Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fashion Saves!

The fashion shoot was arduous and I had to literally force myself out of bed just to make it. Chris was really excited to show off his Gucci outfit and I wanted him to try out my American Flag jacket which was a gift that my sister had bought for me when she was stationed in Germany.

The response to the ad hoc fashion shoot we did at Westgate Mall, 2 weeks before, caused quite a stir on social media, something which we never expected. It was a learning experience, we found that women aren't the only ones into fashion and I really wanted Chris' bad ass shoes. You can check out the link for Chris's belt on Gucci's website:

I have a few friends in the fashion industry and had asked them for some Gucci dresses for our model Trina to wear. We found two outfits, each about $7,000, but they weren't in the truck when I arrived home. I had forgotten them from my friend's house which was quite a ways to travel.

Trina and Chris
There were so many glitches-- the camera was frozen at first, make-up, etc.-- but Chris was adamant that we get it done. The day did not start well, I had to literally park at a Fry's electronics lot so that I could sleep the night before the shoot and it was well over 4 AM by the time I got home. The house was so noisy, I couldn't do anything! I was so depressed in the parking lot at Fry,s, that all I did was look at the stars and think about everything that was happening to the world in the name of greed, and think-- you know this is all you needed. In the car, looking at the stars. Doesn't cost anything. So simple and yet... people want to make it hard.

At 9:00 AM I got a message from Chris, let's do this shoot! I told him give me four hours, but at around 11 AM I woke up because I just wanted to get this out of the way. I spent 2 days trying to cajole my friends for the expensive dresses of which there was none, but the stock I had already had, 4 dresses, one I specially love was Marchesa Notte's floral dress, I thought would look well on Trina.
Chris in Gucci and Trina in Marchesa Notte

The shoot was something I have never done before and Chris had insisted on bringing Trina to a makeup artist. After a futile search at The Great Mall in Milpitas, California, we decided to go to Westgate Mall in the southern side of San Jose. Chris and Trina had a bad day too. They had a strange argument with their roommate and they were as uneasy as I was. I was sleep walking. I had one eye open and the other closed just to get a tiny bit of sleep! I kept telling them that there was so much noise in my house the previous night that I hadn't slept until four in the morning. So if I wasn't on my A game, they knew why.
Trina getting her make-up done at Macy's
I'm a photographer but I really don't know how to guide people, so I had Chris stage all the scenes and all I had to do was take the pics and when I liked something I told them to keep doing that. Really they didn't need guidance, and the effort of getting stuff done in a span of five hours paid off at the one hour we had to take photos. 

Trina and Chris
Trina in an uncredited beautiful dress
Another shot of Trina
The whole process was very hard work. Trina almost fainted in the makeup room and that delayed the shoot. In addition, we were at a standstill as to whether or not we could make the shoot, it was getting near 6 PM and we were losing our light- the sun. The plan was strategic, the mall was near Almaden Lake, a park that's in danger of being shut down to make room for a condominium or real estate development. Chris had mentioned about doing a charity comic book, but we're so busy, we won't even have the time to call up the organizers trying to put a stop to the planned development. This is a beautiful park, leave it alone!
Carly, Chris and Trina in front of the lake where my iPhone left.
I was not in the right state of mind and at one point my iPhone had fallen into the lake. I was just so tired from the noise the night before and I kept saying that to Chris. But even though the iPhone set me back another $300, I knew that we had something good. That's the thing with me and Chris, we will sacrifice everything for our art!

It was cold and I was ready to give up but Chris had already spent $300 on the makeup. I realized after seeing that dress worn by Trina and the jacket I had Chris wear, it was worth the effort. Chris looked liked the true to life version of his character/personae Topher Thomas, just as I had envisioned and the photos were drop dead gorgeous! 

Chris Perguidi aka Topher Thomas
Like comic books, a lot of blood and tears go into the making of a song, a painting and, as we learned-- fashion. See, fashion is so much fun no matter how hard it seems. Without having to say much about yourself, you can express it through your own sense of style. And all of a sudden as the four of us walked back to the car, me, Chris, Trina and Carly, Trina and Chris's daughter, all the crap that happened to us before the shoot in that moment, disappeared. Fashion saves! Even if just for a moment until reality sets its ugly face once again...

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Chris Perguidi: The Lost Files

Chris Perguidi: Lost Files

I meant to publish this first interview with Chris Perguidi on my website at way back in April 2013, but, unfortunately, work and school put a hold on everything important like dance, art, music and comic books. 
Chris before Creepy Kofy on TV 20 
Allan before Creepy Kofy appearance on TV 20

Fortunately, I found the interview and it really is interesting to go back to a time when things were more innocent. It has been a trying year for Chris and I. It has been a year of disfigurement for both of us.

I was disfigured first about 4 months ago starting my last semester at San Jose State University. I was so shocked at what had happened to me that the first thing I tried to get a hold of was Chris. 

I found that he has always been like a brother to me. Just because he gets it! We dissect the styles of artists from Rob Liefeld to Jim Lee, not so much George Perez, because he’s more technically gratuitous than anyone of the genre, but there are quirks that many artists do that become their Achille’s heel. And we exploit these to the point where we can't stop ourselves from laughing, which I hope to detail in my first book on how to draw.

Or we would watch a segment on 20/20 after a grueling interaction with fans in the Los Angeles area while attending WonderCon and make funny comments on any new story we find. So while we were watching this story about kids who suffered from tourette’s syndrome, we wondered if we were suffering from it too and each would have a punchline that would have as laughing our asses off. Or the time when we were abducted by aliens but that’s another story…

There are many articles, newspapers and television stations talking about the PokemonGo! stabbings but Chris filmed a video and did an interview that would foretell this incident. Many years ago, Chris did a movie about augmented reality looking for Pokemon’s, check this out:

And this isn’t the first time Chris was stabbed. Check out my interview that was done around April of 2013 just a month before posting the video on youtube over here:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

At what stage in life lead me to this point in life...

A reenactment of what I had to do for a hour removing glue from the mannequin's left breast.

My goal since I was 7 was to become a comic book artist, be a songwriter and here I am, my hands on the the breast of a mannequin. I was LMAO. As tragic as life is… it certainly has its funny moments.

Kohl’s was shutting down its doors around Jackson and Mckee in San Jose, CA and they were selling its inventory. I was planning on getting a mannequin so I can have a better representation of my t-shirts with my own designs on them to sell on Ebay, etc. So my sister suggested I check out the place.
I almost smashed the mannequin unto the freezer. Again, a reenactment.

It was my first time at an inventory closeout. I didn’t even know deals could be had, but when you see store closing signs such as "must sell inventory"- Go for it! This mannequin caught my eye and the price of $45 sounded like a good deal. What do I know!
My first choice before seeing the other mannequins

The person in charge of inventory pricing etc. happened to be Madonna’s cousin on her mother’s side of the family. The Madonna reference came about when she started talking about Rochester, Michigan and, of course, I mentioned I was one of Madonna’s biggest fans to see if I can get a deal assuming she was one of those that loved Madonna as opposed to hating her.
Mannequin with arms. Too pricy for my budget.

As she started to talk about Rochester, Michigan, I was kind of glad I grew up in Northern California. I’m a little bit more street. Her mannerisms and the way she talked was kind of too middle class American and too posh for my taste. I wouldn't fit in Michigan.

She could only accept cash and the ATM next door wouldn't accept my debit card so I told her I'll be back in about half and hour. After getting the cash from the bank, I was rummaging through my backpack to see if I could find a business card as I was interested in a business position. I did find one, but the thought of working around snow killed that idea right away.

People had smiles on their faces as I carried the 2 mannequins I bought and metal stands to my car. The excitement of being able represent my t-shirt in the way it should quashed any shame or shyness I may have had . When I went home the sticker was on the left side of the mannequin’s breasts and I tried to remove it and when I did I started rubbing the excess glue. I was rubbing that stuff out with my fingers, when I started thinking at what point in life did I come to this? At which point?!? I just started LMAO.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Chris Perguidi: A new hero must rise!

Someone in boxing class asked me if my friend was coming to class. She’s seen his story in Metro and attended the previous class mentioned in the last blog. She was hoping he was okay and I wanted to reassure her that he was okay so I said, “He’s stronger than you think he is. He’s from Gilroy. He grew up around coyotes and played with them.” And I said all these with a straight face and no one thought to question… “coyotes?” Because the whole thing is just so bizarre, so complicated and it’s…  real!

How did these people know Chris? He was stabbed in the face by 2 people, one, a stocky robust man, and another, a woman, in downtown San Jose who thought he was filming them while playing the phenomenon of the moment with more users than either Instagram or Facebook, PokemonGo! To iterate, when someone is stabbed, you're thinking chest, back, but the face?!? That in itself trumps growing up with coyotes and playing with them as a child. Media playing upon media, it’s like a neurotic writer’s fantasies in overdrive.
Front Page story on PokemonGo! controversy
Not only is it real. It happened to my closest friend who happens to be an actor/comicbook artist/wrestler/social media aficionado working with a comic book artist, me, who happens to also be a financial analyst/songwriter/animator/postal worker/averse to social media and now a blogger with more views than people who actually do this for a living. Life is so much more interesting than fiction.

Do you realize how insane this is? No one wanted us in their conventions, they snuffed our tires out with nails and knives,

 and when we were allowed at their cons, stuck us behind 20 foot curtains so that no one would see where we were— because we sell out on all our products, sometimes having to sell coffee stained prints and books because my cousin spilled Starbucks coffee on our tables.
Chris Perguidi in one of his alter egos at Bakersfield Con, 2011.
And now people are asking if we'll be attending Cons anytime soon. I don’t know. Maybe when cons start giving a little respect to actual artists who draw their own art, sell and bring in business and not some glorified tracers stealing other artists’ work.

Our products aren’t ready yet! We didn’t expect this! Had I known, if some guardian angel or an angel from hell told me you’re friend will be stabbed in the face on July 27th after your birthday and a media storm will occur, I would’ve been “Are you crazy!?!” I would’ve been is he all right? Yes, coz he grew up around coyotes and played with them as a child.

I forgot where I heard this from, either from one of my classes at SJSU or my own readings or my own theory, but the sooner you can get up from a dire or traumatic situation, a place where you’re idle and unproductive, the faster you can get to your goal. Must have been some ‘critical path’ class in operation management.

We went straight to work. We continued to work on Erika America, a super hero with an American Indian heritage,
Chris Perguidi's Erika America with Allan Angel. Layouts by Chris Perguidi, finishes by Allan Angel.

…S…, a superhuman agent of the government,
...S... featuring the artwork of Allan Angel and Chris Perguidi

Baby Warriors, 3 baby sisters gifted by Zeus with powers to end injustice on earth and beyond,
Baby Warriors double issue #2 Drawn by Allan Angel, Colors Chris Perguidi

 and Superhood, a project with Age Scott.
From Superhood 2 page 18 & 19. Drawn by Allan Angel, me. Age Scott writer.
It must have been painful to do this while still recovering from 15 stitches in your face but it would have been more painful for Chris to lie there, feeling sorry for himself when so many are suffering from diseases for which there is no cure. He spent the days talking to the media while working on comic books for Integrity Comics. 

Hell, I worked the next day after my father died, while tears flowed from eyes with my boss constantly in my face yelling about finishing the next batch of business cards that had to be printed that day!
Wolverine and Pikachu by Chris Perguidi
Artwork by Chris Perguidi

We worked nonstop communicating on Facebook, Twitter, emails and texts. If Chris was having one of his flashbacks, I told him to shake it off, we have a job to do. After awhile, I got a little tired having slept only 5 hours a day since the stabbing, the rest researching, drawing, writing, and finding ways to make something out of this damn thing that happened to Chris.

The hectic schedule was a bit overwhelming for my eyes, so I went fishing in Santa Cruz with my friend Bob.
This is me with some squid sculpture made of metal. The few times I could actually look at the camera without the burning pain in my head from looking at either the computer screen or drawing table.

I’ll never go fishing again! Why not just buy the fish?!? I almost had a heatstroke. When I came back, I went instinctively to writing articles and promos for our comic book projects, while Chris was doing interviews.

In the pursuit of turning such a horrific event into a positive, I began to question my own judgment. Is it right to take advantage of a situation or are we even taking advantage of the situation? It is a strange and very complicated circumstance we are in, an unchartered territory. Chris has always been my moral compass. I think in some ways we are both each other’s moral compass. When we passed by a very tragic, intense car accident on the way to Gilroy back from some Convention and whatnot, I wanted to take pictures of it and he told me it was exploitive and I began to see my own shortcomings and err in judgment. I was wondering if the same thing was happening now. Am I, are we exploiting this tragic turn of events?

I think it’s more a question of survival. You can either act the victim or become a hero. And so a hero must rise.
Ad for ...S...

Whatever this is that happened to Chris because it’s becoming less the tragedy it once was, because we’re turning it just as the super heroes we admire would do, we are doing it for a reason. We are going to save the comic book industry! Whether it be Topher Thomas or Chris Wolfe. Chris Perguidi: The Man, The Myth, The Legend must rise. A new hero must rise!
Trina and Chris as their alter egos.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The PokemonGo! Murder Mystery

Things haven't been the same since Chris was stabbed in the face while playing PokemonGo! He used to be buff all over but you can clearly see the effects of the injury. His upper torso lost all its muscles and he gained weight in his stomach. There was a somber mood in the air with a couple of instances here and there where he seems to forget what had happened and make light of the unfortunate turn of events.
People keep saying you're lucky you should take advantage of this situation, because the story is broadcast worldwide from Vietnam and to outlets like Telemundo. But the story is more or less than that. At the end of the day, I think Chris really just wants to get back from the abyss of flashbacks, the horror, and get back to the Chris that everyone knows, i.e. The Man, The Myth, The Legend.
Chris Perguidi: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

I've been in this position myself. This point where someone violates you in a way that it makes you sick to your stomach. I turned to Facebook and reconnected with friends I haven't seen in years to get me out of the abyss. So I knew what Chris was feeling, although it might not have hit him as hard as it did me. He can take anything. Even though I wasn't sure if he got over the attack, I insisted he come with me to the Fremont Bart Station to meet up with my other partner in crime, Adrian Age Scott, to go over the Superhood project we're relaunching after my extended time off to complete my finance degree at SJSU.

You could see the life come out of Chris when we had this meeting
Adrian Age Scott, Chris Perguidi, and me
 Adrian was late because something went down with the train and I told him I was with Chris. Adrian texted back saying "Chris the Legend?" While we were waiting for Adrian, Chris showed me how to play PokemonGo!
Chris showing me how to play PokemonGo! at the Fremont Bart Station

I don't have time to play games and this was my first at ever playing one on my iPhone, and I got to tell you I can get addicted to this!

He told me the meaning of Pokemon. How it's derived from pocket monsters and how some of them are bad and good and the leader was Pikachu. I told him I only know of Pokemon from the many toys I collected via Happy Meals. Ironically, those toys were discontinued because it was dangerous to children.

As the day progressed, he urged me to go see our friend Frankie Franco who had a show at the Fremont Arts Festival which was, ironically, next to the Bart station we had a meet up. I wasn't privy to walking around in the hot sun, but my friend just got stabbed in the face, so I relented without hesitation. Frankie was great, man. His jeans were torn and he bought a sewing equipment to sew it back on while he was talking to us. Again, I can see Chris' spirit being lifted.
Francisco Franco Studios at Fremont Art Festival

After that meeting Chris decided he wanted me to take pictures of him promoting our projects at AKA. But before that he wanted to go to an event posted on his Facebook called #blacklivesmatter. I said sure, I'm always down for a good cause. It turned out to be a photo shoot event where people who participated became the subject of this photographer who really cared about bringing the topic of inequality into the forefront and who really wanted to make a positive change in the world. I saw young people of different races and whatnot talk about their point of views. I was awestruck by people's commitment to making some kind of positive change through art.

I was kind of surprised having my picture taken as I thought, I was going to photograph some mayhem or some sort of protest, not the other way around. But I was down. I was actually fond of my pic. It was raw and I liked the way I posed. I reminded myself of Frida Kahlo, an artist who herself endured physical pain.
My drawing of Frida Kahlo.
During the shoot, James and his brother (Chris' longtime friends), stopped by to get their pictures taken and then Chris wanted to do publicity photos at AKA, the place where he trains to become a professional wrestler. I took some shots with him and his character Erika America

 and off we went to Jamba Juice, because Chris wanted some protein shake. I can't drink anything with sugar but I said sure. I kept hassling him about reading my script the PokemonGo! Murder Mystery the entire day. Actually, I've been bugging him to read it for a week!
At Jamba Juice, the entire group finally got a look at my script The PokemonGo! Murder Mystery, but not before Chris got a discounted protein shake because of being seen on television as the man who got stabbed in the face playing PokemonGo! James laughed a little bit after a read through of my script, which was a good sign according to Chris, because it meant he approved. I knew that I wanted to do something, a project that would encompass what Chris loved -- which was social media, comic books, action, etc.  But would also make him laugh and see the absurdity of such a horrid event.

Later on, I had a long conversation with James and his brother about film ideas, because I didn't realize there were people out there like me who loved cinema. I told them I got the PokemonGo! Murder Mystery title from Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery-- a brilliant piece of filmmaking.

I'm going to make this comic book that will hopefully put a smile on Chris' face and help take him out of that darkness where we all end up at one time or another. Like when I logged back on Facebook and reconnected with friends when something bad happened to me. People's art was what kept me going. I wanted to be there, just as Chris was there when I had been encroached upon. I kept telling Chris, if people are ambivalent to how you're feeling, it's because they've never been in pain or had anything remotely tragic happen to them.
One of the preliminary drawings for The PokemonGo! Murder Mystery comic book

All of these occurred in the span of about 6 hours, that went from East San Jose, to Fremont, to Morgan Hill, to South San Jose. Upon bringing Chris back to his place, I told him, "You know this was SoulFood." That, "I didn't realize that there were so many people like me who loved filmmaking!" Chris said, "It's because you've been hanging around finance students too long." I think I know what that means, but I realized as I tried to make Chris forget the trip to the police, the flashbacks and utter disbelief of this horrid incident, that I may have been pulled from my own darkness. Seeing all these artists and passionate people was inspirational. It reminded me of having those artistic aspirations and passion to make a contribution to the world through my art .

The next day he wanted to come with me to a boxing class seeing as he found a place nearby, just a few minutes drive from my house. He couldn't quite keep up with the cardio and couldn't complete the hitting regimen. He told me, he still felt the sting of the stabbing and had to go to the bathroom because of flashbacks. Our conversations are really entertaining because we get each other's sense of humor. While sparring, he was saying how I could be the next Manny Pacquiao, and I said, "Pick someone better like -- Ali!"
James' brother, Chris Perguidi, and James

Writing this blog has made me realize how lucky Chris is. He's got buddies that get him. A group of men in their 20s dancing around a barren water fountain and me obsessed about getting the scene right, but they were just playing. No wonder he's such a Michael Jackson fan. He really is like a Peter Pan. Hanging with these bunch reminded me of never letting go of my dreams and of the joy art brings to my life.
Chris in the early years as Peter Pan

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Chris Perguidi: The Man, the Myth, the Legend

On the eve of my birthday I was trying to meet a deadline on an Erika America comic book. At about 3 AM, I finished the task and sent the PNG files over to my frequent collaborator and friend, Chris Perguidi. Erika Amerika is a character that Chris had me work on when we first met sometime back in 2008. EA is about a super heroine with an American Indian heritage. Since then, we have been working on projects together and have appeared many times in newspapers and television promoting our comic books like Herotown, Erika America, The Baby Warriors, etc.

As soon as files were sent to his email, I would usually get a response and within hours or the next day I would get feedback usually in the form of ”Amazing”, “Fantastic”, but for some odd reason… nothing. A day passed and nothing, another day nothing. On the third day, as I opened my Facebook I saw this post (I couldn't get far enough on his FB to retrieve the actual post, but something similar to this about 4 days later):

I didn’t know what to say. I’m used to being the recipient of comfort. For some reason, I didn’t know what to do. So many comments on Chris’s situation were posted and I figured I would just get lost in the crowd. 

When me and Chris first decided to collaborate on a book, I met him and he was wearing a t-shirt with the caption: “Chris Perguidi: The Man, the Myth, the Legend.” He had a consortium of alter egos and I really had a hard time distinguishing fact from fiction. 

So when I saw his post and the picture of the stitches on his chin I didn’t know what to think. Not only was he stabbed… he was stabbed in the face playing Pokemon Go. Some have commented if it was photoshopped, but as a self trained portraiture artist and a practitioner of common sense, it would take quite an effort to pull something like this off. An ambulance, pictures in the hospital and true to Chris Perguidi fashion, iconic images that again makes you think- “Is this fact or is it fiction?”

See, we have these questions due to our experience with the media. About a week and half after the incident, someone got a hold of Chris’ stabbing incident via Twitter and wanted to know if they could do an interview. August 3, I opened Facebook and there were links to all the news outlets interviewing Chris. One interview segment Chris did not like was the one on KGO Channel 7. Chris’ point of contention with Channel 7 was how the segment made him look like a “wimp, stupid, a redneck, and an imbecile.”

At first, when you just see a piece on a news station, or an article on the internet you don’t realize after the fact, that people or journalists do a narrative that completely diminishes the truth. In channel seven, Chris said, “That people shouldn’t have to pay attention,” when in fact, he told me that in the interview with Channel 7, witnessed by a friend, he said that “People say you don’t have to pay attention,” and continues to say the opposite that “…people should pay more attention and that even with my martial arts training I was stabbed.” So, through the magic of editing, the journalist got what they wanted which is to maintain the narrative in place of the whole truth. 

I’ve known Chris for a long time, I am highly doubtful he would say anything that tells people they shouldn’t pay attention to what they’re doing. Man stabbed playing Pokemon Go! Let's put it out there! Make it quick and simple. Cut, snip, edit, Go! Pokemon Go! Such a simple way to get ratings.

In the way articles on the web and news pieces are designed, it seems the producers of this type has made it so tied to narrative that the whole truth and nothing but the truth is sacrificed in the goal of making a simplified albeit manipulation of truth, for a sound byte hungry audience. All in the name of efficiency, simplicity and the utter disdain to challenge the audience's intelligence. “Chris Perguidi: the Man, the Myth, the Legend” or “News: the Man, the Myth, the Legend?”

Thursday, May 5, 2016

WEIF 2016 Day 2

Sorry I didn't do a Day 1. I was just really nervous about the event, not knowing what was up or what. And it was a busy day and I sort of had the flu, but you know this is a one in a lifetime opportunity.

From the ecofriendly notebook and pencil in the recyclable bag we were given, you could tell that WEIF was going to be different. What did I want to learn before going to the Forum? I do not know, I got here from doing an extra credit assignment by applying for a Scholarship for one of my environmental classes. 

Part of our duties in the Scholarship sponsored by Wells Fargo at Tesla Motors is to talk to the various participants in the industry. I’m a very shy person. I am really afraid of starting a conversation with strangers. Luckily, one of my classmates was talking to a venture capitalist and I introduced myself and asked him where he thought the industry was going. I figure I could talk to at least one person. He was very forthcoming about his observations about the solar industry and I was very receptive to it as I needed material for the..

Listen, I can’t concentrate, I just sat on this table minding my own business writing this blog when all of a sudden all kinds of people from the solar industry to energy brokerage company starts talking to me and you have to pretend like you know what they’re saying. What am I supposed to say? 

What did I learn? Well, the representatives from different sectors of the industry, different countries, different size, sex, etc. come together to network and it’s just fascinating!!! You know the business industry is probably the most non-exclusive sector I have ever seen. Absolutely, no conditions are given on what a person looks like, etc. People are here for business and business is color blind and contrary to the dog eat dog world we see around us, it’s quite different. That’s what I’ve learned thus far.