Thursday, August 14, 2008

Love as a Foreign Language

On a trip to Guelph yesterday I stopped in at The Dragon - ( - a little comic book store with an amazingly large selection. I especially love going in there for their manga selection, which is much larger than the average local comic shop (LCS). Not only is it larger, but the selection is top-notch, almost all of them having been read by the manager Amy, who really knows her stuff and, as of yet, has not recommended anything that I have disliked.
So, looking for a girly romance, but not looking for something too cheesy, young or stupid, I picked up Love as a Foreign Language #1 (cover seen above) written and drawn by two artists from Toronto, J. Torres and Eric Kim. Both have worked on other successful projects - manga and non-manga - and some have even been nominated or won awards. Kim went to Sheridan for art fundamentals and animation, as well. This interested me because it's always nice to support local - or sort of local, anyway - talent.
Love is the story of Joel, a Canadian teaching ESL (English as a second language) at a private school in Korea. He hates Korea - his apartment, his job, the language, the culture and especially the food - and decides to leave as soon as his contract is up.
Fate is a fickle thing in Joel's life however, and as soon as he decides to leave Korea, he finds out he may have a shot at his 'dream girl'. Hana is a Korean woman Joel has run into on the street a few times. Beautiful and coy, but friendly, he is instantly attracted to her. As Joel is making his decision to leave Korea, Hana is hired onto the staff at the private school where he works. As an administrative assistant, Hana's English isn't required to be as good as those teaching classes; it's passable, but still presents a barrier for her and Joel. Joel must overcome the language, his hatred of the country and other obstacles in order to win Hana's heart.
The first edition in this two-book collection is awesome. It's cute and funny. I can't wait to pick up the second book so I know how the story turns out! I recommend it highly.
My manga collection is rather sparse right now, so I'm looking for recommendations. I know manga has been popular for awhile, but those of you that know me know that occasionally I can be late to the party, as it were.
I'm developing a real appreciation for the manga style. It's simple and uncluttered. The nice simple lines give the suggestion of what's intended instead of actually finishing the object or person. The backgrounds are uncluttered. It's a nice contrast to the detailed drawings in North American style comics. Although, I appreciate both, the manga allows my imagination to fill in what's not there, much like novels do. As well, although some manga comics are done in colour, many are just black and white, which allows my imagination to fill in the colours as I see fit. The brightly coloured scenes of Korean streets were nice to imagine. Because manga comics are printed on cheaper pulp paper and without colour, they are cheaper too. Chapters sells most of theirs at $10-$13 for a good-sized volume - 200 pages or so, where as most glossy-super hero comics sell for $3.99 - $6.95 (or more) for 60 pages. Those 60 pages include ads, manga comics don't have ads, or have very few and they are all at the end of the books, instead of in the middle of the numbered pages of the story.
Chapters and Coles have a great selection of books, although right now the ones in this area seem to be out of J. Torres stuff. I'm hoping to pick up the second volume of Love and his series Sidekicks: The Transfer Student about a high school student who is the daughter of a superhero sidekick. As well, I've finished all of the first mini-series of Spider-Man Loves Mary-Jane, done in manga style, written by Terry Moore and drawn by different manga guest artists (soooo good!!) and am now reading the new mini-series of Spider-Man Loves Mary-Jane (still in single issues, the first in the series was released last week.)
The manga romances are easy to read and uncomplicated. Allowing me to finish one off in about an hour. It's a nice change of pace to the regular comics and books I read and I'm really enjoying them.
Let me know if you have any recommendations for what I should pick up next!

1 comment:

SARcasm said...

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