Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Komiks Congress

The Komiks Congress being planned for the 2nd week of February is probably the biggest concerted effort to revive the flagging komiks industry in the Philippines.

"Komiks" has enjoyed a rich and vibrant history in the country, which counts it's National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal as the first Filipino cartoonist when he created an adaptation of the tale of the Monkey and the Tortoise, in a format that's undeniably a comics strip.

Tony Velasquez created the first regularly published comic strip "Kenkoy" on the pages of Liwayway Magazine in 1929. The very first comic book to appear in the country, a magazine the full contents of which are comics, was HALAKHAK, which first appeared in 1946. It lasted only 10 issues, plagued by circulation problems. 1947 saw the publication of Pilipino Komiks #1, published by ACE Publications, which ushered in the birth of the full scale Philippine komiks industry.

Pilipino Komiks proved so popular that it spawned many other titles in the succeeding years including Tagalog Klasiks, Hiwaga, Espesyal, and further spawned many other komiks companies.

Komiks enjoyed enormous popularity and circulation for many decades until finally bowing out late in 2005 with the cessation of publication of Pilipino Komiks, which was then being published by Atlas Publishing. The last remaining remnant of the once great industry is Liwayway, which still contains comics within its pages.

The fall of komiks is a subject that is currently being hotly debated across many circles, and can be felt online through many Philippine blogs and message boards.

The komiks industry's fall started to be strongly felt at the beginning of the 90's when komiks companies closed slowy one by one. Its fall saw the rise of "alternate" comics industry, spawned by young artists and fans who saw no venue in which to publish their stories. This new industry, populated by writers and artists who owe little influence from the weakening komiks industry, saw influence from Western and Japanese comics, influence that were strongly felt in their works not only in content but also in format.

From individuals and small groups of young writers and artists rose companies like Alamat, Nautilus, Culture Crash, Mango, Kestrel, PSI-Com and many others whose output have been moderately successful, although have yet to reach the lofty heights the old komiks industry.

Questions have been put forth about the possibility of that happening, amidst the many sources of entertainment currently available, only one of the many things hotly debated by concerned parties.

Indeed, some parties reject this new "alternate" comics industry as a legitimate one, perhaps ignoring the possibility that an industry that grows organically and persists inspite of seemingly insurmoutable economic issues has some qualities worth studying and investigating.

Filipino Komiks #1, published in October 2006, was the first serious attempt at a revival on a national scale by having stories in Tagalog, distributed nationwide, and geared to appeal to the masses, the primary audience of the old komiks industry. FK #1 sold extremely well, indicating rather clearly that the audience and the desire for komiks are still there.

February 2007 now brings the Komiks Congress, spearheaded by personalities of the former Komiks industry like Joe Lad Santos, and most notably Carlo J. Caparas, putting a call out to all Filipino komiks writers and artists to band together and find ways to revive the industry.

I am very excited at this turn of events, and I have high hopes that something good will result from this new enthusiasm geared towards Philippine Komiks. For those who can read Tagalog, you can follow the developing story, and updates to the Congress at THIS THREAD on the Philippine Komiks Message Board, or click on the banner on top of the left column. You might need to register to be able to read it.

I will continue to update readers of this blog on the progress of the Komiks Congress in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Read or Die, UST Lecture


I'll be at the Read or Die Convention this weekend, February 3-4 at the Hotel Intercon in Makati where I will be selling Elmers 1 and 2. I'll gladly do an Elmer sketch for you for free if you buy Elmer, have bought Elmer, or even if you don't buy one. It's strange when people ask me to sketch Captain America or Batgirl or things like that. I'm not complaining, I'm just curious, because I'm not known to have drawn those characters, so I'm wondering what the connection was. To me it would make more sense if people ask me to draw characters I have worked on or created because the connection is there. It's like asking me to sign a comic book I didn't work on. OK, that's an extreme comparison, but the feeling is similar.

Anyway, I'll also be bringing a stack of original artwork to sell, from Birthright, to Batman/Danger Girl, to High Roads, and probably others. I won't be able to offer rates like I did at Komikon because those special discounted prices are only for Komikon. The next time I'll be offering those kinds of prices again will be at the next Komikon, sometime in October.


Next up will be a lecture at the University of Sto. Tomas on February 10, 2007. It will be at Room 801 Beato Angelico Building at 1-4pm. I'll be talking about something... most likely about comics!

When I was studying at UST in the late 80's, this buidling wasn't in existence yet. I don't remember what was there at the time, was it the UST Press? I know it's beside the huge football field. Lots of memories associated with that field. Those horrible ROTC Sunday mornings, the after lunch P.E. jogs in those yellow shorts with small white USTs printed on them, PACAFALAN, mooning over girls who didn't like me, sketching, just hanging out. It would definitely be a strange experience coming back. I know some of my old classmates are teaching there now... some of my old teachers are still there. There are some I want to see again, and one particular teacher I really don't.


Schedule's definite! John's signing will be on February 18, 1-4 PM at Comics Odyssey, Robinson's Galleria.


Komikero meeting last Sunday! I have photos and a video, but I'm a little bit busy at the moment to put them up. Here's coverage from my ol pals Jonas Diego, and Edgar Tadeo.


I'm supposed to rant about something. I've been writing it since last week. It's rather long now. Maybe later in the week.

In the meantime, let me teach you how to cook my Chicken Curry!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Activities for January and February, and It's Crazy!

Activities for January and February, and it's CRAZY!

Sampalok Lake Park
Anybody in town is free to join us at our first Komikero Meeting for 2007 on January 28, here in San Pablo City, beside Sampalok Lake. Click here for a map.

AREA B is most likely where we will be.

Para sa mga suki, doon tayo anywhere between tapat ng bahay ni Mr. Marino at Sabang Hills.

For those curious... these aren't really meetings, but just a get together of people who like art and sketch. Come on over if you're in the neighborhood. Bring your sketchbooks!


I'll be at the Read or Die Convention at the Hotel Intercon in Makati on Feb 3-4 where I"ll be having a booth. I'll be selling ELMER as well as original comics art. I also provided some material for an exhibit of vintage komiks art.
More Info on the RodCon2007


I'll be giving a kind of talk/lecture at UST on February 10. I really haven't done anything like this before. The closest thing is probably my inking lecture for the Glasshouse seminar a few years back. I'm not much of a public speaker and I would have declined, but I sort of got cornered by Antart to do it. he.he. So I am. Sorry na lang sa mga taga UST that they would be subjected to the most unberably embarassing talk in the history of the oldest University in Asia. See you there!


Joe Lad Santos, Jess Jodloman and Jun Lofamia at a recent planning session for the congress. Photo by Marboy.
I'll most likely be attending the Komiks Congress currently being planned for February 16. John Becaro has much more of a grasp on what this is about so head on over to his DA right now to see what's up. It's bound to be BIG and GOOD for the Philippine Komiks industry.


Cover to Secret Wars #1
Older comics fans would probably remember comics inker John Beatty for his work on the very first SECRET WARS, Captain America, Punisher and many other comic books. He's in town for personal reasons, but having recognized that he may have fans here, he's going to be doing a signing! More news on that later.


Captain Hatch, Weird Mystery Tales, DC Comics 1974
I'll also be interviewing Jess Jodloman sometime in February. Jess Jodloman is part of the first wave of Filipino comics illustrators who made an impact on US Comics. Jess Jodloman is a particular favorite of mine, having drawn really beautifully gruesome stories for DC's mystery and horror titles. Click on a sample of his awesome work below:
Jess Jodloman's Old Man With a Bible

Monday, January 22, 2007

Comics Odyssey Comic Book Signing/Sketching

Mark Cerbo, Azrael Coladilla, Harvey Tolibao, Gerry Alanguilan, Edgar Tadeo, Jay Anacleto, Dennis Crisostomo, Ryan Orosco, Carlo Pagulayan, Gilbert Monsanto, Jeff Huet, and Leinil Francis Yu.

Comic Book Signing/Sketching
Comics Odyssey
Robinson's Galleria
January 21, 2007

The official guest list included only Philip Tan (Spawn), Gilbert Monsanto (Sacred Mountain), and the elusive Jay Anacleto (Aria, Marvels 2). I went to the store so I could see Philip Tan, who was coming back to the Philippines for a vacation (and a dentist appointment?). I also wanted to see Jay, who we call "Efren", because we see so very little of him. The last time I saw him was at the 1st Philippine Komikon in 2005. I was also delivering copies of both Elmer #1 and #2, because the store had already sold out of copies.

Pretty soon, literally everyone was there. Leinil Francis Yu (New Avengers) arrived, as well as Carlo Pagulayan (Incredible Hulk).

Philip Tan and Gilbert Monsanto

Jay Anacleto

Edgar Tadeo (Avalon colorist/inker) also arrived, as well as inkers Dennis Crisostomo and Jeff Huet, fantasy artist Hannibal, artists John Becaro, Randy Valiente, Reno Maniquis, Joanah Tinio, Melvin Calingo (Taga-Ilog), Ryan Orosco, Joel Chua and Harvey Tolibao. I might be missing someone, but a lot of people arrived.

Gerry Alanguilan, Gilbert, Philip, Ryan Orosco

Dennis Crisostomo, Carlo Pagulayan, Ryan

Jeff Huet, Leinil Francis Yu, Ryan, Jay Anacleto, Carlo

And hey, look at that... video! (Sorry, can't help it.)

Hang on as I'll be uploading a better quality version at Live Video very soon. I'll just add it right here when it comes up.

It's very nice to see the guys again. It's almost like a Starfire Studios reunion. Starfire is the studio Whilce Portacio established back in the mid 90's here in the Philippines. Only Whilce himself is missing, as well as Roy Allan Martinez.

Thanks to Comics Odyssey owner Sandy Sansolis. Thanks to Ryan Orosco for most of the pics!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tony DeZuniga Exhibit, Jess Jodloman

Humanis Rex #21

First of all, apologies for the lack of updates. The Internet has been mind numbingly ssslllloooooo o o o o o o o w for me the past couple of weeks. Many sites just won't open for me, including this one. But it seems all better now, although some sites still load slowly. Lots of news, first and foremost being, Tony DeZuniga's art exhibit at Megamall. I went there for the opening last night and it was like a reunion of old and new comics people. It was something to see. Naturally, I had my camera with me.

Tony DeZuniga Art Exhibit
Crucible Gallery
4th Floor, SM Megamall
Metro Manila, Philippines
Ongoing, beginning January 16, 2007

The Crucible Gallery

Jess Jodloman, Abe Ocampo, Tony DeZuniga

Abe Ocampo, Rico Rival, Tony DeZuniga

And I guess by this time you would know that I just can't resist making a video of this event. Here's the one hosted at You Tube:

And here's the one hosted at Live Video. It's actually the same video, but the video quality might be a bit better for the ones with faster connections.


ELMER: One of Forbidden Planets' Best of 2006!

I missed sharing this previously becauseof my slow connection, but Forbidden Planet has named ELMER as one of the best comics of 2006. Thanks to all you guys at Forbidden Planet!

If you're in the UK, or if you're in any part of the world, actually, you can order ELMER from them directly at this page.


Jess Jodloman

Jess Jodloman is an artist whose work I've loved for a long time. Here in the Philippines, his masterpiece RAMIR is still considered by those who remember it as one of the best comics stories ever produced in the country.

He is probably most known in the US as the artist of Conan and many mystery/horror/war titles for DC Comics.

I was happy to have finally met Jess personally at last year's Komikon and I have been speaking with him and his daughter Grace off and on since then and they've shared with me some really stunning images for Jess's upcoming gallery. I'll also be interviewing Jess himself early in February and I'll definitely upload it here when the time comes.


Me and Ilyn at the Exhibit

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Elmer at Independent Propaganda

Elmer #1 and #2 has finally been added to the online catalogue of North American retailer Independent Propaganda. Those in the Canada and the US would now be able to get copies from them via their online shop. Thanks to Wesley for making this possible!

Monday, January 08, 2007

Tony DeZuniga Exhibit, Comics Signing, Humanis Rex


Tony DeZuniga Art Exhibit

Crucible Gallery
4th Floor, SM Megamall
Mandaluyong, Metro Manila
Exhibit Opening: 6:00 PM, January 16, 2007

For those who will be going, Tony himself will be there on opening night. I'll try to be there, but I can't be sure. January is pretty hectic for me as well, and that date is pretty near a Humanis Rex! deadline. Let's see.

I recently did a video interview with Tony DeZuniga, asking him about his reasons for choosing comics as a career, how Jonah Hex was designed, and how he seems to get better and better with age. The interview is in Tagalog, but it has English subtitles.

Tony DeZuniga Interview


Comics Odyssey Comic Book Signing
Comics Odyssey
Robinson's Galleria
Edsa Cor. Shaw
Metro Manila
January 21, 2007, 1-4 PM

Special Guests include:

Jay Anacleto
Aria, Athena Inc., Spawn, Marvels 2

Philip Tan
X-Men, Spawn

Gilbert Monsanto
Rambol, Tropa, Hellcop, Houdini


The Crimeans Freak Out!
Humanis Rex #20!

This January, I'll be concentrating on both Humanis Rex! and ELMER. Humanis Rex is about to wrap up so I'm making sure it goes out with a huge bang.

I may have to move the release of ELMER to a later date, not only to give me time to do it, but I would also have to set aside funds for the publication of my dad's poetry book, in time for his 70th birthday in March.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Elmer #2 at Forbidden Planet

ELMER #2 at Forbidden Planet

I'm very glad to report that Elmer #2 is now available at Forbidden Planet, both at their branches across the UK, as well as online. Issue #1 is still available from them as well.

They also made an entry at the Forbidden Planet blog. Thanks Kenny and Joe!

For a while I was concerned that the package I sent, containing more than a hundred copies of #1 and #2, had gotten lost, but thankfully enough it arrived at their offices safe and sound.

For the rest of the entry, click here.


Boy, the Internet sure is slow all week! That earthquake did some serious damage. For certain sites, including Blogger, it's slower than dial up! My wordpress blog doesn't seem to be affected too much though.

I had planned on doing some heavy duty stuff on my sites, but I'm going to wait until this Internet problem gets straightened out.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Blood Brothers

"Blood Brothers" is a short story I wrote back in 1997 back when I was working at Whilce Portacio's studio. At the time I think I was inking Hazard, but at the same time I was also doing these photocopied mini comics. "Dead Heart" stories was one of those mini comics. The first issue had a story called "July 16", which came out September of 1996, which I did around the same time I was inking Grifter.

The 2nd issue came months later, which contained the first Stupid Chicken Stories, as well as the main story, "Blood Brothers". This story was illustrated by Leinil Francis Yu. He was training under Whilce at the time, and he was just a few months away from breaking into Wolverine. I asked him if he could draw this story, and he said yes.

After publishing it as a mini comic back in 1997, and reprinting a few copies again in 2005 for the Komikon, I've decided to fully color the story, and then serialize it online. You can see it beginning this week at my Ambrosia Digicomics blog.

I think fans of Leinil Yu would get a kick out of seeing his early work. I'm sure it will be fascinating to trace his evolution from his rough early days to the finely tuned pencilling machine he is today.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy New Year! 2006 In Review, Resolutions for 2007

Happy New Year!
2006 in Review
2007 Resolutions

2006 was both good and bad, but I think it's better than it was worse. I finally launched my Komikero Publishing with ELMER #1 in June, my first serious attempt at publishing comics as both art and business in the Philippines. It was more art than business, but I'm glad to say I made modest profit of it so far.

Chris de Joya

I was disappointed that a few projects didn't push through, specially the ones involving Timawa and the Lake Legends. I feel that in regard to those projects, I did my best, and fulfilled my obligations, but circumstances beyond my control saw these projects fall through, at least for now.

I also discovered a great interest in video as a way of expressing myself. The interest was there for a few years, specially with the arrival of digital cameras that made shooting videos easy and convenient. It took You Tube to ratch the interest up several notches by giving me free storage for my ever increasing video files, the means to display them, and get feedback. Towards the end of the year, I've made around 60 videos, a couple of which (Trese and HIDE) I could possibly consider short short films. Those two allowed me to experiment with storytelling in a medium other than comics, and it's an experience both enlightening and educational. I have no doubt I will continue to experiment with video storytelling. In truth, I've already begun the third one, called "TRUE LOVE", where a few Komikeros helped out.

Alan Gallo
It's a blast having a Gallo send art about a comic book about chickens, a story about a family of chickens named "Gallo".

My favorite quote of the year comes from Mark Twain:

“Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Yes, this is directed at a couple of anonymous bloggers who really have nothing good to say about Filipinos doing comics today. It's tragic that they believe they know what they're talking about, but the truth is, they're so out of touch, not only of comics today, they're also out of the touch with the facts. They make so many factual errors to support their arguments it's no longer funny.

They believe they're open minded, but in truth they're blinded by their prejudices, misconceptions, false expectations and false assumptions and they don't even know it. And that is their tragedy.

It will be foolhardy to reason with people like these, people who will twist the truth (or what they believe to be the truth) to suit their own agenda.

I have already spent enough time trying to explain myself and what I do, and still encountering incomprehension, condescension, and derision, all I can do is shake my head. To dwell any longer in their presence would be unproductive, and would keep me away from doing what I feel is more important, and that is creating. I no longer have too much time left to do my work, and I'll be damned if I let them waste a single minute more.

It's truly unfortunate that a few gullible people will be swayed by what they're saying, but I have great confidence that most Filipinos will be intelligent enough to discern the truth for themselves so I will leave it up to them.

I'm more thankful for people like this and this, who are although critical of my work, they write objectively and judge my work honestly and free from bias.

Romeo Tanghal
It was such an honor last year for the great Romeo Tanghal to spoof me and Elmer at the Philippine Komiks Message Board.

OK, resolutions.

I wasn't very much into resolutions, but having actually fulfilled a couple I made back in January 2006, I'm beginning to think it could work. You just have to remember and make it happen, I suppose. The list is up at my old personal blog.

It's in Tagalog though, so apologies to non Filipinos. The list was done jokingly, but I'm surprised I actually did a few.

Anyway, the one I fulfilled the most was to be more honest, specially with art critiques. It turns out I became more honest with lots of other things. Perhaps some people were turned off, and I know that a few "fans" are no longer "fans" after receiving some unapologetically honest critique and advice.

I think I shot my mouth off far more than I did this year about things I'm sure people would hate me for, and probably deprived me of some opportunities. But like I mentioned here, I don't care.

If I feel there's something needs saying I will, and damn the consequences.

I resolve to be even more honest this year.

But I have to be careful though, some friends are already saying I'm becoming this grumpy old man of komiks. Sure, I can be grumpy, and one day I'll be really old. But I'll never be bitter.

I resolve to work harder.

I think I've wasted too much time last year. I can't afford to do so again this year. So I will cut down on all the things that have distracted me, from anonymous bitter bloggers to too much TV and Internet.

I think I have to do a certain amount of work every single day. I can't let a day pass without doing something work related, and I can't let a day pass that I don't draw anything.

I resolve to be better with email.

I do appreciate getting email from all kinds of people, but more often than not, I tend to not respond right away, taking mental notes to respond later. Having the forgetful mental state that I have, I sometimes forget to respond at all, even to those I really want to have responded to. Starting today, I will try to respond right away to email I get so I don't forget. Except when I find your email annoying, offensive, or unduly familiar (if we haven't met yet).

Here are resolutions I am making for those sending me email.

-Don't textspeak please. What's the rush? Write normally and write well. Don't contribute to the decline of Philippine literacy.

-Don't send me chain letters. I hate chain letters because more often than not, they are thinly veiled blackmails and threats of bad fortune if you don't do what the letter says. Unbelievably, they're sent by friends. FRIENDS. As a friend, why are you threatening my life with bad fortune? Some friend you are.

-Don't send me "Click Here Only If You Have Time For God" emails. I delete every single one of them unread. I have time for God. I just don't have time for people who presume to speak for God to me.

-Don't send me art to on the pretext of wanting my critique but in truth you just want praise. Because if your art isn't very good, you'll have one of the worst days of your life when you receive my reply.

Rod Samonte

How about this, here are resolutions of things I will *not* do.

I continue to resolve not to have a cellphone.

Early last year I decided to stop using a cellphone. After several years of using it, I realized I was becoming someone I didn't like, and it was becoming the source of a lot of unnecessary stress and grief.

I don't have a problem with the idea of a cellphone per se. In fact, I think it's very useful in times of emergencies. I believe it has made it possible for people to survive in situations they would never have without a cellphone. It has now become an essential "need".

I just don't like that this "need" is being abused and taken advantage of for the sake of profit.

Just how many times in your lifetime will emergencies arise that will make the need for a cellphone essential? What is the proportion of those essential phone calls or texts in comparison with the hundreds and thousands of calls and texts you make that are superfluous and unnecessary?

Why do those cellphone loads expire in a few days, in a month, in a couple of months? Why can't a 100 peso load from a card last up to a year? Why expire at all? Why not just let it run out normally? Why are you being forced to use up your load in such a short period of time? Is it food that will rot when you don't eat it?

Why are certain non-cellphone related services/promos now available to only those with cellphones?

The bottom line is, I resist the idea of being asked, no, FORCED to spend money on things I don't need or want.

Next January, I will review if I have fulfilled my resolutions or not.

Happy New Year! I hope everyone will have a happy, safe, and prosperous 2007!