Manix Abrera is best known for his comic strip Kikomachine, which runs from Monday to Saturday in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, and currently appears in twelve book compilations published by Visprint. He graduated from the University of the Philippines, Diliman, with a degree in Fine Arts, and has won National Book Awards for his books “14” (2015), a wordless graphic novel, and News Hardcore: Hukbong Sandatahan ng Kahaggardan! (2016). News Hardcore! is also a webcomic that appears weekly on GMA News Online. He is a very kind person. 😀

You can find out more about Manix Abrera and his work on Facebook, Instagram, and at www.manix-abrera.com

Q: Everyone has an origin story. Could you share with us the exact moment (or moments) wherein you realized that you wanted to become an artist?

Super idol ko kasi ang tatay ko na si Jess Abrera. Kaya bata pa lang ako, ginusto ko na talaga maging artist at cartoonist kasi nakikita ko na ang saya-saya niya pag nagdodrawing. 🙂

[My biggest idol was my father, Jess Abrera. That’s why ever since I was a kid I really wanted to become an artist and cartoonist, because I witnessed just how joyful he was whenever I saw him drawing.]

 

Q: From that moment, and throughout your journey as an artist, what has been your biggest struggle?

Noong nagsisimula pa lang akong magkomiks, hindi pa nito kayang masustentuhan ang pamumuhay ko, hehe! So me mga drama-drama pa ako noon na bakit ganito (ang buhay, ang mundo) haha, napakahirap maging artist!

[When I was starting out making comics, they weren’t at a point wherein they could sustain my livelihood, hehe! So there was a bit of drama back then about why things were the way they were (in life, and in the world) haha. It’s incredibly hard to be an artist!]

Q: How have you been able to cope with (or overcome) this struggle?

Tas sinabihan ako ng tatay ko na dapat gumawa ako ng paraan para mabuhay ako na hindi binibitawan ang art ko. Kaya ang dami ko noong sideline sa magazines and ad agencies. Tapos naging okay na mula nung napublish na into books ang Kikomachine. 🙂

[Then my father told me that I had to figure out a way to live in such a way that I wouldn’t have to let go of my art. That’s why I had a lot of sidelines in magazines and ad agencies. Then everything started turning out okay ever since my Kikomachine comics were published into books.]

Q:What would you consider is the ONE thing that REALLY helped you level up your skills?

Noong sumali ako sa Fully Booked / Neil Gaiman Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards. Ang pinasa ko kasi na piece ay wordless comics (“Splat!” nakatsambang 2nd place haha), nahirapan ako (pero nag-enjoy) na gawin ito. Tas narealize ko na gusto ko na nacha-challenge ko ang sarili ko haha. 🙂

[When I joined the Fully Booked / Neil Gaiman Philippine Graphic Fiction Awards. The pieced I submitted was a wordless comic (“Splat!” that luckily won 2nd place, haha), I struggled (but I enjoyed) creating it. That’s when I realized that I liked the feeling of giving myself a challenge.]

Q: What is one thing you’d wish you’d known before you started your artistic career? Why?

Na marami kang pain na pagdadaanan para sa iyong art (naks hahaha, pero seryoso! Hehe) XD

[That you will experience and go through a lot of pain for your art (naks! hahaha, but seriously! Hehe)]

Q: What drives or inspires you to continue making your art?

Yung mga kwento sa paligid natin. Ang yaman-yan kasi ng kultura natin, at ang dami-daming magagandang kwento! 🙂

[The stories all around us. Because our culture is incredibly rich, and is filled with so many amazing stories!]

Q: What does your average day look like? (And when do you fit in the time to create art?)

Paiba-iba ang araw ko kasi nahihirapan ako pag routine. :’) Pero madalas sa umaga ay lumalabas ako, magbibisikleta o hike, makikipagkwentuhan, tapos sa hapon or gabi magsisimula na akong magdrawing. 🙂

[My days are all different because I have trouble with routines. But usually, in the mornings I go out, go biking or hiking, chat with friends, and then in the afternoon or evenings I start drawing.]

Q: How do you deal with distractions or challenges that you encounter while you’re working on your art?

Sinasama ko sa komiks yung distractions hahaha! XD Minsan naranasan ko na wala akong maisip, so ang topic ko sa komiks nun ay mental block. Haha 😀

[I include these distractions in my comics hahaha! I sometimes have moments wherein I can’t think of anything, so then the topic for my comics ends up being about mental blocks. Haha]

Q: What do you do when you feel just completely uninspired or burnt out? How do you motivate yourself to start working again?

Gumagawa ako ng ibang bagay na walang kinalaman sa pagkokomiks. Maggigitara. Aakyat ng bundok. Magba-bike hehe. Tapos magiging excited na ako magkomiks uli. 🙂 Kailangan lang ipadaloy ang dugo (naks) hehe. 😀

[I do other things that have nothing to do with making comics. Play guitar. Climb a mountain. Go biking, hehe. Afterwards, I feel excited to start making comics again. You just have to get your blood flowing (naks) hehe.]

Q: What would you say has been your most EPIC win so far?

Noong natuwa sa ginagawa kong komiks yung ibang kaklase ko noon sa Fine Arts (na ang hahardcore mag-criticize haha). Tas may classmate ako noon, si Jessica, siya pinakaunang nagsabi sa akin na okay daw yung komiks ko haha (2nd yr college ako noon). Yun yung mga hindi ko makakalimutan haha. 🙂

[Back then, when the comics I was making were entertaining my classmates in Fine Arts (who were often pretty hardcore with their criticisms haha). I had a classmate then, Jessica, who was the very first one that told me that my comics were good (I was 2nd year college then). Those are moments I’ll never forget haha.]

Q: What would you say has been your biggest failure?

May ilang speaking engagement akong hindi napuntahan kasi super busy sa deadlines. Tapos nalaman ko na yung isang school e mga grade school students sana na nilo-look-forward sana yung talk and workshop ko. :’((

[There were a number of speaking engagements that I never got to attend because I was super busy with deadlines. Then I discovered that one school’s grade school students were really looking forward to my talk and workshop. :'((]

 

Q: What, for you, has been the best way to promote yourself and your work to potential fans, clients, or publishers?

Maganda sana kung madalas or lagi kang magpakita at sumuporta sa mga bookfair, conventions, literary events. 🙂 At okay din kung magpost ka minsan ng works online. Pero malaking bagay talaga ang presence sa events, sa tingin ko. Napaka-importante ng human interaction hehe. 🙂

[It would be great if you could always be present and support bookfairs, conventions, and literary events. 🙂 And it’s also good to post your works online sometimes. But it’s really a big thing to be present at events, in my opinion. Human interaction is incredibly important hehe. :)]

 

Q: What has been your game plan throughout your journey? What’s the BIG picture here? The ultimate dream? The end game?

Honestly, wala akong game plan or anumang big goal nung sinimulan ko itong pagkokomiks. Ginawa ko lang talaga siya kasi ito yung nasa puso ko. 🙂 Tapos bonus na lang ang anumang magagandang naidulot niya sa akin hehe. 🙂 So surprise din ang mga nangyayari ngayon, para sa akin hehe. :’D

[Honestly, I didn’t have a game plan or any big goal when I started making comics. I only do this because it’s what’s in my heart. 🙂 And then, whatever good things that come to me because of it are just a bonus hehe. 🙂 So it’s also a surprise for me, everything that’s happening now hehe. :’)]

Q: What, for you personally, has been the source of your ideas, creativity and talent?

Yung kulturang Pinoy, iyun talaga! 🙂 At kung gaano kaganda ang mga kwento ng bawat nilalang, gaano man kalaki o kaliit. 🙂

[Filipino culture, that’s really it! 🙂 And just how beautiful every person’s story is, no matter how big or small. :)]

 

Q: What is your big “WHY”? Why do you feel the need to make art? Who are you doing it for? What’s the hidden reason behind your big dream?

Dahil napakaraming magagandang kwento! 🙂 At bawat isa sa atin ay may magagandang kwento. 🙂

[Because there are so many amazing stories! 🙂 And because each one of us has, within us, wonderful stories. :)]

 

Quick-Fire Questions

Q: What 3 stories (comics, movies, documentaries, novels, etc.) would you say influenced and inspired your work the most?

Tintin, Pugad Baboy, 2001: A Space Odyssey 🙂

 

Q: What are the top books, art books, blogs, podcasts, or workshops you’d recommend that helped you level up your skills? (Feel free to plug in as many as you’d like)

Stephen King’s On Writing, at saka Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics 🙂

 

Q: If you could work remotely, from anywhere in the world, where would your office be? Why?

Sa Palawan kasi ang gaganda ng beach doon hehe, tsaka Pilipinas pa rin. Or Batanes hehe kasi super ganda ng lahat. 🙂

[In Palawan, because the beaches there are gorgeous hehe, and still in the Philippines. Or Batanes hehe, because everything there is beautiful. :)]

 

Q: Name ONE artist/writer that, if you could, you would pick their brain and find out all the hidden secrets behind their amazing work?

Hergé (Adventures of Tintin) 🙂

 

Q: Who do you consider your biggest mentor that helped you improve your skills?
(Doesn’t have to be someone you’ve met personally. Can be someone you look up to, or someone whose art has inspired you to get better, over the years.)

Yung tatay ko talaga, si Jess Abrera. 😀

[Truly, my father, Jess Abrera :D]
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