Left to my own devices

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

l>r: • The street of Hanoi • Pork seller

l>r: The famous weasel poo coffee

l>r: • The streets of Hanoi

l>r: • My first beer, Beer Hanoi. • The street of Hanoi

l>r: • The streets of Hanoi

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Year End Blabbering
Hard work and reward really work well with each other. Reward doesn't mean so much if we didn't work hard for it. This December, I experienced this bitter sweet combination more than once.

Firstly, it was joining the 24-Hour Comic Challenge. To register as a participant was already a tough decision to make. Factor like 24 pages including plotting, scripting and lettering was indeed impossible to my ability (I have been known as a really slow artist among my peers). I don't want to end up not able to complete the task or come up with such a rush job that is too embarrassing to look at later. But there is a voice inside keeps telling me I should take part. Its a tug of war between "meaningful event for a comic book artist" vs "can I endure this physically". As I spoke to the organizer WK Wong, he struck me with a very important point that pushed me to my final decision, if I don't do it now, its even tougher for me physically next year. I don't want to end up always thinking "I should have joint it the 1st time when I was still young enough". So I signed up.

To follow the rules of 24-Hour Comics, all I will bring to the challenge was a mindful of idea and a timetable. The event starts at 3pm, 16 Dec, 2006 and ends on 3 pm the next day. Here is my plan, from 3 to 7 pm is to plot, script and scamps for all 24 pages. 7 to 8 pm, dinner break. 8 pm to 3 am, complete the 1st 14 pages(half an hour a page). 3 to 6 am, sleep. 6 to 7 am, page 15 and 16. 7 to 8 am, breakfast. 8 to 12 noon, page 17 to 24. 12 noon till 1 pm, lunch. 1 to 3 pm, touch up and finishing. The only thing I did as preparation was timing myself to finish a sample page within half and hour. The result was not a bit rough but its enough to tell a story so I am happy with it. I was getting really nervous as the day approached because all I have is nothing more than a plan.

As the clock starts sharp at 3 pm on that day, I noticed most artists has started drawing while I am still writing away. Took me 3 hours to get all the script and plot line fitted into the 24-page layout. Thank God its worked out alright, I would be in deep trouble if the story doesn't work out in the end because I don't have time for a re-do. First part of my plan has passed with an extra hour(6 to 7 pm) so I decided to draw up the panels in my actual pages. Most spectators were puzzled by my action because all artists have been doing lots of pages by now while I was just drawing up empty boxes. 7 to 8 pm, dinner time. Had a good chat (and a beer) with Sunder, took longer than I thought, came back at 830 pm. Starts penciling. I realized that it would be smoother if I penciled all the pages instead of pencil and ink one page at a time, so the plan has to change a bit. To break down the time of 30 minutes to complete a page, now I have 15 minutes pencilling and 15 minutes inking and lettering. As it passed 2 am, 11 hours into it, migraine has took over my left brain, the pain even spread to my left upper jaw. It was quite dreadful. I have to gave up the plan of drinking the benedictine or essence of chicken I brought along to give me extra boost. I got my relieve by downing cups and cups of plain water and made the runs for the wash room. By 3 am, I have penciled all 24 pages plus inked and lettered 4 pages. As I am still on schedule, I decided to go for my sleep. Most of the artists are still drawing at that time. Cedric was a bit worry when I told him I got to take a nap. He was even worrier when I told him I will sleep until 6 am because I have only completed 4 pages so far. I slept for an hour and won't be able to continue. So I decided to go back and draw.

From 4 to 6 am, I was inking by half an hour a page but told myself to take it easy since this was my sleep time. After 6 am, which I was suppose to be back on full force, I noticed that I can't go any faster than half an hour per page. The thing was, I forgot to calculate the deteriorating rate of my physical self in my plan. No time to think too much, I continue to finish the remaining pages(18 more to go). Breakfast with fellow comrades Alan Quah and Sheldon Goh. I have so much in common with Sheldon(who won the second prize) as both of us have a full time job and only scraping up some spare time here and there to draw. Its even tougher for him as he has kids to take care off as well. Back to the drawing board after bread and coffee, timing already off according to my original schedule though. By 1 pm(if according to my original schedule, I would have completed and had lunch as well) I still have 4 more pages to go so I decided to skip lunch. It has been a record for me by then because I only slept for 1 hour for the pass 22 hours! I never been drawing non-stop for so many hours in my life. All of this was not possible if I didn't have 19 other artists to do it with me, really.

On to the last 2 pages, my thumb was too sore and its not bendable! My hand was trembling and I felt really sick of drawing. The last to pages was the toughest. I am so glad that I managed to get it all done by 2 pm. I must add that one of the best thing I did earlier(by accident) was to complete the last page first. I did that while drawing the second and third page because they were the same scene. So when I was on my 22 page, my immediate thought was there are 2 more to go but later realized that page 24 is already in the can really boost up my speed towards the finishing line.

By 230 pm, I have cleaned up the pages. Must apologize for creating a tremor when I was erasing the pencil lines off the pages. Next time, I would like to suggest to the organizer to leave a small gap between tables. As I handed in my works, I and walking towards the wash room, like a soundtrack that played by an orchestra, it it me. I never felt so good in my life for a long time. Its like a tiny step in terms of contributing to the comic scene but one big leap for my self achievement record. I was really glad that I took part this time because I don't think I can do it again next year(sorry, Cedric). I didn't feel tired, chatting along with fellow artists that came to support on that day(Eng Huat, Milx, Adi, Chee and of course my fellow Gilamon partners Michael and Sau Lim).

After the prize giving ceremony( I didn't win any of the top three awards and not expected to with talents like Krom and Alan around) as I went to my car, I began to feel tired. God bless my wife for driving me home to bed. She was supporting me all the way from the day I signed up. I took the next day off and slept thru it but its going to take a lot more rest then one day to recover.

Back to work on Tuesday, while taking care of my office responsibility, my mind has to start planning on Gilamon's presentation to the MDec panel of judges on the next day. I was still too tired to focus but have no choice but to force myself thru it. After having the whole ten minutes presentation outlined and agreed apon by Mike and Sau Lim, I went home and slept early. To win this MDec pitch means as much to me as the 24-Hour Comics because with the MDec grant, we could proceed to publish our graphic novel without having to worry about forking out the money from our savings. What made the MDec pitch more nerve wrecking was, while 24-Hour depended solely on my own discipline, the fate our pitch depended on the panel of judges' decision.

Wednesday morning, three of us met for breakfast and did a dry run. Michael was busy preparing the relevant pictures as our support to convince them that we mean business. By 2 pm, while waiting out side of the presentation hall with other fellow contestants, we were handed a piece of paper outlining the time frame and the content of our presentation. The alerting part was we only know it by then that we have only 4 minutes to present while the remaining 6 were reserved for Q&A! As the door to the presentation hall opened, the cold air flowing out of it makes the hall felt like the morgue. The mood was way too serious for a comic book pitch. This reminded me of my advertising days when I have to go for a business pitch. We were the second to present (after Krom) among the 20 finalists. As he went out passing his thumb drive to the officer, we only found out then that we are not allowed to use our own images for our presentation! They will just play images of artworks we sent in during competition. Gone are the chances to show them the exhibition we had done in Japan, at Galleriiisu or Taiwan Toy Fair.

So when it came Gilamon's turn, I have to squeeze thru the content for a 6 minutes(our original plan) presentation in 4. They even have a time keeper, that shows how serious they were about this. Ended up I couldn't even finish all the points I wanted to, let alone allowing Sau Lim to talk about our financial plan(I managed to elaborate on that for a bit). As judges posted their inquiries, I felt the good thing was coming thru when Reggie Lee congratulated us on the artwork well done. Ben, who was not allowed to judge us since we are colleagues, threw in a question our promotional plan gave me a chance to talk about the merchandise we planned to do. I managed to passed thru Milx (the judge who asked the toughest questions to all finalists) without a fuzz and its over.

As the rest of the finalists presenting their pitch, we were trying to calculate the chance of our winning and it seems very vague because there were some really good presentations. But I already felt a relieve because we have done what we could and we didn't do it too badly. The announcement came about 630 pm and yes, we got it!

All the hard works from lettering the artworks, writing the document, taking leave to hand in our package(we were the first two to hand in with Krom) down to the presentation finally paid off. The reward won't be so sweet if we didn't work so hard on it. We also want to stress that we were very grateful for the swift decision of MDec to not allowing Ben to vote for us. The winning of the grant couldn't be so meaningful if not for that. The last thing we want, with all the effort we put in, was for people to think that it was not a fair pitch. Another thing I was very happy about was fellow comic artists Krom and Azhar who share the same passion Gilamon were among the winner as well.

So with all the hard works and rewards, with the Christmas long weekend, it should be party like there is no tomorrow, right? Wrong! After all that rush, my body decided to take a well deserved break down. I failed to go to work on Friday with serious cough and flu. Spent my Saturday and Sunday half sick, half partying. On Saturday, I managed to cough my way through an office party and a meet up at this small but very tastefully done drinking place called The attic after that. It was really bad on my Sunday lunch gathering with fellow Urban Comics mates, I have to retired after that. Monday was a complete stay in. Hence, this long winded writing. Hopefully I will be up again on Tuesday.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I think I am going to stop reading the blogs that so boldly digging up the dirts of Bolehland. Its my problem, really. I felt that I am very depressed and angry at the place I live in after knowing the truth. To make things worse is that I can't really go anywhere else or do anything about it. I think by looking at the beautiful picture weaved on the carpet itself by the Bolehland authority is more soothing than smacking my face in the dirt underneath it. The truth reminds me of how helpless and insignificant I really am in the food chain. What else can I do to change the way things go? Yes, I can vote, but I have already know where my vote goes long before these great blogs exist. Its my problem, really. I am in denial. You guys have been doing a great job for the society, especially Encik A Kadir Jasin and Brother Rocky to name just a few. Thank you so much for flipping the carpets. I salute you all and encourage those who are stronger than me would continue to read or even write not just about the dirt but also ways to get rid of them. But not me, I just can't take the truth anymore, I have decided to be an ostrich. I am so sorry.
To end my declaration of being in denial, I would like to quote on wiseman Will's rapping, "Let God deal with the things they do, 'coz hate in your heart will consume you too..."

Amen to that.
I used to think, the previous authority of Bolehland ruled with an ironhand. He controls everything. We, the little people, only allowed to know enough to continue living without giving problems to his reign. The current authority, however, is weaker. Lots of the ugly facts leaked out to us. At least we know so much more now. Hurray.
I think I was wrong about this. This one is worse. The previous ruler no doubt is not any better than the current one, but at least, he is concerned enough to not hurting the little people's feelings too much. At least he doesn't treat us like idiots. The current one, however, has reached a state that doesn't care what we think or know anymore. Business will still go on as usual despite our protests. Its like yes, you've found out what's going on behind the curtain, so what? Go ahead and do all the kicking and screaming till the sun goes down. We will still do it.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

James Bond Rocks

You don't want to mess with this man.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Video Kills The Comic Stars
Perhaps the most important lesson Seeley hopes to impart in 'How to be a Comic Book Artist' is the importance of deadlines.

'The biggest pitfalls facing any comic book artist are video games and pornography,' Seeley said. 'Seriously, most artists work from their homes and they can't structure their day without the atmosphere of an office. Video games are pretty much responsible for about 85 percent of late comics.

I think 'Grand Theft Auto' alone nearly destroyed the industry. The other major stepping stone is artistic ego, which comes from a genuine desire to do really good work, but often becomes a selfish act of derailing the comic for the sake of the artist.

'A real comic artist in the US market should be producing a page a day. If you can't do that, you have to move to Europe.'

(Comments from Tim Seeley, author of "How to be a Comic Book Artist (Not Just How to Draw)" excerpted from Comicbookresources.com)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Oh oh...

When they replaced Roger Moore with Timothy Dalton, I had my doubt but there was a good reason for this as Roger has way passed his prime as the famous British secret agent. Dalton may lacked the smooth elegant of Ian Fleming's original character but he pretty much made it up with the action department. Dalton's Bond was more intense and real compare to the final few Moore's offerings where mostly his stunt double did all the dirty job. Yet Dalton failed because somehow, he lacks of Bond's smooth and cool quality.
When I watched Daniel Craig walks into a casino dressed in Bond's iconic black suit and bowtie, I have a bigger doubt of him filling the shoe that was taken away from Brosnan. I don't see the reason why they need a new Bond at this time. Brosnan pretty much complete the Bond equation and he is at his prime of things. If a younger Bond is what they are looking for, Craig certainly doesn't look the part of a young rookie Double Oh.
I really wish he won't fail as I think he is a fine actor. I really enjoy Layer Cake mainly because of Craig. May he brings all the quality of Bond out thru his skilled acting despite his lacking in the area of height, looks, hairline and oh, his blondness.
Go for it, kid. But lets hope this is not another case of studio fucking things with their commercial "calculations"...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Superman Returns, hurrayy~:_D

Lois LaneSiti Nurhaliza

Here are some of the things I observed during watching Superman Returns:
• Lois Lame looks alot like Malaysian superstar Siti Nurhaliza
• Nothing can really happen in the movie(or the comic books) coz Supes will "always be around" to right the wrongs
• Man falls down from the top of a building, no problem. Ship ripped into half and sunk into the ocean, its okay. Giant "Daily Planet" globe falling from the sky, no worries. Plane to crash into a packed stadium? Good! We need the audiences' applause later!
• Supes looks really dreamy even when he was being brutally beaten up by Luthor's goons
• Lois Lame couldn't have a ciggerate even if she wanted to, coz its not right
• No one was harmed during the whole movie despite of all the disaster they squeezed into it. (spolier alert)The only person appeared to be killed off was done by Superman's son!!!
• Going thru the whopping 154-minute movie is like having to finish a really big cheese cake all by yourself. After eating the 1st quarter, you are already full but you still have the rest to finish.