Saturday, December 31, 2005

Pretty Great Year

Got this timely taggable from Ian. Tag yourselves like I did:

(There are more than ten, of course, but okay.)

1. Living in an age when entertainment and information are easily available.
2. My relatives, who continue to teach me life lessons and keep me grounded and grateful.
3. Being able to eat three decent meals a day.
4. Not feeling any emotional attachment when I see certain people from the past.
5. Really gifted, humble people, because, well, nobody likes untalented know-it-alls.
6. Cool weather and fresh air.
7. Others connecting with my words and/or pictures.
8. McFarlane, Marvel Legends, DC Direct action figures.
9. Intimacy (cough, euphemism!, cough).
10. Enlightened people who believe that spirituality needn’t be confined by one religion or faith.
- - - -
It’s that time of the year again when TV crew members, especially on news programs, get to show up on screen and wave for as long as the end credits roll. Yep, it must be the last day of the year. A time to be thankful and hopeful, and also when caricatures of the representations of the outgoing and incoming years-- the sashed old guy and baby--grace newspaper strips or editorial cartoons. Hmm. I wonder how that depiction originated. If the baby would grow, like, six years per month, by the end of the year he’s a doddery 72-year-old. Interesting.

This journal has had its occasional liner note thank you’s, because I’ve had many reasons to be thankful for in 2005. Most recently, I discovered, through Friendster’s search bar, that about 15 people listed LNA among their favorite (comic) books. So thanks to Aby, Butch, Bokee, Anjo, Aubrey, Jhoice, Jason, Vangie, Krizia, Sabog/Boom, Anne, Coeli, Bart, Chuck, and Arris Rivera!

Also, thanks to Benedict for the rare Sue Storm figure (nifty projectile gimmick!) and the Spooky Pop lollipop, Gumby for the new mix CD*, Paolo Manalo for bearing with my hunger-induced incoherence yesterday (was unable to eat breakfast and lunch) and Druid's Keep's Felix Cua, for giving me a nice discount on the cool Spike figure**.

My thanks as well to all the comics creators I was able to meet and communicate with in the past couple of months, for sharing their enthusiasm for the medium. To my occasional employers and editors, for being ever-generous. To those who talked about my comic book, you’re all over this blog.

And, last but definitely not the least, to my earthborn angels, for your patience, understanding and love.

Happy, prosperous and wonderful new year to all o’ ya. You’re the bestest!
- - -
* (The Beloved- Found, Aimee Mann and Michael Penn- Two of Us, A Camp- Bluest Eyes in Texas, Madonna- Rain, Midge Ure- Dear God, Jeff Buckley- Hallelujah, Milla Jovovich- The Gentleman Who Fell, Amanda Marshall- I’ll Be Okay, Maria McKee- Show Me Heaven, Jewel- Life Uncommon, Pat Benatar- We Belong, Texas- Breathless, Eurythmics- Seventeen Again, Shakespeare’s Sister- Stay, Londonbeat- A Better Love, Martika- Love Thy Will Be Done, Tom Petty- Freefallin’)

** With Mountain Dew in a goblet, goggles, anti-Hellmouth amulet, mug of blood, cat (?), and trading card.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Holiday Spirit

“Old Lang Psign”, December 2005 (click to enlarge)

Just printed out and compiled 20 pages of comments on, and reviews of, my comic book in a clearbook. Man, what a year. This Friday (the 23rd) is its first year in CQ. One year. It’s still selling at a decent pace, so thank you, all of you. Happy holidays, too. Enjoy and be safe, people. Off to plan, write, maybe draw and answer and send emails, like always. Or sleep. Enjoy your vacation, whether ye be Grinches, Scrooges, or whatever. Here’s something I wrote for the paper last year:

A non-Christian's holiday wish list

December days creep up so fast and without warning.
Christmas bells are a-ringing; cash registers are ka-chinging.
I've fondness for the season, if not for the reason.

I'm not a Christian. Don't get me wrong: I just don't belong to the flock.
I'm atheistic on some days and agnostic on others; I'm my own rock.

I love the lights, the cold yet snowless nights.
As a kid without worries, it meant action figures in gift-wrapped boxes.
Money from relatives I was not familiar with, nor care to know now.
Food we didn't normally eat and grapes tacked above doorways.
Going to church and singing along salvation chanteys aloud, always!

But now I'm older, losing hair, getting wiser and a bit jaded.
I've no war with God, let that be clear. My old beliefs have just faded.

But I'm happy and can celebrate the season the way I want to.
I found peace and sense of self years back, and now I'll do stuff that I have to.

I'll look back at how the year didn't suck, and I got to, uh, let's just say I had good luck.

I'm grateful for cool new people I met, whether on the net, or in the flesh.
And the great things we got to partake of, like art, culture, debates and freedom to choose.
Oh, 'tis the season again to enjoy truces, or get weepy in the company of booze.

I'll always love the lights, the cold and cuddling nights.
Let's celebrate differences and do away with the name-calling.
We're all getting older and losing time, so let's just quit stalling.

But what do I really want for the holidays? Hmmm, let's see.
I used to pray for peace on earth, but have you seen the news lately?
I just want everyone to be healthy and happy, content and cozy.
I want money, more work opportunities, and yeah, more money.
I want Marvel Legends and DC Direct toys, DVDs of "Twin Peaks," "Buffy" and "24."
I want the world's finest booty, fun vacations, a better body, my own house, and a car (or four).
For some things in this list, I just have to work harder.
I just hope I don't feel anywhere near as sore.

January dims the lights, and all those colorful, cheerful nights.
We'll think about how much we spent celebrating the birth of a messiah figure.
We'll talk how we over-ate and how we got bigger.

But we won't care because we had fun in all its myriad forms.
We spent time with people we actually like, got drunk, or woke up naked and spooning.
We'll be back to work, school, our crazy routines, our festivity-free dorms.
Holidays have to end, of course, so they'll have deeper and special meaning.

So whichever belief system gets your soul off, put tolerance and harmony in your creed.

May the new year allow us to be better persons.
And may earthly pleasures exceed all our expectations.

My Comics of the Year List!

Awesome one-shots, limited series, and story arcs, some of which didn’t necessarily come out this year, but I read and enjoyed them within 2005. So there. I was able to buy really cheap comics, and borrowed a lot of single issues and compilations. In no particular order, hey, ‘cause ranking them would be a bitch.

Thor: Son of Asgard- The yearlong saga delved into a chapter of the young thunder god’s quests for worthiness. Straightforward storytelling, with balanced doses of action and intrigue.
Bone- The whole run is fun, and at times, dark. Uber-coolness.
Courtney Crumrin- This is one frightening girl.
Supreme- Alan Moore’s ‘90s run is very entertaining!
We3- Morrison and Quitely. Match made in comic book heaven.
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe- Despite the pick-up (reused) art, the sourcebook series is still mighty informative and up-to-date.
The DC Encyclopedia- Love this heavy book. Like OHOTMU, it’s loaded with info. But where’s Oberon?
New Thunderbolts- Nicieza does fun superhero stories here. AND he made his team beat up the New Avengers. Cue the bully kid from The Simpsons: “Ha-ha!”
The Walking Dead- Zombie plague! Kirkman's horror title has an interesting cast of problematic human characters.
Thor- Jurgens’ run, and later Oeming’s, established a new status quo where the Lord of Asgard made tough decisions that ultimately led to Ragnarok. Entertaining and sweeping.
GLA- Dan Slott does a good job at poking fun at this team of misfit heroes, and the Marvel U, too.
She-Hulk- The Practice meets… the Marvels. Ingenious.
Villains United- The most solid prologue title leading to Infinite Crisis.
Spider-Man/Human Torch- The Slott machine gives old, new, and casual Marvelites a winning mini-series.
New X-Men: Academy X- Old New Mutants Karma, Dani Moonstar and Wolfsbane teach a new generation. But the title has just undergone a revamp. Hope it’s still good.
V for Vendetta- Finally read it. In a word: damn.
Zatanna- Creative mystical hi-jinks, good art, and excellent dialogue make this uber-sweet.
Spider-Man Unlimited- Short Spidey stories with punch and heart.
Justice League Elite- Action-packed and enjoyable yearlong JLA spinoff series.
Astonishing X-Men- Can’t wait for Whedon and Cassaday’s second year run.
Wanted- Bloody, gross, amazing.
Mythology Class- Arnold Arre’s remastered compilation is a labor of love.
Warlock- Greg Pak knows his cosmic Marvel stuff.
Legion of Superheroes- Was skeptical when the Legion was rebooted for the umpteenth time, but Mark Waid is making the title a must-read.
Runaways- My current favorite reluctant teen superheroes.
PVP- Funny and nerdy. I likey.
DC: The New Frontier- A massive Elseworlds mini-series set in 1950s America, by Darwyn Cooke.
JLA: Crisis of Conscience- The League breaks up. Crucial Infinite Crisis tie-in.
Infinite Crisis- Great, so far. Jam-packed with fanboy-pleasing slugfests and earth-shattering drama.
Chosen- “Jesus” is back, and he was a kid in the ‘80s!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Long Decembers

I remember having chicken pox when I was twelve, hearing the early Christmas mass music when I woke up at five, being stuck in the TV room for many slow days, just drawing and reading and watching four blurred channels until my teacher and some classmates visited one afternoon because they thought that I had dropped out of school, because I wasn’t exactly attending my classes weeks before, and it was surprising because nobody visited me before when I was sick, and they weren’t exactly people I was close to, since I felt that school at the time was killing me with boredom, and all I had was myself.

Six Decembers later, I was in a strange new place, wide-eyed and dumbfounded, all too giddy with what felt real, and entangled, surrendering to the cool damp weather and to the heat of the moment, the softness of the bed, the pain that’s just in our heads, hands calm and clasped, touching divinity and beyond, without the sounds that spoke in the waking hours, but new ones like breathing and heartbeats and the soundtrack of mouths sticking to excited and nervous skin.

A December later, things became complicated, but the complications felt good and interesting, as if every path was uncharted territory waiting to be touched, wanting to be touched, by the hands of God, the hands of love, the hands that rocked and cradled, but some paths weren’t open, and ten or so Decembers later, there’s a feeling of déjà vu, of learning the same lessons again, of knowing why things turn amiss on occasion, why the days seemed to change with the soundtrack and the plans, and when December comes and cloys with its soothing winds and sparkles, I still love it, as I do the changes brought about by Decembers past that I can still see and feel, and my bed, a new one, is inviting as always, and we still steal moments, special moments that define us, that make us real in a time of unreality, and the month isn’t long enough for the things we want to do.

Thanks Galore

Just wanna thank Paeng for the nice review. Thanks to Paolo Manalo for the Friendster testimonial, too. I wanna share it!

"Forget the blurbs on the back of the collection, Lexy, Nance & Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll is Oliver M. Pulumbarit's owning the comic book form. I'm reminded of the graphic storytelling style of Alex Robinson's Box Office Poison and the meta comic narrative of Dylan Horrocks' Hicksville but LNA isn't a copy of either. Oliver maximizes the two-page comic book narrative form to give us the episodic development of the lives of three engendered characters at the turn of the century (from 20th to 21st) and highlights the comic book's unique strategies of sequence and consequence, juxtaposition and self-reflexivity, panel ellisions and caption cluttering. I look forward to reading more. (And more Jim, please!)"

And thanks again, Gumby, for this smashing new compilation:

Dollar- Give Me Back My Heart
Heather Nova- Truth and Bone
Midge Ure- Breathe
Jann Arden- Good Mother
10,000 Maniacs- Green Children
Sarah McLachlan- Strange World
Primal Scream- Love You
Silencers- I Want You
Glass Tiger- Someday
Alison Moyet- Is This Love
Icehouse- Crazy
Gin Blossoms- 29
Daryl Hall- Dreamtime
Belinda Carlisle- Mad About You
Cheap Trick- The Flame
Jars of Clay- Five Candles
Two Minds Crack- Upside Down
Sixpence None the Richer- Tension is a Passing Note


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Too Much Passion... never enough. Smithereens song from 1992.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comWith brainiacs Andrew and Vinnie
Image hosted by Photobucket.comWith Yvie Molina

Yesterday was the launch of Siglo: Passion, Project Hero, and Dean Alfar’s Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology at Fully Booked Greenhills. Went there with Benedict to pick up my complimentary copy of Siglo (I did a pinup), and we didn't really expect to stay long, but we met and chatted with a lot of people from the local comics scene. It was fun. Thanks to Enrique, whose name I didn’t remember immediately (sorry about that, man—how do I access your blog, by the way?), to Yvie Molina, who brought her Lexy copy to be signed (and thanks for the pictures, above, too), to Dean and the gang, and to those who had their books signed. Left two hours later with Sky; we dropped him off at the MRT’s Ortigas station. Watched a bunch of old Angel episodes at the house later, swapped and opened up some bargain bin-He-Man figs, and talked about everything else again after. Cool day, overall.

New Mutants
Got these pics here. Angel (Ben Foster) and Juggernaut (Vinnie Jones), some of the new characters from X-Men 3, to be released next year:

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Scarlet Hitch

I just bought a Scarlet Witch figure as part of a set of five toys. She, or it, flew off the shelves just when the new batch of Marvel Legends were delivered last week. Of course, the hoarders, as some salespeople at the toy departments call them, got their hands first on the rare female figure. But thankfully, a few days later, one of the big toy shop-chains released an assortment, sold at the regular price.

So I got it. I was unhappy with it, not because she looked strangely like comedienne Sarah Silverman (I love her). And not because the arms and torso looked anorexic. It’s because when I moved her head, the neck joint snapped. She was a headless mutant for nearly an hour! It was so freaking fragile. I had to put heavy-duty super-glue to save the poor thing. That’s a pity, Toy Biz, ‘cause it had sleeker thigh joints, as opposed to the unsightly ball joints that many of its predecessors have, and overall, it was playable enough. But, I have to add, the paint on her headgear looks sloppy. Parts of her hair were colored with the same opaque red paint. Sigh.

Anyway, Benedict and I have been in toy-hunting mode since last Saturday. Shared a pair of buy one-take one Fantastic Four movie toys. He got a Bend and Stretch Mr. Fantastic, while I got the Human Torch that yells “Flame On”. We’re on the lookout for He-Man toys now. Been waiting for the stores to sell them really cheap. They are, now. Yay.

Extra Audible
Got the CD that Gumby of Comic Brook burned for me, also last Saturday. Can’t stop playing it... they’re some of the songs from the soundtrack of my life. Thanks again, Gumby! Nice CD, this:

Prince, Sheena Easton: The Arms of Orion- Yeah, I’m a wide-eyed, teen kid again.
Robin Beck: For the Very First Time- Guilty pleasure! Power ballad-turned-softdrink ad jingle, also from my teen years.
Belouis Some: Animal Magic- “God, she’s afraid of the dark.” Lovely.
Chicane: No Ordinary Morning- Been looking for the Chicane CD forever. This song has a cool video.
Heather Nova: Heart and Shoulder- Underrated girl, Dave Hontiveros and I agreed a few years back. Really, really talented.
Ian McCulloch: Proud to Fall- One of those suave New Wave ditties I still enjoy.
Hard Rain: I Will Remember- Great extended version! Yeah!!!
Heart: All I Wanna Do (Is Make Love to You)- Oh, great song about screwing around. Heh…
Lightning Seeds: All I Want- Another different version! Broudie rules.
Aimee Mann: That's Just What You Are- Melrose Place’s end credits song. Love it.
Train: Drops of Jupiter- Reminds me of special moments. And people.
Primitive Radio Gods: Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth...- Ganda!
Susanna Hoffs: My Side of the Bed- Reminds me of good times, too.
Divinyls: I Touch Myself- Hahaha. ‘Nuff said.
The Cure: Pictures of You- Anthemic, as usual. Very nice.
Sarah McLachlan: Touch- Still sounds powerful. Angelic church choir music.
Kate Bush: Rocket Man- Ethereal cover of an Elton John song.
Don Henley: End of the Innocence- Feels more apropos now than it’s ever been to me.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hearting Comix

Image hosted by
“My amazement turns to conviction: talented people see things that others don’t. People with eidetic memory see colors flash as they recite books word for word; oido musicians hear bass lines beneath the melody; and Oliver sees patterns in marbled walls, in comic book covers, in everything.”

Peach Abubakar wrote that for the December issue of Chemical magazine three years ago. Actually, she said that because I showed her the old New X-Men masthead, which, I mentioned in passing, was perfectly symmetrical that one can read it upside down and still see it the same way. She then asked me about things that I “see” in everyday objects, so I answered that I just notice things like random lines forming strange, face-shaped doodles on the surface of marble tiles, and how I spot comic book artists’ strengths and flaws quickly. Her article mostly focused on how I became a “comic book nut” and my love for the medium, and the staffers of the mag even had me “pose” for a colored pic (above) that accompanied her nice writeup.

Comics for me are an occasional escape from mundanity. I have read and re-read tons of four-colored, paneled goodies (and guilty pleasures) since I was a wee kid. My mom suggested a few times, when I was a teen, that I stop buying them and save my allowance. Of course, one time, she immediately did so after seeing a cover of Uncanny X-Men, an Inferno tie-in, which had the near-naked Madelyne Pryor (as Goblin Queen), her scary pet demons (Jean Grey’s transformed parents), and on the foreground, her nasty ally Nastirh clutching baby Nathan Summers (the future hero Cable).

But by that time, it was akin to an addiction already, and Mom soon learned to accept it. My parents knew that I was seriously into it, and whatever it was that I got from the books was inspiring me in my school work. She even told me that she and her friends, as kids, also enjoyed quiet time with their komiks. Dad, meanwhile, once shared that he really enjoyed a Batman comic book that was given to him when he was really young. Reading comics really started with them, as I clearly remember enjoying the Agua Bendita, Taurus and Panday serials in old issues of Liwayway when I was in grade school. I was bombarded with fun kid stuff in the form of Darmo Adarna, Superkat, Dax, Niknok, and Planet Op Di Eyps from Funny Komiks. I also browsed through different mature anthologies in Wakasan and Love Stories, which, now that I think about it, contained a lot of implied sexual activity. But they were nicely self-censored.

The fantastical and resonant worlds appealed to me then, as they do now. Throughout these years, I have met disparate people who became friends because we shared the penchant for periodically visiting these bright, mysterious, escapist territories. I, along with these similarly appreciative, and sometimes nitpicky individuals, continue to speak about our unending jaunts into these modern mythologies.

I was interviewed three times this year about comics. Met up with Yonina Chan last month for the lengthy article which came out last Friday (thanks, Yonina!). I was emailed questions about LNA for Icon magazine’s website last summer. And I was also contacted to talk about the project for a college campus paper early this year. That last one, I’m assuming, has yet to be published, since I’ve yet to receive word about it. I doubt it’ll see print now, but no worries. I understand that these things happen, so I’ll just post some of the questions and my responses here.
Who or what was your inspiration for this comic book?

When I was given the chance to try out for Pulp’s comics section, I knew that whatever I’d be creating must have its own edge and voice. I have a number of stories in my head, some of which involve a big, epic superhero setting, but space constraints didn’t exactly allow for what I had in mind originally. So I tapped into something universal, something that would make people notice and pay attention. And this was “Lexy, Nance…”, about the joys and pains of people who didn’t conform with society or tradition. From there, I understood how I wanted to present it.

Where did you get your characters?

They were all formed in my head. I’ve hundreds of characters, but when I knew what I wanted to create and what kind of story I should tell, those three protagonists surfaced. It was easy to write them from that point. They had to be distinct from each other and relatable.

Are your works autobiographical?

Not necessarily. There are certain scenes, thoughts and ideas that might be considered things I believe in or have experienced, but I’d rather not talk about the specifics for the sake of keeping the story’s mystique intact. That way, my readers can still separate me from my work, and can keep guessing if what they’re reading is taken from reality or just creative fabrication. It’s part of the whole writing deal.

What messages are you aiming to send to your readers?

A few letters I have received, presumably from young people, tell me that they have been empowered by it. They have been moved or touched by what they have read, and identify with the difficulties that the characters have had to go through. Mostly, the intention of the comic book is to provoke thought, and challenge people’s old notions about inclusion, family, and sexuality. If they feel positively affected by it, then I feel that I’ve done my job of getting my messages across.

When did you start doing this?

I wanted to tell stories through the comics art form since I was a kid, when I was in Grade 2. I just wanted to draw and draw action scenes, monsters and villains being beaten by superheroes, stuff like that. Eventually, I was creating my own characters, with their secret worlds and wars drawn at the back of notebooks and sketchpads. By college I knew that I wanted to be a comic book storyteller since I have met like-minded individuals who shared the same passion, and we discovered during this time that several Pinoys worked and are working successfully in US comics.

Do you have any advice for the people who wish to join this industry? Is this a good career move?

Practice. Never stop learning. You have to be open-minded to be the best storyteller. You have to be observant and pay attention to issues and events in and around your own life. If you want to self-publish, you have to want something enough to see it through, finish it, market it, and sell it. Realistically, doing your own comics entails a lot of real, hard work. Find a day job, or a number of freelance jobs. Find sponsors, connections, and people who believe in your project, so you’ll have the necessary support system to get it off the ground. Everything’s a learning experience, and you should savor it and let it fuel your creativity. And learn to accept criticism. But most of all, promise yourself that the project will not suck.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Maximo the Great

Was able to catch the last screening of Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros last night. It's a heartwarming, funny and memorable tale about a gay kid, Maxi (talented newcomer Nathan Lopez), who develops a huge crush on rookie cop Victor Perez (JR Valentin), an incorruptible and very likeable guy. The problem is, this honest law enforcer's after Maxi's family, a bunch of street thugs. But they love the boy dearly and have protected him from the neighborhood jerks. Can lovestruck Maxi get out of this quandary unscathed?

Watch it with your loved ones. It's showing now at most cineplexes. It's a special, exceptional effort. You'll laugh; you'll cry; you'll learn a thing or two about life. "Maxi" also has a blog. Check that out, too. And congrats to the filmmakers, cast and crew for their recent wins here and in foreign filmfests.

Tomorrow, Manila Bulletin writer Yonina Chan texted, will be when the article about Filipino comic books comes out in the broadsheet's "i" section. Was interviewed for that a few weeks back, along with Marco, Arnold, and other comics-making comics junkies. Am excited about that.

Also, was able to complete the Sentinel set of Marvel Legends yesterday. I didn't buy the simple-looking Mystique figure, because she and Omega Red shared the same lower torso part of the Sentinel. Omega Red is a boring, BORING comic book character, but the action figure was WOW! So I got that instead. I like the bendable tendrils and imposing size. Really nice. And the assembled Sentinel looks like the good robot from Grant Morrison's last New X-Men arc, "Rover", the one controlled by the young guy ala the Iron Giant. So the big toy, I'm pretending, is part of the X-Men roster anyway, 'cause they're open to members who come from the future or alternate worlds. Rover rocks!

Okay, that was totally geeky.

DC Direct, please make more affordable figures with more points of articulation like the ones Toy Biz is doing. Please do it soon. You've got over seventy years' worth of characters at your disposal. Start with the post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes. Fanboys and fangirls the world over will eat 'em up. You'll make lots of money.