Posted February 2, 2013 by Norby Ela in Comics

LOKAL GRIND: Macoy – Komiks & ‘Ang Maskot’ in Film

I interviewed one of my good acquaintances yesterday, Macoy (Ang Maskot, School Run), who announced some big news about the ongoing short film adaptation of his comic – Ang Maskot. Also, we conversed about his status, his other projects and his plans for 2013.

From panels to reels, let’s start.

Norby Ela: :-)
Macoy: Mornin’!
NE: Morning, kuya. Ano-ano ang gigs mo lately?
M: Freelance stuff pa rin. Design, illustration and editing.
NE: That’s cool. Marami nagtatanong sa School Run mo, ah.
M: Reasonable. It’s like two years behind schedule. Summer Komikon!
NE: Yun! May komiks ka pa ba sa CO (Comic Odyssey)?
M: Sobrang tagal ko na di nagdedeliver dun, nawala ko na ata yung mga delivery receipts ko. I probably should though, considering sarado na ang Sputnik.
NE: Nakuha ko na ang kita ko dun. I used it for store credit. Yun. Ubos na. (laughter)
M: Pwede pala store credit! (laughter). Hmmm….
NE: Anyway, let’s start.
M: Ako dati naniningil sabay bibili ng higit dun sa siningil. Sure.
NE: Ah. Naubos ang credit ko sa Marvel Now. T***a! Pero magaling ang Marvel Now launch. Refreshing.

But for now, how’s your Thursday morning so far? Kumain ka na ba? Did you prepare your kids to go to school?

M: Reinvention is pretty much the only path for superhero comics right now, yun yung isa sa pinakamalaking pinagkaiba nila sa manga.

Pretty good, yup, and yup.

NE: Hmmm, yeah. Are you reading any superhero comic book these days?

Tell me about how does your day usually go, like what time do you get up, eat, work and make comics?

M: Not really, aside from the spoilery bits I get on comics news sites and FB groups, the last series I followed was Gail Simone’s Secret Six.

I work at home and have very poor discipline — bad combination. Because I freelance, my life follows deadlines instead of routines, so my schedule is unpredictable.

NE: Do you work late at night and at the wee hours of the morning?

M: Sometimes, I work all night. Sometimes, I’m asleep even before the kids do. Right now, the freelance world is really, really competitive, so I’m also trying to look for a steady gig, like online tutoring (remember, I asked you about it several months ago).

NE: Do you think lifestyle affects your comic book work, like food diet and exercise?

Maybe, you should teach a ‘MAKING COMICS’ class.
M: Yes! Lifestyle, work, diet, exercise… it all comes down to discipline. I really admire people like (Ernest) Hemingway and (Takashi) Murakami, who can set down and work hard and keep a schedule. I’m like, okay, let’s open Illustrator… nooo, I want to learn Mangastudio too, let’s look for tutorials on YouTube… oooh, Google sketch backgrounds! Let me check FB for a minute… and so on. It’s a cycle of non-productivity that I’m sure all are familiar with.

I’ve been wanting to prepare like a lecture on comics-making… not from start to finish, just some of the areas I consider my strength, like layouts, panelling, pacing and storytelling stuff.

NE: We’re the same. (laughter)

A seminar. Yeah, about making comics, and you can launch the news in Komikon.

Anyway, days ago, you announced that there is Ang Maskot short film in the making, yes? How did that became from an idea to right now – on film production?
M: Yes! Short film! It was just blind dumb luck on my part.
NE: Who had the idea?
M: I consigned the comic at Sputnik, and one of the owners, Chris Costello, who happened to have gone to film school, and a friend of his, Mihk Vergara, who also went to film school, liked it so much that they wanted to turn it into a movie.


NE: How did they approach you and tell you that they want your comic to be made in film? What was your reaction?
M: They talked to me about it years ago, during our first signing event at Sputnik. I was thrilled and excited, but I tried not to get too excited.

They’ve been awesome and really wanted to convey the spirit of the original comic. They’ve consulted me on the changes that they wanted to put in, and open to my opinions when I saw something that might not jive with the comic’s intentions or my vision for the story or characters.

NE: Wow. How come they decided to make it now?
M: Lots of reasons, money, I guess being the foremost, and I putting together the production team and the cast. Plus they have day jobs like us comics folk.


NE: So is this like 100% adapted to the original comic? Are there changes or additional stuff in the film?
M: I volunteered a script, which they approved pretty much without changes. There were changes, for the sake of storytelling economy, or budget/location restraints, but from what I saw during day one of the shoot, it’s 100% faithful to the spirit of the comic, and the directors want to keep it that way. They even based some of the shots on specific panels from the comic, which was pretty cool to see.


NE: Did you make storyboards or did everybody in the set have a copy of your comic in their hands?
M: One thing i can say is that they merged the manager character and the party host character into one, and when you see who playing’s him you’ll be so glad they did.

They made their own storyboards by manipulating illustrations from the comic.

It was really awesome. They gave a copy of the comic to the actress playing the ‘girl’, and she loved it so much, she agreed to play the role right there, and for free, too!
NE: Wow! Awesome, man.

Who’s the actress? Marian Rivera? Angel Rivero? (laughter)

Did you do the casting or they did?
M: They asked me about my dream cast, and I told them, but they were the ones who did all the work. They would ask me, “so what do you think about so-and-so?” and I would tell them. But, I didn’t make any demands or anything. They should choose whoever they thought they could get the best performances from, and that’s what I said.

The guy playing the Maskot didn’t ask to be paid, either, and instead ended up becoming an associate producer… he actually put his own money into the project. Which is partly why I am now a fan for life.
NE: Galing.


NE: [Off the record chatter] — “I bet” the costume looks awesome. “I bet” the mascot’s legs are amazing too.

About the actors, what did they think of the comic? Did you give your other titles also? Did you get to converse with the chosen cast about our (komiks) medium? What do they think of komiks today?

M: Yeah, the art department did a great job with the costume and the McBird set. It was indistinguishable from a real-world fastfood place. It was kind of surreal to sit down in a real place that once only existed in your imagination.

Although, I think they underestimated the physicality required for the role of the Maskot a bit… the costume kept getting torn at the seams and they had to make repairs after every few takes. But that could be partly to due to the actor really throwing himself into the role. He did an amazing job.

The actor playing Maskot hasn’t read the comic yet, but I’ll be giving away all my comics to all the actors during the next shoot. Para na rin medyo ma-justify ang pagtambay ko sa set.

I did get to chat a bit with the actor playing Maskot. It’s interesting because he mentioned how actors tend to get typecast, as “the best friend” or “the sidekick,” which is partly why he wanted to do this role. I thought wow, that’s a great parallelism to one of the themes of ‘Ang Maskot’. Someone sick of being labelled as one thing and wanting something more.

NE: (Laughter) Tambay? You are like the Frank Miller during the film production of 300.

Ganun din ata ang Hollywood, I think. But, I guess not anymore. That sucks na meron ganun. Meron ba din sa atin na ganun? Like, “Si kuya Budjette (Tan)? ‘Supernatural guy’ sya?

Sina Leinil (Yu) and Carlo (Pagulayan)? Pang superhero naman.”

Or am I just completely wrong with these examples?

M: Frank Miller, no, no… I tried to keep out of the directors’ way during the shoot. It’s their medium, not mine.

Maybe. I remember Gerry Alanguilan wondering whether he’ll be known as “the chicken guy” after Elmer hit it big. I don’t think Budjette gets labelled as “the supernatural guy,” it just that that’s where his interests lay. As for myself, I specifically did Operasyon as my second comic so people wouldn’t pigeonhole me as primarily a comedic writer.

NE: Saan nyo nagawa ang shooting nyo?
M: The restaurant scenes were shot in a fastfood joint near Sta. Cruz Church in Manila, there was a few outdoor shots in that area too. They also shot a few office scenes in a nearby building. Oh yeah, that’s another change. We get to see the manager’s office in the film.


NE: How long is the film? One of our friends in the komiks community – Chapel of Silent Sanctum Manga wants to ask, will there be any blooper reel in the end credits?
M: I don’t know exactly how long the finished film is going to be… probably under 30 minutes, as per CineManila rules. I don’t know if the directors intend to make the blooper reel as well, I didn’t ask! It’d be awesome if they did though.
NE: Were there a lot of takes during the shoot?
M: I heard that working with the kids for the birthday party scenes slowed things down a lot (I arrived late and missed like half the shoot). You know what they say about working with kids… but the street and office scenes went smoothly. The crew had great on-set camaraderie because a lot of them were already personal friends and/or had already worked with each other on other projects. It was a lot of fun watching them work.


NE: On your blog, you wrote that the directors are launching a Kickstarter campaign for the finance of the short film, tell me what you know about that.

About Kickstarter, there are numerous campaigns from other countries for fundraising their own creator-owned books/properties or whatever. I haven’t seen any of us (in our community) doing it. Do you think this is a good way to finance publishing our comics?
M: They tell me that they’ll be launching the Kickstarter campaign after principal photography. There’s going to be a pitch video… that’s pretty much all I know about it.

Kickstarter for Pinoy Comics? Maybe if it was a big-name brand, like Alanguilan, Arre, Vergara, Tan/Baldisimo or Culture Crash. With Kickstarter projects, you need to establish a following *before* you start asking for money. Also, kickstarter only solves the funding problem. Once you’ve raised the money and printed your comic, you still need to distribute it. That’s a whole other wall to get over.


NE: In the future, if this film would grow into a success, do you think local people will start looking for your books? and if so, do you think local film makers will start adapting komiks?
M: Madami nang inadapt na komiks di ba? Or do you mean indie komiks specifically?
NE: Yeah, indie komiks, I mean. Sorry, nasa mind set ko na ang indie komiks are komiks natin now.
M: I think comics will always be THE BEST place to go for exciting new content. why? because it’s the most cost-effective medium for telling fantastic stories. It costs $10 million to make a bullet hit Superman in the eye on screen. A comics person can draw that scene for the cost of a piece of paper and some ink, photocopy it, and there, it’s out. Comics creators are free to do almost anything on the page, tell any story. So that’s one thing comics as a medium has going for it.

Second, the indie komiks scene is bursting with new ideas like never before. I think if the mainstream entertainment industry was serious about finding fresh new stories to tell, indie komiks has a lot to offer. The question is, are they looking?
NE: No, I think they have a formula that they’ve been using for many decades now. If they do find new content, they would just apply it to that formula. There’s always a love story angle, a rich Spanish last name, or a strict Tagalog script in that formula.
M: Exactly. if, say GMA 7 adapted Trese they would probably give her an evil twin sister, have the Kambal fall in love with her and then fight over her. And then one of them would get cancer and the background music would be “Of all the things”.


NE: OK, so if another indie filmmaker would adapt an indie komik after the release of your’s, what indie komik do you want that to be?
M: I think Trese as a Blair Witch Project-type horror flick would be awesome. Or a 300-style retelling of Maktan 1521. For more mainstream projects, I would love to see Kanto Inc., or a superhero, like Boy Ipis, Kalayaan or Jon Zamar’s Bathala. I know Gerry Alanguilan hasn’t released it yet, but I would love to see how people react to a steampunk Jose Rizal.
NE: Wasted would be good. Trese would nice as 5-minute webisodes.

Do you want your other titles to be adapted in film?
M: Who wouldn’t? There’s already an Operasyon fan film up on YouTube.


NE: A lot of people wants to know when will the next issue of your School Run going to come out to be adapted in film.
M: I dunno, killing kids onscreen… well, maybe the Hunger Games has prepared the audiences a bit.
NE: It will be the local Walking Dead. hahha


NE: Anyway, when will Ang Maskot be released out in theaters? Will it be on DVD? (laughter)
M: I don’t even think they’ve released the CineManila 2013 schedule yet! You’ll have to ask the directors about that one. But yeah, U’d love to see School Run on-screen. I haven’t watched The Walking Dead at all, I kept away from all zombie stories while writing School Run.

NE: How’s your work on School Run these days? Why are you staying away from any zombie-related input?
M: Um… the plot line is actually already compete, I pretty much know everything that’s going to happen and who is going to survive. Drawing buildings and backgrounds is something I’m terrified of, honestly, that’s what’s getting me stuck.

While I was writing School Run, I stayed away from zombie stories so I wouldn’t subconsciously swipe ideas from them. Now, I’m staying away from them because I’m afraid to find out how much my story sucks by comparison.

I’m trying to learn to “cheat” using Sketchup and Mangastudio’s perspective tools. But, if all else fails i’ll just do the usual bad drawing and keep people’s expectations low.
NE: I’m scared of my ideas and they would come out so late in physical form, so late na may individual na that released it first and had the same idea of what I want or how I want to execution a story.

Are there other projects that are keeping you busy? How do you divide your time doing multiple projects?
M: Yeah, that’s happened to me too. I created this supernatual superhero concept in college, he’s the son of Death Incarnate, and he wears a death-mask. And then Bleach came out.

I’ve also been plotting this action-adventure story about an aswang-human buddy team, and I’m hoping it’s not too similar to Juan dela Cruz.


NE: How many stories do you have in your head that you wanna do someday?
M: I’ve got so many projects I’d like to do. finishing School Run is foremost. I’d also like to do ‘Taal Volcano Monster *Heart* Sirena’, ‘Ang Maskot: Day One’ (which is a prequel), the aswang buddy story, a story about a high school for supernatural beings, an alien invasion story with a kid in a powersuit… I’ve got a folder full of ideas I’ve been collecting through the years. I’m not going to be able to draw them all myself. Someday I’ll need to start pitching these ideas to other artists.

[KOMIKS PREVIEW: Taal Volcano VS Evil Space Paru-Paro]

NE: Which artists do you have in mind that you want to partner up with your ideas?
M: (Laughter). I don’t want to set myself up for disappointment. As long as their style matches the story, I’m game.
NE: But would you like to have like a similar style as yours or really quite different?
M: My style is dictated more by my drawing skill than anything, really. You know those “How to Draw a Horse”-type drawing guides? If the finished horse is at step 5, and I can probably only draw up to step 4, so I do all my drawings up to step 4.

I see the with envy when I see someone like, say Jillian Tamaki, who draws all loose and cartoony on her webcomic, but then makes these awesome tight illustrations for her pro work.

NE: Do you have a comic project in mind where you will use another style than the usual one that you produce in your previous comics?
M: I guess if I were to draw a more superhero-y type story myself, like the “Son of Death” thing I mentioned earlier. My old sketchbooks are actually full of 90’s image-type drawings.

NE: OK, well anyway, kuya, let’s wrap this up. Thanks for giving time for the interview.

Any last thing to say? Any goals or plans for 2013?
M: Thanks Norby! Nothing really set in stone, but I guess it would be do as many issues of School Run as I can.


NE: How many issues more?
M: Oh, maybe try to interview Ricky Lo. And then ask him about how great Boy Abunda is. Hmm, I haven’t broken them down by chapter yet, but maybe 5-6?

And while interviewing Ricky Lo, I’ll show him my cellphone and say, “This is a magic cellphone. You can say anything you want into it.”
NE: (laughter). And in the other side of of your magic cellphone, Boy Abunda is there listening. (laughter)

Norby Ela

Now residing in San Diego, CA, I strive to work in art and further grow FlipGeeks around the world.