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COMIC BOOK REVIEW: 14

 
14
14
14

 
Overview
 

Story by: Manix Abrera
 
Art by: Manix Abrera
 
Publisher:
 
FG RATING
 
 
 
 
 
4/ 5


User Rating
17 total ratings

 

Raves


It will make you reread the book over and over again, giving you a much better experience; Manix Abrera brings out the balance of appropriateness of the sense of absurdity and horror to his Manix-branded humor that many readers and fans are familiar with.

Rants


There are themes which are considered too mature to begin; coloring inconsistency on some sequences make confusing read in first glances


To sum it all up..

How could a talented artist like Manix Abrera surpass his current artistic level? Answer: By transcending by any means necessary. This is what I infer upon reading and re-reading Manix’s latest opus, 14. So far, his work is the biggest in terms of scope and thickness. He has a grand vision of pushing the boundaries of his craft into another level…

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Posted November 4, 2014 by

 
FULL REVIEW
 
 

manix 14How could a talented artist like Manix Abrera surpass his current artistic level? Answer: By transcending by any means necessary. This is what I infer upon reading and re-reading Manix’s latest opus, 14. So far, his work is the biggest in terms of scope and thickness. He has a grand vision of pushing the boundaries of his craft into another level ever since he drew comic scripts in his alma mater in the early 2000s. Clocking at a staggering two-hundred pages, this opus presents a kind of artistic transcendence Manix often does to further strengthen his status as one of the most serious students of the visual craft. Like almost all of his Kiko Machine compilations or graphic novels, one can savor the brand of aesthetics only he can deliver. He loves to experiment both current and new artistic forms of sequential story-telling to convey the story he wants to reach out to readers—fans and newcomers alike. With a solid fan-base he successfully formed, maintains, and loves, it is without the doubt that 14 will surely be selling like pancakes, particularly in the upcoming Komikon this month. Now, let’s go to the details….

manix 14Manix repeats the silent/dialogue-less narrative he utilized with great effects in 12. Though the latter was way shorter than the former, he makes sure that the sequential narrative presented is basically linear approached in order the readers to follow the message(s) he wants to deliver. At first glance, I made an impression that he was doing what his comic idol Grant Morrison does best—cyclical story-based. But upon reading, no, analyzing per page, I reversed my previous view—Manix begins and ends the story in an old-fashioned (and good) way. There are a few cyclical moments, but we are going ahead. There are already “silent” precedents in the genre, aside his groundbreaking 12. Jim Woodring’s The Frank Book, Moebius’s Arzach, Eric Drooker’s Flood! A Novel in Pictures, and Masashi Tonaka’s Gon are some of the influential examples, to which I believe Manix is either inspired or knowledgeable of their existence. But the caveat of silent types is obvious—the artist should convey his/her vision with much clarity than with dialogues or thought-balloons. This is a difficult task for pictures alone never necessarily guarantee a good story-telling. It takes a great comic artist to execute such painstaking task. In the case of 14, I surmise Manix crafts his story carefully not to let the readers being dragged senselessly or create an impression of seeing more art than story/plot-driven that was the zeitgeist then in 1990s mainstream comics.

manix 14

Speaking of plot, it is actually a simple premise. A nameless male character experiences a rather “supernatural” event in the “13th” floor of the building he’s staying. Let’s be clear here. Executing a “simple” story is not as easy as what it seems. It takes years of disciplining and honing one’s craft to the next artistic level. Look at Leinil Yu’s current drawing style in the Avengers comics. See how Scott Snyder improves his writing style in delivering the dark-and-gritty stories in his Batman run (including his current indie series American Vampire and Wytches). And notice how Budjette Tan’s Trese evolves significantly in dialogues and story-telling that presents the confidence he possesses right now. Manix is no exception here. He improves surely as a comic creator in delivering nine POVs/stories from nine characters—manananggal, diwata, a dying man, tikbalang, kapre, tiyanak, duwende, white lady, and the nameless man himself. Their respective stories, either their own experiences or made-up/tell-tale versions, are generally very easy to follow. Manix succeeds of making the pictures speak for themselves without having the readers endure searching for tiniest details or Easter eggs that become the norm in mainstream comics nowadays. Furthermore, he strictly focuses on the nine-grid paneling per page that perhaps explains why story overall is never overwhelming. This method is very similar in Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen and Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer. With that kind of discipline shows, Manix easily maintains the nine-panel in most pages, or reduces to six-three-one spread per page whenever the sequence demands such.

[Check out… LET’S TALK KOMIKS: Manix Abrera’s 14, Ang Komiks Nya na Tahimik]

I mention the cyclical-style of narration that Manix utilizes in some of the POVs, most particularly with the case of the tiyanak and the tikbalang. This approach is appropriate for the sense of absurdity and essentially the horror Manix wants to retain with these mythical creatures delivers significantly, in addition of the Manix-branded humor that many readers and fans are familiar with. However, let’s dwell on some nitpickings on his brilliant work to ensure some balance. First, although most of Manix’s works are truly humorous at best, there are themes which are considered too mature to begin with. Though the manananggal’s tale presents the necessary gore that is associated with; this is nothing compared with themes of mass suicide and cannibalism in the situations of the duwende and tiyanak, respectively. Second, the inconsistency of coloring makes some sequences a confusing read in first glances. Again, this is apparent in the tiyanak case where the being went to another toilet bowl of another house. At first glance, that adventure takes place, but upon re-reading the previous pages, that experience is a bittersweet dream that results to the repetition of victimization of its naïve prey. And, newcomers should first read some of Manix’s earlier works, most particularly 12 to grasp his brand of graphic visuals.

manix 14 But nevertheless, Manix successfully transcends his aesthetic craft with this latest “wordless” graphic novel/silent komiks. This is a celebration of Philippine super-naturals and/or mythical creatures without being so grotesque or being so gory that often presented in popular media. Even the mundane practices during the “undas” or All-Saints’/All-Souls’ Days are highlighted to good effects without being so sacrosanct on it. This is one of the very few times I read a horror graphic novel that is so optimistic, if not “fun” to say the least. Look, all these creatures are having cocktails despite it’s in the “13th” floor, and having a “mortal”/“normal” guy amongst the supernatural crowd without incidence is what I define as an “awesome” place to stay with. Yes, this work wants us to reflect on how we perceive our own mythical creatures, even to ourselves as well. Preachy you say? Never! How about Fun? Indeed! Rok en Roll, Manix!


by C. Paul Ramos with Norby Ela

Norby Ela

 
FlipGeeks Operations Editor, Managing Editor of Comics, Komiks, Manga, atbp.


2 Comments


  1.  
     
     
     
     
     

    san po available ang “14”? meron ba nyan sa Pandayan Stores? walang NBS dito




    •  
      Tony Tuason

      We think it will also be available in FullyBooked. We’ll ask around if it’s gonna be in other bookstores as well ;)





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