Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gallus Gallus Sapiens

"I wrote this because I felt it important to do so. I wanted to write it while I was living it, because it's so easy to forget. I'm realizing how short people's memories are, and what's written here could help them remember what it was like for us. For all of us. This is our story. All of us. And it's important not to forget."
- Elmer

So out of curiosity, I got myself a copy of Gerry Alanguilan's Elmer. I've always been a fan of local contemporary comics and grew up enjoying the works of artists like Arnold Arre and Pol Medina Jr. I've seen a lot of praise for this graphic novel so I went ahead and gave it a shot.

Elmer is set in an alternate reality, where a mysterious event called The Great Awakening granted chickens the gift (or curse) of sentience. Most of the story is told from a diary that the titular character gave to his son. It chronicles the events that immediately followed the Awakening, such as the inevitable first contact conflicts and the difficult period of adjustment that followed. The story itself is set in the present day, most likely to provide a stark contrast between the violent period of transition described by the diary's contents and the current period of relative peace between the two races.

The book prominently features themes such as racial equality and tolerance, as well as the value of family and friendship. The story is an excellent allegory for some disturbing issues that a lot of less fortunate people all over the world have to live with everyday.

All in all, Elmer accomplishes its ambitious goal. It is both haunting and beautiful, which is a very hard thing to achieve given its subject matter. Somehow, Alanguilan has figured out a way to convert reality's prejudices that a lot of us uncomfortably avoid into something that the readers could look at and reflect upon.

I would definitely recommend Elmer for a satisfying and thought-provoking read.

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