By DEE AYROSO
He goes to court hearings and news coverage, butts in conversations, attacks the TV and eats like there’s no tomorrow. He is Martin, the cat with an unstoppable sarcasm that has been residing in my head since late 2014, and one of the many voices that push me to draw something, anything…today…here, right now.
Martin, Bulatlat’s “everywhere cat” was based on Alex, the late Alexander Martin Remollino, former Bulatlat writer and a Bayan staff at the time of his untimely passing. The cat’s chinky eyes and black fur that flows into a pony-tail shaped patch down to his tail were based on Alex’s, well, chinky eyes and long hair gathered in a pony tail. The flair for words, voracious appetite and laidback attitude was based on him, too.
When I returned to Bulatlat in July 2014, the staff welcomed the idea of a comic strip, and did not mind that I have absolutely no training in drawing. We wanted someone to express what we can’t say in feature articles and editorials. Who could do it best than a Bulatlat family member whose sarcasm and classic character continues to be part of conversations on the staff’s triumphs and misadventures, long after he was called to cover the Great Beyond?
Alex’s cat-ego jumped into Bulatlat’s page, in Martin’s Purrspective, which gives literally sharp-clawed “analysis” in contrast to Benjie Oliveros’s more serious Bulatlat Perspective. Since then, Martin had scratched the eyes of “The Butcher,” pissed on the TV, talked to a radioactive rat in the former US bases, sang-along to the President’s speech, and meowed his way into arguments.
But Martin’s rantings had evolved into more than just something Alex would say. Martin also reflects part of the staff’s musings: Janess’s “scenes we’d like to see” in court hearings, Benjie’s more rational treatment of what would otherwise be politically incorrect jokes, issues besetting the mothers among the staff (who are the majority), and sometimes, even jokes suggested by readers.
Martin’s wry humour may rarely evoke loud laughter, but he still gets his wit across, just when our top stories are having a slow day.
The cat is also rarely alone now, and has a dog pal to rant and joke with: Waffle the Belgian Shepherd, who is Martin’s kinder, more sensitive version. Last year, another commenter flew in on the strip after the Mamasapano encounter, when the Peace Dove became the Pissed Dove, even more quick-tempered than Martin, and has a vocabulary that includes images of poop, lightning and deadly weapons.
Aside from drawing wisecracking, opinionated animals (as an actual job, at that!), what I love most about making Martin, is the chance to put in ink and gauche the running conversations inside my head. Sometimes the voices sound strangely the same, like they came from the same crazy person. But with Martin around, everyone is welcome to sit, talk, clown around and even sing in the room: the hothead, the contemplative, the sly, the streetsmart, the naive and foolish, the regular crazy.