OG Advice: Comic artist Manix Abrera shares the secret to a successful serial comic

OG Advice: Comic artist Manix Abrera shares the secret to a successful serial comic

“Kaya lumaki akong conscious na dapat maiba lagi ang style ko. Through the years nade-develop lang, basta tuloy-tuloy ang paggawa.”

Illustration by Richard Mercado

Manix Abrera just gets it. Flip to the comics section of your daily of choice, or scroll down your feed, and you’re sure to find at least a snippet of his comics: simple, clean, yet packed with humor of epic proportions. They’re the kind you like to read in the in-betweens, during the humdrums of life, when you’re out for coffee and looking for something to spice up your life a little.

Part of what makes Manix Abrera’s work endure so, perhaps, is its relatability. The millennial generation is known for its ironic and self-aware humor (see: memes), but Manix perfected this brand of humor way before it was cool. Case in point: you might have read a “Kikomachine” comic at least once during your grade school days. The best part is that the humor evolves — poking fun at current events and situations, growing up the same time we did. If the Filipino experience could be summed up in a few comic panels, you’d have “Kikomachine.”

With “Kikomachine”’s trademark wit and mind-blowing simplicity, it’s tempting to try to guess how Manix is able to do all that. But some of the best-kept secrets are actually quite simple. In order to make your mark as an artist, sometimes it’s a matter of finding your own voice, your own style, your own stories to tell. (Also, understanding your rights when it comes to creative work.)

This week, we chat with Manix on starting out, developing his style, and staying inspired.

YOUNG STAR: You once said you already knew you wanted to be an artist at a very young age. What was your turning point? Did something happen to make you realize this?

MANIX ABRERA: Opo, yung tatay ko kasi (si Jess Abrera) ay cartoonist. At maliit pa lang ako, lagi akong tumatabi sa kanya pag nagdo-drawing siya, ‘tas ayun, bata pa lang ako iniisip ko na gusto ko maging kagaya niya. Ang saya-saya niya ‘pag nagdo-drawing! ‘Yun talaga! (Laughs)

Comics courtesy of Manix Abrera via manix-abrera.com.

How did you develop your style? Were there certain artists or mediums that helped shape the style you have now?

Dahil din lagi kong katabi si papa noon, ginagaya ko ang drawing style niya. Tapos pagsasabihan niya ako na dapat hindi ko gagayahin style niya, o ninuman, dapat magkaroon ako ng sariling style! ‘Pag nagte-trace ako ng drawings (gamit ang tracing paper) nila Mickey Mouse, et cetera, ayaw ni papa ‘yun! Hahaha! Mas gusto niya ang drawings ko na imbento ko ang characters, kahit bali-baliku ang lines, pero dahil original ito ay mas okay pa rin!

Kaya lumaki akong conscious na dapat maiba lagi ang style ko. Through the years nade-develop lang, basta tuloy-tuloy ang paggawa. Kaya makikita na iba ang style ko sa “Kikomachine Blg.1” sa latest book na “Kikomachine Blg.12.” Hanggang ngayon ay patuloy pa rin ang pag-develop, at masayang adventure siya.

How did you conceptualize “Kikomachine”? How did you develop the humor in your current comics?

Nag-start kasi iyun second year college ako. So ang stories ay based sa mga nararanasan ko, ng mga kaklase ko. Tapos yung itsura ng characters ay mga nakita ko talaga sa unibersidad. Pero strangers sila, kinuha ko lang yung itsura (nila). At nilagay ay personalities ng mga kilala ko talaga (like friends, profs, et cetera].

Tapos mahilig ako sa mga totoong pangyayari at karanasan na weird, tapos i-eexaggerate ko pa. Super daming magagandang kwento sa paligid natin, maliit at malaki, na hindi napapansin masyado, at napakaganda i-kwento. At sobrang yaman ng kultura natin, hindi ka mauubusan ng maiku-kwento.

‘Lumaki akong conscious na dapat maiba lagi ang style ko. Through the years nade-develop lang, basta tuloy-tuloy ang paggawa,’ says Manix Abrera.

What drives you when it comes to finding inspiration for your comics, especially when it comes to serialized comics?

Mga totoong kwento talaga! Madalas nakikinig ako sa kwentuhan ng strangers, habang nasa jeep, bus, train, o saan man! At marami akong nakakakwentuhan na marami akong natututunan tungkol sa buhay-buhay.

Looking back, what do you wish you knew back when you were new to the comics industry?

Na marami ka palang rights bilang creator! Wala pa ako noong masyadong alam halimbawa sa copyright. Magandang habang nag-sisimula ka pa lang ay alam mo ang mga karapatan mo. Naks

For all aspiring comic artists out there, what’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Nakuha ko ito sa magulang ko: kailangan mahal mo talaga ang gagawin mo. ‘Wag mo isipin kung sisikat ka ba, o yayaman ka ba, or kung ano ba ang uso, or kung magkaka-awards ka ba sa gagawin mo, or kung anupaman. Importante mahal mo ang gagawin mo; bonus na lang ang lahat ng iba. At magandang ma-balance mo ang form and content sa gagawin mo. Enjoy the journey; ‘pag may struggles isiping lalakas ka after nito, and madapa ka man, bangon lang uli; dahil mahal mo ang ginagawa mo. Naks!

Tags:
#career #comics #OG Advice

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