Comic Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Release Date: Saturday, September 30, 2006
Translated by:HyeYoun Im
Adapted by:Eric Kim
What They Say
High school student Hae-Won Song has just placed third in Cake Magazine's manwha creator talent search. She's the youngest winner in the history of the contest! Not only does she have her story published but she also gets the chance to work with one of her manwha idols (who has a surprise for her). And as if that wasn't reward enough, she's also reunited with the former teacher who inspired her wining story. What happens when personalities clash and hearts collide like something out of a comic book? Does art imitate life? Or is it the other way around?
From the start I have always felt ICE Kunion's presentations have been solid. Better looking than most publishers but even with their cool trim sizes never as good as the Broccoli's or DramaQueen's out there. Well, with Comic they are moving forward and for good reason. The presentation of this book is as clean as ever, but what sets this one apart are the details that make manga fans like myself very happy.
The cover is vibrant. Shades of red and pink are all over the place helping this oversized book stand out on the shelves. The image on the cover of main character Alice is very playful. You don't see her dressed like this or act like this in the book, but it works because she looks like the type who could end up becoming a cheerleader for her manhwa magazine Cake. The opposite cover is a little more somber but uses the same color scheme. The real Alice is on that side but don't worry she isn't mopey all the time.
Inside the print looks solid. I did notice real minor moire problems towards the end of the book but nothing significant (could clearly see the different grain of tone used by the artist in a couple panels). There are a few pages of color plates inside. The images are very good looking and they show off Ha's art a bit. I will say I didn't think they were all appropriate for this volume. Like the cover, these show a different story than what we see in the book, so they are misleading. They might help bring in more readers though. The retouch is good so overall the print was fine.
One nice extra was the character bio at the end of the book. Basic stats that everyone likes but it also was a good opportunity to see some more character art from Ha-sensei.
Ha's art is by far the strongest element to this title. It is very clean and consistent. And her designs work well in comedic scenes equally as in the dramatic moments. One thing I noticed quickly is that Ha designs her characters by age and gender. Her guys have very similar features " length, pointy chins, slender eyes and lots of eyebrow. They do not look extremely masculine but this is a shojo title. The women vary a bit more. Younger characters like Alice have more traditional turnip heads. Eyes are larger and show much more expression. The early college aged women have tremendous amount of detail to their hair, face and style. Faces are a little longer but I am reminded of art from the CPM manhwa Full House (mainly the cover art). The older women have more defined noses, longer chins and tend to have more variety with hair styles and facial features. The older and younger you get the better you look in SD also. Very interesting usage despite what seems like consistent technique.
Backgrounds can be done with detail. I was a little annoyed by the mishmash of architectural and interior design styles but I don't think most people will notice. Backgrounds do not play much of a role in this manga, but Ha tries to create scale by showing off strange perspectives. The layout is pretty active but overall I felt it actually slowed me down a bit. Took me three days to finish this book; I really could not get into a rhythm.
Moment out of character for me, but are these the Korean names? Who names guys Patrick or Dominque in Korea. Alice I can live with and at least there still is one JiNo left in the script. These may very well be the original names but I was annoyed and disturbed either way. I wouldn't name a guy Dominque if I had ten boys of my own. Dominique? Is this set in Quebec?
The rest of the translation was okay. I had a little trouble with the flow of a flow lines. Diction is never standard but some choices were a little suspect for my taste. SFX were subbed with a fine retouch. Overall decent but with a room for improvement.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Becoming a comic artist has become the dream for so many people around the world. On the surface the idea might be simple - draw some characters and add a story to it. The actual process is much more complex with deadlines and editors putting pressure on the artists.
Main character Song Alice has just stumbled into the competitive world of Korean manga. She was not prepared for it in any way. She might have placed third in a shojo magazine contest, but she didn't even know her title was even entered. A school friend of hers submitted the project and filled out the paperwork behind her back. So hearing she was going to have a story published shocked her. It also made her realize she had no idea about how the business worked. No idea about the amount of work that is going to come her way and about the lack of control she has on what she works on. She is new and very raw, so the only way she can develop quickly is through experience through proper handling.
The handling is going to come from her new manhwa mentor. I mean her first crush. I mean her former junior high school teacher. I mean Alice was not expecting this either. Hwang Sean is there whenever Alice needs him the most. He is there for support and to open up her eyes to the world of a comicker. And like a superhero he has all the right moves. That does not make everything better for either one though. Because Hwang might have made an ill-advised choice when selecting a professional for Alice to apprentice with, Patrick might be one of the most talented young creators in Korea right now but his habits leave much to be desired. If Hwang thought it would be a good idea for a future star to learn the manic tough love aspect of comic creation he has succeeded. If not, Alice might end up failing in this industry before she even releases her debut title!
I am seriously hoping Comic is not as going to be as derivative as it has been so far. After this first volume, I am given the impression that Alice is destined to fall in love with Patrick. They are going to have a rough time initially because Patrick is an artist and he is resolved to live a reckless lifestyle. There will be conflict when t he two sit down and start drawing comics. I can see Alice wavering between Hwang and Patrick. That will likely motivate Alice and occasionally stunt her growth... Momentarily.
Titles like Comic tend to rely on old cliches. They rework existing ideas to tailor them to the themes in that series (this one just happens to be a story about a young comic artist). And even older plot devices end up filling up however many volumes of manga. Ultimately readers are supposed to feel comfortable with the direction the story is going in and they can quickly read roles and personalities.
There is nothing wrong with such a process. Shonen is filled with derivative manga built on the same old formula. However I do find it tiring. Ha's art is wonderful. I am reminded of the creator of Full House, but Ha's designs work better for the shojo market ICE Kunion really goes after. The presentation is also quite nice with its color plates and playful cover design. But Comic reads like many other shojo/shonen comics. Alice is as close to a superhero as you can get - everything works out in the end without much effort and the only concern is who to fall in love with.
I'd rather read another comic.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: ICE Kunion
Orientation: Right to Left