Friday, October 18

One-Inch Comic Books and Peddling Comics during Recess...

I've been doing comic books ever since I was a little kid. I remember doing comic books as small as one-unch from the top of the page to the bottom. I made each book from a single bond paper, made into little pieces and them glued together with white glue. The cover was made extra thick and then 'laminated' with scotch tape. I remember doing comics for my favorite cartoons at the time. I even remember one was actually mostly text, with a full page picture alternating the prose. The one that I actually completed was an episode of Mighty Mouse and the Great Space Chase.
I remember that most of my early work was adapted from cartoons that I watched. I think my main motivation for doing all this was that I couldn't get (whether by financial limitations or just because they didn't exist) comic adaptations of these series and characters. I did Peanuts, all the TV fare and robot shows and even put various characters together in a Secret Wars-type scenario. Imagine every cartoon series from Transformers to Mighty Orbots to GI Joe put together in one book! Well, I started it but never finished it, of course. Lost interest eventually.
For all the stuff I did, I wasn't too keen on making original titles and characters then. Though I do remember putting together a book titled Superkids, an anthology of various kid superheroes. I actually sold my first comic book before high school; I made a three-issue story for a classmate starring characters created by him. I forgot the name but it starred a hero named Spiderkid (who had mechanical spiderlegs ala Doctor Octopus... remember this was by grade school kids) and two others. I remember pitting these heroes against the X-men's Marauders (how's that for a cross-over?). The price for this custom-made comic? Thirty seven pesos. Even then, I realize, I worked for peanuts in comics. That was my first and last sale of home-made, customer-sponsored comics.
In high school, I book-bound some paper and started making an original comic based on Dungeons and Dragons. The comic was entitled Swords of Valour and was based in the Forgotten Realms fantasy setting. It starred a fighter, a sexy druid, a thief, an elf, a mage and a cleric. Although I did a lot of pages, I never finished it, but I remember that it was pretty fun, and even had my first real try drawing sexy females. At that age, the usual focus was giant robots or muscle-bound heroes.
I also attempted an adaptation of G.I. Joe the Movie, which was quite popular since it featured the villainess Zarana in a bikini at one point. It was completely in pencil and shaded so you could tell I was drawing it since my hands were all gray with pencil lead. Again, never finished. Actually, most of the stuff I did then pretty much were all unfinished works. Maybe it was all just practice for the stuff I would do later... much, much later.

So these days, when I do my comic, Angel Ace, I look at how my style has changed over the years, how I've grown as a writer and as an artist, and how I can now finish things if I set my mind to it. I've come a long way. And I still have a long way to go yet. Hopefully.
Blasted Bastards.

It hasn't been normal lately, I have noticed, in terms of the level of security being placed in the city. The day before, I was on the MRT passing Camp Crame (local police and military headquarters) and I saw that in front of the main gate was a large barricaded area. Behind the makeshift zone were stationed a number of soldiers, apparently on high alert.
Several times as I passed by the area on taxi going home, pairs of heavily-armed police would walk by on patrol. Today, as I passed through a Cubao mall on my way to work, a long line had gathered at the door since the guards were thoroughly checking out bags of people going in.
The recent bomb blasts in Bali and in Zamboanga have really made people antsy. Just a little while ago, my mom texted me saying that I shouldn't go to malls for now since the bomb threat level is pretty high.
I can't picture my favorite haunts and hangouts desecrated by these damnable terrorists, and people getting blasted to bits for some stupid agenda or political point. I hope that it never happens, that the police and military remain always vigilant, and that every bloody fanatic, maniac, terrorist, zealot SOB just blows himself up in his dirty hiding hole. Damn them all. Damn them all to hell.
Have a job for me, do you?

I was commuting on my way to work today and the bus I was riding took a turn into the side streets of Cubao. As we were passing the various shops and offices, one particular sign caught my attention: JEDI Placement Agency
Keep this in mind in case you encounter some extremely persuasive secretaries, security guards, janitors or household helpers. They may just be Padawan Learners in disguise.

Thursday, October 17

I am cold. I am ruthless. I am a bringer of death.

I am also bald, tall and have a penchant for black suits and matching gloves. Oh, and my name is just a number. Don't worry, I haven't gone crazy... well, crazier... I just got off playing Hitman 2: Silent Assassin on my Xbox.
Okay, I wasn't able to play the first game in the series, but as far as I know, Hitman 47 is a genetically-engineeered human created for the sole purpose of killing. I guess hair isn't a very useful body part for assassins, since he's bald (he looks and sounds like Professor X!). Anyway, as far as I can tell, 47 isn't really a bad person. In fact, Hitman 2 begins with the hairless one living quietly as a gardener in an Italian church. However, his past soon catches up with him when the kind old priest who took him in is kidnapped by some armed goons. Now 47 is forced to take off the gardener's gloves and don the black suit once again for a lot of killing.
Hitman 2 is a pretty cool, mature game. I say mature since it does involve quite a few moments of sexual situations (stuff you'd see in a mature action movie) and of course, lots of scenes of people getting shot, stabbed, strangled or blown up. While there's a lot of blood, there aren't any really gory stuff, but it is pretty mature so I really can't say I am comfortable with letting my little nephews see this (that is, unless I want them to learn where the best places to hide corpses are).
Anyway, one of the great things about Hitman is its open-endedness; if you have the mad skills, you can get through a mission with minimum loss of life, slipping into enemy-infested strongholds with the ease of a shadow and leaving only your target lifeless in your passing. Or, you could just grab the heaviest weapon you have and kill every bugger who gets between you and your quarry. That's me. Well, that isn't surprising since when I played Grand Theft Auto I racked up an astounding 24 people wasted in just a few minutes. Actually it was more bad driving rather than sheer murderous intent that got me that score... and people wonder why I don't get a car.
Bloody good fun. There aren't too many must-buy games on the Xbox, but Hitman 2 is a winner for me. Being brave and bald was never this fun.
My Precious...

I took home a load of loot tonight from Comic Quest (Damn you, Mike! Vampire!!!); Danger Girl Ultimate Collection, The Authority: Transfer of Power TPB, Marville #2 and the latest copy of Animerica.
I've always been a fan of Danger Girl, short-lived though it was and betrayed was I by the artist's defection to mercenary work instead of continuing the adventures of Abbey and company. I was so angry before that I didn't get the hardcover collected edition... but when I saw the new book, I just had to get it. After leafing through the pages, I felt really good. The art's still gorgeous, the girls as sexy and beautiful as ever (though I do notice a leaning to almost cartoonish caricaturization in the art towards the end of the series). Love it. Love it.
The Authority's another series that seems to be on its last legs, but I love the ultraviolence, the sex, the personality and edge of this title. I have to say that I don't care much for Frank Quitely's art, and how the usually gorgeous women of the Authority look... not beautiful... when he portrays them. But I can excuse that. The story's great and the latest TPB is more of what I love in this book. Hope it continues somehow, someway.
Marville... don't actually know why I got this. I guess it was for the Greg Horn cover. That guy just makes the most gorgeous painted covers. Elektra, Black Widow, Lara Croft, Christie from DOA... Darn. I heard that he uses his wife as his live model for his art. Darn, some guys have all the luck. Heh. Anyway, I scanned through it, and it looks pretty funny and the interior art is quite nice. Lots of cheescake too, so I may be in for a while on this one.
Animerica, well it's probably the closest to a regular newspaper for me...
I noticed that I was amassing quite a lot of comics and magazines that I bought the past weeks which I just set aside for reading... and I haven't read them YET. Darn. Am I starting to buy stuff just to buy stuff? Gotta make it a point to read the comics, play the games and watch the movies I buy. Or else I'll just become a... a miser.
That or a hairless, corrupted hobbit-creature. Geh...

Tuesday, October 15

Scary Taxi Story

After our customary after-closing rituals and drive to the drop-off point by Mike, I waited for a taxi cab at my customary spot. As usual, I was able to flag down a taxi without any trouble. But as I settled down into the passenger seat beside the old driver, he began to tell me about what had just happened to him.
Apparently, a few minutes before he got to me, the driver was being flagged down by a trio of youths. The driver saw that the guys looked pretty scruffy, and his veteran senses told him... these guys were up to no good; he even said he saw them whispering to each other that 'This guy (the taxi driver) would be their target'. He went on to say that while he could have just ignored the suspected hold-up men and just driven past, he actually stopped. He then told the guys that he would let them ride... as long as ALL of them rode in front beside him. He then made it pretty clear that he knew what they were up to and he was pretty much raring to give them a fight. Kill or be killed. As I was listening to this, I was just laughing to keep the tension down.
Apparently cowed by the driver's confrontational stance, and that they were probably newbies to their criminal activity, the guys hesitated, and then backed off. That happened apparently just a few minutes (or moments) before I got on.
As we made our way to my house, the driver went on to tell me about another incident years ago... when he was a lot younger. He took on two passengers (both male) who squirmed into the front passenger seat together. For awhile, the two men had him drive to various points, always changing the destination for some reason.
Eventually though, the men revealed their intentions; the farther guy drew a blade and tried to stab the driver. The driver was able to fend off the attack, draw his own weapon, and retaliate. The taxi was STILL moving at this point.
The driver was then able to stab the closer man, and then the other. The attackers then decided enough was enough, so they bailed. One guy took serious stabs to the chest and to the... balls. He fell out of the moving taxi pretty badly and was caught. The other, despite his wound, was able to escape.
What kinda scared me all this time was that the driver was enthusiastically gesturing with his free hand to where he stabbed his attackers. Good thing he didn't actually draw his weapon to show me...We eventually reached my stop, and as I got down I made sure to give the guy a tip. Not because I was scared... just because it was an exciting story and hold-up men are high on my damnation list. Commuting in the Philippines is not without danger, but I am glad I have so far been lucky to keep away from danger. Cross my fingers on that.
It would be really great though if I just had a ninja assassin like my comic character Kai to be there to karate-kick pickpockets, robbers and other criminals into the pavement. Sigh.

Well, at least I can still phone-whip any would-be attacker into submission...

You never really notice the value of something until it's gone. It's like having a good friend, spending countless great times and experiences with him, and then eventually losing touch after a routine goes stale. Then one day, years later, you hear spot his obituary or something in the paper. That's how it feels like when I found out...

... that I will never be able to eat another meal at A&W restaurant in Fiesta Carnival, Cubao. Sigh.

I remember when I was just a kid; neither my brother or sister were married, and the family still went to church together Sunday morning. I remember I looked forward not necessarily to Mass, but to the certainty that we would have a hearty breakfast at A&W right after. I remember we'd drive right up and get a parking space easily every time (sign of the times). The family would get a table and order anything we'd like. The usual was I'd order a foot-long coney dog (chili-covered greatness) or the double-decker burger. Yeah, my appetite was pretty healthy even then. As a matter of course, my mom would order three orders of french fries which we would just dump in the middle of the table so we could get at them at our leisure.
After the meal, if we had room left over, we could order waffle cup sundaes. There was a special stand or section in the restaurant where you could order the things. My favorite was with fudge and plain M&Ms. After I worked my way past the ice cream, I would be left with the waffle cup shell, which by that time would be caramelized with the fudge and M&Ms... Damn that was good. We kept doing this for several years.
I don't remember just exactly when we stopped going... perhaps it was during the time that my sister started work... or something. Whatever the cause, we eventually forgot going out as a family as a routine during Sundays. And we stopped going there to A&W altogether. These days, the whole clan (my brother's and sister's families included) just have lunch together at home on weekends.
Which is just as well, since the service and the products have really gone down in quality after all these years (which is a sickness, I believe, in all fast-food franchises). There are only a few branches left. Some vanish and are replaced by other food outlets without so much as a whimper.
But this morning, when I looked at the spot where the Fiesta Carnival A&W was and saw a brand new Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant, I couldn't help but think back. Oh well.

Those were damn good waffle sundaes.
Self Portrait?

Well, actually no... but I probably DO look like that when I'm playing a game. This is yet another gif based on my Angel Ace characters. He's Rip, your friendly neighborhood comedy sidekick. Whew! Love that gif animator! Heh.

Monday, October 14

What are YOU looking at?

Still fooling around with the gif animator. This time it's Angel's best friend-turned nemesis-turned best friend, Kai. She' s a karate-fighting assassin who can kick serious butt. And that's what she pretty much does here...
Bee Happy

Yesterday, I and my college friends Alex, Andrew and Paul (we are collectively known as the BLT gang) went to attend the first birthday party of our batchmate Butch's baby girl, Lee. The kiddie party was held at Jollibee restaurant at Libis. We hung around for an hour or so, watching people we didn't know play games with their kids, do the peculiar things commanded by the Jollibee emcee, and enjoy Jollibee birthday food (which tasted suspiciously like the regular Jollibee food). We teased Butch about how he was such a daddy now (which was light years away from his college self, I assure you) and reminisced on how in college, eating at Jollibee was reserved for special occasions. Yes, I know that was pretty sad.
Anyway, the high point in the party was the coming of the man himself... or, the Bee, himself, Jollibee. I found the reaction of the kids quite amazing actually. They milled around the red-and-yellow, six-foot tall bumblebee with a chef's hat like he was Santa Claus. I imagined how hot and stuffy it was in that costume, and was quite surprised that the mascot was agile enough despite his bulk to carry babies in his arms for photo-ops. Thankfully, the kids were either happy to be with the Bee or totally unconscious (maybe they were slipped some Valiums). Secretly though, we were anticipating some kid to accidentally yank off the mascot's head, revealing a regular person inside and destroying the kids' belief in the character... but it never happened. Phooey.
Anyway, after a multi-course meal consisting of spaghetti, burgers, Chickenjoy and ice cream sundaes, we took our leave. We congratulated our friend on his kid's birthday and were off to crash at my place with some... yes, you guessed it... Chicharon and Coke. Hell, we needed that to get the Jollibee taste out of our system.
It was great to see our friend again since we relived the good old days for awhile. At the same time though, seeing him with his family was a reminder of how things have changed and matured since the college days. We were kinda sad that Butch couldn't really hang out with us anymore, but he looked pretty content and happy with his family. Well, me and the others are still enjoying our days of bachelor life, spending on ourselves and staying up late without worrying about someone waiting at home. Who knows when we'll be celebrating our own kids' birthdays?

I shudder at the thought. Heh.
Hi! I'm Angel!

I was fooling around with a gif animator and came up with this simple animation of Angela Windsor Gale, my very own comic book character. With a little more practice, I may be able to come up with an Angel Ace anime yet... Heh. Well, I can dream, can't I?