Monday, June 16, 2014

Cardboard Godzilla 2014 is Glorious

If you think you know your way around cardboard, think again. A 20-year-old student from Taiwan named Kai-Xiang Xhong created an amazing Godzilla (the 2014 version) sculpture out of corrugated board, glue and lots of gumption!

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Week in Comics: The Empty Man #1

There's something inherently scary about the unknown, and the team of Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey taps into that fear to bring us The Empty Man #1.

Cullen Bunn (writer of my favorite comic The Sixth Gun) goes Boom! with a horror story that's part Contagion, part Dreamcatcher. resulting in the type of comic you shouldn't be reading alone at night. When FBI-CDC Agent Walter Langford is called to the scene of the latest Empty Man victim, he gets more than he bargained for when he nabs a member of a group called the Witnesses who seems to know a lot  more about The Empty Man than he's letting on. And if the last page is any indication, we might not need to wait that long to find out!

I like how Cullen doesn't delve much into The Empty Man phenomenon, choosing instead to pepper the book with subtle hints of how absolutely horrible it is, and it comes across as very effective. You wanna know what it is about The Empty Man that spawned cults and crazies and pastors saying the end is nigh, but all we know is that it's a 'disease' that leaves a trail of bodies and blood and nobody really knows where it came from and how it starts. Anyone can be a victim, and for our poor characters, that's not even the scariest part.

Arist Vanesa R. Del Rey delivers some really stellar work in The Empty Man. Her sketch-like style lends an uneasy, frenzied atmosphere to the book, like there's something sinister scratching at the surface of the seemingly mundane, and the gory scenes are unsettling in its effectiveness. Colorist Michael Garland accents that with muted, almost drab colors that only pop bright red in the presence of glistening blood. There's something to be said about a book that already has me in suspense without having read a single word balloon!

To be honest, I'm not really much into horror, or maybe I haven't seen one that tickles my fancy the way this first issue does. What you don't know might just kill you, but what I do know is that The Empty Man #1 is chillingly good. This gets a 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

NexCon Thoughts and Stuff

It says a lot about NexCon, the sci-fi/fantasy convention that happened last weekend, that I had serious convention withdrawal symptoms. I had the chance to finally cosplay as the Eleventh Doctor in a con where people would know who I am...who wouldn't have it? It's been days and I'm still feeling the effects from all the pictures and the discussions and the basic fandom glee that still permeates the air and makes me long for another go at it.

So after a few days of letting it all sink in, here are a couple of thoughts I had about NexCon:

- I bought a Gold pass, which allowed me full access to all of NexCon's activities for two days, and personally I think that's the only price point worth paying for. The Bronze just lets you into the dealer's booths, which weren't that plentiful to begin with, and the Silver gets you everywhere just for one day. And you'd want to go both days for the discussion panels, which is actually what you're paying all your hard-earned cash for.

- Now that I think about it, they should have added more stuff to see with the Bronze pass, just to make it more enticing. You'd want a lot of casual con-goers paying to go in. But as it is, Bronze pass holders only get to see dealers booths Can't join the trivia contests, panels, nada. There's no incentive to even buy one, and paying Php400 more to upgrade to Silver would be daunting to anyone in this economy. The event was already as niche as it would have been awesome if people who weren't really into genre fandoms had as much fun as we had, maybe with some small yet awesome activities they can participate in (like a mini-Geekfight!), even if they paid the very basic price. And yes, I've thought about this way too hard.

- The event was sparsely attended, which made me a bit worried, but somebody described the event as an 'intimate gathering', which is actually spot-on. The attendees NexCon did have were passionate about what they loved, whether it was Star Wars or Doctor Who. They weren't just there to go to a con...they were there to celebrate their fandoms with each other, and it showed. I even made new friends in there!

- Makes me wonder, though...why didn't NexCon grab the attention of the con-going community? It was advertised to hell and back in TV, radio and the barrage of reminders on Facebook, and yet all I could call it is an 'intimate gathering'? Is it because a major con was only a couple of weeks away and people were saving up for that? Is it the timing? Was it not advertised enough? Were people scared of the ticket price points offered? I guess we may never know, but the knowledge of it might help make NexCon better in the future.

- The discussion panels were cool. I didn't get to go to the Meet the Taleweavers panel, but I didn't miss the Cinema Fantastica and Komiks Reborn panels. Cinema Fantastica in particular was a high point of NexCon, with ideas and discussions about Pinoy sci-fi/fantasy from the best and brightest minds of Philippine cinema flowing like good wine. It was awesome hearing from film historian Teddy Co about our very own Pinoy sci-fi/fantasy movies (did you know we've had Pinoy sci-fi films since the 1930s?!), and Erik Matti showing concept art for the sequel to his Tiktik: The Aswang Chronicles was cool. It was also there that I found out that there are people outside the country, from the U.S.A. to Scandinavia, who were fans of our old sci-fi/fantasy films like Darna! Imagine that! I learned a lot from that panel. More of that please.

- The Komiks Reborn panel was criminally short. You've got guys like Carlo Vergara (creator of ZsaZsa Zaturnnah), Leinil Yu (Avengers artist) and the legendary Danny Acuña talking about the history and the future of comics and you end the panel in one hour? Sir Danny's stories alone would need more than that! Speaking of whom, Danny Acuña had a ton of interesting things to say (and he dominated the panel's running time because of it. I don't envy the guy who had to moderate him!), including his thoughts on why Pinoy komiks is in its current "zombified" (as Lyndon Gregorio put it) state, instead of being as huge as it was during his heyday. I really wished there was more time for the panel, as I wanted to ask their thoughts on what it would take for Pinoy komiks to be popular again.

- It was my first time to see GeekFight (in it's 5th year!) in all its grandeur, and the fact that they've got like fifteen teams answering obscure trivia made for a hilariously good time. I'm still beating myself up for not joining despite the fact that I know tons of useless information. But like I said, I hope next time the peeps with the Bronze passes can get in on the fun as well.

- Can I just say that I'm freakin' proud of my female friends over at Whovian Philippines for making local fandom history by pulling off an almost complete roster of genderbent Doctors? They've planned this for the past few months after seeing pics of genderbent Doctors in overseas conventions, and the fruit of their labor is nothing short of glorious.

- We might have accidentally dominated cosplay during NexCon's first day, what with thirteen (THIRTEEN!) Fem!Doctors and Clara Oswalds and Amy Ponds and Fem!Jack Harkness and Fem!Ianto, but to be honest there weren't that many people cosplaying during the first day. There weren't that many people during the first day either. But the second day of NexCon exploded with cosplay and in effect drew more people to the con, which was nice. There were X-Men there from the new movie, and Jaegers from Pacific Rim, basically lots of eye candy. The main cosplay competition (called Cosplay Rumble) was in the second day, which probably accounted for the increase in attendance. Goes to show just how popular (and important) cosplay is for conventions right now. Would a convention survive without a focus on cosplay, I wonder?

- NexCon Rocks! (the concert at the end of the event that featured Stereodeal, Peso Movement and Paranoid City) was a pretty neat idea. What better way to end a con than to rock out to awesome music (especially when guys like Stereodeal covered the Doctor Who theme song)?

A lot of things could be forgiven in NexCon, since it's their first time out. Everything was handled modestly, which made for a very cosy event. NexCon not being as popular as it should have been can't be helped, despite NexCon being pushed hard for the past few months. I guess the community isn't quite ready for a convention like this just yet.

If anything, NexCon succeeded in one thing: giving sci-fi and fantasy fans here in the Philippines a place to get together with like-minded people and really celebrate their fandoms. The format works. I should know, my friends and I (shout out to the peeps of Whovian Philippines!) had loads of fun, more fun than we were allowed to have. And I'd pay good money to have that kind of fun again.
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