Tuesday, July 05, 2005

page 45 on siglo: freedom

Page 45 is a UK-based retailer (winner of the Diamond Award for Best Retailer 2004). Here's their take on Siglo: Freedom.
Siglo: Freedom (£9-99, Mango) by various. A Filipino anthology of comics on the theme of freedom, a subject dear to the people of the Philippines, for obvious reasons. It's the sort of thing I instinctively want to applaud. Straight fiction, new points of view, something to say. And the first story, "Jolo, 1913" (each title has a date, which together span the last century), definitely boasts both those two characteristics. It's told by a boy as he moves through the alphabet in the top two-thirds of each page, being taught English. Along the bottom, he begins to talk about the school where he's learning this new language.

"None of the Muslim children went to my school. Maybe they attended a different one or learned directly from their parents. At that time I didn't understand why. I considered them lucky." But then other things happen that he doesn't understand, things he's not told, as smoke begins to rise in the Muslim districts. Soldiers are said to be arriving in great numbers. "At the end of that long week, my father told us it was all over. Things went back to normal and once again I went to school. Whatever happened suddenly seemed so distant. The Americans looked very happy. Everyone else tried to look happy."

This one worked for me, worked very well. You're never told what happened, but you don't need to be, and the juxtaposition of the underlying story with the humiliating English lesson above makes its point succinctly.

...by their own account, it's early days for comics in the Philippines - too much outside influence. Which is where we came in, with the first story.

The story in question, "Jolo, 1913" was written by me and illustrated by Andrew Drilon.


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