I’ve been making an effort this year to become familiar with comics from the Philippines, or komiks, and Gerry Alanguilan’s Elmer kept coming up through recommendations from friends and in writings about comics as an important book. I was able to get a now out of print edition through my library.
Elmer is an astonishingly well crafted comic, with beautiful art and a masterfully told story. It captures family dynamics superbly and handles racism and civil rights with a lot of grace. It took a while for me to get comfortable with the chicken protagonists in the book, but the abstraction they create masterfully invites the audience to consider horrific real world events in the way the best speculative fiction can.
Chickens are always present in life in the Philippines. Even in urban areas starting the day with a rooster crowing was common during my visits. There’s probably some of the relationship to chickens that I don’t get, but I can understand some of why they fascinated Alanguilan and inspired him to write through their perspective.
As far as I’ve been able to find, Elmer is not available digitally and is not in print in North America. It was recently published by Epigram in Singapore and they do ship abroad.