Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yearender, Apostrophe Ten

Pretty good year. In 2010, I:

- read dozens of comic books, and consider Avengers: Children’s Crusade, Invincible, Supergod, Mighty Avengers, Scott Pilgrim, Avengers Academy, Heroic Age: Heroes, Chew, X-Factor, Uncanny X-Force, Antman and the Wasp, Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne, Hawkeye and Mockingbird, and Amazing Spider-Man 611 (guest-starring Deadpool!) among my faves.

- interviewed Dashboard Confessional, Cristine Reyes, Deborah Ann Woll, Michael C. Hall, and Bear Grylls, among others. Speaking of work, thanks to Ma’ams Emmie and Cora, and Pam for asking me to write stuff for the paper. And thanks to those who contacted and offered me other writing jobs.

- couch potatoed and enjoyed Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries, Phineas and Ferb, Being Human, True Blood, Modern Family, Legend of the Seeker, Doctor Who, Family Guy, and Conan.

- didn’t eat deep-fried and oily stuff for a month, lost some weight, but ate unhealthy food during the Christmas season. The dieting will resume, I hope, immediately after the holidays.

- watched dozens of movies and found Toy Story 3, Kick-Ass, Salt, The Fighter, Social Network, Inception, Let Me In, How to Train Your Dragon, and Where the Wild Things Are among the more memorable ones.

- added 68 illustrations to my art portfolio and online galleries. Cool that some of my drawings posted on DeviantArt get picked up and talked about by Tumblr bloggers too.

- kept blogging, except when busy with work or reeling from illness. But I’ll continue posting content written or illustrated by me, as often as possible. My sites won’t be changing to copy-pasting movie blogs any time soon.

- attended my sister’s wedding. I don’t normally attend family gatherings, but this, of course, was different. One of my cousins half-joked that it’s been 20 years since he last saw me; all he sees is my name on the paper.

- won a Where the Wild Things Are poster signed by the cast, and a Tron yoyo and baller band at preview screening raffles.

Again, my thanks to people who made 2010 a pleasant year. May 2011 be peaceful and more prosperous. Happy New Year, friends!

Ten Gay Comic Book Moments of 2010

Okay, some spoilers ahead. Some of the notable gay characters and scenes of the year, clockwise from upper left:

Rictor and Shatterstar talk about their relationship. The longtime lovers and bisexual X-Factor teammates finally discuss their complicated romance.

Aaron and Eric reveal themselves. These new Walking Dead characters share a kiss after surviving a traumatic encounter.

Krishna and Jerry Craven get smoochy. This one came out of nowhere, an odd but touching gesture from the final issue of Supergod.

Creote’s feelings for Savant are disclosed. They had some help from Oracle, who called Savant an “idiot” for not seeing the obvious.

Hercules is outed as bisexual. And he had a secret fling with Northstar.

Obsidian is “cured” of homosexuality. “Relax, folks. Only kidding. Still gay.”

Daken plants a wet one. Wolvie’s manipulative son makes his fellow Dark Avengers uneasy, especially Bullseye, and surprises him with a kiss during the Siege.

Young gay Avengers return. Billy and Teddy are still sweet, and they do sleep in one bed, as seen in that wholesome image.

Kevin Keller debuts. Clueless Veronica doesn’t know his preference, and Jughead doesn’t feel like telling her about it.

Stephen Stills is gay. He and Joseph are together, and the revelation stuns Scott Pilgrim.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Evolution

Congrats to my sister and my new brother-in-law. It was a beautiful wedding last Tuesday; I’m glad I was able to attend. Wearing a barong after over a decade initially felt strange, like I was cosplaying, but I’m happy to dress up in something formal for once and be part of that special occasion with the family.

So this is Christmas Eve. Yeah, I’m still agnostic. But I’ve mellowed a little. I still can’t abide the holier-than-thou religious leaders, but I’m happily discovering people belonging to religious groups who are thinking for themselves. As for the holiday season, I really like what Kitty Pryde said about celebrating it in a scene from Uncanny X-Men # 365.

Colossus: But Kitty, you are Jewish. You do not celebrate Christmas.

Kitty: Not as a religious holiday, but I still enjoy the festivities. I like the decorations and the songs and the presents.

That’s also how I feel about it. I’m reposting lyrics to one of my favorite non-traditional Christmas songs, which has a message that I’ve always liked. And yeah, here’s a collage of my recent Christmas drawings. So enjoy the season, be safe, and Happy Holidays, whichever they may be.

The Christians and the Pagans

Dar Williams

Amber called her uncle, said "We're up here for the holiday.
Jane and I, were having Solstice now, we need a place to stay."
And her Christ-loving uncle watched his wife hang Mary on a tree.
He watched his son hang candy canes all made with red dye number three.
He told his niece, "It's Christmas Eve, I know our life is not your style,"
She said, "Christmas is like Solstice, and we miss you and it's been awhile,"

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able.

And just before the meal was served, hands were held and prayers were said,
Sending hope for peace on earth to all their gods and goddesses.

The food was great, the tree plugged in, the meal had gone without a hitch,
Till Timmy turned to Amber and said, "Is it true that you're a witch?"
His mom jumped up and said, "The pies are burning," and she hit the kitchen,
And it was Jane who spoke, she said, "It's true, your cousin's not a Christian,"
"But we love trees, we love the snow, the friends we have, the world we share,
And you find magic from your God, and we find magic everywhere."

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,

And where does magic come from? I think magic's in the learning,
'Cause now when Christians sit with Pagans only pumpkin pies are burning.

When Amber tried to do the dishes, her aunt said, "Really, no, don't bother."
Amber's uncle saw how Amber looked like Tim and like her father.
He thought about his brother, how they hadn't spoken in a year,
He thought he'd call him up and say, "It's Christmas and your daughter's here."
He thought of fathers, sons and brothers, saw his own son tug his sleeve, saying,
"Can I be a Pagan?" Dad said, "We'll discuss it when they leave."

So the Christians and the Pagans sat together at the table,
Finding faith and common ground the best that they were able,

Lighting trees in darkness, learning new ways from the old, and
Making sense of history and drawing warmth out of the cold.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Flashy, eye-popping ‘Tron: Legacy’

As expected, the sequel to the 1982 science fiction flick ‘Tron’ is flashy, thanks mostly to the vast improvements in special effects technology and digital wizardry. The hidden dimension is appropriately more luminous and trippy in “Tron: Legacy,” a dazzling popcorn flick that continues the story of vanished programmer Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), whose now-adult son Sam (Garrett Hedlund) finds himself in the Grid cyber-realm ruled by Flynn’s powerful doppelganger Clu.

“Legacy” re-introduces the Tron world comprehensibly enough with an accessible adventure and a likeable rebel-saboteur hero. The effects enthrall; it’s hard not to like the light-trimmed cycles, uniforms and deadly “frisbee” duels. Not all effects-enhanced scenes impress, however. One pivotal aerial battle is a watered-down and unexciting rehash of the Millennium Falcon-Tie Fighters confrontation. And speaking of effects, the more youthful-looking Bridges possesses an obvious fakeness that gets distracting.

Daft Punk’s riveting electronic music rightly complements the eye-popping imagery. Interesting god-man analogies describe the Flynn-Clu relationship throughout the story, but the rebellion being pulled off by just a handful of improvising renegades isn’t very convincing. Still, the stylishly designed sequel is worth seeing on the big screen in all its pulsating, glow-in-the-dark glory.

“Tron: Legacy” is currently in Metro Manila cinemas, and will be exclusively screened at Imax theaters during Christmas week/the MMFF period.

An ‘Empire’ rises

(Published Dec. 20, PDI-Entretainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


The promising HBO period drama-crime series “Boardwalk Empire,” created by “The Sopranos” writer Terence Winter, lavishly illustrates the circuitous world of Prohibition-era Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The banning of the manufacture, importation and sale of alcohol in 1920 inspires opportunistic gangs to smuggle or bootleg liquor. One schemer is Atlantic City’s charismatic and chameleon-like treasurer, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi), who effortlessly blends in at anti-liquor meetings and covert gangster gatherings alike.

Law-abiding one minute and law-breaking the next, influential Nucky has no problem with embellishing the truth. He wins over members of the Women’s Temperance League in a matter of minutes with an emotive speech. “First rule of politics,” Nucky tells his confidant and right-hand man Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), “never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

Inspired by Nelson Johnson’s non-fiction book of the same title, “Boardwalk Empire” has a roster of executive producers that includes Martin Scorsese and Mark Wahlberg. Scorsese also directed the series’ first episode, which firmly establishes the main characters’ motivations and relationships. Atlantic City’s Boardwalk is immediately depicted as startlingly conflicted; like most thriving hubs of any era, it’s where the desperate, the ambitious, and the resourceful converge.

Nucky and Jimmy’s perspectives offer revealing sides to a complex web of deceit and opportunism; they adapt quickly, are compassionate, and can be merciless. Buscemi and Pitt impressively convey differing complexities and a rich spectrum of emotions.

“Boardwalk Empire,” while not breaking new ground with gritty realism and its portrayal of criminal power struggles, still intrigues and transports with its visually resplendent recreation of a bygone era’s defiant empire.

Two episodes of “Boardwalk Empire” will air on Jan. 6, 9 p.m., on HBO. Subsequent episodes air Thursdays, 9 p.m.

Pinoy comics’ pride and possibilities

(Published Dec. 18, PDI-Super)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


The local comic book industry has evolved dramatically in the last couple of years. The weekly newsprint “komiks” are gone, but the number of independent comic book creators who bring their vision to their own publications continues to grow.

Filipino-made comics are alive, kicking, and here to stay, according to three of indie movement Alamat’s most successful creators, Gerry Alanguilan (writer-artist of the acclaimed “Elmer”), Budjette Tan (author of 2009 National Book Award-winning “Trese”), and Carlo Vergara (creator of the multimedia sensation “Zsazsa Zaturnnah”).

How different is the local comic book scene now, and how have creators and readers changed?

Alanguilan: The huge difference today is most comics are self-published by the writers and artists themselves. When all those huge komiks companies died out or stopped publishing, they left the local creators with little option. Did the writers and artists go off and do something else now that there are no companies to hire them? Some of them did, but seemingly beyond belief, other creators started taking money out of their own pockets to fund for the publication of their own comic book. They made them, had them printed or photocopied, and they themselves distributed their comics. The self-publishing creator can produce 10 to 1,000 copies, and sell them for 50 pesos at stores and comic book events. That has recently become the norm.

Tan: I think we’ve got a great mix of comic book creators with different influences in their work, from American comics to Japanese cartoons, to stuff that is just downright original. As far as readers are concerned, I think the Pinoy comic book reader is hungry to see more original works. Looking at the Internet buzz and from the people we meet during Komikon, many are excited to pick up new titles and would often bug us, asking when the next issue is coming out. It’s just up to the comic book creators to produce more comics.

Vergara: The local comic book scene is growing, though the focus appears to be more on the indie scene. I have the impression that interest in the manga style of stories and art is dwindling, and the newer creators are trying out new ideas and approaches in terms of story and art. The emergence of conventions in recent years in various parts of the country has helped a lot in encouraging these creators to invest time and effort in telling their stories.

Other creators are trying their hand at producing digital comics, or comics to be read through the Web, though I feel that we’re still pretty much print-based. The main advantage of digital comics is the prospect of attracting a global audience, and it could be that Pinoy comics creators who are going digital shape their stories to appeal to this audience. As far as readership goes, create stories that resonate with Filipinos and Filipinos will support it. The key, really, is zeroing in on unique, innovative, but very accessible stories.

What are your thoughts on the current generation of local artists working for American companies?

Alanguilan: Artists who work for US companies (I’m one of them) only do so because nobody would hire us here in the Philippines. There are no more comics companies who would hire artists to draw comics. So rather than stay here and do nothing, we look for employment elsewhere. When a rich guy or company establishes a comic book company in the Philippines who will give us artistic freedom and pay us well, many of us would stay and work here.

And besides, we’re planting the Philippine flag in some of America’s biggest comic books. If these were movies, it’s like seeing Filipino actors in big Hollywood blockbusters. Modesty aside, we bring great honor to this country by being the best in the world, and by promoting Filipinos and the Philippines in a positive light.

Vergara: I’m particularly excited about the growing number of Pinoys who are based here but work for the US comics companies. Apart from being a testament to the artistic caliber of Pinoys, this development can help jumpstart the education of budding artists on “best practices” when it comes to making commercial comics.

Tan: I’m amazed at how many Pinoys are now drawing comics for Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse. I think this is the most number of Pinoys we’ve had working for those companies. How does that compare to the likes of Nestor Redondo, Alfredo Alcala, Ernie Chan, Tony de Zuniga, and all those great artists of the ’70s and ’80s? I think this current batch also offers distinct and unique art styles that have impressed American comic book readers as well as fans around the world. The newer artists leave little easter eggs for Pinoys, or as I call them “balut eggs,” surprising little jokes like Wolverine drinking San Miguel Beer, and Darkhawk wearing a Manny Pacquiao shirt. And thanks to the net, Pinoy readers and aspiring comic book artists are now aware that their favorite comic book titles are drawn by Pinoys living in the Philippines, which can be very inspiring for readers and artists alike.

Please name some young/new Filipino creators whose works have gotten you excited.

Tan: Andrew Drilon has done a couple of online comic book stories for Top Shelf, got rave reviews from Matt Fraction and Warren Ellis for his “Kare-Kare Komiks,” and that’s why I’m looking forward to his horror graphic novel “Black Clouds.” Mervin Malonzo is another writer/artist who’s starting out on the net with his webcomic “Tabi Po,” one of the few new comics written in Filipino. Paolo Fabregas’ “Filipino Heroes League” will be published by Visprint next year and it’s one of the graphic novels that I’m excited to see in published form. It’s funny and thought-provoking!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Comfort and Joy 2

Three drawings, set 2 of 2. Safe and happy holidays, friends.

Happy Runaways

Chase, Gert, Old Lace, Xavin, Karolina, Victor, Klara, Molly and Nico find a rare moment of peace, and wish each other holiday cheer.

Snowglobe Sandman

Dream takes a holiday. Snowy snowy.

Imps Kringle

DC and Marvel’s cartoony and malleable tricksters enjoy the holidays. Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bat-Mite are about to exchange gifts, while the Impossible Man and Impossible Woman bring a few of their Impossible Kids to Santa Plas, assisted by his little helper Offspring. Thunderbolt Ylzkz and Morph decorate the Warlock Christmas tree, while Slapstick is giving away candy canes. Madcap is holding an empty box, but hopes to mesmerize Slapstick into believing that it’s the best present ever.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Comfort and Joy

Happy Holidays! Five new drawings.

Snow Patrol Spidey

Peter and Felicia stay warm on a snowy night. I love Pete and MJ together, but I really like this fun and sexy couple.

X-Force, X-Mas 1992

The ‘90s mutant rebels celebrate Christmas in the IPAC. I like this roster; this was the team after Cable’s disappearance and their costumes were nicely redesigned by Greg Capullo. I remember the Cannonball-led X-Force leaving Xavier’s School in the title’s December 1992 issue, and in this drawing, I imagine them spending a quiet Christmas together after a mission. Yeah, they didn’t notice Ric and Shatterstar getting chummy all those years ago.

You’re a Dear One, Mr. Grimm

It’s cuddling time! Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters, among the most enduring Beauty and the Beast-ish pairings in the Marvel Universe.

12 Bats A-Singing

Bat Caroling! Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne, Jason Todd, Cassandra Cain, Kate Kane, Helena Bertinelli, Stephanie Brown, Jean-Paul Valley, Barbara Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth and Tim Drake form a Bat Choir. I imagine them doing a medley of “Happy X-Mas (War is Over),” “River,” “The Christians and the Pagans,” and of course, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” Happy Holidays, Bat-Fans!

Herc and Northstar: Winter Fun

“Ho, friend Northstar! Mayhap ‘tis best if thou stayest in Avengers Mansion until yon snowstorm hath passed!”

“But it’s not a snowstorm, Hercules… I mean, of course, mon ami!”

Yup, they hooked up, as implied in Hercules: Fall of an Avenger a few months ago. I’m a little surprised that nobody’s done and posted fan drawings of the secret lovers on DeviantArt yet. So here’s one. They probably got tryst-y after an Avengers-Alpha Flight Christmas party.

1985: A very good year for comic books

(Published December 11, PDI-Super)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


(This week, Super travels back in time to show you what our pages would have looked like if we had been around in 1985, when the Inquirer was first born. Forget that it's 2010, forget your mobile phone (nobody's texting you - it's 1985!), forget Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus and find out what was hot in 1985.)

Welcome to the last few weeks of 1985! What an exciting year it’s been for comic books and comic book readers.

The art form continues to provide escapism and, in some cases, reflections of the times. It’s now being taken more seriously by nonfans, and is being appreciated by a growing number of geeks, from the “Choose Your Own Adventure”-reading set to the more mature devotees of Heavy Metal magazine.

Local comic anthologies or komiks and some magazines offer a weekly respite from real-world concerns with its comedy, adventure and romance serials; publications like “Wakasan,” “Funny Komiks” and “Liwayway” are among a multitude of successful titles available almost everywhere.

American comics continue to amaze Filipino readers, who get their reading fix via a few specialty shops in Greenhills and Makati, and various bookstores and supermarkets that sell more random selections. In these increasingly troubling and unstable times, you lose yourself in these wondrous, imaginative worlds faster than you can say “Snap elections!”

Readers introduced to the DC and Marvel universes years back and are currently following their favorite iconic heroes will attest that 1985 has been a very good year for fans of costumed crimefighters.

The recently concluded epic “Crisis on Infinite Earths” by Marv Wolfman and George Perez fixed decades of continuity problems and replaced the DC Multiverse with a single, definitive reality. Some of the title’s most shocking casualties include popular heroes Supergirl and the Flash, who died heroically in issues 7 and 8, respectively.

Marvel had a less earth-shaking event, but Jim Shooter and Steve Leialoha’s “Secret Wars II” intriguingly chronicled the omnipotent Beyonder’s eventful journey, from trying to fit in with humans (and superhumans) to getting fed up with them. The character made his presence felt in a number of tie-ins, his fights with the new Phoenix (a.k.a. Rachel Summers) and Marvel’s cosmic entities among the more memorable super-conflicts.

Speaking of the Phoenix force, there’s a third mutant book out now! “X-Factor” stars the original X-Men, including Jean Grey, revealed as someone separate from the deceased original Phoenix. Fans are stoked and waiting for the eventual meeting between the team and erstwhile allies from the “Uncanny X-Men” book, which now has reformed arch-foe Magneto as a regular character.

One of the year’s most unique superhero stories is “X-Men: Heroes for Hope,” Marvel’s version of “We Are the World.” This single-issue benefit book brought together creators like Stan Lee, Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Alan Moore, Jim Starlin, Louise Simonson and John Buscema, among many others. The X-Men find themselves attacked by an ancient psychic creature from Africa, and in the course of hunting for their adversary, the mutant heroes help out relief efforts by feeding people in the famine-stricken region.

The aforementioned Moore, by the way, gave horror fans a thrilling year with his reinvention of the muck-monster Swamp Thing. In the unforgettable “Swamp Thing Annual # 2,” the titular character rescued the wrongly condemned Abigail Arcane from hell with help from some of DC’s enigmatic mystical beings. Let’s hope the writer is given more characters to revamp, and tells more disturbing, mind-blowing tales.

Let’s get prescient for a minute and ponder the state of comic books two decades or so from today:

Perhaps comic books will inspire big, respectable and faithful movie or TV adaptations, and will spawn sought-after merchandise like fully articulated action figures and more visually striking video games. Maybe journalists and writers from other media like television and films can become lauded comic book authors. Maybe school libraries will consider comics a legit form of literature, too.

Perhaps there will be openly gay and lesbian heroes (and villains), as well as more racially diverse superhero teams. Comic books will probably be really expensive by then, but they should be printed on better paper, and colored more precisely and vividly.

Maybe by that time, technology will allow comics to be read on portable computers, or will allow fans to talk about them and their creators. Maybe there will be independent, alternative Filipino comic books that offer fresh new stories, and also a new wave of Filipino artists illustrating American comic books, like in the ’70s and ’80s.

We can only imagine what the future might bring for comic books. Things have gotten serious and periodically bleak lately because of real-life local and global upheavals, but comic books will definitely remain a source of entertainment, and center on the glorious and otherworldly exploits of men, women, robots, funny animals and what-have-you.

So if you’re giving in to your godchildren’s demands by getting them Voltron toys or She-Ra dolls, make sure you give them a good comic book or three as well. Introduce them to worlds worth sharing, and stories worth remembering.

Ah, 1985, a pretty amazing year for comic books, heralding bigger, better and more fantastic things ahead.

Star Movies celebrates ‘passion for Hollywood movies’

(Published Dec. 9, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


Movie buffs and members of the media recently converged at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City for events organized by cable channel Star Movies. A 14-hour movie marathon required 100 contestants to watch several flicks nonstop at the Newport Cinema, while a media appreciation dinner was held at the Red Crab restaurant later that day.

“The marathon celebrated the Filipino’s passion for Hollywood movies, and also showcased the state-of-the-art movie theater facilities of Resorts World,” said Fox International Channels’ territory director Jude Turcuato.

The 100 movie marathoners/promo participants were randomly chosen. They were given food and drinks, but were not allowed any bathroom breaks within the 14-hour, five-movie span. Films like “The Godfather,” “G.I. Joe,” and “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” were screened.

“Participants were chosen from the almost 50,000 e-mail entries for the promotion,” Turcuato said. The objective is to endure watching multiple movies in the theater without giving in to the call of nature.

A cash prize of P100,000 was split among 16 winners by the end of the marathon.

Turcuato revealed that Star Movies is currently faring well, enjoying an increase in local viewers.

“Star Movies has 20 percent more viewers this year compared to last year, and competes head to head with HBO in leadership among movie channels,” he said. “It is consistently in the top 10 among all cable channels, and is the highest rated English cable channel that accepts advertising.”

Star Movies viewers can look forward to the airing of “Twilight: Eclipse,” “Alice in Wonderland,” and “Toy Story 3” in the coming months, Turcuato added. The channel will be revamping its “on-air look” and will be having more contests, among other things, to attract more viewers.

“In the past two years, Star Movies has inked exclusive partnerships for Asia with the biggest studios like 20th Century Fox and Disney to showcase the most popular titles available. Star Movies is also working in unison with the other channels and the major cable operators to fight piracy by using better encryption methods and putting out more compelling content. On the local end, promotions such as the movie marathon create more reasons for our viewers to enjoy our movies instead of watching pirated content.”

Monday, December 06, 2010

‘The Walking Dead’: Zombie spectacle, scarred survivors

(Published Dec. 6, PDI-Entertainment)

By Oliver M. Pulumbarit


The horror-drama series “The Walking Dead,” developed by filmmaker Frank Darabont, depicts a bleak world swarmed by hungry zombies. Based on the critically acclaimed comic book written by Robert Kirkman, the TV series incredibly recreates the essence of the source material, while introducing some new characters and situations that keep the concept fresh and unpredictable.

It follows the post-apocalyptic activities of a small band of survivors in Atlanta, led by cop Rick Grimes (Brit actor Andrew Lincoln), who is believed dead by his wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and son Carl (Chandler Riggs).

Like the comic book, the show focuses on the uneasy alliance between traumatized humans, who must constantly evade the undead and scavenge for food and supplies.

The first “Walking Dead” episode aired simultaneously on four cable channels, a few days after airing in the United States. The show debuted impressively, with an estimated 5.3 million viewers tuning in for the season opener last Halloween. Its success in 120 countries has already guaranteed a second season next year.

Darabont “can’t wait” to get to certain story lines and two important characters from the comics, according to reports. “Walking Dead” presents an eerie, almost agoraphobic atmosphere; the zombies clogging up city streets are extra-menacing, thanks to grotesque prosthetics and tight “choreography” (go online and check out how “WD” extras are trained in “zombie school”).

Dramatic moments are just as memorable. Whether it’s Rick tearfully reuniting with his family, or other characters remembering life before the zombie onslaught, the quieter scenes substantiate, and are accessible. “Walking Dead” also examines human behavior; this harshly changed world has scarred the survivors differently. Some in Rick’s small group are alpha males, and that dynamic has proven problematic to their coexistence. And some survivors are already dangerous in their own ways, threatening to destroy the fragile new community in ways that the relentless zombies can’t.

“The Walking Dead” airs Fridays, 11 p.m., on FX. The season finale will air on Dec. 10, while the season one marathon will air on Dec. 18, 11:10 p.m.

Things Are Gonna Get Easier

Pixar’s gay and lesbian employees reach out to bullied and suicidal gay kids. Thank you, Gini Cruz Santos and company.

I interviewed Gini back in 2004, when she was in the country promoting “The Incredibles.” I emailed her after seeing this video yesterday. She elaborated on her involvement:

“Yes, I am a lesbian. If I didn't hang on when I was growing up, I would have missed what the Lord had planned for my life. I am very proud to say that I am a Christian and I am gay.”

“Please spread the word about this kind of tragedy that has been happening. Thanks for posting on your blog.”

Maudlin ‘Monsters’

Not a typical sci fi-alien invasion flick, “Monsters” focuses on two Americans (Whitney Able, Scoot McNairy) trying to get home by traversing an area in Mexico inhabited by giant tentacled extraterrestrials. The stranded aliens-on-earth scenario initially reminds one of last year’s science fiction-actioner “District 9,” but the similarities end there. “Monsters” is very simple; it may frustrate those expecting more traditional man versus monster situations. The human drama involves but feels forced sometimes; the alien creatures make their presence felt a few times, but it really is about two different people who come to important realizations while trying to survive together.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Wet ‘Dawn’

Not as visually striking as “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” nor as dark and action-packed as “Prince Caspian,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is still a magical journey, albeit a less captivating one. Younger Pevensie siblings Lucy and Edmund (Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes) return to fabled Narnia with their insufferable cousin Eustace (Will Poulter), and join King Caspian (Ben Barnes) on a sea adventure aboard the mighty Dawn Treader.

The changed dynamics give this film a sad vibe; the older Pevensies aren’t part of the adventure anymore and are living somewhere in America (the actors appear briefly in a dream sequence). While the previous rapport is much-missed, Lucy and Edmund have grown up and are given their time to shine. Oddly, after reaching a certain age, humans are barred from entering the magical realm, like the older siblings.

“Dawn Treader” has fewer fantastical creatures than previous parts, but there’s a cool-looking dragon, as well as a sea serpent that’s both fascinating and menacing. The tale could’ve been more solid and focused; some new characters with seeming importance appear quickly and are never seen again, while others linger but don’t really add anything to the story. The big epic (land) battles are also missed. Still, “Dawn Treader” sails bravely from one conflict to the next, even when it’s not always clear what the heroes are fighting for this time.

Making the List

My thanks to Budjette Tan for including Lexy, Nance & Argus in his article Required reading: 25 Pinoy Comic Books, which enumerates notable titles released in the last ten years:

Lexy, Nance, and Argus: Sex, Gods, Rock & Roll by Oliver Pulumbarit

Reading this comic book will remind of “Friends” or “How I Met Your Mother,” except there’s just three of them, and one of them is gay and the other one is bi and the third one is … discovering a lot of things about himself and his friends.

Read his full article here.

Exclusive ‘Academy’

Christos Gage and Mike McKone introduce the Avengers’ first batch of students, possible future heroes and Avengers, but are actually traumatized young super-beings with the potential to be villains. The “Avengers Academy” series is intriguing, blending new concepts with more “traditional” Avengers lore. Tortured or manipulated by Norman Osborn, Reptil and newer characters Mettle, Finesse, Hazmat, Veil, and Striker form an interesting and unpredictable group, and are currently trained by similarly “damaged” mentors like Hank Pym, Tigra, Justice, Quicksilver and Speedball. The first arc is insightful and told well, exploring the mindset of a student per issue. Ape X (Roy Reyna) from “Marvel Apes” would make a great addition to this team, as he was also a victim of Osborn’s regime.


Was sick for a few days last week, but I’m feeling much better now. Also, the computer was broken, so I haven’t blogged in a while. I wasn’t able to, also because I was busy finishing a project that last week of November. Anyway, computer’s all better, and I’m gonna be posting stuff again. Wow, it’s December already.