Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Re-Enter Into Westworld - Season 4 Premieres on HBO Asia and HBO Go, 27 June 2022

HBO's dystopian science-fiction series WESTWORLD is one of the most confounding yet intriguing study on human psyche as well as the concepts of consciousness and freewill. The TV series created by husband and wife team Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, expanded on the 1973 film written and directed by Michael Crichton. Michael Crichton is known for his techno-thriller books like The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Disclosure and Prey.

As a local islander, Red Dot Diva found WESTWORLD'S Season 3 an interesting visual experience because her city-state home was transformed as future Los Angeles. Familiar spots like Lasalle College of the Arts, Oasia Hotel Downtown, Marina One, the Atlas Bar and even Pulau Ubin, were featured prominently in several scenes. Red Dot Diva never realised Red Dot Island could look so sleek and cinematic!

In Season 3, the hosts Dolores, Maeve and Bernard are no longer in the theme park. The setting shifts to the real world, mostly in a near-future Los Angeles, with Dolores aiming to start a revolution. In this timeline, humans like a man called Caleb, had to live with specified outcomes and futures determined by an AI called Rehoboam. The story was a mirror of the Delos theme park where the hosts were kept in repetitive narrative loops. In the Season 3 finale, after finding out about Serac, one of the creators of Rehoboam, as well as battling with Maeve, Dolores sacrificed herself for humanity. But not before she chose Caleb to lead the revolution.

There are several unanswered questions after Season 3's ending, like: Is Dolores really dead? Or, how did the revolution led by Caleb play out after the destruction of Rehoboam? What did Bernard find in the Sublime, and how long was he in there? And, what other nefarious deeds have the Man In Black host been up to in the real world? The answers you are seeking for may be revealed in Season 4 of WESTWORLD, which will debut at the same time as the U.S. on Monday, June 27 at 9 AM SGT only on HBO and HBO GO. There will be a same day encore on at 10 PM SGT on HBO.

The deeply layered story of the humans and hosts will continue to unfold in eight episodes this new season, with new episodes going on air every Monday.

Evan Rachel Wood, Emmy® winner Thandiwe Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Luke Hemsworth, Aaron Paul and Angela Sarafyan will be returning in Season 4. At a Westworld panel during this year's ATX Festival, the series' co-creator Lisa Joy revealed that Evan Rachel Wood will play a new character named Christina who lives in a city that is somewhat like New York. She also confirmed that James Marsden will be coming back. Doesn't that make you go hmmmmm...

Also joining the WESTWORLD cast this season is Oscar winning actor Ariana DeBose, who will take on the role as Christina's roommate.

For some clues of what is to come in WESTWORLD Season 4, check out the cryptic trailer below.

Red Dot Diva cannot help but wonder: What's with all the flies??!!


Stream or download WESTWORLD Season 4 from June 27 on HBO GO. The previous three seasons of Westworld are also available on HBO GO. Subscribe to HBO GO online at https://www.hbogoasia.sg/ or the mobile app via the App Store or Play Store for as low as S$9.99/month. Or access HBO GO via StarHub, Singtel and meWatch. HBO GO is also available on Android TV, Apple TV, LG TV and Samsung Smart TV - and comes with AirPlay and Google Cast functionality.

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Art Is Community - The Comic Embassy Opens At Tekka Place - 11 June 2022

A brand new communal space called The Comic Embassy will be opening at Tekka Place this Saturday (11 June), and you are all invited! The experimental project is conceptualised by SG Cartoon Resource Hub, supported by Tekka 1001 with sponsorship from Millet Group and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

From June to November 2022, The Comic Embassy aims to generate more interest for local comic book artists and creators, by showcasing the talent of established as well as emerging artists. A pair of artist ambassadors will be featured each month. Through an extensive programme that includes book launches, meet and greet sessions, live drawing, workshops and more, The Comic Embassy hopes to provide ways for artists to connect with the public, including comic book fans as well as future collaborators.

To kick off the soft launch of the collaborative hub, veteran freelance artist James Leong and sketch artist Collin Yap will act as the first pair of artist ambassadors. They will be hosting a comic book art exhibition, and will also be on site to meet fellow artists, collectors and fans.

Red Dot Diva has been requested to support The Comic Embassy for some of their social media promotion, and was given the opportunity to interview both Collin Yap and James Leong prior to the launch. Here are the interview articles:

** Interview with Collin Yap

** Interview with James Leong
Click to view a larger version

For more details about The Comic Embassy and the programme for the month of June, go join the SG Cartoon Resource Hub's Facebook Group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/sgcartoonresourcehub), or check out the details at The Comic Embassy's microsite (https://sgcartoonhub.com/comic-embassy). More artists will be coming on board in the coming months, and you can keep an eye on these links to see who or what would tickle your artistic mind.

There has always been a fluid and interactive symbiotic relationship between the artist and the community, so Red Dot Diva thinks it will be interesting to see what kind of results that The Comic Embassy will be able to achieve, just by being in existence. Maybe there will be more beautiful stories to be made!

Where: #B1-01/02 at Tekka Place, 2 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218227
Date: 11 June 2022, Saturday
Time: 3 - 8 PM
Admission is FREE

The Comic Embassy - An Interview With Multi-faceted Freelance Artist James Leong

An exciting and experimental communal space for comic artists called The Comic Embassy is currently being set up at Tekka Place. The embassy aims to promote local interest in comic creation, and will shine the spotlight on two artist ambassadors each month.

Local freelance artist James Leong is one of the artists who will help kick off the launch of The Comic Embassy. Upon first impression, James’ buff and tough exterior might remind you of an Asian Jason Statham, all ready to dive into action with guns a-blazing. However, instead of drawing real-life weapons, James draws gorgeous art pieces of highly imaginative characters and creatures.

Before he went freelance, James spent decades toughing it out as Art Director in the advertising industry, working with client projects like OCBC and SK-II. Now, he not only creates comics and manages his own wearable art brand #DaCatPeeps, he also flexes his knowledge as a professional educator teaching enthusiasts about art, story-telling and related topics.

As an artist with several years of working experience, James certainly has a lot to share. So, Red Dot Diva pumped up a few nosy questions, just to find out a little more about the man behind the drawing board:

Red Dot Diva (RDD): I am in awe of your extensive and multi-faceted artistic career. How did your years grinding your nose in the fast-paced advertising industry help with your freelance art projects since then?
James: Working in the brutal and intense industry has sharpened my thinking process and concept very much. My storytelling skills reached another level besides just reading comics, especially with the heavy involvement of countless pitches and TV Commercial jobs. As a commercial illustrator, it helps with my time management, the ability to listen, and problem-solving.

RDD: You are also actively involved in teaching art and its related skills to enthusiasts. Do you believe the adage that "anyone can draw"?
James: Everybody can draw and it is not a talent. It is a skillset which can be acquired through patience and constant practice. In my teaching or rather tutoring, I provide guidance and evaluation to polish those passionates. I am also very proud of one of my students whom I tutored on fashion design and guided her in building her portfolio for further studies. She is doing great in overseas study now. And another one who is going to UK to pursue his dream as well.
RDD: Maybe I should start digging out my old colour marker pens... if they haven’t dried out by now!

RDD: I enjoy your variety of artwork, especially the ones with cats! How would you personally describe your art style?
James: I had been exposed to Hong Kong comics style in the 70s from Tony Wong Yok Long’s “Little Rascals”, which was as re-titled “Oriental Heroes” or “Dragon Tiger Gate”. In the 90s, I gradually leaned towards Hong Kong’s Ma Wing Shing’s “A man called Hero” and “Storm Riders”, Japanese’s Ryoichi Ikegami’s “Crying Freeman”, Tetsuo Hara’s “Fist of the North Star” and Katsuhiro Otomo’s “Akira”.

I am also influenced by Taiwanese’s Zheng ZhengZhong(鄭正忠) and Zheng Wen’s Chinese painting style comics. At that same time, I began to follow some western comics from Simon Bisley, Jim Lee, Todd McFarlane and Travis Charest as well.

Technically, I have a mixture of style from these comic artists, so I cannot exactly define my style yet. But, it is definitely action-genre inclined infused with a sense of realism. I can roughly describe it is as heavily textured in line-art and colours, with a love towards animal and creature drawings.

RDD: What aspects of your artistic journey do you still find challenging? How do you intend to overcome these challenges?
James: During the initial period of comics creation, I hated to do background drawings, especially those huge landscapes which are important for storytelling. To overcome this, there is no short cut. I joined a local urban sketching group, to sketch on site and capture the essence of the landscape subjects to study and understand different aspects and details I saw while sketching.
RDD: As they say, the thing you try to avoid is sometimes the thing you need to spend time on the most.
James: Yes. Getting out of my comfort zone to try out different approach of drawing techniques is a constant challenge. One never knows when the opportunity comes, so just do it and get prepared always. Anonymity is also always an issue. I rely heavily on social media to gather fans, keep on drawing and postings for more exposure. Anyway, I have prepared a talk on sharing this journey at The Comic Embassy.
RDD: Awesome! I hope there will be a bunch of people attending and learning from your experiences.

RDD: You seem pretty fit. What are you other interests besides creating art and stories?
James: I am a badminton lover and martial arts practitioner. Badminton is a game I picked up rather late at 24 years old, but I didn’t stop playing ever since except for a period of nursing my injury, which I regrettably sustained from playing soccer. My interest in martial arts was heavily influenced by my late idol, Bruce Lee in the 70s. I was a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do, trained a little in Choy Lay Fatt and now, I focus on practising Wing Chun.

I am also a movie buff and animal lover. For movies, I personally love action-genres the most, and have a huge collection of blurays.

RDD: Comics are such a unique medium. In your opinion, what is the "magic" factor that makes a comic successful?
James: There is no ‘magic’ factor. All products need advertising and promotion, and publicity. To be heard, seen and spread the voice are the key elements to initial establishment. Content is king, as we all know, so If it is entertaining and engaging, the motion will take its course towards a certain degree of success.

RDD: I believe that The Comic Embassy is a great way to give more exposure to our many local artists. What will you be doing or promoting at this new artist space?
James: At The Comic Embassy, I will be holding sharing session, a few workshops and “live” art demonstrations. While some projects are in planning stages, the latest project in the pipeline is to publish Blockudoku-inspired art book. It is a series of beast/ creature drawings which is based on the “game over” graphics of Blockudoku game app. I am also planning to compile some short comics strips and drawings which I have created during the circuit breaker period into printing.

You can meet James Leong and admire his artwork (as well as his biceps) at The Comic Embassy this Saturday, 11 June. Local sketch artist Collin Yap will be accompanying James as co-artist ambassador. Come visit the brand new artist space and get to know our local talents better!

Where: #B1-01/02 at Tekka Place, 2 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218227
Date: 11 June 2022, Saturday
Time: 3 PM
Admission is FREE

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

The Comic Embassy - An Interview With Local Sketch Artist Collin Yap

The comic book scene in Red Dot Island may be small, but dig deeper and you will discover a surprisingly long list of local writers and artists. To offer a spotlight to emerging and established local comic book artists as well as student groups, a new local artist communal space called The Comic Embassy is currently being set up at Tekka Place. More details about the site, its founders and the upcoming programme are coming soon.

The Comic Embassy will host two artist ambassadors each month. For June, one of these ambassadors is Collin Yap, who by the way, is a full-time tennis coach by profession! Though not formally trained, Collin has been taking notes from the masters of the industry. He also credits having a good mentor who challenges him to constantly improve himself. That mentor is local freelance creative director / artist/ art educator James Leong, who will be making his appearance together with Collin as the other artist ambassador.

To get to know Collin even better, Red Dot Diva lobbed some nosy questions to him. Check out the Q&A below:

Red Dot Diva (RDD): How did you get into drawing sketches?
Collin: Drawing has always been an interest to me since I was young. I only got into serious drawing in 2012 when I got older and had a bit more spare time. Since then it has not stopped.

RDD: Where do you draw your artistic inspirations from?
Collin: Being a comic reader, my artistic inspirations include Jim Lee, J Scott Campbell and Marc Silvestri. My art style has bits of influence from them. More recently, artists like Jorge Jimenez and Peach Momoko have also caught my eye.

RDD: What are your most favourite things to draw? What about your least favourite?
Collin: My favourite things to draw are superhero team ups, for instance, all the Wolverines or the various Batman teams. My least favourite thing to draw is backgrounds.
RDD: Haha. I’ve heard the same thing about backgrounds from a number of comic book artists I have interviewed!

RDD: You seem to be quite prolific in your sketches. Please share with us your time management secrets concerning your art vs family, social interactions and other obligations?
Collin: My job allows me the time to draw during the day, and drawing is like a therapeutic escape for me. I usually draw in the morning when my wife and daughter are working so I'm undisturbed. I am also able to differentiate and plan the time I spend on art versus the time for other obligations, e.g., family, friends, work.

RDD: You have contributed to a few local comic book collaborations and have also worked closely with George Jorgimoto of Pink Ponk Comics. What else do you think the local comics community can do to get creators noticed, and connected to the audience as well as potential collaborators?
Collin: George is a good friend and a strong advocate for local artists. You can see that very clearly when you visit his shop – something that may not see in other comic book stores. I feel that our local comic stores do not generate enough interest in local creators, as such, these talents go unnoticed. Apart from Pink Ponk Comics, most don't even have a dedicated local comics section.

RDD: What do you enjoy doing if you are not reading comics or drawing art?
Collin: I’m an outdoor person and I enjoy going for brisk walks (I do that every week) and of course, playing tennis. I love music and listen to different genres. and you can find a variety in my Ipod (Rock, dance, pop, KPop and even Bollywood music). I also like watching movies and serials, both in the cinemas, Netflix, Disney+, etc.

RDD: By the way, because I’m quite nosy... do you have any pet peeves?
Collin: One of my pet peeves is people looking at their handphone while walking and oblivious of their surroundings.
RDD: I’m totally on board on that one!

RDD: What can we expect from your participation at The Comic Embassy? Will there be new art prints or published works we can look forward to?
Collin: I am grateful to be given the opportunity to participate at the Comic Embassy. I would also like to announce that there will be a second volume of my first comic ZODIAC, which we target to be ready by the 3rd quarter of this year.

Collin Yap will be appearing together with fellow local artist James Leong at The Comic Embassy for its soft launch this coming Saturday. Make your way to the brand new artist space, and show your support for our local talents and their endeavours!

Where: #B1-01/02 at Tekka Place, 2 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218227
Date: 11 June 2022, Saturday
Time: 3 PM
Admission is FREE