THE WEB JOURNAL OF JOHN RAY

To Be Continued

Posted in Comics, My Art by J.R. Bumanglag on February 26, 2009

While I was practicing last night, I chanced upon my portfolio (which is not so much a portfolio – not yet) and decided to post my old work, which until today is left unfinished. The comic began as a pinup (that would be page 3) that grew out of boredom. Until that time, I was still in the process of conjuring short stories and adventures. There came a time when I was listening to the Eraserheads’ song 68 Dr. Sixto Antonio Avenue that I started imagining a music video in my head. Straight out of that song, I pictured that scene in my head where this certain cyborg doctor was escaping from some certain villains, trying to protect his package. With that in mind, I drew that scene.

Later, I learned that there was a contest being held by Mangaholix, an 8 page comic with a theme about what the world would be like 1000 years from now. I really wanted to join, so I tried extending the scene from my head into a one-shot story. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it and I was left with only about 2 pages done. Too bad. Maybe when the time comes, I’ll be able to finish the story.

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

Page 3

Page 3

Advertisements

A Lost Library and Some Machine

Posted in Books, History, Novels by J.R. Bumanglag on February 25, 2009

I recently went home to Baguio last weekend for my Dad’s PMA Homecoming. As usual it was very cold and and I was shivering all over. Although not as cold as I remembered, but still. It was about 45 days went I last went there, and so much has changed. On the way there, I saw a newly built SM Rosales, which is quite small for a mall. Some buildings have already gone down here, some new places there and I’m in a different place. I’ll blog about the PMA Homecoming later. Right now, I want to talk about some new books I bought, care of my mom. Thanks mom!

The Alexandria Link

The Alexandria Link by Steve Berry

So there  I was in National Bookstore, giddy and jittery about getting a new book. After I reread Angels and Demons, I was in for more mystery and historical novels. The first thing that came to my mind was Steve Berry. Weeks ago, I already saw his novels, scampered all over tables at Fully Booked SM North. I remember checking out The Venetian Betrayal, his latest book. I immediately took note of the writer, vowing to read any book by him if I ever get the chance. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the Venetian because it wasn’t available. So I took the next best thing. It’s about the lost library of Alexandria. The last time I heard about this library was when I watched a McGuyver movie when I was a kid, an adventure ala Indiana Jones. Seemingly interested to learn more about it, I just had to pick up this book. Here’s the extract from the back page:

The Library of Alexandria was the most important collection of ancient knowledge ever assembled. The building stood for six hundred years and contained more than half a million manuscripts. Then suddenly it vanished. No trace of this literary treasure has ever been unearthed.

Fifteen hundred years after the library’s disappearance, Cotton Malone finds himself at the heart of the mystery. His son is kidnapped, and his bookshop is attacked-all because he’s the only man alive who knows the whereabouts of the Alexandria Link, the key to locating the missing library. Purposely hidden away for more than a millennium, a forgotten truth lies within that lost cache of knowledge – one that, if revealed, will have grave consequences not only for Malone but for the balance of world power.

***

Extraordinary Engines

Extraordinary Machines by Various Writers

Yes, I’m a science fiction fan. Ever since I watched films such as Akira, Ghost  in the Shell, Steamboy, The Matrix, Star Wars and other flicks with the coolest machines, I became an advocate. After I picked up The Alexandria Link, I saw this book silently staring at me. It was begging me to pick him up and give him a chance. So I did. And one word made my mind. Steampunk. If Smoke and Mirrors was a collection of short stories about fantasy, this would be her counterpart, a sci-fi genre in all its glory. Here’s the extract from the back page:

Extraordinary Engines: The Definitive Steampunk Anthology assembles original stories by some of the genre’s foremost writers. Edited by Nick Gevers, this collection includes brand new stories by Stephen Baxter, Eric Brown, Paul Di Filippo, Hal Duncan, Jeffrey Ford, Jay Lake, Ian R. MacLeod, Michael Moorcock, Robert Reed, Lucius Shepard, Brian Stableford, Jeff VanderMeer and more.

***

I will be blogging these two books right after I read them. In the meantime, summer vacation (a very long one) is slowly creeping up on my shoulders. There’s so much to do. Shrug.

Art Talk with Alex Niño and Hans Bacher

Posted in Comics, History, Movies, Photography, Seminars by J.R. Bumanglag on February 19, 2009

Check out more photos here!

It was a once in a lifetime chance and I just couldn’t let this moment pass. It was yesterday morning, when after I had arrived home from jogging, that I saw the date and long pondered what special event was supposed to take place. And then it just crashed over my head. This was the day of the Art Talk by Alex Niño and Hans Bacher at the College of St. Benilde SDA campus. I had to decide whether to go or not. Surely enough, I decided to go, since I had nothing better to do (except drawing practice of course).

I have long admired Alex Niño’s work, ever since I first saw his illustrations in the Philippine Comics Museum years ago. There have been no other artist like him, no art style would compare to his kind of vision. His art style completely changed my outlook as an artist, deftly picking off the kind of the one-sightedness in art that I once had. The principle in which he viewed art as a continuous change, an evolving organism, challenged the then standard mainstays of Alcala and Redondo. This time, I was going to see the living legend myself.

I left the house at about 4 pm, since the talk was going to begin at 5 pm. Luckily for me, it was only a 30 minute LRT ride to Vito Cruz, so I had ample time to get there. I also jumped at the chance of finally checking out the College of St. Benilde School of Design and Arts. It was sort of an opportunity to explore the high tech facilities they had for art students. So I arrived and was simply amused of the atmosphere in SDA. It was definitely a portal to another world, compared to Beato Angelico.

Alex and Hans

I entered the SDA Cinema and there he was, Alex Niño, seated beside Hans Bacher – who I had little knowledge about, but I would be interested later on. As I was waiting for the seminar to start, the hosts of the program invited the early birds to take autographs and sketches from the guests. Too bad for me though, I was too excited that I forgot to bring any pens or papers (which I really regret). Instead, I contented myself by observing how Alex drew. And he drew a lot of sketches, at least 10 before the talk began.

Alex Nino

The talk began as Alex and Hans introduced themselves. Hans Bacher is a production designer in the animation industry. He had met Alex in 1996, during the production of Mulan. Taking Alex in as a conceptual artist, along with another French artist (I think), this would culminate into collaboration for other various animation films. During this time, there was a presentation of conceptual artwork by Alex for Mulan in the background (of which I was definitely enjoying). You can check them out here and here (I wish I could post them here, but I can’t – copyright). Mang Alex also worked on Atlantis, Treasure Planet and The Emperor’s New Groove.

Sketch

Mang Alex, before he accepted the job at Disney, requested that he worked at 3am onwards. It was interesting and very relating actually, to know that he wanted to work alone, without distraction in the wee hours of the day. Hans would describe this as amazing because it only took him 9 hours to draw a conceptual board the size of about 2 x 3 feet. And that’s a feat! He would see Mang Alex start at the upper left corner of the board and arrive hours later, catch him finishing the piece at the bottom right corner.

Fans

Mang Alex also described his influences as an artist during the 60’s and 70’s. One of the most memorable moments he reminisced was him drawing on beach sand when he was 7 years old. He had grown up admiring Francisco Coching, Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo. Wanting a piece of the action, he nurtured his art skills, dropping out of pre-med in FEU and pursuing a career in art. Accepting the fact that he couldn’t possibly reach the level of his influences, he created his own style, a whole new level.

Alex B/W

There was break, another sketch session and we moved on to the question and answer portion. I was jittery, trying to catch the write words. It was at this time that my heart beat rose significantly and I thought I was going to die. The first question I threw was about how Mang Alex dealt with rejection during his time showing his work to different editors. It was all about a challenge to him, a motivational factor which he used to drive him further as an artist. The second was about their artworks and projects, if we could see them somewhere online. Mang Alex had none, aside from some collections of his artwork by other artists. But he did give his email address. Thank you po!

It was at this time that the show was almost over. The last line of sketches was slowly cutting itself off. It was at this time that I noticed that Carlo Pagulayan was also there, along with his colleagues (of which would compose of the organizers of Komikon). I overheard some of them, talking about the Komikon, that it was to be held at SM Megamall. There were also urging Mang Alex to exhibit his works and have a grand reunion of his generation of Filipino artists. Mang Alex also brought samples of his artwork, a 14 page spread of his current project Dead Ahead. Yes, you didn’t read it wrong, FOURTEEN PAGE SPREAD! All of us were astounded to the level of composition and rendition that he gave to that work.

Alex and Carlo

Alex Nino and Carlo Pagulayan

All in all, it was a great experience having attended the seminar. I learned a lot of new things. I’m thankful that Liraya of CSB-SDA organized this event. I have no regrets now that I chose to go.

Check out more photos here!

A Fire Reflected

Posted in Books, Novels by J.R. Bumanglag on February 17, 2009

Three-hundred and forty six pages and almost a month (excluding Anansi) had passed; here I am staring into the far planes of my window. I bought the book because I wanted to get an idea on how to write a short story, a piece of treatment lingering in my mind. In a self-contained cell, I thought I was better off reading a novel. But practicality beat me to it. So after a time well-spent reading the collection, I must say, it was brilliantly done. The stories, although written in different times and spaces, are beautiful and timeless. Admittedly, I’m more of a sci-fi fan, of science and adventures into the deep unknown. But, this book probably gave me the best taste of fantasy I’ve ever had. All things need not to be explained, principles and laws are left aside. It was just an adventure really. I was just there to enjoy the fun of fantasy.

Looking back at every piece, I sliced some excerpts from the most memorable stories in the book.

***

Chivalry

Mrs. Whitaker found the Holy Grail; it was under a fur coat.

***


The Price

That cat, my wife had said, when he first arrived, is a person. And there was something person-like in his huge leonine like face: his broad black nose, his greenish-yellow eyes, his fanged but amiable mouth (still leaking amber pus from the right lower lip).

***

Troll Bridge

“I’m a troll,: whispered the troll, in a small, scared voice. “ Fol rol de ol rol.”
He was trembling.
I held out my hand and took his huge paw in mine. I smiled at him. “It’s ok,” I told him. “Honesty, it’s okay.”
The troll nodded.

***

Changes

The nurse walks him out into the blazing sun, across the road, and down onto the sand of the Copacabana.
The people on the beach stare at the old man, bald and rotten, in his antique pajamas, gazing about him with colorless once-brown eyes through bottle-thick dark-rimmed spectacles.
He stares back at them.
They are golden and beautiful. Some of them are asleep on the sand. Most of them are naked, or they wear a kind of bathing attire that emphasizes and punctuates their nakedness.
Rajit know them, then.

***

Bay Wolf

And he said, What are you?
He said, Ow, no, ow.
He said, Hey, shit, this isn’t fair.
Then he said nothing at all, not words now,
no more words,
because I had ripped off his arm
and left it
fingers spastically clutching nothing,
on the beach.

***

We Can Get Them For You Wholesale

‘Complete discreet disposal of irksome and unwanted mammals, etc.’ went the entry ‘Ketch, Hare, Burke and Ketch. The Old Firm.’ It went on to give no address, but only a telephone number.

***

Mouse

“Look, what I want is a humane trap. It’s like a corridor. The mouse goes in, the door shuts behind it, it can’t get out.”
“So how do you kill it?”
“You don’t kill it. You drive a few miles away and let it go. And it doesn’t come back to bother you.”
Becky was smiling now, examining him as if he were just the most darling thing, just the sweetest, dumbest, cutest little thing. “You stay here,” she said, “I’ll check out back.”

***

Murder Mysteries

“Sure,” I said to the man. “Sure, tell me a story.”
He coughed, grinned white teeth – a flash in the darkness – and he began,
“First thing I remember was the Word. And the Word was God. Sometimes, when I get really down, I remember the sound of the word in my head, shaping me, forming me, giving me life.
“The Word gave me a body, gave me eyes, And I opened my eyes, and I saw the light of the Silver City.

***

Where do I go from here? Whispers are telling me many things, to pin everything down before it’s all gone.

Artist of Two Worlds

Posted in Books, Comics, Manga by J.R. Bumanglag on February 10, 2009

“I have always been strongly of the opinion that the writer and artist should be in one person. Failing that, and in the absence of any prior agreement between artist and writer, then I come down in favor of the dominance of the artist. This is not to free him from the obligation to work in service of the story originated by the writer. Rather, I expect him to shoulder this burden with the understanding that the so called ‘freedom’ will come a greater challenge – that of employing or devising a wider range of visual devices and composition innovation. He should contribute to the ‘writing.’”

– Will Eisner, Comics and Sequential Art

I’m definitely on the same wave as Will Eisner on this notion. I have grown to admire artists that are able to write and illustrate at the same time. The ability to draw is already much a burden to some, but writing the story that goes with the illustration is an entirely new world on their shoulders. It is in this idea that I true believe in the ambidextrous ability, in balancing out the weight of justice given to the crime of killing two birds with one stone.

If I were to deconstruct this belief, I think the artist is able to write because he is a visual master. He paints a picture in his mind, trying to see the overall story. The characters, objects, scenes and places may jumble restlessly in his mind. Through insistent molding, he lays out everything, hoping all of them can fall unto the right places, at the right time. As he truly sees the painting from beginning to end, he simply translates it into words, adds illustrations (albeit again) and the rest is history.

I’m simply astounded reading a line which says ‘Story and Art by …’ or ‘Katha’t Guhit ni …’ It is a simple connotation of how personal the comic book is to her creator and vice versa.

***

El Indio

Francisco Coching

***

Elmer

Story and Art by Gerry Alanguilan

***

Akira

Story and Art by Katsuhiro Otomo

***

Vagabond

Story and Art by Takehiko Inoue

***

Indeed, how many of us can look left and right at the same time?

Digestible Little Pieces

Posted in Comics, Novels by J.R. Bumanglag on February 9, 2009

I quickly followed Angel and Demons with Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors Short Fictions and Illusions. It was a gloomy afternoon at Fully Booked MOA that took me hours of browsing around, ultimately choosing Smoke and Mirrors from everything else. At first, I was looking for other books in the same light as Angels and Demons. There was the Venetian Betrayal, some Aztec book, and some Sherlock Holmes books that I thought would make my day. When I almost decided to get them, I hesitated, unsure of what I was going to expect. It took me a long time trying to make up my mind. I’d go around the store, checking out artbooks, graphic novels and then some. Finally, it came down to Neil Gaiman.

I guess it would be at least two years ago when I stumbled upon the name Neil Gaiman. His name was pouncing about on the internet and some social circles at school. I was very curious who this guy was and did some research on him. So yeah, since I was a comic book enthusiast, knowing that Neil Gaiman (which I pronounced as guy-man) wrote a hit series called Sandman during the 90’s, which in turn really cemented him on my list of must-read-masterpieces. Though I have never read Sandman, I think if I ever get a chance to read the series, I’d probably gawk over him too (I’m still in the process of saving up for the Absolute Sandman – yeah right, 100 years from now!).

The first time I immersed myself to Neil’s world was through American Gods. On an initial read, I was expecting magic and mayhem right off the bat. But lo and behold, it didn’t take me there like a shot of tequila would. Instead, the plot began in a simple and normal way. I was scraping every character’s skin, trying to find out who these guys are. I moved along slowly and surely, gulping every page and paragraph. Before I knew it, it was a pleasure ride and the end paid off beautifully. I was hooked!

As of writing, I’m down three stories left in Smoke and Mirrors. I must say, the little places Neil takes me to has really been a grand adventure. In not more than a 15 minute glide over the rails, I was instantly captivated. I’m not really into the fantasy genre, but Neil cooks up an interesting story, puts everything on a plate and transforms into a meal easily digestible and delicious. I’ll probably provide a thorough run down of the book in the coming weeks, after I finish reading it.

The book has also benefited me, giving me an idea on how to write a short story. There have been some ideas floating here and there, generally teasing me into converting them into reality. I’m so frustrated not getting them into paper, but I hope in the coming days that the ingredients will fall into place.

If Reading Was A Sin

Posted in Movies, Novels by J.R. Bumanglag on February 8, 2009

I’d be so dead right now. I have been reading to death these past couple of weeks. At first, it was a way for me to get passed not having my PSP for a while (I lent it to my significant other almost 3 weeks ago). It was a very good idea, learning to my dismay that the PSP was the prime reason why I was so easily distracted (Patapon is very addictive, having control over a tribe of eyes really gets my gut going). So, I took the opportunity to get back on a book I read, I think, about 3 years ago which is Angels and Demons. I chanced upon it when I entered my brother’s room looking for something to eat (or a new issue of FHM or Maxim. Yes, devilish.) I picked it up just as I was supposed to leave and get back to work. It was at that instant that I remembered that there will be a film adaptation this summer, a prequel to The Da Vinci Code with Tom Hanks reprising his role as Robert Langdon. Excited at the idea of hitting the theatres once it was out, I decided to read the novel again.

Overall, it was still an enjoyable read. I seriously dig conspiracy theories, secret organizations and science fiction, couple that with at least a pint of historical fact and fiction and a mystery/thriller approach. Although, in many cases, I knew what was coming next but that did not stop me from reading through the novel.

Through the course of my reading sessions riding the jeepney/LRT on my way to school, I wondered if someone would suddenly approach me and tell me to put the book down immediately as it may have threatened my view on faith. The idea of this probable event never escaped my mind. If it did happen though, I imagined justifying that the book is entirely fictional and is by no means an attack to the Catholic faith. But, anything can happen. I’m glad it never did.