Activated is YA fantasy. I hope you enjoy and share the word.
This is to inform that, after so many years, I’m doing Nanowrimo again. Just at a lower level, 30K. Because I’m taking Camp Nanowrimo, which allows for flexible goals, as long as it is done in a month.
I sorta-kinda have a story, through a given broad prompt by the awesome and kind Mina Esguerra.
I may even have a battle plan, because unbelievably I find myself accepted into the first AILAP Writing Lab in the Young Adult division.
I’m taking this up while I can. The months after April may no longer let me do this.
Here goes, and wish me stuff.
“Frozen Delight”, part of Horror: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults edited by Dean Alfar and Kenneth Yu, has been included in the long list for the Year’s Best YA Speculative Fiction 2013, by Twelfth Planet Press, edited by Julia Rios and Alisa Kranostein.
Eliza Victoria (her awesomeness!) is included in the anthology itself, so cool. Two other Pinoys from the horror antho are also cited in the long list: Elyss Punzalan and Charles Tan. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz is also cited in the long list for a story in Clarkesworld. Congrats all around to everyone!
This is kinda the annual Rizal day tribute thing. I hope you like. ^^v
The sullen man sat at the back of the auction hall. His hair was white, fell to his shoulders, and was partly hidden under his top hat. He raised the dark spectacles over his eyes. HIs hands were perched over his cane, simple, hardwood, hiding a reliable but plain sword in its center, without any of the jewels that he peddled across the Asian isles.
He bided his time, as he had for years now, waiting for the perfect moment.
The auctioneer pounded his gavel for order. He grew alert.
I’m kinda home on the eve of the 25th. So, some very overdue reviews will be happening. At least, I hope so.
Prince Eric, Jani, and Sapok are in Abraria, resting and restocking on supplies for the continuing journey. But the powerful mage Patro has stolen many human souls and awakened Samal, a strong demon with the ability to possess humans. The only people who even have a chance to stop Patro’s damage in Abraria may be just these three, plus Yeyen, Samal’s guard-mage.
These are the 2006-2008 material, just a little before Mel’s successes at the Komikons. The raw-ness is still visible in the written-in speech balloons and the occasional uneven illustrations. But in this set, you see the rising quality of his comic art, and you cannot help but be beyond impressed. The set is filled with action scenes and panels that are rendered wonderfully with high detail and the feeling of high-impact motion. Many of these scenes, of course, were clearly derived from the way manga does these things. Yet the way they are utilized in the series is beyond imitation, but are signs of an excellent artist still experimenting with his craft.
Also visible are Mel’s improvements as a storyteller, for the pacing in this set is much better, and laying-down of information is spread gradually across the chapters. Patro properly comes out as dangerous and crafty. Sapok’s cheerfulness and friendliness while hiding secrets is better presented. Jani’s strengths in battle are highlighted, along with a family history. Eric’s fighting skill combined with humility is expressed very well.
Mukat is still most likeable because it is what it is: the work of a developing artist, pouring heart and soul and craft into something he totally believes in. It’s fun because it suddenly tangents into local comedy, into in-joking (surely the Sherwin of Abraria person, Sapok’s ‘besprenz!’ is a classmate in real life?), into info-dumping, then dips into action, into being YuYu Hakusho (Ghost Fighter), then Pokemon, then well-thought fantasy, then something else. All of this without losing the course of the main story, and continuing to show character development. It won’t work in this current stage of Mel’s comicking career, knowing what he already knows and having improved his craft so much since then, now that he knows better control. But it was awesome and totally fun back when it was written. Because he had fun, so do we.
Overall, we continue to see the artist’s journey in this series, and you continue to be impressed at how Mel Casipit kept pushing himself to improve through the years. As a time capsule, and as itself, Mukat continues to be a key part of the new indie age, in its own cheerful happy way.
Owen and the Red Flames have managed to prove they have what it takes. When a group backs out at the last minute, they suddenly have a way into Patintero Urban, more or less the X-games, underground league of the sport. But success is getting into Marco’s head, too many people are looking at blind player Owen with disbelief, and their first challenger the Chaos Bolts are a harder fight than they expected.
The big question now is: will the cutie Chester Okada now have commercial-modelling gigs?! You know, like for Gatorade or NIke or Bench, or picture articles at Esquire and Cosmo? ^^v
In a big leap of faith, Kai Castillo has dared to show the second part of the series immediately in TPR form, without initially creating individual folded-paper issues. The gamble has paid off. Because this is the only running sport komik (in contrast to the many fantasy, scifi, school-story, and zombie komiks), the rules are different for his running series. By deciding to go direct to TPR, he was free to develop a whole game, from its planning stages to its crucial final minutes, across the equivalent of three folded-paper issues, without disrupting continuity. Therefore, you keep reading and following the action as it unfolds, without wondering if you’re missing something because of lacking an issue. You can’t believe you’re following patintero like it were a tight basketball game: intense and unpredictable, even if you kinda hope the main characters will win the day.
Giving pauses where chapters stop and start are his versions of an important sports website for Patintero Urban. Do not skip them; read them because they give clues to undercurrents related to the running game. They are short enough not to wear out their welcome. That said, if the “website updates” will be continued, they should really be given a final grammar check before publication.
The rapid development of Kai’s art style also shows in this release. There are plenty of detailed action poses and more variations in “camera angles” all throughout. Inclusion of markers or paints to the heavy inking also adds more dimension to the art in general, especially in the second half. The main characters are also easier to tell apart, and enough repetition of the names in dialogue are given now (without overdoing it) so I can properly distinguish one from the other.
And you definitely know something great is being done here when you feel the fangirling mode coming on while reading. The crazy feelings you reserve for big manga or anime, for popular TV series. Owen is being so awesome! Chester is cute and so cool! Where do you get posters of Chester to put on the wall, please! When are we getting fanart! When are we getting, gasp, fanfic! The characters are latching on to us. It’s a good thing.
So keep it coming, sir. Give us backstories, give us game arcs. Keep it coming.
(I’m sorry, I’m not sure if it’s 2.5 komiks or the komiks from room 502 or something else, so if I got it wrong please just comment)
Carljoe Javier managed to pull off probably the first formal comic-writing subject with units in the country. Several of the releases at the Indie Tiangge this year are the results. I managed to get four of them. (There are also probably other komiks related to this class but were released with other comic groups, but I am not sure.)
It is appreciated that the mentor allowed them to use whatever format and whatever art style they wanted, as long as they told a coherent story within the given parameters. Javier’s preference for the more alternative comic styles is palpable, but the individual creators were allowed to be themselves. The quality of either the production or the art reflected the newness of the creators and the involved artists (some are familiar names from UP Grail, many are absolute first-timers). However, the mentorship also gave the creators a proper sense of story structure within the comic form. Therefore many mistakes newcomers make regarding scripting, story pacing and panel presentation were corrected at earlier stages. It is hoped that the subject is allowed to continue, and that more writers would benefit from it.
Kapitan Bayaran (Joanne Cesario/Michelle Bacabac) — Albert suddenly has the power to read minds, and his dormmate Miguel sees a business opportunity in him. It’s all fine at the start, and extra money is good, but things suddenly turn ugly, and Albert finds himself in over his head. Both the story and the art style are deceptively simple, but both are unique. Both are rendered and paced well, such that it ends with a nice, bittersweet, satisfying ending. While steeped in the UP college culture, it’s relatable and fun no matter where you are from. It’s smart and bitingly insightful without being condescending. That fact is much appreciated.
Losing Center 1 (AJ Nuque/Clarisse Culla) — A young man arrives in heaven, only to find out that he has lost his heart and needs to find it back on earth before gaining acceptance. The authors promise more parts, therefore this just gives an introduction of the situation. That said, there is sufficient buildup of both the situation and the main character to get us interested and invested. Some of the dialogue was cramped into their speech balloons, and some of the rawness of the illustrations makes the comic half endearing and half annoying. But these are minor problems, and overall the comic is planned well, sufficiently sarcastic about religion without being insulting, and quite likeable.
Goons (Joey Pastrana/Mary and Hinchel Or) — Jesus Leon applies as a goon for Erik Vega’s Illustrious League of Villains, but it seems like everything he knows from the Henchmen manual is wrong, or everybody else is breaking all the rules. The whole thing is filled with jibes at the villain stereotypes, both local and international, and is therefore quite fun that way. But with someone on board this project who works with Gunship Revolution, I think I expected a more refined end-product (better typesetting, better scanning/GIMP-ping, somewhat better pacing), at least more evaluation from its seasoned people. That said, it was quite the fun read, hitting all the stereotypes without losing its sense of humor.
Candido’s Apocalypse (Nick Joaquin adapatation/Cyrene Ela/Natasha Ringor) — Everybody Bobby sees is naked to him. This, of course, makes him irritable, as if Pompoy Morel and his gang don’t have him irritable enough already, and ready to snap. This is based on a Nick Joaquin novella. (a nice summary and background can be found in the review here).. and if more of the Joaquin novels were given the comic treatment, there is a higher chance they will be read more by the non-literary crowd. The visuality of the comic medium strikes home the important aspects of the story, which then makes one interested in reading the original material. This is the strongest release among the output comics, and not because it is an adaptation. The paneling, artwork, and typesetting are all sharp and clean, well-detailed when necessary. The correct decision-making during scripting in what to put in and how emphasized the story well. Therefore the core text did not drag down the visuals, and visuals were used rightly when it would do it best. When nothing else would do, the core text was used and highlighted by itself on a blank black page, giving importance to the prose without losing the visuality. It was worth the added expense for a better final comic presentation, with a color cover and sharp printing/photocopying. I hope high grades were given.
Eli is starting to actually enjoy being a working young adult, but he still feels that something is missing in his life, and in the life of his friends. When pretty comic-geek girl Katie comes back in his life, he hatches a plan to both get her affection and to get a part of himself back: he would make an indie komik again. That is, make a komik from scratch, and sell at Komikon. However life is different and practical now, all of his friends have work, and it’s not so easy as it sounds.
It’s rather clear that the series is partly the author and illustrator thinking about the same problems in real life, and these are, partly, their answers to themselves. In its quietly light-hearted way, it addresses big questions and thoughts: Is money all that matters? Should we follow our dreams, or follow reason? Can we and should we do both? How much of our interests should we give up, in favor of practical needs?
In answering these, WIP shows us not just Eli grappling with his thoughts and choices about them. This instalment contrasts this with the individual responses of his friends. It is presented better as two or three stories are woven together, by letting the dialogue of one scenario proceed while showing the events in another. The individual choices are presented without necessarily favouring Eli’s (even if he is the lead). They are simply and pragmatically shown as the legitimate choices that they are. It is appreciated, though, how these varied choices are brought together toward a united decision.
The yellow palette is comfortable on the eyes, and emphasizes the increase in detailed line art now present in many of the panels. In general the art is coming into its own, showing its distinct style, clean and defined, expressive in both the quiet and emotional moments.
Overall Work In Progress is showing itself with continuing warmth and increasing depth, while retaining the light-hearted feel. We do want to see this barkada succeed, and for the comic team to keep this up.