THE WEB JOURNAL OF JOHN RAY

Letters to Blumentritt: Week Seven

Posted in Books, Comics, Family, Manga, Movies, Photography, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 20, 2009

Casino Pauma

It’s finally come, my final week here in the US. Sunday, Tito Hip came over to the house and had a quick snack with us. Manang Jaz wanted to take me to the casino. Normally, you should be at least 21 years old to enter one. But, they took me to Casino Pauma where the age allowed was at least 18 years old. I’ve always wondered how it felt to be in a casino, after watching too much Ocean’s Eleven and 21. Disappointingly, I couldn’t bring my camera inside. The place was bustling with old people and slot machines, the sound of crackling coins all over. Every aisle and row had its own brand of slot machines. I was a little bit dazed because of the lights and sounds circling around me. It took some getting used to the idea of losing money to gain more money. Before I knew it, I was stuck to 1 cent slots for an hour or so.

Red Dragon

We went to a Japanese restaurant and ordered sushi to-go. I was craving for another round of sashimi and wasabi. At Tito Hip’s house, we feasted sushi along with homemade adobo. As usual, they were all speaking in Ilocano. I enjoyed the Red Dragon Sushi I ordered but found myself full in no time. We discussed whether to watch Wolverine or Star Trek. I was in favour of Star Trek, having no idea what to expect of the space adventure.

That night, we split into two groups. Tito Hip’s family was going to watch Wolverine while we were definitely going Trekkie. It was the day of the premiere so there were a lot of people lined up to see the movie. The clocked ticked away and pretty soon, we were entering the cinema. This time around, the theatre was packed and it was a good thing we found available seats. Lights dimmed. And the film began.

Star Trek

What can I say? The movie was kinetic and action-packed! Not one moment was wasted to ensure total involvement of the audience. For a casual movie-goer like me who has no idea of any Star Trek know-how, the film was in every way understandable and easy to swallow. The characters were lively and deserved every moment they had onscreen. On a particular note, some scenes depicting light flare effects reminded me of Michael Bay’s style of cinematography. The occasional humorous moments effectively balances the drama and struggle of the plot. Overall, this film deserves my praise and hopes for a sequel. May the movie live long and prosper.

Navy

One idea that made me excited was to wear the Navy uniforms my cousin had. One afternoon, Manung Totit ironed all his uniforms for me to wear. Although turning out to be too large for my size, it was fun having a feel to be part of the navy. I also wore his bike driving attire and rode his bike. Well, not to the point of driving it but that idea was very much open to me too.

Ouch!

Wednesday, Manung Totit invited some of his friends over for BBQ and beer. I was already imagining the juicy steaks at the table. At the garage, Tito Hip was busy tattooing his American friend. Just by looking at it, I knew it was very painful and agonizing. Maybe someday I’ll try tattooing as a hobby.

akira

As luck would have it, another day at the Book-Off churned out a great find. I was spending my time at the illustration section, making up my mind to what books to buy. Running out of options, I took the first volumes of Akira and Nausicaa The Valley of Wind. As soon as we were already leaving the store, I noticed that there was an English comic book section right near the entrance. Silly me! All this time, I was looking at the wrong places. It was there that I found volumes 2, 3, 5 and 6 of the Dark Horse release of Akira. Each of them only cost a buck each and I just had to buy them. It was a great find indeed.

Hooters

Hooters

Calamares

Texas BBQ Burger

I remember watching the movie Big Daddy starring Adam Sandler and wondering what it felt like to be in a Hooters Restaurant. Thursday, they took me to eat dinner at Hooters. Yes, I was very excited – no doubts there. The restaurant was very lively and the food was great. I had the Texas BBQ Burger and swirly fries. With all the sexual innuendos around me, nothing could really go wrong that day.

T-bone

And it came to pass, the day of my flight came and had to say goodbye. Friday, we left the house just around lunch time. We ate at Denny’s, a restaurant with breakfast as its specialty. I ordered the T-bone steak, medium well with a side order of onion rings and mashed potatoes. I was definitely stuffed and enjoyed every single bite.

Bikes!

Arriving at LA, we were very early so Manung Totit detoured over at Del Amo Motorsports. His love for bikes really showed when we were there. Time does fly when you’re having fun and a little while later, we were already at the airport. After a little snack at the lounge, gobbling sundaes and apple pies, I was ready to get into the plane. I said my farewells to my cousin and his family and to America. It was now time to come back to reality and face my priorities again.

What a trip it was to the land of the free.

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Letters to Blumentritt: Week Five

Posted in Books, Comics, Family, Manga, Movies, Photography, Sports, Travel by J.R. Bumanglag on May 13, 2009

For the most part of week five, staying in the house and messing around with my laptop or TV was the usual call of the day. I don’t remember much of what happened, maybe because of the tequila or just plain memory loss. What I do remember though are little snippets of a movie, a bookstore, a camera accessory, a nail-biting basketball game and a Filipino icon.

Monsters vs. Aliens

I experienced my first 3D movie with the DreamWorks Animation feature film Monsters vs. Aliens. Manung Totit had gone off early from work one afternoon. He had wanted to take Joshua to watch the movie, knowing that he’ll like it very much. Manang Jaz didn’t want to come with us so you can say it’s a night for two and a half men.

Terminator Salvation

Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

Star Trek

Land of the Lost

Xmen Origins Wolverine

Year One

The Krikorian theatre was fairly typical with only the catchy name setting it apart – it’s called the Krikorian theatre. We each got 3D glasses along with the tickets manung bought. The last time I saw 3D glasses was when I was a kid, and it was still red and blue. Some of the coming soon movies really caught my eye. On the top of my must-watch list are Terminator Salvation, Transformers Revenge of the Fallen, Star Trek, Land of the Lost, Wolverine Origins and Year One. For snacks, we had cheesy nachos, buttered popcorn and sodas. I was excited to devour the nachos although I was disappointed because there wasn’t any sour cream.

So we entered the theatre which was surprisingly still empty. Joshua was acting up again because he was frightened of the dark and the loud audio. Once we found some seats, we waited for the movie to begin. Unlike pre-entertainment from back home where music is played, this theatre plays movie trivia and a lot of ads. A little more waiting and the film finally started. The movie was above par with a strong and potential premise. Overall, I enjoyed it very much. But I still think Kung Fu Panda is better.

Shonen Jump

Manang Jaz was telling me about this bookstore where everything was almost a dollar each. I just had to go there to believe this. On the weekend, we went off to Book-Off, Japan’s largest chain of used bookstore. True enough, almost everything in the bookstore are cheap. He first thing that I saw upon entering was this shelf full of English translated manga. All around the store, there are lots of books from every topic you could probably think about – politics, science, computers, crafts, art, design and etc. But the aisle where I hanged out more than any other place was the anime and illustration aisle. There were a lot of artbooks, magazines and manga anthologies that were almost 90% off the original price. After a lot of browsing, I took 2009 issues 8-13 of Shonen Jump, just so I could know how it feels to read Jump first hand.

Camera Accessories

Next, we visited Ate Riza and her family, Manang Jaz’s best friend when she was in college. They live in a little pad in San Diego. Joshua had a chance to play with Ate Riza’s son Patrick. I was particularly excited because I was going to purchase a polarizing filter and remote trigger for my DLSR camera today. So while waiting for lunch, Manung Totit accompanied me to the Henry’s Camera, photography supplies shop nearby. The trip was relatively quick as we passed by what my manung describes as Ghetto land. A little later, I finally got what I wanted – a Promaster 6 ft. remote trigger , a Hoya 58mm Polarizing filter and Tamrac filter pocket.

Manny Pacquiao Ricky Hatton

After San Diego, we went to the baby shower of Manung Totit’s friend. They had a feast set in the living room with a variety of Filipino and American foods. I enjoyed the pork ribs, chomping every meat on the bone. Aside from that, they also had a little sushi tray which completed my meal. It wasn’t only the baby shower that was important that day. The long-awaited match between Manny Pacquiao and Ricky Hatton was about to start that very afternoon. Amazingly, it only lasted two rounds. All of us and probably all pinoys from around the world were celebrating.

Celtics vs Bulls

And a little earlier from the fight, the instant classic Celtics vs. Bulls 1st round playoffs was about to end. I was definitely happy that the Celtics won and are moving on to the next round.

One thing I missed this week was the Free Comic Book Day in Comic Odyssey Robinson’s Galleria. The last time I attended a FCBD was when Planet X was opening a branch in Glorietta.

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.

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El Indio

Francisco Coching

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Elmer

Story and Art by Gerry Alanguilan

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Akira

Story and Art by Katsuhiro Otomo

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Vagabond

Story and Art by Takehiko Inoue

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

Brush-up on your Comics History

Posted in Comics, History, Manga, Youtube by J.R. Bumanglag on January 7, 2009

Have you ever wondered how comic books and manga began? Well, ask no more. I recently found some interesting videos about the history of comic books and manga. They’re very informative and will give you an understanding and appreciation for comic books and its origins. Some of them have interviews with artists, writers and editors from the industry of whom includes Frank Miller, Stan Lee, Jim Lee, Joe Quesada, Osamu Tezuka, Katsuhiro Otomo and alot more.

Comic Book Super Heroes Unmasked

Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7 Part 8 Part 9  – Part 10

This is a 10 part video series ripped-off from a TV channel. Credits to Salazax for uploading it.

Once Upon A Time The Super Heroes

Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9 Part 10

Another 10 part video series. Uploaded by Batmitey.

Manga Mania

Part 2 Part 3Part 4 Part 5

This is a 5 part video series. Thanks to Khanbaliq for uploading it.

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