We know the surface story, but there are several fun twists and turns in Mabuhay! A Graphic Novel. What I mean is, we know sibling issues, how as kids our parents are always embarrassing us, that we are trying to make friends while dealing with bullies and trying to fit in. And one will not be able to do that when your parents own a food truck called The Beautiful Pig and you are in the smelly pig mascot costume. Or if your kid sister is just plain weird who likes comics and horror and is, well, a kid sister. And how do you make nice with the cute girl who is having a party that your parents are catering when you are in that costume and she thinks your sister is weird? And of course, it really does not help that your mom’s past is catching up with her, and the three witches that raised her are really jonesing for revenge. And oh yes, by the way, you and your sister are also witches.
Zachary Sterling mixes culture, humor, fantasy and realism into a relatable, delightful and delicious story. It is a cute story for adults, though the kids’ modern attitudes can be iffy (there is borderline disrespect at times), but kids will love it. The cultural references are a plus and while educational, it is also a fun way to tie the fantasy elements into things.
Overall, everything is easy, quick, light and bright. Sure we are saving the world from a moon eating dragon, and there are witches (one looks like she could be Maui’s stand-in in Moana) but they are a funny dragon and witches. The illustrations are not overwhelming or special, but they get the job done. They include humor to help keep things less intense but do not make things slapstick (though their uncle is really weird). The best way to compare this style is to say if the Adventure Time characters were cuter and The Loud Family (from Papercutz and the Nickelodeon animated series) were Filipino.