“Keep an open mind.” That’s the thing I kept repeating to myself for days leading up to the day I watched Man of Steel. I carefully avoided all the spoilers, and from whatever comments made by other people, I tried not to let it affect my own judgment.
There was a lot to be excited about in this movie. I loved Batman Begins. I liked 300 and Watchmen. So to bring Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder together for one movie, a SUPERMAN movie no less, nearly drove me out of my mind. I was slightly put off by the trailers that showed a darker costume and the absence of the trademark red briefs. I wasn’t sure I liked the hint of where this movie was going. In my mind you could change costumes of any other hero. Change Batman’s costume, no problem. Change Wolverine and the X-men’s costumes, no problem. Change the Avengers’ costumes, no problem. But Superman was a completely different thing. He was more than just a “superhero”. He was an icon, a flag, a symbol. You don’t go around changing flags just to be “cooler”. You don’t change the color of the flag to make it more “realistic”.
But I was ready to forgive that if I felt the story was good. I was ready to forgive a lot of things.
So I watched the movie and I enjoyed a large part of it. The Krypton scenes were amazing. Russell Crowe as Jor-El was an inspired casting choice. He was terrific in the role. I really liked this Lois Lane. (I didn’t like the one from Superman Returns). I had no problem with Lawrence Fishburne as Perry, although he had painfully little to do. Jimmy Olsen was Jenny Olsen? Also no problem. And wow, Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent? How time flies! I used to have such a big crush on Diane Lane when she was at Lonesome Dove. The whole thing about Clark roaming the world trying to find himself was very interesting. I liked it. I also really liked the fact that this was no stupid Lois Lane and that she was able to figure out just who Clark was early on.
When fights started I started to get a little disturbed. They were spectacular fights of course. Amazingly spectacular fights. I’m sure the filmmakers thought that us fanboys would go insane, specially those who complained that Superman didn’t punch anything in Superman Returns. I’m sure these punch freaks enjoyed a spectacularly orgasmic time as Superman punched things left and right.
When things started to blow up in Metropolis, the destruction was just punched into turbo. It was spectacle after spectacle of buildings falling all over themselves. The filmmakers probably thought it would be so cool. The problem I have with it is, recent history has taught us that when buildings fall down, there would be usually people in them. People that DIE. I know this is just a film, but nevertheless, it’s impossible not to think just how many people got trapped and crushed inside those buildings.
Remember Superman II? 2013 fans may look at that film and perhaps snicker at the cheesy effects of Superman and Zod fighting. But what that movie had that this movie didn’t is a genuine concern on Superman’s part as to the danger that the regular human beings were being exposed to. Christopher Reeve as Superman implored Zod about the danger their fight is putting the people. This Superman had nothing like that. He had no thought to bring the fight somewhere else, somewhere less populated where there would be minimal danger to people. No, he stayed to fight Zod in the city, and by the end of the movie, there’s a big flat crater surrounded by blocks and blocks of destroyed and pulverized buildings. How many died? Millions perhaps.
One can argue that Superman made the choice to saved the world and that the “few” who died achieving that would be acceptable.
See? Superman as I know him would never have played the numbers game. He would always choose to save everybody. That’s why he’s Superman. He does not make decisions like us. He makes the incredibly difficult decision to always do the right thing. He would have found another way.
That scene towards the end, it was the one that really broke my heart. I felt betrayed, and I felt genuinely hurt. I wanted to leave the cinema right then and there. To me, it was over. They brought Superman down to the gutter. They made him human. They made him make flawed decisions like us. They made him take the easy way out. Superman, the one I grew up loving and respecting, would never kill another being. He just would never. It doesn’t matter if it was on film or in the comics. He just would never do that. That’s the humans’ way. That’s our way. That’s what we do because our limited, flawed and morally damaged selves would always make us choose the easy, more convenient way out.
Superman is supposed to be so much more than that. He was someone who can show us a better way, someone who can show us how to be better human beings. This Superman betrayed all that and it felt like I was stabbed in the heart.
I walked away from the cinema angry, sad, and just deeply disappointed.
I wrote my blog entry before I read Mark Waid’s commentary. It’s so weird we feel the same way about a few things.
Browsing Facebook today, I found an obituary marking the passing of one of the great pioneering Filipino komiks illustrators, Tenny (Teny) Henson. The obituary states he died on April 15, 2013 at the age of 82. I feel extraordinarily sad at his passing. I am a huge fan of his work, and I’ve been looking for such a long time to get in touch.
I really loved the clean style that Teny employed in his drawings. They looked fine as they were, but something about them screamed to be in color, and I was only too happy to oblige. The panel above comes from “Takaw Ligaw” from Aliwan Komiks, 1964, which I colored digitally.
Below is from “Kahapon at Ngayon sa Antipolo” from Pilipino Komiks, 1957. I scanned the page at a very high resolution, digitally cleaned the image and colored it.
Although Tenny was a popular artist in the Philippines in his own right, he found even more fame drawing for DC and Western Publishing in the late 70′s. Tenny worked on things like Batman, Superman, Plastic Man, and a host of short horror/mystery stories for DC.
In his later years, Tenny worked in animation as a storyboard artist and designer for companies like Filmation, Hannah-Barbera, Warner Brothers, etc.
Here is a gallery of Tenny Henson artwork at my online museum:
TENY HENSON, Filipino Komiks Artist
I counted Teny as one of the 8 Forgotten Filipino Komiks Illustrators for 8list:
Arman T. Francisco on Teny Henson
Bayan Knights artist Vergil Espinosa was recently hospitalized for kidney failure, which requires expensive dialysis treatment. Vergil’s cousin Etey Buendia is holding a fundraising called “Superhero Run for daVerge” (daVerge is Vergil’s DeviantArt handle) to raise awareness and funds.
From Etey’s Facebook post:
Dear family and friends, please support me in my “Superhero Run for daVerge”…”daVerge” Vergil Espinosa is my cousin and is my Superheroe. He is a comic book artist and is part of a group from different parts of the country (and some based overseas) who does collaboration work to revitalize the local Comics industry. They created Bayan Knights, a fictional superhero team from the Philippines. He is diagnosed w/ Kidney Failure due to arthritis in the knees & elbows and is undergoing dialysis 4 times a day. I am doing a fundraising project for my cousin, daVerge. Per Kilometer logged = $0.25 or P5 (donation)…i’ll post more details on how to send your donations. To see daVerge’s artworks kindly click on the link: http://daverge.deviantart.com/
If anyone wishes to donate to Vergil directly, they can do so by depositing to his account here: BPI Savings acct. name “Vergil Aaron Espinosa” acct.no. 3249007306
Donations can go a long way specially during this difficult period. Kidney failure, however, is a long term thing. When kidneys go bad, it’s permanent. Unlike other organs, it doesn’t regenerate. It’s either you have dialysis for the rest of your life or you have a kidney transplant. Both of which will be very expensive, and donations can only do so much.
If I can give any advice to Vergil and his family is they file for Philhealth, if they haven’t already. If they already have it, then it’s great. Philhealth will pay for half of Vergil’s dialysis treatments in one year, which is kind of a big deal. It will also take care of a sizable chunk of the costs if ever he should want a transplant.
Best of luck, Vergil. You’re a young dude, you can take this no problem. I hope to see you around at the next comics events!
It is truly the end of an era. After 25 long years at the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Pugad Baboy and Pol Medina Jr. move out. It is almost overwhelming to comprehend the significance of this culturally and historically. Pugad Baboy, hand in hand with the PDI, brought a unique and often hilarious point of view of current Philippine events. Pugad Baboy did it for so long that it has become a memorable part of our daily lives. People bought PDI just to read Pugad Baboy, and while Pugad Baboy was there, it was always a paper that I personally looked forward to.
That Pugad Baboy was brought down by controversy was puzzling, considering it has weathered much controversy before. With the resignation of Pol from PDI, any lingering hope that I had that Pugad Baboy would continue with the newspaper has now gone in a puff of smoke. It honestly feels quite unsettling. Pugad Baboy was there day in and day out. It was something you counted on, like a rock that would be there no matter what. It symbolized a stability that was comforting amidst all the chaos and noise.
The shock passed quickly though. This is of course, not the end of Pol Medina Jr. nor is it the end of Pugad Baboy. It will find another home somewhere, somehow, and the adventures of Polgas, Mang Dagul, Kules, Tomas, Utoy, Brosia, Bab and company will go on. Wherever they will end up in, I will surely follow.
Mabuhay Ka, Pol Medina Jr., at mabuhay ang Pugad Baboy!
Someone added me recently to a Star Trek group in Facebook. It made me realize how much of a Trekkie I am. A Trekkie for much of my life, actually. I dug up this rather long piece I wrote about Star Trek in 2004, expressing my anguish at the cancellation of ENTERPRISE after only 4 seasons. I’m glad it’s still online somewhere, and I’m reposting this here. Remember, I wrote this almost 10 years ago, and I was feeling a little more verbose than usual. If you’re part of the TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read) crowd, well, there’s nothing for you here. Go read some tweets or something.
I write and draw comics for a living, and I have to say that it’s a pretty nice job to have. Me and my wife live comfortably in our own spartan way. I get to pay the bills, I get to help out my parents once in a while, and we get to splurge at Pizza Hut once every few months. I’m also an architect and I’m active in our local architect’s organization which brings me all over the Philippines a couple of times every year.
The only reason I’m saying this here is to say that yes, I have a LIFE.
And in my life I allow myself the occasional interest, which may or may not be absolutely necessary for my continued physical existence. Everybody has their own interests they follow, sometimes even obsess over. These are interests that make their life somewhat more fun to live. And in some cases, these interests give their lives meaning.
One of my bigger interests is Star Trek.
I remember being very young, perhaps 7 or 8 back in the mid 70′s, watching an episode of Star Trek in black and white. I remember seeing Captain Kirk chasing a comet. It was probably the most thrilling thing I saw on TV back then. My dad made me go to bed although it was only 8 pm. I felt so frustrated. My first exposure to Star Trek was so brief and yet it was a flash so bright that would last my entire life.
I eventually found Star Trek Fotonovels (comic book adaptations using pictures from the actual episodes), books, magazines and even got to watch a bunch of episodes (in color this time) and motion pictures many years later. I devoured and enjoyed anything that had anything to do with Star Trek that I could find.
I did not think about why I liked the show so much back then. I just knew that I loved it, but it was only after college did I realize just how much it meant and how much of an impact on my life it was having.
I had graduated from architecture and I was working as a construction supervisor where I dealt with my boss Archt. Edgar Lee, painters, carpenters, masons, and building officials. There was no foreman, so I had to fill in that role as well. It was a job that frequently required me to make leadership decisions on the spot. And boy, there were times when situations become so difficult that it really tore me up trying to deal with them. And in those times, I would either read the Bible, where the answer to my problem would usually be on the first page I randomly opened, or I’d think of Captain Kirk, and wonder what he would do in my place.
Captain Kirk’s decisions on the problems he encountered in the stories helped me find solutions to my own problems, and I got through the day okay.
A POSITIVE FUTURE
I began to think about why Star Trek had such a significant part of my life. It was a science fiction show, very much like Star Wars was, like Battlestar Galactica was, like Logan’s Run was… how was Star Trek so different? Mind you, I liked those other movies and TV shows as well, but Star Trek sort of struck much more of a chord within me.
Perhaps it is because Star Trek presents an Earth where there is no racism, no poverty and starvation, no terrorism, an Earth filled with humans united without borders, devoting their time to the pursuit of knowledge, reaching out a hand of friendship towards the rest of the universe. Unrealisitc, perhaps, but it’s a great dream to have, and perhaps that’s just what Star Trek really is. It is a dream of a positive future that we today can strive and work towards. It is Star Trek creator’s Gene Roddenberry’s dream and it has become my dream as well.
When I hear comments that Star Trek needs more “angst”, more dirt and grime, more conflict, and less sterility, sleekness and diplomacy, I feel they miss the point of Star Trek altogether. Star Trek was meant to show man at his best, after centuries of bettering himself. Star Trek is meant to show how man has evolved from his barbaric and unenlightened past. Storytellers complain that it’s difficult to find drama and good stories where people are as near perfect and as civilized as they can be, and it’s an “unrealistic” kind of reality, the fact that it’s science fiction aside.
I disagree. It only shows a lack of imagination on their part to tell good, effective stories in this kind of reality. Dreams, for the most part, are “unrealistic”, but there is nothing wrong with hoping for such a thing, specially when you know it can lead to nothing but good.
THE NEXT GENERATION
When news came of a new Star Trek featuring a new crew in a different century, I was skeptical. I could not see a “Star Trek” that did not have Captain Kirk, Spock and Dr. McCoy in it. In fact, I really believed it would not be real Star Trek without them.
But I did check out the comic books and I found them to be interesting. I eventually saw episodes of the first season and a few episodes into it, I was hooked. I’ve come to accept Capt. Picard, Commander Riker, the android Data and the rest of the crew. I not only accepted them, but I enjoyed their stories as much as I did Kirk’s Star Trek stories. This Star Trek had more advanced technology, different characters, different settings, different aliens, but I soon realized it was still Star Trek at heart.
I soon began to look to Capt. Picard as well in the decisions I made in my real life. While Capt. Kirk had his heart on his sleeve, this new Captain rarely let his emotions drive him. His brain and his unrelenting adherence to what is right informed his decisions. And thus I had help from both the heart and the brain, in a much more balanced mix of guidance whenever I needed.
Data was a particular favorite character. Strangely enough, it was him I related to the most even though he was an android. He was such a fascinating character. He had extreme strength, intelligence, and immortality, and yet he would exchange all of it just to be human.
More Star Treks followed. Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and more motion pictures. I was more open this time to new kinds of Star Trek and it was with an open mind did I start watching Deep Space Nine. I didn’t like it at first, but it sort of grew on me, specially during the final season when this series was at it’s finest. I never did get much into Voyager, although I did like a few episodes here and there.
Star Trek is by no means a perfect universe. I quite often rant in front of the TV when a particular situation in the show comes up that I find ridiculous. For instance, why send people down right away into an unexplored planet? How about sending a probe first? That could certainly have saved the lives of a LOT of red shirts. In Star Trek parlance, “red shirts” are those nameless characters played by extras that die through the course of the episode and are quickly forgotten. More often than not, they wear red shirts.
Picard’s Enterprise had families in them because as a Galaxy-class starship, it would be far from home for many years. In their case, 20 years as they explore the far reaches of the galaxy. So why don’t they go much into the far reaches of the galaxy? More often than not we see them flitting from one Federation planet to the other settling disputes, delivering supplies, shuttling delegates, and when they do find themselves in uncharted territory it was most likely not of their own free will. It’s either the Q sent them there, or they had an accident with an engine, or maybe they stumbled upon on a wormhole or two unknowingly. And when they do find themselves there, all they want to do is go back home.
These are valid arguments I think, which a fellow Trekkie would no doubt have answers for. And yet I still watch the show, because there are still universes within it for me to like, appreciate and enjoy.
WHERE NO HUMAN HAS GONE BEFORE
And then there was Star Trek: Enterprise. It’s a series set 100 years before the time of Captain Kirk, and 100 years after Zefram Cochrane discovered warp technology. It a series that would tell the story of how the Star Trek of Kirk and Picard came to be. It is the first star ship named Enterprise with a captain named Jonathan Archer. In Picard’s time it’s already a granted fact that man has evolved to point that much of his prejudices, superstitions and ignorance are no longer there. It would be a great idea to explore the journey man takes to reach that kind of height, to see his struggles, his difficulties and the sacrifices he has to make to get where he is.
A lot of the things said about this series comes from the fans’ wishes to see Star Trek move forward, instead of backward. Where is the thrill in telling the story when we know how it ends?
Well, if we only thought like that, then there would be no documentaries. There would be no period movies. There would be no Titanic, no Saving Private Ryan or Schindler’s List. There would be no Diary of Anne Frank, Ten Commandments, or Ben Hur. No Das Boot, The Right Stuff, or Gladiator. No Seven Samurai, Ikiru or Shogun. There would be no Roots, no Empire of the Sun, and no Bridge on the River Kwai. All great movies, some based on real events. We know the Titanic sank, and yet it still made for a compelling three hours on film.
The investigation of the past is a worthwhile thing. We know less than we realize and what we don’t know can still astound and thrill us. The past of Star Trek is still a frontier for fans who wants to know the journey mankind took to create a universe that Kirk and Picard can enjoy the kind of existence they have.
I want to know who the first captain and crew of the Enterprise was and how they felt going into deep space for the very first time. I want to know how they communicated with aliens they’ve never met before. I want to know what the people of Earth thought of aliens and how they overcame their fear of them. I want to share in the kind of pioneering adventure they would surely have going where no human has gone before.
The first thing I noticed of course, was the opening theme. I was surprised that they did not use a classical theme like the previous Star Treks, but rather a song… with someone actually singing it! It was something I wasn’t entirely comfortable with at first, but my attention was soon grabbed by the extraordinary graphics. There is something poignant and inspiring at seeing the evolution of man’s pursuit of the unknown, bravely striving forward, ever forward. As for the song, listen the lyrics, will you? As I saw more episodes, I realized the song captured the spirit of the show perfectly, and now, every time I see this opening theme, seeing Chuck Yeager walking triumphantly from another supersonic flight, Alan Shepard nodding and astronauts bravely walking towards the unknown, I never fail to get all choked up. Never in all of my nearly four decades of watching television have I been so moved by an opening theme as this one.
The first two seasons of Enterprise gave me exactly what I had wanted and more. It was with delight and amusement did I react to the Enterprise crew’s struggles with things that Picard and Kirk’s Star Trek took for granted. Things like the crew’s astonishment and excitement at reaching Warp 5, their reluctance to use the transporter (which resulted in a few interesting storytelling twists), launching torpedoes that were actual solid torpedoes (like what you see in submarines) rather than energy balls, and grappling hooks with cables in place of tractor beams. I thought it was fantastic and fascinating!
To anyone who feels that Enterprise is more advanced and modern than Kirk’s Enterprise should look past the surface and look more closely. This is Enterperpise that is more cluttered, more claustrophobic, more mechanical. They still cook with pots and pans, they still use water to bathe in, and they still more or less wear recognizably contemporary clothing when off duty.
ALIENS SPEAK ENGLISH!
In Kirk’s time, nearly every Alien spoke English. That’s probably because the universal translator was in perfect working order. But what about the time when they still didn’t have much of a computerized translator to speak of?
Captain Archer and crew’s first encounters with aliens were met with difficulty because they couldn’t understand what the aliens were saying. It is to Captain Archer’s credit that he got a genius linguist named Hoshi Sato to be his communications officer. Hoshi is not an astronaut, nor has she intended on going to space at all. In fact, she actually hates to be in space and she jumps every time the ship shudders unexpectedly. But Captain Archer knew her talents would help in their adventures ahead.
It’s fascinating to see how Hoshi slowly digests the language as she listens to the aliens speak and in just a few minutes she can manage to carry on a workable dialogue between them. THIS is how a communications officer is supposed to be. It is not someone whose only dialogue is “Hailing Frequencies open, sir!” This is an actual communications officer who truly communicated and saved the ship more than few times because of it.
THE PRIME DIRECTIVE
The Prime Directive is one of the most important laws in the Federation which states that no person who is a member of the Federation will in any way influence, through their presence or technology, the natural evolution and way of life of another planet.
But of course, in the time of Archer, the Federation hasn’t even been formed. Archer, in his innocence and excitement at space exploration, has had to learn the value of such a directive the hard way.
I react with a little unease at Archer’s willingness to blunder into situations that a much learned Vulcan (T’Pol, his first officer) have advised caution against. His eagerness to get out there and explore and possibly make friends sometimes blinds him to the possible dangers that not only that his crew will face but the new life forms they will get in contact with.
A lot of fans interpret this as arrogance and insensitivity. But one has to take into consideration that this is a journey that Archer, or any such early explorer, has to take and discover for his own. Us fans have already been at the end of that journey with Kirk and Picard, but for Archer, wide eyed and innocent to the ways of the universe, all these things are yet to come.
And learn his lessons he does. One can see much evolution in the character of Archer from the eager and innocent explorer of the first season to the weathered, angry and somewhat cynical Archer at the beginning of the 4th season. A loyal fan is there to see this evolution happen, and yet one is still startled at how much Archer has changed in 4th season’s “Home” where he gets a chance to spend some time with another captain, who is set to leave on her own starship soon. Still wide eyed and excited, Captain Erika Hernandez is pretty much who Archer was before he left earth many years before.
On a related note, fans have objected to the idea of a female captain during this era, based on the remarks of Dr. Janice Lester where she says, “Your world of starship captains doesn’t admit women.” in the last episode of the Original Series. Fans, are you so ready to believe the word of a seriously mentally disturbed woman who lies consistently throughout the episode and tried many times to kill Capt. Kirk? Isn’t it more plausible that it is more consistent with Gene Roddenberry’s universe of equality that women captains will not really be extraordinary but rather commonplace?
A lot of the objections of the fans against Enterprise stem from “seeming” inconsistencies like this (which can easily be explained anyway this being science fiction after all).
THE LITTLE MOMENTS
All of the main characters left a very lasting impression on me. My favorite character has to be Trip Tucker, the ship’s engineer. He has a casual, easygoing manner that I most identify with. In fact, all of the characters, except for maybe T’Pol the Vulcan, have a casual, easygoing and comfortable manner about them that I find very appealing. This is a crew that seems more closer to my life than any of the Star Trek casts that came before. It is perhaps they are more closer to my time that the actors are allowed to be more contemporary in their manner of acting.
But I think I can attribute that to their talent as actors as well. Unlike previous casts, there is NOT a bad actor in this group. Although I believe The Next Generation had the best actor in all of the Star Treks in the person of Patrick Stewart who played Captain Picard, Star Trek: Enterprise is probably the best acting ensemble in all of Star Trek. Every single one of them, including the recurring characters and extras act extremely well.
And it is to the shows’ writers’ credit that they wrote a preponderance of character driven episodes that showcased that talent. It is these episodes that have been called “boring” by action starved fans, and yet it is these same episodes that resonate the most with me. I got to know these characters more than I did any of the previous characters in other shows. The writers pepper the episodes with seemingly unimportant details and yet as a whole they paint a picture of a crew that are probably the most human of them all.
“Shuttlepod One” is an episode set mostly inside a shuttlepod in space, where the two occupants, Trip Tucker and Armory Officer Malcolm Reed believe that the Enterprise had exploded and they need to find a way to survive. Trip does all he can to try and find a way to solve their problem, while Malcolm spends his time writing farewell letters to his family and loved ones, believing that they are doomed to die. Then they get rescued in the end. Nothing much by way of story happened, and yet it is one of the most entertaining Star Trek shows I’ve ever watched. Every bit of characterization spewed out by a despondent Malcolm and a cranky and frustrated Trip I enjoyed tremendously and I came away forever loving these characters by the end.
“Breaking the Ice” showcased two wonderful moments for me. One is where Archer and crew answer questions from school children, like how astronauts would in our own time, to be transmitted back to earth. Questions range from “What do you eat?” to “When you flush your toilet, where does it go?” It’s truly a nice moment, and something that’s wholly logical too, and it’s great that the writers had the sensitivity to include something like this in the show.
In the same episode, Malcolm and Helmsman Travis Mayweather land on a frozen comet and they proceed to make a Vulcan snowman and have a laugh about it. It’s a simple scene, and yet it’s a refreshing kind of way to develop their characters and make them more appealing.
A Vulcan captain tells Archer in this episode, “You’re easily impressed.” Which may well be applicable to me. But not really. I’m actually quite picky about what I chose to watch and I’m far less impressed with what’s on TV today than I was before. I guess I’m just more sensitive to what Enterprise is trying to accomplish, and I try not to fuss about inconsequential details.
“Silent Enemy” tells the story of just how unprepared the Enterprise was in dealing with hostile forces. Archer struggles with the decision of going home to get more weapons or stay and deal with this enemy on their own. It’s a terrific story on its own, but what made the show special was the running subplot of the entire crew trying to find out what Malcolm’s favorite food was so they could prepare an appropriate gift for him on his birthday. It’s a poignant moment when Malcolm receives his gift and wonders in amazement how they found out what he really wanted.
The first two seasons are peppered with great low key moments like these which for me brought the show much closer to my heart than any of the other Star Trek shows. I would prefer their characters to be developed under these conditions rather than a running gunfight with a renegade Tholian warship. Although I do admit that a running gunfight with a Tholian warship would be nice once in a while.
THOSE LYING VULCANS!
A lot of fans complain that there are just too many inconsistencies that ruin the show for them. And apparently, one of the major inconsistencies would be that of the Vulcans. Vulcans of Enterprise are condescending, conniving, lying bastards, and not at all like the Vulcans of Kirk’s time who are known for their truthfulness, intelligence and spirituality, embracing the edict of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.
Any casual Star Trek fan knows that Vulcans don’t lie. I know it, and any Star Trek fan who reads this article know it. It’s practically a household fact, very much like how everybody knows Kirk’s ship is also called Enterprise.
Does anyone seriously think that Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, who have worked on Star Trek for so many years would not know this fact? Of course they do! To think otherwise would be ridiculous.
So why are the Vulcans of Enterprise such despicable liars? There’s an easy answer to this question. The writers are telling us a STORY. It is a running subplot which begins in “Broken Bow” and culminates with “The Forge”, “Awakening”, and “Kir’Shara” of the 4th season. This is not “damage control” as some fans seem to think it is, but a story takes 4 seasons to tell. It’s a pretty major inconsistency that deserves to be explained as long as it needs to be. And it’s a pretty satisfying conclusion that ties up every Vulcan inconsistency there ever was on Enterprise.
Another fan who followed the show loyally for many years dropped the show because the warp nacelles on the ship were wrong. I think it’s a pretty shallow reason to stop watching a show, and it does a disservice to the quality of the story telling, character development, production values and every major element that makes a show compelling.
There are admittedly a lot of other inconsistencies but upon further investigation they are all easily explained. I find the reasons of the producers and writers to be credible and it really falls down to the fan if he will believe them or not. It’s disappointing that a lot of fans reject perfectly good explanations, preferring to fixate on these little details, quibble and fret over them, depriving themselves the opportunity to enjoy perfectly good, well made and well written shows.
SWALLOWED BY THE DARK SIDE
I feared for the fate of the show and by the 2nd season it was apparent that the show wasn’t getting as much support as it deserved. The third season was perhaps a misguided attempt to win back the attention of fans who stopped watching the show by upping the action, throwing in more destruction, more phasers and torpedoes, millions of deaths and cranking up the angst. The last episode of Season 2 and the whole of Season 3 were very dark. The producers thought that perhaps this is what the fans wanted and it turns out it wasn’t. This is perhaps their only real fatal mistake. To devote an entire season to tell one story, cliffhanger after cliffhanger, was an interesting idea, and it did get exciting plenty of times, but I missed the little moments that made the show special to me. Character development was subverted by large explosions and flashing phasers.
I blame the fans and the producers for Season 3. I blame the fans for failing to see the kind of show that the producers wanted to make and the kind of stories they wanted to tell in Season 1 and 2. I blame the producers for mistakenly believing blood, mind numbing action and loud explosions for an entire year were what the fans wanted.
By the time Season 4 rolled in and really good episodes started to appear, then it was far too late.
Seeing “Terra Prime” and “These are The Voyages…” back to back was very emotional for me. I dreaded for weeks the time when I’d finally see the end of Enterprise. I had been watching Season 1 again via the DVD set, and I knew it truly was something remarkable. I felt really sad and I thought it such a shame that something like this could not continue.
I held my breath and finally the last 2 hours of the show rolled slowly in front of me.
For the first time in all my life watching a television show I cried. I felt my heart breaking when the ships of Captain Picard, Captain Kirk and Captain Archer flew across my screen and disappeared into the depths of space. I despaired not only because one of my most favorite characters died, but because like Trip, the life of a perfectly good series was cut way before its time. I felt like a significant part of my life was ending, that a connection I’m realizing had much substance in the workings of my everyday life is being severed. It was very devastating. It still is, as it’s only been less than a week since the show ended.
It’s very disappointing that not enough of us appreciated the show as much as we did to save Enterprise. It’s very disappointing a lot of people, including the executives who held the fate of the show in their hands, failed to realize just what they had. Star Trek is more than just a show on television. It has given a lot of people “a life”, something that critics contend that die hard fans of this show doesn’t have. I can hear those people muttering the same thing now as they read this, although I doubt they’d have read this far.
OUR FINAL FRONTIER
Star Trek has inspired people to become astronauts, engineers, doctors, inventors, scientists, astronomers, and explorers. Prominent people worldwide have counted Star Trek as inspirations in their own lives, even though their careers have taken them in directions that may or may not have anything to do with Star Trek. Dignitaries have visited the Star Trek set… people like former US President Ronald Reagan and famous physicist Stephen Hawking, who even appeared as himself on the show. Real astronauts came on as extras in the final episode of Enterprise, as a tribute to the show that inspired them to be pursue the exploration of space as their careers. If one looks at NASA’s official site right now you would see Scott Bakula (as Captain Archer) hosting Nasa’s Return to Flight in several videos.
The first Space Shuttle was named “Enterprise” and the launch was graced by the presence of many Star Trek actors.
Technologies that were speculated on the show are slowly becoming reality. Communicators as they appeared in Picard’s Enterprise are now being used in hospitals as a quick and efficient way of locating staff, nurses and doctors.
In a San Francisco Chronicle article called “Trek Tech”, Bernadette Tansey writes:
“And in 2004, many of the high-tech instruments simulated on the “Star Trek” set are a reality, used to treat patients in hospitals and clinics around the world.
Rather than undergo exploratory surgery, many patients now rest on tables similar to the Enterprise’s sickbay bed while an automated scanner delivers diagnostic images of the body’s interior.
Blade-free “surgery” is possible with equipment like the CyberKnife, developed at Stanford University. And devices like McCoy’s needle-free “hypospray” injections are now commonplace vaccination tools.”
In fact, something as improbable transporter technology is on the way to being made a reality. In a 2002 report from CNN, it reported:
“…Australian university researchers in quantum optics say they have “teleported” a message in a laser beam using the same technology principles that enabled Scotty to beam up Captain Kirk. ”
The impact of this show is far deeper, and far more significant than people realize. People are using this show as something to point the way in which technology will develop. I may accept people not liking the show, but it cannot be denied that Star Trek has made possible a lot of good things for us. It has evolved to more than just a television show, and it is something that you just don’t cancel like just any other thing on TV.
Star Trek has become something we need, whether we realize it or not, whether we want it or not. In a television landscape full of cynicism, pessimism, darkness and insensitivity, we need a show like Star Trek that gives us hope. Hope that our lives will become better one day. Hope that in our future world, everything will be OK.
Our future may not exactly resemble that of the future that Star Trek shows us, but its vision of a positive future for mankind, Klingons and Borgs notwithstanding, is a dream worth pursuing.
San Pablo City
This is the Pugad Baboy strip that got Pol Medina fired from the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
I use the term “fired” because it is the same term that Pol Medina himself uses to describe his situation in Facebook in this post. Whether he is truly fired or simply suspended, remains to be seen. But as this article indicates, Pugad Baboy will be off the PDI starting Friday.
(UPDATE!) Pol has confirmed that he is simply suspended, pending investigation.
Based on a letter posted by a commenter on Pol’s post on Facebook, PDI apparently received a threat of lawsuit from Sr. Mary Thomas Prado, OSB, President of St. Scholastica, which was the subject of the strip. It appears PDI folded under the pressure, and cancelled the strip.
There are many issues at play here and I will address every one of them.
The first issue is that of PDI editorial and their approval of this strip. Pol Medina Jr. is probably the most popular cartoonist in the Philippines, bar none. He began his stint on PDI with Pugad Baboy in 1988 with his scathing political satire that made people stop and think about current Philippine issues. PDI was probably the best place for this strip because back in the 1980′s PDI was known to be the bravest newspaper daily out there, going head to head against ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies.
It is my opinion that Pugad Baboy is an excellent comic strip, employing a unique kanto-style comedy that regular Filipinos would easily recognize and relate to. It was funny, it was intelligent, it was brave, and it was at times controversial. I know that I am not alone in the habit of checking out this strip first before even reading the news in this paper. I know that I am not alone in my habit of buying PDI simply because of Pugad Baboy countless times for many years.
As I’ve said, Pugad Baboy has been occasionally controversial, but that who Pol is. He recounts on his Facebook that he wanted to start doing comic strips as early as the 1970′s, but during Marcos’s time, satire could land you in jail. Pol opted to leave the Philippines and work as an OFW in the Middle East, and only went back to do his strips after Marcos was deposed. And Pol just let it rip. This was a new age of freedom, an age when artists could freely express political views. Or so we thought.
Pol has posted many rejected Pugad Baboy strips (rejected by PDI Editors) on his Facebook. It indicates that there is a certain amount of editorial control, and that there are still some strips that PDI feels perhaps the public cannot handle.
But this strip about Lesbianism in Catholic schools was approved by PDI Editorial and was published in the newspaper. Any politically, or religiously charged strip will always gather controversy, and this one was no exception. Pol and PDI have published controversial strips before. This was nothing new. But for some reason, when a protest was raised against this strip, PDI practically said, with their firing of Pol that, “Hey, it wasn’t US, it Was HIM.” And promptly threw Pol under the bus, washing their hands of any responsibility.
What changed? Why is this instance different from the rest? The fact that PDI approved the strip, this means they stand by with what it says, and that they stand by with their cartoonist. To fire Pol and not stand by him is a gutless move from a newspaper that purports to have “Balanced News, FEARLESS VIEWS.” It’s a sentiment that carried them over from the Marcos years, a sentiment they apparently no longer truly believe in. What happened? A change in editorial policy? What? Who knows?
Another issue: Pol hints that this strip was dated March, and that nobody protested then. But after he posted a few anti-Marcos strips, this other strip suddenly got revived and is now the subject of much controversy. Pol calls it “consPIGracy”.
All right, I am not aware of any internal politics within PDI, and probably Pol knows something we don’t. As an outsider, I find it strange that the late President Marcos, his family and supporters would have any power over PDI, specially considering PDI was the most anti-Marcos newspaper back in the day. Has things changed so much in the past few decades? Is there something going on behind the scenes we know nothing about? Time will tell! Right now I can’t even begin to speculate about this issue.
Another issue: Why is St. Scholastica admin protesting?
From the alleged letter St. Scholastica admin sent to PDI, it appears their beef is the allegation that they allow homosexual relationships to occur between their students. For a Catholic school, this is only a natural reaction, since homosexuality, homosexual acts, and gay marriage are frowned upon by the Catholic Church. Any allegation that they allow such things to happen is deeply offensive to their beliefs.
However, that does not change the fact that there are lesbians in an all girl school, and that relationships are bound to form, the same way relationships form with heterosexuals in coed schools. Whether these relationships are approved the admin or not, THEY ARE HAPPENING. And there’s nothing they can do to stop it. Pol simply pointed out the this fact, a fact that many people already know. Threatening PDI and Pol with a lawsuit will not stop lesbians and it will not stop lesbians from forming relationships. To me that reeks of denial, and denial will only make things worse for these students.
I am for gay rights, and I am for gay marriage. To me there’s absolutely nothing wrong with girls having relationships with girls their own age. But I know where these sisters are coming from. But at the same time, what kind of teeth would such a lawsuit have, when Pol was only exposing the truth? Does the truth hurt a little too much? Pol is not to blame here. He is simply pointing out a hypocrisy committed by others.
I sincerely hope that this does not result in an administrative crackdown on lesbian relationships in this school and at other schools. That would be devastating the students involved.
The fact that PDI caved in to ths pressure tells us a lot about PDI and what their position is on certain issues. And I personally find it disappointing.
What can you do?
Can we really accomplish anything with an online campaign? Who knows? But what I do know is we can’t accomplish anything by staying quiet. I also know that PDI pulled Pugad Baboy because somebody complained. And it would only be their right to complain. This is a democracy after all. But we also have a right to complain when our freedom of expression is trampled upon. We only have to complain LOUDER.
Cartoonist/Multi-media artist Tence Ruiz sent me an email informing me of the the death of his friend and co-artist Dante Perez. Ruiz describes Perez as a “comics artist, painter, sculptor, production designer and budding video director”. Perez died on the evening of May 28, 2013 at the Lung Center of the Philippines due to an apparent heart attack. He was 56.
I remember Dante Perez most for the work he did in komiks, which I would describe to be beautifully grotesque and wildly playful. It was nothing like anything seen in Philippine komiks before or since. Here are a few samples of those komiks works:
DANTE PEREZ’s THE CURSED (Full Story)
Dante Perez with Jun Sabayton
Dante Perez, Artist, 56
Dante Perez on Facebook
Apparently, the Perez family is having difficulty covering medical and funeral expenses. Donations can be made to Dante’s daughter Sidd.
Our dearest friend, Sidd Perez, lost her dad, artist-filmmaker-actor-production designer, Dante Perez, Tuesday night May 28, 2013 due to a heart attack from worsening complications of pneumonia. We are personally appealing for donations to cover his medical and funeral expenses. You are welcome to send money directly by way of bank deposit to:
Siddharta B. Perez
Bank of Philippine Islands Savings Account
Thank you so much for taking time to read this and for your kind consideration. His family will be deeply grateful for any assistance that you can extend.
Please feel free to send out this message to your contacts. Deepest thanks
I wish to offer my condolences to his friends and family.
The signing has been updated with a new venue with another artist added!
Eisner Award nominated comics creator Rod Espinosa of Courageous Princess and Snow White, along with Ambush creator Andrew Villar and Peejay Catacutan (Xenoglyphs) will have a signing at Castle Geek, 3F Unit 350 Neutral Grounds, New Glorietta Wing, Gloriatta 2, Makati, on June 1, 2013, beginning 1pm. They will be signing and sketching on blank covers.
Rod Espinosa Website
Andrew Villar/Ambush Comics on Facebook
Peejay Catacutan on DeviantArt
It was last year when I first heard the rumblings of what is now known as Black Ink Comics. It was quite a big surprise when the publisher was revealed to be Precious Pages Corporation, the same publisher of the popular and commercially successful Precious Hearts Romance pocketbooks. Immediately, the significance of this was apparent: a major publisher of popular entertainment is about to enter comics publication and enter it in a big way. The last time anything this big was attempted was in 2007 by Sterling Paper. I thought this was kind of a big deal. If they are able to translate their success to comics the way they did romance pocket books, it could mean great things for the Philippine Komiks Industry. I for one am full of optimism.
I got in touch with a few creative people as well as editorial at Black Ink and I asked them a series of similar questions.
1. Can you tell me something about yourself as a comic book creator? What were the highlights of your work in comics?
I have been a freelance comic book artist for more than twenty years locally. I’ve done some independent titles here and abroad. I was the chief instructor for Whilce Portacio’s comic school for three years here in Manila before. Titles like Biotrog, Hellcop, and Bayan Knights are just a few of my familiar works.
2. How did you get involved in Black Ink, and what titles are you working on?
I think I came in almost late, but still lucky to be part of the first batch of books to be released. My writer, Jeffrey Marcelino Ong, contacted me via Facebook about his book and his plans with this new and exciting company. As always, I am open but cautious to be working with a company that I’ve never worked on before. Since Jeff told me about the good plans they have for us and the local comics industry, I agreed and went to the meeting to meet the team. We are assigned to do Hands of the Dragon. I think it was a good decision on my part.
3. How do you feel about the Precious Pages Corporation entering the local komiks industry in such a big way?
I think it is about time that a big company would try komiks again. I think their Graphic Novel format is just right for this time and age. I would say, so far so good. Black Ink Comics is a refreshing new chapter in our world of komiks.
4. As a comic book publisher, writer and artist yourself, how does it feel to be part of a company like this? Do you have any limitations or can you draw however you want? How different is it working on your own Bayan Knights books compared to the work you do for Black Ink?
For one, as a self publishing creator. their resources and distribution can never be compared to my very small own. As for limitations in terms of the actual books, they trust us to deliver. We have almost free reign over our art. They would edit the scripts and also do the proofreading and all the other stuff and because they are well organized, I think we and our books are blessed that way. I haven’t explored creator-owned projects with them yet, but I believe I will in the future.
5. What kind of impact would you like Black Ink to have in the current komiks industry?
My hopes might differ from theirs and I would want to say too much but aside from gaining more trust and popularity for the local graphic story medium or comics. I would say, I hope that they will come up with the right or perfect deals for the creative people behind ever book they produce. A more reasonable and ideal terms that will be both beneficial to us all.
1. Can you tell me something about yourself as a comic book creator? What were the highlights of your work in comics?
I started working in komiks, officially, in 1989 after a year of study from Joseph Christian and Hal Santiago’s Komiks Illustration Workshop. I was very young at that time and still in high school but I regularly visit GASI to ask for work.
Because komiks publications were sinking in the 90s, and I admittedly not very good in my drawing at that time, I became a fullt-time writer in 2005, started writing komiks script, then pocketbooks, newspaper and magazine articles.
I got bored, or maybe got tired of writing, in the late 1990s and early 2000, so I decided to go back to visual arts in 2000. Unfortunately, if I want to still draw comics, I have no choice but to work abroad through internet. So I did.
2. How did you get involved in Black Ink, and what titles are you working on?
Although I am working not just in comics but in animation, films, and game productions, I am very much inclined with comics community. I am active with the activities from Komikons to online chatrooms. One time, writer Ron Mendoza contacted me if I want to do local komiks again. I got very interested right away, maybe because I felt ‘at home’ with the people when I learned that some of the writers and artists were from GASI and Atlas. I missed these guys, you know, I’ve been away from local komiks publications for more than a decade.
My Midnight and Animen by Ron Mendoza offered to me because, honestly, I am the only artist in the group when we had our fist meetings last year. We invited other artists to work with us but they were not interested at that time. I don’t know, maybe they were not convinced that this newly-formed komiks group will push through.
I am also writing ‘Fairies Wheel’ with different artists on the line up.
3. How do you feel about the Precious Pages Corporation entering the local komiks industry in such a big way?
Precious Pages is not new to komiks world, actually. The owner Jun Matias is a very huge-huge fan of Filipino komiks especially in the 70s and 80s. He could name almost all the famous writers of the industry–from Pablo Gomez to Elena Patron to Gilda Olvidado and could tell their famous novels. Sir Jun is also a writer himself before PHR company was born and used to visit GASI in the 80s. He could also tell the artists area where he always sees illustrators doing their deadlines.
Sir Jun is also a friend of komiks writer-artist Vincent Kua Jr., which the latter designed the now-famous logo of Precious Hearts Romances.
One time, I brought illustrator Louie Celerio to one of our meetings, and Sir Jun got excited and told his staff that he is a big fan of Mang Louie.
4. Can you describe your working relationship with your writer? Do you have any limitations as far as drawing goes, or are you free to draw however you want?
I feel at home with ‘Filipino-style’ komiks script. Working in foreign comics for almost a decade now, I think we are the only one the uses ‘bahala ka na’ (up to you) for the illustrations guide. You just have to understand the story. I felt more freedom with this since American script are more detailed and specific.
Black Ink, in terms of illustration style, is very open. The editorial group is actually inviting artists to submit samples for review. It’s just that the first titles were more of a ‘traditional look’ because, as I said, when we started the meetings, we had a hard time finding artists to work with us.
But now, when we first launch our books last year at Komikon, we gained attention from indie and international artists and some of them are working with us.
We now have two manga titles. I am very happy working with the publisher and the editorial team because they are very open for what I would like to do, but of course, they also look for the saleability of the title. Our regular meetings actually were about this– the titles, the marketing, the readers, the future plans.
PHR is the biggest publisher of romance stories in the country, and the owner of several bookstores, so marketing is also they should look through the titles.
5. What kind of impact would you like Black Ink to have in the current komiks industry?
In just a short span of time, we already have almost 20 titles that are now available in bookstores nationwide. This made a huge impact to comics community and publishers, because couple of interested publishers were already messaged me about Black Ink. They are just monitoring us and I could assure that in no time, more publishers will venture with komiks again.
The reason Black Ink was formed because the publisher wants to pursue the ‘komiks line’ independently instead of just a side project of Precious Hearts. He envisioned that more local komiks will be displayed, and have their own racks in all bookstores. Imagine romance pocketbooks when they were just starting in the 90s, you could only saw it being displayed in a small portion of a rack in bookstores, but visit National Bookstores now and you could see Filipino romance books with their own section with hundreds and hundreds of titles.
I also see Black Ink could become a blueprint for commercial and mainstream komiks that new publishers could study as well. You know, there are several publishers (and big as well) but PHR (Black Ink) was brave enought to give an all-out support to publish many komiks titles that other publishers cannot do at the moment.
JEFFREY MARCELINO ONG
1. Can you tell me something about yourself as a comic book creator? What were the highlights of your work in comics?
I started as a comics writer at the age of 16, that’s way back 1992 in GASI. I applied as an illustrator; kaso sabi ng editor mas interesting daw ang script ko kesa sa drawing. So I decided to be a writer for good. For 2 years, I wrote hundreds of short stories; until one of my editors recommended me to Sir Ollie Roble Samaniego (GASI Editor-in Chief) to write a series entitled HARIBON, it’s an environmental superhero themed concept. Then I was given another series, its LASTIKDOG (yup, ang alagang aso ni Lastikman). Haribon and Lastikdog both ran in the pages of Aliwan Komiks for 2 years, then I was given a break to write a novel. I created WOLFGANG a year before the two giant comics publishers collapsed.
Desperate to revive the local mainstream comics, me and my GASI friends (Galo Ador Jr., Ron Mendoza, Ronald Tabuzo, Arman Francisco, Lito Tanseco and Mars Alvir) tried to publish our own comics. We pushed too hard to produce DARK PAGES but we fell short. Then after several years, Black Ink Comics came to life…
2. How did you get involved in Black Ink, and what titles are you working on?
My good friend Ron Mendoza, a resident writer for Precious Pages asked me to join this project together with other Dark Pages creators. Black Ink Comics is a year in the making, we started with regular meetings and brainstorming with publisher Jun Matias and with Precious Pages co-owner Richard Reynante (who happens to be one of my bosses in ABS-CBN).
I was assigned to handle the 12-part-series HANDS OF THE DRAGON (illustrated by Gilbert Monsanto), then I proposed my very own concept KALASAG (illustrated by Meng Fabian). I have other titles that are still in the process of writing; THE RED JOURNAL (illustrated by Arnel Coronel) and ANG MASON (illustrated by HARVEY TOLIBAO).
3. How do you feel about the Precious Pages Corporation entering the local komiks industry in such a big way?
At first, parang nalula ako kasi malawak talaga ang plano ng publisher. Natakot na baka mag-fail kami. Off course, para sa isang comics creator na tulad ko na nasaksihan at bahagi pa ng “pagbagsak” ng local comics, nakaka-depress makaranas ng isa pang set back pagdating sa industriyang mahal na mahal natin.
But I proved myself wrong nang nagpatuloy lang kami sa pagbuo ng mga comics kahit inabot pa ng isang taon bago mailabas. I really admire our publisher’s passion to make this project into reality, grabe ang enthusiasm niya, nakakahawa. Kaya naman kaming mga creators ay hindi rin nag-give up. Ang nakaka-bilib, hindi lang sampung titles ang binuo naming. Marami, as in. So in the future, marami pang aabangan ang mga comics lover. We hope na makapag-inspire ito sa mga komikero, lalo na sa mga indie creators. We’re actually hunting talents na puwede sa Black Ink. Ilan na sa kanila ang nakausap ko at patuloy na ini-encourage na mag-drawing sa Black Ink. I am very enthusiastic na magtutuloy-tuloy ito and hoping na makatulong nang husto para mapasigla pa ang komiks ng mga Pinoy.
4. Did you get a directive from the editors/publishers about the kind of stories that you can write? Or were you free to write any story that you liked? Any limitations?
May mga concepts ang publishers–specially Sir Richard Reynante–na ini-a-assign sa’min. We’re also allowed to pitch our own concept. Dini-discuss namin ang lahat sa regular meeting, binubusisi. Gusto talaga naming makapagbigay ng mga bagong putahe sa mga readers. We are free to write about anything, self-censorship na lang, malinaw naman sa amin ang mga limitations like religion biases, extremely graphic content saka explicit languages. Subject for approval naman ang lahat ng script, anyway.
5. What kind of impact would you like Black Ink to have in the current komiks industry?
We’re very happy with the success of the indie comics industry, bilang isa sa mga bahagi ng natulog na “bangketa komiks” ay nakakatuwang tingnan ang mga mga bagong mukha na very passionate sa paglikha ng komiks. Very heartwarming din ang nakikitang pagsuporta ng mga beterano lalo na kapag may mga KOMIKON events. Black Ink Comics is a team of veteran comics creators, we’re here to inspire the new generation, to give our full support to the independents, to pull their hands to also experience mainstream…and to encourage them to continue with their independent titles.
Black Ink Comics is here to stay…for all the Komikeros!
BLANK INK EDITORIAL c/o Melanie Esguerra
1. Precious Pages is well known for publishing “Precious Hearts Romances,” a very popular and very successful line of Tagalog romance pocketbooks. What made them decide to enter comics, which admittedly can be a very risky business nowadays for big publishers?
Precious Pages Corporation has been involved in the field of promoting reading advocacy for over twenty years. It does not only publish Tagalog romance novels. It also publishes children’s books, cookbooks, licensed graphic novels, and puzzles. It is not really a big decision for the company to join the comics industry. We noticed the numerous attempts of other publishers and self-published authors and illustrators to revive the comics industry, so, why not take part in it?
Twenty-two years ago, the publisher (Segundo Matias, Jr.) also took risk in publishing Tagalog romance novels with more than twenty other publishers as competitors, so why not publish something that he had loved and missed so much. After all, he belongs to the generation of the golden age of komiks and it saddened him when komiks gradually disappeared from the newsstands.
2. Black Ink presents a departure from the traditional format of mainsteam Pinoy komiks of anthologies with different writers and artists in one issue. You decided to use a more compact format, which may be considered as the graphic novel format with a single team of creators for either one book or series of books. What made you decide to use this format?
We did not intend to use a specific format. It just so happened that the first releases were in the graphic novel format. Our concern is more on the content.
3. What were your considerations in choosing the writers and artists for your books?
As long as the story—be it short, serialized, or a sixty-page novel—is worth publishing, from a new or veteran comic’s writers, then Black Ink will publish it. With regards to the illustrators, we believe that Filipinos are good comic’s illustrators so we welcome illustrators who are willing to work for us and find an outlet for their talents. The illustrators come to us based on recommendations; others answer our announcements. Once we give a project to an illustrator, they have to give studies of the characters in the approved stories for approval.
4. Is there a preference for any specific genre or stories or do you allow your creators to explore any genre they wish be it fantasy, sci fi, drama, crime, etc?
Black Ink wishes to present stories in a wide variety of genres, including romance, horror, superheroes, fantasy, comedy, fairy tales, historical, adventure, etc.
5. What do you hope the impact of Black Ink will have in the current komiks industry?
We are aware how the industry decades ago are different from the industry today, yet we still hope to make a contribution, in our own way, to help revive the industry. But Black Ink cannot do it alone. It is a collective effort.
For some reason, I’m more invested now in elections than I ever was before. It’s probably because I am older, and I can see the big picture more clearly. And from this vantage point, I can see and understand just how powerful our vote is in determining our fate and our future in this country.
During the course of the last couple of years I was driven into rage whenever I hear questionable laws that come to pass, laws like the deeply flawed and abusive Anti Cybercrime Law of 2012. They came to pass because Senators and Congressmen made it happen. And who was responsible for putting those people there? US. It was US. That was just one in the many such incidents that made me think about who to vote for in the upcoming elections.
As an artist, an abusive and oppressive law like the Anti Crime Law is something I’m deeply invested in. It’s an issue I care about because of the work I do. So, you senators who have authored and supported this Anti CyberCrime law, don’t think I have forgotten you. Your names are listed in many sites online and are easy to remember. I will not be voting for you.
YOU however, whoever you are reading this, you would have to learn what issues you care about, and it is your responsibility to find out which senators support or don’t support your issues, and vote accordingly. Just google it, you know? A lot of information can be found online on what issues these people stand for.
As for me, as I mentioned, I am always against any law that suppresses my freedom and my rights as an artist. That encompasses a lot of different laws including the Intellectual Property Law, which a lot of political hopefuls in the coming election so gleefully violate with their illegally used music for their campaign jingles. If you have used music illegally to prop up your own campaign, I WILL NOT VOTE FOR YOU. Using music by artists like Psy or Adele or Village People may seem to you like it’s not a big deal, but that is a violation of the intellectual property rights of an artist.
What is intellectual property? They are simply ideas. As artists, we can came up with ideas that will benefit us as individuals. These are ideas that non-artists would be unable to or would have difficulty to come up with. That’s because it comes from our talent, and the years of hard work developing that talent. If you use those ideas without our permission and without compensation, you are practically stealing money from us. That’s the simplest way I can put it. It’s like you came up to me and grabbed my wallet.
These candidates using the music of Psy, Adele, Village People etc…? These candidates are grabbing these artists’ wallets. And to me, and according to the law, this is a CRIME.
The COMELEC also released a set of guidelines that candidates must follow. A lot of these are pretty simple. Candidates have an allowed period of time when they can campaign, and they aren’t allowed to post campaign posters on trees, electric posts, overpasses, etc. But we all know almost all candidates have violated this. That made my job of selecting my choices much easier because if you violated those COMELEC guidelines, again, I WILL NOT VOTE FOR YOU. You are a lawbreaker and to me that makes you a criminal. I don’t vote for criminals.
On a more personal note, I am for gay marriage rights, and I am for The Reproductive Health Bill. Any sentatoriable who opposes those will not get my vote. It’s really as simple as that.
But as I said, please remember that this is purely a personal issue. You vote for whoever you want, just as long as you really thought about it, and you feel that these people will support the issues that you support.
DO NOT vote simply because you think their smile is pretty, or they look nice, or they were a popular actor once, or they come from a political family and their name is familiar to you, or they refuse to debate publicly or if your parents told you. You know any decision based on that would be pretty stupid. And yes, you would be pretty stupid to vote simply based on that.
Here’s a couple of videos where Johnny Danganan and I eleborate more on our favorite issues:
THere you go! Use your vote wisely guys! Our future is in our hands!
Veteran and pioneer Filipino Komiks illustrator Jesse Santos passed away last Aoril 27, 2013 according to his grandson Geoffrey De Vera. He passed away just shy of 84 at his residence in San Fernando Valley in California.
Jesse began working in comics for the very first Philippine serialized comic book “Halakhak” in 1946 on a title called “Kidlat”. It was his the start of a collaboration with Damy Velasquez which would continue on the popular series “DI-13″ which lasted many years.
Moving to the US in the late 60′s, Jesse found success drawing comics such as Dagar, Doctor Spektor and Tragg. He was also a very successful portrait artist, depicting popular popular political figures and celebrities.
Jesse Santos Art Gallery
Jesse Santos Photos
Blown away by how many people showed up at Comic Odyssey and Fully Booked’s Free Comic Book Day celebration at Bonifacio High Street! I arrived around 8:30am and there was already a huge line snaking around the Fully Booked building. I’m told by pal Johnny Danganan that the earliest people in line were actually there as early as 5:00am. Amazing.
Check out this video by fellow artist Jon Zamar, showing the opening of the Fully Booked doors to let FCBD customers in!
What’s pleasantly surprising is the amount of really young kids that showed up. I figure they were anywhere between 5 and 10 years old, boys and girls. It’s so nice being part of something that helps nurture more new readers into comics! I think comics should be part of young children’s lives, as it has been a large part of mine. My comic book experience as a child is one of the best memories I’ve had growing up, and it’s something I wish a lot more children would have.
I’m very happy at being asked to do the cover to this year’s FCBD comic book. For those curious, that’s actually an image from The Marvelous Adventures of the Amazing Doctor Rizal. I wish I could have asked them to indicate it in the credits page, but nevertheless, this is the first image ever of this project to see print and publication. It’s actually an interior page that I’ve since scrapped, but I thought I could re-purpose it for this cover.
That’s Johnny and me, who forgot to take his glasses off when the photo was taken. I usually need reading glasses now to draw and write, but I can still see fine people in front of me. It’s helpful having glasses because my eyesight is clear again, but not having glasses my entire life, I’m just not used to it. It can get frustrating at times. Well, who am I to talk, when people I know have been wearing them all their life, and can’t take them off or they’ll be practically blind.
I took the opportunity to do a quick “Kwentong Tambay” video with Johnny on the subject of Free Comic Book Day!
That’s Edgar Tadeo in the foreground drawing Weapon X on a blank cover, which is kind of a thing now. Publishers Marvel and DC actually do publish comic books that are blank. Yes, there’s nothing on them, so that artists can draw on them. It’s actually kind of a really cool idea. Other guys doing the drawings in the pic are (from right), Kai Castillo (Patintero), Aaron Felizmenio (Gwapoman 2000) and Wan Mañanita (Ang Morion).
Aside from the Kwentong Tambay video, I also did another FCBD video, one of the quick ones I’ve come to like doing recently. I think it presents a portion of my Free Comic Book Day experience concisely and quickly.
Breaking for lunch at 11:45 am, I was amazed to see that the line still snaked around the building, which made me feel bad for the guys and girls on the line because these summer days lately have been absolute murder. I think they must have cut the line soon after because Sandy of Comic Odyssey reports that all the free comics have gone by noon. I wish everyone had a chance to get their free comics.
I’m pretty impressed by FCBD and how it is celebrated in the Philippines has grown into really full scale events that rival almost the Komikon events. Sandy tells me they must have given out at least 10,000 free comics, and that’s really mind boggling. Add the success of this Comic Odyssey/Fully Booked event and the concurrent FCBD festivities held by National Book Store/Comicxhub at NBS Quezon Avenue, it really may well be as big as Komikon, which is saying something. By all indications, FCBD next year will be even bigger. And I think that’s exciting!
I can’t get over how huge FCBD was over here. Check out this really nice video by the Frances Luna III Illustration Firm which shows the crowds and the kind of people that showed up.
Another great and fun video from Fully Booked!
FCBD 2013: Long lines and love for comics
I AM A HAPPY DORK
Free Comic Book Day Photo Gallery by Fully Booked
I’ve already got several articles lined up for this blog, including one big write up of Black Ink Comics, as well as an opinion piece on the evolution of the Philippine komiks indie. Stay tuned!
After Summer Komikon, it’s FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (FCBD) on May 4! Just as the title of the event says, if you attend this event, you’ll get FREE comics! Specially if you come early. And just like Komikon, FCBD in the Philippines has slowly become bigger and bigger.
As far as I know, there are at least two large events that celebrates FCBD in Manila. One is by Comic Odyssey/Fully Booked, and the other is by National Book Store/Castle Geek/Neutral Grounds. It’s kind of put me in a pickle because I have loyalty to both Comic Odyssey and National Book Store (who publishes ELMER 2nd Edition). But I made my first commitment to Comic Odyssey and so there I will be.
Above is the my Amazing Doctor RizaL cover art to Comic Odyssey’s FCBD comic book giveway, which features short stories from many local comic book creators like Ed Tadeo, Aaron Felizmenio, JP Palabon, Freely Abrigo, Manix Abrera, Macoy, Melvin Calingo, Michael David, Omeng Estanislao, Joanah Tinio-Calingo and many more. It will also feature a 2 page “Story of Wasted” short from me.
This event happens at Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street and begins at 10am. I’ll probably be around there sometime after lunch to sign you comic books.
Comic Odyssey/Fully Booked FCBD Facebook Event Page
Some of you might be worried about the accessibility of Comic Odyssey at Fully Booked, Bonifacio High Street. It was my concern to for a long time but FEAR NOT! Below is a graphic that will explain how to easily get to the venue from EDSA if you’re commuting. I myself was surprised at how easy it was.
A quick note about sketches. I apologize if I decline doing any sketches at events. In spite of the fact that I work for Marvel or DC, I find it hard sketching in front of people these Marvel and DC characters. I feel self conscious and It actually takes a lot from me. Here at home, I can’t do it as well because I’m too busy working on my own stuff. However, if you ask me to do quick sketches of my own characters from Elmer or Wasted, I’ll gladly do that. It’s easier because I know these characters very well. And as a creator, it makes me feel good because you’re asking me to draw something I created, and not something created by others.
In the future, I’ll probably start accepting commissions (my characters and others) when I’ve organized my time enough to accommodate them. I’ll talk about it here on this blog when the time comes.
Above is the comic book giveaway (Artwork by Carlo Vergara) from the other event by National Book Store/ Castle Geek and Neutral Grounds, in an event that’s called “Free Comic Book Day: Setting The Record”. It’s called “Setting the Record” because the event hopes to set the most number of sketches on a blank cover comic. A bunch of my other friends will be at this event including Jonas Diego, Budjette Tan, Lui Antonio, etc.
Their giveaway comic book also includes a page from me where I revisit “Gerry’s Believe It Or Else!”.
This happens at the Quezon Avenue branch of National Book Store in Quezon City, and it begins at 9:00am.
National Book Store/Castle Geek/Netural Grounds FBD Event Page
To comic book fans, this is quite a big day, and you don’t even have to be conflicted. Since both these events happen during the course of an entire day, you can attend one and then attend the other later in the day. Problem solved!
The Cebu Comicon is going to be on August 16-17 at the J Centere Mall, Fortuna St, Bakilid in Mandaue, Cebu City. Although I would very much like to attend this one (I was there for the first one in 2010), I would be unable to attend this time around.
However, my newly republished comic book WASTED would be there c/o of old pal JONAS DIEGO. Right now I still don’t know how many copies to send, so if you’re in Cebu, and you will be attending this convention, please let me know in the comments if you want a copy!
Cebu Comicon Facebook Event Page
Ever since I was really small, there was only one superpower I ever wanted. I wanted to fly. I’ve always been fascinated by the sky. As a kid I dreamed that when I rode a plane, I’d take a paper bag with me so I can capture some clouds that I can bring home and play with.
Even as I grew older I always imagined what it would be like to just take off, watch the ground recede, and join the clouds. I’d watch thunderstorms, touch the top of mountains and watch cities from hundreds of feet up in the sky.
My dreams are filled with attempts to fly. Often failing, sometimes succeeding. And when I did fly, it felt incredible.
Now that I’m 45, my dreams have changed. I realized how selfish I had been. To have the opportunity to wish for a superpower, I always wished for this thing that benefited only me and no one else. I felt kind of ashamed. It is so often said in the superhero world, in fact it is the superhero world’s biggest cliche: Great Power Comes With Great Responsibility. But it’s true. It’s very true. If you have the power to change things, you have the responsibility to use it well.
The experiences I’ve had in my life led me to wish for a superpower that I want now more desperately than I ever wanted flying.
I want the power to heal.
I want to be able to heal the sick. I want to heal people with cancer, with Aids, with the cold, with brain damage, with organ damage, those who suffered strokes and heart attacks and ulcers. I want to ease their suffering and make them feel good again.
I have seen people suffer. I have seen how debilitating illness can be, and how it wreaks havoc on a person’s body and spirit. It strikes bad people as well as good people. And if it strikes the good people and the innocent people, it’s even more heartbreaking.
And you’re sitting there and there is nothing you can do to help.
I swear, if I ever have to sacrifice whatever talent I have in writing and drawing, I’ll gladly exchange all that right now just so I can have the ability to heal.
That is the superpower I want.