Mythspace: Liftoff (chikiamco / various artists) [rocket kapre]

This humble crazy reviewer is one of several who got a preview glimpse of the second offline release by Rocket Kapre. I am thankful for the opportunity.

Short version: The completed thing will be SO worth your time. It is expected to be really, really good. This preview should also be in your shopping list. Find the Rocket Kapre booth on Winter Komikon and fall in line to get it. I was not paid to say this.

Long version: here goes.

The theme is simple: Kapres in space. The implications are vast, primarily that of the unique blend of local myth tropes and science fiction, therefore creating a body of work that is both universal and highly nationalistic.

Mythspace will be a themed anthology to be released probably in Summer Komikon 2013. There will be a total of six stories, all scripted by Paolo Chikiamco. One artist each is responsible for illustrating the stories. Liftoff is what the author calls the ‘zero’ issue, to be released this Winter Komikon. It contains one complete work (Lift Off, through Koi Carreon), and one partial work (Unfurling of Wings, through Borg Sinaban), then preview pages and character sketches of the other stories in the anthology.

Collectively the comics are all presented on a professional level rarely seen outside of the Sacred Mountain, Komikero, Gunship Revolution, and Point Zero groups. Some of the best inking and detail work among the recent komiks releases are here — and I’ve just seen partial results. The typesetting for the dialogue balloons are grammar-corrected and nearly faultless. The paneling is also professional, at par with the best of the Western comics.

On the script level, the two presented stories are as unique from each other as adobo and sinigang, even if they are made by the same cook. Be assured that there is much variety expected among the six presented stories, that it would not be boring even if they were all from the same writer. Both given stories are paced without a glitch, with a clear understanding of writing in general and the comic medium in particular. The author’s hand in the development process is also visible. There is almost no useless panel, and it is clear that the illustrators understand what to illustrate and how.

Lift Off (illustrations: Koi Carreon) is about this young Pinoy skater-boy-rebel-without-a-cause, an orphan apparently from an alien abduction of his parents. He thus grows up with his grandmother who showers him with stories about kapres and such. But when his lola dies, he finds him in a situation where he discovers that all the stories are true: aliens are real and some of them are kapres and the universe is real and he is about to go on an interplanetary adventure. Koi’s work is equal helpings Cowboy Bebop, Gurren Lagann, Disgaea, western comics inspirations, and Bakuman…and, finally, at last, distinctly, undeniably Pinoy. The small elements that make us uniquely Pinoy are visible here, and not just in the insertions of sari-sari stores. His heritage and his inspirations mix well here to form a work that is exciting to look at in every panel.

Unfurling of Wings (illustrations: Borg Sinaban) is not about kapre, but a manananggal teenager, Ri-en, coming of age in a space-station planet steeped in political intrigue. This is made harder by the fact that Ri-en and her friends are runaways and always running from the law. The artist uses an semi-overlapping method of paneling that is interesting without interfering with the pacing of the story. His style is more manga-oriented but more realistic and with a personal nationalistic flavor (the eyes, for example, are Asian, but not large as in manga, and the three main characters look very Pinoy). The paneling is western-style, and the combination of both leads to presentation that takes from both but copies from neither.

Overall this is a taste of incredible things to come. If this is one of the new directions komiks is going to take, in its publication systems and presentation, I’m all for it. If this is a taste of another way fiction in this country can be done, bring it on.


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