An out of body experience: The Other Half
by rick olivares
Prepare to be shaken, rattled, and rolled with Noel Pascual’s and Mervin Malonzo’s The Other Half.
Stormy nights in the province. The setting is just right for kids scaring the bejeezus out of each other about foul creatures of the night. Only one of them, the human-eating manananggal, has made a house call. It looks as if this creature is about to make a meal out of an unsuspecting unbeliever when the parents arrive but not before their car hits something along the road.
Unfortunately for the manananggal, it’s the lower half that it leaves behind that is struck by the car sending it sprawling like road kill. Due to the inclement weather, the parents’ don’t spot the bloody stump but the unbelieving kid does.
In true cliffhanging fashion, the authors end the 14-page story right there leaving the reader to wonder if all hell is about to break loose or if the manananggal is going to go batty with its meal interrupted and lower half missing.
The prose and the art immediately sink their teeth into you. There is no more frightening story when it uses elements of your darkest fears and drops it in places where you’re supposed to be secure like your home and you’re with your family. And Malonzo’s watercolors perfectly capture the children’s stark terror about being home alone during a storm when the electricity goes down. Since the children have no reference point to base their image of the manananggal, they are depicted just as a child might illustrate a creature of the night. It’s a light counterpoint to the moody art that already lends to the chilling atmosphere.
I love the variety shown by Malonzo here. In the most excellent Tabi Po, there’s a Michael Zulli type of feel to his art. In The Other Half, it evokes Scott Hampton’s work in Neil Gaiman’s The Books of Magic.
And there’s a dark night (pun intended) moment when Kuya Roy says, “The manananggal’s gonna eat us” and he’s against the light with the winged creature at his back. I immediately thought back to Batman Year One where the Dark Knight crashes the dinner of corrupt public officials with a classic opening line, “Ladies. Gentlemen. You have eaten well.”
Before this foul creature can be greeted with a “bon appétit,” the authors present a twist to manananggal stories. Everything I have watched and read before depicted the crazy brave searching for the lower half to seed with garlic and such only for the manananggal to catch them in the act.
In this story… it’s an “oh, sh*#” moment for all involved.
The Other Half is a fun read. You read it and go, “Oh, no. Oh, no! Oh, noooo!!!” And that is the essence of a horror comic.
Now I only have one thing to say to Noel Pascual and Mervin Malonzo…. I want the other half of the story.
Noel Pascual’s and Mervin Malonzo’s The Other Half can be downloaded from flipreads.com