Tuesday, November 18

Graphic Novel Review: Martial Law Babies

The latest opus from Arnold Arre takes us back a generation...

It's been a while since the last project from local master grafictionist, Arnold Arre, but the wait has been worth it. You really can't predict what Arn has up his sleeve. Last time, it was a tribute to tagalog action movies/local fantasy with Andong Agimat. This time, it's a decidedly less magical and whimsical tale- in fact, you can't get any more real with this. Martial Law Babies is a look back at Arnold's (and incidentally, my) origins. It's the often not-so-simple story of a bunch of friends who grew up in the 70s and into the present day.

While the story follows the characters' intertwining plots and interactions, the real stars of the book are the various anecdotes, experiences, ironies, in-jokes, games, music, moods and quirks of the decades they go through. And all made all the more funny and ironic looking back at it all now.

While the characters are mostly fictional or at least fabricated from various sources or inspirations (as far as I know), it's clearly Arnold's voice speaking throughout. It's part journal and diary (far earlier than the blogs of today), part love letter, part confession, part validation, part rant, part sermon, part comedy, part tragedy... and all real. The emotion invested in the pages is heartbreakingly sincere, and that's what makes this work easily Arnold's best so far. The pages also reflect his maturity as a storyteller in pictures, mixing panels with prose in some instances, and using a more graphic and sketchy style in lieu of the super-detailed art he is capable of to convey more emotion and mood rather than minute detail.

You can't expect any whimsical, happy-happy-joy-joy endings in this one, which is admittedly pretty much the same as in real life. I actually found MLB to be extremely dark in parts, and a high amount of angst which I actually find a much for if it be something we'd characterize for our generation. But that's just optimistic me talking. Perhaps it's simply because the story's ending isn't written yet. Or it's something we make ourselves. Anyway, I'll be sure to grill Arnold about his latest masterpiece when I collar him at the Komikon. Heheh.

Martial Law Babies is now available at bookstores and Comic Quest branches in the Metro. Go. Get. Now.