Mr. & Mrs. Yumul’s AND Comics is the only true discovery in my Summer Komikon stash. I knew about all my other purchases beforehand; pre-ordered Abangan, read Tabi Po online and also via FlipReads, the same goes for ang Maskot, read Pasig as a youngster, and helped edit Supremo. This yellow mini-comics, on the other hand, was completely new to me, but what a find!
I was attracted to Mr. & Mrs. Yumul’s work by the abstract cover, followed by the abstract illustrations inside. Instantly, the thought how can this be komiks? was a balloon that swelled in my mind. My curiosity was stoked. Then, I surprised myself by asking Mr. Yumul why he drew those abstracts, and in turn learned about Mrs. Yumul’s hand in the process. Mr. Yumul explained that he drew the abstract shapes without a narrative in mind; all seemed to be done at random. When he was done, Mrs. Yumul would weave a story from the as yet meaningless panels. Again, the thought balloons rose: How can this be komiks? Whom should we call the author of this body of work? What is intention? My curiosity was sealed. I took the book home.
I tried reading the komiks with RK. He said he wasn’t sure the illustrations were necessary in driving the narrative forward, and so felt that the work wasn’t really komiks. There was too much stimulation from the lines and polygons that he tended to shut them out as he read. We both knew how the brain responded to stimuli, how what we think we see is only interpretation filtered by our own expectations. So there seemed to be a sad face or a scene morphing from Mr. Yumul’s random circles and squares and dots and lines. But there really isn’t. It wasn’t intended and it was. The illustrations were playing mind tricks with us. Regardless of what it was doing to our heads, which RK found exhausting, there remained the question of its necessity in driving the narrative.
I thought about it some. I pictured the panels in my head and blot out Mr. Yumul’s work with white space so that only Mrs. Yumul’s words remained. Somehow it wasn’t the same. The narrative didn’t carry the same weight. It lost a certain mood evoked by the contrasts of Mr. Yumul’s white space and inked space. The weight went, also the “busyness” and the “crampedness”. Also, it seemed to me that the panels created short and long pauses for Mrs. Yumul’s words, the way punctuation and line breaks work to create a certain rhythm for a poem. So I don’t agree with RK. Mr. Yumul is just as important here though their creative process differs. Mr. Yumul’s seems to be more irrational and random. Mrs. Yumul’s is the rational one, employing planning and control. Then again, maybe this is false dichotomy. These are really just impressions from a first read and I would love to read through again to chase after the thought balloons that Mr. & Mrs. Yumul can let fly in my mind.