Tuesday, January 24, 2023

12 by Manix Abrera

You don't have to revisit works of art you loved to check your opinions. No one will force you. But, if you loved it the first time, you probably want to experience it again, eventually - oh, it's never the same the second time, nothing is, but different is not the same as less good.

I noticed that Manix Abrera's great collection of wordless comics 12 was available digitally in the US recently. I first read it more than a decade ago, back when I was more plugged into SF/comics publishing and had occasional dispatches from quirky and interesting areas of that world; at that point, 12 had been published in Abrera's native Philippines but not easily available anywhere else in the world. There may have been an element of gloating in my review: see! I can get things you plebeians can't! (Or I may be slandering my old self. Either way, he can't do anything about it now.)

And I read 12 again, thinking I would probably love it again, and could recommend it again, and, this time, the people reading my recommendation would actually have a decent chance of being able to find the book.

And, not to bury the lede: yes and yes and yes. I agree with everything I wrote the first time - go back to that post for more details of the stories and ideas, since I don't plan to repeat myself. These are great wordless stories, funny and frightening and touching and goofy and thought-provoking in turn. Abrera is a fine cartoonist as well; his blobby everyperson protagonists are nicely both specific and general at the same time.

And this time, 12 was published in the US, so the author bio and other surrounding material is in English, meaning I know a little more about Abrera than I did the first time. That doesn't really matter - it's the stories that matter - but it's nice to see, and it's also nice to see that Abrera's follow-up 14 (see my post) is also available in the US. It's not a sequel in any way, but it's a single long wordless story, and 12 is a collection of twelve wordless stories, so it's the same kind of thing.

I hope this means that Abrera's other work - I know he's done non-wordless comics, mostly in Tagalog I believe - will be translated for the US market, and maybe that whatever he's done since 14 (which I saw in 2015) will also make it over here. Even if not: he's got two great books of wordless comics out for the US market, both of which arrived here at the end of 2022. Go check them out.

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