why be normal?

Confessions of a Confused Comic Book Artist
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gerry@alanguilan.com
      You gotta beef? Cook it!  Stuff that I feel like writing when I turn on the computer. 
December 23 99

The Monster.
 
PULP FICTIONS

Well, it seems my Tales from The Big City strip did appear in the first issue of PULP after all. The first issue of this new Philippine music mag (from the Publishers of the Fookien Times Year Book), was first released and launched last December 13 at the Glorietta in Makati.  It's available at Tower Records and at major magazine and book stores.

Over on the left there is the cover to the first issue, and below that is a thumb from my strip. Click on it to see a larger sized version of it.  I have also finished the 2nd installment for the strip, which should be printed with PULP#2 in January.  I think I'll be doing this thing monthly from now on.  It's short and really fun to do. I get to share stories that I have on a monthly basis which I think I can pull off without much difficulty. Plus it pays well so I'm happy!

A Day in the Life of An Inker about
to Send a Fedex Package.

It was Monday, December 20. I just finished inking a bunch of X-Force pages over Whilce Portacio and I was getting ready to leave to Fedex them.  Unlike in the US or even in Manila where you can request pick up of your package, here in San Pablo I would need to go to Manila to send the package myself.  There is a mailing service here in San Pablo which also offers Fedex delivery, but my insticts tell me to go to an "official" Fedex outlet, at least for the sake of my own peace of mind.

The nearest branch that I can go to is the one in Festival Mall in Alabang, just an hour and 15 minutes north of San Pablo.  But I needed to go to Megamall in Mandaluyong, a 3 hour trip from home, to go get my copy of Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell's FROM HELL compiled edition from Comic Quest. There were several Fedex branches in the area, one in Robinsons, and another in Megamall itself.  Since I don't drive, I took a bus with a Cubao route, which would take me right in front of Robinsons. This was already 12:30 in the afternoon.  45 minutes into the trip, the bus broke down. We had to go down and transfer to another bus of the same line.  I thought briefly of just going to Festival Mall, drop off the package there and head right back home. I'll get my FROM HELL book later as I still needed to finish the 2nd installment of "Tales of the Big City" which was needed by that Wednesday. But when another Cubao bus came by, I got on and decided to go on to Robinsons. 

By 3:30pm I was there.  Much to my dismay, they did not have a large box, which was necessary for transporting art pages. No problem, I thought. There were a lot of Fedex branches around. The clerk called the branch in Megamall and asked if they had a large box. They didn't.  He called 2 other branches in the area. None of them had it. I thought, what the HELL?! What is going in here? They all can't have run out!  The packgage had to go out that day or it will never make it to Marvel by Christmas. I had to go, and I had to find a way to do it.  I thought briefly about making my own box. The clerk said that it was possible, but I would need a lot of tools and space to do it. There was no place in the mall I could do that. I can do it at Leinil Yu's place, which wasn't too far from there, but I didn't know exactly where it was and  wasn't able to bring his phone number and I had no way to call him. I could do it at Whilce's place, but it was too far.  I decided to just head back to Festival Mall. If they didn't have a box there, then another Mall 30 minutes away from there, SM Southmall, surely must have one. I then went to Megamall first to get my comics.  When I passed by the Fedex branch, I asked them if they could call the Festival Mall branch to see if they had a large box. I didn't want to go there if they didn't have a box.  They said that the branch there didn't have a phone, so OK, I'll risk it.    I first went to Comic Quest, retrieved my copy of FROM HELL, said hello to Mike the owner, and bolted out of there.  By that time it was already 4 in the afternooon.

I got an another bus running the Alabang line. I took the route that would make less stops and take me there the fastest.  I got to Alabang at 5:30pm.  Since it was already rush hour, the traffic was really bad. By this time it was already getting dark.  I got to the Fedex branch and was nearly exhausted. I asked the clerk if they had a large box.  The woman said that they had just run out and she pointed the box to me that was just used by someone who had just left.  I asked her to call the SM Southmall branch to ask if they had one. She did, and they didn't have a box as well. (It turns out they actually had a phone). She called their main branch in Paranaque as well but much to her disbelief, they themselves did not have a large box available.  It was too unbelievable.   By this time, I pretty much zoned out. I stared away at the wall, blank stared and drifting off to space. I was so tired. I wanted to cry. I told the woman my sad sob story. Apparently, she took pity on me and said that she will dig around. A large box may be lying around that she hasn't seen yet.  While she was busy doing that, I sat down and tried to think of what I will do next. I could make the box and return the following day. But the following day was reserved for doing Pulp's Tales #2.  But no, Marvel had to take precedence. I will buy the boards now, make the box that  night and return the following day. "Hey sir, you're in luck!!" the woman suddenly said. She found a folded large box behind a bunch of medium boxes. I tell ya, I could have kissed her right then. So the package went off. I decided to call the branches first next time I send something, and if they had no stock, I think it's best if I have my own self made box ready, just in case. I  strolled around the mall, decided to give myself a christmas gift for all the aggravation (Beatles Anthology Volume 1). Got a gift for my nephew, and then I bused on home.

 

 December 16 99
We just had an earthquake the other day. It was 2 in the morning and I was just about to fall asleep when I suddenly felt my whole room shake. It wasn't jarring at all, more like gentle swaying to and fro.  Still, gentle as it was, it was an earthqake and I was still scared shitless for the next 30 seconds as the earth moved silently in the night.  I knew that somewhere in the country it was rocking more violently than where I was. And I soon found that out. Several people died north of the country near the epicenter where the quake shook at almost the magnitude of 7. Hundreds of people were injured and many buildings damaged.

Not only that, here in San Pablo we exprience power failures rather frequently. Sometimes it's just five minutes a day, but it's still annoying when it happens.  But the other day, the power failed and it didn't return for 8 hours. And a few hours after that, the power failed again and didn't return for another 8 hours. The first power failure, it turns out, affected a third of the country. Officials said it was caused by a massive school of jellyfish which clogged something at a power generating plant.

It had been raining a lot this December and the bad weather has caused a plane to crash here, killing all passengers.  A lot of people now have started to ask:

Are these events signs that the world is coming to an end?
Is God finally so pissed off at humanity that it's time for Judgment Day?

I say grow some brains and think. 

Man is so concieted it's making me puke. How old is earth? Billions of years old. BILLIONS.  Ever since the world began there have been earthquakes, most of them far FAR stronger than any that man has ever experienced.  Same goes for hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and meteors.  They have been here billions of years before we even existed and they will be here shaking the earth billions of years after we are all gone. In comparison, modern man has been on earth for how long? Scientists say 200,000 years. When talking eons, that time span is nothing but a blip. If the entire existence of earth has been compressed into a day, man has been here for less than a millisecond.  And now there are these people who are telling me that God is causing earthquakes because of man's sins? How narrowminded. How absolutely medieval. Earthquakes don't care about us. They don't care less that we are on the world. It's not even aware that we exist.  They have been here shaking the earth for billions of years, and they will go on shaking billions of years into the future, with or without us.

And what's the deal with the world ending in the year 2000? NOTHING. 2000 is just a number, nothing more. It's just a number invented by man to tell the passing of time. How can something like that determine the fate of us all? It can't. And it won't, at least as far as my life is concerned. If the world ends tomorrow or on Dec. 31, I couldn't care less. I'd go on as I always have, living my life according to my own thoughts using my own mind.

And speaking of the year 2000, you know, in the past we all saw the year 2000 as something in the far future. We have set out science fiction stories there.  We attributed all kinds of technology and knowledge humanity would have to that far distant time. And you know, it just dawned on my that the year 2000 is actually just a couple of weeks away. Man! The future is here!!
 

November 19 99
CANNONBALL as pencilled by Steve Purcell and inked by Whilce Portacio  inNew Mutants #43
X-FORCE!

I can now let it out of the bag! Whilce Portacio is returning to Marvel and into the X-Office by drawing X-Force. It is one of the three books that Plotmaster Warren Ellis is taking over in the next few months. I guess I won't ask you to guess who's inking it. he.he.  I'm all excited about being involved in this project and I'm absolutely raring to go. X-Force was the comic previously known as New Mutants and it was once my favorite book and it once had a lot of my favorite characters.  On the drawing on the left there is a panel from New Mutants #43 as pencilled by Steve Purcell and inked by Whilce.  This time around, Cannonball will be pencilled by Whilce himself and I gotta say that his version is absolutely brutal, complimenting perfectly Warren Ellis's brutal remake of him.  I wish I could share with you Whilce's  sketches of the characters but at this point I can't, pending finalization of the designs.  These sketches will wind up in Wizard eventually. What they don't print, I'll put up here.

What about STONE? Good question, and it's a question I found myself asking too. I enjoyed working on the book. I mean, it's hard not to like it, specially if the lead character is named after you!:)  The book will go on.  Artist Lan Medina has been helping out in the last couple of issues and I can assume that he will make a much stronger presence in the book in issue #4.  I think Lan is a great artist and I'm sure that he will leave his mark on the book.   Issue #3, the last issue that I worked with Whilce on, will be shipping soon.

THE MONSTER MOVETH

The Monster, the first installment of the strip for PULP that I was talking about previously, will appear in the 2nd issue instead, set to be released in January.  I don't know why it moved, I'm assuming that my strip didn't make the layout in time, although I did turn it in when the editor asked me to. It's not a problem though, and it actually gives me time to work on the 2nd installment. This month and the next, X-Force will most likely lord it over my life.

FANBOY TO SUPERSTAR

I just got Wolverine #145 and I must say that at this point, I am truly in awe of Leinil Francis Yu's artwork.  I knew him long before he went ballistic and he was a fanboy very much like myself.  I also knew that we pretty much pissed in our pants the time we both met Jae Lee for a signing here in Manila some 5 years ago.  His artwork was already impressive by then and I knew that he, among the many aspiring artists that saw and interacted each other at the time, would make it big.  He had quit school to practice, very much like I quit work in Architecture to practice.  His parents were supportive, but they gave him a few months to find work in the field or get back to school.  So I was terribly happy when he got the Wolverine project. I took it upon myself to critique his work with every issue that came out pointing to this and that. I did it because I could see his potential and I wanted him to achieve it, and also, I didn't want his fame to get to his head. And he has grown right before my eyes during the past several years. He's grown quietly confident of his talent but without losing his modesty. And I find that remarkable.  With Wolverine #145, that maturity has finally shown and at this point he is ready to take on the X-Men.  Right now I no longer feel worthy to critique his work. I think he has heard enough from me about that. All that's left is praise.


November 16 99
The Monster
THE MONSTER

I've been invited by the editor in chief of a new Philippine magazine called "PULP" to do a regular monthly one page strip for them.  I've decided to call it "Tales of the Big City" because each strip will feature stories of different people living  in Manila, Philippines,  from all walks of life dealing with their lives and concerns. Because it would take a month between each installment, I opted to make each strip self contained, telling one whole story in just one page of around 10 panels or more each.  It is indeed quite a challenge to do something like that but it is not something I'm too unfamiliar with.  I did something similar back in 1992 for another publication called UZI Weekly where I had to submit a self contained one page strip every 2 weeks.  I'm sort of nervous about it, because this work may well be the one that would afford my writing and art the largest exposure I've had so far.

The first story that I submitted, called THE MONSTER, would set the atmosphere that would hopefully establish the tone I'd like the strip to have.  The magazine will be released next month, with a launching that will be held on December 13 at the Glorietta fountain area in Makati, Metro Manila. 

HUNTING ALIENS!

Have you ever heard of SETI? A group of dedicated scientists are putting enormous amounts of time and hard work in to actually looking for signs of intelligent life outside the Earth. This project has been called SETI, or the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Those ultra smart guys at SETI have developed a program called SETI@homewhere the ordinary fella like  you and me can help process data that has been received by their powerful Arecibo radio telescope.  What is SETI@home? From their website:

THE SEARCH FOR EXTRA TERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE AT HOME
http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/

     "SETI@home is a scientific experiment that harnesses the power of hundreds of
      thousands of Internet-connected computers in the Search for Extraterrestrial
      Intelligence (SETI). You can participate by running a free program that downloads
      and analyzes radio telescope data. There's a small but captivating possibility that your
      computer will detect the faint murmur of a civilization beyond Earth. "

What you do is download their program, which when installed on your computer, acts like a screensaver which runs when you have left it idle after a few minutes. The program is rather small at 710KB so it's really fast and easy to download.  When you run this program, it will automatically connect to the SETI@home server to get a chunk of data referred to as "Work Units" which is around 300kb each and should download no longer than 3 minutes, more if connection is slow. That is the only time you need to be connected to the internet, after which the program will start processing this data until it is finished, a process that takes anything from 9 hours to 40 hours, depending on the system you have.  When the program finishes processing the data, you will be prompted to reconnect to the internet to submit the data and then download another work unit.

What's in it for you?  I don't know, but personally, it feels great to be involved in something like this, you know, helping in finding out if there really is something out there. And like what is mentioned in their website, if your computer is the one that was able to process data that gives a reading of possible intelligent life, well, you'll go down in history as one of the first to discover aliens! Just think about it....

Download your program now! 
SETI@HOME
http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/