Friday, August 22, 2014

Goodbye, Vergil...

This is the post that we did not want to write, but yesterday, August the 21st, we lost our friend, Vergil Espinosa.

Our last Komikon with daVerge. Original photo by +Renie Palo 
We just want to remember him now as a beautiful soul who laughed with us, shared dreams with us, and always, always kept the faith.

He will be most dearly missed :(

Thursday, November 21, 2013

'COLLAB' : How Pinoy Comic Book Artists Unite for a Good Cause

"Collab tayo," we often hear our artist friends say, almost like a kind of greeting when they happen to be in the same place at the same time.There's this immediate excitement to share ideas and work on something for the awesome fun of it, with the resulting collaboration -- from teaser pin-ups to collectible anthologies -- turning out to be pretty awesome too.

In the last couple of years, we've also seen the members of the local comics community come together for another kind of 'collab' -- raising funds for a cause.

Just a few years ago, Anvil Publishing released Renaissance: Ang Muling Pagsilang, a compendium of artwork meant to benefit the victims of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana). The roster of artists who were part of this effort was, simply put, epic. Veterans Jun Lofamia, Rico Rival and the late Tony de Zuñiga joined international fan favorites and prime movers in the Phililppine comics scene in illustrating heroism the way we as a people understand it. Proceeds from the sale of the book as well as the auction of the original works of art were donated to the +Philippine Red Cross.

Then there were the various "sketch for a cause" sessions and art auctions organized to defray the medical expenses of ailing colleagues, the latest of whom was our friend Vergil Espinosa.

We have to say we were _floored_ by the response to the charity auction for Vergil and the victims of the Bohol quake at the +Komikon last Saturday. +Johnny Danganan provides the figures in his blog; but all totaled, the Pinoy Komiks Assemble auction yielded over PhP100K in funds. To quote Johnny, "Whohooh, grabeh talagah!"

Now just a week later, two more fundraisers are going to be held this time for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Again, the gathering will be epic and while we wish no more disasters will visit our country, we know these artists won't hesitate to once again join together and freely give of themselves to help others.

Our friend and fellow comics-geek, +Mark Rosario, said it best when he pointed out that Pinoy comic book artists, "like the superheroes that they love, are quick to respond and rescue whenever the need for it arises."

"So proud to be friends with these kind-hearted human beings!" he added, "God bless you all for your goodness."

We were not the only ones who responded with, "Amen." :-)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Our friends are alive!!!

After six agonizing days, we finally heard from +Jay Acosta! At 6:13 a.m. today, he sent this message via sms, "Ate Rob, me, my bro and my cousins are alive but my house is gone. Tacloban is in chaos. Please pray for my city :("

We immediately called him up, and what followed was a long conversation that alternated between sobs and rambling expressions of relief. He spoke of the moment the storm shattered their windows and it felt like their house "exploded from inside." He spoke of the nightmare days that followed, searching on foot for supplies in the city he grew up in but now lay in ruins all around him. He told us about how, in the debris-strewn streets, complete strangers would greet each other, asking "kamusta," "how are you, did you lose your house too?"

It was in one of these sorties to their former downtown that he saw another friend, Nico Medroso, whom we had also been worried about. Jay said Nico and his family, including his little baby, survived as their neighborhood was farther away from the areas battered by the storm surge. They may be planning to leave Tacloban soon and we've updated the Google Person Finder record we created for Nico with this new information. We're hoping we'll also get to hear from Nico himself once his family is settled and safe.

Jay is on his way now to Manila, with his brother and his brave younger sister who traveled all the way back to their former home, stopping at nothing until she found her brothers. We have to say we're immensely thankful she succeeded in finding them and that all three siblings are well.

Before we said goodbye, Jay told us he would like to join our old gang at this Saturday's +Komikon. We said everyone would be beyond happy to see him again. We'll spend the day talking about all things geek, browsing through new comics, and laughing about BK boybands (long story) among other things. Not because we want Jay to forget what he has been through, no one possibly could; but because we would like Jay to know, even for just a few hours, that it's all right to heal.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pinoy Komiks Assemble: Local, Int'l Artists Contribute to Charity Auction

11.69 X 16.54, by Carlo Vergara
BIDS have started to come in for the artworks included in the Pinoy Komiks Assemble charity auction we wrote about in our last post. One of the early favorites is this inked original by Zsazsa Zaturnnah creator Carlo Vergara. Running bid as of this writing is PhP5,500 and the final bid could be much higher during the live auction on Saturday, the 16th of November, at the KOMIKON.

POLGAS, 9 X 12, by Pol Medina Jr.
Another potential favorite is cartoonist Pol Medina Jr.'s take on a local rite of passage. Pol is among the major crowd-drawers at the Komikon and we've seen his readers lining up to have their books signed even after the official close of the Kon. With a starting bid of PhP1,000, we expect a number of fans to 'outpig' each other for a chance to own this piece.

Original X-TREME X-MEN Issue 7, page 8
We're also seeing artwork being created or donated by Filipino artists who are presently working on international comic book titles. Among the early contributors was Stephen Segovia who donated at least two pages from his run on X-Treme X-Men. 

Joining Stephen is our good friend, Ed Tadeo, whose work recently appeared in Dynamite Entertainment's The Bionic Man. He created two watercolor paintings for this auction and the 9x12 Batman/Superman tribute we're showing here is a steal at the current bid of PhP500.

Original water color by Ed Tadeo
Other artists, including Marvel superstars Mico Suayan, Harvey Tolibao, and Leinil Francis Yu, have pledged their participation, and many more original pieces will be auctioned off on the day of the Komikon itself.
This is heartening news as, now more than ever, every peso counts for the beneficiaries of this fundraiser.

1K Buys Verge a Day, Bohol Quake Victims Not Spared by Supertyphoon

   Last August, Vergil Espinosa's cousin, Etey Buendia, informed us that Verge's supply of dialysis fluids was running low, and from Verge himself we learned that he uses up about PhP1,000 worth of dialysis fluids daily. So quite literally, every thousand buys Verge another day until he is able to get a kidney transplant.

"He is recovering well but still needs a donor for a kidney transplant," according to Etey, "Malaki pa din ang medical bills nya kaya this fundraising project will be such a big help for daVerge. Thank you again for all your support." 

As previously announced, part of the proceeds of the auction will also be going to the victims of the Oct. 15 earthquake in Bohol. The ravages of Supertyphoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last Friday have undone a good part of the previous relief efforts as the entire island is once again without power and the number of homeless has risen. We would like to plead with everyone to please continue to contribute to all relief efforts. A quick round-up of donation centers and a guide to donating via SMS can be found on Johnny Danganan's blog and donations can also be made to Gawad Kalinga's Operation Walang Iwanan.

 Waiting to hear from friends in Leyte 

At the same time, we're anxiously awaiting word from friends in Leyte, especially after seeing how the typhoon has just about obliterated Tacloban City. As another friend pointed out, "It's like Armageddon down there."
Jaybhoi at one of the earliest Bayan Knights meetings.
 We hope and pray that Jay Acosta and Nico Medroso along with all their loved ones are all right. We know that cell sites are still down and it may take days before communication lines are restored, but we would like to believe that we will hear from both of them again soon. 
These young, incredibly talented artists are family to us. Please join us in praying for their safety, and for all of the thousands affected by this new calamity.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Art Auction for Verge and Why We're Going Back to Bohol

Our friend and cultural hero Johnny Danganan along with artist Lui Antonio and the KOMIKERO Artist Group have organized an art auction for the continued treatment of Vergil Espinosa who still needs four rounds of dialysis daily. Part of the proceeds of the auction will also be donated to the earthquake relief efforts in Bohol. For a chance help and own an original work of art by some of the best comic book artists in the local and international scene today, please attend the 2013 KOMIKON on Nov. 16, 2013 at the Bayanihan Center in Pasig City. Do spread the word!

UPDATE, 27.10.13: Some of the artwork up for auction can be seen from Johnny's Facebook album Para kay VERGIL ESPINOSA at mga biktima ng lindol. Featured are all original work by Karl ComendadorNorby Ela, Lui Antonio, and an 11 X 17 penciled page from X-TREME X-MEN Issue 6 by Stephen Jorge Segovia.

Invite! Bid! And go help a good cause! :D

Still Our Bohol

Since the 15th of October, Myke and I have been constantly talking about Bohol, a place that's dear to us for so many reasons.

Today, 12 days after a 7.2-magnitude quake tore up our beautiful island and shattered its many churches, burying memories, and history and people alike, we feel no different. If we could, we'd go back this very moment and help the people of Bohol rebuild. Although, from the news reports we've seen, it seems the Boholanos have wasted no time in shaking off the dust of the earth and standing firm on soil of their birth.

storyseamstress's Our Bohol Story 
album on Photobucket

Days after the quake, people were already talking about how Bohol's tourism industry was coping with the disaster. This article, Quake-hit Bohol looking to lure back tourists is heartening, as is this article, I will lift up mine eyes: Project Kisame captures the church ceilings of Bohol on the concerted efforts to preserve what remains of the province's heritage structures.

Recently, our favorite Amarela Resort on Panglao Island updated its Facebook page and cheered us with this news, "We are happy to inform you that most of the resorts in Panglao Island including Amarela, did not suffer any significant damage and remain fully operational. Our staff and their families are all safe." Browsing through TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, I learned that the Bohol Bee Farm on Panglao Island was operational too; and now a newly released article confirms that the Loboc River cruises have resumed (Loboc river cruise kick-starts Bohol tourism revival; new viewing deck for Chocolate Hills opens)

We've been going to Bohol yearly since 2011 and we're planning to stay longer next year to better see the island how the island has transformed. There’s ‘opportunity in tragedy’ in Bohol, reads the Inquirer's banner headline today and we would like to do our part in helping the people fully seize that opportunity.

We aren't going back just to be tourists all over again though. Bohol will always be at that part of our own little narrative where we found ourselves suddenly on the same path... White shores seen in clear light with the same feeling of contentment. We visited the island for the first time nine years apart, yet we both found ourselves home.

Til the next story...

This one by the way is already five years in the making, so allow us to indulge ourselves in another round of Bohol-themed nostalgia ^_^

Clawie and Ida on Panglao Island from 2011-2012

Monday, July 15, 2013

Artist Vergil Espinosa Battles Kidney Failure

A real hero fighting the good fight
HE was at every meeting and every KOMIKON, met all of his deadlines, and wowed us with the incredible detail of his artwork every single time. It didn't matter if what he was doing was entirely gratis, Vergil Espinosa, aka daverge, delivered with a wallop. Even now, more than a month after being diagnosed with kidney failure, Verge continues to be dedicated to his art. We asked his cousin Etey Buendia who has been organizing a a fundraiser for Verge, what else he needs at this time and Etey told us, "Maybe some comics, and a few sketchbooks."

 So, we're mailing Verge a little package tomorrow and hopefully we'll be able to send him another later on. Those of you who would like to send Verge comics and sketch pads too can mail the package to 78-B Don Ramon St., Talayan Village Q.C. If you are a local creator and can spare extra issues of your work, we're sure he'd love to see your books too.

Gifts for a good friend
Donations can also be made to Vergil's personal savings account -- BPI Savings acct. name “Vergil Aaron Espinosa” 3249007306. Thanks again to Etey Buendia for providing us with the information.

Other comics creators are doing what they can to lend a hand too. International comic book artist Gerry Alanguilan recently auctioned off the original inked art to Indestructible Hulk #2 Page 12 for Vergil's benefit. The auction ends today, but if the deadline will be extended, we'll post an update here. You could also check out the related Flipgeeks article.

We're looking forward to seeing Verge again at the next comics event. Just like old times. 

Rock on, Verge. Mahal ka namin!
Verge with fellow Bayan Knights creators Renie Palo, Nidgel Bailon, and Jon Paloma

At a Bayan Knights meeting with the Sarge himself, Gilbert Monsanto

Verge and Lapis Ko To co-founder, John Becaro at the 2010 Metrocon

Verge at the 2011 Summer Komikon with inker Ray Ferrer

Verge and the Bayan Knights roster of creators at the 2011 Komikon (Photo by Renie Palo)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Back after two years

Hello everyone! Myke here.
Felt like ages since I used my blog. Many things had happened to me and Robin in those two years. We became more loving and supportive to each other and we gained weight. Hehehe! The past two years we grew as a person and as a couple. We cherished friends and group that we support. But sometimes along the way, everything has to end. We left the group that we help built and we started focusing on our our ideas and looking forward to share it with everyone in the near future.

As for work and families, freelance work was very overwhelming. I got lots of gigs and you could say that it was a break out year for me last year. I got to work with a great comic book digital artist named Brian "Tots" Valeza. He colored two of my artworks and I seriously I was stoke. I'm a big fan of his works. Will post it next time.

Robin on the other hand had been promoted twice or trice within that two years. From French Pre-audit at IBM to managerial position. She is still very strict with procedures and she works hard to plan our next out of town adventure (We both love going to the beach and BOHOL is our paradise). We also hoping by next year we can have a baby. So that'll be exciting!

Anyhow, this is just a quick post and hopefully Robin and I could have more time again to write here. Again, NICE TO BE BLOGGING AGAIN!

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Honor of Interviewing Danny Acuña and Clem Rivera

Yep, it's still Robin, but nevermind me. Read on :) The article I did for Playboy Philippines is my favorite assigned article so far since it gave me the opportunity to write about the people whose role in reviving the local comics industry has in my opinion been ignored in favor of a more flamboyant showbiz personality (with questionable merits I should add, but I already vilified him in an earlier post). It also allowed me to meet and chat with veteran artists Danny Acuña and Clem Rivera whose work I'm ashamed to admit I wasn't familiar with prior to working on the article. Now that I know what they've accomplished and how hard they've had to struggle, I'm all the richer for it.

This post-interview supplement is my way of thanking them again for their time and their candor. In some way, I also hope it pays just tribute to their immense talent and the generosity of their spirit.

"Hindi nila iminulat kung gaano kahalaga ang trabaho ng artist"

Most of the anecdotes Sir Danny shared with me I was able to include in the article, but I wasn't able to write about the production-line style of page creation he described. This was adopted as circulation for comics increased and more pages were demanded of each artist. Lesser known artists were allowed to assist the "big name" artists, but only the well-known artist got the credit. The assistants though were given a percentage of the main artist's fee.

Now Sir Danny spoke of a pay scale that ranged from A1 (for the likes of Francisco Coching and Nestor Redondo)to D at PhP125 per page which goes down to 100, 75, 60 and 45 depending on where the artist was on the scale. He says it was possible to assist multiple artists at the time and he himself preferred to assist Nestor Malgapo and Fred Carrillo and share a percentage of their fee rather than slave away at a full page for only P45.

I wonder now if that system may have in part contributed to the eventual stagnation of the industry in the 80s, with new artists not being given the chance to develop on their own and opting instead to assist those who were already established.

In those days, though, the acknowledged comics superstars were undisputed masters of their craft. Of Coching's 45 comics novels, Sir Danny says, "nagsisimula pa lang, binibili na ng producer (they weren't even completed yet and producers already wanted to buy them.)" He compares this with another who has claimed that 80 of his 1000 novels have been turned into movies. Sir Danny smiled at me and said, "What percentage is that?"

He remembers the big billboard ads for the P10 comics only a few years ago and asks where they all are now. The real revival he believes is in the hands of a determined new generation of creators.

"Mahina pa rin ang comics pero nakikita mo naumpisahan na, ayun sumisigla (Comics are slowly coming back,)" he says,"ang comics magagawa mo ngayon na paxerox-xerox lang (you can make comics now through photocopies)" and you hear in Sir Danny's voice just how much he marvels at this.

He urges support of comics today if only for patriotism and he also stresses the need to educate audiences about the value of art. He tells of a colleague whose original pages were used by his wife to pick up dog poop. "Hindi nila iminulat kung gaano kahalaga ang trabaho ng artist," he rues. It saddens him too that many are still unfamiliar with our own rich folklore and mythology. "Sinarahan ng kamangmangan."

And yet Sir Danny admires the creators who persist in creating comics today. "Ang lakas ng spirit non no! Iba yung sa kanila eh. Di nila tinignan yung pera"

"Dun sa comics convention, dumami sila, nabuhay sila. Kaming mga senior, kaming veterans, nabuhayan na din. Gumagawa na rin kami ulit ng comics." (Their spirit is amazing! They don't care about money. There are even more comics creators now because of the conventions. They've inspired us seniors to go back to creating comics too.)

"Ang comics pag binuhay mo, zombie lalabas dyan. Patay na eh."

Animator Clem Rivera was one of the veteran artists Sir Danny convinced to come out of retirement at the height of last year's National Artist controversy. Their outrage over those questionable proceedings and the developments in the local independent comic book scene encouraged them all to go back to creating comics. ""I knew i wasn't going to earn from it," he says, "but I wanted to be part of the industry again"

He told me that years before, he really had no plans of going into comics. "Dati akong nagtatrabaho sa pabrika ng sinulid. Factory worker ako. Pagkatapos nagkaroon ng problema sa post ko. Nagresign ako. Nun pa lang ako naging interesado sa komiks." (I used to work at a thread factory. It was only after I resigned due to some trouble at work that I became interested in comics.)

Sir Clem says he knew a little bit about drawing but it was his godfather, Mar Santana, another local comics master, whom he really learned from. "Walang formal training," he says. He just watched and copied what his godfather was drawing until 15 days later Santana said he was ready. He was 25 at the time.

As a full-time comic book artist, Sir Clem says he used to be able to produce eight pages a night for 16 hours of continuous work daily. Those were fully penciled and inked pages so he got used to only getting four hours of sleep a day. He did that for 15 years, with only Saturday night as his time off. The punishing work paid for the college fees of his three children, something he says he couldn't have managed if he didn't work that hard.

When he started out, Sir Clem says he was paid P15 per page; by the time he left the industry he was up to PhP300 per page. Rates for artists he says didn't increase for years; it didn't matter if a local talent already got international exposure, publishers had to keep the prices of their books down.

It was from Sir Clem that I learned that an artist's drawing table is never silent. He used to turn the quarter sheet of cartolina he was drawing on repeatedly to get the right perspective. If you don't hear the sound of the paper scraping again and again on the desk, he says, the artist probably isn't really working ;)

My final quote for the Playboy article came from Sir Clem. Here's the quote in its entirety. "Bubuhayin mo yung comics, tapos ilalabas mong comics yung namatay na comics. Sinong bibili nyan? Sabi ko nga kay Rico Rival, pagka ang comics binuhay mo, zombie lalabas dyan. Patay na eh."

"Pag yung patay pinabangon mo, zombie yon. Ang kailangan sa komics ipanganak muli. Maging brand new." (If you revive the dead, you'll end up with a zombie. Comics need to be reborn.)

Photos by Myke Guisinga :)