art, comics, graphic design

Bittersweet dichotomy of Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me

The back cover of Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me describes several things about the graphic novel. It’s a look into precious childhood memories, religion, pop culture, adolescence, social class, and politics. It seems like a huge list of topics to cover in 131 pages—and it is. It feels overstuffed just as a child on Halloween candy.

The story begins in the present with the death of Lorina Mapa’s (our lead character) father. Then, by a trip down memory lane, some bounce-around politics and religion, it’s almost expected that the reader should have some knowledge about the history of the Philippines.

While one can appreciate her take on religion and the importance it played in her family, it’s naive how Mapa sees religion outside of that. She claims that misogyny doesn’t exist in her home country because of the importance placed on the Virgin Mary. But in many ways, misogyny in the country still runs rampant.

That isn’t to say there is nothing good about Mapa’s story. The comic shines when she recalls her father and her participation in 1986’s ‘People Power Revolution.’ It can be charming and emotional. Immediately we want to know more about Mapa’s father and their heartwarming relationship.

Duran’s artwork features simple black and white outlines with shades of grey. It makes sense a book about history and flashbacks almost echoes old black and white televisions from years gone by. Facial expressions are clear and feature both kind smiles and cocksure expressions.

Artwork adds to the descriptions when Mapa describes the shortened bangs she once had, featuring tufts of hair in the air. The only time colour is present is when a bright yellow adorns flags and a car—the colour that symbolized support for candidate Cory Aquino in the 1986 election. It’s a bright moment, though it can be considered oddly placed. The elections were important but perhaps colour could have more impact towards the end of the book.

The finale is bittersweet, as it’s taking the journey through the memories of Mapa reconciling to herself that there is a way to bring back her father. It’s just different than how she expected.

Duran Duran, Imelda Marcos and Me
Written by Lorina Mapa
Conundrum Press, $18

Original appeared in issue of VUE Weekly, issue 1126. The comic was provided by Conundrum Press for review purposes. 


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