Wednesday, December 31


I spent most of the day at Jeremy's new house in Laguna, for the traditional blessing. I call it Edoras since it was built on a high hill and had an awesome view of the surroundings- much like the Rohan capital from Lord of the Rings. Heh.
Aside from my immediate family, we mingled with crowds of Jeremy's in-laws, including hordes of rowdy kids. Argh. Miraculously we were able to work on pages for Jeremy's K.I.A. story despite the chaos. Anyway, there was catered food but I gave up on lining up and instead sated my hunger with sticks of solid, meaty barbecue. We left early evening, and amazingly enough got home all the way from Laguna to Marikina in less than an hour. It's incredible what a holiday can do to traffic. Wish it was always like this. Oh well. New year in an hour or so...
Looking Back

We're right on the crest of the hill overlooking the New Year ahead of us. I guess this is as good a time as any to just pause and take a look back at what we passed on the way here.

In my professional life, I made a major change and found a new ad agency to continue my craft. Found old and new friends along for the ride, got into the groove of working for a totally new brace of clients and a new way of doing things. I worked during the last quarter of the year in the closer, more homey confines of Ortigas (which sadly, will probably not last long) which was cool since I could just walk from the office right over to Megamall to wind down. I attended the Ad Congress in Baguio after a long time of snubbing the event- now I have to work hard to make sure that the next time I go there, I bring home an award. Or two. Heh.
Life in Panels

In my life as a comic creator, the year really started during the last quarter as well. I was able to finally get Angel Ace NEXT off the ground, thanks to my discovery of great local artists like Honoel Ibardolaza and my own cousin Jeremy Arambulo. Next to that was the magnificent comic anthology Siglo: Freedom, a seemingly miraculous project which started from a mere mercenary gamble to a fully-published masterpiece of local grafiction. It all culminated at the second C3Con, where we launched our books amidst costumed otakus and all the bells and whistles.

Strangely enough, I feel that I and the group I belong to have done more in the last quarter of this year than we have in the past several years before. So much that it just may carry us over into the new year with even more momentum and even more stories to tell. Me, I've still got Angel Ace and my new title K.I.A. to keep me busy in panels and pages. The group's gonna have the next Siglo. Who knows what other surprises there'll be, from us and from others in the local comic book community? We'll see.

Lots of work. Gonna be busy night and day.


This is gonna be fun. Heh.
The MADman's Year in Review for Games, Anime, Tech and Movies

Despite some biggies, this year was mostly a run of the Status Quo. Or perhaps I'm just getting harder to please?

Gaming was more or less 'just there' in 2003. I didn't stop buying games, so I steadily built up a library of Xbox and PS2 games. Still, there were few gems that really got me to play a lot... There was Gladius, a fantasy RPG/Strategy Gladiator sim which is pretty fun and addictive. There's Final Fantasy X2 which came in at the end of the year, marking the first-ever true FF sequel (meaning Square of Japan really needs the money). Disappointingly, big franchises like Street Fighter, Tekken and my fave, Dead or Alive didn't really have any new entries. Just rehashed sprites of the new King of Fighter crap that looks the same every year, and a REALLY CRAPPY thing called SNK Vs. Capcom: Chaos. Speaking of crap, perhaps the most crap-tastic was Stake, a fighting game that is so crappy, it's... Crappy. Oh well, at least it has a sexy gypsy chick. Heh. Running up are lackluster fighters Kakuto Chojin and Tao Feng, which I wasted good money on for an original copy and ended up not playing too much since the gameplay sucks eggs. But at leat it was worth it I guess to hear the hilarious narrator who talks in Filipino-twanged english. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Last but not least was Anito, which would be forgiven for being quite a beginner-level Diablo wannabee... at least it's a Pinoy-made Diablo wannabee! WOOHOO!

Was sorely tempted to get a Gameboy Advance SP, but ultimately I went for a new phone. It's still calling for me, and still I resist...

Movies were mostly blahs and moments of slight coolness. I actually liked Matrix Revolutions, but I guess few others did (the same with LXG). Kill Bill Volume 1 ROCKS, and I am hungering for the DVD next year. Crapolas were piled up with Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life coming in first place, with a totally un-sexy (who would have thought it) Lara Croft tour by Angelina Jolie.

Of course, this was all just prologue for the highlight and climax of the year in cinema, which is of course for me the Premiere for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King which showed me the crowning glory of the best trilogy of all time. WOOHOO!!!

Anime was just as abundant this year as the years before... I just haven't had time to watch. But this year in anime for me belongs to a gaggle of really great anime series and OAVs that I found; Last Exile from Gonzo, Scrapped Princess and Full Metal Alchemist are wonderful shows of fantasy, action and drama. Inu Yasha continues to enchant as it enters the 140+ episode count. Big disappointments include the mediocre Ninja Scroll TV series and Saiyuki Rehash- er, Reload. Guilty pleasure anime of the year has to belong to Ikki Tousen, a martial arts action anime that's heavy with fan service. The capper of the year has to be the announcement of the new 24-hour Anime Channel, or Animax. Hope it's all cracked up to be... just give me my Inu Yasha and Rahxephon fix, damn it!!!
Manga and comics for the year for me of course includes my old fave Blade of the Immortal. Then there's my new fave Ragnarok. Started collecting Fallen Angel, Ultimates, The Authority and Brath towards the end of the year, along with various odds and ends. Lots of blood donated each week. Ouch.

And finally for tech- which means phones. Replaced my old battleaxe Siemens M35i during the last quarter for a Sony Ericsson T68i. This served me well for a few months until that accursed Christmas party raffle where I won a Z600 and LOST IT since I had left the party early. I felt so bad about this I got myself the non-clamshell version of the Z600, the T610. Looks like I'll be staying with my latest techtoy for a while.

That's that. Coasting along. A few ups, a big down or two, but mostly coasting along at an even pace.

Here's to bigger and better toys to play with in the new year. Heh.

Monday, December 29

K.I.A. goes Disney

Cross Kim Possible with her arch-enemy Shego and you get... Kego!

Here's my feisty Agent K drawn in the style of Disney's Kim Possible. No, I'm not going through another art style change again... it just felt kinda fun to play around with styles (I was actually thinking of doing a Kai artwork ala the Dini animation style used in the Batman Animated Series). Well, I love Shego from KP, and if she was a kinda-good girl, she'd be something like Agent K. Bad-ass, beautiful and... well, green.
I am actually toying around using the Kim Possible-style in a specific story for K.I.A. entitled Minion Labor. We'll see if I actually push through with it. Seeing how nice 'Kego' turned out, chances are that I will. Heh.

Sunday, December 28

Wedding Day

No, it wasn't mine.

Yesterday afternoon, two people whom I consider dear friends were joined as one in the sacrament of matrimony.

I first heard about Arnold in my second or third year of college in the UP college of Fine Arts. I was but one of the many who marvelled at how in but a few seconds he could capture a person's essence in a wonderful caricature. We never really ran in the same circle (he was a year advance) and only got to know each other after college, in the heydays of Alamat Comics. I've seen him work wonders with panel and page, from Mythology Class to After Eden, Trip to Tagaytay and The Lost and most recently, in Angel Ace Again and Siglo: Freedom. I know that this multi-awarded creator is only getting started with telling his stories.

Cynthia Bauzon was the first person to give a newbie copywriter a sincere smile and an appreciated welcome many years ago. Since then, I've always loved this quiet, simple and beautiful lady. I've seen her work her magic on websites, music album covers and books. And it is with great pleasure that I acknowledge that I played a small part in bringing her together with her soul mate.

After the simple mass and ceremony at UP Diliman, the whole shebang moved to the Edsa Shangri-La where the reception continued on into the evening. I met friends from advertising (Hello Tippi, Shiela, David G and Angel, Itsy, David F, Manny, Tish, April and Pia), college (Hello Reg, Edmund, Sam, Rome and Joni!) and comics/art (Yo, Quark!). All of us felt joy at seeing a union of two people we all loved unfold before us.

I wish these two all the happiness in the world, and I only hope that I will see more of them in the future than we have had as of late.

Congratulations, guys!

Friday, December 26

K.I.A.: Love at First Fight?

Agent K and the ninja Shizaze. Can love bloom among assassins?

Here's the latest K.I.A. artwork I've done. It's based on a K.I.A. script written by Elbert Or, and tells how one of Agent K's competitors falls for her after they cross paths during a mission. It's a pretty fun and interesting plot point to throw into the mix, and something that may make for pretty colorful stories in the future. We'll see how it goes...

Thursday, December 25

Kick-ass pose for a Butt-kicking heroine

Here's another Cho-inspired artwork of Agent K. I'm actually doing all these new artworks in a sketchbook my boss gave me for Christmas. At the rate I'm going, I may fill it up before the holidays break ends. That should be more than enough to fill any need for character designs and extra material for the final book. Heh. More to come soon.
Hanging in the Holiday

I just spent the day just lolling around at home. Last night, we had our traditional family dinner, complete with embutido (a Christmas meat loaf), spaghetti, my Mom's special macaroni salad (which only appears at Christmas) and nice toasty bread. It was simple but me and my brother would have it no other way. We wolfed down the salad like it was gold, the cold, sweet-savoury flavor going down perfectly in between bites of meaty embutido. Umm.

Today was pretty much just a time of relaxing and recovering from the night before. Tomorrow, I hope I can muster enough strength to get out and do some last minute stuff for a big event that's coming up on the weekend.

Mmm. Wish there was more of that salad... Yum...
Sneaking on Christmas

Santa Claus isn't the only one pitter-pattering about this night.

Here's another K.I.A. artwork done in my new art style, emulated from artist Frank Cho. Yep, I am intending to do at least one of my stories in the upcoming anthology in this style, which should please pals of mine like Dean and Vin. I'm quite excited at how this will turn out. I'll probably start doing the pages within the next few days. Till then, enjoy the view of Agent K.

It's been a great year despite a whole lot of goofs, poofs and an odd assortment of events both good and bad. I hope everyone here is having a warm christmas with their loved ones. Let's all enjoy the day of the Christ's birth peacefully and happily at home.


From the Sanctum of a MADman

Merry Christmas to one and all!!!

Wednesday, December 24


Recently, AXN has been showing spots of a CG-Santa. I've actually been ignoring these, until one time when I actually saw one spot to the end. I realized that the spot was a teaser for Animax, with the line First Asian All-Anime Channel underneath.
Is this my dream come true? 24 hour of anime? Everyday? MY GOSH. OH MY GOSH! I hope Sky Cable gets it. For their sake. Cause if they don't, I'm switching to the cable operator that does. WOOHOO!!! Animaaaaaaaaaxxxx!!!!

Tuesday, December 23

Agent K, Monkey-Boy style!

Here's an artwork of Kai which I did emulating the style of Frank Cho, one of my artistic idols. I just love Mr. Cho's sexy, classic art. And we love to draw a lot of the same things (sexy, half-naked, kick-ass babes) as well! He's set to wow fans this coming summer 2004 with a raunchy, sexy remake of Shanna the She-Devil. I can hardly wait. Till then, I'll be working on my own girl-power comic... I wonder if I can pull off an entire K.I.A. story in the Cho-style? We'll see... Heh...
K.I.A. goes WWE, UFC

The nasty girls of the Femme Fatale Fighting League.

Here's a sample of the art that will be coming from Jeremy Arambulo for next year's K.I.A. special. He's doing Victors and Victims, a script which puts Agent K into the seedy confines of an underground fighting tournament. This script has everything; sexy brawling babes, evil martial arts masters, catfighting, revenge, pyro explosions and Kai in a leather mask! No wonder Jeremy's having fun drawing it. Heh.
Victors and Victims is just one of the many stories we're planning to pack into the K.I.A. anthology, which hopefully will be street-manga thick and gritty. Watch out for it in 2004!

Monday, December 22

An Action Adventure Film for Tomorrow

"This patch? I got it after that bloody Tomb Raider sequel."

I've just seen the trailer of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and I think you all should see it too. It's an action-adventure of the serial-pulp action flavor, with uber-cool retro visuals. This film seems to have it all: World War II-era technology, old scientists, beautiful reporters, leather-clad femme fatales, GIANT ROBOTS, Zeppelins, fighter aircraft with FLAPPING wings, skyscrapers and Angelina Jolie with an eyepatch!
Aside from Lara Croft, Sky Captain also stars Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bai Ling and Giovanni Ribisi.

This film, slated for release in Summer 2004, looks really cool; like Iron Giant meets The Rocketeer meets The Shadow meets Tales of the Gold Monkey meets Flash Gordon. Get a glimpse of the world of tomorrow here.

Sunday, December 21


Last night we had the Siglo: Freedom soft launch at Greenbelt 3's Ice Vodka Bar. I had with me my cousin Jeremy and my mom (who soon regretted not having her credit card after seeing the shops at this most posh of malls). We met the others in front of Ice and spent the time chatting, taking in the hip crowd and the sights. Jeremy had a ball just filming everything on his handicam. There was of course Dean and Gig, El and Camy, Carl, Jason, Gerry and Andrew. Too bad Hai and Arnold couldn't make it. Anyway, Charles was also there to proxy for the missing Vin and had HUGE posters of The Return of the King to give away. Thanks for the posters, Stalker-Boy!

Anyway, the launch was spent enjoying cold but tasy finger food like thin crust pizza, toast with a nice pesto-cheese-meat spread, spicy chicken wings and chips. The open bar meant all the ice tea, beer and liquor you could handle.

After an hour or so, Nautilus Books' publisher, Mr. Choy Cojuangco came over and we had a nice little photoshoot and introduction to Siglo's benefactor. Then, it was more chatting and lots of books to be signed.

We ended the night relatively early since we had to pick up my dad at his shop. So, at a little past nine we bade goodbye to everyone and were off.

Great launch, everyone! SIGGGLLLOOOOOOO!!!!!
New Phone for the New Year

Perhaps it's a way of compensating for my recent Christmas party debacle, or perhaps not (no, it really is). I traded in my Sony Ericsson T68i for a second-hand Sony Ericsson T610. It's the nice phone with a pretty cool integrated camera. Yep, I'm now part of the phone-camera crowd. I paid about 8K for my new toy, which is pretty good considering that a brand-new T610 would normally set you back 17K. As with my T68, I can pretty much customize the wallpaper as I please (both with uploaded/downloaded images or even simply pics taken with the camera). Now, all that I have to do is get the e-mail settings to work so I can at the very least send and store pics I take to an online gallery.

Ah, the fun of phone fetishes. Gotta love it.

Friday, December 19

My Spoiler-Free review of The Return of the King

All that I hoped it would be and more.

I have seen it.

And DAMN, it is great.

Literally the crowning glory of the finest film trilogy yet.

The Return of the King is the final part of the unprecedented 10-hour plus movie, The Lord of the Rings. Here, the world of Men and their allies makes a final stand against the seemingly numberless hordes and legions of evil. The broken Fellowship of the Ring, which had so valiantly come together in the quest to destroy the terribly evil and powerful One ring, must now fight battles that will test them to their limits and beyond. Some might not survive. None will make it through without being changed forever.

I came into the theater knowing a lot of stuff, but nevertheless I was there rooted to the seat, unyielding and determined to suck in every single second of this Grand Finale. The film takes some time to get going, as it is just coming from the exhausting battle which was The Two Towers. But after a certain point, ROTK finds it’s legs and from there on you can’t dare leave for missing a pivotal moment of either awesome action sequences or an emotional heart-stabber.

In ROTK, the characters grow and move to their finest or lowest, depending on their roles.
Gandalf (Ian McKellen) gets the screentime he deserves as the most butt-kicking wizard in film history. I still have to say I miss the old Gandalf the Gray, but rest assured, by the end of all things, you know that despite the change in color and power, Gandalf is the same wonderful wanderer who loves to make children laugh with fireworks.

Merry and Pippin (Dominic Monaghan and Billy Boyd, respectively) have come a long way from being mere comedy relief and tag-alongs on this epic quest in the first chapter. Their roles in this conflict are pivotal and both share moments of great drama.

Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), as the titular would-be monarch, finally faces his ultimate responsibility. I have read in some reviews that they found his change in character and conflicts in the film were not great enough given such an important character. But I feel that the performance- how the character remains true to himself, remaining the humble and valiant ranger who defended the hobbits atop Weathertop in FOTR even though he takes on a far higher mantle attests to the greatness of this character.

Legolas and Gimli (Orlando Bloom and John Rhys-Davies respectively) continue their roles as Aragorn’s closest allies and comrades-in-arms. Their roles are perhaps a lot smaller, but they still get choice scenes. Gimli is still the source of much-appreciated humor, while Legolas proves that he is without a doubt the most bad-ass elf of all time- insert audience-cheering moment here. Heh.

Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise (Sean Astin) continue their trek to Mount Doom, an item of implacable evil with them, and the twisted, manipulative Gollum (yet again played with masterful glee by Andy Serkis) leading them to a horrible fate. Friendships will be tested to their breaking point and beyond, and the performances here will no doubt earn moist eyes from all save the most icy-hearted and jaded of moviegoers.

Thankfully, even minor characters such as the Rohirrim- King Theoden, Eowyn and Eomer (Bernard Hill, Miranda Otto, Karl Urban) get their moments to shine, particularly in the film’s most climactic battle scenes. Faramir (David Wenham) continues his role as the hapless, selfless Captain of Gondor, giving himself totally in vain to please Denethor, his arse of a father (played with creepy fervor by John Noble).
Finally, the elves Elrond, Arwen and Galadriel (Hugo Weaving, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett) have tiny but meaningful roles, and we get to see Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) one last time.

Perhaps the best compliment to this film is simply this- despite having easily the most powerful battle sequences yet seen on film (Dueling Catapults, Pelennor Fields- DAMN!!!), you never lose the characters or emotion at stake here. The price for defeat, the bonds of friendship and love between every single group… it is never lost or forgotten. I know no other film that remains so rooted in values even as it rises to such soaring heights.

And after all the battles and fireworks, ROTK takes an unusual road to the end. Fitting enough for a unique cinematic experience such as this, ROTK does not simply give us a joyous, empty victory dance or an odd massive explosion. The ending to ROTK is prolonged, meaningful, powerful and damn satisfying.

I’ll give fair warning now... there are several false endings which may get impatient (and foolish) watchers to get up and go, only to have to sit down as another sequence continues. This long goodbye we are afforded is truly welcome, needed and deserved after the mammoth undertaking of these characters we have grown to love and enjoy. Just do NOT stand up until you see the words THE END on the screen. Even then, I’d sit and watch through the beautiful credits, a fitting bow and curtain call to the magnificent cast and crew who have entertained and awed us these past three years.

I want to watch this film again. And with that, I declare The Lord of the Rings as the MADman’s finest and best movie trilogy of all time.

Thursday, December 18

You win some, you lose some.

Last night I went to my office Christmas party. Had my crappy circus getup (Indian fortune teller) on. Ate some good food. Watched a stupid but inexplicably hilarious skit. Waded through various nothing raffles.
I had to go early since I had a family matter to attend to.

And what do you know? I WIN a brand new cellphone.

Of course, since I wasn't present at the time of the draw, they gave it off to someone else.


Sigh. Which just goes to prove I am perhaps one of the unluckiest people in terms of raffles. Even if I win, I lose.

Well, not getting that Sony Ericsson Z600 may have hurt, but at least a new cell's not really life-changing... not like that poor soul who lost a million pesos by not being present after winning a grand raffle. GAH.

Oh well. I'll just make it up and get myself a really cool new phone soon. That's the ticket.


Monday, December 15

C3Con Weekend

Welcome to the 2nd C3Con from Culture Crash Comics!

Over the weekend, I attended the 2nd Annual Comic, Anime and Gaming Convention, or C3Con. This event was organized by Culture Crash Comics (CCCom).
As in the year before, Vin got a booth for Comic Quest (which was smaller than last year’s and unfortunately had to be shared with 2Rats Anime) where we could display and sell our newest releases. I had Angel Ace NEXT, Carl had the Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Compilation, the whole Questventures/Kestrelstudios gang had SIGLO:Freedom.

”Make her boobs bigger pa!

Elsewhere in the Megatrade Hall where the con was being held, other exhibitors included Psicom, which was releasing the graphic novels Cherry Blossom High and Mystic Machine Maharlika which Jason handled, Mango Comics, which was releasing Darna #3, Glasshouse Studios (which featured the ubiquitous T&A comics starring Jinky Coronado), Filbar’s, Comic Alley, Comic Sale Central, Anino Entertainment (which was showcasing of course their product, Anito, the first Philippine-produced mainstream PC RPG), Questor, Summit Media (which had just released Slam Dunk) and more.

I arrived at about 8:30 AM at Megamall. I wasn’t overly excited… I had to go with my sister’s driver to bring her son to school, and it turned out that traffic was so light that time, we had time to burn. So I had breakfast at McDo with the driver, showing off SIGLO to him (which he found nice). At the crack of 9AM, we lugged the box of Angel Ace issues I brought along to Comic Quest and that was the start of it all.
I had an exhibitor’s pass, which allowed me to go in and out as I pleased. This I did again and again, going up and down from CQ to the Trade Hall. As in the year before, things were pretty hectic. I set up artworks and posters, put in the rack with the comics, prepared drawing materials and then waited for the Deluge.
A large crowd had already appeared outside the Hall, forming into a line that snaked and slithered around the fifth floor. There were cosplayers among them, obviously from the odd oversized weapon or colored hair they sported. Most though were just otaku, or anime fans, who came to see what was on offer.
At about 11AM, they opened the floodgates and in the crowds went.

On Offer

The highlights of the Con included several competitions; Best Independent Comic Book, Best Short Films, Best Choreographed Fight Scenes and Best Cosplay. Probably a third of the whole event was dominated by Ragnarok Online, the MMORPG that has taken the region by storm. Aside from having a large area devoted to showing off the new Comodo Island expansion, there were specialized Ragnarok cosplayers and a gaming area where you could get free CDs.

From Diamonds in the Rough to Total Crap
Indie Comics have, in my opinion, never had a venue before like this. The Xeroxed/photocopied publications where all gathered in one area, laid out like a buffet. There were the usual manga-inspired titles, a rash of Satanist-books (which is really not my thing), some standouts using Pinoy-style art, and some titles which refuse to be categorized; the foremost of which was Nardong Tae, which is about a guy who transforms into living, walking crap. More on that later.
Anyway, the indie comic guys and gals were pretty forward in selling, almost as persistent as fake DVD sellers. It was something perhaps we could learn from. Heh.

Lights, camera, FIGHT!
There were some early disappointments though. I was actually looking forward to seeing entries for the fight scenes and short film competitions, but the large crowds just made watching a hit and miss affair. The short films were shown seemingly in random times and venues. In the end, the fight scene contest was boring, while the best short films included a Matrix film, pinoy-style, and a film by alternative filmmaker Topel Lee.

As I walked around I made it a point to get copies of the indie comics that caught my eye. I also went to get the usual suspects of local publishing: Questor, the two Psicom releases, Darna 3 and a copy of Culture Crash 13. Unfortunately, in perhaps the most infuriating event of the weekend, Cherry Blossom High turned out to have a massive pagination error (and in MY story no less) and overall had shoddy printing and production. DAMN!!!
C3Con Weekend 2

For most of the Con I just walked around, simply clicking away with my crappy digital camera at our brilliant cosplayers. I wasn’t totally blown away in the first day or so; there were far too many Ragnarok cosplayers who were dressed up as generic classes… I mean, who can be excited by someone dressed as ‘Generic Priest’ or ‘Blacksmith’? Sigh. There were some standouts though; the Crusaders (one male, one female) were dressed in cool armour, and even had a nice skit where they had to fight with some other Ragnarok classes as they posed onstage. This got applause from even the fickle crowd.
And when I say fickle, I mean fickle. If the cosplayer didn’t give enough effort into his or her costume, there were hecklers who were only too ready to point it out. Most of the time there were just silent stares at the performers, though exceptional cosplayers got cheers, claps and WOOHs from the audience.
My favorite of the Con is unquestionably a trio of pretty girls who dressed up as the babes from Final Fantasy X2: Yuna, Rikku and Leblanc. Aside from having pretty accurate costumes (Yuna and Rikku wore their Magic Gunner costumes), the girls were obviously quite attractive and the crowd could see it. Whenever these girls appeared, cameras flashed. I have to say both Dean and my eyes flashed when we saw the sexy thongs these girls were wearing. What can I say? Sex sells. Heh.
C3Con Cosplay Gallery

Crowd favorites: The girls of FFX2 were camera-magnets.

Now I want to play FFX2 on my PS2 again for some reason…

Ooh! Filipino Dead or Alive cosplayers!

A favorite: Tonberry from the FF games.

The eventual winners of the cosplay were as follows: Third Place and ‘People’s Choice’ winners went to a tie between the gorgeous and aforementioned Yuna and Rikku. Second place went to a girl dressed as Shiva, the guardian force from Final Fantasy, sporting blue body makeup and all the trimmings. Finally, the winner and most impressive entry in the whole show was a guy dressed up as an A.P.U., that cool battle suit/mech frame from Matrix Revolutions. Simply ASTOUNDING! And I am proud to say I actually know the guy. Robert Wong, you are something else. Congratulations, man.

Here I am with the amazing A.P.U. from The Matrix. DAMN cool.
C3Con Weekend 3: Winding it all up.

As for Best Indie Comic, Sunrise by Armand Roy Canlas (Armor Troopers) won third place. Atomic Underground (last year’s winner) won second, while the first place was bagged by a load of crap… Nardong Tae. I dunno… I guess the judges found it just… so… different. Whatever.

While members of the group came at one time or another (Dean and Nikki showed up Saturday, Vin appeared near day’s end, El and Camy appeared on Sunday. Andrew and Charles seemed ever-present and bouncing around like rubber balls), it was pretty much just me and Carl who manned the booth, sketching like savants in our own little world, signing copies of Siglo, Zsa Zsa and Angel Ace for customers.

Dean AKA Green Lantern and Carl at the Comic Quest booth.

Then, the Con was over. The winners were awarded, the events were winding down and we just packed up and left. Our arms and legs were tired, my neck refused to keep my head up at a straight angle and we had tons of stuff to lug all the way back to the store. Gah…

It was a great Con. See you all next year!

Friday, December 12

Onto the C3Con!

Tomorrow, Carl and I will be manning the tables at the Comic Quest booth at the C3Con. The last year, Carl was just coming off the first releases of the Zsa Zsa comics, and I was still peddling Angel Ace Again (but in a nice 4-in-1 package). We had a grand time just sketching away, otaku-watching, hobnobbing with our peers in the local comics industry and generally just chillin'.

This year, we're looking forward to a HORDE of releases that seem as numberless as Sauron's orcs attacking Minas Tirith in The Return of the King (Yes, I am still obsessed with that movie).

I have Angel Ace Next. Carl has the Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Compilation. The barkada has SIGLO: Freedom. Jason and Psicom have, among others, Cherry Blossom High and Mystic Machine Maharlika.
Mango Komiks is releasing Darna #3 and will apparnetly be on the lookout for talent.
Culture Crash 13 will be unleashed by CCCom.
The latest Questor is expected. Summit's release of Slam Dunk will be making it's appearance. Pugad Baboy will be there, so maybe I can finally meet Pol Medina Jr. and shake his hand.
Ground Zero will have a booth and perhaps a new release. So will a group called Blue Shuffle (haven't seen this). Then there's Glasshouse Studios, which will also probably be looking for talent among the countless otaku and comic-lovers sure to be attending.
Alamat won't have a booth, but Budjette Tan will surely be among the mingling crowds over the weekend.

And that's just for comics and manga, friends. There's still tons of anime, toys, hobbies and other interests that will be filling up the Megatrade Hall.

It's gonna be FUN. Hope to see you all there.

Thursday, December 11


On a related note, Siglo: Freedom also arrived today, according to Dean. This anthology/trade paperback of ten stories set in various decades of Philippine history was something our barkada slaved on for an incredibly short period of time, and the result of this initially mercenary, supposedly independent-publishing project is nothing short of phenomenal.
It has since ended up being picked up and published by a real publishing house (Mango Books; not to be confused with Mango Komiks/Entertainment, the makers of the recent Darna comics) and will soon be launched with full nationwide distribution and marketing to follow... All I can say is... How did that happen?!

Synchronicity. Being at the right place at the right time. Providence. Dumb luck. Call it what you will. All I can say is that it's wonderful.
Angel is BACK!!!

I've got several freshly-done, hot-off-the-press copies of Angel Ace Next on my desk. So it's pretty safe to say we're all set for the C3Con.
The issue came out wonderfully, despite having some teeny-tiny graphical nicks, some little hiccups with the binding (which I myself didn't notice) and an earlier error that resulted in some blurry film negatives.
When it was all said and done, my printer came through, and the whole batch will be delivered tomorrow- one day earlier than expected. We've got PRODUCT. Now all that's left is the marketing stuff like posters and other doodads. Sigh.

A Million Thanks goes out to Carlo Vergara (who as well is no doubt giddy with joy at the realization of his own GLORIOUS Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Compilation) for being invaluable in getting Angel Next produced. I couldn't have done it without ya, Carl.

Pros, Ams and Cons

Aside from the 'veteran' hands in local publishing, there will be a solid indie comic and amateur manga showing in this years' C3Con. I am totally for this; the Con is becoming THE showcase for independent publishing and creativity in young artists and creators, and having an event that totally supports the indie comic book can only be great stuff for the next generation of grafictionists.

This year's activities of course include an Independent Comic-making Contest. Tonight I just carried a PILE of spankin' brand new photocopied grafiction to CCCom head honcho James' car. The various entries include expectedly a large number of manga-style works, as well as a goodly number of non-manga issues. Sadly, a lot of the envelopes were so tightly-sealed, we didn't get to look at them (MISSED YOUR CHANCE, kids).

What blew us away for sheer presentation was one entry which was apparently FULLY PUBLISHED, complete with perfect binding and perhaps 100+ pages (it's a comic strip-style humor collection). Considering that the creators of that book are still in school, they either got themselves a printing press or a lot of moolah (or both) to invest in such a venture. Well, I got the original Angel Ace published after college... unfortunately, no C3Con then. Oh well.

I am actually interested in recruiting some of the young talent I saw in the various entries; perhaps they can contribute to K.I.A. next year. Hmmm... I'm starting to think a lot like Jason. Yikes. In another year or two, I probably won't be drawing as much as I just write and produce... Heh.

Nah. Never happen.

Well... Let's look back two years from now and see. Heh.

Wednesday, December 10

Angel Ace Freebies

Early birds for Angel Ace Next will get some nice extras at the Con.

In preparation for the C3Con this weekend, we're having some cool giveaway pics done. Arnold Arre sent us these two extremely lovely and colorful pinups of Angel and Kai recently. While it was obviously too late to get them into the pages of Angel Ace Next, we figured that giving copies of the pics away would be a cool treat for fans of both Angel Ace AND Arnold's art style.
So, be sure to get your copy of Angel Ace Next this weekend to get your pick either of a cute and wholesome Angel pic, or a fierce and sexy Kai. Plus, the first fifty copies will come with a nice li'l photo pic/ad of next year's K.I.A.

See ya at the Con!

Tuesday, December 9

C3Con on the Horizon

We make landfall this Saturday!!!

Last year's C3Con was the most fun an otaku could find as conventions can go here in the ol' RP. There were tons of stuff to ogle at, tons of stuff to spend your cash on, and tons of stuff to just listen, taste and feel.
I remember the crowds and crowds of giddy young people, eyes shining and smiles wide at the festival-like atmosphere. I remember the booths, lined with toys and comics and anime and other doo-dads and goodies that you can imagine. I remember the cosplayers- bless those weird, wonderful souls- who came and showed off their home-made getups with pride and grace. Better you than me, guys... heh.
I remember the loud J-Pop tunes (Dean and Nikki would cringe), the silly contests and the wonderful activities that I was able to participate in as a judge. I remember the feeling of satisfaction that I was part of an event that was so positive and encouraging in one's creativity and expression.
I also remember that I promised that in the NEXT C3Con, I would have a NEW issue of Angel Ace ready.

And here we are.

Angel Ace Next will be ready this weekend, hopefully to fly off the tables to the hands of waiting readers. Of course, there will be others there as well. Of course, there will be SIGLO from the barkada, the Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah Compilation from Carl, and Cherry Blossom High from Jason and Psicom. The latest Culture Crash and Questor issues (which hopefully will bring word of my Kunoichi Boy within them) will be on hand. Ground Zero and Blue Shuffle are indie comic groups that will have a significant presence at the con. And of course, there's Pugad Baboy, Beerkada, Ragnarok, Bandai and Toei of Japan, Glasshouse Studios, CATs Collectibles, Comic Sale Central and more to populate the menagerie of otaku treats on offer.

It's gonna be a great con. I hope we see you all there.

Back in the Hobbit

Speaking of LOTR, while the story ends with The Return of the King, the long journey of the infamous One Ring (the prop was pocketed by Elijah Woon as a souvenir of the filming) with the hobbits began in the Tolkien novel, The Hobbit, which is set 50 years prior to the events in the LOTR trilogy.
Now, readers of the books have wondered if director Peter Jackson was interested in making an LOTR prequel... the answer is, yes. Jackson has reportedly expressed a desire to do The Hobbit, possibly working with several of the actors and most of the crew behind LOTR.
Gandalf the Grey (played by Ian McKellen) will most assuredly appear in the prequel, along with main hobbit hero Bilbo Baggins (played in the LOTR films by Ian Holm). Elven princess Arwen (Liv Tyler) would also conceivably appear. And of course, Gollum (the CG creature given life by Andy Serkis) would play a vital role.

I remember watching the Rankin/Bass animated Hobbit film, and even from that the story's excellent. Hobbit Bilbo Baggins is goaded by Gandalf to join a troop of dwarves as the party 'burglar' in order to steal back the treasure under the Lonely Mountain, now guarded by the mighty dragon, Smaug the Magnificent. Aside from having the first encounter with Gollum, the Hobbit also features encounters with spiders, goblins and wargs, wood elves, a city built on a lake, a battle with a dragon and at the climax, a battle between Five Armies.

A Hobbit film by PJ and Weta would no doubt be uber cool. And a great companion to the already excellent LOTR trilogy. Cross your fingers, it just may happen. Someday. Somehow...

That's me. With The Return of the King.

I'm always checking up on The One Ring. Net and Ain't It Cool for any new reports or details. I'm watching the trailer constantly, as well as the 10 minute preview on The Two Towers dvd. I'm even tempted to start playing the ROTK videogame on the PS2. But noooo... NOTHING will sate this hunger save the actual film.
Am I any bit worried that it may actually disappoint me? Not really. The reviews are positive, and there simply can't be any degradation after the first excellent two installments. I loved Fellowship of the Ring and still consider it the better over TTT. Towers, on the other hand, kind of disappointed me (Hobbit scenes were too slow for me) but after repeated viewings I love it almost as much as FOTR.
If ROTK is as good as either of the preceding films, I will be happy. If I am moved to watery eyes (as most viewers were according to many reviews) by ROTK and I find it even better than I can hope, then pretty much I proclaim the LOTR film trilogy The MADman's favorite movie series ever.
Damn, I'm gushing and the film's still at least a week away, at worst almost a month away.

Gotta get to a Premiere. Just gotta. Gotta, hafta, musta. Heh.

Saturday, December 6

K.I.A. On the Way

Here's an early look at K.I.A.'s cover art due next year.

I'm really getting into the K.I.A. special for next year. Nikki has already submitted her script, and it's uber-cool. I've already started work on other stories and artwork for this girl-power anthology, thinking up storylines and stuff I can throw at my lovely anti-heroine.

"DDT KIA" will throw K into the squared circle as she piledrives, drop-kicks, frankensteins and elbows her way to the championship of an underground fighting league to flush out a shadowy crimelord.

"Minion Labor" has Agent K doing a 'Shego' by working as a henchwoman for an incompetent 'evil genius'. Hell, she even wears green! What can I say? I love Shego. Heh.

"Battery Included" turns our main girl into a teeny-tiny action figure with killer karate chop action. Why? How? You're just gonna have to wait and see. Suffice to say, it should change the way you look at little dolls...

Still thinking up more stories. Angel Ace Next clocked in at 80 pages... K.I.A. should be even BIGGER. More on this as we think it up.
Lookee! Lookee!

Here's an artwork I did of Kagura from Inu Yasha. You can find it in this year's December issue of Newtype USA.

It was a pleasant surprise to see another one of my artworks to make it into the fan art gallery of Newtype USA. This is my second published work in the anime mag, the first being my 'Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball Pillowfight' artwork. It's been awhile since I submitted the pic... Lucky. Heheh.

Friday, December 5

Fly, my pretty! FLY!

It’s out of my hands.

I just came from the office of Questor. I submitted the first installment of the Kunoichi Boy manga, which will be appearing in the pages of Questor Extreme Mangamania early next year.
The popular and widely-circulated manga anthology presently contains four stories; Sidesweepers is an action-comedy about a team of cops/sanitation experts operating in a future Manila. Cante Ista is a serious and dark fantasy-drama about ancient totem spirits and the people who carry their powers into an inevitable conflict between good and evil. Free Spirits is a shoujo-style (girls comics) romance-comedy/drama story about a barkada of teenagers and a mysterious haunted house. And finally, there’s Camp Big V, which takes up the story of the Volt fighters years after the end of the events of the popular Voltez-V anime, with a decidedly lighter tone.
Kunoichi Boy is a fantasy action-adventure story about the adventures of a cross-dressing ninja warrior. Think Ninja Scroll crossed with Ranma 1/2 and Inu-Yasha. KB will apparently be replacing Cante Ista in the Qextreme lineup, which will be wrapping up in the next issue or so.

Tuesday, December 2

Coming Soon

I haven't watched a good movie... scratch that. I haven't watched a movie in weeks. Here are some titles I am stoked to watch...

The Last Samurai- this Tom Cruise-starrer is being described as Dances with Wolves in ancient Japan. Still, with epic battle scenes, awesome swordplay, a much-talked about battle between samurai and NINJA, this seemingly understated film about the waning samurai culture in turn of the century Japan looks pretty interesting.

Troy- this adaptation of the legendary war of myth stars Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom and a whole lot of other big-name stars. It also features MAMMOTH battle scenes and production values that just scream EPIC. This is still a ways off... DVD buffs can get a preview of sorts by grabbing the Helen of Troy movie from the local dvd stalls...

Hellboy- a film version of comic artist Mike Mignola's demonic hero, with Ron Perlman (Vincent from the Beauty and the Beast TV series) as the titular devil-turned humanity's defender against evil. Add in a pyrokinetic babe, a reptilian sidekick, a host of Lovecraftian horrors and some formidable Nazi adversaries and you may have either the next big superhero movie or 2004's answer to LXG. Ulp.

Return of the King- It's still up in the air whether we'll luck out and get some tickets for some premieres or if we have to wait with most people till January for the LOTR film to end all films.
It's the final part of the War of the Ring and everything is at stake. Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Samwise (Sean Astin) literally crawl and fight their way to Mount Doom even as Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) and the rest of the sundered Fellowship try to unite the forces of light against Mordor's several hundred thousand-strong army of darkness.
Despite the no-brainer that this film's going to kick ass, there have been some hiccups, such as the absence of actor Christopher Lee's Saruman character from the precedings (the sequences detailing the fallen wizard's fate will appear in the ROTK extended dvd set), that may make this less than perfect. But damn, I'm going to see this film and LOVE it.

Hoo-hah! Lots of movies. Gotta make it a point to get myself a mutant dvd player over Christmas. Gonna be running the ol' player to the ground I think. Heh.

A Brief Respite

My gosh. It's been a hectic last couple of months.

For weeks and weeks now I've been rushing this or that comic book project, staying up till 4 AM burning my retinas staring at a monitor, infusing my veins with Coke and even missing a Saturday foray to Greenhills or two! (EGADS!) But in the end, it was all worth it.

This December, in a few days time, we will be seeing the first result of our labors.

Siglo: Freedom, an anthology of comic stories set in various decades of Philippine life, will arrive into our groping hands.

Next week, on the same day as the C3Con, I will be getting my own personal project, Angel Ace Next, the latest release in my original manga series. It's 80 pages of art, stories and more art that features the talents of some of the best local artists I know and am lucky enough to call my friends.

Cherry Blossom High is a shoujo-style manga anthology I worked on with Jason Banico and a bunch of other cool artists and writers. It's all about cute schoolgirls who kick butt, make you go 'ooh' and 'aah' and more.

Right now, I've just finished my first project for NEXT year, Kunoichi Boy for Questor.

I think I'll allow myself a little breather before I throw myself into K.I.A's world of femme fatales, martial arts and intrigue.

Maybe I can get back to playing Gladius on Xbox, or Final Fantasy X2 for PS2. Or give Anito another shot. Or maybe I should just watch anime and reduce the number of unwatched Inu Yasha, Scrapped Princess, Last Exile episodes that are piling up.

Or maybe I should just get some shut-eye.

Ah, choices, choices. Heh.

Kunoichi Boy

Here are some images and samples from Kunoichi Boy, my newest manga creation that's set to come out in the pages of Questor Extreme Mangamania early next year. Wait for it!

Jin Dragu and Mikoto may be cuddly sweet in this pic, but they start off trying to bash each others' brains in.

The Pink Ninja is Jin's alter ego. When he dons the pink costume and fake boobs, he/she's almost a different person altogether.

The tough-as-nails Mikoto is actually a ninja but she's more used to breaking than sneaking.

Mikoto knows how to make an impression.

Even in his mild-mannered everyday garb, Jin is a hero through and through.

Monday, December 1

Comic-making Machine

Yesterday was spent mainly working on pages for Kunoichi Boy, my latest manga creation. I finished inking late in the afternoon and started doing grayscale work and lettering on Photoshop after dinner. The work proceeded well, and I was able to finish 9 pages. Tonight, I expect to finish the rest and be done with the whole thing. So, I should make my deadline with a couple of days to spare.

Kunoichi Boy is an action-fantasy adventure which I see as a cross between Ranma 1/2, Ninja Scroll and Inu Yasha (some of my favorite anime). It chronicles the adventures of the land of Tao's only MALE Kunoichi (a Kunoichi is, FYI, the Japanese word for female ninja). This new series is probably my most action-oriented so far; it's given to lots of exciting sequences and strategy-laden fights as hero Jin Dragu aka The Pink Ninja must use both his skills and wits to defeat various enemies, many of whom are a lot more powerful than him. Aside from being my first actual 'ninja' series, KB is also my first with a male lead (though he's dressed as a girl half the time).

Unlike Angel Ace or even next year's upcoming K.I.A., Kunoichi Boy will not be a self-published venture. I am pleased to say that readers will be able to follow the series in the pages of Questor Extreme Mangamania, one of the most popular local manga publications. If all goes well, we'll be seeing KB debut this January. Wait for it! WOOHOO!
You Dare to Eat? Itlog ng Butiki

I ate butiki (lizard) eggs!!! Hehehe.

No, really. Well, actually they're just little spherical candies I found at a nearby Ministop convenience store. They're from a company called Nicefoods, and they come in at least two flavors- chocolate and strawberry. At just nine pesos a bag (smal bag though), it's pretty affordable. You bite into them and feel a slight air rush as the little balls crack with a sugary tang. I guess it's supposed to emulate what happens when you bite into real reptile eggs... Heh.

Fear Factor candies. Cool.

Friday, November 28

Playing a Game Enraged

Yesterday, along with my extended Two Towers dvd set, I got myself a copy of Anito: Defend a Land Enraged, the FIRST Philippine-made commercial PC game. Taking after games like Diablo, Anito throws you into the fantasy land of Maroka where you take the role of either brawny Agila or sexy Maya. The setting is modelled after Spanish-era Philippines, with the local native tribes being controlled by European-type conquerors wearing metal armor.
As per similar games, you walk around conversing with people, taking up various 'bring me' or 'do this' quests, arm yourself with various weapons, armor and equipment and build your Chakra skills which help you against any dangerous denizens of the land you should encounter.
It was a BITCH installing the game, since it froze at several points and I had to reinstall a couple of times. After the last time it froze I rebooted and then found that magically... it ran. Perhaps it was due to my PC's limitations (though my machine does meet the requirements) but the short FMV intro movie was choppy (I think it was the old CG movie with the old man saying "Dumating na sila" that we've been seeing on TechTV). Good thing pressing the ol' Escape button lets you skip to the game.
Again, perhaps it was my machine's fault but the animation is choppy. Graphically, the characters are large and you can zoom in a bit, but really, the way the graphics are done makes it pretty basic to look at. It's a bit hard to distinguish simple things like doors, and buildings kinda look flat and uninspired in terms of design. There's not much life in things; people just stand there unmoving, and there's little to admire in the ambient objects such as trees, water or other obstacles. Graphically, it doesn't make me proud to admit it's Filipino-made. I found a headpiece made from leaves that I equipped on my character and she looks like she's wearing a frog on her head. This tribal thing can get pretty funny... In general, everything looks 'CG' and basic; you really can tell that Anito is a first-generation, first-step product, made by people who were able to use the tools well, but not with breakthrough results.

As for gameplay, I haven't really gotten into the game too far but I found it tedious. The controls have you using keys to move around, instead of the usual mouse-based movement ala Diablo. The controls are scattered on the keyboard, though thankfully some no-brainer shortcuts are present. However, I really really wished they just let you use the mouse to move around.
Combat requires you to go to a 'combat' mode and then move close to your opponent to slash. While there is a bodypart-based attack system, I really don't see how you can actually control where your hits go... that is, unless you learn deeper techniques as you move along.
As it is, I really haven't had much combat since I started off with Maya, whose beginning goals make her seem like a go-fer who has to search for this or that person. You can't even leave town since the guards won't let you leave the safety of the city. BOOOOORRRRINNNNGGG!!!! Don't want to look for so-and-so and do this for whoever. MA at PA! I wanna go out and kill Tikbalangs or something!!!
As for the music and sound, there's a voiceover for Maya that is clearly (and probably intentionally) given a pinoy twang. The music is a mix of various tribal sounds and ecclectic instruments which is, quite honestly, better turned down after a while. Not bad, but repetitive and a bit too obtrusive for my tastes.

But I really have to say that a lot of what turned me off in Anito is basically the writing. The way the choices and dialogue is done just falls flat, and it's weird that you choose a dialogue choice and then you have to see your choice flash before you before you get the prompt to see the response- in all, it's again pretty tedious and awkward. I'll give my final word though if and when I get some more gameplay hours under my belt.

Overall though, Anito: Defend a Land Enraged looks and feels like a first-gen, made-by-beginners product. It's not polished or have that feel of something special aside from the obvious Filipino cultural trappings. In terms of graphics, control and gameplay it's pretty basic. An admirable effort, and it's something that I do not regret supporting with my hard-earned peso... I just hoped it was a lot better than it is right now. Oh well.
My Precioussss...

Got it.

Last night I spent a ghastly amount of blood, getting myself a copy of the latest Previews and Newtype USA. But of course, the crowning achievement of the night was the acquisition of a copy of the Extended DVD set of LOTR: The Two Towers.
Since I got home pretty late, I was only able to watch about three-fourths of the movie before having to turn in. SPOILER ALERT!

The movie flows well with the new scenes, though it IS noticeably longer. The newer and extended scenes of Merry, Pippin and the Ent Treebeard are a bit too much for me; they slowed the pace of the film down for me in the theatrical version, and here in the more extended cut they're even slower. I just don't get the use of the 'Ent-draught' scene aside from giving a bit of comic relief. Then there's that scene at the very end of the film which shows the two hobbits raiding the flooded cellars of Orthanc... a bit much, maybe.
The other scenes are quite cool. Faramir gets a lot more character development with the inclusion of a great flashback scene with his brother Boromir, and their father, Denethor. If moviegoers found this Gondorian captain just some bad egg in the theatrical cut, here at least we see why he acts so hostile, and in the end gets redeemed after it. Which is good since he plays quite a vital role in the third film.
Other, smaller scenes dot the cut, with quite a few just threshing out the character; such as scenes explaining more about Eowyn's past, Aragorn's Dunedain heritage (As one of the few remaining members of the Great Race of Men, Strider's actually 87 years old, for those who haven't read the books). There are slight changes to some scenes which make for better flow, remedying the abruptness of the same scenes in the theatrical version. Notable in this is the reunion in Fangorn, where Gandalf the White makes his first appearance. We see more explanation of the fate of the two hobbits, and more emotion in the reactions of the Warrior's Three (Aragorn, Legolas, Ghimli) at the return of their old friend. Perhaps the most entertaining scene though in the new clips for me has to be the 'Evil Stew' scene with Aragorn and Eowyn. Nasty. Heh.
Some scenes did disappoint though; the added scene of the Huorns swallowing up the retreating Uruks was kind of... abrupt.
Overall though, The Two Towers extended cut is a richer, fuller version of this second part of the LOTR cinematic saga, and lives up to the pedigree of the earlier, excellent Fellowship of the Ring extended cut.
I can't wait to hear the audio commentaries, which should be a continuation of the same grade-A stuff from FOTR. Haven't even gotten to the Extras discs yet, which should easily take up a weekend or two to fully digest.
Sigh. And the dvd sets just look gorgeous; like books on a shelf. This collection isn't complete yet; ROTK's extended dvd is still a ways off... but Damn even now this is a glowing feather in the cap for any serious dvd collection. As Ferris Beuller would say, the extended dvd sets are choice. My highest recommendations go with them for any movie buff and Lord of the Rings fans.

Thursday, November 27


... I get my copy of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Version DVD Set.


Three hours plus of movie. 43 minutes of new and extended scenes. At least six hours or so of extras. DVDs don't get any much better than this, friends.
Delivery Room

Just came back from the printing house where Angel Ace Next is in the process of being made real. Saw the dummy, the covers and the layouts. Just gotta say, I've never seen an Angel Ace book look this good. Heh. Finally the art I've been doing all this time can reach readers without being diluted by bad printing. WOOHOO! Anyway, we're still set for the December 13 release, hopefully at the C3Con... just look for the Comic Quest booth, if there is one. Otherwise, you can just head down to CQ itself to get your copy and Angel Ace love. Later!

Kai gets new and retro at the same time in K.I.A.

After I finish up Kunoichi Boy, I'll be getting down and busy with K.I.A., an anthology starring my secret favorite Angel Ace character, Kai. While she's already a hottie as she is right now, I decided to up the ante and give her a new look. The shorter hairstyle is sleek and sexy, though it's actually not that new; Kai had that 'do in the original Angel Ace #2: Hunter's Heart Gaiden which was released years ago (no longer in print and not part of the present Angel Ace series). The same goes for her more, er, minimal attire. Heh. The only thing I didn't retain were the blades and swords she carried back then- pretty cool actually but they just didn't seem to jive much with the character as she is now. Anyway, I think she can kick butt pretty well without need for any weapon, thank you very much.
The anthology will be composed of stories by myself as well as by several other writers/artists/creators. K.I.A. will be set after the events in Angel Ace Next, and will take place in the many months in between that and Kai's next appearance in the Angel Ace main series.
I see this spinoff as a cross between Aeon Flux, Elektra, ALIAS, Le Femme Nikita, Noir (the anime) and a dash of Danger Girl. How's that for a mix? Can you say... Girl Power? Fan service? Kick-butt action? Oh, and it's going to be a lot darker than your regular Angel Ace book. How dark? Like the kind that gets your heroine killed every now and then dark. It's all gonna end in tears. Dean would be proud. Heh...

Instead of venturing out today on this non-working day (and the end of the Ramadan), I decided to stay at home. I was able to work on pages for Kunoichi Boy, my newest manga creation that's set for release in a local mangazine. And a good thing too since it's due in less than two weeks. Yipe! Not really that worried though- I'm making good time with the pages, and I really like how it's coming out.
Work again tomorrow... Gah. Well, at least I'm supposed to get my Two Towers extended dvd set tomorrow as well...

Tuesday, November 25

Revising a Saga

Will we see Alec Guiness wield double-lightsabers? Anything's possible, it seems...

Incredible. Absolutely incredible. I am both amazed and appalled.

Apparently, next year we will be seeing new versions of the original Star Wars trilogy (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi), and these won't just contain remastered scores or slight CG retouches. Nope. Next year's editions will be given MAJOR changes to update them and bring them up to speed with the recent 'prequel' trilogy. Here are JUST A FEW of the supposed changes...

Anakin's theme music (introduced in the prequels) will now play at certain times during references to his younger, good self throughout the films.

Redone lightsaber effects for all the films; Yes, even the Obi-Wan/Darth Vader geezer fight will be spruced up with new footage to make it more active and dynamic. Maybe Obi-Wan will do cartwheels or something. Heh.

The Emperor now appears in A New Hope, via a scene where he dissolves the Senate.

Awkward original R2D2 will be replaced by the prequel's more mobile, jet-equipped version.

No more bleeding arm in the Cantina scene- it is now canon that lightsabers cauterize wounds.

After the destruction of Alderaan, we'll see Yoda react as well as Obi-Wan. No need to wait for Empire to see the old green twerp.

Redone and cleaned-up SFX for space battles in all the movies. Major space engagements will now have additional ships in line with the prequels; this means we'll be seeing Naboo fighters in the attack on the Death Star. The Millennium Falcon will be doing more aerial acrobatics while dodging Star Destroyers.

The Hoth Battle will be more epic, with more units and equipment, actual scenes of landing Imperial troops, more ground battle scenes, faster AT-ATs, etc.

Little details like computer panels and displays, the Death Star diagram, etc. will be updated to match the prequels.

All stormtroopers will now be voiced by actor Temeura Morrison (who played Jango Fett in Attack of the Clones). There will be some stormtrooper suits that still resemble clone trooper armor in the 'new' old trilogy scenes.

CG effects will be used to redo stuff like the Rancor and the Sarlacc. In general, aliens seen in the prequels will be added to alien-heavy scenes in the original trilogy films.

Anakin AND Padme's spirits will appear in the final scene in Return of the Jedi.

Hang onto those old, original versions, mates. They're gonna be worth something soon. Heh. You can see the whole list of supposed changes at Ain't It Cool News.

Monday, November 24


It's coming! As early as NEXT WEEK! WOOHOO! Stay tuned for announcements...
Fantasy Talk

Meet Ashe, the heroine of the next chapter of the Final Fantasy series, FFXII.

After the online FFXI, Square of Japan is going back to its single-player roots in the next FF title, Final Fantasy XII. Little has been revealed except for the names and appearances of the game's leads, hero Vaan and heroine Ashe. Both protagonists are of the Hume or human race, which leads many to believe that FFXII will have many other character races such as elves and hobbit-like creatures to play as. Expect FFXII to hit stores late 2004 or early to mid-2005.

On the more present FF, there's of course Final Fantasy X2, the sequel to the last single-player FF, FFX on PS2. The game takes players back on a return trip to the world of Spira, where they once again lead heroine Yuna on a world-spanning adventure. This time, the story is more personal and a bit on the lighter side, with shades of Charlie's Angels as you control the three female leads (Yuna, her thief-cousin Rikku and newcomer Paine) exclusively throughout this mission-based quest game. Refreshingly, the game takes place only a couple of years after the end of the first game, and continues where it all left off in a way fans once never thought possible in an FF title (if only Square did this back when they had FFVII...). The english voice acting is excellent, and actually sounds better than the Japanese dub (which was too cutesy and hi-pitched for my tastes). I'll have to make time to play this alongside my other present game fix, Gladius.
Ah, Final Fantasy. Now the only thing left is that FFVII CG movie, Advent Children. Gotta keep my eyes peeled for that one.

Yesterday I went off to a long overdue trip to Greenhills. Got myself the US version of Final Fantasy X2, the first-ever true sequel to a Final Fantasy game. Also got myself several dvds, including The Mummy (the best film of that franchise (which has shades of Indiana Jones and Pulp Action which I love), Freddy Vs. Jason and the Sinbad animated movie.
I found a deluxe extended version set of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in one of the shops; this boxed set includes 5 DVDs and a statue of Gollum, and goes for a whopping 5,500 pesos. No sign of the regular boxed set yet; I should be getting mine this week (fingers crossed!). Damn the wait is killing me. And then there's The Return of the King which is slowly creeping in... WOOHOO! Christmas and New Year's is going to be neat. Heh.

Sunday, November 23

There and Back Again

Last Thursday I set off via a Victory Liner bus to Baguio to attend this year's Ad Congress. Stayed there for a day and a half, a good part of which was spent just sitting on a bus. Anyway, here's my little report on the trip.

Ah, smell that cool mountain air.

Me and my officemates left the bus terminal in Cubao at about ten, to embark on a six-hour drive overland to Baguio. It was cool that there were a LOT of us on the bus; there was safety in numbers, and the rowdiness of a lot of the guys ensured that it would be a funny trip. Once the bus left the familiar roads of Manila for the Northern expanses, someone brought out liquor and chicharon. A little before midnight, the lights were dimmed and the bus zoomed across empty highways unchallenged. I tried to get some sleep, but at best it was fitful. Sitting up in a bus fully-clothed is not conducive to relaxing sleep.

No Piss of Mind

Along the way, we soon got the notion that the bus seemed to have been going a LOOONG time without any stopovers, and one of our officemates was complaining loudly that he wanted to PISS. Of course, we just laughed off his wailings, but there were other passengers on the bus who were starting to get cross at him. Luckily these would-be killers were warded off by the knowledge that there were a lot of us. And once we did get to stop at have a bathroom break, it was all quiet from there.

Dark Roads
I stared off into the darkness out my window, seeing little houses and ramshackle sheds with lights glittering in the sea of night like stars. I remember thinking of how these people must live here, in the middle of nowhere. Soon, the road began to turn upward as we reached the mountainous terrain of the Philippines' summer capital.

Toy Houses
My first sight of Baguio was a beautiful sight; the scene of houses and buildings set into the mountainside, numerous lights glowing and giving the place a toy-like feel. Everything seemed to be built on a diagonal plane, and you were usually looking up or down at a building. As our bus pulled into the central terminal area, I got my first look at SM Baguio, one of the newest branches of the country's biggest mall chain. It looked HUGE, like a monolith looming over the houses and buildings like some massive idol, the instantly-recognizable logo coldly glowing white and blue. We arrived in Baguio at about 4 AM. The air was cool, but not chilly. After recovering from the aircon inside the bus, I soon realized a jacket wasn't really necessary.


We stayed at this quaint, American-style compound.

The house where we crowded into was nice; it would have been really comfortable if only there wasn't about thirty or so people crammed into it. There was really nothing you could do in the place though; there was cable TV but come on- who would want to tramp all the way to Baguio and then just watch TV? So when we were able, I got together three of my mates and we were off to go frollicking in the city.

DAMN it's crowded.

The first thing I realized once we got to the shopping and mall circle was... the place has too many people. I had been in Baguio before, but I don't remember it being ever this crowded. Every sidewalk was clogged with people. It actually reminded me of Hong Kong. It was worst in the newly-opened Shoemart; it was simply exploding with people going in and out... in fact, I think shoppers and mallrats from all the surrounding towns and provinces were converging in the place. Anyway, we walked into SM and then promptly walked out.

Rummaging through Someone's Closet

The Ukay-Ukay is a word for a huge clothing sale where everything being sold is second-hand. There's a vast amount of clothes, shoes and other stuff to look at, but there are usually no variety in sizes, and it all smells like someone's closet... or worse, someone's armpit. We walked through three floors of the stuff. Didn't buy a thing, but I don't think I'll ever forget the smell. Heh.

Can you believe the placement of that toilet?

We had merienda at a shopping center, inside a restaurant called The Tropical Rainforest Cafe. Ordered Pinoy spaghetti with garlic bread which eventually came instead with puto (rice cake). After we rested, we took a bathroom break and discovered a most peculiar layout of the CR. The area had a line of urinals against the wall, and at the end, with no barriers or covers at all, was a single toilet, just sitting out in the open. So anyone taking a crap on that thing was pretty much in plain view. We had a laugh and were off.

Glitzier than the Oscars? The Ad Congress Awards Night

Of course, the main reason we went all that way was to watch the most important night for the local advertising industry- the Ad Congress awards. The awards were split up into several nights, and on Friday we watched the awards for craft. We saw awards for TV, radio and print. Oddly enough, several commercials that had been like, out forever, were still winning. Oh well. Afterwards, we trooped to a party hosted by GMA 7 and had some free food amidst a concert held for the winners. Unfortunately, I had to pretty much stand the whole time. And the food wasn't that great either. Bah.
I staggered back to the house at about 1 AM and readied my stuff. I was to leave Baguio for Manila at 5:40 AM, with a couple of officemates as company. We boarded an earlier bus and soon were off. The return trip took about seven or eight hours, with three stopovers and again, fitful sleep all the way. Sigh. Good thing this doesn't happen every year.

Came back loaded with ube and strawberry jam and lots of peanut brittle for the friends and family. The Adcon's over. Hopefully the next time we'll have ads on the finalists' list and I'd actually be looking forward to enduring long trips over again. Like my friend Dean, I'm basically a homebody. Going to Baguio was fun, I guess, but it's really not for me.
Give me Greenhills anytime. Heh.

Thursday, November 20

Off to Congress

In a couple of hours I and my mates will hurry over to the bus station and catch our ride to the cold clime of Baguio for this year's Ad Congress. I'll be there the whole day tomorrow but be back under the Manila sun Saturday morning.
The few waking hours I will have there will probably be spent exploring the newly-opened SM Baguio, buying peanut brittle, ube jam and kulangot ng Igorot for the friends and folks. Don't suppose there's a comic and anime shop there, but I'll keep my eyes out. Hey, maybe I can watch Master and Commander there.... Heh.
Whatever. Signing off then. I should be able to blog if I find a decent internet cafe; heck, I was able to post from freakin' Boracay, so Baguio shouldn't be a problem.


Wednesday, November 19

Extended Epic

Today marks the release of the The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Extended Version DVD Set. This four-disc edition looks to surpass even the DVD Perfection of the Fellowship Extended DVD set, having 43 minutes of additional footage. These scenes contain HUGE additions to the onscreen precedings, giving more character depth and moments which enrich an already robust film. These new scenes include a flashback featuring Gondorian brothers Faramir and Boromir, more Ents and Huorns, and pretty much more of everyone. Add to that over 6 hours of extras and documentaries and 4 feature-length commentaries from the cast, director/writers, production team and more, you've got one HUMONGOUS DVD set and probably the best DVD release this year.

And I'm getting MY COPY next week. Heh-heh... My Preciousss....
Baguio Bound

Tomorrow night I go to the country's summer capital to take what little part I have to play in this year's Ad Congress. The place is bound to be crawling with agency-types, and I will probably see a familiar face or two. I won't actually be there long; I'll be leaving late night Thursday, probably arrive there early morning Friday, sleep till noon, then do the usual rounds of the place till evening. I don't plan on partying till the dawn hours since my bus ride home is at five in the morning on Saturday the next day. GAH! Well, at least I get to go out with the gang this week.
Really, with that kind of a schedule I would have preferred to just stay home or go foraging in Greenhills. Well, it's for the agency, so I guess I have to go... it's been years anyway since I last set foot in Baguio. Should be neat.

Had a pretty freaky and disturbing dream this morning. Dreamt I was in Makati, walking along the sidewalk when a couple of little kids dressed in khaki uniforms and armed with pistols started shooting at me. Instinctively I shielded myself with whatever it was I was lugging (probably a bag), and I ran. There was chaos all around me as I realized an army of these killer kids was all over the place. The weird thing was, there were even kamikaze kids jumping off the buildings down towards the street (WHY eludes me), resulting in some Kill Bill-esque bloody smears. In the middle of it all was a man with shoulder-length white hair in a khaki uniform, wearing shades and a white cowboy hat, and apparently going by the name of 'Liedecker' (which I think may or may not be the name of a character in the TV series Dark Angel).

Hey, I'm just telling it like I saw it. Sounds like an ultraviolent comic dream. WEIRD...

Watched an episode of Alias last night on AXN. The Philippines gets a bit of a cameo at the end. I wonder if they really shot that segment here? Probably not, but it's pretty neat. Heh.

Tuesday, November 18

Scary Movie

Last night I was watching TV and saw the trailer for the upcoming movie Gothika, starring Halle "Catwoman" Berry, Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz. This ghost story/psychological suspense/thriller is about a psychologist (Berry) who finds herself one night on the wrong side of an asylum's cell door. How she ends up there involves a rainy night's drive, a gruesome murder and a woman who keeps appearing despite supposedly being dead. With some creepy images from the trailer, I was a bit intrigued... shades of The Ring and other recent Asian horror flicks seem to be influencing this one. I'll be sure to take a look at this when it comes out late November.

Monday, November 17

Coming This Christmas...

Comic-lovers are going to have a field day this December. There's a slew of releases coming out, lovingly fashioned by local writers, artists and creators for their enjoyment. I am glad and not a bit proud to say that I had the good fortune of being able to take part in three upcoming releases.

Angel Ace Next continues the adventures of our favorite high-flying manga-style heroine.

My own personal baby. Angel Ace NEXT is an 80-page one-shot special, continuing the events from the previous Angel Ace Again! series. There's action, adventure, heartwarming comedy, heartbreaking tragedy, drama and more! This issue features guest artists Honoel Ibardolaza, Jon Mallari and Jeremy Arambulo, interpreting the Angel Ace crew their own unique styles.
Also featured are quite a few pages of cool fan art, with a few cool surprises. Aside from continuing the saga, NEXT also has four full-page artworks that recap events from Angel Ace Again, making this a good jump-on issue for new readers who weren't able to catch the previous issues.

Shoujo-style manga is the overall theme in Cherry Blossom High.

The brainchild of Jason Banico, Cherry Blossom High is an anthology of stories set within or about students from the magical and mysterious titular place of education. Cherry Blossom is the manga equivalent of a Hell Mouth, it seems, so something weird and magical is often happening just in the next classroom; be it someone getting whisked off to a magical fantasy world, or the school geek beating up on some demonic invaders. Or maybe it's just the magic of romance?
Despite being shoujo-style (girls' comics), CBH should appeal to any reader who likes a nice story and lovely illustrations.
The four stories are presented by Jason Banico, Elbert Or, Vin Simbulan, Honoel Ibardolaza, Joel Chua, myself and more. Watch for this one!

Ten decades of Philippine life are represented in the graphic collection known as Siglo.

And finally, there's Siglo, aka Project 100. This is the result of a collaboration between a group of individuals motivated by the singular desire to express themselves in an exceptionally rewarding way. The result, this more than 100-page masterpiece. There are simple stories, deep stories, stories with lots of words, stories with few words. There are no big epics, just tiny slice of life tales from people like an aspiring Emperor's wife, little children, a wartime traitor, a bride-to-be, a game geek and more. Not your usual comic fare, but that's what gives Siglo its unique charm.
Siglo features the talents of Dean Alfar, Nikki Alfar, Vin Simbulan, Jason Banico, Honoel Ibardolaza, Elbert Or, Andrew Drilon, Arnold Arre, Gerry Alanguilan, Carlo Vergara and myself.

WHEW! Is that a lot or what? Better start saving, because you're not going to want to miss these releases. Really! Heh.

Sunday, November 16

No Rest for the Wicked

A couple of days ago I had barely finished working on Angel Ace Next (which should be well on its merry way to seeing light, with a million thanks to Carl) when I had to run off early in the morning to an office seminar all the way up in the foggy mountains of Antipolo.
Well, it was almost-two days, with weird exercised, games that involved teamwork and lifting and an irritatingly prickly carpeted room in the otherwise lovely Eugenio Lopez Center. Spent the time with the office staff, sat around listening to lectures and tests and setting up what our future workplace will be. Important stuff, I guess.

Anyway, got back home late in the afternoon; didn't bother to go out anymore since I was feeling pooped. Ended up just playing lots of Gladius on the ol' xbox.

Now that Angel Ace is out of the way, gotta start work on a couple of new titles; the AA spinoff book K.I.A. and the original new series Kunoichi Boy. Heh-heh... I love being busy. In a morbid sort of way. Even so, I think I'll keep resting all into tomorrow.

Thursday, November 13

It is finished.

Angel Ace Next is ready to send out to the printers.

It took all night, along with some last-minute submissions, a whole lot of lettering and organizing art, pages and layouts. When I finally burned the images onto a convenient CDR, sunlight was streaming through my window. Had to spare a couple of hours for token sleep before heading out to the office.

There are just a couple of minor hiccups, which can conceivably be fixed within the day. Tonight I give it out and then it's out of my hands.

My comments; some of the art is gorgeous, some a bit rushed, some manga-ish, some indie, all of it entertaining and fresh. 80 pages chock-full of art, story, a couple of ads and articles and a surprise and a jolt or two.

December's the release date. Whether it be in the upcoming C3Con or simply at Comic Quest, we're going to get the issue out to the readers.

At last.

Wednesday, November 12

Cover Girl

Here's the front cover to Angel Ace Next! We're going to print this weekend, and releasing hopefully in time for the C3Con this December. So if there are any violent objections to the cover art, well... tough. Heh. Wait for it!

Tuesday, November 11

Last Man Standing

a few left to do, including lettering the whole darn book, but the ending is finally in sight. All that is really left to put it all together is to have all the guest artist pages in, do the front cover and the inside cover pages.

This weekend, we go to the printer. And hopefully, we WILL finally see the latest Angel Ace issue this December at the C3Con.

Just to say, I was surprised at the last minute developments in the pages, including a pretty left-field development that should widen a few eyes... Anyway, I am looking forward to seeing the final book in several weeks' time.

Just a couple more nights to go, and Angel Ace Next will be DONE.

Then it's on to... Kunoichi Boy!!!

Sunday, November 9

The Matrix Redemption (Spoilers Ahead)

Yesterday, the gang (sans Dean and Nikki) trooped over to The Podium to watch the third and final part of the Matrix Trilogy, Matrix Revolutions. After a quickie snack/dinner at Hotshots, we rushed to the cinema in order to catch the trailers. By the seat of our pants we were able to see The Return of the King trailer. After getting a hundred-peso popcorn package with a cool. black Matrix tumbler, we settled down to watch the swan song for Neo, Trinity and the whole Matrix gang.

Surprisingly, or perhaps unsurprisingly, I liked Revolutions. Hell, I'm actually confident enough to say yeah, I really like it.

The finale of The Matrix trilogy sees mankind with their backs to the wall. In Reloaded, Neo learns that their most valuable ally, The Oracle, is not human but a machine herself. More importanly though, he learns that his destiny as The One does not involve stopping the countless killing machines poised above the human city of Zion, much less stopping the whole genocidal war between human and machine. To further complicate things, Neo goes into a coma after displaying powers even in the real world. A seeming accident sabotages the Zion fleet, pretty much annihilating the human's most potent forces before the battle even begins. All this, and 250,000 sentinels are ready to dissect the remaining free humans on the planet.
Perhaps it is the blessing of being the finale, with all the stakes and chips on the board, the characters at their most desperate, the action at the zenith, that makes Revolutions work a lot better than Reloaded. It also helps that we've seen the characters featured onscreen before, and now at the climax you care for them more as a result. In fact, this movie seems to show off more of the supporting characters than the Big Three of Neo, Trinity and Morpheus; Niobe (Morphy's former squeeze/star of the Matrix videogame, played by Jada Pinkett-Smith), The Kid, The crew of The Hammer and The Logos, the Oracle and Seraph and the people of Zion. This broader scop of the events makes the film a lot more epic in scope.
Despite having a slow start in the first half hour or so, Revolutions' psychobabble this time around is more substancial; such as the sentience of machines and the prospect that not all the programs are evil; they are themselves a race that is on the planet to stay. Again, the burdens of choice and sacrifice weigh heavily on Neo, and this time he may have to pay the ultimate price to save humanity.
In terms of action, Revolution revisits the Matrix with Trinity, Morpheus and Seraph revisiting the Merovingian. This is the final real foray into the other world; after this, most of the action is in the real world. The Battle for Zion's Docks is the setpiece of this movie, featuring images of carnage and heavy metal action that simply demands to be seen on a big, frickin' screen. This sequence, over twenty minutes long, is simply breathtaking and is a cool warm up for the large-scale, against-all-odds battle that I hope to see early next year in The Return of the King.

As for the inevitably-controversial ending, Revolutions takes a different road from the usual 'Star Wars' resolution. There are no vulnerable exhaust vents to chuck an all-powerful superweapon or photon torpedo; no easy solution without cost. I have to say that the final farewell between Neo, Morpheus and Trinity- heroes we have followed and grown to care for despite highs and lows- is a moment of quiet poignance that fits strangely well in this testosterone-powered, sci-fi action romp. The ending isn't the easiest to see, but given the wholeness and mood of the entire franchise, it's perfect.

Definitely getting the DVD for this one. Farewell, Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, Smith, Zion. It's been swell.

Matrix Revolutions stars Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Ann Moss, Laurence Fishburne, Hugo Weaving, Jada Pinkett-Smith. Catch it in theaters now.

Friday, November 7

Elektric Shortage

What IS it with Elektra these days?

I'm referring of course to the Marvel comic title starring probably the most recognizable ninja assassin to wear a leotard and cloth bandages ever in comics. The red-garbed vixen who's about as unpredictable as a cat, and just as slinky. The same anti-heroine whose adventures will eventually see cinematic release with Alias' Jennifer Garner (who is reprising the role from the movie version of Daredevil) next year or so.

A year or so ago, the red ninja was given her own regular series, and I have to say I collected it for a while, singularly to collect the awesome painted covers by artist Greg Horn. The stories, for me, are pretty unspectacular, and the art has never been particularly interesting (perhaps the awesome covers just make looking at the relatively unexceptional inside art boring). Eventually, I got tired of even collecting since the covers seem to have sunken to a 'routine', and it's no longer driving me to get them.

I still peek inside every new issue to see if any of the action intrigues me. Unfortunately, I am just puzzled.

Why, WHY, does a comic with a kick-ass, uber-sexy super ninja babe insist on showing their main draw AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE?

For the past couple of issues (or maybe more), Elektra is hardly ever seen. You see the cannon fodder, the victims, the boring cast of nobodies... but NO ELEKTRA! She usually appears at the very end page, as a shadow.
Maybe it's just me, but an Elektra comic should show her as much as possible, doing her ninja things because DAMN it's all about her doing her kung-fu shit, climbing sheer rock walls with her super strong digits, taking out guards with one of her seven thousand ways to kill, formulating elaborate plans to establish a cover, penetrate a heavily-guarded stronghold and generally look fetching in her skimpy and impractical ninja bathing suit.

BUT NOOOOO.... We get to see the comic equivalents of bit actors get ALL the screentime while our star is reduced to a presence that is 'felt' rather than seen.


I know, I know...

"Since you're complaining so much, why don't you make your OWN comic with a scantily-clad, kick-ass assassin babe? NYAAH!"

All right, I WILL. Next year. Kai: KIA. Hehehe. Shameless plug.

Thursday, November 6

Going back to Gladiator School

"Gee, your hair smells terrific!"


Well, yes I am!

I just got Gladius for the Xbox and I am wasting away a dangerous amount of time that I should be plunking into Angel Ace Next (heh). Anyway, Gladius is a new gladiatorial RPG/Strategy game from Lucas Arts. Set in a world that mixes historical ancient Rome (and the various barbarian tribes in it's provinces) with fantasy elements, it tells of the saga of heroes Valens (a gladiatorial champion's son) and Ursula (a barbarian princess) as they attempt to forge a powerful school of gladiators. In the Gladius world, a terrible war years before had driven the various peoples to turn to the arena and gladiators to settle disputes, and for entertainment. It is in the gladiatorial circuit of various locales and countries that most of the game's action and combat take place.

While you start out with just your main hero(ine) and a single cohort, you eventually start to hire more fighters in your stable. These range from your more generic barbarian or bandit, to the more interesting gunghirs (barbarian spearthrowers/werebears), legionnaires and archers. Or you can go for the more esoteric classes, such as sexy amazons or wild berserkers, mysterious spellcasters and beasts. There are about 100 different kinds of fighters to encounter or recruit in this game, along with an even larger number of weapons, armor and accessories to outfit and arm them with.
And as you build your reputation and fighting prowess, perhaps you'll also be able to take the time to thwart a RESURGENCE OF AN EVIL GOD that seems to be inevitable in the later rounds of this several-hundred hour game. Hmmm.

Gladius' graphics looks great, with detailed characters and battle stages. The animations and sound effects do well to put you into this carnage-filled world. As for the gameplay, the micromanagement of equipment, positioning of troops, and a patented 'swing meter' which you must handle in real time makes this a cross between Final Fantasy Tactics and a teensy-bit of Dance Dance Revolution. It's not really a fast-paced game though; anyone who can't get past a regular FF game or turn-based strategy game will probably not get into Gladius' marathons of battles and somewhat repetitive music (which hopefully will change when I finally move my band to a new country).

Well, I hate Dance-Dance, but I love this game. The story's pretty basic, but it's really all about getting the most bad-ass crew you can and opening a can of Maximus on an enemy's arse. WOOHOO!

Now, back to Angel Ace Next. No, reallly.