rapid reviews

More stuff I read through during the last few days.

Jose Rizal Terorista (Scourge) [Animation Guild Philippines] — It does have the interesting concept of a secret organization, all composed of reincarnated national heroes, and another organization out to hunt them down. The Jose Rizal incarnation is indeed quite likeable and cute. However, the pacing of this story is rather messy (though much better than their earlier releases), the scripting is confusing, and it stopped much too early to properly establish what is going on and why Jose Rizal is now a terrorist. All this said, I still liked this, an attempt at an original story using the manga-style methods, with a full awareness and utilization of being Pinoy.

Juan Derlandia 3 (Sherwin Sablaon) [Pazin-Tave] — This is a good example of how it’s supposed to be done. Juan continues his adventures with Bayabas and meets Sora, a healer and herbalist. It should come in useful when they face a group of mushroomy bad guys, the Kabu-Teyaff. Amalayer jokes and other recent cultural references abound, as the fighting commences without resorting to the Maliksi mode. Some princely backstory is even delivered. The series continues to be likeable and moves at a good pace, with some of the most professional digital inking and presentation among the indies, no matter the art style. Also among the manga-style artists this is the rare one that takes from the shonen genre. But since it presents itself with pacing like in a 40-page monthly manga chapter issue, and the new indie age has quarterly releases, it makes me wonder why the author doesn’t adjust the story pacing accordingly and start delivering more information. Because I’m not sure how long he’ll be around to keep up the series, before he moves on to other things, like many other komikeros have done.

Ang Sumpa 1-2 (Andoyman) [Andoyman Komiks] — If you were thinking that this would be a horror comic, you, and I, were mistaken. The president of the country is found dead in a resthouse, and a drug overdose is not a feasible cause, even if it is the most obvious. On the case are Arman (the Sherlock) and Javier (the Watson), though if Arman is a real detective is unclear for now. Both characters unfortunately look too much like all the politicians in the panels that they are hard to tell apart, and Arman is a bit too much the Sherlock clone in his techniques. The art and its inking is sharp. The paneling and pacing is balanced so that the dense speech balloons do not overwhelm any panel or page. However in both issues there is a little too much talking and not enough happening. All this said, though, I think I’m still interested enough to follow what will happen next.

Kolsenter Komiks (Toto Madayag) [Pulang Punla] — These are the compiled Facebook comics about several call center agents, with special appearances of their bosses. This gives the outlook of the regular employee, in contrast to Callwork which shifts between the rank-and-file and the upper-level management. It’s a humorous yet honest look at the absurdities of the life, and the various ways people try to either laugh at it, get around it, or endure through it. The presentation is consistently, erm, adorable in its snarky way, with good paneling and inking. It’s probably better-looking in its FB colored form, so either go through the FB archives or wait for them to upload their new free pages.

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rapid reviews

I’m not even sure I know what is in my stash, besides some conscious purchases.

Kazanato Funeral Planning Service pilot [Kahit Ano Studios] — I got the first of already five releases (I was openly gaping at five stacks of books and asking aloud “Why are there already so many?”), of a little webcomic quietly updating through the years. Chou and Fuyuka work for a Ms. Kazanato, helping both the dead and the bereaved in their funeral and in moving on. That is NOT as boring as it sounds, especially when they keep getting mixed up with gunfights and mafia men. While it does smack of being typical manga-style, and the art in the pilot is level with Cresci Prophecies (which is to say, there are many others that are better, but the story pacing trumps the weaknesses), something about this series is not as gratingly manga-style as the others. For one thing, this is an honest attempt to have an original story, even through all the tropes it uses, with likeable characters that have quirks and strengths. This makes this series likeable in the same level Mark9Verse47 is likeable. Also appreciated is the Pinoy-style yet completely coherent grammatically-correct English. I’ll definitely read through the Smackjeeves online version.

Noodle Boy (Paolo Herras / Tepai Pascual) [Neverheard Webcomics] — The series was reviewed already as part of the Neverheard roster , back when I didn’t fully know them and they were just this group of wow artists who are friends. Admittedly some of the impact of the comic is lost when the digital coloring had to go, but I’m also glad to have the comic panels in close succession, having the story accessible as a whole. The story definitely needs to continue, because we need to know about how anime-otaku guy meets cosplay-maid girl, how noodles brings them together, and how love happens.

Hipon Gamay 2: Speakless (RH / Odree) [Frances Luna III] — I am probably still confused by the ending of the introductory chapter, therefore I’m not sure I completely understand what happened. But generally, a costume party happens, Tabo is cute in a dog costume, Joey is adorable in a cat one, and Hipon gets even more woman problems and another well-deserved smackdown (that’s not the spoiler, the spoiler is how it gets here, and I’m not saying). Odree’s art is cute and likeable, especially in a series dealing with love and relationships. The work continues to be even-paced with interspersed musings about love and its weirdness.

Mythspace: Devourers of Light (Paolo Chikiamco / Jules Gregorio) [Rocket Kapre] — This is the release I did not get a preview of. Barkarilkarilmon, Supreme Apex of the Laho, meets the heads of the other planet clans to make an announcement: he is going to be supreme apex of all the other clans. Most of the stuff in between is this annoying guy proving it, to terrifyingly good effect, thanks to Pao delivering atrocities with an even pace to tighten the noose. The art that goes along with this is filled with great tight detail, and a keen understanding of the universe-build. Beautiful stuff, really. Though, quite frankly, the Apex could have made his point in maybe 5 less pages of paneled art. (I suppose I just sealed the fate of the planet Earth with that statement…)

My Wife is Pregnant (mark rosario)

I can’t remember how I first heard or read of this little webcomic series. Friends managed to convince him to finally release the strips as a compilation.

As the title says, these are the adventures of a young couple, Markus and Ligaya (Mark and Joy in real life), first as newlyweds and then in having their first baby. The adventures are rendered with clean and cute drawings. (In the online version it has simple but nice digital coloring.)

In neither its concept nor its execution is this little series remarkable. It’s in warmth and heart that it is. This is more the story of true love played out in real life, in all its daily annoyances and absurdities. This is the story of two people learning to love each other more and more as each day passes, playing off each other and sacrificing for each other. This is a series that knows how to laugh at itself, and at its author. It’s a series that doesn’t hide the imperfections of itself and of the couple it presents. Rather it celebrates it, and the fact that love isn’t perfect, but you make it your own.

Every OB clinic’s waiting room should have this among its reading material (you can finish it while waiting to be called in for a consult), to help first-time husbands understand how they can best be helpful to their wives. The tips are humorous but heartfelt and honest. But it’s most memorable for being a personal view at what it’s like. If they can get through it, so can everyone.

rapid reviews

This is the final wave before the Summer Komikon. Bring on the zombies.

Salmon Komiks issue 4 (Salmon) — It has gotten to a point where these girls could actually point me out when I pass and hawk their wares to a suki. Not that I’m complaining, because these girls continue to improve in such leaps it’s rather hard to believe. The only yuri thing ever about them is still just the cover (to my somewhat disappointment, but never mind me…), but their pacing of story, their inking, their paneling, their story timing is all worth the being begged to buy. All are funny in their ways. “U-turn”, all yaoi and yuri fangirls will relate to. “Interview” is their crazy Taglish take on Fifty Shades of Grey, and yes it’s as crazy as that sounds. “Flipperman” is the best illustrated of the three. All of them are examples of a threesome gaining confidence in their work, which is getting even better for it.

Catch! (Richard Arguilla) — These are the compiled comic strips usually released on their Facebook page. When compiled like this it’s easy to understand why Catch! has the following it currently has. All the characters are loud, funny, impulsive, and very likeable for being loud funny and impulsive. Their reactions to situations are very Pinoy, if taken to their logical extremes. The art style is quite a likeable simple one, too. Chard tends to veer toward being very colorful in his language, the only reason why you’ll probably never find this in the spreadsheets, but Catch! is quite the crazy and funny comic series to follow.

Codename Bathala 2012 special STGCC exclusive edition (Jon Zamar / Judd Abinuman) [Point Zero] — This is the version for the Singapore major comic convention, and is a rerelease of the first issue from 2011. Which is okay, because I’ve been seeing this but haven’t gotten around to reading it. Michael Divinahustisya is wheelchair-bound due to an accident as a pilot. He defends the peace now as something of an iron-man-type hero. This of course leads to a straightforward superhero Western-type story, even with the differently-abled-ness being a twist. But Captain Divinahustisya is a nice enough fellow with spunk and grit and nerve that you do want to follow his exploits. If Western-type is your thing, this is definitely up your alley.

West Side: Atsay is Born (Ariel Atienza) — West Side has had several compilations already. This is the one I picked up from GTMACC, not really knowing where to start. In contrast to the title, only several comic strips in this set are actually about the new househelp. THat househelp, though, is quite the character. West Side is about family, school, and work, especially when you’re a Filipino who started life in the States then had to migrate back to the Philippines. With the unique but not-so-unique outlook that it has, it finds humor in the clash of cultures, and that very well. The colored versions are more interesting to look at, but in their published form they’re nice to have in close succession.

Ambush: RIP; Indieket exclusive; Team-ups (Andrew Villar) [Core Studios] — By day Amber is your not-so-average smart girl who goes to college; by night and on-call she is agent Ambush, who fights crimes, otherworldly things, and such. The Ambush series is hard to keep up with, especially if (like me) Manila Bulletin annoys you something, erm, basta, ugh, and you just get it for the Sunday classifieds. This is a shame, really, because Ambush does have a good running comedic story about it, driven by a female lead that is more than able to kick butt and take names. This is also why the compilations are a welcome thing to have, because you get a chance to see the spreadsheet comics in close succession, thus understanding the running story and all the Komikon and pop-culture in-jokes that the series has. Of course color is lost to the self-publishing, but this is not a major loss compared to now knowing all about Ambush, what makes her tick, who her friends are, and what her parents were. It’s the compilations that made me take a second look at this comics I can’t understand, and will now follow like most other people.

Kamote Chunks volume 1 (Greco Milambiling) [Core Studios] — This is the alternate side of the guy who makes Aha! Hule! for the spreadsheets, and is unapologetically in-your-face. It’s a compilation of strips dealing with the raunchy and the risque, in a style that is surprisingly modern and updated. Yet for all the mature-ness of the content in these pages, there is a degree of restraint here that actually makes the puns hit harder than if it were all-out. Most hilarious is the final comic, the insight into the various kinds of Fine Arts students.

Battle Axe (DarkChapel) [Silent Sanctum Manga] — It is unfortunate, really, that my phones, while they do have cameras, don’t have negative effects. Chapel created a white-on-black comic that, while it is perfectly understandable as is, is even better in the negative-effects setup he intended. Battle Axe is this rather irritating hero that goes takes things into his hands without asking, thus creating havoc wherever he goes. Despite himself, he still gets things done, good kinda wins over evil, and all that. It’s more irreverent than Mona, but also less humorous than Mona.

Shatter space (Nelz Yumul) [Dark Bulb] — I got this one from Vinyl on Vinyl at The Collective, and I think it did make an appearance in an earlier Komikon, I just didn’t get a copy. Spaceman Slash Commando has traveled the vastness of space to re-locate the planet Ang Mundo after its destruction some time back. He may have found it, but will also have to deal with aliens and other spacemen that have already inhabited it. He does this with such crazy and absurd flair, using his Astig-Gun, that it hard to take seriously….and that is the point. Space Mando and his author just want to have fun. Nelz Yumul does this with an incredible and dynamic action-packed art style, one that makes it occasionally hard to understand the panels, but one that is hard to ignore and put down.

signal boost – Laya: A Set of Fictitious Revolutions (mortega / barrera)

Laya can be found here: http://layakomiks.weebly.com/index.html

This comes highly plugged by Tepai Pascual, and with good reason. Laya is an orphan in an alternate 1890’s on the verge of revolution. She is forced to work as a prostitute for a woman, until a mysterious Dr. M comes into the picture and takes her into a fight she is not sure she should be part of. She just knows she has to get away.

The last time I saw art this masterfully incredible for a local komik, it was Tabi Po. The pacing of the narrative and the dialogue needs smoothening out, but in general it’s a great first chapter from a new writer and illustrator.

Sandata Crisis online (escano)

I kinda know of this thing from the Summer Komikon and I did see this plugged for the Indieket. So when I saw this among the list at MangaMagazine.net (and believe me, going through the stash there is quite the chore right now, since there is no search function), I went on a marathon. Sandata Crisis is available on MangaMagazine in Tagalog and English.

Nathaniel (Nato) is the grandson of the Supremo of Gerilya, an assassin group, one at odds with a group led by Sophoro. As the Supremo of Gerilya is starting to weaken, Sophoro is slowly rising in strength. Both are starting to be aware that Nato may have inherent skills. Unfortunately Nato himself is unsure of what he can do, especially now that he’s depressed about his girlfriend cheating on him.

Yes, this thing definitely needs better scanning and better Photoshop-cleaning, Yes, this thing descends occasionally into text-speak and tends to use a Tagalog that is understandable but is not acceptable written Tagalog. Yes, sometimes the proportions need work. But this is really good stuff from a guy who says he’s only sixteen. There’s an understanding of life here that is rather wiser than his years. It’s possible, of course, that this may have been gotten from books and comics. But the assimilation of these things is done well, with more maturity than in some other komiks out there.

The pacing of the story, and the information-dropping, is good, though it may be slow-ish for some people. It gives enough airtime for all the major players, particularly the Supremo, Sophoro, and Nato. The art is generally okay, though sometimes it’s hard to tell some characters apart. The paneling is always understandable, and is unafraid to use whole-page scenes to create impact. The occasional fully-digital pages are well-made.

The English translation by Avarice/Gehrome Serrano is VERY good, keeping the feel of the original, surely improving on the grammar mistakes of the original. It does lose a little of the street-wise Tagalog edge it had, though.

Overall the series is worth the follow, online (at MangaMagazine.net) or offline (through the Komikons). The problems cited do need to be fixed, but there is much potential here that deserves notice.

Novus Karma (kevin libranda)

Meanwhile, away from the Komikons, far away from the end of Mangaholix, Kevin Libranda (author of Aporia) has been quietly but steadily working. The result is currently one of the premium comics of MangaMagazine.net: Novus Karma.

Jose Calajati is an average college student at Tondo University when things start suddenly changing for the dangerous and weird, starting with some thugs successfully killing him while chasing a girl from some future. But he doesn’t die (of course, otherwise we have no story), and he is pulled away into a future where he’s the last one that looks like him standing. Apparently Jose Calajati is a savior of some sort, the best user of karma, special powers held by special people that others want to kill. These special powers may or may not be involved in a special scientific project dealing with angel-type aliens.

Novus Karma is the complete opposite of Aporia, futuristic and sci-fi. Yet it also solidly and plentifully has his penchant for portals. That said, his portal system is quite interesting. The story as a whole is also better planned-out than his earlier work, with more even pacing of the panels and dialogue. No longer does it aim to be pretty; Novus Karma solidly aims to deliver a story. The placement of the story in a Manila that is universally recognizable yet local, and without apology to an international readership no less, is incredible.

All the characters are given sufficient airtime to be distinct from each other, in reference to their importance in the story. It is clear whether they are friends or foes. All characters are given little quirks that make them more human, taking away from their stereotypes. Females are generally treated with respect, considered smart and capable, with actually decent functional attire, even though there is still plenty of eye-candy shots.

The art has also improved much from Aporia, while retaining his distinct style with faces, hair, and body contours. It is more judicious in providing detailed backgrounds, and when they are given they are a sight to behold. ‘Camera angles’ are also much better as compared to that earlier work.

Overall, it deserves the attention the international membership of MangaMagazine.net has given it. It’s totally free to read online, and also downloadable as Amazon.com ebooks for a fee. If you’re not reading this yet, go marathon it now, because you’re missing on some good komiks by some great local talent.

Never Heard webcomics august-december 2011

We conclude this wave of komiks reviews by paying attention to a door-handle calling card handed out to me during the Komikon. A group of komikero friends, some of the better and best in the local business, they got together and made this website with generally-3-to-4-panel comics. All of them started around August and are continuing to the present.

Lucky Coin (mel casipit) — A cute simple story about a guy who finds a lucky coin and subsequently gets a string of funny lucky events happening to him. The coloring is nice, the illustrations are really adorable, and the events are almost always funny. The sequence wherein the setup is given during one post and the punchline given in the next post is a nice touch.

Reese (wan mananita) — Comic-geek broke guy meets drunk girl at the LRT station. Drunk girl is surprisingly spunky, but guy is oddly drawn to her (and is reluctant to leave her alone in that state). So proceeds a weird exchange between them. Both Reese and Robert and interesting characters, and you want to know more about them, whether or not they end up together. The coloring over the illustrations are a little heavy, but in general it’s not a problem. The paneling is balanced between the illustrations and the dialogue.

Noodle Boy (paolo herras/tepai pascual) — Call center agent and mami-loving boy meets next-door girl while she comes up her apartment with a load of clothes. Poor boy is forced to catch the girl as she trips on the stairs, and thus begins a relationship. Tepai’s art away from the Meganon material shows her continuing improvement as an artist, and her work does look really pretty when colored. The story is delivered through the illustrations (I haven’t seen any dialogue yet!), and delivered well.

Invictus: Land of Amaria (kai castillo) — From the author of the Patintero series, and also has the distinct art style of that longer work. Now that the art is colored, though, it’s quite nice to look at. Much of the first posts are world-building and information-giving, plus initial story grounding, but it’s done really well (and I’m immediately envious how well he does it.) The world presented is rather your typical fantasy story, but the style and pacing draws you in and makes you want more.

The Minkowski Space Opera (aaron felizmeno) — The story with the most impressive line art among the five, it’s set in a science-fiction world where people are after habitable planets. The first order of business: convince a firebird to leave his territory to some new colonizers. Of course, not happening, but it’s quite funny how they try. The two main characters play off each other quite well as a duo, and the comedy is sarcastic throughout. The paneling is highly impressive in this one, utilizing the 4-panel comic format to best use.

On the whole its the meeting of great komiks art in one website, you can’t go wrong giving it a try and following them all.