CATS Out of the Box #MondayReviews #NanoPoblano2019

In December, a new movie version of CATS THE MUSICAL will be shown in theaters worldwide. I am a huge CATS-lover and let me tell you now: So far, I’m not liking most of the changes they’ve done. But, alright, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Who knows? I might like it.

Anyway, below is the semi-review that I did on the original movie years ago. I call it “semi-review” because it’s more of a feature. Well, more of a fan-made writeup. This was posted way back in the old Multiply days. I have decided to share it again (1) since it’s timely, (2) to introduce new viewers to the original musical, and (3) to give them points of comparison once the new movie is released. I did edit things to correct some grammatical errors, shorten the piece a bit, and add some updates.

By the way, links to more reviews can be found in the CRITIC’S CORNER.

FAIR WARNING: I am posting a reaction-slash-comparison video on my vlog one of these days. Bear with me. Humor me.

A CATTY EXPERIENCE

Indeed, I could choose from a variety of movies that I have already seen. Instead, I chose to love a film that is, for sure, not on a lot of people’s favorites-list. It’s a story with a simple plot. Cinematography is good, not outstanding. The visual effects are there only because they are necessary. And then, there are glaring editing misses!

So what’s there to love, really?

CATS THE MUSICAL is simply not the kind of film most Filipinos would appreciate. Well, most people in general. But I am a musical-enthusiast, videophile, dance-lover and poetry-maker. That combination explains why I find CATS very entertaining, beautiful, and original. It is poetry in words, music, and motion, all rolled into one cool package. Great score, great singing, great dancing! In the words of T. S. Eliot, it is “ineffable…effable…eff-an-in-EF-fable!”

The History of CATS

In the past, stage musicals like OKLAHOMA and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF were made into successful films. Many were culled from classic literature such as OLIVER!, from Charles Dickens‘ book Oliver Twist. THE WIZARD OF OZ, meanwhile, was based from the 1939 film, which was an adaptation of L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As for WEST SIDE STORY, it was inspired by William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet.

Came the early ’80s and there was the musical genius Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber (ALW). He of the JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA fame had a novel idea: Why not make a musical about cats based on the book his mom used to read to him — T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats?

So CATS was conceived and developed. It was made by famous theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh and ALW’s The Really Useful Theatre Company. CATS was officially ‘born’ in London’s West End, at New London Theatre, on May 11, 1981. Then the show made its Broadway debut on September 7, 1982 at the Winter Garden Theatre.

The sung-through musical proved to be a hit and won many awards and accolades. For quite a time, it was the longest-running musical as it was performed on West End stage for two glorious decades! There were 8,489 shows in 21 years. On Broadway, it ran for 18 years with 7,485 shows.

A true Taurean, CATS was as stubborn as a bull, refusing to budge from its position as the “World’s Best-loved Musical”. Well, that was until LES MISERABLES took its place in 2006. Sadly, CATS bid farewell to Broadway and West End in 2000 and 2002 respectively. (Ed. Fortunately, it’s currently back in the game, enjoying the limelight, entertaining more theatre fans, and translated into multiple languages.  “As of 2019, Cats remains the fourth-longest-running Broadway show and the sixth-longest-running West End show.” Oh, and it had a worldwide gross of US$3.5 billion by 2012.)

In 1998, ALW pushed the barriers further by producing the film version of CATS. It was, in fact, the first of its kind, an actual stage performance captured on film. In essence, they picked up where they left off, only with a different medium. Directed for film by David Mallet, the musical was shot in London’s Adelphi Theater by running through the whole production twice and then adding other essential shots. They did it in a span of 18 days. Meanwhile, costumes and make-up were toned down for film.

Original performers like Elaine Paige and Ken Page took on the roles they originated on West End (her) and on Broadway (him). The show also brought in veteran actor Sir John Mills for a special role. ALW then chose actors he thought could best portray the 28 other important characters. The cast were chosen from productions that were then currently showing the musical. Judging from the performances captured by the lenses, it seems that ALW’s team chose wisely and well.

The Story of CATS

The story unfolds as the Jellicle Cats meet at a junkyard for the annual Jellicle Ball. In attendance are the adult cats and the kittens that are on the verge of adulthood, probably attending their first ball.

Led by the protective silver-and-grey tom, Munkustrap (Michael Gruber), they sing, dance, do acrobatics, and bask at the Jellicle moon. That is, while they await the arrival of their leader, Old Deuteronomy (Page). Every year, just before dawn, Deuteronomy makes what is known as the “Jellicle Choice”. He chooses the cat who gets the chance to be reborn, allowed to go up the Heaviside Layer (their kitty heaven), and “come back to a different Jellicle life”. Anyone interested could ask to be given this privilege.

During this time, the audience is given the chance to get accustomed to the characters. Some are easy to remember. That’s due mainly to particular costume designs that stage productions almost always follow . (Thanks, John Napier.)

For those familiar with the show, some characters are instantly recognizable. For instance, Victoria The White Cat (Phyllida Crowley Smith), the tuxedo cat Quaxo (Jacob Brent), the Siamese feline Cassandra (Rebecca Parker), or the twins Coricopat and Tantomile (Tommi Sliiden and Kaye Brown respectively). Some performers first show up as swing or supporting casts, wearing costumes specifically designed not to stand out. They later emerge as important characters. It is hard, though, to miss such a man (or cat) the size of Mister Page.

As the waiting continues, the presence of some adored cats are acknowledged. Jennyanydots The Gumbie Cat (Susie McKenna), with her tiger stripes and leopard spots, is a tabby perceived as lazy by her owners during the day. But she gets busy at night teaching or disciplining mice, roaches and beetles. The supposedly smart Bustopher Jones (James Barron) is a well-respected cat in his “coat of fastidious black” and “white spats”. He is revered when all he actually really does is eat.

The Rum Tum Tugger (John Partridge) also makes sure that his presence is known. He is “vain”, “perverse” and “inconsequent”. And yet, he is the object of almost every she-feline’s affection. The kittens and the sensual Bombalurina (Rosemarie Ford) idolize him like a sexy rockstar. Complete with a lion’s mane, a kiss-me curl, and gyrations, he is the show’s trademark Elvis. The Elvis theme is one that ALW plays with from time to time. Case in point: the Pharaoh in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. Together with Munkustrap, Tugger serves as another main storyteller.

Grizabella The Glamour Cat (Paige) – ironically un-glamorized now – then enters the scene. Excited to be back after years of absence, Grizabella is saddened when the others avoid and ostracize her. Needless to say, she is forced to stay away and watch from afar. Meanwhile, the notorious Bonnie-and-Clyde tandem of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (Drew Varley and Jo Gibb respectively) are caught doing their usual naughty antics and misdeed. The comical troublemakers end up staying all throughout the party.

The Jellicle leader soon appears, to the delight of his followers. For further entertainment, the cats do a parody of warring dogs, with the “intervention” of The Rumpus Cat (Frank Thompson). Dancing resumes after. At some point of the elaborate dance number, the mating process happens. It’s a sort of PG-13 moment when the kitten Victoria “becomes” an adult cat. She mates with Plato (Bryn Walters) while the others also do their – uh – thing.

When it is over, Grizabella returns and tries to join the ball once again. She is still regarded as an outcast. Feeling alone, she sings the now-popular song “Memory”, sadly reminiscing her lovely past. She does not know that Deuteronomy is still there and leaves disappointed.

Soon after, the cats return and Deuteronomy tries to explain to them the meaning of real happiness, to no avail. So to get the message across, he conveys it in simpler words through the kitten Jemima (Veerle Casteleyn). She somewhat sings entranced. Jemima’s maturity at her age is evidenced by her understanding of Grizabella. She is always the first to try and touch the outcast only to be pulled away by the older cats.

Gus The Theatre Cat (Sir John Mills), senile as he is, also attends the gathering and talks of the good ol’ days. He makes you shed a tear or two at the end of his song. He leaves behind him a sad atmosphere. which Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat (Geoffrey Garrat) enlivens again through his storytelling and pantomime acts.

Chaos erupts as the criminal Macavity The Mystery Cat a.k.a. The Hidden Paw (also Walters) emerges and catnaps Old Deuteronomy. As they worry about their leader, Macavity returns in a different form. But the sensitive and rather dramatic Demeter (Aeva May) sees through his disguise and exposes him. A fight inevitably happens and sometime later, the Jellicle leader is somehow rescued. With the help of the magical Mr. Mistoffelees (also Brent) and the kittens — the wise and sweet Jemima and the kind, queenly Victoria — Deuteronomy is finally able to make the Jellicle Choice.

Thoughts on CATS

For anyone wanting entertainment-value, CATS will not be a disappointment. But to the uninitiated, the whole story may not be easy to follow. I had to watch it several times myself before I fully understood everything.

It also helped that I had the libretto downloaded from the Internet back then. That made it easier to understand and better appreciate the actors’ various accents. Varley’s and Gibb’s were particularly harder to follow for me, to be honest. Understanding the words made their lively performance more fun to watch.

Most of the characters that were introduced/announced were old. It was natural for Deuteronomy to choose among the elders. They had been there, done that, enjoyed things they would want to relive like Gus, regretted things they would like to change like Grizabella.

Grizabella did not use her youth wisely. Once it was gone, she was left with nothing but her memories. She felt the sting of loneliness, lamenting the meaning of real happiness. The brief but memorable duet of the old and the young in “Memory (Reprise)” emphasized this. One represented hope and innocence; one represented loss and grave regrets. Meanwhile, we saw a stunning performance from both actors. It is arguably one of the best scenes from the film.

Between Griz and Gus, however, the latter gets my vote. Sir John Mills was a very convincing Gus that I actually shed some tears almost every time I watched him. A brief performance worthy of an award!

The stage production itself is to be applauded, in my opinion. Few musicals can do what CATS do. They may have one or two of the elements, but the show offers more.

There’s great poetry (with additional texts from Sir Trevor Nunn), though already antiquated from the start. Understandable. The book the show is based on is old. What’s amazing is they somehow pull it off. If you’re not into poetry, you’ll tend to forget it anyway as you enjoy watching the cats and their various antics. You won’t really notice that it’s poetry.

There’s wonderful music. A lot of times, it is operatic, which, I admit, may not suit some theater-goers. They might find the show boring because of the music. I think most avid supporters of musicals will not mind, though. Many musicals tend to be operatic.

The dance numbers are totally awesome! I am so impressed by the dancers who train really hard to move like real cats, even think like real cats. They make dancing seem easy when it isn’t. It takes dedication to achieve the craft. CATS’ dance routines also differ in genres (e.g. ballet, lyrical, even acrobatic). That makes the whole show quite interesting. Credit goes to Dame Gillian Lynne. I think productions still follow her choreography up to now. I saw a live performance some years ago and it was like watching the movie.

The set is not breathtakingly impressive compared to other shows’ and yet, very appropriate. Just imagine that you are an actual Jellicle Cat — the set will make sense. The way going to the Heaviside Layer is a bit of a turn-off for me. Other than that, well, I really don’t mind anything else.
I love other musicals as well. What sets CATS apart for me, though, is the fact that it is a complete package. I consider watching the movie as an actual adventure.
Truth be told, it isn’t really the story that has made the most impact on me. I am viewing this from the perspective of a musical-lover, not a film enthusiast. CATS is a stage musical, first and foremost. Despite its flaws, the movie deserves to be praised for the sheer originality alone. That’s what thinking-out-of-the-box is about.
And I am so glad CATS is out! 😉
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Hey, guys, I found this nice page on the musical, check it out: Cats (musical)

Komikon for Dummies

komikon-official-event-cover-photo Last Saturday, August 2, was 2014’s Indieket Day or the Independent Komiks Market event of the local Komikon, the Philippines’ own comics convention. Indieket is the second of three bigger Komikon events held annually, the other two being the Summer Komikon (keyword: summer) and the regular one usually held November or December (my friend Sherwin The Kraken tries to call it the Winter Komikon, nevermind that we have no winter). Other often smaller but equally special conventions happen in provinces once in a while, too, like in Cebu, Baguio and, recently, Iloilo.

I’ve been attending these three Komikons a few years now and *BIG SIGH* last Saturday, I was absent. For the first time since I began patronizing the once-again blooming comics industry, I missed an event. *MORE SIGHS* For more personal reasons that can actually be elaborated some other time, I stayed home instead and got busy.

Well, comics-related events have been around for quite a while before I discovered one, but I do believe I can say that I am now credible enough to share what I know. So since I have not been sharing my experiences in the more recent events, I thought I’d come up with this post. If you’re a Komikon dummy like I was, read on. This can help you on your first–or your next–Komikon experience.

The Dos-and-Don’ts Guide for Komikon Dummies

To the uninitiated, lemme explain. The occasion is for comics artists to showcase their works and for enthusiasts to take advantage of this. Rarely do you encounter dozens of artists and creators crammed in one place, so good for you. Here, you will find both newbie creators and more seasoned ones — take your pick. Okay, let’s start…

The Bayanihan Center facade. Credits belong to Ateneo.edu

1. KNOW the venue. Sounds duh, but it’s great advice coming from experience. Around two years ago, my officemates and I were to attend a Gaming, Toys, Manga/Anime and Cosplay Convention or GTMACCON (this is not Komikon, but just to drive a point…). We were a big enough bunch who came from Makati and went somewhere in UP Diliman to attend. We waited on university grounds until it was way beyond schedule and it seemed the place wasn’t even going to open. Finally, I texted comics guy Andoyman, asking where the exact venue was as someone got stuck with the wrong info that got disseminated to us.

Lo and behold! We were not even close! To add insult to injury, the venue was just in Makati, WHERE WE CAME FROM…Wow, mali (wrong). GTMACCON: Go To MAling Comics CONvention. The usual venue for the Komikon, by the way, is the Bayanihan Center located at the Unilab Compound in Pasig. 

2. Come early. It’s not like you’re going to be thrown out of the event or anything if you come in the afternoon. But it has been observed that the Summer Komikon and the “Winter” one tend to draw a big crowd. You’ll want to be one of the first to see the various merchandise, talk to the artists and ask for autographs and/or photographs. If you’re lucky, some artists give away their own simple freebies like little snacks, stickers, etcetera, as a form of appreciation. Better be there before supplies end.

It’s one, big geeky event, can’t you tell? This is the main hall where Komikon is always held, but you can imagine how it must have looked like at the entrance.

The organizers do give away freebies also right at the event entrance (not the building entrance, but where you are allowed entry after paying P100 for your ticket). Don’t expect too much, though. This is not Oprah or Ellen. Sometimes, sponsors put up booths/tables like 711 that once gave away free Slurpee and commemorative Lord of the Rings tumblers.

indieket-2013-catalog

There’s Tico Limosinero’s boy robot Neox together with Elbert Or‘s Chuck the Bakemono High werecub (extreme right), Ikos Komiks’ Ronzkie Pacho-Vidal‘s Asul from her work Sulsi at 6 o’clock and Michael David’s own ‘kikiam’ renditions of Chuck and Asul

Oh, and at times, they give away catalogs with lots of free space on them where you can ask artists to draw something for you for free (do buy something first, please!). You can do that throughout the day, but being early means you’ll have more time to approach more artists for it, plus they won’t be too tired already to draw anything. 

3. Don’t be a snob. If you look down on local comics based on them being, well, local, this is not the event for you. Either you beat it, pal, or give local comics a chance. There are ways, though, to get your fix of foreign ones by visiting booths of edition sellers like Comic Odyssey that has somehow become a sort of fixture, so to speak, in Komikon events because I see them there every time.

Meanwhile, we know you most probably know the creators of Kiko Machine, Pugad Baboy, Kubori Kikiam and the likes. These guys get the longest lines of people wanting to buy their products for some great photo-ops and autograph-signing with their idols. BUT the Komikon is mainly one giant showcase of newer talents. It won’t hurt to get to know them and their works. It’s actually fun to be “there” when a comic book is just starting and to gradually see it grow, so to speak.

By the way, while the Indieket gives much more chance for new creators by giving them the spotlight, on other Komikons, they are provided a separate area called the Indie Tiangge. It’s a sort of rite of passage before they are finally allowed to make it big…Er, well, before they are allowed to take space in the main activity area, that is. Some not-so-new ones are there as well simply because they are new participants of the event.  There are various factors considered but I’m not an authority on that, ergo, I leave it to you to interview anyone there. Make sure, though, to pay the Tiangge a visit. Not because they’re there, they are not worth a look. That’s not how it works. You’ll never know what treasure lies undiscovered in that room.

espiritista-comics

I encountered the Espiritista, its first-ever of the series by Niño Balita, at the Summer Komikon 2013 Indie Tiangge and I have been happily following his creation…Congrats to him and the Mrs. Espiritista–I mean–Mrs. Irene Balita, by the way!!!  They just exchanged I-Dos a few months ago 🙂

drop-dead-dangerous

I also first found Drop Dead Dangerous at the Indie Tiangge and I have been hooked ever since. Story by Chad Cabrera, art by Mike Banting

4. Have ka-ching, will buy. Sure, no one will send you away for “window shopping”. But the point of being there is to purchase, at the least, one or two comics. You don’t have to have a lot of moolah, believe me, I know. It’s one big decision-making exercise. A limited budget can still buy you more or less a dozen titles. A lot of them are priced from as low as P30, even P20. That’s already a steal, considering it’s art and the labor of one’s love. Of course, for such a price, do not expect a thick, glossy, full-colored edition. Generally, you’ll get photocopied versions, or limitedly colored ones, at least. But if you’re any good at choosing your comics, you can get clear, respectable-looking ones. Inexpensive doesn’t necessarily have to mean cheap.

ang-sumpa-komiks

Andoyman’s Ang Sumpa is one of those inexpensive comics that do not disappoint visually. And, no, I am not just saying that because I know him nor does it have to do with me being somehow a part of it. Shameless plug, though: DO GET YOUR COPIES!!!

macoy-school-run

Finally got to buy from the artist who likes to be simply called Macoy my own copies of School Run! He’s got various titles for you to choose from and the prices do vary based on thickness. The illustrations are fun and I like his storytelling

ikos-komiks

The Ikos Komiks table is one stop I never forget to do. They are a group of three artists with different styles in drawing and storytelling. In this pic are the aforementioned Ronzkie Pacho-Vidal (left) and Anino Karimlan (right). In-between is (the missing) Ray Vidal‘s Lola Lourdes whose stories and poems I get to read every time as they give away copies of her own brand of art — Thanks po for the autograph!!!

freely-abrigo-kulas

This one from Freely Abrigo, his Kulas, could be bought at just P30 with a fully-colored, little glossy cover

Also, I have stumbled upon inexpensive comics that have much better stories and illustrations than some pricier, glossier ones. It’s not just about getting your money’s worth when obviously, you can get much more satisfaction with still the least possible expense. If you do have more money to spare, then by all means, go for more gold! Maybe you’d like to purchase other comics-inspired merchandise, too, such as posters, stickers, plushies, beanie hats, keychains…You can even have works commissioned.

5.  Choose wisely. It’s another decision-making exercise. If you don’t know the artist/creator in front of you and can’t tell by just looking that you’d like to purchase, browse through a copy. If the premise does not interest you whatsoever, or the storytelling is bad, or the supposed humor is lacking, or the drawings either leave much to be desired or are totally horrendous (that totally happens), put the copy down and walk away.

FUM-manga

Sherwin The Kraken (the guy in middle) has really gotten to be a FUM fan so he never misses to visit their table. These are your FUM peeps, folks! He’s got all their comic mag editions, I think, not much encouraging needed

Try not to engage or be pulled to engage in a conversation with the artist unless you sincerely would really like to learn more about the comic book. Just saying, because that would be the more humane thing to do than to put his hopes up and have him waste time and energy trying to convince you when you’re not even buying.

On a more positive note, it’s a win-win situation, whether you buy or not. If you don’t, you don’t end up with something you don’t want. If you do, at least you’ve helped someone and maybe given him the inspiration to do better next time. 

6. Pay more attention. Enthusiasts are expected to walk around the area sizing up comics and getting to know the people behind the comics. By all means, do that. But you might also want to pay attention to the stage and what they announce over the microphone once in a while. Why? The organizers have prepared more stuff and surprises for you: Contests. Interviews with well-known international Pinoy artists like Whilce Portacio of X-Men fame. Featured guests, like those from the Macoy comics-based indie film ANG MASKOT. Even surprise wedding proposals!!! Also, talks and film showings are sometimes held in other rooms.

international-Filipino-artists

International Guests!!!

film-showings

Self-explanatory.

I also say pay attention because being a much-attended event, it has gotten the attention of bad elements as well and there have been unfortunate cases of loss of valuables. Take care of your things and, as signs always say, “Please do not leave your valuables unattended.” 

7. Don’t expect a food fair. Don’t go around complaining where the food stalls are–it’s not a food fair. There is a designated area for a limited bunch of food to buy, so find out where it is. There may be a hotdog-eating game happening onstage so if you’re also up to it, why not??? (hint: it normally happens pre-lunch period). Some participants actually give away little snacks so it pays to be early before they run out. Some do get to sell munchies at stalls outside the main Komikon area. However, if you really want fuller meals, just have your wrist stamped for re-entry later and get out of the venue. There are fast-food and regular restos around.

cupcakes-for-sale

Once in a while, there are little snacks you can get your hands on. For a price, though. But, boy, do they look yummy….(DISCLAIMER: I’m not endorsing anything)

8. Expect cosplayers. Encounters with comic characters in the flesh are quite possible so get your cameras ready. The Komikon is often attended by cosplayers who are either there for fun or are representing artists’ creations, like the famous Amber from Ambush and Dennis and his pal from Alphario: The World Connection. Do not expect many of them, though. It’s not a cosplay event after all.    

alphario-characters

Creator SPLGum as Dennis Blake (sitting) and friend Wilhansen Li as the character Senjo Tamura. Photo credits to SPLGum and whoever took this pic

9. Join contests. It can be as simple as the aforementioned eating contest, or raffles the organizers or artists themselves are holding, or a meet-and-greet with well-known international artists, or an actual video game at someone’s booth. Whatever the organizers and its participants’ clever minds can think of! My Komikon buddy Sherwin actually joined a create-your-character thing sponsored by Filbar’s. His and the other competitors’ works were simply amazing!

10. ENJOY!!! Totally self-explanatory, right? I just saved the best for last 🙂

Well, I hope I’ve given you ideas, you Komikon newbies. There could be lots more I have not covered, but I’ll let you discover those for yourselves. That’s part of enjoying the whole Komikon experience. Meanwhile, here are some more random but nice pics I haven’t shared before. Forgive the layout, I am editing it (there are still stuff that I don’t understand in WordPress…), and will add links soon.

planeswalker-cards

Very cool Planeswalker cards that were actually just giveaways. I got Ajani, Chandra, Jace, Liliana, and Tezzeret. You can’t really play them (like I’d even know how), but they’re nice souvenirs and the art is whoah!!! Digital art by Allen Geneta

elbert-or-manosaur

Cute Manosaur cartoon by Elbert Or on my catalog

alphario-character

Just had to post ’cause I really like this shot. Photo credits to SPLGum and whoever took this pic

pose-with-spot

Sherwin’s winning pose for Alphario’s Pose with Spot contest (well, I forgot the name of the contest, too, hee…)

pose-with-spot2

I won for the most number of Facebook Likes category mainly because I begged and forced people–I mean, I looked so convincing…uhm, yeah…

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles

I wasn’t EVER going to buy posters as my main goal was to buy comics, but when I saw this at Allen Geneta’s table, I knew I just HAD to have a copy. Recognize these ninjutsu-trained amphibians? Click HERE for a closer look

me-as-stitch

First time to wear one of those beanie hats at an event. My Komikon buddy was right, it was liberating, he he…That was the nearest to cosplaying in public that I could get, if that’s even cosplaying. But hey, notice my colors? 😉

plushies-for-sale

So…plushies…!!!!

crochet-jake-adventurer

So cuuuuteee!!!!

rodski-patotski

The new Gerry Alanguilan book…I honestly have not bought a copy yet and have not read any part of it. I hope it’s just as good as his Elmer and Wasted

sulsi-paper-dolls

The Sulsi main characters. Got my complete set already, woohoo!!!

me-pose-mb

“Yes, I’m shameless. So sue me.”

mb pose4               See you next Komikon…I PROMISE!!!!!

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Thanks so much just for dropping by and I hope you got even the tiniest bit of new info. For more Komikon-related posts, please go to COMICS TRIPS.

Lea and Her BABY Ten Years Ago #atozchallenge2014

NOTE: I can’t believe it’s been ten years! I had several ideas for my “L” post for the A-to-Z Challenge until I decided that I wanted to feature my favorite artist, Lea SalongaI wanted to post either what I wrote before about her anniversary concert that I attended or my story on how I met her face to face and my little anecdote about it. Truth is I couldn’t find them. But I found THIS and I don’t mind sharing it at all 🙂 I’m just surprised that I read that the production was back in 2004. Time sure does fly! 

By the way, I know “L” comes before “M,” but I’m just making up for what I missed. Cut me some slack 🙂

Sorry for there doesn’t seem to be paragraph breaks. Will fix soon…

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lea-salonga-babyReality is, what drew most of Atlantis Productions’ BABY The Musical‘s audience to march to Meralco Theater – literally from the gate to the building for this writer – consists of two words and five syllables: Lea Salonga. She was, of course, a big crowd-drawer. The posters said it all. “Lea Salonga in BABY The Musical.”

But what made people smile afterwards, long before the show was over, was a combination of four things: Lea, the story, the music, and the whole production itself. More than any one of the audience asked for or expected. I, for one, while excited about watching a musical, only psyched myself to enjoy watching the actress should the show proved the opposite of engaging. Oh, but it was engaging! And I had nothing to worry about.

Richard Maltby Jr.‘s BABY The Musical tells the story of three couples – Lizzie Fields (Salonga) and Danny Hooper (David Shannon), Pam (Agot Isidro) and Nick Sakarian (Jett Pangan) , and Arlene (Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo) and Alan McNalley (Miguel Faustmann).

Couple Number One. Lizzie and Danny, both in college, are living in together. They get the shock of their lives when the stork suddenly decides to drop them a visit and leave a gift. The practical and organized world of Lizzie is suddenly invaded by a third party, by the discovery that she is pregnant. It would make for a typical story. Guy finds out, guy runs away. But no. Instead, Lizzie is the one afraid of making the commitment and doing what Danny deems necessary, which is to get married. For Lizzie, “I don’t wanna get married because I don’t wanna get a divorce!” While she is prepared to be with Danny and raise the baby, marriage is not something she wants to say yes to.

(See and hear Lea perform with Liz Callaway Lizzie’s song “The Story Goes On” below)

Couple Number Two. Pam and Nick is a couple in their 30’s, married for two years, and still childless. Suddenly, it seems their prayers are answered. Pam, after a visit from the hospital, informs her husband that she is finally pregnant! The already-happy couple is now much happier. Finally, a baby!…The celebration is short-lived, however. They soon find out that, yes, Mrs. Sakarian is with child, only it is Nick’s sister-in-law. Having failed, they decide to consult a doctor and soon find out the cause. Then follows the hilarious attempts to conceive and the conflict that goes with the problem.

Couple Number Three. Arlene and Alan McNalley, in their 40’s, are prepared for a lifetime of being “TWO”, that is a family minus all their three kids. Arlene looks forward to finally having time alone with her husband at last, having sent their youngest child off to college. She is in, however, for a rude awakening. As said, “…a night of unexpected passion lands them back where they started” …Pregnant! Alan is overwhelmed with joy. Arlene, unfortunately, obviously isn’t. A new baby in the family just isn’t what she needs now, not anymore.

To be honest, a part of me was really interested in seeing the show because of the premise. Why wouldn’t BABY be interesting? It is, after all, about relationships between men and women, and particularly about the responsibility that often follows – raising children. As Maltby said, BABY is about that something that is not really rare and, yet, is often taken for granted…Or something like that.

Based on the book by Sybille Pearson, the musical does not only tell of interwoven stories, oftentimes “told” with humor. Behind the laughs, however, lie the serious problems that come with having a baby and that need to be addressed. It tackles concerns such as pre-marital sex, living in, women’s lib, sterility, age, and yes, even abortion. Etcetera. Not all of these are directly mentioned throughout the course of the play, nor does it tend to be preachy. You’d have to be dumb, though, not to notice the subtle hints at times. Either that, or you were sleeping.

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THE CAST (from left to right): Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Miguel Faustmann, David Shannon, Lea Salonga, Agot Isidro, and Jett Pangan

Lea as Lizzie was perfect. Playing a 20-year-old didn’t seem to be a “STREEETCH,” unlike what she herself said. Not at all. The voice was as crystal clear as ever, both in singing and speaking. That is a trait that sets her apart from most actors today and makes her Number One in many people’s books. And man, did I laugh when she danced and bounced, big belly and all! No wonder Julie Andrews loves her voice…Lea. You just gotta love her.

David was convincing, as well, as Danny. Listening to him sing reminded me of the character Chris in Miss Saigon. Oh, but wait. He did play Chris in the U.K Tour of M.S.! Four things I like about the guy: he sings well, he sang “I Chose Right,” he played Rum Tum Tugger and Marius in a CATS and a Les Miserables production respectively, and he is married to an equally talented Filipina artist, Ima Castro! And – oh! – he signed the cover of my Collector’s Edition CD, so that makes it five! Well, his presence in the theater scene is surely welcome and appreciated.

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Got pic from HERE

From the role of Schrintze in Fiddler on the Roof  in 1978 to this year’s Arlene, Miss Menchu has indeed proved her mettle in the business. It seems I liked that mettle and it has made a fan out of this writer. Listening her do the solo piece “Patterns” gave me the goosebumps, the very good kind of goosebumps. Despite that she is a great actress, though, she still did not come across as forty-ish, which Arlene should have been, and which she actually is. Miss Menchu, with all that faux curly locks that were intended to make her appear 43, is really a very beautiful woman who looks much younger than she actually is. So I guess this comment is more of a good kind of negative response, if you know what I mean.

Mister Faustmann was actually my problem. Of course, he was a good actor. His recent awards say it all. The show, however, did not showcase much of his singing talent. He did have his own solo, ”Easier To Love,” which I liked, but it was not much to give me the same kind of goosebumps as aforementioned. Not his fault, I know. It just was not meant to be goosebump-y, but rather a humorous take on and comparison between love for a spouse and love for a child. Guess which is easier.

The show bared two revelations, namely Jett and Agot.

jett-panganPre-theater, the only songs that I could remember The Dawn frontman singing were not really that impressive, for me, at least. But ever since I found out his stints in shows such as The Rocky Horror Show and Tick, Tick, Boom!, I had been interested in seeing him perform. Whoah, baby! The show gave me the opportunity to hear the man, and boy, was I surprised! All I can say is he has got one of the best voices that I ever heard, ever! Jett could act as well, bringing the house down with his portrayal of funnyman Nick. On both occasions that I watched (yes, I watched it twice), he got the audience clapping wildly at curtain call.

Agot, like I said, was quite a revelation as well. Onstage, the prim and proper lady we had come to know suddenly transformed into a funny, kikay, and yes, daring woman. Well, at least, more daring than the usual Agot. The novice among them (she recently starred in her first musical, TrumpetsHonk!), she held her own against the more seasoned actors. She has become a better actress and a better singer as well. The sporty persona of her character Pam, though, just was not Agot. For a basketball coach, she sure played ball like – should I say it? – a girl. But it was not a major concern, anyway, so who actually cared?

The whole story would not be complete without the Ensemble. Very special mention to the great people who provided all sorts of characters that helped mold the whole story and piece it together. The show was not found wanting, what with such great talents such as Chari Arespacochaga, Cathy Azanza, Topper Fabregas, Christine Sambeli-Marquez, Jun Ofrasio and Robie Zialcita (whose doctor was quite a riot with Nick and Pam). Most of them are theater veterans. Kumbaga, ‘di matatawaran ang galing. (In other words, their great talents are all worth it.)

My only complaint was during ”The Ladies Singing Their Song,” most of the ladies didn’t look their part. The tennis women and the woman with ten kids did sound older but looked much younger. I mean, I would kill to have those figures and legs! Sure, older women do have the right to look gorgeous (Miss Menchu comes to mind again), but let’s face it. In reality, how many older women you know actually look like that?

Now comes the part where we criticize the music…Frankly, I find it a daunting task as I have come to love the songs, a collaboration of two wonderful musicians. Maltby’s lyrics, set into music by David Shire. Deadly combination. Add in an orchestra led by Gerard Salonga and his baton. Maltby, himself, said it. BABY’s music is not like the usual stuff we musical-lovers have come to expect. Heck, the story is not the usual stuff. That all the more makes it dear. The story, the music, the setting, the production, the whole of it, however contemporary, is a classic. Classic in the sense that whatever period it is, it will always sound fresh. The musical was written and first done in the early ‘80s. If I haven’t told you that, would you have realized it? No. That’s how un-antiquated it is.

All in all, BABY The Musical, under the direction of Bobby Garcia, was quite a success indeed. True, Lea’s name dragged people’s butts away from other activities and into the Meralco Theater seats. The smiles on people’s faces after the show, however, were the result of the whole new musical experience. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a bouncing BABY!!!

Meanwhile, here’s one of my favorite BABY songs:

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I hope you enjoyed what you read almost as much as I enjoyed the show ten years ago.

This post is a part of…

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WICKEDly Ozsome!

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More than two weeks ago, I had already extinguished any hopes of ever seeing the Manila run of one of my most-awaited musicals, a part of my Broadway bucket list. It was just days to go and poof! The show would be gone again. I unfortunately could not go and see it. It just. Wasn’t. Possible…Until, in a wickedly awesome fashion, something magical happened.

Suddenly, there it was, the ticket in my hands, made possible by prayer, hope, and a magical thing called friendship. The universe thought to make it work for me. I won’t delve much on my meaning, but that person knows already how much I appreciated it. To you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Idina-Menzel

Idina Menzel was first to play Elphaba (WICKED). She reprised her Broadway role in RENT The Musical onscreen alongside husband Taye Diggs. On TV, she notably had recurring roles in the hit show Glee

Now, in case the title of this post and the image and video above aren’t enough give-away clues, I am referring to WICKED The Musical. I can’t believe it’s a decade old already!

Long-before the song “Let It Go” from the Frozen movie became everyone’s favorite, Idina Menzel (yes, that’s the right name) first made the song “Defying Gravity” famous by originating the role of Elphaba, the thoroughly green, thoroughly misunderstood witch in the Land of Oz. The role won for Idina a Tony. (See the next video to watch Idina sing “Defying Gravity” onstage with Kristin Chenoweth playing Glinda The Good. Idina’s lovely recorded album version can be found HERE, just click on it.)

I had known about this and about her for a long time and kept wishing that WICKED would find its way to Manila. Well, as they say, good things come to those who wait (and those who cross their fingers for good measure). It turned out it was the Australian production that came here to perform at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) as part of their Asian tour. Ooh, Oz bringing Oz to Manila! I did wish for Idina, but some things aren’t meant to be.

My friends and I pretty much got good seats that night. Not that near that even my 20/20 vision could not give me a much clearer view of everyone’s face on stage. Not that far either, which was a real blessing for I have always been vocal about how I hate the way the CCP auditorium is structured, a real let-down if you happen to sit at the top rows. Binoculars were actually offered outside for people to get a better view but we opted not to buy/rent any. I just wish I didn’t forget to bring mine. I wanted to kick myself (utterly impossible to do it, really).

I have to say it was a really fun night. I had expected it for a long time and indeed, the production did very well. But first, if you’re still unfamiliar with it (and don’t want to watch the first posted video here), a background on the show:

Wicked: The Untold Story of the Witches of Oz, or simply WICKED  The Musical, is an adaptation of Gregory Maguire‘s 1995 novel Wicked: the Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. This, in turn, somehow serves as a prequel to the Frank L. Baum classic novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its 1939 film adaptation The Wizard of Oz that brought fame to Judy Garland. In 1978, there was a film adaptation of the then-Broadway version, The Wiz, with musical greats Diana Ross and Michael Jackson headlining an all Afro-American cast that included other celebs doing some cameo.

Baum’s book was about a young girl, Dorothy, who, together with her dog Toto and her new-found friends — The Tin Man, The Cowardly Lion and  The Scarecrow — saved the Land of Oz from the Wicked Witch of the West with the help of the Good Witch of the South and two magical red shoes.

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A cover version of Gregory Maguire‘s WICKED: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. I have a copy of the sequel Son of a Witch, but I’m not sure if I want to read it already since I haven’t read the first yet. We’ll see…

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This is the original title page of Frank L. Baum‘s book. In later versions, the “Wonderful” was dropped from the title

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This is Dorothy (Judy Garland) with her three friends in the 1939 movie that made the songs from its 1902 Broadway musical famous, particularly “Over the Rainbow” and “Follow the Yellow Brick Road”

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The main cast of the all Afro-American film The Wiz (fr. left): Ted Ross. Diana Ross, Nipsey Russell, Michael Jackson

As said, WICKED and the book it was based on serve as prequel, to supposedly explain the events that have led to the Wicked Witch’s own demise. But things aren’t always as they seem, especially in Oz. As the show itself says, “So much happened before Dorothy dropped in.” Told in the point of view of the two witches, mostly by the Good Witch, we learn of a history of friendship between them before they become frenemies. More importantly, we learn who truly deserves to be called “wicked.”

The show starts with Glinda The Good announcing the death of the Wicked Witch. Everyone rejoices until someone boldly asks something like, “We heard you were friends with her.” So then, we are thrust back in time as Glinda recounts mostly in her head what happens before, during and after she becomes friends with the “beautifully tragic” Elphaba, who is literally as green as can be.

good-wicked-witchThese two loathe each other at the start because they believe themselves so different from the other. Glinda, a closet bully, describes her new roommate as “Unuuuusually and exceeedingly peculiar and aaaltogether impossible to descriiibe,” like words are not enough to explain Elphaba; Elphie, the nerdy loner, describes her new roommate as “Blonde,” like that says it all.

I will stop here or I won’t be able to then tell the whole story and be the bad egg that spoiler freaks are made of. I’ll jump to my actual comments.

First, the set…WIC-KEEED!!! Having had a bit of a background knowledge of how things go down in this production, I still loved the way everything was put together. It was nowhere near The Phantom of the Opera (POTO), but it was still a great and totally awesome set.

Whenever I watch plays and musicals, while most eyes are glued on the actors, mine are always busy checking out the sets and props. It gives me a kind of a different high that I can’t describe, like I want to know each set’s story: how is it made, what makes it work, who handles everything, do the handlers ever get confused and make mistakes…If I’d known I’d be this interested, I should have paid closer attention in class.

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What the stage looks like before the show starts and during intermission. Cool dragon above 🙂

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One look of the stage

Second, the costumes. I imagine that Oz being somewhere in a kind of alternate universe, the costume designer needed not be constrained with period clothes and such. There was a lot of freedom incorporated in the costumes, the designer making the ultimate decisions, like how something should look on whom and where. They made sure to create a distinction between the “regular” clothes and those of the people of Emerald City. The City dwellers dressed up lavishly, if not weirdly, and vibrantly, especially in green. Elphie found herself a shoo-in — finally, a place where she belonged!

I should really mention two things. One (and, I guess, this falls under under costume?), they should have just left out those three giant puppets dancing with the rest of the Emerald City citizens when the two girls arrived. As all others were just humans, they seemed really out of place and played no importance at all to the whole story, in my opinion. On a more personal note, they looked like clowns and weird-looking clowns give me the creeps, ha ha! Two, and in contrast, a welcome kind of creeps were what I felt when the monkeys grew wings. I didn’t expect it and it made me go “yikes”…Love it.

Third, the sounds and music. Good enough sound quality, although I don’t know if it’s the actors, but many times, when there’s an ensemble singing, the group didn’t sound that clear (can’t say the same for those who sat nearer to the stage). I had to try and strain my ears just to get what they were saying. Also, I am not sure if the assumption was true, but somebody said some parts were lip synced. I’d like to believe they weren’t, given that it’s a professional, touring production. So I am left wondering. Nevertheless, I didn’t really mind.

The songs, themselves, were very nice, sometimes really meaningful and even catchy. Stephen Schwartz is a genius with his music and lyrics. I’ve been singing the songs over and over everyday! Talk about last song syndrome.  Again, “Defying Gravity” along with “Popular” were easy favorites. I liked, too, the sentimental “I’m Not That Girl” and its reprise. Another one of my favorites is “For Good,” a very beautiful and rather sad friendship song. (See the last video posted here to listen to this song.)  

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Fourth, the story. Well, I had a bit of a knowledge on what the musical was going to be about, and I do mean bit there so, unlike with POTO and Cats The Musical, I didn’t exactly know what to expect. Somebody gifted me with a live Broadway show recording years ago (so nice of her, bless her soul), but the copy is a bit problematic.

It was fun and ingenious the way the whole background stories were woven together to create a whole new story.  We met the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Scarescrow in ways we never expected. It’s kind of funny in a wow-who-would-have-thought way to find what the magical red shoes were actually for. And how exactly did Dorothy land in Oz? Classic.

I found that both the witches were actually similar in a big way, being two insecure creatures and putting up fronts. Glinda made up for it by being the lovable and popular girl. Elphaba made up for it for being a somewhat acerbic nerd and pulling off an I-don’t-care-about-what-you-think class act. One qualm: Elphaba gave me the impression of a serious character. I wanted her to be fun, given that the story was supposed to be somewhat a comedy and hers was the title role.

Some parts of the story that were supposed to surprise did not surprise me much, but I think that was because I have often been good at knowing things immediately when I watch something. So the first time I saw the mysterious character dancing with Elphie’s mom, I knew already who he was going to be later in the story. And when a character confronted Elphie and her sister Nessa, the moment the witch mentioned “heart,” I knew exactly what was to happen. These did not dampen anything for me because they served to excite me, making me try to be more observant for more clues.

I did feel that they failed to build up the love story. There were not enough scenes between the future lovers to make his falling in love with her more logical, and until he told her his feelings, there was nothing to suggest that she liked him. Of course, I expected it, but even something that fictional could use a bit more of the realistic approach. I didn’t like how the love angle was “told” kind of haphazardly. As an effect, I didn’t feel the chemistry. It fell flat, to be perfectly blunt about it.

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Jemma Rix as Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West…This is my fave image from the show. Fierce Elphie!

Fifth, the acting. Jemma Rix as Elphaba was wonderful, although I guess it came with the character she was playing. But like I said, Elphie lacked something in the fun character department. The most fun I had with Elphaba was when she was singing, especially her signature song, Defying Gravity.

Let me just emphasize that was never Jemma’s fault. As said, she was a wonderful Elphaba. Oh, but I did love the kind of robotic dancing and the hair “toss-toss”-ing! Those were really funny. You won’t see them in the videos because it seems that each production and its actors still have their own styles, innovations and ad libs.

I did enjoy Suzie Mathers more as Glinda. I can’t even say you’d love to hate Glinda because you could never hate her, she’s so cute! She was the show’s real comic relief, which I didn’t expect, and the fact that she was played by a very credible actress was truly entertaining.

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Suzie Mathers as Glinda The Good Witch of the South

My impression was Suzie’s character was the most physical one in the whole production. She was constantly moving and making gestures, going here and there. The good witch role was a fun character. Suzie was perfectly perky-bubbly-girly. I was, in a way, reminded of Elle Woods in the film Legally Blonde, which now also has its own stage musical adaptation.

Her attack on the role was somehow different from that of Kristin Chenoweth who originated it. Kristin was very effective also, though, rather more on the quirky-silly-girly side. (Watch the very funny Kristin below, giving beauty tips in “Popular.” The last stanza of the song got cut off, though. For a more complete performance and a closer look at the characters — they’re so pretty! — click HERE. )

Jay Laga’aia as The Wizard may seem familiar, and he did seem so to me. That’s because according to the programme, he’d done lots of screen work, most known of which were Star Wars 2 & 3. As for the acting, maybe it’s in how the character was written in the play, but I found myself not feeling anything, either positive or negative. Sorry, just personal opinion.

As for Steve Danielsen playing Fiyero, I felt he lacked a lot. Understandable as he is said to be a relative newcomer to the musical theatre stage. I felt he looked awkward onstage especially when it involved choreography.

In general, the whole ensemble did great justice to the show. Special props to Ms. Maggie Kirkpatrick who played Madame Morrible. 

Over all, it was a very enjoyable night to spend with friends. After all, it was, more than anything else, about friendship and acceptance of others and oneself. The WICKED experience was worth every second, every effort, every cent.

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Liked this? Feel free to hit LIKE!!! Or have you seen a WICKED performance yourself? Share to us your thoughts or posts about it. Let’s be WICKED! 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Indie-what? (The 2nd Komikon Grand Independent Komiks Market)

Indieket poster I know, I know, it’s been more than a month. I’ve been busy making a living so kindly cut me some slack, alright? *wink!* But it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this year’s Indieket. On the contrary! After my official first Komikon experience, I was so raring to go and get my first-ever Indieket-fix. Get it, I did. Okay, for comparison’s sake and for those who haven’t had the chance to attend both or any of the two, there are a few things I can tell you about the Indieket and the regular Komikon.

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Here are some of the independent artists-publishers present at the Indieket

For one, the Indieket, or Indie Komiks Market, is really meant mostly for emerging and independent comic publishers whose main goal is to make their own mark in the world of comics. So don’t go around expecting to see more popular titles and merchandise.

I did say “meant mostly,” so be prepared to encounter more-established works while you’re there, like we found Pugad Baboy (Pol Medina, Jr. was there and, of course, I missed the opportunity to buy his work for the second time and have him sign it) and Kubori Kikiam (my friend Sherwin was so pleased to see creator Michael David and bought almost the whole set of the series. Mr. David signed every one while I wondered if Sherwin really had an idea of what he was about to read. Some YouTube vids before already told me what to expect.)

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Pol Medina Jr. (right) doing what he’s been doing since Pugad Baboy became famous—sign autographs 🙂

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Publisher Point Zero’Kubori Kikiam creator Michael David with his merchandise that feature three very horny kikiams. Kikiam is a popular streetfood in the Philippines

Two, if you get an adrenaline-rush mixing with a whole big crowd of comic geeks, the regular Komikon is your thing, not the Indieket where there are only much fewer tables, ergo, less room needed.

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The not-so-crowded crowd…Perfect for me! (Although, of course, for obvious reasons, more would’ve been very ideal)

When we got to the Indieket, in fact, the absence of long lines at the entrance—the absence of any line, for that matter—was very noticeable. It doesn’t mean that people didn’t attend, though. Turn-out was still quite good, IMO, although quite less than the convention’s. Organizers definitely expected this, having held these events before.

Three, the Indieket is actually perfect for peeps who want to be able to go around more freely and examine every table to decide what to buy. They have more chance to interview the artists behind specific works (illustrators and writers alike), get to know the new ones more, or update their collections. It’s even easier to ask for autographs and/or photo-ops.

One big plus the day we were there, the organizers gave away copies of the 2013 Indieket Event Catalog that have the front and back covers “empty” to give fans a chance to ask artists to draw something on those. I’m saving mine for the Komikon, though, as I wanted to spend more time going around.

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Again, Tico Limosinero, half of the guys responsible for Neox, was very accommodating, he actually spent not just quite a few minutes drawing a perfect Neox on this catalog

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There’s Tico’s boy robot together with Elbert Or‘s Chuck the Bakemono High werecub (extreme right), Ikos Komiks’ Ronzkie Pacho-Vidal‘s Asul from Sulsi at 6 o’clock and Michael David’s own kikiam renditions of Chuck and Asul

We did have fun at the Indieket. Less adrenaline-rush, alright, but more meaningful communication with our great Pinoy comic artists!

I am presently cooking up something for a next comics-related post. Meanwhile, check out and enjoy the pics below 🙂

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Highly approved! Tico (sitting) is all-smiles here. Again, we missed the other-half of the Neox team, Jomar Bulda

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Sherwin showing off the works he commissioned from Freely Abrigo (right). They’re not so visible due to the light, though, so below are a closer look at the stuff, including my colored Kapitan Tog (that one Freely’s holding)

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My very own Kapitan Tog in color 🙂

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Dobbernaut and Combatron

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Megaman and Rush

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The complete set of HappyLockjaw‘s DropDeadDangerous (DDD) so far…I am a fan of the comic book series and can’t wait to see what’s next! More about the issues HERE

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DDD’s story is by Chad Cabrera whom we met at the last Summer Komikon. And news, hot from the oven! This month’s RED Magazine includes an interview with him. Check out THESE snippets. And how about a full Blob Shack interview?

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Finally met DDD illustrator Mike Banting, whom I forgot to ask to sign my copy of DDD…HERE‘s an interview with him by DeviantArt’s Indie Graphic Novels group

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A true-blue FUNNY Komiks fan, my friend was so thrilled to finally put a face to a name he’s long-ago liked. Dexter Roxas, I heard, published his A.X Zero Genesis in FUNNY Komiks before. It’s not clear to me if FK is still out there, but what’s clear is Dexter’s story will continue

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So this is A.X Zero Genesis!

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Bookmarks showing the various A.X Zero characters

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Of course, as usual, comics galore!

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Also sold were souvenir buttons and other stuff, mostly from past Komikons. Sulyap is a must-have. It’s an anthology of previously published works that made an impact to comics enthusiasts

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Here’s a nice souvenir that I got–a paper art doll of Sulsi’s Asul! In my previous Komikon post, I mentioned wanting this and now, it’s mine! BWAHAAHAAAAA!!!! Ronzkie said they’re coming up with the next one, most probably of the character Pula. I am seriously gonna reserve one immediately! BTW, thanks for this, Sherwin! =>

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The Ikos Komiks triumvirate (from left): Ronzkie, Ray Vidal and, the guy we missed before, Anino Karimlan (whose real name I have yet to research on).

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Along with beaded bracelets that we got for free, the Ikos gang gave us these cute li’l thingies–stationery, stickers and bookmarks

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Meanwhile, we got these, too, from the Espiritista (Pagsapuge publication) table when we bought our copies of the comic book. The pink one’s the second love story shortie from Niño Balita (he must be one hopeless romantic!), and then there are the stickers 🙂

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Speaking of the de–uh–debuhista…He he he…Here he is at his table

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Now here he is asking a fellow artist for autograph. This is Melvin Calingo, much-better known as Taga-Ilog, creator of Pasig that is published under Point Zero

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Now whose hand is that drawing a character from one of his kiddie comic books?

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It’s Elbert Or, known for his take on a school of little monsters, the Bakemono High comics that K-Zone Magazine published

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Andoyman, busy-busy! Chapter Two of Ang Sumpa is in the works and hopefully will be ready in time for the next Komikon

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New artist I met here. Well, new to me, actually. This is Ricardo ‘giosdesk’ Guiao Jr. who is behind the Lakan at Makisig comic strip and, I have to say, I love those names 🙂

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Gio’s Lakan at Makisig strips. Sorry for the blurred shot

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Daniel Collado says Hola Filipinas! I bought this not because he is foreign but because I wanted to see how this true story of “A Spaniard in Manila” goes. He is a new comics artist working on a series with a Filipino who, if I got it right from the other guy, is/was his classmate. I am hazarding a guess Hola was part of a school project because the way the other guy explained his own work that tackled Philippine history was that it was a school project. Or maybe workshop project?

hola-filipinas

Here’s a better look at Hola. I THINK I found Daniel’s FB, but since he’s new and I can’t assume it’s okay to share, I leave it up to you to look for him

filbars-pop-art-project

At the event, we found this display of entries for Filbar’s THE POP! ART PROJECT. It is a contest that requires competitors to customize their own suits of armor with three Funko Pop characters to choose from and use as base figures

iron-man-base-armors

The said Funko Pop characters happen to be three Iron Man suit of armor figures. Deadline: Oct. 30, 2013. Jugment Day: Next Komikon, November 16th. For more details, CLICK HERE!

kapitan-tog-armor

Do you comic geeks find this suit kind of familiar? 😉

bruho-barbero-cyborg

With due respect to all contestants, particularly artists, this is my clear favorite. Well, was, so far. I have not seen if there are new entries. I like how totally different this looks from the Iron Man base and I love the little details. Thumbs up!

hotdog-eating-contest

DREAM COME TRUE! Last time, Sherwin the Kraken missed the hotdog-eating contest. This time, he wasted no time and ate leisurely away. Did he win? Clue: I said “leisurely”

glorious-pose

Manila Bulletin joined the event by having a free photo booth for anyone interested to pose. ‘Course, we did. The pics were supposed to be posted online by MB but I forgot where…

me-posing

Okay, to be fair, here’s my mug shot. The MB rep took a better shot, for sure, and hopefully, my shameless plug of my blog was more readable. There’s Asul posing with me 😉

kubori-kikiams

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NOTE: Were you there? Anything you can contribute? A blog post by you about it, maybe? Just let me know and I will link to it 🙂

NOTE 2: More INDIEKET 2013 write-ups worth-sharing: A great recount of the event is at Sights & Highlights of the Indieket 2013The best from Komikon Indieket 2013 reviews some of what PsychoCow deemed best from this year’s Indieket. The simply titled Komikon Indieket 2013 post shares some very nice shots from the event. All these links will be added as relevant links in the subpages of my COMICS TRIPS that are under construction. By the way, these links are from the Indieket Facebook event page. THANKS!!! 

NOTE 3: All photos by Sherwin and myself.

Un-Newbie-d (The Real Komikon Experience)

“I’ve been KONned.” There’s just no other way to say it. After more than a year of calling myself a Komikon newbie—worse, an (Almost) Komikon newbie’—I can now claim to be a real Komikon fangirl! Attending last April 13’s event at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig made sure of that.

summer-komikon-ticket

Some posts ago, I said I would not expect a real comics convention as much different from the comics festival I went to before, but it’s one of those rare occasions I’m thankful to be proven wrong. The Komiks Festival was cool and all, but the real Komikon…ROCKS! For starters, I was early enough at the venue, but what did I find? Already two long qeues to the building entrance. Later on, the place would be swarming with fans to feed their comic-hungry souls. My friend Sherwin was running late so good luck to him.

summer-komikon-comic-geeks

Whew!!! That’s just at the event entrance, lots more outside the building entrance, and lots more inside Bayanihan Center. Image from Komikon’s Facebook account

This just proved that Pinoy Komiks are NOT dead. Rather, quite alive and kicking. It was overwhelming to see a lot of geeks convening in one place (hey, don’t be offended by the geek-label, remember I was there, too, to enhance my geekiness). More overwhelming to know that thousands support the growing, new comics industry.

I almost made another mistake, what I call ‘Gayda Moment.’ Years ago, I absent-mindedly smiled and nodded a hey-there to a very familiar face only to realize it was Toni Rose Gayda, who didn’t really know me, and whom I never really personally met. Poor woman didn’t know how to react, trying to place me. So I almost made a fool of myself once again last Saturday, about to smile and nod a hey-there to Gab Chee Kee of the famous Parokya ni Edgar. Wow, ‘feeling-close’ naman ako. Funny, but I ended up following him in line. I could only hope no eager paparazzi took secret photos of him, a girl at his back looking silly like she was about to go to the beach with her large native bag, not attending the convention.

Once I got my ticket back with the stub removed, received my first set of freebies, and had the Summer Komikon logo stamped at the back of my right wrist, I proceeded to the lobby where I consumed a free Slurpee for breakfast (hey, I was in a hurry!). Shamelessly accepted, too, a The Hobbit Slurpee tumbler give-away (excess from when the movie was shown, but who cared? I love souvenirs). There were some non-comicbook goods being sold already right at the lobby but I didn’t want to splurge on them when I hadn’t even bought comics first.

create-own-comics-character

A young comics enthusiast checks out the exhibit on the various Character Making Contest entries

Facing the actual event area, I found on the right an exhibit of the Character Making Contest entries that had “Bata ang Bida!” (loose translation: “Kids Rule!”) as this year’s theme. Boy, a lot of them actually had promise. I would’ve checked out every one to have my own bets, but I told my friend, Andoyman Komikero, I was going to his table at the Indie Tiangge so I thought I’d just come back later (I forgot, though, but here are the winners: Character Making Contest 2013 winners).

So! Where was the Indie Tiangge section? I knew it was supposed to be separated from the main hall itself, but there didn’t seem to be anywhere else to go, but down a corridor that seemed too serious, I didn’t want to go where it could be off-limits. So I entered the hall.

Wow! Talk about crowded. There were lots of people and there were lots and lots of goodies to choose from. It was hard not to somehow touch shoulders with others or accidentally hit a display or two. Many popular titles and artists to choose from, too! I tell you I didn’t know where to start. So I just went around looking for Andoyman here, there, everywhere and I told myself to check outside again. It was a good thing because somebody, at last, posted a big sign now pointing to the direction of the Indie Tiangge, down the serious corridor. Ugh.

There he was! Finally! It had been more than two years when last Andy and I saw each other. Every communication–editing included–done through Facebook, texts and emails. I was glad to get actual copies of his Ang Sumpa (published under his Andoyman Komiks), especially because in a way, I was a part of it. I never knew I’d be doing anything related to comics. But now, let’s just say I’m thinking bigger things. We’ll see.

andoyman-and--komiks

Andoyman Komikero meets the Vidals of Ikos Komiks. That’s Andy, at left, with Ronzkie Pacho-Vidal sitting at the back, and Ray Vidal at our right

andoyman-komiks-sumpa

Andoyman Komiks. From left: The freebie Palimos ng Kulangot written by Doc Ronibats, Ang Sumpa 1 & 2, FOODCOURT, Andoyman’s baptism of fire

After some tête-a-tête and finding out there was no phone signal there, I went out to see any replies from Sherwin. He asked,“Wer n u? Nsa indi komiks tiangge k?” (“Where are you? At the Indie Tiangge?”) , to which I said yes and I would be waiting for him there. Then I spotted the Jonas Diego whom I last saw personally at the Festival; before that was yeeeeaarsss ago. Of course, we got to talk a bit and found we are just practically neighbors in Makati. I asked for issue 2 of his Pocket Comics, unfortunately, it was/is still a negative.

ikos-komiks-comics

The Ikos Komiks. They’re a variety of things–for kids, love stories, fantasies, action, drama, horror even (I am hazarding a guess here)

After a while, I went back to the Tiangge. Andoyman introduced me to the peeps next to him, Ikos KomiksRonzkie Pacho-Vidal and Ray Vidal. Their third member, Anino Karimlan, was not there. Ronzkie got to discuss with me their production and comic outputs. I’ve got to say I was initially attracted to their works visually. Then I got to flip through the pages and, through more explanations from her, I decided I wanted to buy at least two first. Based on what I’ve seen and read later on, I know Ikos Komiks is quite a group to watch out for. I am officially a fan.

As freebie, Ray gave away copies of the poetry book Utterly Woman: Lyric Poems, which, with one look, I immediately knew wasn’t new. Confirmation was when I asked and he said the writer, Lourdes H. Vidal, is his grandma. No problem. I love poems, and I actually considered myself lucky getting such a book for free. There was no other poetry-lover there more thankful.

Moments later, I met up with Sherwin at the lobby, and he was already wearing a Jake the Adventurer hat—to join his Picachu and Stitch hats in the office—that he just purchased from the event area. The Tiangge area was where we first devoted a lot of our time. It was a much smaller place but talent there was just as full and brimming.

I swear, it was somewhat a heartbreaking experience. Imagine, wanting much, much more with much, much less budget. Well, c’est la vie (that’s life). I had to balance between treating myself once in a while and still keeping it practical.

I have to admit, the main reason I bought Macoy Tang‘s Ang Maskot comics was my curiosity about its story, given that according to the woman at the table (I didn’t ask how they are related), it has been translated into film that’s about to be viewed at the coming Cinemalaya. I’m a sucker for indie films so I just had to know what Maskot was all about. The trailer, I just read online a few days ago, was actually shown at the Komikon, and I missed it. But reading the comics first made me agree that it was definitely movie-material.

macoy-tan-maskot-school-run

Macoy Tang modeling not his works but the ‘freebie’ (LOL!). He’s got loads of work and I must say, his School Run would be great to make a movie out of as well. Sali ako, p’wede ‘ko zombiiieee!!!!

my-friend-sherwin

Sherwin the Kraken enjoying his Slurpee. At his back is the almost-inconspicuous tarp on which are printed, among other things, the events of the day and–hello!!!–the event floormap…pffft…And, oh, found out the other day the map was also included in the first freebies at the event entrance. Toinks!

Fast-forward to us finally moving to the great hall. Yipes! More people! There was a hotdog-eating competition going on onstage and I laughed at how sincere Sherwin sounded when he said he really wanted to join. Just like me, he was hungry already, and he wouldn’t be called ‘The Kraken,’ too, for nothing. He’s got a black hole for a stomach!

Sherwin had a blast catching up, so to speak, with some artists he met at a past Komikon, particularly Pop U band members whose vocalist, Ker Floria, drew comics (Indie) as well and gave away a CD before as freebie (I liked some of the songs).

Sherwin bought copies again, too, of FUM (Filipino Utilized Manga). We got to meet the peeps behind the Filipino Manga mag. I’ve had my clear favorite so far from before, Rui Chan‘s Enguard, plus I was/am waiting for any actual storytelling of Legends of Maya, I think by Doc RaCe.

Meanwhile, I was so thankful for the Komiks Festival for I didn’t have to fall in line anymore (what a line it was and it’s said long lines are always expected with him around) at the Summer Komikon just to have Manix Abrera sign my copy of any of his books.

FUM-mag-team

The FUM Team, from left: Doc RaCe, Rui Chan, (sorry we didn’t catch the name of the next one), Freya Dy, and I think the last one’s Kasamaan, if I’m not mistaken

FUM-mags

From top, clockwise: New issues of FUM mags Breve and Latte versions, Bargitte version and a ‘One Shot’ comics called Anti-Hero as freebies, and cartoonized bookmarks and sticker as freebies as well

I saw Johnny Danganan, too, handling the auction table where various artists donated their masterpieces for a good cause. It was for the annual “Lapis at Papel” (“Pencil and Paper”) Project where proceeds were to go to a charitable cause, to help out underprivileged kids and supply school items to them for the coming school year. Artworks donated by artists were auctioned with bids starting at P500. Kudos for the efforts, guys!

komikon-lapis-papel-auction

Johnny Danganan and Jonas Diego at the auction table. Image from  Jonas’ Facebook account, posted by Mr. Rodrigo T. Andres, Jr. (thanks, Sir!)

I went around and around also looking for Freely Abrigo but I only found him right when we were to go home. My companion had something to do and should’ve left an hour ago, while I was going home to the province, which explains the big bag.

foreign-guest-cartoonists

Singaporean guest artists also graced the event and were interviewed onstage, sharing their thoughts and experiences

We were so busy checking out the wares, we hardly took notice of the stage where a lot more things did happen, like a Moving-Up Graduation Ceremony (moving up meant graduating from the Indie Tiangge level), Singaporean artists Otto Fong and C. T. Lim gracing the event, actor Ketchup Eusebio promoting the Ang Maskot film where he played the title role, Bogart the Explorer also promoting a yet-untitled film in his supposed hero costume, other fun contests and, aaaww, a surprise marriage proposal.

Meanwhile, Freely wasn’t so free but was busy attending to people. I waited for some minutes but it was not enough. I looked at the table and found I already have copies of his comics, except any Kapitan Tog but, by then, no more moolah…Next time, Freely, next time.

Lots more comicbooks broke my heart. The only thing that got me going was the idea that some of those could be bought some other days from bookstores, and that I’d be seeing them again at the next Komikons. So next time, I’ll be on the lookout for them. I’ll make sure I won’t miss them like I did Elmer Damaso and his Cat’s Trail. Well we saw him there so I figured he was participating.

Between the two of us, Sherwin and I brought home enough loot to satisfy us. We share collections so we get to read each other’s comics anyway. In fact, I’m done reading everything from this batch of loot, as well as the other batch he got from a previous Komikon.

It was really a fun experience, something I won’t mind experiencing again. Till the next time, Komikon!

freely-abrigo-kulas

More than a year and still so Free-ly! You haven’t changed, Freely. First photo, taken by me, from Komiks Festival. Second photo from Freely Abrigo‘s Facebook account

nino-balita-espiritista

Ano’ng balita? It’s Nino Balita and the Espiritista! The “package” consisted of his comicbook plus a shortie, Ang Inuuod Kong Puso, and stickers. Not Bad. Got the cutest autograph, too, so far

Ronzkie-Pacho-Vidal-Ikos

Here’s a better look at Ronzkie Pacho-Vidal of Ikos Komiks with a patron (my guess). I would LOVE to have that paper-thingy of Asul! Copyright belongs to Ikos Komiks and the people behind it. Got this from their blog

Neox-Limosinera-Bulda

Half of the guys responsible for Neox, Tico Limosinero accommodated our queries at their table. The other one is Jomar Bulda

drop-dead-dangerous

Happy Lockjaw‘s Drop Dead Dangerous indirectly came highly recommended by a friend so I thought I’d check it out and get a copy myself of the first issue. Thanks to Chad Cabrera for signing on the cover real nice and neat. Didn’t get to meet Mike Banting, though…Can’t wait to get the next ish-es!

successful-komikon

Will you look at that?!! Blockbuster!!! Image copyright belongs to Jonas Diego

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NOTE: Were you there? Anything you can contribute? A blog post by you about it, maybe? Just let me know and I will link to it 🙂

NOTE 2: Just some nice Summer Komikon-related blogposts — Summer Komikon 2013 Report by the great Mr. Gerry Alanguilan (you have GOT to read this and watch the vids, too!)Komikon 2013: Pinoy Comic Artists and Fans Converge at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig (feast your eyes as well on all the audio-visuals here), The Boys of Summer Komikon, Why Summer Komikon 2013 was a blast (the only thing I disagree with it is the Komikon supposedly being quite child-friendly; friendly enough, yes, but there are lots of comic books that do require parental guidance when being read by kids)

NOTE 3: All photos by Sherwin and myself, except when indicated otherwise.

 

(Almost) Komikon Newbie in da Haus

Yesterday, the biggest Philippine comics convention since eight years ago was held at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City. I had waited for it and was very excited the night before, so naturally I got sick on the day itself. What luck…NOT. Had a friend buy stuff for me, though, so rest assured I’ll be sharing them as soon as I can. Meanwhile…

I’m really proud of our local artists. So just to show my appreciation, I am re-posting a writeup by way of “Press”-ing this (and because I have no new stories to tell about it yet, boo-hoo-hoo). Till next KOMIKON!!!!

(Almost) Komikon Newbie in da Haus.

(Almost) Komikon Newbie in da Haus

Note: This took long because I couldn’t download the pics from my cellphone. And now, finally, it’s done!!! Well, many pics from the festival posted here courtesy of Jonas Diego, Gerry Alanguilan and Johnny Danganan. Some are from the Net, though. Links to sites ongoing (some still undone…). Those in bold are mostly hyperlinks leading to artists’ blogs/websites/information. I uploaded more pics, link at the bottom. Meanwhile visit the three guys’ sites to see more pics.

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KIKOMACHINE? All caps or all small letters? One whole word or two, as in Kiko Machine?” My mind raced two Saturdays ago as I was (already regretting) tearing off the plastic covering of my own copy of the comic book series’  fifth installment. I had never attended a komikon before and I didn’t even know when the next time would be, but that Saturday was my first time to go, taking advantage of the fact that the 3rd San Pablo City Comics Festival was happening in, well, San Pablo. “No day like today,” as a Broadway song goes.

The 3rd SPC Comics Festival

The 3rd SPC Comics Festival

One trike ride and a short walk away, I was at the open-air venue at the Ultimart Shopping Plaza, looking for Master Raven a.k.a. his actual name Jonas Diego (long story). The Pinoy comics conventions (komikons) have been the brainchild of fellow  artists  and thanks to them, venues for comic book writers and artists have given professionals and amateurs alike the opportunity to show, share, and even earn a bit from their chosen craft. Mainly, these participants do it simply out of  love for their art. This event wasn’t exactly a convention, I think, rather a festival as the event title implied, but since they’re there convening, it’s all the same banana to me. I wanted to be there.

First copies of the original BOJ

First (My) copies of the original “Book of John”

Raven did promise to sign my copies of the original The Book of John (BOJ), printed back when he still used non-glossy cheaper paper for the inside leaves and art paper for the covers.  Pretty much like the many new indie cartoonists’ first outputs. The Master used the pointillism technique (see, Raven? I was paying attention).  I still remember him asking us for comments that indeed landed in the pages of the next issues, but he never did finish the last installment which I have been making kulit to him about for years. I also remember accompanying him to one (maybe even the only, I’m not sure) comic book store in San Pablo City, near Central School…So awesome to have such memories! I guess all artists go through these kinds of stages.

Back to the present.

Comic Odyssey

Comics enthusiasts rummage through hundreds of un-bought issues/editions of comic books. Note to self: Find  out where Comic Odyssey is…Photo c/o Jonas/Gerry/Johnny

I first saw a booth selling un-bought editions of various comic books. Comic Odyssey.  I didn’t try rummaging through them because my main goal was  to  get   Raven  (sorry for calling him this – force  of habit), and Kiko  Machine Komix (KM) creator Manix Abrera’s autographs, view the exhibit they put up,  and check out the different comic books being offered by other artists and collect their autographs  – in that order.  Besides, I was on a tight budget. However, Raven and Manix were both nowhere to be found at the time, so the exhibit at the second floor suddenly came first in my itinerary.

Oh, but not without first buying a copy of Raven’s new output: a glossy, full-colored, 32-paged issue of Pocket Comics. I was so engrossed in various thoughts, though, that the guy taking my payment wondered what the extra P200 was for, ha ha haaa!!!  He was real friendly and I got to share my copy of BOJ. The guy said he owned copies as well, and, borrowing my own, he and some others amused themselves with Raven’s younger mug printed on the pages.

Komiks Festival Exhibit

Komiks Festival Exhibit featuring some of the best Pinoy comic artists then and now…Photo c/o Jonas/Gerry/Johnny

As expected, the exhibit shared previous works of Filipino comic writers/artists, with some from as early as the ‘30s, if I’m not mistaken. Really cool stuff! Some were just “samples” from artists, some were actual drafts, some were original unprinted copies, some were original printed ones, and limited editions, too!  There were even some cool stamp collections featuring works of various cartoonists. I took pics with my non-high-tech phone, so they’re not so good, but anyhoo.

stamps and postcard collections

Cool stamps and postcard collections!

stamps and postcard collections 2

MORE cool stamps and postcard collections!

First covers

There was a time…

There were works from the likes of Larry Alcala, Nonoy Marcelo and Tony Velasquez,  for it wouldn’t be complete without featuring these pioneers of Pinoy comics artistry. So I saw familiar strips like Kalabog en Bosyo, Mga Kabalbalan ni Kenkoy, Tisoy (I wanted to see Ikabod instead but, well, I knew they had to make do with what were available). All of these were born long before I was, but in my lifetime, I saw either old copies from here and there or re-prints in whatever were current publications those times.

Pioneers of Philippine Comics

Tony Velasquez, Larry Alcala and Nonoy Marcelo: Pioneers of Philippine Comics

The Masters' Pieces

The Masters’ Pieces — (I couldn’t find a good “Tisoy” copy so here’s…) Nonoy Marcelo’s more popular “Ikabod”; Larry Alcala’s “Kalabog en Bosyo” (but his “A Slice of Life,” I think, was what MADE Larry Alcala) ; Tony Velasquez’s “Kenkoy” (that has become a popular monicker for people somewhat on the funny side)

Larry Alcala's Face

See Larry here…

Where's Larry

Now see Larry HERE!!! (Goodluck with that!!!)…The best-known cartoon Larry Alcala had drawn was a likeness of himself that people, in ages, had fun looking for in numerous “A Slice of Life” slices like this one

Ikabod Comic Strip

A taste of the “Ikabod” kind of humor 😀 Baby mouse abuse aside, this cracked me up!

FUNNY Komiks

FUNNY characters tickled the funny bones for two to three decades, depending on when you were born. Is it still around??? So far, my research hasn’t led me to that discovery. But apparently, many are missing it and even clamoring for copies because ta-da! There’s a Facebook fan page! Have no idea who created it but anyhoo. Image from tikbaloycube.deviantart.com

I did kind of search for any item from FUNNY Komiks, but *sigh* nada, zilch, zero.  That was a bit of a bummer. What regular kid growing up in the ‘80s and ‘90s didn’t know about FUNNY Komiks???

Now, while I love comics, I had not really bought a lot of them, because as a fictionist, I had been more interested in collecting written novels rather than graphic ones. Prior to last Saturday and BOJ issues aside, I only owned a few, most currently, Andoyman Komikero’s first try, FOODCOURT. I had been contenting myself with clippings from the dailies and making cut-and-paste style comic books out of them. If I found any strip funny, interesting and/or witty, then snip-snip-snip.

andoyman komiks

Andoyman Komikero’s (1) first offering, and (2) well, a teaser of his work in progress

Back to the exhibit.

I had to mention that I wasn’t much of a comic-book collector to explain that aside from the great Whilce Portacio of X-Men fame, I wasn’t aware of many comic book writers and  artists’ names. So, many of the names in the exhibit  and the festival itself sounded new to me (no offense to any artist reading this).  I just knew Raven by default. Whilce lent out his stuff. Nice treat for any Marvel and especially X-men fan *insert smiley here*

Some works were very familiar, like The Voodoo Stick by Sonny Trinidad and The Swamp Thing by Nestor Redondo. I remember those particular covers. I know I read some parts of their stories before except I can’t exactly recall perhaps because I was still young (my good memory doesn’t always work). And if you ever rented issues from your friendly neighborhood “renter”,  you’d know that it was nearly impossible to follow stories fully and not in random order. Lucky you to even actually get your hands on brand-new copies.

Komiks of yesteryears

Komiks of yesteryears. Images from the Net, copyrighted by their individual publishers

Sonny Trinidad's Voodoo Stick

An old pic of international comic artist Sonny Trinidad and his “The Voodoo Stick” that was exhibited and that I remember seeing myself. There is a more popular cover for this, though, with a skull and all. Can’t seem to find a background on how the story went 😦 …Photo c/o Jonas/Gerry/Johnny

Nestor Redondo's The Swamp Thing

The famous “The Swamp Thing” by international comic artist Nestor Redondo

Meanwhile, I appreciated the others’ works as well, particularly some that I liked for various reasons.

Francisco V. Coching’s El Indio graphic art interested me. I would have liked to read his story whose protagonist was a “mere” human fighting the evil society back then, which setting was obviously during Spanish times. Maybe Rizal and Bonifacio did some “guesting,” I don’t know, but my guess may not be that far-fetched.

F.V. Coching

Creator of “El Indio,” one of the Top 100 Pinoy graphic arts of all time

Coching's El Indio

The restoration of Francisco V. Coching’s work of art, “El Indio.” After painstaking work by a small team led by Gerry Alanguilan, we now have the chance again to enjoy this wonderful graphic novel. See his big smile below? ;p

Gerry A. with El Indio

I’d be smiling, too, if I were him. Photo from his blog gerry.alanguilan.com.        I claim  no rights, and obviously I have none over it)

Zara Macandili’s art made me smile. I think it’s safe to say she is a Psych show fan – I recognized the characters in her sketch immediately as Shawn and Gus imitating WHAM and Michael Jackson. It was new artwork, too, done last November.  Meanwhile, something about Efren Jay Anacleto’s Aria work of art attracted me to it, don’t ask me what ‘cause I am not sure.

Superheroes were abundant, as any comic-book lover would expect, and Wolverine was a clear favorite, just ask Leinil Yu (the draft for the artwork in this link was what was exhibited) and Gilbert Monsanto.  Great ink work! Me loves your Wolveys! Pinoy artistry at work, definitely.

And speaking of Pinoy, I realized that what would a comic book exhibit featuring local artists be without our very own superheroes –   our own superheroine, at that…DARNA!!! Ryan Orosco’s work was a sight for sore eyes. I’d choose Darna over Wonder Woman anytime. There were artworks, too,  featuring more modern Pinoy heroes, a group of bagong bayanis, kind of like our version of the Super Friends a.k a. Justice League and the Avengers. Neat 🙂

Darna!!!

This was the version of Ryan Orosco’s artwork included in the exhibit. Much more powerful, IMO, the original Pinay superheroine “Darna” can put “Wonder Woman” to shame. She made it to many movies already and, even in recent years, she has been “flying” on TV air. An actual oldie now if you count the years, Darna stays young as a true classic

With all those artists featured, young ones tried to test their own talents and joined the art contest. I am not sure if they were all supposed to be there, but where better to be inspired to work on a piece than where the greats were? So they gathered around the exhibit, breathing inspiration. I wish I had the same gifts when I was a child.

Pocket Comics

My copy of Jonas Diego’s “Pocket Comics”

After spending my time soaking in art at the exhibit, I went back down to the festival venue and finally found Raven to twist his arm so he would sign my copy of Pocket Comics and the first-ever original issue of the  BOJ (you do know I was kidding about the arm-twisting, right?).

I got introduced to the great Sir Gerry and I am not just saying “great” for the heck of it. I had wanted to know what it was exactly that people and critics found and raved about in his comic book about intelligent chickens crossing over from fowl to human category.  It felt awkward, I thought, to be introduced and then for me to just buy his book and ask him to sign right there and then. So I didn’t. Then here came Johnny who’d been my Facebook bud and yet I don’t think we ever said a single word online before that. Chances were we had seen each other before, based on Raven’s intro, and we just didn’t know it. I thought it was really nice to meet him.

BOJ Then and Now

Spot the difference (he he)…Inside Raven’s “Book of John,” Then versus Now

comic books for sale

The stars of the event — the comic books!!! Most were of reasonable prices, so reasonable you would have wanted to buy in bulks if you could!…Photo c/o Jonas/Gerry/Johnny

komikon tables

All you had to do was to approach tables and check out their wares a.k.a. comic books then choose what appealed to you…Photo c/o Jonas/Gerry/Johnny

Pol Medina signing a book

Here’s Pol Medina Jr. of “Pugad Baboy” fame. Coolness…Photo c/o Jonas/Gerry/Johnny

Pol Medina & Marivi Hilos-Nepomuceno

PMJ, here with Arhitect and Komiks Illustrator Marivi Hilos-Nepomuceno…Photo c/o Jonas/Gerry/Johnny

artist at work

Artists were at work, doing art commissioned there and then

Not wanting to take too much of Raven’s time, I went around to find myself some comics and get to know some of the artists. Very popular was the section where artists took portrait-sketching orders right there and then. ‘Course, I wanted to know who they were but who to ask without looking like the newbie that I actually was, really? Checked out some of the products on display, but no, I went there for comics and darn if I didn’t buy any.

So I walked around, checking out the scene, pretending to be cool and probably failing at it. Oh, Pol Medina Jr.’s there!!! To be honest, I had seen the event posters but didn’t really look at the names of the featured artists so this was a surprise to me. Hmnn…How to get his autograph….I didn’t. I couldn’t. Because I couldn’t decide which Pugad Baboy book to buy, plus, it would have affected the budget dramatically. So I just contented myself with looking, stealing a pic and moved on to the next tables. Next time, for sure, Pol.

There were the tables for the independent creators. I was so overwhelmed, I wanted to buy everything! But again, tight budget, gotta think of that. I also didn’t want to buy any that were series, ‘cause then I would not be able to follow the stories since I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to attend such an event again  and since I was sure I wouldn’t find those works in any National Bookstore yet, unless I scoured comic book stores and I didn’t. So I got one that had a simple cover, no colors, printed on something that may be a bit better than bond paper, and most importantly, the stories were short and finished.

My purchases

I purchased the following (from top left, clockwise): Mel Casipit’s “Balitok”, Gerry Alanguilan’s “Elmer”,  Freely Abrigo’s “Wapak!”, Manix Abrera’s Kiko Machine Book 1

I got Mel Casipit’s Balitok Comics Anthology. Really amateur work, at least when it came to story conception, and I’m not being mean, because he himself said in his intro that the three stories there were his first ones that he’d like to share to the public. It showed. But like “balitok,” that in his native Pangasinense tongue meant “gold,” I believe this work was gold. Artists always go back to where they started. Often, they keep souvenirs. I know I do. I did like “Payt 4 Lab” with its very Naruto-inspired characters. I thought it was tickly-funny. Just the right stuff.  Looking at the covers of more stuff he’s done, the artistry had improved and I hope even the storytelling. I will definitely buy more from him the next time.

Freely Abrigo

Freely Abrigo with his Kulas in WAPAK!

Now I went to the other tables and saw this one that had colored, even glossy, stuff on it. I guess it was the level-up kind of thing. Once you’re past the amateur stage, well, where else do you go?

Very familiar stuff, and some more cute ones thrown in. I gotta admit, I was intimidated by all the artists, envious of their talent. Maybe  Manila Bulletin’s Freely Abrigo saw right through my façade and chatted me up a bit, at first, offering his comics. I promised I’d go back after I’ve checked out all the tables. I did go back and buy one, for P30. I thought I got a P20 with a P10 but gave him a P50 instead. After the first error, that was my double whammy. It was funny though. And we got to talk a bit and I got a new-found FB friend.

Manix Abrera's autograph

Manix Abrera signs his autograph in such cutesy manner such as this one dedicated to me. To borrow a quote from his KM characters, “ASTEEEG!!!”

Minutes after, I was standing in front of Manix, buying his first book and having him sign my copy with this cute li’l artsy autograph. He was showing me his latest book, I think, but I decided to take Book 1 of my favorite local comic strip. Why was simple. I was collecting his stuff and I only had Books 2, 3 and 5. What’s a series collection without the first offering, right? Besides, I was for sure buying more in the future. Now, the reason why I peeled off the safety cover of Book 5 (I mentioned that at the start) was because it was the best cover yet and there were nice spaces to sign on. When I bought Book 1, though, it seemed natural to have THAT one autographed.  I did regret peeling off the protective cover then.

Manix Abrera signing

Manix Abrera: definitely one of the most popular comics artists today…Photo c/o Jonas/Gerry/Johnny

I paid him for the book, handing him P150 rather than P120, so he gave back the extra. I just realized there was a difference in prices between the first and second rows that were on display. Oops. Triple whammy. Sheesh…. I wanted to tell Manix, “Hey, we’re FB buds” but then that would have merited a “HUH?” expression, given just how many fans he had. Besides, I wasn’t after special treatment, if there was even supposed to be any. Meanwhile, I took pictures of him signing other peeps’ copies. Yep, that’s what I do, I steal pics. Coward.

That done, I checked out again that intelligent chicken, Elmer. Oh, it’s really a book! With many pages and all, like, many. No way was that gonna cost just over a hundred. So I checked out my wallet and figured I could still buy one – gotta know what’s inside, gotta not let the opportunity slide (and I am so happy I didn’t!!!). I was too shy to ask for Sir Gerry’s autograph, besides, he was talking to people in the first place, so the miss from whom I bought my copy, having heard me say I was a bit reluctant to ask him to sign it, called him to the desk declaring, “Pa-sign daw; nahihiya daw siya” (“She wants you to sign it; she’s too shy to ask”). Anla! Si Ate naman! Ibuking ba??? I really was just trying to get the proper timing and approach him coolly. Well, that plan was ruined, ha ha ha!!! But I’m thankful to her, really.

Okay, it was soon going to get dark, and I thought I better stop. I searched for Raven but he was somewhere out there getting busy and I didn’t want to bother him. So taking a last look at the place, I left, but definitely NOT never to return again.

I could get used to this.

EXTRAS!!!!

Here are some of the Founding Fathers of the Philippine Comic Book Industry

More photos I took 🙂

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Feedback from Mr. Gerry Alanguilan:

Feedback from Mr. Gerry A.

This landed in my emails and the dashboard, so since this was meant as a comment, I’ve added this screenshot. Thanks, Sir Gerry!!!! 🙂