten is that publishing also gives one power. And to quote an oft repeated cliche, power comes with responsibility. There is a responsibility not only to the readers, but to our history and legacy as internationally respected comic book creators.

If we, as Filipinos, draw in that manga style, then what kind of comic book identity do we have? We're reduced to a just another country drawing in a style that everybody else uses. Don't you artists aspire for something more? Don't you aspire to create your OWN style and blaze your own trail? Don't you wish, even for a moment, to create your own unique style, draw it in the best you can and let everyone else follow your footsteps? Be the MAN! Be the artist that everyone else copies!

Once in a while I'd hook up with a friend of mine who knows someone from Culture Crash. Once I find this out, I'd ask my friend, "Are those CC guys pissed with me?". My friend would laugh, nod his head immediately and say yes resoundingly.

Is this true? I'm sorry if it had come to this, but I really do feel strongly about this. Maybe I'm just a freak. Maybe I'm just holding on to some stupid old fashioned way of thinking. I don't know. All I know is that when I look at a CC comic book, or when I see a venerable title like Funny Komiks being drawn in manga, I feel so sad it breaks my heart.

And this is why I cannot be part of a movement that will promote works like this. I cannot be part of something that will help something like this flourish. And this is why I must sadly decline your invitation to join your convention. I'm sure it will be lots of fun without me.

I'm sorry if I make people sad or angry with what I say. Do the comics you want to do the way you want to do them. I'm just one person so I don't know why what I say can be such a big deal.

On Me Being Envious of Culture Crash's Success

Not at all. I didn't come into comics for the primary reason of wanting to be popular and "successful". I wanted to go into comics because I wanted to, because it was a job that seemed fun to have. If CC's reasons for doing this is to be "successful" then they should be congratulating themselves because they have done just that. I cannot be envious because that is NOT my reason for being here. I just want to draw and to create stories. If people like my stuff fine. If people, don't, then it's fine as well.

On Me Wanting to Bring Down Culture Crash

Anybody who thinks this NEVER understood the point of what I was trying to say. I should just dismiss it outright, but I guess I ought to elaborate and add something more. Wanting to be successful comes with the desire to be praised. Your comic book is very popular and your mailbox is most likely filled with letters of praise. Is there no room at all for any dissenting opinion? If someone doesn't like your stuff does it mean they are bringing you down? I thought this was a democracy and people are free to express what they believe in. Even the government has an opposition. What makes you think you shouldn't have one?

You are responsible for bringing life to the faltering comics industry, yes, I can give you that. But in the long run, you are bringing much more damage to our rich comic book heritage. You are the ones bringing us and and our respected standing in the international comic book community down by publishing comics that are derivative in art style of other countries. You are eroding the standard in which our comic book veterans and forefathers fought so hard to create and establish.

But do what you want. Be unoriginal. Be derivative. Make the Philippines be known as just another country that doesn't have a unique identity in comics. Just like everyone else.

After a Wasted shoot last Saturday, I headed to Robinson's Galleria for lunch. I passed by Humor Post, one of those little book stalls at the mall where I usually saw some Tintin books, volumes that you can normally find at National for far lesser price.

This day was different though. As I glanced at their display, I did a double take. I saw a Tintin volume I never thought I'd see here in the Philippines. I ran into the store, grabbed the hard cover volume in my hands and there it was. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets! I nearly fainted. The first time I saw this volume was at the San Diego comics convention years ago. When I saw it, I had little money with me so I went back to my hotel. And when I got back, the volumes were gone. I thought I had to go back to San Diego to ever see another copy again.

Tintin in the Land of the Soviets is the VERY FIRST Tintin volume that Herge has ever written and drawn. So naturally it is not as accomplished as later volumes. In fact, it's pretty amateurish in many places. For decades, this book, as well as Tintin in Congo were never translated into English because they would be deemed "politically incorrect" in today's times. Sequences that were presented in those books may be considered racist today but back then it would not have been anything out of the ordinary. But due to the fans demands, a limited number of volumes were published in English for the first time and this was the volume that was in front of me at that moment.

It is not for the casual fan. But Tintin freaks, collectors and aficionados would go NUTS over it as I have. I bought it immediately. And I demanded they also get Tintin in Congo from where ever it is they got the first one. Congo and Tintin and the Alpha Art (Herge very last, but unfinished Tintin adventure) remains the very last volumes not in my possession.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

I'm off to Manila again to do more Wasted. I'm also starting some comics stuff I've been keeping in the backburner for so very long. Leinil and I start on Superman next week! Which is cool. As far as i know, the first issue will be a huge one. Can't wait to start work on the big S! And to work on a story by Mark Waid, one of the writers whom I truly respect as a creator, is really amazing. Leinil has been sending me stuff via email, drawings and sketches he did for this project and it's blowing my mind. I can't wait to see his pencils. Unfortunately, you guys won't be able to see the finished thing until March of next year. Jeez! Next year. That's a long time from now. I'll be devirginized by then.


Sunday, September 15, 2002

I spent the entire week in Manila last week and I just got home a couple of hours ago. Quite a productive week I should say. We were supposed to shoot some scenes at San Beda church early this morning. But last night it was raining and Noel and I agreed that we would not be able to shoot because we really needed sunlight. I guess I was tired from all the things I had to do for the past week and said I would just rather go home. And well...guess what! It was a beautiful sunny day this morning! Arrgh!

We'll be having an official site for the movie. We've already reserved the domain and the future site can be found here:

Nothing there yet but the title, but it will be full of stuff soon. We're currently choosing screenshots that we can put up there and some ought to be up in the next couple of weeks.


I got a TON of comics last week! The new ones I got were Planetary/JLA because Warren is writing it and Jerry Ordway (my idol!) is drawing it. Haven't read it yet. I also picked up Whilce's Stormwatch #3. Hey Guys, High Roads #6, the final issue was just released. :)

And now for some goodies! I visited Goodwill bookstore again in Megamall and they just came out with a whole bunch of really CHEAP Marvel trades. I got SIX of them instantly. I got Greatest X-Men Battles (255 pesos-roughly 5 US dollars. It includes some really cool X-Men stories from Neal Adam's Sentinel Stories, the finale of the Dark Phoenix Saga, Days of Future Past and a Jim Lee issue), Greatest Avengers Battles (255 pesos and it includes that amazing Mike Golden annual with Rogue's first appearance), Greatest Marvel Battles (255 pesos. Just OK. Includes 2 X-Mens with Wolverine vs. Sabertooth, both written by Claremont and drawn by Rick Leonardi and Alan Davis respectively), Greatest Spiderman Stories, Marvel Masterworks ( 200 pesos. First few issues of the All New X-men) and MARVELS by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross (300 pesos).

With the exception of probably Marvels and X-Men Masterworks, I would never have picked any of these books up at regular prices. But if I see more cool trades at these prices, I'll buy them all!!

Friday, September 13, 2002

Sometimes I can be so stupid. But what can I say? I'm a stupid guy sometimes. I guess this comes from something I have learned about myself, and that is that my heart is always more powerful than my intellect. More often than not, I'd do what my heart dictates than what my mind screams at me to rather do. This has benefited me at times, and it has been detrimental to me at times. If I had used my brains rather than my heart, I would never have become a comic book artist. I was already starting to settle in my career as an architect and I could have gone on doing just that. I would have gotten married, got kids, gotten a house, and lived my life as just another working stiff working 9 to 5, and died into old age, content in the idea that I have lived my life as competently as I could have.

But it's just not me. I chose to take the risk, and lost a lot of things, just because I wanted to follow my heart wanted. But I did gain a lot of things as well. And those things are worth everything. And I don't regret a single day.

But sometimes I do things where I followed my heart, and it has gotten me into trouble, and made me do things that could be considered bad. I've never hurt anyone, at least none that I know of, but if I did, I'm really sorry. Like I said, I can be really stupid sometimes.

No, I lie. There are days that I have regretted. Many years ago during a Stone signing with Brian Haberlin and Whilce, there was something I should have done but I didn't. I wish to God that I had did it and now there are days I wish I could go back and do that day over again. Would my life have been better? Would I have been happier? To be honest, I really don't know. But that's the risk isn't it? It's a risk I would have been willing to take and I would take whatever consequences it would have brought.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

It was a pretty interesting week. You learn and experience something new everyday, and every single day of the past week was just that. I mean, even in the littlest of things, you can see and learn stuff if you just look hard enough. I was talking with a friend not too long ago, waiting for her to catch a ride. As she left, she kissed me on the cheek. It was pretty startling, really. It felt nice of course, but I guess I just wasn't used to it. Another time I ate wild pig. Next I smash a guy's head into a phonebooth. Interesting experiences all.

One night I was at Comic Oddyssey and I saw a friend whom I recognized but I forgot his name. I was with another friend and not being able to introduce them to each other because I FORGOT HIS NAME was a situation I never wanted to be in. So I told the guy. Hey! I know you. But dude, sorry, I forgot your name. Well, that seems to work out ok.

Hey, it's September! Lots of birthdays this month! There's my mom, my brother, my best friend in high school and college, a couple of ex-girlfriends, another friend who likes to walk in the rain which gives me an idea for a gift, an old classmate who I forgot to greet. Arrgh! Belated Happy Birthday Jeca! And Nick Manabat's birthday is also around this time. What IS it about September and why are so many people being born at this time? Hm, let's count back 9 months and hmmm! Hey, CHRISTMAS! he.he. Lots of love and holiday spirit!

Thanks to PM Junior for the book! My utang ako sa iyong High Roads, pre! Nil's back, when do we start pre? Thanks CHez for being really nice. Thanks ILYN....for lots of things!