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GRAPHIC NOVEL REVIEW: News Hardcore!: Hukbong Sandatahan ng Kahaggardan!



Story by: Manix Abrera
Art by: Manix Abrera
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To sum it all up..

THUS SPAKE, MANIX ABRERA! Manix Abrera is becoming one of the few titans in the Philippine comic book  industry. And why not, one asks. He wins a couple of serious prestigious awards in the visual literature genre along the way, and observe how long the queue during his book signing. And, what’s more awesome about […]

Posted November 18, 2015 by



Manix Abrera is becoming one of the few titans in the Philippine comic book  industry. And why not, one asks. He wins a couple of serious prestigious awards in the visual literature genre along the way, and observe how long the queue during his book signing. And, what’s more awesome about him is that he never rests his laurel and most importantly, he remains grounded and humble despite the accolades and praises he receives up to this date. Speaking of his being the cartoonist, he unleashes another collected work entitled News Hardcore!: Hukbong Sandatahan ng Kahaggardan!. In similar fashion of his Kikomachine series, his book has all the usual Manix-esque we all familiar with, except he centers his sights on the realm of mainstream Philippine journalism. This book is by far the most “EPIC” of the creator’s ever increasing body of works, clocking more than 240 pages. Veteran journalist and multi-awarded documentarian – Howie Severino had the time to write the book’s foreword. It also contains some of Manix’s artworks and the list of his entire opus at the end of this edition. Even the paper quality and the cover art are even topnotch. And what’s more in his latest compilation is that it is fully colored! Yes, this one has colors! ANG LUPIT NITO!

As specified by the respected reporter, Manix never misses the “beat”, specifically the so-called “behind-the-scenes” of the realm that is journalism, which he is already part of it since his stay in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and right now, part of GMA Network’s news website named, well, NEWS HARDCORE! Totaling 230 cartoon strips, the creator illustrates, narrates, illuminates, reconstructs, deconstructs, contextualizes, and humors the institutionalization and the structural compositions of the media outlet. His brand of humor is still omniscient—irreverent but still courteous, satirical yet cordially appropriate, exaggerated though grounded and minimalist, and significantly, majority of the strips are definitely existentially funny, if not the “absurd”. Indeed, the power structures within the monolithic news institution are well-defined as clear as the social stratification of the greater society itself. The existence of the physiological and psychological “stressors” and the “stress” triggers is one of the illustrator’s best imaginative and creative illustrative executions that illuminates the dichotomies of the higher echelons and the mere cogs of the grinding wheels that are in the media outlets, yet caricaturing drawn to his one-of-the-kind humorist and wise-cracking manner without stepping on anyone’s foot or the treacherous “biting-the-hands-that-feed-thee” attitude. No wonder why Manix masters the delicate tight-rope walking of absurdity and seriousness as long as the existential respect or “paggalang” is present.

In addition, popular cultural elements are important components of heightening the already chaotic world of the mainstream media, especially the signifying portrayals of Japanese signifiers, such as the illusive and stealthy ninja, the out-bursting of the Super Saiyan mode, and the ever increasing influences of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, particularly his personal favorite, I believe, the Hulk. These and other visual iconic representations may be obvious at first glance, yet they can be the subliminal codes and/or texts of something more serious within the abovementioned structure: the continuing moral and ethical challenges the media practitioners confront, and to some, succumb. Like many, if not all, organizations around, these kinds of scumbags we rail upon are presented in the way the creator sees them fit to their respective paradigm/s in the most satirical way possible. No surprises here for Howie cited the great cartoonist and journalist Noynoy Marcelo who also made witty, quirky, and even so, subliminal potshots on the poseurs, pretenders, mercenaries, and the bad tomatoes of the illustrious and august profession of journalism. I can give other historical figures, Marcelo H. del Pilar and to some extent, Graciano Lopez Jaena who both railed, but ultimately gave-in to the continuing challenges in the media form. But, so far, so good, I hope Manix remains, well, as immaculate as possible since he is part of the institution, never go to the proverbial “dark side” of that force.

Due to this signature artistic style he now undeniably masters (and as the extension of his sub-consciousness), he retains his minimalist artistic approach with greater effects, synchronizing well with his quirky existential and mind-boggling dialogues that can be called as his “The Spirit” of conveying the dominating the zeitgeist and the underlying anti-theses that attempt to humanize the rather highly structuralized and institutionalized form that is the Fourth Estate. Naturally, the anatomical forms are the constant of the characters’ portrayals, but the facial features, the caricatures of real-life personalities, are the borderline of exaggeration, if so absurdity if one insists, and the comedic surrealism and realism that the cogs distinctively project as their respective designations dictate and heightened by Manix’s illustrative DNA. Anxiety, hatred, laughter, depression, mental blocks, conscience, dilemma, the id and superego, and virtually ad infinitum of the emoticons are just as hilariously executed only by the illustrator himself. Of course, he also experiments his artworks as shown in his artistic application of colorization, mostly three to four color scheme. That kind of experimentation enhances more in the overall contextualization of the several locales and working site the students and practitioners of journalism endure, work, exist, and perform. The colors actually assist in humoring the absurdities of the trivialities these people already confront, thus arguably the mastermind humanizes the so-called grand façade of the media practitioners. I think that’s a serious Rock-and-Roll moment!

Sure, most of the wordings are definitely catered for the postmodern, err, millennial generations, for the jaded types are leaving behind the linguistic game of the time and relevance. Despite the conventional way of sequential paneling, some readers may end up being intimidated or even stumped on the creator’s postmodernist ways of experimenting the borders and/or limits of though balloons and lettering for that is what the comic form should be, the venue of greater artistic paradigm experimentation. Thus, pacing is the key in comprehending Manix’s ever expanding self-improvement on the visual craft. But to hell with these nitpickings, his latest collection is the evidence of his path of the transcendence on and of the medium itself; this time around centering the journalistic realm. Maintaining his level of humoring the readers, with reverence to the structure and the old guards, he also expands his current artistic repertoires further.


Paul Ramos



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