Graphic Novel Review: After Lambana: Myth and Magic in Manila

After Lambana: Myth and Magic in Manila: A Graphic Novel by Eliza Victoria and Mervin Malonzo. Tuttle, 2022. 9780804855259.

In Manila, magical, mythical beings live alongside humans, though magic is prohibited. Deadly, spontaneous diseases plague the city. Conrad, a human, has a flower growing in his heart, and soon it’s going to burst forth and kill him. Ignacio is trying to help. (Ignacio is not quite human, maybe.) When they go past the last stop on the train, Conrad doesn’t notice that Igacio’s eyes glow. The journey takes them into the Filipino version of faerie, into a magical place even more full of spirits where maybe Conrad can find the help he needs.

I really enjoyed this book, and in particular the way it doesn’t over-explain. Malonzo’s art is not inked, and its bold colors work with the lack of dark black lines to make everything feel a bit blurry, like the line between fantasy and reality in the book. It left me wanting to know more about sirenas and white ghosts, lambana and diwata. I’ve got a few more of Tuttle’s recent graphic novels from the Filipino creators in my to-read pile, but next I’ll probably check out Alternative Alamat, an anthology full of myths and legends, to gain a bit of the background knowledge that I’m missing.


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