lettered by Jason Maranto
Cover colors by Kevin Senft. Alternate cover by Mike Bohatch
Comics Conspiracy + January 2002
Memoriam: Comic Creator Doug Miers
Ican't believe it. I've just finished pencilling and inking a whole comic book for the first time for US release. I've been inking for the past seven years and people who had read the books I had worked on probably didn't know that before I inked, I had started out pencilling and inking stories for several publications here in the Philippines. Here in the Philippines you see, drawing a comic book automatically meant pencilling and inking, with no thought given to the idea that those two things are done separately by 2 different people. And to be honest, I only found out about this peculiar process when I encountered American comics.
When I started out, I really wanted to pencil and ink my own work. In fact, I was able to illustrate several stories for Mass Media Communications, and several stories for Alamat Comics including Timawa and Wasted, both of which I also wrote. So when I tried out for American comics, I wanted to do more of the same.
But as fate would have it, my inking got more notice than my pencils, so I got an inking gig as my first American work. That was soon followed by another inking job, and then many many more inking jobs, and so on for the next seven years.
Then came Ochlocrat. I had met writer Doug Miers via online pal Jason Maranto, who is an artist himself. Doug asked me to do a cover for his comic book Taxman (pictured on the right) for Comics Conspiracy. It was such a pleasant experience that when Doug approached me to draw a whole book, Ochlocrat, I was quite ecstatic. He had sent me copies of his previous books including Operator 99 and I quickly came to know Doug as quite a talented writer, who writes quirkily funny and clever stories with a twist. Given a proper chance, I think Doug stands a very good chance of making it big. So it was quite a buzz for me to draw one of his stories. An added draw is the TITLE. Jeez, the title. It's so damn cool. I mean, OCHLOCRAT? Holy crap, what the hell is that? Whatever it was, it sounded something like I would want to draw. So without even seeing a script, I agreed to do the story. The pay is small compared to what I get as an inker for Marvel or Image, but it hardly entered my mind at all. I was in it for the experience, and for the opportunity to actually ink as well as pencil my own book. It was the chance I was waiting for for a long time. I just had to take it.
I was still up to my ears in inking work so I was
concerned about the time I could devote to actually doing the book.
I think it was around early 2001 that I agreed to do it. Doug sent over
the script and read carefully through it. He wanted a Christmas
release so I thought I had plenty of time. I'd ink the books I needed to
ink, and I'd draw Ochlocrat in my free time.
Well, not exactly. Something happened to my hand that made me unable to draw for several weeks. I could draw, but it was incredibly painful. My middle finger on my drawing hand got swollen so bad that it hurt just to move it. It was a terrible time. I had to take some medication to bring the swelling down and hopefully, to prevent it from happening again.
I was just off inking X-Force for Marvel Comics when that happened, and when I got better, I was looking for something to do. So it was a perfect time to work on the book. I did some pages of inks for X-Men for Leinil Yu, but I was otherwise free. But as I was just about to start, Leinil Yu approached me with the offer to ink that year's New X-Men Annual, to be written by Grant Morrison. Honestly, it was an offer that I just couldn't refuse. It was tough, but I just had to tell Doug that I was going to do it. It would be a great opportunity for me personally, and it would be good for Ochlocrat later on because we could use that credit to promote the book.
I did more sketches while I inked and I started to feel I finally got the visual look of the character down pat. I then proceeded to do the X-Mean annual fully. It was 42 pages of really involving work. Since I had to ink on originals, I had to trek to Leinil's place in Manila once or twice a week to get pages then Fedex them to Marvel. We also did a quick six pager for that year's Fantastic Four Annual written by Jeph Loeb. It would be June before I started real work on Ochlocrat again.
And when that blank page stared at me right in
the eye I literally froze. It had been seven years since I fully drawn
a book. I had drawn several pages on and off for Timawa and Tales
of the Big City, but this was something else. I had drawn 90 or so
pages of Wasted, and 25 or so of Dead Heart, but those were
underground books that didn't demand the same kind of exacting art that
Ochlocrat did. Drawing comics is not like riding a bike.
Once you stop doing it, you'd have to relearn it. And I had a lot of relearning
to do. Working on my first page was something else. I was excited
but at the same time not overly confident. And man, that first page (Page
1), took a loooong time to finish. And when it took me as long to
finish the 2nd and the 3rd page, it became evident to Doug Miers
that this could be a problem in the long run.
I had bought this little limousine toy so I could use it for reference. Literally half of the book happens in and around a limousine. I spent a couple of days just looking for a toy at various malls to little success. I finally found one that wasn't so good, but I got it anyway just to get something I could look at from all angles. I just downloaded pics of limos from the net and bought car catalogue magazines for the details.
Leinil had come back from the San Diego convention and was raring to start on his new comic book for Cliffhanger called High Roads and he wanted me in on it for inking. It put me in a real tight spot. Do I ink or do I pencil? At this point, inking was my bread and butter. And yet Ochlocrat represented my chance to finally start a pencilling career. I'm getting married in December of 2002 and I have been thinking a whole lot about my future. By that time I wanted to have something tucked away at the bank. Coming up with the decision was quite struggle. To pass up Cliffhanger is like passing up a considerable amount of money, and a chance to work with a very talented artist like Leinil Yu on a book that's quite different than what I had seen before. Passing up Ochlocrat is like passing up my chance of finally doing what I had always wanted to do, and leaving a bad record of not finishing projects and leaving a great guy like Doug flapping in the wind.
So I did what is probably the craziest thing I've done so far. I chose both. I decided to continue to draw Ochlocrat. I mean, I'd be crazy not to. It was a FUN book to work on and I had been really enjoying myself on it. And it was a commitment, and I try very hard to honor my commitments once I've made them. But I also decided not to pass up Leinil. I'd be crazy if I did. So that put me in an even tighter spot. That meant I had to work overtime and doubletime everyday. At that time I had also been dealing with PULP Magazine for the re-release of Wasted on December, talking with a filmmaker who wants to create a Wasted movie, and attending to my duties as member of the San Pablo Chapter of the United Architects of the Philippines.
I guess it just became too much that I just fell terribly ill on October that I had to be hospitalized for several days. I felt so terribly weak that I could barely stand the first week I was out. Walking outside to look at plants or just gettng up to check email were enough to exhaust me. I wasn't able to work for several weeks after that. I had a talk with Leinil and he understood my position and allowed me to finish Ochlocrat before I continued to ink our project. I told him that I'd undertand if he got another inker, but he insisted he wanted me, God bless him. I nevertheless inked him on a couple of illustrations he did for Play Station Magazine and Superman.
I began working on Ochlocrat again in earnest. Doug Miers had written to me very concerned about the status of the book. I totally understood his position. And if I were in his shoes I'd feel the same way. I resolved to finish the book as quickly as I can without sacrificing the quality of the drawings. The next half of the book would have a female Ochlocrat that the main character would do battle with. Before I started the project and Doug was throwing ideas at me, I had expressed concern that I may have some difficulty in drawing women. It was a weakness that I readily admit to, inspite of the fact that I just absolutely love women and I like looking at them. I did some quick training, but I had to get on the pages right away so I did the best that I could. I thought I might be doing allright, but when my girlfriend saw one of the drawings, she kept pointing to all kinds of things, specially the hip. "Honey, you gotta give her more HIPS!" or "Honey, she looks like a MAN!"
I'm very happy to have on board long time web pal Jason Maranto, who is a great artist in himself doing the lettering onthe book. Kevin Senft did that really cool coloring on my cover to Comics Conspiracy's The Taxman and it looks like he's doing a real good job on the cover to this one too! I haven't met Mike Bohatch yet, the guy responsible for the beautifuly rendered alternate cover, but I'm happy to see him aboard. Man, that cover is enough to attract a lot of people!
For better or for worse, the book is here, and I'm damned proud of it, warts and all. "Ochlocrat" will now be an indelible part of my life because it's been with me through high and low. Buy the book, read the book, tell us what you think! Anyone who sends the most interesting letter be it lavishly complimentary or savagely critical, will get a free Ochlcorat sketch! If you want one that is.
Installment #535 for CBG
The Ochlocrat (Comics Conspiracy;
$2.95) was more to my taste. This time
The Ochlocrat is always on,
downloading the electronic wishes of millions
The reader, and perhaps Miers
himself, feels both respect and contempt for
The resultant comic book
is a challenging mix of social satire and
The Ochlocrat earns three-and-a-half
Tonys...and 78% of CBG's 65.8 million
Hera help me.
"Tony's Tips!" is Copyright
(c) Tony Isabella, 2002.
NINTH ART REVIEW
The week of January 21, 2002
The pick of this week's comic
catch includes crime noir from David Lapham, post-apocalyptic violence
from Doug Miers, and epic adventure from Hiroaki Samura.
Welcome to the Shipping Forecast, the pick of the best new comics hitting stores this week, as chosen by the salty seadogs at the Ninth Art lighthouse. The forecast is compiled with the help of the Diamond shipping list. For the most up to date shipping information, check out the Diamond website.
Comic Book Reviews
Week of January 30, 2002
In the latest one-shot from
independent publishers Comics Conspiracy, a vigilante governed by public
opinion (imagine a 1-900-vigilante on every channel) reaches into the electoral
college to deliver some unpleasant polling results via high-calibre gunfire.
In addition, for his adult pay-per-view audience, he doubles as a Dirk
Diggler with a political vocabulary, responding to online voting of another
type entirely. Everything goes fine for him until a rival network decides
to put their own Ochlocrat in the mix (an "ochlocracy" is a system of "mob
rule," just for your information).The over-the-top violence and sex (none
shown, just suggested, and in a less graphic way than Max's Alias) is very
well balanced by the social commentary, and while this book stands on its
own, when read along with Operator 99, The Taxman and The Exec, this book
really shines. Comics Conspiracy sells its books on a collected CD-ROM,
and it's well worth checking out at www.comicsconspiracy.com.
Pick this one up for raw, ugly, zany fun.
Line of Fire Reviews
Where does Doug get this stuff from? What part of his mind does he dig these stories out of? My gosh, this comic book is a political mess. This comic book was hilarious and the people where I work also loved it. Why? Easy, because I work at a political office. This is a political satire on how politics should work.
We have the anti-hero The Ochlocrat who goes after a delegate. While he interrogates this poor guy to a live viewing audience, he prepares to execute him. The reason being is that The Ochlocrat discovers that this delegate is a clone and clones have no rights. Itís time to execute, especially when this delegate had the audacity to leave his wife, kids, sold his house and gave his life savings to the opposing party.
Then if I thought this was way too much, here come the armed lawyers in their hovercraft. This comic book has everything. Majestic artwork with a story that rocks! There is even an accusation of sexual harassment that has been thrown into the story.
But, the climax is when The Ochlocrat faces down a female Ochlocrat. This Ochlocrat is sexy, but she knows how to deliver! I havenít had this much fun, since the time I was laying down on a Tahitian beach and woke up only to find two French topless women laying next to me!
BBC: SPEECH BUBBLE BURST
This is a very funny book indeed. And by 'funny', I mean both 'funny peculiar' and 'funny ha-ha'. It is a one-off high-concept science-fiction story, revolving around the central character, The Ochlocrat.
'Ochlocracy' is, according to the dictionary, quite simply 'mob rule'. So how is mob rule represented by an individual? Easy - he's a type of vigilante enforcer, motivated by the constantly changing public opinion that is relayed to him. He takes action as dictated by the whimsy of the majority, which results in him switching roles from an exposer of corruption to an amorous seducer in the brief time it takes for a phone vote to be counted. This being the future, presumably phone votes (or their equivalent) take very little time indeed.
In our current climate of 'Reality TV', of Big Brother and Survivor, the idea of the general populace voting on the actions of a state-sanctioned vigilante is all too plausible. Raising as many serious questions as genuine laughs, the writing is extremely thought-provoking.
The art is detailed and extremely fine black and white inkwork, and is of especially high quality when rendering vehicles and the grim urban surroundings the story takes place in. Gerry Alanguilan is clearly going to be a name to watch - his grasp of perspective is excellent - but his figure drawing and facial expressions are not quite so impressive. It would probably have been beneficial if his pencilwork had been inked by someone else, as it is a little heavy-handed in places.
However, it is an interesting comic, and worth checking out, if only for the posse of heavily-armed attack lawyers and the gags about adult viewers.
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