Tabi Po english issue 1 (mervin malonzo, adam david translation)

It’s impossible to have not heard of Tabi Po by now, but it’s possible to not have read it yet. This was my situation, and when I found the chance at Komikon, I finally decided, what the heck, I really should be reading this already. I got the Flipreads release at Komikon, as translated into English by Adam David, with the illustrations rendered into grayscale.

Suffice to say that if you know your Tagalog, do yourself a favor and read in Filipino, free of charge on the website. Adam David did a really good translation, that is true, but as in most languages, some of the original feel of the work is lost in translation.

As a work, the material is definitely distinct from all the rest in its use of watercolors (digital or otherwise), instead of the usual pen-and-ink. Whenever possible the story is given through the art, and such incredibly haunting art it is without being horrific or gothic. The author is not afraid to utilize nudity when necessary, but does this with an appreciation for the body, not for the shock factor. It tends to use whole pages for panels, to incredible effect.

I also appreciated this take on the local aswang, in contrast to all the aswang tropes we’ve been fed all these years (a cross between the western witch and the western vampire).

The pacing of the work is deliberately slow, as it is presented as autobiographical, and yet you can’t help but keep flipping pages/clicking for new pages, as soon as you take in and savor the awesomeness of each page and panel. It takes its time with the character development, and it does not matter if it’s deliberate and slow, you relish each moment.

Totally, after Elmer this is the work that deserves international success, so point your friends to Flipreads/Amazon/iTunes and/or the free Tagalog version.

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