Body Party

Get a sneak peek into #STRONG.

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We immediately badgered Jel for an quick Q&A the moment GG got wind of #STRONG—the zine created out of the collaborative effort between artist Jel Suarez and writer and musician Shinji Manlangit. Burly men, muscles, we are all about it. We talk to them about the idea behind the zine, how it plays into our notion of strength, and the pleasures of self-publishing today.

Tell us about #STRONG. How did the idea come about?
#STRONG is the collaborative brainchild of me and Shinji Manlangit. Originally, I wanted to create a pure-on-collage zine that plays with the idea of forceful bodybuilding and the irony of having giant bodies. The initial take was a bit self-destructive – something that I think will do more harm (than help) to the person who will get hand of a copy. Haha.

But Shinji came up with this idea of making the zine more personal – a cathartic experience for the reader. Thus the essence of #STRONG, a zine that taps our individual fears and agitations, and how the male figures in our life (significantly our dads) have become a key influence on how we fight back, make decisions, handle pride, and narcissism.

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Why did you decide to focus on this imagery?
I focused on the bodybuilding imagery of the collages because it perfectly gives a picture of strength and weakness at the same time. I think it takes a lot of physical and mental capacity to keep ourselves looking strong, yet it also shows a massive amount of insecurity to exhibit it vainly.

Have you always been interested in making a zine?
I’ve wanted to make a zine since the first quarter of the year, but I realized that it does take a lot of effort, too. Having a day job, plus dealing with other adult stuff kind of drains personal and creative productivity.

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What other subjects (if any) did you consider before settling on this one?
The first idea was to make a short children’s story with my collages in it, but I eventually wanted something more spontaneous and non-figurative. I’ve always thought of using this 60’s bodybuilding manual, which was given to me by a friend, because the photos looked great; some of the stuff in the book were outmoded imageries of bodybuilding that kind of made no sense today, or probably just looked comical to me.

In this day and age, would you still consider zine-making as quite subversive?
I think zine-making will always be raw and fresh. It will personally make you appreciate the unlimited potential of self-publishing. Every time we create something on our own, instead of just taking what’s available, it reforms and fucks the media that continuously shoves ideas or character down our throats. Though #STRONG will probably reach a smaller circle of people, we believe that it has the power to stir up dialog between readers and other zine-makers, too.

#STRONG will be available at BLTX starting tomorrow.