Monday, July 10, 2006

Is Neil Gaiman Coming To Manila?

Is Neil Gaiman Coming To Manila?

Thoughts on the 1st Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards

The short answer is... I really don't know. Some may think I have insider knowledge, but I really don't. The organizers of the event talk about "surprises" and a "special guest". Their most recent announcement had this little bit of tantalizing info:

"7. AND YES, Neil Gaiman has been collaborating with us with this every step of the way. Can't divulge too much, but be prepared for some surprises. :) "

Well, then. We all know that the Graphic/Fiction competition wouldn't be here without Neil Gaiman. He is the driving force behind it, along with Fully Booked. Its annoucement last year pretty much drove many in the Philippine comic book community into a frenzy. Including me. I thought wow, I'll enter THIS contest. I've just GOT to. I can't NOT to.

But realities soon set in and because of a punishing Silent Dragon deadline, I wasn't able to have enough time to finish my entry, much to the disappointment of my would be partner David Hontiveros, to whom I offer the most profuse of apologies. But no one was as disappointed as I was because I really wanted to join so bad. Win or lose, it would have been great experience for me at a time in my career when I'm in a very difficult period of transition.

I used all that energy I had been building up for the competition into ELMER, so it all turned out allright in the end.

Anyway, inspite of their secretiveness, the most obvious special guest would have to be Neil Gaiman himself, since he is the one person with any kind of weight that's involved with this event at "every step of the way".

Of course, there's speculation that it may be Alex Niño. There is an award that's going to be given that's named after him, thus the Alex Niño Award. Which is really cool, but I see no reason to be secretive of his participation as many young people, including Neil Gaiman fans, probably would have never heard of him.

No, I'm betting it's Neil Gaiman himself who is coming. It is his appearance alone that has the potential to drive this crowd insane. Because as I have said in my earlier post, anyone else they bring in would be a let down. But I'm ready to be surprised and eat my words.

But now the time has come to announce the winners of the contest, and they organized this large event in Makati in which to do it. All in all, it sounds like a real huge deal. Here's the rest of their recent press release....

Hello everyone! We've been getting a lot of inquiries and questions about the 1st
Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards so just to go through the FAQ's:

1. About the posted short listed entries, we sincerely apologize for some delays in the postings at our website. But we've fixed up the kinks, and now you can access the prose and comics entries at this link:

2. These short listed entries will be exhibited at the event on July 15. All these entries are in the running for the grand prizes. Meaning, they are not just for the People's Choice Awards.

3. The voting will be by ballot system which will be open on the whole day of July 15. We cannot have an online voting system just to be fair (because we are wary of people who will be clicking on their favorite entries hundreds of times like most of the online/ text voting systems).

4. Your ballots will be given to you upon registration. As an incentive, we will be raffling off prizes to the ballots cast.

5. The doors to the Rockwell Tent will open at 10AM. There will be a schedule of activities the whole day leading up to the 7PM awards proper. These include an artist's corner where renowned Filipino comics artists will be conducting workshops, autograph signings, etc. Of course, we'll be having booths wherein you can buy related books, graphic novels and related merchandise.

Will also have movie showings, readings of excerpts from the short listed finalists, and live performances by OUTER HOPE and PINIKPIKAN, including fire dancing by PLANET ZIPS. Food booths outside the tent will be available as well.

6.. Lastly, this event is FREE OF CHARGE. So everyone's invited!

For more info, check out the DA of one of the organizers, AZ (ikaw na naman! ;) )

As for the comic book entries themselves, I've seen all the finalists. If I were a judge, I would have a difficult time choosing who would win. Not that all of them are great, some of them are, but I have not seen a single story that stands out as excellent both in art and in story. One entry may have been good in one or the other, but not in both.

Artwise, my favorite has got to be Defiant: The Battle of Mactan. Of all the entries, this one really stood out to me visually as the most professional looking, most dynamic and most kick ass. But I thought the story was just OK.

It could win, but "just ok" story could work against it, inpite of the extraordinary art.

Storywise, my favorite is The Sad, Mad, Incredible but True Adventures of Hika Girl. Very very nice story, and I must say, very Gaiman-ish. Fans of Neil Gaiman would find this story the easiest one to latch on to. Artwise, it's very interesting, and has extraordinary potential. It does shine here and there, but I feel it needs a lot more work in terms of composition and design. In a few years, if this artist chooses to develop his or her art more, he or she would definitely emerge as one of the country's best cartoonists.

This story could win as well, but the unpolished art could work against it.

Of course, something like SPLAT could come from behind and surprise everyone. It's a short and wordless piece that's charming and fun. The art is very familiar and I can just bet I know who it is.

There are some entries that look really good and professional looking, like the one by a regular visitor to this site (and an Elmer fan art contributor), while there are other entries which just makes me scratch my head, and say "What? Oh God, I'm so stupid because I can't understand this!"

That said, it's still anybody's game. Those are just my personal choices. I wish everybody who entered the best of luck! See you all on Saturday! Yes, including you, Mr. Gaiman.