Micro 003

Alex: I woke up with a disturbing though last night.
John: ?
Alex: I thought I forgot the names of the black superheroes of Marvel.
John: wat.
Alex: So I thought Black Panther… POWER MAN… and fell back asleep knowing everything was okay.
John: You have a problem.

[via android]

Podcasting and the Value of Intent

I’ve been hosting and editing most of the episodes of a little something called the Tres Komikeros podcast since late 2008 — cutting out stutters, non-PC comments, and the occasional five minutes of nonsensical rambling.  It’s a tough job.  It’s an often thankless job, but looking at how far the show has come and the friends we’ve made, I can honestly say it’s all been well worth it.

Last month, TK hit a noteworthy 100 episodes.  Over the span of four years, we’ve grown from a small crew of just me, a kind and bright-eyed artist from Cebu; Alex Cipriano, a relentless comics and gaming fan and one of my closest friends, and EJ Afzelius; a writer/model double-agent based in Manila — to a man-sized serving that includes Miguel Santos, a hotel manager from Davao; and finally Nick Santos (no relation), a film school graduate also based in Cebu.  We are by no means the only comics-related podcast in the Philippines, but I can say with a stout heart that we are certainly the most prolific (for the lowest price consistent with quality).  From reviews to interviews to topic discussions and the like, the podcast has come a long way and, surprisingly, taught me a lot about art.  Specifically, the appreciation of it.

See… when you’re reviewing stacks of comics every week, the temptation to just compare them to each other or to something that came before is certainly present.  And while that can sometimes count as a valid review, it isn’t always a fair one.  All art is subjective after all, and are products of unique individuals with unique weaknesses and strengths.  Thus the act of compare and contrast to “review” their work is in itself a flawed practice.  Doing so not only opens you up to bias, because we all have our favorites, but it also has the potential to hurt feelings.  That may sound like a non-issue to most, but when you’re lucky enough (as we on the show are) to know some of these creators personally, the ice on Critic’s Creek can get surprisingly thin.

So the solution, though it may not come naturally to most, is to critique a piece of work according to what you feel the artist intended to do.  The focus on intent helps get you to the heart of the matter.  What is this story trying to tell you?  Are the characters, setting, dialogue and other elements contributing to a perceived tone?  Does the art do its job?  Does the story get communicated?  Is there even a story there, or is the artist just intending to have fun?  And the line of questioning goes on, because suddenly you’re judging a book on its sole merits rather than the cavalcade of books that came before.

Being mindful of intent helps one grow as both a reviewer and a creator.  And I find it’s helping me focus on the task at hand, which at the end of the day, is attempting to show people something they’ve never seen before.  Less historians, more pioneers.

Let’s all go read some comics.

 

Tres Komikeros on Inkers and Colorists

My friends and I talk about inkers and colorists on our weekly podcast.

After discussing Locke and Key, Wonder Woman, and Smallville news… John, Migs, and Alex pay their dues to the unsung heroes of comic books – inkers and colorists.  Listen to the panel share their thoughts on the two respective artistic disciplines.

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Download the episode here

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Sniffles

Been a bit of a spell since I got to update on here, so if this entry feels terse and fragmented, I’m sorry… but then again, it’s me… so you should really detect no real change.  Huzzah!

June got a little hairy as Jad came down with dengue fever and had to be hospitalized for almost a week.  I had flown down to keep her company as best I could, but the beginning of the rainy season had taken a bit of a toll on me as well — nothing quite as serious, fortunately, but I ended up not getting to stay with her at the hospital as often as I would have wanted, lest I got sicker and became a liability.  That said, my evenings at the hotel were still miserable, but hardly anything compared to Jad’s ailment which, we later discovered, is nicknamed “bone breaking fever.”  They really went out of their way to sugar that one up.

I had bought her a copy of Arnold Arre’s MYTHOLOGY CLASS, and she says it at least took her mind off being sick, if only for precious increments.  With prayer and a whole lot of soldiering on her part, she made a full recovery in a week and celebrated by attacking a happy helping of roast pork.

Brought my flu home with me.  Nothing a week of antibiotics couldn’t handle, but because they were pretty potent peyote-type shaman juice, I couldn’t draw quite as fast as I wanted to because I was getting tremors like a caffeinated mouse in a church bell.  So yeah, work went ouchy.

I hate flu season.  All better now though.

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A month after Zuda ended its monthly competitions, they announce that the site itself was shutting down.  PRs and official emails indicate that it’s a decision straight from the higher-ups, made in conjunction with DC’s whole digital initiative.  And while long-running series such as HIGH MOON and BAYOU will be migrated, the newer ones had to be cancelled.  Oh well, them’s the breaks.  More recent interactions at least have DC doing right by us creators, as far as ownership and fair compensation goes.  And I’ll leave it at that.  Heh.

Still talking to Gabe and Matt about Comixology and Graphic.ly.  But I’m currently committing a lot more of my time to 1888 — the first issue of which is nearly half done, as far as line art goes.  Bricks and dead whores, baby!  That’s my suggested alt title, but I don’t think Wolfgang will go for it.  Will keep pushing.  Don’t stop believing.  Heh.

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While I was stuck in bed, I got to read a whole bunch of stuff.  Too much in fact, that I’ll just post them as little blurbs instead of my usual “Reading: insert artsy fartsy title here” journal entries…

Scalped (Vertigo)

Sure, Jason Aaron’s Indian Reservation Noir is well into it’s fourth year, but I just got a chance to check it out.  Much like with IMMORTAL IRON FIST and PREACHER, I was late to the party.  But you know what?  I’m glad I was.  Because I don’t think I woulda been able to stand the 30-day wait between issues on this fantastic series.  Someone tell me why this isn’t on HBO.

100 Bullets (Vertigo)

Now this series has been done for a while, but I finally got around to picking up the first three trades coz I’ve been on a weird crime comic spree as of late.  I apologize in advance for the pun, but it’s… hit and miss? As much as the revolving cast keeps things interesting, it also works against the narrative because you cant really invest in anyone.  But I’ll gladly stay in my seat for Risso’s art alone.


I Killed Adolf Hitler (Fantagraphics)

There’s something about the deadpan delivery of this comic that makes it a lot more touching than you expect it to be.  Whatever you’re guessing it’s about based on the title, you’re really only half way there.  The majority of the book is delivered in an 8-panel grid, so there’s a visual immediacy to the story itself, because the pacing really isn’t the point.  And when you get to the end, you’ll get that it’s really a love story more than anything else.


Switchblade Honey (AiT/Planet Lar)

The captain is an asshole and the crew is a mishmash of crack addicts and psychopaths.  Meet the people who will save you from super advanced aliens who see you as nothing more than germs with shoes.  Angry Star Trek.  Warren Ellis.  Go.

The Tres Komikeros podcast will be taking a break after episode 52, which is scheduled for recording this July 17th… coincidentally the same day Jonas Diego is running a 24 Hour Comic Day Challenge.  So we figured… one more show for this season?  We’ll all be at our desks for a whole day anyway.  Fuck it, let’s record a 24-hour podcast.  And that, my friends, is how big decisions are made.  With half-assedness and lots of cursing.  Come listen.  And learn yourself a thing or two… even if it’s only “don’t do it.”

Medium View

We are not smart people.

The night of the Watchmen premier, one of my friends asks the table if any of us thought all this knowledge of Star Wars, Marvel continuity, Mass Effect side quests, and Chuck Norris jokes actually meant anything.  There were about six of us, with a beer tower in the middle.  It was as close as we got to quarterlifing, and that tends to shake me pantsless.  “No,” I said.  Coz this stuff is important to me, sure, and I love it… but by no stretch of the imagination does it kick our IQ levels up any.  What we are, are a few of many kids hanging ten on a mortal wave.  I remember tossing the term Creative Zeitgeist out… but I don’t remember why.

See? (Read first sentence)

Been having fun lately.  Got to travel with my girl up to one of the country’s highest peaks to help shoot her music video.  Hummer was a bit cramped with crew and tech, but the view and how the music carried up there was well worth it.  Don’t get a lotta chances to do that, y’know?

PLUCK won Zuda’s October competition, so now Gabe is working like an animal for you people, making sure we give you a story well worth following.  I’m on creature design duty for the next week or so, that’ll probably gimme an excuse to update the blog. Also… FUCKYES!!!

Local comic scene has been gaining steam, and monthly Drink n’ Draws (bastardized DnD for you paladin-types) are proving fun and energizing, to say the least.  Never hurts to be around fellow fanboys to help you feel like a real person. Oh snap. Related to this, in the Public Validation Department, I recently got talked to by a local newspaper about working in comics and the scene in general.  Managed not to curse too much, so I’m fairly proud about that.  Interview should run near the end of the month if they don’t misplace the transcript amid post-Manny fight analyses and 2012 reviews.

Need to see that movie.

Looking to wrap up JUDAH and a coupla other projects and commissions by year’s end, as January is already looking busy.  Not quite ready to talk about the new projects yet, but it’s all pretty exciting.  Haven’t gotten to finish that Glutton God piece either, but it can wait.

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Wolfgang Parker is polishing the knobs on a previously discussed project.  Be afraid.

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Finally, shopping Tres Komikeros around to find it an FM radio home.  Each podcast episode runs for roughly an hour, which is way too much geek talk than is healthy (trust us, we know), so we’re looking into making only the half-hour review portion air-friendly, while the rest is online bonus stuff that’s bad for your children.

Bonus.  What a funny word.

Marriage

Hah! Made you look.  No, I’m not getting married yet.  I hear the first step to doing that is getting a girlfriend, but I haven’t had one in years.  Comics and art (the mean mistress!!!) have been eating up a lot of my time lately, so the social life has gone out the window.  This entry’s title isn’t totally inaccurate though, coz I’ve been spending a lot of time technically marrying my two stylistic influences into something I can call my own.  Or trying, at least.

Realistic vs Abstract/Cartoony.  Which is better?  Which sells?  Which makes for better storytelling?  It’s taken me this long to realize that the answer is neither.  Realistic adds a lot of believabilty to a scene, that’s a given, but the abstract style can pull off fantastic exaggerations in mood.  Mignola plays a delicate balance between the two and it works exquistely in Hellboy.  Realistic allows for your characters to be more relatable in whatever outlandish situation you put them in, but being able to rubberize their expressions and gestures makes for an incredibly broad spectrum of emotion and dynamism.  Stuart Immonen plays with this and kicks serious ass every time a new issue of Ultimate Spidey hits the stands.  Then I read it, cry in my bath tub, then slash my penis with a razorblade.

These are just two of the points as to why a stylistic marriage would come out awesome, and I’m pretty sure there are countless others.

Having said that, I’ve been trying my best two fuse the two sentimentalities into something I can call my own.  I’ve talked about this in a previous entry, Shapes, and I doubt I’ll stop talking about it anytime soon.  Been re-reading a lot of old MAD magazines to study Mort Drucker’s great caricature work.  Good stuff.

Anyway… here are last week’s dailies:

nightcrawlerMONDAY: Kicked off Marvel week with my favorite X-Man, Nightcrawler.  He’s always been visually interesting and there’s never a shortage of cool poses to use on him.  Spooky and athletic, in my head he’s like Batman and Spidey combined.

red-skullTUESDAY: Nothing special to say about this piece.  I don’t read Captain America, and I’m not a WWII buff.  I just wanted to do a villain portrait.  Call it an M.O.

spiderwomanWEDNESDAY: Well I had to do something to counter Power Girl from last week, right? And Spider Woman is hands down the hottest superlady in Marvel right now.  Never mind that she’s a Skrull Queen bent on enslaving us, still teh hawt. I might’ve oversized her boobies though — complaints?

lokiTHURSDAY: Loki.  As a woman.  I know, I know.

logan-poseFRIDAY: Fridays are always hectic for me coz that’s when I tend to fill my page quotas for the week, plus I do the podcast with my buddies.  So from now on, I’ll devote Fridays to pose studies and the like.  I’m sure you all can tell from looking at the logan sketch that my anatomy in the arm area could use a bit of work.  but yeah, doing things like this every once in a while will definitely help make my poses more dynamic and shit.

::: ::: ::: Tres Komikeros episode 11 ::: ::: :::

Lastly, any Zuda lovers in the house?  Even if you’re not, it’ll be good for you to head on over to their site and vote for my buddy Justin Jordan’s comic, Rumors of War.

He died on the battlefield, giving his life for God and Country. Johnny died a hero, but he didn’t stay dead. He’s been taken from his dying place to another world, another place, where a war has raged since the beginning of time. Resurrected for a fight that he can barely understand, much less hope to survive. Here, even death is no end to a soldier’s fight, the dead and dying returned to fight again and again. The Enemy is monstrous and the Ally is worse.