Saturday, October 29

Tiger, Tiger

Here's a pic of my new Dashboard program on my G4 Mac Powerbook. It's a cool new treat given by the new Tiger OS, to which I just upgraded thanks to The Salt Mines. I know it's all about better programs and running, but the Dash, along with the cool widgets, is what I am appreciating right now. Widgets are these tiny, funny little freeware programs that you install and keep ready on the Dashboard. These widgets range from the teeniest functions, from flipping a coin, to bringing you the latest Dilbert comic strip, to entertaining you with cool arcade-type gaming. One of my fave widget games is IM Alien Hunter, which is a variant on the classic Space Invaders game but with an anime twist- this means that instead of a pixellated space ship, the player is represented by a sexy, laser pistol-packing anime babe. Coolness!

I'll be accompanied by my laptop over the weekend and into the break, so it's nice it's gotten some new tricks. HOHO!
Personal Time

While I wasn't looking, or perhaps while I was busy doing stuff, things seemed to have changed around me. I guess I have to rethink how I go about my time. I guess I should be glad that I'll have more time to myself- hopefully I'll have more money too, but seeing the latest bill I have to pay, I doubt it.

I'll be using the time I have on the Halloween-All Souls' Day break to finish up requirements. I still have Project Hero pages to finish over the weekend, and then I'll work on the regular release of Kunoichi Boy issue 1, and start on the next issue for release by mid or late December.

It won't be all work though- I'll make sure to give in time for good stuff- like making a dent in the pile of comics I seem to have been stockpiling all these weeks. I'll also be spending some time with Resident Evil 4 on the PS2, and pick up new stuff at Greenhills tomorrow- hopefully Soul Calibur III will be available, along with some new anime.

Happy All Souls' Day, everyone!

That didn't sound right.

Friday, October 28

I Po'ed

Here's an update to my earlier post about the new Apple I-Pod with video. Apparently, while the mp3 music player nature of the gadget remains unassailable, it seems that the video side isn't all that's cracked up to be. While comments on reviews about the small screen don't put me off too much, I am kinda disappointed by the supposed only 2-hour battery life of the thing if you play a movie straight on the machine. Well, this doesn't really kill the Pod as a video jukebox- I'm sure that shorter video playing will be maneagable for what battery life it has. And the huge memory is still a big plus.

Realistically, even I don't really watch 2-hour flicks on my O2 Mini a lot, or even regularly- usually it's just the odd video clip, or at most an anime episode or two. I once tested the Mini though, by playing FFVII Advent Children from end to end, a feat which took off about 40 percent from the battery power (which actually is not bad at all; I estimate the Mini's video playing life at about four hours or so). This doesn't really make me turn away from the I-Pod, but especially after learning this, it's not really that much of a 'must buy' for me anymore. I guess I'm perfectly happy with my video capability right now. Only time will tell if I change my mind and spring for a Pod later... or if my cousin Jeremy brings his this Christmas and I find myself getting techno-envy. Heheh.
Possessed by EVIL

Leon Kennedy takes on homicidal hicks in Resident Evil 4.

How appropriate is it that after our Halloween Party, I go home and enjoy a rousing time with the PS2 conversion of Resident Evil 4? Very appropriate, and it was with gusto that I jumped into the latest survival-horror blockbuster. As mentioned, you play as RE2 hero Leon Kennedy six years after the Racoon City incident. A short prologue with Leon's voiceover reveals (SPOILERS AHEAD) that soon after the T-Virus breakout, the government 'cleansed' Racoon City via a nuclear strike (good thing they all cleared out of there fast). Afterwards, the Feds clamped down on Umbrella (the uber-corporation behind the whole mess), locking down its properties and privileges. Umbrella stock fell, and, in short order, the mighty Umbrella Corporation ceased to exist. Which is kinda anti-climactic considering that the first four (including Code Veronica) RE games had all the heroes working overtime to take out the company. Perhaps this was all press release- maybe the Redfields (Claire and Chris), Jill Valentine, Barry Burton and Leon had roles in ultimately bringing down Umbrella... but of course, the government took the credit. Oh well.

Anyway... Leon got kinda-sorta promoted after the whole shebang. Remember, he WAS the worst cop in Racoon City (One day on the force and the whole city gets killed) despite being a hero. Leon becomes a special agent attached to the government, and he's assigned to protect the President's daughter. Unfortunately, the girl gets kidnapped and vanishes into the countryside of what appears to be rural (deep rural) Spain. So, instead of sending Seal Team Six, the Prez sends Leon. Oh, and two goofball Spanish cops who'd rather stay in the car than work.
These weird circumstances aside, RE4 is a brilliant game in terms of gameplay and atmosphere. The controls are precise, effective and very cool. Targetting enemies and fighting is pretty easy and awesome to do, though you'll probably have to keep the inner Rambo in check unless you want to find yourself out of ammo while surrounded by crowds of snarling, sickle-throwing villagers. Unlike previous RE's, going up stairs and moving about is pretty easy and often seamless- the 'opening door' animations and stilted stair-walking animations are minimized here.
The enemies for the most part are pretty creepy- though so far I've only encountered the villagers. It's pretty cool to be able to precisely target body parts, and it's great to shoot someone in the face, then walk over to kick their asses. The trickier parts happen when enemies start throwing stuff at you... like sickles or sticks of dynamite. I wish I had a duck move or a dash-the-hell-away's move. Still, Leon is a bad-ass agent. Another cool aspect is the in-game shopkeeper, who lets you buy new guns or upgrade your old boomsticks.

I'll likely be playing through this one over the weekend (and hopefully Soul Calibur III too), in between pages of Samurai Sis of course. Now, if you'll excuse me... I've got some possessed farmers to ventilate. Heh.

Thursday, October 27

Salty Halloween

One of the cooler things about The Salt Mines is that every Halloween, the office really makes it a point to dress up the joint and invite kids to come trick or treating. There's lots of party food like melt-in-your-mouth spaghetti with hotdogs, fishballs (cooked right in front of you), street-style ice cream and more. Every department sets up their places as scary and as fun as they can. This year, the competition was especially hot- Our Creative Department set up a menagerie of life-sized monsters (as seen in the image above), each of which actually contains the image of one of the personnel- for the record, I was turned into the Cave Troll from LOTR. Heh.

Anyway, it was cool to see the kiddies running around in their costumes, and it was nice that the day was pretty light in terms of work- all I did was basically sit around and wait as I had my laptop upgraded to the new Tiger OS.

Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 25

A K.I.A. Review from The Piglet

Here's a long overdue K.I.A. review, or at least, an attempt at it, by Fero Benedict AKA Fero McPiglet. I learned about it from Fero when we were chatting together during the Komikon. He wasn't able to email it to me when the book came out months ago, but I still told him to send it to me. It's detailed, raw and honest. All of which I appreciate. Heh.

Fun book! was surprised!

-1st story - The New Girl - six pages set the tone! Bad ass! Only thing not like is the placement of the 4th panel and secondary word balloon on the third panel. Had to double take to check if she slashed first then talked. Should be that she talked first then slashed.

- Good morning - heh funny Killed In Action toe tag. Argh on the attack her set up because I had an idea similar to that.

- Fear Itself - Simple but don't get it so much. WAs that guy in the Angel Ace issues? Don't remember. (Yes, he was 'The Suit' from Angel Ace Again. -MAD)

- Mouse Trap - funny simple little twist. I was scratching my head looking at the cat costume girl on the 5th page. It looks so familiar like a comic book costume but I can't place it. Anyway, I like. (The female Cat Ninja were based on Marvel's Hellcat. -MAD)

- Under the Influence - Nice story but I thought it went on for too long and broke the quick barrage of stories pace set by the others. It was at this point that I hated to seeing Kia's lady opponents get (bloodlessly) killed.

- Intercept - Has simply got to be the best art! non-Dimaano. But gods I wish Kia just killed that fool. He felt out of place like a Mary Sue to me. Why the heck did that have to sneak into the book?

- Battery Included - At this point, this was my fave story. Mini K.I.A Action Figure! So cute! Wheeee!!! :P Wish there was more size reference shots though to show the mini Kia running around in the room just to see how teeny she is. Whee!!! :D Wanted to she jumping around the keyboard acrobatic fashion like a small playground. Love the parting shot. Aaaaw poor little bitty Kia toy! Poor thing! (darn it, I want an Aquaman figure)

- Dreamkiller - I liked this one because the fight reminded me of a Playstation RPG whatever type game when you meet the boss and she transforms into her next form for the final fight. It's so game like with the base exploding too. Like the twist too hehehee :P Just thought that the thugs in the beginning weren't necessary or Kia should have killed them right off.

- Victors and Victims - the story was kinda long but I liked it! Replaced as my fave for the book. JLU's The Cat and the Canary and all those other Roulette fights that are a story standard. wrestling Kia! It's like all those Ghost Fighter, Shaman King, Zoids, Flame of Recca, DragonballZ type stuff. And I love Princess Pure! She's a nice girl! One dimensional until later. Love the buzz. Love the vengeance. Love that Princess Pure is so nice. It's strange but I like her better than Angel Ace. Love the ending. Me like :) (Well, actually Pure IS supposed to emulate Angel's character, that's something Kai doesn't miss either)

- Invitation - the storytelling fractures made be go back and forth for a bit but the plot is easy enough. And FUN! This became my favorite story because it had most of the elements that I was looking for. And nice art too. Superhero-ish plot, fun and interesting villainesses, rush intercuts with action. A bit of silliness on the repetition and it had a fuzzy monster in it! Too bad it got hurt though! Poor monster! Anyway, really like this one. I want to give the quarter ladies silly
names! The first on is Ringlette, then Arm'ress, then Hat-tra, and Staffanie.

- Zinderneuf - had to re look again since it was heavy. Interesting. And again got the manga texture like Intercept did. I think it would have had more impact on me if the commander was identified. Was she seen before? I don't know. (Er, the commander was Vanya. Better re-read that K.I.A., Fero...)

- BTW, the lesbian overtone pin-up is my fave (Thank Taga-Ilog for that hot piece of art -MAD). Strange as it seems. Also the first one since it looks comic book-ish.

- Freedom - liked this story too. Love the first death. Love the second death. Twist is visible but love it anyway. Liked this one too. Gave very nice close full circle to the whole book. Paused at that 'given powers' part. What powers? (The ability to stand up even after having a knife shoved into your ribcage...)

- Shock to the System - Got fuzzy here. The heart blade was just a memory, right? Along with long haired lady? So I should think the the stab would be from the front instead of coming from the back. (Flipped back to previous Freedom story again and noticed that the blood disappeared on her chest btw) (Yes, even Kai's costume is 'self-healing'. It's made of a kind of smartfabric... incidentally, the same cloth that the wraps around her legs are made of)

Book is a LOT of FUN! We should have more of this! BTw, wish the back had more descriptions about the book instead of just listing out creators. Some of the descriptions in the foreword and afterwords should have been written there really.

Great review, Fero! Thanks.

K.I.A. is available NOW at Comic Quest Branches. Php160 pages, B/W interiors with full color cover. Get it now if you haven't already, people!
Evil Approaches

Aside from Soul Calibur III, gamers should be out on the lookout for Resident Evil 4, the latest and supposedly greatest chapter yet of the long-running survival horror game series from Capcom.
Originally appearing on the Nintendo Gamecube, RE4 has finally, after about a year of waiting, come to the PS2. Online reviews report that the game has lost little from the translation- perhaps the graphics are slightly not as colorful or as sharp, and the loading times slightly longer... but this is a grade-A translation. Now, PS2 gamers can look forward to kicking zombie butt in RE4.
But hold on... there ARE no zombies in RE4. At least, no more T-Virus spawned monstrosities. Resident Evil 4 takes place some years after the last game, and AFTER the fall of the ubiquitous Umbrella Corporation which has been the series' longtime background villains. RE veteran Leon Kennedy (last seen in Resident Evil 2) returns as the main hero, this time working as a government agent. His mission is to recover the President's daughter, who has apparently been kidnapped. His quest is, of course, not as easy as it sounds since he soon finds himself surrounded by hordes of homicidal, murderous villagers. Leon's quest will span a lengthy 20 hours or so, from the village that starts the quest to a creepy castle controlled by robed cultists.
The PS2 version adds to this already awesome game by adding a new playable character- secret agent Ada Wong. Ada (if that is her real name) was also last seen in RE2, where she and Leon had a sort of not-relationship before she supposedly dies (it IS eventually revealed she survives to fight again) saving Leon. Ada has her own adventure which actually runs concurrent with Leon's, and there are parts where her actions intersect and affect her reluctant ally's fate. Of course, you'll only be able to access Ada's "Separate Ways" adventure after finishing the main quest with Leon.

With a brilliant over-the-shoulder shooting scheme, awesome graphics and animation, hold-your-breath action and some incredible boss battles, RE4 is one game no PS2 gamer should miss.

Again, report and review once we get our diseased mitts on this title. Heh.
Whetstones at the Ready

I'm expecting the latest and greatest PS2 fighting game, Soul Calibur III, anytime now. The US version of the game is already out in the States, so local vendors should have it very soon (if not already). I wanna get play the Story Mode. Get to grips with the new characters. And yep, play around with the awesome Character Creation mode (maybe even make some of my own comic book characters in Soul Calibur form). It's gonna be awesome. The demo I got with a copy of Official Playstation Magazine really wasn't nearly enough to sate my thirst for bladed action. I want the real thing. NOW. Uwaaaah!!!

Report and review on SCIII once we get our bloody hands on it. HOHO!

WOOHOO! Judging from the great response to Kunoichi Boy, I'll be working on continuing the title on a more regular basis, using the same format as released in the Komikon. I'm all out of the first batch of copies I made for the Kon, so I'll have to work on the 2nd batch of Issue #1 to be distributed at Comic Quest. The second issue of KB should be out a couple of months after the CQ release of issue one.
I'll be taking the time though to fix quite a few typos which escaped my attention in the rush of production. I also want to add some stuff- perhaps a report on the Kon, and some material on the meaning of the word kunoichi and some character designs would be proper to add to the formal release of Kunoichi Boy's debut issue.
More on this as it happens, but for now though I'll have to concentrate on finishing my pages for Samurai Sis.

Sunday, October 23

Komikon 2005

Saturday, October 22, 2005 marked the First Komikon, which was, all considered, a rousing success. It was a success in that the event was truly a venue for the celebration of local comics, from new indies to classic komiks by great Filipino artists. The range of participants ranged from big publishers and bookstores (Fully Booked, Seven Seas, Adarna House, Psicom) to longtime comic groups (Alamat, Blitzworks and Gerry Alanguilan’s Komikeros) to new kids on the local indie comic biz.
I sat at the Comic Quest table with El and Camy for most of the day, selling our hot-off-the-copier comics- Kunoichi Boy and Camy and Me. Other releases on other tables include the latest issues of Maskarado by Reno Maniquis, Askal by Bong Leal, new horror novellas from David Hontiveros, Trese, the supernaturally-themed detective comic from Budjette Tan and Ka-Jo Baldisimo, and Psigns of the Season from Fero McPiglet.

The day was HOT though… no airconditioning in this Kon, and it didn’t help that the nearby Pearl Drink booth from Greenwich ran out of stuff to sell early on (the resto on the second floor of the Bahay Alumni, Chocolate Kiss, must have made a fortune on softdrink sales that day).
But while everyone seemed to be hot for comics, toys and art stuff, I seemed the notice that the response to the actual Komikon program was pretty half-hearted. You have to commend the emcees trying to keep things going even when NO ONE seemed to want to participate in stuff like contests and quizzes. Even then, there were contests aplenty like on-the-spot comics drawing and other stuff (btw, K.I.A. and Angel Ace contributor Jon Mallari won first place in one of the contests… congrats, Jon!) to occupy people.
I found myself getting miffed during the Glasshouse Publishing segment, where the smarmy Mr. Campiti once again took to the stage, looking for the next J.Scott Campbell clone-to-be. The highlight of the program though was the comics talk onstage with Gerry, Arnold Arre and other big-name local comic personalities.

In between all the hubbub, it was basically a day of sitting, watching people go by, chatting with Fero (and getting a K.I.A. review), greeting the occasional comics comrade like Jennyson Rosero, Taga-Ilog and James Palabay, troubling over how to find change to give to customers, signing off copies of K.I.A. or Kunoichi Boy and trying not to get too dehydrated (I failed miserably with the last one). But it was all worth it.
At the end of the day, we sold off most of our comics, and I went off after the closing with Arnold and Cynthia to have a nice, long dinner and chat.

Darn cool Kon. I’d like to commend the organizers and I’m looking forward to the next one. Next time, I’ll want to my own booth, and an even better showing of new comics to enjoy. Seeya all next year, folks!

See my pics of the Komikon at My Phlog.