By Manix AbreraA Philippines creature of folklore flies across the dark and dreary sky
Publisher: Ablaze
ISBN: 9781684970612

Winner of the Philippine National Book Award, Manix Abrera’s 14 is a collection of silent tales centred around Philippine folklore. Abrera is a regular cartoonist on the Philippine Daily. Here he uses dark humour and his graphic storytelling skills to deliver the self-contained but connected tales. They don’t shy away from gore but this is balanced with a wit and curiosity that drives the narratives forward. If you’re outside of the Philippines it’s likely that you won’t be familiar with the haunting creatures, but none of this is a distraction.

Some of the tales are, as my daughter so charmingly put it, gross. But, of course, that’s when dark humour works best.

Take, for example, the vampiric-like creature that can separate its upper torso and sprout wings (the manananggal, I’ve since found out). After feasting on a hapless child, it spies a car crash below where a human has been severed in two and howls in agony. Recognising its own half-torso appearance in the victim, the creature swoops down and attempts to help by doing what it can do – putting the two halves together again. It’s both touching and yucky. But, thanks to the cartoon representation, never so gore-laden that it’s unpleasant or repellant.

I love discovering cartooning from other countries, and this is no exception. It’s different, well drawn and it tickled me.

And if you liked that: Abrera has a previous collection out, entitled 12, that does much the same thing. I’ll be getting a copy.

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