Archive for the ‘graphic’ Category
Stormbreaker the Graphic Novel by Anthony Horowitz, Antony Johnston, Kanako Damerum & Yuzuru Takasaki
Apparently, Alex Rider is popular. I found out when I googled him. He’s what James Bond would be like as a teenager. His movie was a blockbuster and his books were bestsellers. Now he has a graphic novel based on the first book.
My glaring ignorance is not due to me having lived in an island all my life. I simply am not in the right demographics. I may have seen movie trailers but I don’t remember if I did. My movie and reading tastes do not run to spy thrillers starring 14-year olds. If the 14-year old has paranormal powers or has become involved in a supernatural situation then I would probably find out about him even if there is no blockbuster movie or bestselling books.
(Readers of the same opinion should try Dan Simmon’s Summer of Night. It gave me sleepless nights.)
I picked up this graphic novel at the Powerbooks’ Powerbarter last October 27, thinking it would make a kid happy if I donate it to a children’s library. I’m writing about it now because I read it, wanting a few idle minutes looking at pictures. I also thought I’d add by one my quantity challenge for the year.
I liked the artwork, which looked like it was a fusion of manga and Western art. Alex Rider has an innocent face normally and mischievous smile as he outwits or saves someone. He’s got all these martial skills from all the adventure trips with his uncle–who was a spy. When the uncle was killed by another spy, Alex was recruited–blackmailed, rather–to take his place.
Funny that there is no way I will take the idea of a kid acting for the government amongst cut-throat killers seriously when I have to remind myself, “fantasy, fantasy only,” when reading my SF or paranormal mysteries. I suppose it’s because I am an eldest in a brood of eight and there was no way in hell would I have allowed my siblings when they were that age to even go biking outside the neighborhood. No head of a spy agency can make my kid brother go head-to-head with bad guys and get away with it!
Already, I am rewriting Stormbreaker in my mind, with Jack, Alex’s nanny as the heroine protecting her ward from danger and Gregorovich, a Russian spy, as her bad but very hot adversary. I will also remake scenes of killing so that Alex will offer a more realistic reaction than just “Ew.”
When a mysterious worldwide plague starts putting millions of people into deadly comas, Earth’s foremost expert on the bizarre, John Constantine, steps in with the “cure.” After traveling from the dreary alleys of London to the glittering boulevards of L.A., Constantine realizes that a cadre of wicked demons and hellish monsters is behind the outbreak, and he’ll have to sacrifice more than himself to put an end to the nightmare.
But will the cure be worse than the disease? Thus am I reintroduced to John Constantine, trench coat-clad antihero, magic junkie, and master manipulator. I first saw him in the film version starring Keanu Reeves. I rather enjoyed the movie never mind the critical lambasting. I guess, as usual, a movie failed to live up to the graphic novels. I had never seen the books so I only had my own enjoyment of other movies as basis for comparison.
I acquired the All His Engines through Bookmooch, a site where you can trade books like a book barter using points sending to other members as currency. Thinking it was an urban fantasy novel I mooched it, very surprised at receiving a glossy hardbound of a sallow, poisonous world in graphic details, a world where Constantine pits demon against demon.
I may understand a little now why the movie received such flak. Hollywood requires more than a few redeeming qualities in its heroes. The movie character was too noble when the graphic novel character was a conman, thief, and hero-as-a-side-effect more than anything else. From the background essays at the back of the book, I learned that Constantine is addicted to magic and would do anything to be able to practice it, even sell his soul and endanger his friends.
With over 200 volumes under his belt, Constantine has gone through changes. I saw from the information at the back that five writers have taken turns telling his story. This particular volume is a standalone, while the 14 other titles I saw were collections of comics issues. His long-time friend Chance is a grandfather here, which makes Constantine pushing, what?, 60? But still at the game of high-stakes poker with Hell, where if he loses Hell-on-Earth will enjoy enough souls to finance franchises worldwide, starting in Hollywood.
Whatever his motivations were, Constantine did succeed to save the world again and again. If a few innocents were sacrificed, maybe that’s just collateral damage. Because the world I got a glimpse of through this volume would certainly lose more than a few souls if there was no self-serving antihero using his smarts for a magic fix from Hell’s denizens. Am I sympathizing with him? Maybe, but not enough to want to be his friend; I’ll welcome chances to read his previous con-jobs with the Devil though.
Face off. The demon Beroul wants to set up a Hell franchise on Earth. His best work on display here. Remind me never to have a facial.
Constantine always smoking. Lung cancer didn’t faze him. Caught between two demons. A deal is brokered.
underpass by gerry alanguilan, david hontiveros, budjette tan, oliver pulumbarit, ian sta maria, kajo baldisimo
Why I read it…
Trese reminded me that I used to love comics. I wanted to see if I will also enjoy other authors and illustrators from the current crop.
What’s the story?
Is it a glossy magazine? An anthology of edgy music trivia and lyrics? Nah, it’s a collection of four horror stories set in Metro Manila.
In Gerry Alanguilan’s The Sim, a man picks up a SIM card. After inserting it in his cellphone, he receives frantic calls for help. The illustration takes me back to the time newsprint komiks were the vogue in my Manila neighborhood.
In Judas Kiss by David Hontiveros, Budjette Tan, and Oliver Pulumbarit, a murderer has more than murder on his conscience… I think. Very angsty. From purple to green to red to blue to red, the colors added to the visceral impact of the story.
In Katumbas by Hontiveros and Ian Sta Maria, Kadasig is a myth in a shirtless, sword-wielding, muscled warrior form. He hunts a demon who preys on the despair of pedestrians passing through one of Ayala Avenue’s underpass. The drawings were very right for this action story.
In The Clinic, Tan and Baldisimo found another way to place the monsters in our grandmothers’s tales right in the middle of our beloved pop culture icons, like a beauty clinic—staffed by manananggals! Clever of the manananggal, I should think. Who says scary half-women who fly on batlike wings, trailing entrails, wouldn’t have business sense?
Another condenado might be living in the underpass in Ayala. Maybe I should jaywalk until I’m over my funk?
What I liked about it…
The cover. It looks like a Silent Hill version of an underpass. That light at the end of the tunnel? Avoid it. It’s scarier than the dark.
The inversion of our hopes and dreams. In my nightmares, God becomes helpless. In this collection, having hope is senseless. The night terrors are part of the living world.
So what’s to like about that? If I read a horror story, I want to be horrified, duh.
What I didn’t like about it…
I still would have enjoyed these stories even if they were on newsprint. Reading comics these days is so expensive. But then, maybe my grievance has more to do with my own lack of proper respect for graphic novels, as I hardly bat an eye these days spending up to 2K on my book hauls from Fully Booked.
Short stories are nice, but I prefer series. I’d love to see more of Kadasig’s exploits.
The third volume of the popular graphic novel series based on Filipino folklore goes back in time to expand on Alexandra Trese’s origins as well as those of the dagger-wielder’s powerful sidekicks, the Kambal (the Twins). Gorier and edgier, TRESE (13) also finally introduces Anton, Alexandra’s father who died protecting her as she went through the 12 trials, a rite of passage for any aspiring mandirigmang-babaylan (warrior-priestess). For details and more of my impressions on the series, read my previous Trese posts here and here. With this volume, I am satisfied that the series has achieved a neat tie-up to story lines spun from previous volumes, yet apprehensive over the ability of succeeding volumes to live up to the awesome action of Mass Murders (the conclusion was also rather hilarious, a tribute to gaming madness). New premises—the fate of Alexandra’s brothers; her fate; the lost three years, and the ambiguity of her role as mediator between human society and the Underground or as conqueror-destroyer of either world—promise a bigger and more explosive finale or the proverbial carrot on a stick. I hope it’s the later, as I like the idea of an open-ended story. That way the story never ends.
Oh, and in Exhibit 13, my favorite is by Melvin Arciaga.
And, darn it, there goes the binding. VISPRINT, use better glue!!! Or readers will be saying next that someone in your printing press is cheating on the books by using paste for good-quality glue!
See, whining is useful!
“Most of her comics are centered on the agent’s perspective. It is a good resource because it shows what the bigger population is thinking. All are true and though it is presented as being humorous, it is being used by management as basis to improve processes and employee satisfaction in the centers.” –Callcenterscript.com
Ngii! Isn’t this a nice way of saying the comics writer let the cat, so many cats, out of the bag? Did the call center life become easier—or more difficult, now that the cat owners can’t get away with certain things as easily as before?
From training stage to call center operations like average handling times, from dealing with irate agents to office affairs, from night shift issues to absenteeism, from demotivation among agents to call center gimiks, from call center angsts to managers’ bad habits, this comics seems to have covered the most important concerns of call center employees today.
Written with wry wit, Callwork presents us with the inside jokes in the call center industry, helping us understand better the culture that is helping drive the Philippine’s economy forward. So help us, despite all that you will read here, this culture has a major role in whether we sink further in the muck, or rise like the Philippine eagle.
The drawings are as if done by a high school girl, but better composed, and are inspired by real people and situations from the cartoonist’s years in the industry. The childish drawings actually highlight the workplace environment the management of many call centers is said to practice: acting like petty tyrants, treating agents as if they were unruly kids instead of the professionals that they are (or should be). In fairness, sobrang pinakita din ang mga kalokohan ng mga agents (agents’ foibles and fumbles are also spotlighted).
Though not an agent, I am in the BPO industry, and can relate to that life. I have encountered many of these issues, told to me over cups of coffee, or tears of frustration triggered by bottles of SanMig Light. Though not an agent, I am as easily vulnerable to the fact that, as an employee, I am just a cog in a machine, easily replaced, easily lost. And this is why I appreciate this work, on top of the obvious appeal, the ka-kwelahan (riotous humor) and light reading material.
Where indifference is the status quo and where connections or office politics allow rusty cogs to remain, silence is often the slow-acting acid eventually killing the machine. Loud and funny, Callwork is a fast-acting neutralizer. Who knows, seeing ourselves cartoonized, pretensions stripped, true lines revealed, could wake us up into looking into the mirror, to see someone who can still make a difference, by treating our jobs like the blessing that they are, deserving our full commitment, not derision.
I believe that we can only succeed to put ourselves down if we only have contempt for what we do. Do something to make our job life better—or get the hell out, is what I think.
English translations can be found on the author’s blogsite.
Kuha-kuhang ng komiks na ito ang panlasa ng Pinoy, pati na ang kabaduyan. Uy, enjoy kaya maging baduy!
You never know where you will encounter emotions or higher principles that rock cultural and social boundaries. They may be lying under a pile of curlers, in the bottles of makeup and coloring agents, within the pages of a superhero comic book, or right from the hilarious antics existing inside Ada’s Beauty Salon, home of Ada, a gay beautician, a person just like us…..
But who also happens to transform into the very buxom and powerful Zsa Zsah Zaturnnah, defender of the weak, protector of the oppressed, kick-ass champion against zombies and kitschy pop icons-turned-amazon warriors (Nora, Dina, Vilma, Sharon, and, queen of all, Femina, with the body of a goddess, secretly a chauvinist pig).
Written and illustrated by Carlo Vergara, Ang Kagila-Gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni ZsaZsa Zaturnnah has captured the hearts of Filipinos’ extremely discriminating tastes for reading material (so discriminating that local publishing is pitiful from lack of patronage). Since it was first published in 2003, this graphic novel, or, simply, comics, has been adapted into a stage musical (by Tanghalang Pilipino) and movie (by Regal Films), in 2006.
The movie starred Zsa Zsa Padilla as Zaturnnah and Rustom Padilla as Ada. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I did catch the musical. Eula Valdez was fabulous as the red haired super heroine, Tuxc Rutaquio refined even through the crazier scenes, but just like in the comics, Didi, portrayed by Joey Paras, stole the thunder from everyone.
This pear-shaped character has impeccable comedic timing wherever she goes, pulped or croaking on stage, I see.
I enjoyed both comics and theater. My reading palate is usually receptive only to edgy urban fantasy and historical mysteries these days, while the staging encountered a few technical snags, but, I know now, I am not immune from slapstick fun that inadvertently piggy-backs a few profound insights along the way, and I’m not overly critical about light and sound as long as I see and hear well enough what is going on.
When Carlo Vergara graced one of my book club’s discussions, someone asked him who reads his comics. To our surprise, he said (if he were to conclude based on readers who approach him about the book), all sorts and all ages, from teenagers to seniors, from shy ladies to straight guys, from masa to intellectuals. With a gay beautician for the hero-heroine, what would guys from a macho-oriented society like about it, I wondered. Carver (author’s nickname) explained that, apparently, girls felt titillated with the love story angle and the guys found the antics makulit.
In between our half-joking commentaries (wickedly meant to bring on nosebleed to unsuspecting authors) on the deeper meanings behind some of the scenes and elements from the book…
“are you trying to convey an ecological critique, protesting against the insensitive handling of non-human life forms?,” on the attacking-giant-frog-born-from-volcano…
“did you deliberately use stereotypes to call attention to shameful facts of society, such as homophobia and messianic complex (waiting for someone to save them instead of actually doing something themselves)?”
“don’t you think the extreme feminism represented by the Planet Women was self-defeating, and that it affirmed the the stereotype of radical feminism, instead of breaking it?”
“what can you say about your critics’ claims that your work is campy and derivative?
… I pondered on the universal appeal of the comics, thinking maybe it had something to do with how we can all relate to a character simply wishing to be happy, to love, and be loved. That he tries to achieves this through the campy world of Pinoy Superhero is simply the bait that made us bite into his world.
True, ZZZ is at heart a pastiche of stereotypes and pop culture references. So what? There’s nothing original anymore in the world. But good timing is timeless, which let’s us introduce and accept rehash as if it were new. It’s pure genius if it succeeds. It’s priceless if it gets people laughing, feeling, and thinking.
And I’m thinking, even if Ada is a baklang babae at heart, with Dodong the way he is, a hunk, but not so bright, Ada may yet realize she’s better off as the man of the family.
More ZZZ discussion here…
baduy – campy, corny, off, not tasteful but fun
masa – the general population, the simple folks
macho – manly, muscular, all that a real guy should be
kakulitan – outrageous, crazy, unbelievably dumb that it’s so funny
baklang babae – a woman who acts like a loud and flamboyant gay
The Goblin King, an introverted geek?
I have mixed reactions about this volume. On one hand, I loved the scenes that played out between Jareth and Sarah. He’s a mixed bag himself: Does he hate her? Does he love her? Does he want to destroy her? Or does he want to save her?
On the other hand, I hate that it violates the logic set by the movie. Is her will not as as strong? Her kingdom great? If the writer was true to this fundamental principle of the Labyrinth Champion’s character, I doubt the story would take the route it did in the manga.
Jareth and Mizumi would not be able to steal her dreams all those years ago. The Goblin King would not be able to affect Sarah’s memory of her brother Toby. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, she fought her way to the castle, beyond the Goblin City, to impress on the Goblin King that he had no power over her.
And it was true: he had no power over her—and this drove him almost crazy.
So I don’t understand why Sarah is almost putty in these two fae’s hands now.
Anyway, in this volume, we get to know the characters surrounding Toby a little better, and to identify with their own struggle within the Labyrinth of their psche: Toby’s devoted goblin friend Skub, trying to be brave but always failing in the past; Mayor Spittledrum, Jareth’s ass-kissing flunky, knowing more than he should but actually serving to the best of his ability, warts and all; and Mizumi’s daughters, loyal, always trying to impress their mummy dearest.
In this manga, my favorite character is Moulin, always followed by a tiny thundercloud, and reading a book (the same book?). I love her outfit.
Speaking about outfits, what’s with Jareth’s clothes? They’re loose and cover him completely from the neck down. He’s positively conservative! Puleaze, why couldn’t the writer get this simple fact straight? Jareth isn’t Jareth without the tight pants!
In volume 4, please get this right, ok?
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