A humorous take on "Harold and the Purple Crayon" via Rod Serling's "Twilight Zone."
Writer/Artist:KwangHyn Seo / JinHo Ko
Translated by:Ji-Eun Park
Adapted by:Arthur Dela Cruz
What They Say
The "Death Zone" is a place only the dead can see. But there are a few special people with the ability to step into that zone and make the stories of the dead into artwork. They are called Croqueis, and Da-Il is one of them. The only problem is that he doesn't realize his power yet. As he starts his first day as an assistant of manhwa artist Go-Ho, he has his first experience in the Death Zone.
Yen Press has given Croquis Pop a good looking introductory volume. The sepia toned cover drawing pops against the stark white background and the contrasting turquoise lettering makes the title clearly stand out. Yen has included four pages of color pages in the center of the book, unusual but not unwelcome. Print quality is more than decent; this is a title that will challenge a printer given the amount of large blocks of light and dark, and the preponderance of line types. The only negative is one that seems to crop up with Yen books - printing that is obscured by the binding forcing the reader to open the book wider than one would like.
JinHo Ko has a distinctive and expressive linear style. But at times, he sabotages himself with too much tone, too much background busyness, and some awkward panels. While he has provided clever visual cues to identify some of the spirits Da-Il conjures up, he visually defines the "dead zone" that Da-Il occupies a black panel border often used to signal a past event or remembrance. Surprisingly, this works pretty well.
The text reads very well and sfx are translated and plate unobtrusively near the originals. There are a few localizations that shouldn't bother the target audience. Points for keeping the honorific, sunbea, which is the Korean "sempai".
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Da-Il is the typical shounen hero - a little too unskilled, a little too self-assured and a little too annoying. He flatters his way into Mr. Ho Go's good graces and gets hired as an assistant. It doesn't take long for his lack of skill or talent to make itself known, especially to the hard-working and put-upon Ho-Suk, who is determined to get rid of slacker Da-Il at any cost. However, barely are the introductions completed at Ho Go's studio, when the author switches gears and get to the heart of the matter - the revelation of Da-Il's ability as a "croquer".
Da-Il's annoyance at being relegated to a dusty unkempt room causes the drawings that he has made in the inches of dust on the floor to come alive in the form in which he has drawn them. In addition to the spirits, he has also created their vanquisher, Mu-Huk, who explains to Da-Il that his talent as a croquer is what supplies inspiration in the form of ghost stories to creators such as Ho Go. As long as the dead zone is closed, Da-Il's dead zone adventures can be told to the world. And they will be, since Mu-Huk has "inspired" Ho Go with Da-Il's adventures.
The majority of the volume presents small episodes where Da-Il applies what he has learned in Ho Go's studio as a beginning manhwa artist to his expanding role as croquer.
This is a very busy first volume. There are challenges in setting up the two story locales, one a narrative challenge and one a visual challenge. The opening, which centers on Ho Go's studio, seemed rushed and perfunctory, almost as if the authors knew that they had to get somewhere and decided to give the reader caricatures instead of characters. But once the dark zone is introduced, the narrative moves pretty smoothly and the settings for the real world and the dead zone are distinct.
Croquis Pop has an ambitious concept. The creators of Croquis Pop have taken the overused notion of drawings that come to life and put a spin on it by having these drawings elicit ghosts that exist in an alternate reality. By introducing the concept of a comic within a comic with its additional locale in the manhwa that Ho Go is creating about Da-Il, they have certainly raised the bar for complications. It might take a few more volumes to see whether and how they can deliver. This will keep me reading.