Sulyap (Part 2)

Go read: Part 1

Lipad by Rommel J. Estanislao

Loosely adapted from the popular song Pipit, Lipad is a parable of young idealism literally laid low by the banal cruelty of adults. The symbolism employed by both the song and Rommel Estanislao's comic are easy enough to comprehend, and it's object lessons could be conveniently transferred to the conditions faced by the present generation of komiks creators. With its outpouring of sincere sentiment, Lipad would make it a perfect anthem for the Sulyap anthology.

Sulyap: Lipad by Rommel J. Estanislao

Maktan 1521 by Tepai Pascual

The Battle of Mactan is one of those military victories that tend to get retold and given further embellishment in order to inflame patriotic fervor. The particular version printed here is only the opening of a longer graphic novel, so it suddenly cuts off at mid-scene. But the first sixteen pages do provide an ample preview of Tepai Pascual's storytelling: There's a chilling magical-realist vision of the Spanish conquest of the Philippines which sets the tone for the story. The soldiers appear as menacing as a squad of stormtroopers. This foreboding is further intensified in the next scene with a group of worried natives looking at the enormous black vessels of the Spaniards docked at a trading port (This is a black and white comic). The story ends prematurely with a meeting between the Spaniards and three datus, in which the latter are presented with an ultimatum - submit or be attacked.

While it's difficult to gauge anything about the originality of its message or viewpoint from just this sampling, what separates Maktan 1521 from other retellings is the art of Pascual. Her strong sense of design bolsters the heroic proportions of her angularly drawn figures, as well as her preference for chiaroscuro to outline them. It's a beautiful comic to look at, to say the least. This isn't a naturalistic interpretation of the historical events but a romanticized one, informed by Pascual's comic influences from Frank Miller to Hiromu Arakawa. In terms of scope, this is the most ambitious story in the collection.

Sulyap: Maktan 1521 by Tepai Pascual

Taal Volcano Vs. Evil Space Paru-Paro by Macoy

I've already reviewed what looks like a cross between Japanese kaiju an tamagotchi here in its original mini-comic form, so I'll just add that the visuals look much more polished with the superior production values of this anthology.

Windmills: Bearkdowns by Josel Nicolas

Josel Nicolas is the only creator in Sulyap whose art and subject matter largely mirrors the influence of American alternative comix from the nineteen eighties and early nineties. His art is deliberately rough and crude so as not to distract from the narrative. He makes use of surrealist devices such as dream/fanstasy sequences, and anthropomorphic characters. He eschews linear narrative for formalist experimentation. And most stereotypically, he's abandoned pulp formula for literary expression, i.e. autobiography (Or in this case, semi-autobiograhy).

Bearkdowns is a partial reprint of Windmills: Bearkdowns - the first mini in the creator's series. The main protagonist is a talking bear who struggles with writer's block, all the while visiting his parents, and dealing with death in the family. This is an extremely dense story crammed with metaphors centering around creativity and mortality, making it the most challenging comic in this anthology. The crowded panels aren't always easy to look at, let alone decipher, especially within the book's small print size. And the stream-of-conscious approach doesn't bother with clear scene transitions to help make it easier to follow. And in keeping with the arbsurdist nature of the story, the end swerves away from any unambiguous punchline. That's not entirely true, as Bear does seem to find evidence of some mysterious symmetry in life towards the end.

Sulyap: Windmills: Bearkdowns by Josel Nicolas

I'm unsure as to whether Bearkdowns can be considered an artistic success. But even if it is a failure, in many ways it's still the one komik in Sulyap that goes out on a limb.

Part 3 will wrap-up my overview of Sulyap.