Upcoming 6/10/2009

This week’s ComicList is on the lean side, but there are a couple of items that are worth scrutinizing.

colorofwaterOne is Kim Dong Hwa’s The Color of Water (First Second), the second part of his trilogy that began with The Color of Earth. I’ve read both in the form or preview copies provided by the publisher, but I’ve been a bit stymied when I’ve tried to sit down and actually write about them. They’re great-looking books; I very much admire the visual style. But I find the content a little off-putting, though I’m not sure I have the right to voice these particular objections.

The Color books compose a period piece that traces the sexual comic of age of a young girl in rural Korea. It’s an experience and a transition that the creator clearly reveres, but for me, it was an uncomfortable kind of reverence. It’s reverence with a degree of distance that seems to flatten and simplify the experience being rendered; the path from girl to woman is dewy and magical, uncomplicated and pristine, or at least that’s the impression the books left. I feel like it crosses the line between celebratory and condescending.

The crew at Good Comics for Kids participated in an illuminating roundtable on the first book, and I was relieved to see my concerns articulated in the discussion. There are also persuasive arguments in the book’s favor, but I’m still unconvinced that its merits overcome its underlying tone.

dmcI’m fairly sure my reaction to the week’s other big release, Kiminori Wakasugi’s Detroit Metal City (Viz), will be much less complicated. I will either be overcome with guilty love, or I’ll be grossed out. I’m reassured by Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s assessment, though:

“I’d be the first to admit that DMC walks a fine line between clever and stupid with its raunchy lyrics and outrageous concert scenes, but it never wears out its welcome thanks to a great cast of characters.”

We’ll see.

4 Responses to Upcoming 6/10/2009

  1. […] (Review is in French as well.) David Welsh devotes much of his new comics post to a discussion of The Color of Earth and The Color of Water, the first two parts of Kim Dong Hwa’s trilogy about a girl’s coming of age. And Carlo […]

  2. I’m glad to know I wasn’t the only one who found The Color of Earth frustrating. I was particularly surprised that more female writers hadn’t voiced concern about the story’s condescending tone — I found the treatment of sexual matters rather coy and simplistic, as if women who had a more nuanced (or less joyful) view of human sexuality were dirty, bad, or easy.

  3. davidpwelsh says:

    I liked your point about Bongsoon from the roundtable. There does seem to be an implicit criticism of active sexual curiosity, of a girl seeking answers on her own terms rather than letting (you’ll forgive the metaphor) the flower blossom naturally. The mother gets a pass for being relatively liberated because she “did it right” the first time, I suspect.

  4. […] David Welsh: The Color books compose a period piece that traces the sexual comic of age of a young girl in […]

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