Apol Sta. Maria


The funny thing about comics that poke fun at life is that life, in its dirge-like deadpan daily-ness, sometimes exacts revenge by actually being funnier. Or droll. That is to say, laughing without making so much as a hah-hah, smirk and all. As we reckon it, life may actually exist only on YOUtube, or it may have vaporized like a bad flu into our quieter, less fumigated spaces like personal need, family attachment, filial obligation, the drudge of breadwinning while one’s wings are primed to jet off on cruises of ironic joy, all that downer s%#@ better archived into volumes of Classics Illustrated. When all of these little non-alignments flood into the cracks of our day to day, our mirth gets slimed in a melancholy not unlike what comes around when the next MRT is yet not coming and there are already dozens, nay platoons, of sweaty bodies queued up to mash us into the cramped chamber of sardines, if it does come at all.

With a premise that proposes to pare down the sacred membranes separating high art, its conceit, and the baser bliss of frame to frame narrative, Oil Painting by Apol Sta. Maria lays bare in its bare layout a plea, not exactly Kafkaesque, more Dostoevsky, of just trying to find some unfettered relief, by way maybe of humor, by way more of irony and parody, by way even of poly-polar contradiction, from the cloying sameness of days spent just waiting for better days. Literature did offer this avenue, but comics, this dialectic diorama of post-modern demo-crazy boiled it down like a slick slide to smilesville, no stopping to grab a bite or brush one’s teeth. Etiquette is turned on its head and there is a bewildered free-fall into a wonka world of candy-cotton assumptions, like art and life need have no connection, like a page is flat rapid utopia, like visual formal tools exist to posture but not necessarily to function.

Who doesn’t like comics? I’m tempted to ask next : Who doesn’t like money?
So what’s the punch line? What if the act of opening the sheets with line and ink and quirky plot was already it? This is serious stuff. Or I might just be kidding. Itutuloy.

Jose Tence Ruiz
T. Sora, QC
Nov 2013