by Kyla Estoya
While working on this passion project, there are days when we feel hesitant to make moves especially when it involves reaching out to artists and other people we look up to. But you know, walang mawawala sa ‘min and it’s always a nice feeling when they reply. It makes this journey more thrilling and fulfilling.
One of the artists we’ve always been wanting to write about is Electromilk, the talented human bean behind Ang Manananggal, a story about a girl named Anna having nightmares about a strange and scary woman, and then finding out they’ll be classmates in school. This comic was one of the few things that made our pandemic more bearable. I discovered Electromilk, aka Shin, on Facebook when one of my friends shared an illustration from their page. I fell in love immediately. You ever had that moment when you see something crafted so perfectly that you hate not having been able to come up with it?
That’s how I felt. But you know, as usual, in my artist discovery journeys, two minutes of scrolling through the archives, I became a fan.
“I am a fan of horror so I always wanted to make a horror story myself. I thought manananggals are very cool beautiful creatures and there seems to be a lot more to it than its initial shock value,” Shin shared to me, “It’s scary but also very metaphoric. That’s what I’m kind of exploring in my take.”
I am a fan of horror so I always wanted to make a horror story myself.
I’ve read Ang Manananggal a few months ago and I just want to say that everything about that work is awesome. I’ve always admired artists who are also good storytellers, and Shin happens to be one of them. One of the best things I love about meeting artists, is getting to know them and learning about their creative process. When I asked Shin about Ang Manananggal, he said: “I didn’t research about this because I had this whole idea already and felt that if I read about it, I might be discouraged or be too “influenced” to what I’d find.”
Most of the material for the comic relied on stories told before by his mom, and by other people. “There are still areas here in Laguna where people casually believe that supernatural figures exist (or used to),” he added, “The manananggal is very cross-cultural naman in the sense that it’s not exclusive to a certain region/group of people, so I kind of felt it’s ok to go mostly with my vision only.”
And just like many people, the pandemic became a tool to Shin for growth and self-reflection. “Since the pandemic, I have been thinking about the assumed versus the real practical value of many things we acknowledge as part of life, especially in terms of materialism and our sense of what living means.” For him, there are days when things are doing okay but this doesn’t necessarily mean that chaos is absent—there are moments when sleeping is impossible, Twitter gets irritating, and the amount of stuff to do gets overwhelming for him.
In recent months, he has been rewatching and rereading a lot of TV, comics, books. He pondered what made him gravitate towards these creations. Some of the talented people that inspire him include Vince Gilligan, Bjork, Kubo Tite, Kiyohiko Azuma, Lydia Davis, Sza, Yoshitomo Nara, Arca, MPAU, Daniel Clowes, Raymond Carver, and Mike Mignola.
But let me tell you about what made me adore Shin more: he believes in himself and it’s obvious that he not only enjoys what he’s creating, he also has compassion towards other people, and you can see this in all of his works. “Honestly, I don’t think about being an artist much. I just do what I feel like,” he emphasized. “In art I admire writers and visual artists who really stick to what they believe is a good project.”
Honestly I don’t think about being an artist much. I just do what I feel like
For Shin, creating isn’t just limited to making stuff, it’s about telling stories, offering something new, and conveying ideas. We all should definitely take after him, and maybe, while doing all that, we can throw in some kindness here and there.
You can read Ang Manananggal here.
Kyla Estoya is a super typhoon survivor and an advocate for throwing kindness around like confetti. She currently lives in Cebu City, Philippines with her dad and younger siblings. She is the founder of The Love Club and The Local Creatives. Follow her on Twitter @kylayaan.