Saturday, December 28

C3Con Cosplay Pics!

It took some time, but here are some images from the C3Con Cosplay Competition! This year’s batch of contestants really went all out and gave all of us judges a hard time. Thanks to Cynthia for the pics!

H.R. Giger’s Alien. Who’d have thought he’d have a nice voice?

Anji from Rurouni Kenshin. Stayed in character throughout. Cool.

Kagome Higurashi from Inu Yasha

Oni Gang member Hannya from Rurouni Kenshin. Literally smoking!

Lulu from Final Fantasy X. Dig that skirt!

Pakunoda from Hunter X Hunter. Another character-perfect performer.

A crowd favorite: Sadako from The Ring. Oh, it’s a guy.

Tomoe from Rurouni Kenshin.

Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Last year, she would have won.

The winners, along with Culture Crash’s James. Congratulations!
Have... to... go... OUT...

Despite feeling under the weather and having a bit of an intestinal bug, I ventured out finally today. Staying at home just made me prone to staying inside the sanctum, which is NOT recommendable. I stopped sweating and continually slept, which is not very productive and resulted in me having haphazard bouts of sleep in the early hours of the morning. HAD TO GO OUT!!!
Went to Greenhills on a stoopid cab who tried to pad his fare by going a long route. Anyway, got there and found myself DVDs of Tenchi Muyo OAV and Space Adventure Cobra. Tenchi can be described as a Japanese Archie with the plain Jane titular character being fought over by various women of alien/powerful backgrounds. Substitute Veronica with a space princess and Betty with a space pirate and you have Tenchi. Lots more action and sci-fi romance comedy though. Cobra is a classic (read: OLD) anime by manga/anime great Buichi Terasawa which is all about a space bounty hunter whose adventures often get him into raunchy situations with lots of sexy, nubile women. Heh. Also grabbed two impressively clear DVDs of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day for the parents to watch. Finally, got PS2 games: Mystic Heroes and King of Fighters 2000. Side Note: Mystic Heroes was defective; have to return and replace that tomorrow.
Went to Comic Quest after a LOOOONG wait at the FX station. New stuff had arrived, so I picked up the first issue of Newtype USA (which only arrived now), Athena Inc. Agent Roster and Previews. Newtype USA has converted me. The pages really emulate the Japanese counterpart, and the extras are stellar. I've gotten free DVDs with the first episode of Noir and some other anime, and with this issue I have a DVD with the first episode of Earth Girl Arjuna, an environmental anime which I had been curious about. Talk about timely! As for Athena Inc., I got it soley for Pinoy artist Jay Anacleto's art (I can't comprehend the actual comic) and may use it for ideas on SIVA designs in Angel Ace. He's got an electric girl too, like me. Heh. As for Previews, it's a matter of course for me. Just love to scan through stuff.
After closing the store (at 10 again! I really feel sorry for the staff at the store), we went over to Salsa Rossa for talking and having some late dinner. Dean told us his Japanese trip horror stories (which are simply hilarious) and once again I am glad that all I experience from Japan is their manga and anime. We went home shortly after midnight and it's another day!
Have a college batch post-Christmas reunion later today. Hope I'm up for it. Anyway, maybe I can pencil some pages tonight or do something. I'm still very much awake. Darn.

Friday, December 27

Blah Blah Blah

I spent most of the night and morning (early morning) pencilling more pages. Since there was nothing to watch on TV that I haven't seen already, I popped in the DVD of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and turned on the audio commentary. The speakers included George Lucas himself, and several special effects guys (who handled editing, visual effects and sound). Overall, the comments didn't have the 'wow' factor of other commentaries I've heard, and a lot of the little 'Easter eggs' are split second things that NOBODY except the most die-hard and sharp-eyed of Star Wars fans would see (in particular, how C3P-0 actor Anthony Daniels appears in a cameo in the Coruscant bar scene). I also got the general feeeling that Lucas changes a LOT of things after shooting, so there are tons of scenes with re-done stuff, people/characters added or removed, etcetera.
Bah. Give me LOTR anyday. Heheh. I am SO biased. Star Wars has lost the luster.

Thursday, December 26

New Angel Ace Pages

Can you guess how many unconscious ninja girls are in this picture?

Yesterday, I stayed at home and worked on pencilling the pages for the next Angel Ace issue. As I tend to do, I have decided to throw out all the pages I have done so far (well... actually I just put them away for storage) and started fresh. The advantage here is that I think my art has improved, and I am more motivated to draw this time around. Anyway, the first four pages or so will deal with updating the story for new readers (a kind of 'The Story So Far...'). They are all full-pages, each one summarizing the action in a corresponding issue of Angel Ace Again.
So far, the next issue will reveal more of what happened at the end of Again # 4. We will focus quite a bit on Kai and her ninja commandos, and on the ones that sent them. The action will move to several months later as Kai and Ren are sent once again into Newhaven City for another secret mission... where they encounter a certain masked, maniacal, psychotic criminal mastermind... oh, wait. He doesn't want to be called psychotic. Heh.
I will try my best to make the next issue a self-contained issue; even if this pushes the page count to 64 or more. This should be a cool, action-packed story, and should bring Kai and Angel's conflict to a climax. If everything goes well, this new story should be out within the first half of 2003.
Well, the day's before me. Should be able to do more in the days ahead.

Grrr. He's blocking my sun.

Wednesday, December 25


It's December 25, the birth of Jesus Christ and a time for goodwill towards all men and women. We had Noche Buena after attending mass at the village plaza/chapel (second dinner; my parents and me, my brother and his two kids and the household help. We had spaghetti, steak and some of my mom's first-ever potato salad (which tasted great). We exchanged presents and after that my bro took pictures with his digital camera. That's pretty much our family Christmas gig... simple, but satisfying.
Anyway, it's early in the AM but I'm still awake thanks to all those carbonated drinks I had. I finally watched M. Night Shaylaman's Signs, his third film about a former priest (played by Mel Gibson) who discovers aliens invading his farm at the same time he rediscovers his faith. Pretty creepy at times (one particular segment had me cackling at its creepiness), but it's plainly not as scary as Sixth Sense, and is occasionally funny. Never got to see Unbreakable though. Maybe next year.
Today's Christmas; it's a non-working holiday; though I guess service-oriented jobs like restaurants and movie theatres will still have people working. The films of the Metro Manila Film Festival will be showing in ALL theaters starting today (which is partly the reason why The Two Towers is delayed here...), but I don't feel like going out today. Maybe I'll venture out on the 26th or 27th, and scope out the post-Christmas atmosphere at Greenhills and Megamall. Ah. It's so nice to be on holiday. Heh.

Once again, Merry Christmas to one and all! Stay safe and happy, everyone!

Tuesday, December 24

T'was the Day Before Christmas...

I finally finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. Talk about photo finish. Anyway, I plan to just chill in the Sanctum for the next few days, going out only for meals. Heh. Sessions with Suikoden III, sketching out the pages for the next Angel Ace issue, writing a script for a secret comic project and watching some new anime and some DVDs will be priority.
The funny thing is, I've piled up most of the anime VCDs, DVDs, books, comics, magazines and other stuff I've bought recently that I haven't been able to look at in-depth. I'm going to 're-discover' them this Christmas as my gifts to myself. I've actually got a LOT (that includes the 2nd DVD of Rahxephon, the 4th DVD box set of Inu Yasha, a Chobits DVD and VCDs of The Ringu 0 and Char's Counterattack). This also includes that couple of pose books I got at the C3Con, which will no doubt be very useful. I also have a pile of comics and at least two Blade of the Immortal issues, two Elektra issues and the WHOLE Shidima series. I plan to really appreciate them all in the holidays. Just of the few blessings I've been fortunate to have this year. But then again, looking back at what went well and what went not well this year is for another post.

Monday, December 23

C-Day (The First Philippine Comics and Anime Convention)

Flashback to several months ago. Culture Crash boss James Palabay called together a meeting of some of the nation’s young (relatively) creative minds in the fields of comics, books and publications. The reason for this was his intention to hold a ‘convention’, where the best of Pinoy creativity in comics and animation would be featured. Part of the reason for this was AXN Network’s apparent suspension of holding their annual anime event for financial reasons. After some discussions, the meeting ended with the plans for a Philippine Comics and Anime Convention more or less being agreed upon.
There were no solid outlines yet. The venue was unsure. Tentatively, many of the groups and individuals that attended had pledged support… but that could change in the many weeks that lay then until the actual convention.

Fast forward to several months later, a few weeks before the Convention. I received a call on my cellphone from James. He asked me for artwork from Angel Ace for the Convention (now dubbed C3Con) ashcan/portfolio. I agree to develop spreads both for Angel and for our group’s then-secret project, James would call several more times, about my lecture, 10 Things You Need To Make Your Own Manga. The C3Con is now only a few days away. I was still swamped with work at the office, so it still seemed like light years away at the time.

Fast forward to the night before the C3Con. I have been working on my cue cards/lecture outline/art for my lecture, and it took me several hours. I had just spent the night with Mike, Arnold, Cynthia, Carl and Jason (who would be leaving for Davao in a few hours then), so I only got to try and finish my notes after midnight. By the time I finished, it was already four in the morning, and I had to be at the C3Con venue, Megamall’s Megatrade Hall, by nine. That meant I had to wake up at seven to fix up all my things, take a cab and reach Mega. As usual, my tension kept me awake. I estimate I had less than an hour of sleep between the moment my head hit the pillow to the minute my alarm/TV turned on to TechTV.

Day One: Saturday

On the day of the C3Con, I got up squarely at 7:30 and gathered up my stuff… which consisted of laser-printed pages of Angel Ace Again # 4 and some old colored illustrations mounted on illustration boards, an extra shirt (a new Blade of the Immortal tee that I got from Comic Quest) to change my work shirt, and my exhibitor pass for the convention. Luckily, I didn’t have to go through much trouble getting a cab since it was a Saturday.
I arrived at Megamall just after nine AM. Arnold and Cynthia, who would be my first boothmates at the Questventures booth at the C3Con, weren’t there yet when I arrived at the Megatrade Hall. I found our spot pretty bare except for After Eden posters taped to one of the six panels we had. I at once began trying to set up my artwork, but unfortunately the masking tape we had wouldn’t hang onto the waxy panel surface. Fortunately, Culture Crash’s Taga-Ilog came by and gave me a reel of simply invaluable double-sided Polar Bear tape. In no time, I had the booth spiffed-up with Angel Ace art and pages. Arnold and Cynthia showed up in a while, and we marveled at how the place was little-by-little shaping out.
Workmen were setting up everywhere, both on the main stage area and the individual booths. I eventually learned that I had to set up MORE art at the C3Con’s Photo Gallery, so I had to go to a Photocopying Shop to enlarge cover art for display. As I headed out of the Megatrade Hall, I was startled by the long line of Pinoy manga and anime otaku and other people who were already lined up and waiting to enter the Con. I was amazed. I was glad. It looked good, and I had a feeling that James’ worries about the C3Con bombing from a sparse attendance were all for naught.
Later in the day, after feverishly setting up all my art, I finally was able to ease up and change into my Blade shirt. Carl joined us as the booth as we stared out into the sea of manga and anime otaku that flowed into the hall, to fill up the large central seating area, to wander among the many booths and just mingle with the various creators and progenitors of the country’s printed creative entertainment materials.

What to do, what to do…
Aside from us at Questventures and Comic Quest, other participants that were present included Questor, Beerkada, Ground Zero, CATS Collectibles, Comic Alley, Comic Sale Central, AEGIS, Shirley’s Pets, Alamat, We Are Anime and more independent comic, collectible, toy, comic, anime and special interest groups. Strangely enough, there was even a Club Panoly Resorts booth there, for some reason. With all this fun stuff around, there was more than enough stuff to keep manga/comic, anime and toy enthusiasts’ eyes sparkling throughout the two-day convention.

New Comics on the Block

Iconoclast is just one of the many new comics that debuted at C3Con.

Aside from the stuff to buy and ogle, there were the various creators and their comics featured to meet and mingle with. We featured our stuff: Angel Ace, Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Dean Alfar’s Levi’s comic Ab Ovo and After Eden. Elsewhere, Alamat’s Budjette Tan released the long-overdue Batch 72 # 3. Would it be really the last Batch story? We will have to see. A large gallery of other independent and new comic/manga titles were for the discovering all around the convention floor, which is REALLY great. New titles I saw included Minsan Ako’y Nanaginip, Blitzworx, Prismatic Orb, D’Koi Junkie (by Taga-Ilog’s girlfriend!), Ryan Orosco’s Stricken (from Beerkada) and Iconoclast.
I have to say that the sheer number and enthusiasm of these new titles filled me with an excitement that I have not felt in a long time. If only for the opportunity for these titles to be given a great venue to be seen, holding the C3Con was a GREAT idea.

But of course, a large part of the fun in the two days are the various activities and anime/manga-themed contests and numbers. Throughout the two days cosplayers walked about, dressed up as their favorite anime, manga and/or movie creature or character. Having judged at the AXN cosplay competition a year or two ago, I had the initial impression that this year’s competition was a bit subdued… that would change later.
I was chosen to help judge the convention’s Choreographed Fight Scene competition, along with Culture Crash’s Taga-Ilog and James. About six or seven groups showed us their stuff. Several were basically just guys showing off katas without too much of a story, so they were easy prey for the three acts that won out. Winning 3rd Place was a one-man wrestling match, whose participants included Jon Mallari, our budding manga artist and contributor to Angel Ace, as a referee. The whole thing showed a guy fighting himself, playing both heel and face. Funny stuff. The 2nd Place went to a sentai-themed skit (live-action Japanese superheroes) by the Blitzworx people. Finally, the First Place went to a spoof, Crouching Dragon, Hidden Rooster. It was a Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) skit featuring a ‘rematch’ between series’ bad good guy Sanosuke versus the good bad guy, Saito Hajime. Saito was played by the same guy who won the AXN cosplay competition I last judged (he declined the actual cosplay contest, naturally) and he still had the character’s coolness down pat. In terms of choreography, attitude, music and resolution, this was hands-down the winner. Hmm. That’s the second time I let Saito win. That guy owes me. Heh. Anyway, cash and printers and scanners from Epson were for the winners, so that’s pretty cool for having fun horsing around on stage.
The rest of Day One was spent listening to J-Pop and J-Rock, which latecomers Dean and Gig truly loathed and ran off eventually because of. A high point for me was coming upon the nice otaku crew of Iconoclast manga, and finding out they were avid Angel Ace readers. One of them even reads this blog! Hi, Keiko, Lex, Monmon, Lico, Agent Impish, A. Sandoval and the rest!

Though I was tired, totally dehydrated (the Con was so crowded, it was HOT!) and dizzy, I still had to contend with our Christmas Party later that night. I spent the hours before closing down Comic Quest buying gifts for Mike, Dean, Gig and Carl, and drinking soft drinks. Later, at Le Grande condominiums, we had a nice meal with Crispy Pata, barbecue, roast chicken and lots of steaming rice. Noel ‘Flim’ Lim contributed a gallon of Mocha Ice Cream, to Gig’s delight. The high point of the night was an impromptu and totally spontaneous shooting of a short film starring Carl and Dean, with a hilarious ending. I will leave that to Dean’s Blog for details. Sadly, I had to leave relatively early since I had to get some sleep and make ready for DAY TWO.

Of course, I still had only about three hours of sleep.

Day Two: Sunday

Embattled Angel, Nasty Kai. Watercolours by Arnold Arre.

I got up a little later on day two, since there was no rush to set up anything. There was, though, an Open Forum about the Philippine comic scene that I had to be a part of. When I got to the Megatrade Hall, I was alone for awhile since Carl was still dressing up at Le Grande at that time, and Arnold would be present only in the afternoon. I joined James, Taga-Ilog (who went with his trademark bucket headpiece/mask), Budjette, Robert Magnuson (Shirley’s Pets) and more to answer questions from the crowd about Pinoy comics and stuff. I have to say I don’t think we really had time to say as much as we would have wanted to, but I guess it filled the time and gave a bit of seriousness (and national/cultural relevance) to the general fun atmosphere of the C3Con.
Carl arrived a bit later, and for a while we were there just watching cosplayers walking about, doing the odd sketch for free (we’d sketch anime stuff and leave it out for people to ask for it). A lot of guys even passed by and gave us sketchpads and papers for us to sketch something… anything… on. I obliged every opportunity. It felt good.
Various people, acquaintances, friends and compatriots passed by, including our good friend Dexter Lira. There were people who wanted me to sign Angel Ace issues, the C3Con ashcan and more. Carl signed off Zsa Zsa issues. Arnold signed After Eden. We coasted along great.
There were several high points for the rest of the day. One was the arrival of the elusive Pol Medina Jr., creator of the very popular Pugad Baboy comic. He was able to sign the piles of PB comics given to him, and even helped judge the cosplay competition.
Pinoy Cosplayers are TOPS!
If I felt that this year’s cosplay competition was sparse compared to the one I saw a couple of years before, I was dead wrong. The entries were amazing, and featured lots of enthusiasm, imagination and talent. At least two dozen costumed anime/manga/game otaku came before us, making our jobs as judges incredibly HARD. The ones that stuck in my mind were an Alien Hunter (from the movie, Alien), Hannya and Anji from Rurouni Kenshin, a sexy assassin/office girl from Hunter X Hunter, Honey from Fighting Vipers (INCREDIBLE costume), Yuna and Lulu from Final Fantasy X.
There were some particularly funny moments; the Hunter X Hunter Assassin girl and the monk Anji character stayed in character even during interviews and skits. I admire their ability to do so; Anji’s praying in the face of the sexy assassin was priceless. Another funny moment was the interview of the Alien. The creature was crouching and in total character as the otherworldly monster; but when he talked, it was a mild, friendly college-guy voice. Heh. A great audience favorite was a guy dressed as Sadako from The Ringu; The Japanese thriller was a hit in Manila, and this made the character a hit. He creeped out everyone with his lurching, crawling movements. Too bad though it was a guy, and he didn’t shave his bare legs. Great scene; the Alien being harassed by Sadako. HAHAHAHAHA!
Anyway, there were so many funny moments, even off-stage. A cute Dita Liebely (from the Vandread anime) tried to take pictures of us at the judges’ table, but people from the stage production kept getting in the way. Eventually though she was able to snap some shots; luckily, she had a digicam (so she didn’t waste film).
In the end though, it had to come down to only three winners. Luckily, TWO competitors were given equal prizes for Third Place: The Alien and Hannya (who amazed everyone since he could make smoke puff out of his demon mask at will). Second place went to Culture Crash’s Mina; a girl who really got the character down pat (it didn’t hurt that she was cute). Finally, First Place went to Honey from Fighting Vipers, thanks to her great and intricate costume.
Once again, I must say that the Pinoy cosplayers are world-class. A JOY to see!

Closing Down
After the cosplay, it was all a matter of winding down. It was tiring and exhaustive, but seeing and hearing how happy the people all over C3Con were really kept me alive and excited. A guy who introduced himself from the PNP Print Department or something like that went up to me asking about how to do a comic. I told him the same thing I tell everyone who asks how I got to reach how I am now... PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
To close the event, James went up onstage and thanked all who helped and participated in the Con, to make it a resounding success.
In the end, I brought with me tons of nice memories, as well as a lot of other things. I had a ton of new independent manga and comics to peruse and admire. I got a simply ADORABLE Angel Ace toy hand-made and given to me by Angel Ace reader, Elite (I will treasure it always!). I have not one, but TWO original Arnold Arre watercolor paintings of Angel and Kai, which I will have framed ASAP. I have a ton (perhaps too much, I think) of anime and manga stuff like VCDs, pose books and mags. And yet again, I have another souvenir I.D/Pass to remember I was a participant and contributor to this successful event.
The First Philippine Comic and Anime Convention was a big success, I think, and I am really happy to have been a part of it. To be able to give our young people a great venue for expression (yes, that includes the loud J-Rock and Japanese lyrics) and just a chance to have fun and mingle with a like-minded crowd is a worthy thing to do, indeed. It doesn’t hurt that part of the proceeds will go to charity as well.
I am tired. I am spent. I have to buy another Christmas gift tomorrow. But I am happy. The C3Con is over. When will the next one be?

All I can say is, if and when the next Comic and Anime Convention happens, I must have two things. First, a Digital Camera so I can take pics of the fun. Second… A NEW Angel Ace issue to show to my readers. That’s a promise.

Epilogue: I never actually got to do my lecture on Ten Things You Need To Make Your Own Manga. Oh well. Maybe I can make it into a book someday. Heh.

Angel Ace in stuffed-toy form. CUTE!