Saturday, March 12

Mock Up

K.I.A. in my hands... not.

No, the printers aren't finished yet. The K.I.A. issue in my hand is just a mock-up made with a sample print of the cover and the paper stock being used. Anyway, I know what's inside, so having this dummy is almost as good as having the real thing! Heheh... Right. It's just my way of coping with the wait. Gah.
Anticipated Flicks

Here are some of the upcoming movies I'm pretty excited to see...

Sin City
This film adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novels about a gritty, crime and corruption-riddled burg and the colorful characters that reside in it looks like it was ripped straight from the page. A unique visual presentation, a cast of big-name actors and lots of sexy ladies makes this a must-see. I actually haven't read the comic yet, but I may soon enough.

Cool Stuff: Seeing Elijah Wood take an evil turn as a twisted psychopath Kevin. Watching deadly ninja babe Miho (Devon Aoki) in action. Seeing a comic book come to life in what director Robert Rodriguez touts as the most faithful adaptation ever. We'll see.

Batman Begins
Shedding off the gaudy silliness that marred the last film in this franchise, this latest caped crusader flick brings the story back to the beginning, focusing on the origin of Batman (Christian Bale) and his development from traumatized billionaire heir to masked, caped vigilante. New cast members fill in old roles- Michael Caine is Alfred, while Gary Oldman is James Gordon. Last Samurai's Ken Watanabe plays the devilish Ra's Al Ghul. Where's Talia though? Oh, and is Liam Neesonacting as a Jedi Master AGAIN?

Cool Stuff: Batman's new ride is more battle-ready than something chicks would dig. And what could be cooler than Batman versus ninja?

Mr. and Mrs. Smith
It's Spy Vs Spy in a domestic setting, but substitute gender for the sides of the struggle. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are a happy but bored couple who are in actuality each high-level assassins but unaware of each other's identities. When they are hired to off their spouse, fireworks ensue.

Cool Stuff: Seeing Achilles take on Lara Croft. It's intriguing to see how they actually handle this story- will it be comedic or dead-serious? And will we actually see either Pitt or Jolie (or both) bite the bullet? Probably not, but it'll be fun to see.

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Yeah, I admit it. I want to see this. However, it's more to see whether George Lucas saved the worst or the least worst for last.

Cool Stuff: Seeing Sith in action and kicking those namby-pamby goody-two shoes stoopid Jedis butts. HAH!

On the Other Hand, I'm not too hot about these...

Boooorrrrriinng. From the makers of Ice Age comes this yarn about a country botkin going to try his luck in the big city. Yawn. Yeah, the animation and design should be interesting... if you're a robot enthusiast. I don't even like robot anime, so this really isn't for me.

Fantastic Four
"Five go into space. One will become BAD. Four will become... FANTASTIC!" Geh.

I don't like robots, and I don't like animals either...

All in all, the future looks good for MAD movies in the next few months. Hopefully I'll have time to visit the theaters when the good ones hit.

Friday, March 11

Killer Inevitable Anticipation

It never fails. I can tell when I'm close to releasing a comic. I've done it a lot of times and it's always the same thing. Last night, I just stayed in The Sanctum, pacing back and forth, alternating between staring at a mock-up of the final comic, and reading issues of past local indies that I've collected.
Maybe I should bring out the ol' comics more often, and read through them more. It's fun- like going back in time, when enthusiasm for making comics was at an all-time high, when stories and art didn't seem to need to be technically sound, when everything seemed to have to stop at a cliffhanger.
I took a ton of them out from the shelf- oldies like the pioneer comics- Flashpoint, Shadow/Scions, P-Noise/Indigo Valley, TKS: The Killstalker/Age of the Valkyrie, Alamat 101, Memento Mori, Exodus. Then there are the later books- Myth Class, Wasted, Dhampyr, Pantheon, Horus, K2K... all the way to the more recent Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Trip to Tagaytay, After Eden, Siglo: Freedom, Darna, Lastikman and the latest releases of Ignition Comix, Chips and the latest indies. Looking back at where local indies started from is always important for me, prior to releasing anything new. It's a way for me of gauging I guess how far I have come, how much I have learned or changed, and what I have to do to improve even further.
Gosh. Those were the days.

Anyway, things are so different now. Artists and creators are so much better, with a better command of art and technique. Competition is not as intense as before, since there are fewer releases, but it will always be there. Every release is a challenge to others to do better. And I relish this... I love getting better at what I do. And I love doing comics.

Darn, next week can't come soon enough.

Thursday, March 10

When Worlds Collide

No, it's not a fantasy. It is truth.

First it was Marvel VS Capcom. Then, the unthinkable happened with SNK VS Capcom. And now, we have Namco VS Capcom, putting the two makers of arguably the two most popular fighting game franchises (Street Fighter and Tekken) together in one game.
But unlike previous Capcom Versus games, Namco X Capcom (tentative title) is not a fighting game, but an RPG. We don't know the story yet, but the game will bring together characters from the various titles and franchises of each company's stable. So, expect characters from Streetfighter, Resident Evil, Megaman and more to interact with personages from Tekken, Xenosaga, Tales of Destiny and other Namco games.
No word yet if or when the game will hit a US release, but the popularity of both companies should make this a no-brain release for the world.

Another Crossover Collision coming in the near future- Nemesis, which brings characters from Marvel Comics up against a new wave of characters created by Electronic Arts entertainment. This will result in not just a game but actual comics. Interesting stuff... we'll see if any of them are worth squat when they all come out later this year.

From Right to Left: Ryu from Streetfighter, Jin Kazama from Tekken and Hideo from Rival Schools. And some robot dude.

In a bit of tragic videogame-related news, five boys aged 13 to 16 have been arrested in Latvia for the murder of one of their friends. The boys apparently beat the 16-year old victim to death using moves and techniques emulated from Mortal Kombat. Now, the Latvian authorities aren't wholly blaming videogames, citing also violence on TV and movies, and of course the suspects probably had their reasons for the heinous act.
Anyway, I've always heard stories about little kids doing 'Hadokens' and Dragon Punches in play, sometimes getting hurt in the process. It's a parent's responsibility to keep an eye on their kids, not particularly to focus on videogames, but on their kids' behavior and upbringing in general.

Tuesday, March 8


Pick your weapon.

Last night before going to bed I watched one episode of the controversial anime Gantz. This show was supposedly heavily-edited before it was shown in Japan TV because of the gory violence and stuff, so I was actually kinda pumped to see it. Unfortunately, I don't have the first two episodes, so I had to start with episode three.
Anyway, the show is about a youth named Kei Kurono who gets run over by a train with his pal. While the gory way they get run over is one of the controversial bits, I've read that the real cause for the hubbub is how this show portrays how people act as impassive voyeurs when their fellow men are in danger, treating death as a spectacle and little else. This pretty nihilistic view is questionable in my view, but whatever.
After getting killed, Kei and his friend suddenly find themselves in a small sealed apartment, with some other people (also recently deceased) and a BIG black ball. The ball, known as The Gantz, has various alien weaponry inside it (and also apparently a human body) which it distributes to the 'contestants' for the game. This game is pretty clear- they have to kill or dispatch some hidden aliens. The contestants have a limited time to complete their missions; failure means permanent death. Survival and terminating the aliens means continued play.

Well, my comments on the first episode are mixed. For a Gonzo anime, this show looks pretty BAD. The computer effects aren't too impressive, and the character animation, even little things like how they talk, is awkward and badly done, to the point that I thought this was made at best by less-skilled Korean animators, or at worst an amateur, fan-made feature. I don't know if this was intentional or what, but it just looks BAD. The voice acting is also on the annoying side; the dialogue is irritating with lots of awkward filler and your usual anime cliche speak with the whiny hero, the screechy girl and the shady, amoral practical guy. The talking went a bit like this...

Other Guy: I don't have to tell you.
Other Guy: Okay, I will.
Other Guy: You don't have to believe me. You're all hypocrites.


Maybe it's not fair to judge the show on this one episode (and episode three at that), but really, I wasn't that impressed. However, I'm willing to watch the next couple of episodes to see if it's going anywhere, and if the quality of the visuals and audio improves. Anyway, the third episode didn't blow me away particularly to be controversial or anything... in fact, the most horrifying thing I saw was the substandard visuals and animation given that this is by Gonzo, one of my favorite anime production houses. Well, with them doing a G.I. Joe OAV, a Witchblade anime and probably tons of other stuff, maybe they're spreading themselves a bit too thin.

Yesterday night, while talking over details about the K.I.A. webpage with my friend Drew, I got a text from El asking 'Aside from MMS, Phlogging and Wallpapers, what can I do with photos taken with my cellphone?'

Hmmm. Well, last night all I could think of was 'reference'. I mean, if you found something you like- a design or a certain artwork or piece of architecture, you could snap a pic and take it back with you. Thinking it through though, here are some other uses for cameraphone pics...

Identifying crooks! If you recognize someone as a shady character featured in the classifieds, snap a pic as proof and show it to the cops. You may even earn a reward!

Be an instant Paparazzi! On those rare occasions that you cross paths with a tinseltown personality, sexy screen siren or other media luminary, you can remember this momentous occasion with a click of the phone. And with the magic of Photoshop you can even show yourself getting intimate with 'em. Heh.

Call for help! If you get lost, you can take a pic of some landmark and send it to your peeps to help them send the cavalry to pick you up.

Ghost Hunting! Find yourself in a creepy building? Make the most of the situation by snapping pics and who knows... you could catch some spectral activity and have your pic featured on 'Wag Kukurap.

PORN. Even better with a videocam feature. Nuff said.

There are probably lots and lots more uses for the nice, low-res but ubiquitous photos you can take with your trusty cameraphone. I still think that iimage capture is still one of the best developments in mobiles, not the least of which is that it turned all of us into voyeurs and released the potential stalkers in all of us. YAY! Isn't technology grand?

Monday, March 7

Cab Story

On the way to work today, I took a cab and halfway to the office the cabbie talked to me about how gas prices are going to go up again today. The talk eventually led to his situation at work, where in one of his jobs (where he has been working for 17 years) he hasn't been paid his salary for 11 months. Though I was only half-listening at the outset, hearing this made my hackles rise. I can't fathom not getting paid for one month- HOW THE HECK CAN YOU SURVIVE WITHOUT BEING PAID FOR ALMOST A YEAR??? Well, apparently the guy has other works that keeps him and his family (he has four kids) from starving. But sometimes, they fall short and sometimes had to practically beg the company to dole out some cash (the last time being to pay for their kid's medical bills). Of course, their company has assets and their boss supposedly has NINE cars and all the upper management people are well off.
Well, after taking all that shit they finally got together to go to the Department of Labor to help them out. I pretty much told him to keep at it until they nail their frickin' corrupt bosses to cough up what's due. It's just crazy.

Anyway, got down and got to work. Damn, do I feel lucky.

Sunday, March 6

Hell and Back Again

Koff-koff... HAAAHHKK... Guhk...

FINALLY got to watch the movie Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz, and based on the comic Hellblazer. Now, I'm not really a fan of the comic, though I've seen the character in stuff like Books of Magic. Basically, John Constantine is a cigarette-smoking mystic who spends his days exorcising demons and sending evil half-demons back to Hell if they go out of line and break the truce between Heaven and Earth. The reason for this is hardly altruistic on John's part- because of a sin he committed years ago, he's condemned to damnation when he dies (which is SOON, since he's just been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer), so now he's trying to 'buy' his way back to Heaven. However, according to the Angel Gabriel (Tilda Swinton), he's got about as much chance as an ice cube in an inferno.
But when a police detective (Rachel Weisz) comes to him asking to look into the supposed suicide of her twin sister, he finds himself in a race to stop a plot to unleash Hell on Earth.

Perhaps it helped that I'm not a fan of the comic book, or perhaps it's just that I really don't have any biases against Keanu Reeves' movies... but I really just liked this movie. The story's not bad, the effects are pretty slick, and the action, suspense and atmosphere make this a particularly hellish experience to watch- which in this case is not a bad thing. Anyway, for a two-hour movie it went by quite quickly without any real slow or boring parts. I'm quite glad I was able to watch it in the theaters, instead of at home on DVD.

Anyway, watched it at Cubao's Gateway Mall- and I have to say that the central Cubao area looks pretty awesome, with lots of nice restos and bright lights. The Gateway Mall theaters are also quite nice. I'd probably go and watch more movies there again when I can.
Book For Barter

Hai's and Jason DeAngelis' Blade for Barter.

I woke up today with a pleasant surprise- a package arrived from ol' Hai. I opened it to find a brand-spankin' new copy of Blade for Barter, one of the first wave of new manga from Seven Seas Publishing.
The book is about the adventures of Ryunosuke Washington, a samurai-for-hire living in New Edo, a city which appears to be a mix of New York and Ancient Japan. We follow Ryu as he tries to walk the straight-and-narrow path in a world gone crazy, clashing with baddies like the corrupt Samurai Union, the Mafuza (Mafia-Yakuza?) and a Mad Overlord named Lord Hoseki. The series is written by Jason DeAngelis with art by Hai.

The book looks like a load of fun, with Hai's clean lines resulting in pages that are light and cartoony, but at times maddeningly detailed and full like something you'd see from Larry Alcala's Slice of Life cartoons. It kinda gives me the impression of how Sergio Aragones' Groo would look done in manga. Cool stuff.

It's a really slick first-release from Seven Seas, and it shows how this new publisher has their act together. They're ready to take on the biggie Tokyo Pop. I'm pretty excited to see what they come up with next. Good work, Hai!

I find it pretty funny how local TV is aping the current popular trends on cable and foreign channels. The demand for horror started by Asian movies like Ringu resulted in Nginiig: The Hidden FIles and rival Walang Kukurap. The reality-TV craze spawned things like Extra Challenge and other star-making vehicles. I find particularly funny is one show about dancing that is imitating American Idol, with a panel of judges who make comments and throw barbs or challlenges at the contestants. The crappy thing is, WHO are these judges? Do they have a right to even judge these contestants?
Another pretty apish new local show is Kamao, a reality-TV boxing show which is an obvious imitation of the about-to-be-shown The Contender with Sylvester Stallone. Wow, that was fast.

Well, whatever works and sells, I guess. The local channels really need to make money.

I suppose it could be worse. In another world, we might have Alyas, a drama-action series about a female deep-cover NBI agent posing as a courier in a crime syndicate who likes to wear red wigs... or maybe Ligaw, which has an ensemble cast of characters stuck on a deserted island with bloodthirsty aswang... or maybe CSI Manila, with local techniques like torture substituting for forensics and technology. Hey, these things actually don't sound that bad. Heh.