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Monday, May 30, 2005
A Girl's Story by Jonas Diego

A Girl's Story by Jonas Diego

I met Jonas Diego sometime in 1998, an aspiring comics artist, just one of many I have met since. He's since become a steady pal and Komikero Artists Group co-founder. He's steadily coming to his own as a professional artist and a writer. You can see his work in his many mini-comics, the upcoming Siglo: Passion anthology, Click The City, his blog, and a few US-based companies have picked his graphic novels for publication there.

He has been running a twice-weekly strip called "Graphic Detail" and "Buhay Kartunista" in his blog, but what has caught my attention more than anything else is a third strip he is running called "A Girl's Story". It wouldn't be right to call it simply a "piece of work". I seem to get something truly heartfelt and personal about this story, a realism that makes it very compelling, haunting and thought provoking.

If this is something that's true, my heart goes out to the victim, and to all victims of of things like this. For I know this is not something that is uncommon, and it is happening far more often than we realize. I hope Jonas' story sheds some light on atrocities on women, atrocities that may seem trivial and ridiculous to some, but devastating and heartbreaking for its victims.

A Girl's Story Part 1



Friday, May 27, 2005

What Inkers Can Do

Below is a prime example of why inkers aren't tracers. It's also an example of why inkers *need* to be artists themselves because they would not be able to pull off what was done below if they weren't.

This is an unfinished page by Jim Lee, and was later on finished by Scott Williams. What can I say? Scott Williams is the god of inkers!

Scott Williams: The God of Inkers!

Thanks to Tim Townsend for the scan! :)


Thursday, May 26, 2005

Rob Liefeld Said Something I Feel I Must Respond To


In his journal, Rob Liefeld claims:

"Panoramic, cinematic, double page spreads depicting breakneck action was popularized and immortalized by the founders of Image Comics. Lee, Liefeld, McFarlane, Larsen, Silvestri and Valentino delivered widescreen comics back when the comic populace referred to them simply as Image comics. We produced the best fight comix in the world."

I don't think this is entirely correct, Rob. Before I go on, let me just say that unlike some of my contemporaries, I'm a fan of your work, specially on your New Mutants/X-Force days. I respect you and the other Image founders for the accomplishments of Image in the industry and for doing comics in ways that hardly anyone thought of doing before. But I believe your knownledge of comics history may not be too accurate.

If there's anyone who popularized widescreen comics in American comics, it's Jack Kirby, man. I mean, you know that Rob. You know it, specially since you claim to be his fan. I'm glad you did acknowledge Jack Kirby for doing it before you, but I'm puzzled as to why you contradict yourself by saying Image popularized and immortalized it when it was in fact Jack Kirby who did.

Jack Kirby did it in comics after comics for many years, Joe Kubert did it, and Alex Niño did it, who created *not* a two-page spread, *not* a four page spread, but a colossal FOURTEEN-PAGE spread on the pages of 1994 in 1981. Ronin by Frank Miller tried to match it a few years later, and admittedly, Jim Lee did something similar on an early issue of Wildcats, but Alex's 14 pages has yet to be surpassed.

A few issues later, Alex Niño outdid himself by creating a gigantic panel when the 14 pages of his story was put together. It's been rarely attempted since, once I believe by Mark Wheatley, and most recently by Alan Moore and JH Williams on Promethea.

Going further back in other countries (for America is *NOT* the entire world, Rob), Alex Niño, Nestor Redondo, Alfredo Alcala and many other Philippine artists produced 2-page spread after 2-page spread from the early 60's to the early 70's most notable of which was Alcala's VOLTAR which came out in Alcala Fight Komiks, one of the best and biggest fight comics ever published.

Please note that I'm not saying it's *the* best. Just *one* of the best.

Because you know, when one claims to be *the* best in the entire world without knowing fully just what goes on beyond the country you're in, it comes off as a bit arrogant and insulting to us artists who occupy "the rest of the world."

I hope I'm not misunderstood and I'm made to look like I'm putting Rob and Image Comics down. Far from it! They created a lot (and still create a lot) of great comics, and I'm a huge fan still of many of their creators, but to me it's just not right to claim credit for something that they did not do. It's not only *not right*, but an untenable injustice and disrespect to the artists whose credit is being taken away from them.

I'm by no means claiming that Alex Niño or Alfredo Alcala are the ones who made and popularized widescreen comics before Rob or even Jack. I'm open to the idea that others may have and I'm curious what they are and who are the writers and artists responsible.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Cal Sobrepeña Official Site

Cal Sobrepeña Official Site

The artist also known as Piping Calusa, who passed away in July 2004, gets a loving tribute on the web from his family. Cal is known for his charming portrayal of couples in love on the covers of Lovelife Komiks for many years. But he is also known for many things. The site gives a comprehensive view of his life and his works including a peek at his numerous sketches, Bible illustrations, photographs and even drawings by his young students.

It's great to know that members of the Calusa family visit this blog and the site overall (it is from one of my message boards did Ram Calusa inform us of the site), and I'm a little embarassed that I have very little material on their father on this site. I haven't come across much of Cal Sobrepeña's work because for some reason, comics from the 70's and 80's seem to be far harder to get a hold of than comics from the 50's and 60's!

I'll try to rectify this soon enough as I've recently acquired comics with some of Cal's (as "Piping Calusa") work from the late 60's and early 70's.

To visit the site, click on the graphic above or click below:

CAL SOBREPEÑA OFFICIAL SITE
http://calusa.atspace.com/


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Note: Enetation comments seem to be down at the moment. I did not remove it. Hang on as the enetation site may be having problems. I expect it to be back soon enough.


Monday, May 23, 2005

Kalabog en Bosyo by Larry Alcala

A complete 4-page Kalabog en Bosyo strip by Larry Alcala has just been uploaded at the online museum. The title of the story is "Mga Gabi sa Bilog na Mesa", and it's about Kalabog en Bosyo time travelling back to the time of King Arthur and the Knights of Round Table (Gabi sa Bilog na Mesa. Get it? he.he.)

Larry is well known for such clever play of words and amusing "Tagalized" English words and phrases. His pages are jampacked with gags of the sort that it's difficult not to be entertained by them.

KALABOG EN BOSYO GALLERY


Saturday, May 21, 2005
Digital Art
Just Another Tool Of Expression

When I started out doing comics back in 1992, all the tools I had at my disposal for making comics were paper, pencils, pens, inks, erasers, templates and straight edges. Aside from a solid drawing table, that was pretty much it. Computers pretty much came in a few years later and it's something that has been used more and more in the production of comics, specially in the last few years.

Even I have come to employ a certain degree of computerization in my comics work. I still draw everything on paper and I still letter everything by hand. But I would scan that, clean the image in the computer and if the assignment calls for it, I would color it as well.

There is HUGE potential in creating unique artwork using this new tool and I think digital artists have barely scratched the surface of what can truly be done.

Going beyond scanning artwork drawn on paper, more and more artists are using the computer itself to draw with pen and tablets, eliminating the use of paper altogether. Comics illustrators like Brian Bolland have been employing this technique and have been successful at it.

Being a professional comics inker, I'm well aware of an evolving technology that makes the need for inkers less and less. More and more comics are being created and published without the benefit of an inker. Pages are pencilled, scanned on the computer, manipulated to darken the pencil lines and then colored directly.

Many artists contend that the computer is "just another tool" in comics illustration. With a perceived cost effectivity, the wisdom of using computers is something a lot more artists and comics companies are willing to make use of.

I think about the "it's just another tool" argument and it is something that does seem to make sense, specially when it comes to comic book production. Because if you think about it, the bottom line of any comic book is the finished work and if the fans will like it or not. What does it really matter how that comic book is made as long as it looks good? What does it matter if I use pentel pens to draw it, or if another artists drew it on the computer? If the readers enjoy reading it then that's all that matters.

Unfortunately, drawing on the computer just doesn't work for ME.

For in illustrating comics, it's always been my hand, the tool, and the paper. I can use any tool I can hold my hand that puts ink on paper. I can use a quill, a marker, a brush, technical pens, a chicken toe, a nail, anything! If in the future they invent even MORE tools that I can hold that puts ink on paper, I'd be open enough to use that and see how it works for me.

But a pen, tablet and computer? It's a drawing process that doesn't produce an actual piece of original art. All you got is a computer file that can be used to print identical copies ad infinitum. There is something that is lost somewhere in there somehow.

Original comic art is something that is *extremely* important to me as an artist. There is something special and unique about a piece of paper that is dirty and damp from my sweat, the surface is scratched and uneven from the pressure I bring to bear on it. There is a physical part of me that comes with every artwork I do. I have a connection with that piece of paper that cannot be replaced by a printout of what I drew on the computer.

And to anyone who happens to acquire original artwork made by me, they would know that it's an artifact that is intimately physically connected to me. It's a kind of connection with those who appreciate my work I wouldn't want to lose.

I do accept the idea that there would be artists that would not consider original art to be all that important and that's cool, you know? Perhaps they consider the potential for creating innovative and ground breaking kind of art in the computer is worth it.

Inspite of what my personal preferences are when it comes to my own art, I welcome the idea of digitizing artwork and I can't wait to see what other artists do with it. I've seen examples and I find many of them very impressive.


Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Something We Can Be Proud Of

Several years ago, I posted my thoughts on the state of comics art in the Philippines, specially with respect to Japanese, American, European, and what I perceived to be Philippine comics art. It elicited a lot of really heated and passionate replies. I think it's a good thing because it made people think about what I feel to be a very important topic, and something worth talking about much more.

I realized it was probably not the wisest move to go on a kind of offensive, because it made other people defensive and it caused valid points of the discussion to be ignored and misunderstood.

Malakas at Maganda by Nestor Redondo
Nestor Redondo
Malakas at Maganda
Men, Maiden and Myths Portfolio, 1979
Copyright 2005 Nestor Redondo Estate

I had a few good years to think more about my beliefs about Philippine comics art and the question whether it exists or not. And I think it does. If you have been visiting this journal regularly for the past couple of years you would get an idea of what our art is like, and you are subconsciously aware of what characteristics and qualities it has.

I have regularly posted the art of the likes of Nestor Redondo, Alex Niño, Alfredo Alcala etc., not to tell our young artists to copy them and to draw just like them, but to give our young artists an awareness of the existence of a style of art that has been considered worldwide as uniquely Filipino. There has been international acclaim for our artists, not only for their accomplishments, but for a style of art that only Filipinos created. The three artists mentioned above all won prestige and honor for our country for winning the much coveted Inkpot Awards at the San Diego Convention in 1976, 1977 and 1979.

VOLTAR by Alfredo Alcala
Alfredo Alcala
Voltar Portfolio, 1979
Copyright @2005 Christian Voltar Alcala

These artists and their accomplishments are something that we Filipinos can be proud of. But I would not advise any young artist to draw like Nestor Redondo or Alex Niño, but rather use their art to inspire them to create something unique on their own. Those artists were able to create a body of work that is considered internationally as "Filipino" but it doesn't mean that you can't be Filipino in your art when you don't draw like them.

I find it limiting as an artist to restrict your art to a certain style for the sake of nationalism. Artists are free to explore their own artistic sensibilities in the hopes of finding something unique to offer.

Isolation by Alex Niño
Alex Niño
Isolation
Satan's Tears 1977
Copyright 2005 Alex Niño

There is huge potential in comics art, and a lot of avenues and possibilites yet to be discovered. I would want to create something new than do something that other artists have already done. I like the works of many artists like the artists mentioned above, but also of Moebius, Katsuhiro Otomo, Goseki Kojima, Barry Windsor Smith, David Mazzucchelli and Frank Miller. I let them inspire me, not to do what they do, but hopefully to create something new.


Sunday, May 15, 2005
SATUR by Francisco V. Coching
SATUR by Francisco V. Coching
Pilipino Komiks #82, July 22, 1951

Francisco V. Coching's page on the site has been updated with a biography and a new art gallery of full size covers, interior pages and other illustrations.

The above artwork is a composite of a Satur color cover and a scan of the original art. I've had to do this because my copy of the printed color cover is badly damaged on the lower portion. In the Coching book Katha At Guhit, there is a scan of the original art for this cover, but it seems that it too is damaged, but on the upper portion.

I thought that to get a whole undamaged piece where the entire artwork could be seen, I could composite the undamaged portions of each artwork with each other to form a complete cover.

I hope to find another copy of this comic with a full undamaged cover one day. I wish!

This is only one of 16 full page artwork you can see in the updated gallery, which you can find here. Or click below.

FRANCISCO V. COCHING GALLERY
http://www.komikero.com/museum/coching.html


Saturday, May 14, 2005

Color Comics Restoration Test


I tried my hand a little bit at restoring a full color page. I've been doing restoration on black and white pages for several months now on El Indio, but I had wondered what and how it would be like to do a color restoration on a very old comics page.

I chose a sample from an old Liwayway komiks supplement from December 17, 1951, "Dimas: Tulisang Banal" as drawn by Alfredo Alcala.


Dimas by Alfredo Alcala

I had been reading up on the proper procedure for restoring old color comics and I was surprised that restorers generally strip the comics of all color, restore the black and white linework, and then recolor the page via the computer. As far as I know this was how many American comics have been restored including the The Spirit Archives, DC Archives, and Krigstein Comics published by Fantagraphics.

Restorers don't usually use the exact same colors as it is understandable that colors may have faded due to age. There are also some color choices that may not necessarily been good, but understandable due perhaps to circumstances like time constraint at the time the comics was made.

In this page, I tried my best to restore the page not only hopefully as good as how it originally looked, but I also tried to correct printing errors, and did some minimal color adjustments. But I tried very hard not to color the page beyond what was possible with coloring at the time. I did not do modern shadings for instance.

For a full size version of the restored page, please click HERE.

I welcome all comments with regards to this color restoration test. What works? What doesn't? Would you rather see the page unrestored, errors and all? Or would you rather see the artwork as good as hopefully how the artist intended it to be?

It is possible that I may be doing more in the future, specially for the Masters of Philippine Comics Art book, and any opinion that could help me do the work well will be much appreciated. Thanks!


Friday, May 06, 2005

Hotlinking Images


"Hotlinking" images is the practice of embedding images on your site, blog, message board, etc., that are hosted on somebody else's site. Hotlinking has been driving up the traffic on my site abnormally because not only does it have to deal with the traffic of visitors to my site, it now has to deal with the traffic on other sites who use my images.

I really don't mind sharing, but unfortunately, I have a limit on the amount of traffic my site can take per month. It's a pretty high limit, but for the past several months, traffic on my site has been so high that my site was almost closed several times. And I really can't let that happen.

So I'm denying hotlinking to my site from now on. I apologize for the inconvenience, but you can still save images on my site if you like and then upload them in one of the many free image hosting sites like Photobucket.com, and then link from there.

By denying hotlinking, direct linking to images on my site my site is also unfortunately denied. Direct linking means that my images do not appear on your site, but you are providing a clickable link that points directly to the image. Direct linking is allowable to me, but I don't know how to configure my settings to allow it.

If you wish to link to any image on my site, feel free to link to the html page that contains the image instead.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Nestor Redondo's King Arthur


This is an ad that appeared in many of DC's comics in 1975, advertising an upcoming 4-part large format "The Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table" illustrated by Nestor Redondo.

For some reason or another, the series was never published, although there were reports that it had been "nearing completion" before it was shelved.

This July, all questions about this series may well be answered in the Back Issue Magazine #11, to be released in July 2005 by Two Morrows Publishing. More Details Here. The magazine includes “The Greatest Stories Never Told” investigating DC’s never-published KING ARTHUR series by GERRY CONWAY and NESTOR REDONDO, unveiling for the first time several of Redondo’s glorious pages from the series.

I had been lucky enough to acquire a page from this unpublished masterpiece which I have uploaded at the Museum. It's an illustration of Merlin which most likely acted as a pinup or splash page.



For a larger image, CLICK HERE.

Many thanks to Val Pabulos for this piece and many other fantastic artworks. Thanks sir!


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

AAARRGHHH!!

This screen is what has been greeting me for at least a week now. My 2nd hard disk had been developing errors for at least a month and I assumed that this had something to do with my start-up problems.

When I open my computer, the start up screen, welcome screen and finally the desktop is severely pixelated. It usually gets fixed when I restart, but this pixelation always happens when I start cold. So I hadn't been shutting down my computer for a long time... I couldn't afford a computer that's going funny on me now that I'm trying desperately to finish an inking deadline, which I had already missed actually. So I've been actually kinda stressed.

So last week, on the assumption that the hard disc was the problem, I bought a new hard disc as a slave to my main one, which is error-free. But the problem remained. I thought....damn, now what? Now my computer started hanging, and restarting doesn't seem to work anymore. This morning I can't even open my computer anymore.

I myself felt a sickness coming on. My throat began to hurt, my nose began to run...and I thought.... I don't have time for this! This is so stupid! I can't be sick! I promptly downed some biogesics and vitamins...that usually headed off sicknesses that threatened to strike before.

I called my computer whiz brother and he said it might be a problem with the video card. I actually hadn't thought of that... the Windows Troubleshooter didn't even give a hint that it was possibly my video card. And thinking about it, it does make sense. The video card is the interface between my monitor and the computer. Something must be happening in between.

I had to buy a video card, and I had to buy one TODAY. I can't go to Manila because one, I didn't have the time to waste, and two, I felt I might be too sick to go. So I just went to town here in San Pablo and got a servicable video card from a local seller. It's cheap, but it does the job. I'll just get a kick ass card later.

And as if my problems weren't enough, the power suddenly goes out in our entire neighborhood. FUCK! Not only can I not fix my computer, it's also gotten just TOO hot to draw. Have you guys noticed how HOT it has become in the past week? It's freaking HOT! I can work without airconditioning, but I absolutely cannot work without at least a fan, not in the middle of the day, not when I'm sick!

It's gotta be the worst day of my professional inking career. Everything seems to want to fucking gang up on you. Thank goodness it started to get better after lunch when the power returned. I was able to fix my computer. Yes, the video card was indeed the problem. Whew! Now I gotta go back to work!


Tuesday, May 03, 2005

New Liwayway is Out!




The newest issue of Liwayway under new management and publisher under Manila Bulletin has just been released. I was surprised to find it tucked along with my daily newspaper delivery. Of course I had a weekly subscription, but I had expected it to cease when the magazine changed hands and probably upgraded to a new format.

Liwayway Cover

But I was surprised to find that the magazine was virtually the same, although there were some few pleasantly noticable changes. The magazine still costs the same. It still has all the creative people from writers to artists, plus a few new ones. Apparently, the magazine still has a following that they decided to continue its publication with the loyal following in mind.

June Lofamia Spot Illustration

Although the paper used seems to be the same from the old Liwayway, the printing has vastly improved. It resulted in a cleaner, clearer print. Photographs and artwork are far better reproduced. The layouts are similarly clean and uncluttered, with smaller, easier to read fonts.

Calimugtong by Reynaldo Duque and Rod Lofamia

It seems computers have finally been employed in the coloring of the illustrations and comics. The colorists have the good sense not to overpower the illustrations with overly rendered colors. I applaud their subtle use of coloring which resulted in enhancing the artwork as a whole.

It is great that the colorists are now given credit, but it would be nice to have the artists for the spot illustrations and comics given credit as well. Some artists do sign their name, but in the event that some of them don't (and some of them don't), it would be nice to have their names side by side with the writers and the colorist.

The current roster of comic book artists seem to be Rico Rival, Hal Santiago, Alfred Manuel, Abe Ocampo and Rod Lofamia, with artists like June Lofamia, Rudy Beltran, Rod Cañalita, Eugene Cubillo and a few uncredited ones doing spot illustrations.

I had actually expected a major upgrade to the magazine, but I must admit it was not a disappointment to find they had retained much of the content of the old Liwayway. It's nice to see the stories continue and to see the art of June Lofamia etc, colored in the way they're deserve to be.

Hopefully the new printing and coloring improvements will attract new readers and older readers that have been put off by the printing quality of previous issues.


Monday, May 02, 2005

Mars Ravelo's Buhay Pilipino

To kick off Liwayway Months (May, June, July), I've uploaded a complete 2-page strip of Mars Ravelo's classic and enduring Buhay Pilipino. A version of this strip is still running today, at least until the very last issue of Liwayway published by Liwayway Publications before it moves to Bulletin. The strip, currently called "Buhay Pinoy", is written by Perry C. Mangilaya and drawn by Alfred C. Manuel, employing essentially the same look for the evolving cast of characters for many decades.

Click Here for Buhay Pilipino Page 1
Click Here for Buhay Pilipino Page 2

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Johnny Balbona!
Mwahaha! Issue #5 has finally come out, featuring Johnny Balbona in *LOVE*. Or is he?

Humanis Rex #1 is finally out with the latest issue of Fudge Magazine with the Jessica Alba Sin City cover.