The original plan after lunch with JR was to hunt down my good friend RK, meet his girlfriend Sue, and bolt. Yeah, bolt for the exit and just stay at the entrance area to give our birthday gift.
But as always, I underestimated my fatal attraction for all sorts of reading materials. Somehow, the fever and fervor of the Pinoy Komik fans rubbed off. Perhaps, it was also because I nursed some indulgence for Pinoy komiks. I grew up reading Funny Komiks in elementary. In high school, I fell in love with Pupung and Pugad Baboy. In college, I had the privilege of interviewing the legendary Culture Crash team and Beerkada’s Lyndon Gregorio for my second published article at Sense and Style of Manila Bulletin.
And then, I graduated…
I don’t know what exactly happened after that, but I was certain that I stopped reading komiks for around 4 years since that day I left the university.
Never gave it much thought before. But I realized how Pinoy komiks figured prominently in my array of reading experiences and in my life.
I love words in all forms, and stories are even more fascinating when rendered with the appropriate amount of art.
Contrary to what some people believe, comics possess so much depth and express so much of our culture. There are as many varieties of comics as there are personalities of artists that make them. I felt a bit claustrophobic when I scoured the tables for new reads.
At least, there was some fresh air outside:
In keeping with the spirit of Summer Komikon 2014, here is my chibified description of my OOTD (outfit of the day):
My uber Casual Attire was composed of the following: Black T-Shirt for Php90 at a Cubao tiangge, Basic denim shorts from God-knows-where tiangge (nalimutan ko, sorry) for Php 150, and Parisian Basic Flats for Php 500. Php 200 sunglasses from i2i. Yellow cute bag for Php 100. All under Php 1,000. 🙂
After around 20 to 30 missed calls, JR and I found RK and Sue at the corner of the projector area. No, I did not hold them at gunpoint to have this photo taken. Squeamish as they may be for being taken hostage by JR’s phone camera, I just had to take this snapshot because they have been most gracious and I want to keep this happy memory in my blog post.
I pestered these two for recommendations, and boy, am I happy that I got some really good new comic books to read. I actually wish I had more money but I prioritized on the ones that intrigued me the most.
Trese by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo
I was not really sure what the fuss was about regarding this book. I have been living in a cave so I did not know that it’s the new big thing in horror comics. I did know that my friend Alexis asked me to buy her the Trese books. I saw the nods of approval from the cutest comic books fan friends ever (see photo above) when I mentioned the title, so I bought it without really knowing what it was.
Come book signing time, I was really embarrassed because I had to have it signed on behalf of Alexis.
So I introduced myself as her. (LOL)
I was not even smart enough to check the blurb to see that the name of the main, main character is Alexandra Trese. So when the prolific Budjette joked that he can possibly include me (that time disguised under name Alexis) as a hidden sister of Alexandra, I did not get the compliment immediately. #facepalm
One of the highest compliments that a comic story writer can tell a fan is to tie her name up to the main character. Lucky, lucky, Alexis!
Nonetheless, Alexis now has the copy of two signed books from Budjette and Kajo.
And I get the photos with them ha ha ha. Look at our happy fan faces:
Everyone is happy. 🙂
In the evening, I actually read Alexis’ copies and I deeply regretted not buying my own copy.
First two pages pa lang, I. BECAME. A. FAN!
Ohmifrigginggoodness sobrang ganda lang talaga.
So I googled and stalked the blog:
I was warned that it was depressing. As it turns out, I was actually more enchanted than depressed. I know depressed of the medication-inducing kind.
IMHO, on a scale of 1 to 10 of depressing literature, this is a 5 or 6. (I’ve read Nabokov’s Lolita and some other war novels so those are the level 10 pieces.)
The chapter cover had MAPS. Orgasmic for spatial IT enthusiasts like me, definitely. The take on Filipino mythology is so dark and rich and intellectual. It’s a smart person’s comic book. It’s full of Filipino culture. Duwendes, tikbalangs, and urban legends of mall magnates… I can’t wait to get my own copies of the books.
Once, I read a light novel with a sassy, girly stab on Filipino mythology but it focused on gods and goddesses. The name of the book was Interim Goddess of Love by Mina Esguerra and I enjoyed it very much:
I realized that I like these sorts of materials.
I know that if these Trese guys get an Eisner, I’d kill for their autograph again.
So next time, I promise that I’ll buy a whole set and introduce myself. <3 (I hope that they have so many fans and I will be a forgettable face so that the fan girl faux pas gets buried forever.)
Pasig by Taga Ilog
I first met this guy in person in 2004 as part of my interview for Culture Crash. He had a silver pail in his head and just enough holes for his eyes.
His aura of mystery contributed to the unique legendary charm of Culture Crash among fans. I was one of the lucky few who saw him without the silver pail then. These days, though, you will see him in Komikon sans the famous silver pail and with his beautiful wife who is also a talented artist.
He draws and he writes. I really like the whole concept of the Fringe Division-ish investigation bureau in the setting of Pasig City.
I have noticed the change in his cartoons, as he was keen in pointing out at his writing on one issue:
I will personally be keeping an eye out for a Pasig collection or anthology in the future. In full color again, I hope, like in Culture Crash days. I really missed those guys. 🙁 They even gave me a cute little stuffed toy inspired by the One Day Isang Diwa character. <3
Slash by Edward Echavez and Cathy Bucu
So, I was expecting the old comic veterans when I entered. I expected the people I interviewed before.
But I did not expect a former officemate to be there! Haha! I found Cathy and Edward, two fine people from my former publishing job. I was sad because I could not buy his book (Php 300) given my other purchasing priorities and dwindling purchasing power.
But I wanted to show some support so here is the postcard I bought instead, the only colored piece in my Summer Komikon 2014 stash:
Astounding. I look at this postcard and I marvel at the amazing people God allows me to meet, even only in passing. Congrats, Gady Bear and Edward. 🙂 I look forward to buying the actual book in another event.
Filipino Heroes League by Paolo Fabregas
Written by another prolific comic artist with a name that always resonated positively with me, Filipino Heroes League is a buying decision I made after I fell in love with the back cover:
How can a person like me resist a third world superhero in hot pursuit of a hooligan using a PEDICAB?
Only in the Philippines! I just knew I had to buy one of these. A brainchild of a former Coke commercial model and actor, FHL is satire in comic form. It depicts the Philippines in a very resonant way, and it maintains the humor and the entertainment that comes with the cultural awareness of FHL’s plots.
I am planning to get BOOK TWO and have it autographed next time.
The CHIBI-fied Dev Duo
Aside from the comic book finds, we went to Lady Storyteller’s booth at the Indie Komiks section to have our chibi images done:
JR here is looking all dapper with his chibified face, moustache and all:
For the record, this friend of mine rarely smiles and I need to record this for happy memory safekeeping. I forced him to buy a ticket to Komikon and I am happy that he was cheered by his chibi.
I was really happy with how it turned out for me, too. Here’s my blog shoutout to the ultra cool Lady Storykeeper who made these fabulous chibified sketches. On average, it took her around 10 minutes to create each one:
Honestly, if you ask me, I think this girl should charge more for her art. They make it so affordable for their exposure.
One one hand, it’s delightful for readers like me and we can buy more with less. But I can see the level of work and skill required of this endeavor. I believe that they deserve to get paid and patronized more.
I bought the other books I mentioned at the main hall of the Summer Komikon, and then I bought just 2 tiny comics from this indie lady.
One Floor Up by Lady Storykeeper
I have a soft spot for independent artists and I like buying from them whenever I can. This one caught my attention because it’s quite girly. I already have a horror title and a satire. So I went for a sassy, Kpop-ish, feel-good komik trip with this one.
I really think the dialogue can still use some editing. But it’s funny in the right places and holds so much potential. I gave it to my sister as pasalubong after I read it.
When I featured Beerkada in 2004 for a lifestyle article, the comic artist Lyndon Gregorio already had a rising set of followers from Philippine Star and other Beerkadets (fans). The lifestyle magazine had a different set of audience who got to know the comic books he was making. It could have helped spread word of what his comics were about to people who would not normally frequent Komikon events like this one. I unfortunately did not have enough stash to buy another Beerkada title from this event because of my unplanned spree, but I was able to say hi to the smart (Mensa smart) guy and read a recent comic strip from the web version. 🙂
Most of these comic book success stories began with independent comic books or even old obscure scrawl marks of a Sharpie pen or a 0.7 gel pen on a piece of bond paper… Somehow, I think most of them have this in common: 1.) they did not stop drawing even if they did not sell a copy, 2.) somebody BELIEVED in what they did, and 3.) that one person who believed spread the love and joy of the artist’s creation to others.
It’s really an auspicious mix of talent, of good timing, and of good opportunities. It’s a wheel, too, so one can have the both the feast and famine.
While others file in a long line for the titles that sell, I am the type who also likes digging for diamonds in the raw. And I think I found it in this Lady Storykeeper girl who made my chibi, the author of One Floor Up. I hope that like the more successful guys in the main hall, I will also see her creations in a bigger space, paid in a way that is somehow commensurate to the talent that she is offering the world. 🙂
An unintentional adventure that was, Summer Komikon 2014 made me realize that I will never be too old for Pinoy Komiks. <3
Thanks, RK, Sue, and JR. Thanks, Summer Komikon 2014.