Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Mythspace Volume 1 by Paolo Chikiamco

Mythspace, Volume 1
With Mythspace, I can imagine reaching for the stars, while digging into my own Filipino roots.

Mythspace is not your typical Filipino graphic anthology. It presents 6 stories of a similarly connected vein, 6 stories that share the same kind of odd universe. This is a universe where kapres own starships, where manananggal can be among the most respected thieves, and where the dwende, tikbalang, and bakunawa have their own high places in the galaxy. Oh, and it mostly takes place in outer space, so there's that, too.

It sounds crazy, but the story-craters of this volume have delivered quite an experience. Not only did I look at alien tech and different planets through their eyes, but I was also brought back to the stories of old that my own generation has now forgotten. They were able to mesh well old mythological creatures with their possible intergalactic personas, highlighting their old strengths while giving them powers that suit their personalities.

Moreover, the stories themselves are rich with detail and thoughtfulness. These are stories not just of glorified heroes and weird plots, but also of poverty, of longing, of strength, and of character. Their mythological/sci-fi backdrop is merely a vehicle for them to portray complex stories that can be funny, sad, or even surprisingly real, but they all do have heart.

So read Mythspace to find out about daring adventures and curious tales. They may touch you, interest you, and surprise you in the most unexpected ways. After all, this is space opera, Pinoy style.

Mythspace, Volume 1 by Paolo Chikiamco
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

While this book may seem to be about the (mis)adventures of Yossarian, a soldier who lives with a dead man in his tent, this actually is a snarky look into the ugly, enterprising world behind glorified military lines, with the one main catch that rules over it: Catch-22.

(That catch is, in itself, a curious and contradictory one, but it's one that makes sure that Yossarian, just when he thinks he's about to go home, finds out that he has to go back to flying his jets once more. This may seem the major focal point in this novel.)

It deals with soldiers who go to the hospital as frequently as they can to avoid going to battle. It tells us of commercial exploits happening with government funds in the hands of war-made entrepreneurs. It introduces us to the women (read: whores) the men flirt and fall in love with. It describes to us, in anecdote after anecdote, of the people who supposedly fight for the country, but actually end up tinkering with stoves, writing the same letters of grief, and applying fake signatures to official documents out of sheer boredom.

While all of these glimpses may have been magnified to make the characters here seem like mere caricatures, it seems obvious that the outlandish stories each have a grain of truth in them. This is especially seen in other small aspects of military life, such as with how it also deals with the difficulties in flying fighter planes, the men who get wounded and die in duty, and the wishes for freedom and patriotism.

All in all, this book actually appears to be an almost day-by-day look into the life of a soldier in the battlefield. It may be difficult to keep reading this for some (it was for me), as its story is peppered with, and sometimes segued heavily by, black humor and social commentary. However, this story is meant to be read for more than its plot. Read it for the comedy, and be prepared for snapshots of the political horror in military life. Remember, just when you're sure you've won, you lose.

Read this book now! Here's Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition on Amazon (for Kindle).

Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Monday, November 3, 2014

PSA: The Mythology Class Second Edition

mythclass_nov2014This is news I've been waiting for for such a long time.

I'm so happy to announce that one of my personal favorites will be available once again to the general public. Hurrah for Nautilus Comics' printing of the beautiful second edition of The Mythology Class!

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Monday, July 28, 2014

PSA: Trip To Tagaytay and Alternate Cast 12 Cover

Trip to Tagaytay
 Arnold Arre's graphic novels have always been among my favorites.

There is just something magical and wondrous about his works. Not only are they reminiscent of Philippine mythology and days of Martial Law, but they also speak of humanly love and bittersweet memories.

Of all the books I haven't yet read of Arre, it has to be Trip to Tagaytay. It's the one book I didn't get from bookstores, when I was trying to complete my collection of his books. This was mostly due to the fact that it was published in 2000, a long, long time ago.

I have almost completely given up finding a copy of this, so you can just imagine my gladdened heart when I received word that Trip to Tagaytay will be reprinted this year!

When Kat of Nautilus Comics sent me an email about this development, I really couldn't rein in my happiness. I immediately contacted a few of my other friends who were Arre completists, and joyfully imagined walking through the Bayanihan Center doors this Saturday to get myself a limited edition copy of this work.

Because yes: limited copies of Trip to Tagaytay will be available at the Nautilus Comics booth at this year's Indieket in Bayanihan Center, Pasig on August 2, 2014. (Here's the FB event page for it.)

If you stumbled on here wondering what exactly Trip to Tagaytay is about, here's the blurb provided:

For the first time in over a decade, multi-awarded Arnold Arre, the local comic industry’s golden boy, will be re-printing Trip to Tagaytay under Nautilus Comics. A love story set in the future, Trip was first printed in 2000 and won the Manila Critics Circle National Book Award.

Trip to Tagaytay gives a speculative glimpse of what the Philippines will be like years from now, showing how the country’s unique culture and quirks will mingle with futuristic technology, creating a tomorrow both novel yet also strangely familiar. Yet the story also talks about the timelessness of love and the country’s history, all framed in an electronic love letter between a young couple. Trip is Arre’s most personal work, being basically a 40-page illustrated love letter to his then-girlfriend and now wife, Cynthia.

Besides this, though, they will also be releasing a variant cover by Harvey Tolibao of the 12th issue of Cast, a young-adult comic series by Jamie Bautista on the adventures of a barkada in a musical.

These two are special releases that will be only available on the day of the Indieket itself.

I'll definitely be dropping by the Indieket to check these out, so maybe I'll see you there. Or, perhaps, in a trip to Tagaytay?

Arnold Arre’s Trip to Tagaytay and Harvey Tolibao’s Cast 12 variant cover will be available only at the Nautilus Comics booth in Indieket on August 2, 2014 at the Bayanihan Center, Pioneer St., Pasig City, from 10 am to 7 pm.

For more details, please contact Rhea Bautista at
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Friday, July 4, 2014

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Note: This review may contain spoilers.

This is a very interesting life story of Christopher, a boy who is autistic. He is very smart and he got an A level grade for the A maths. He wanted to solve the mystery of the death of Wellington, who is Mrs. Shears dog. He has a family with a caring father and a lost mother.

The book is very straightforward and direct to the point, and this is because Christopher, the protagonist, is very straightforward and direct to the point. He likes things in order, like train tables, but does not like the colors yellow and brown. When he sees four red cars in a line, he believes that it will be a Super Good Day, while seeing 4 four yellow cars in a line will be a Black Day, and he will not speak to anyone on a day like that.

Besides maneuvering the quite halting style this book has been written in, you may not find it easy to read about Christopher, especially when you try to imagine how the people around him must feel. (Christopher himself does not like to imagine, but he knows that White Lies are truths that are not said completely.) His family is torn apart by his curious behavior, like when he reads difficult books or watches videos about undersea life, while getting in trouble at school for punching a classmate. He himself is an oddity, but he is logical enough to survive in the real world - probably better than a non-Special Needs adult.

This slice of life tale, said in the voice of an autistic yet gifted teen, is a look into the world of some people we probably do not understand due to their conditions. It is a refreshing perspective which brings not only understanding, but also a lot of heart. A number of surprises happen here and there, from the discovery of family secrets, to Christopher repeatedly threatening people with the saw blade on his Swiss knife, so it really makes for an amazing story.

Truly an inspiring look into what goes on in the heads of the people we describe as "autistic".

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Read this book now! Here's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time on Amazon (for Kindle).

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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