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Singapore Comic Con 2022: Interview with Manix Abrera

Over the years, friends from the Philippines have been bringing me comics they bought from the comic cons there. Even if I can’t read Tagalog, I am interested to find out more about the new comics and artists emerging.

One of the more exciting discoveries from 10 years ago is Manix Abrera’s wordless comics. My thesis is that with the myriad of languages in Southeast Asia, wordless comics resolve the politics of translation, cross borders and overcome boundaries.

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This is what I wrote about ‘The Graphic Novel in Southeast Asia’ in The Novel in South and Southeast Asia Since 1945 (Oxford University Press, 2019):

Another development is apparent is the wordless graphic novels of Manix Abrera. A popular comic strip artist, Manix has produced two graphic novels, 12 (2012) and 14 (2014) – short cartoony tales of human malaise and despair which transcend language barriers.

Fast forward to 2022 and Manix is coming to the Singapore Comic Con as part of the Next Comic Art contingent. I did a short email interview with him to clue you in if you have not heard of him.

This is the wiki entry on Manix.

Manix Abrera

1. You draw a daily strip, a weekly strip and ‘serious’ books. Are the processes for each very different?

Yes, the processes for each are quite different. My Kikomachine Komix daily strips usually feature “slice-of-life” stories, while the more serious comics (silent comics 12, 14) tell more dark or twisted tales but with humorous undertones. 🙂

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2. Do you think you have been typecast as a humourous artist?

I’m not really sure. Most readers know me for my humorous stories, but others know only my serious wordless comics. 🙂

3. Your dad is an editorial cartoonist, your mom is a historian. How has that shaped your worldview and comics?

I’ve learned to be really observant  from my father, who always notices the little stories around us; and from my mother, I’ve learned to always remember that there are many sides and angles to every story. 🙂

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4. Your drawings remind me of Rong Rege Jr. Who are some of your influences?

My biggest influences are my father whom I’ve learned a lot from, and Bill Watterson of Calvin and Hobbes. 😀

5. What is with the obsession with tarot cards? (you did two exhibitions at Galerie Stephanie – this year and last)

Even as a kid, I’ve always loved magic and the supernatural. I love the mystery and symbolism surrounding tarot cards, and I did the entire tarot set for my exhibition at the gallery. I made tarot artworks in my cartoony and humorous style, to make it feel more accessible.

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6. Has publishing with Ablaze given you a higher international profile? (Ablaze also published Trese)

Yes, I’m really thankful for Ablaze for picking up my wordless comics 12 (released last October) and 14 (to be released next year). 🙂 12 has reached a wider audience since its publication. 🙂

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7. Your recent drawings for Next Comic Art are more ‘mainstream’ – DC and Marvel characters. Have you found a new and younger audience for your work?

Next Comic Art has really helped bring my artworks and art style to a wider audience. 🙂 And I’m really happy that I can combine my humorous art style and storytelling with famous DC and Marvel characters. 😀

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