Thursday, December 7, 2017

A Giant Frog & Some Common Sense

12.07.2017 – “Bakokak” sounds like a combined term of a Japanese word and the sound of a frog. In fact, it’s seemingly un-Filipino about the way the title is, but either way, it’s something new from Gerry Alanguilan with Kevin Ray Valentino providing a spectacular art bringing this graphic novel to life.

It was released recently at Komikon in November and its Gerry’s latest book since “Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baby” with Arnold Arre (Mythology Class, Trip to Tagaytay). So far I haven’t got any idea was the book is all about and the first impression on the cover has something to do with a frog, which explains the “Kokak” part of the title.

It was the first time not being able to attend Komikon since the very first one in 2005. But going back to the book it features the artwork of Kevin Ray Valentino who had no formal art training and took him nearly three years to have this book made.

The premise for Bakokak is fairly simple a giant frog wreaking destruction in a populace, but it set in an alternate future where the Philippines is a forward developing country that came under attack from this creature.

In reality, it would be hilarious IF there was a giant frog going through Metro Manila and destroying every building that it steps on and that’s basically the story.

But at the heart of this imposing book is the giant frog and unknown lead character that basically has common sense. There’s something fascinating about monsters leveling cities or towns, but a frog is kind of like being ingrained in Filipino popular culture having explained by Gerry how he got interested in writing about this genre.

Bakokak is some ways a silent graphic novel heavily visuals by Kevin Ray Valentino with minimal dialogue. You open the first few pages you get blown away by his remarkable talent. The Philippines never had an iconic monster mostly these days writers dig up Filipino folklore for its supernatural stories, but giant creatures are unheard of regarding mythology. Basically, the Filipinos are into the usual telenovela or dramas that mirror reality and rather not have the imagination for putting together a great story. But Gerry has been championed on writing good stories that seek some for a challenge in regard to the narrative with quality.

The Alanguilan Element

The story of Bakokak is fairly simple in the narrative with a giant creature attacking cities and the usual let’s blow this monsters to kingdom come. Then there’s this one character who knew the solution he gets ignored until everything goes crazy.

Bakokak signifies one layer or element of Gerry as the way Wasted is described as part of his love life, his political views and discrimination in Elmer, the male fantasies in Where Bold Stars go to Die, and a tribute to his father-in-law as well as his wife with Rodski Patotski: Ang Dalagang Baby.

Kevin Ray’s Resurgence

At the heart of a simple story is Kevin Ray Valentino’s ever-growing talent. Some of the people I know here have browsed the pages. Ross Duncan, part owner of Greenlight Comics here in Adelaide says that Valentino’s artwork reminds him of Geoff Darrow’s art style minus the lines. Adelaide Ladies Comics Club co-founder Jess Cate was simply impressed about the artwork that goes for Bakokak, the same goes to local artist Greg Gates who saw the pages during last weekend’s Comic Lovers & Creators Meet. The work Valentino has put on his book will put him on the map for more future projects to come. If he keeps doing this kind of masterpiece he already got rave reviews with the local indie comics’ scene here in South Australia.

Overall “Bakokak” is a fun nod to old school monsters leveling cities and destroying its path. The lesson here has common sense in thinking strategically how to stop a raging frog rather than fight fire with fire, which the usual backward solution to everything besides a conflict with this type of creature. Gerry and Kevin Ray sure had an impressive collaboration on this book certainly there are more stories where that came from.

“Bakokak” will be available soon in the Philippines through Comic Odyssey for PHP 200.00 pesos. The shirt and pin were exclusively available during Komikon 2017.

Acknowledgments go out to Gerry Alanguilan, Ariel Atienza, and Sandeson Gonzaga for the Bakokak book, shirt, and pin, which were released during Komikon 2017.

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