Xpress Reviews: Graphic Novels | First Look at New Books, July 20, 2012

Week ending July 20, 2012

Forsythe, Matthew (text & illus.). Jinchalo. Drawn & Quarterly. 2012. 152p. ISBN 9781770460676. pap. $17.95. F/FOLKLORE
Jinchalo is a strange little wonder. The cover art‚ a girl following a laughing bird up a tree‚ suggests a children’s story, but there’s little that is childish about this book. This is the story of a girl named Voguchi who is on a nebulous, wordless quest that involves gorging on oversized sushi rolls, villages of harmless monsters, the shape-shifting crow Jinchalo (Korean for Really?), and a dream-within-a-dream visit with her creator. Using elements from Korean folktales and bits of untranslated Korean to punctuate his tale, Forsythe crafts a rich imaginary world in accessible pen and ink. In its use of foreign language and fantastical, eerily familiar surroundings, Jinchalo echoes the project of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival but with a much lighter touch.
Forsythe’s layers of images within images and interweaving of different stories subtly comment on the nature of storytelling and art and by what means we are able to understand and engage with even the most unfamiliar things. The story is accessible to anyone, young or old, interested in exercising and expanding their imagination.—Emilia Packard, Bloomington, IN

Mansbach, Adam & Douglas McGowan (text) & Owen Brozman (illus.). Nature of the Beast. Soft Skull. 2012. 240p. ISBN 9781593762452. pap. $23.95. F
Novelist Mansbach made a name for himself with the New York Times best-selling children’s book parody Go the F**k to Sleep (2011). This graphic novel does not have the same joyful sense of satire. Mansbach sets out to skewer reality TV competition shows and all the various mixed martial arts programs, as well as mock the media moguls who produce and control them. The story involves a reality competition called Beast Wars, a grandiose version of dog fighting. Instead of dogs, large predators like polar bears, apes, and sharks fight to the death. This horrible premise is just a means to an end. Earth has been challenged by disgusting aliens to a gladiator rumble; the problem is that Earth does not have a champion to compete. Enter our hero, an alligator wrestler, who is kidnapped and forced to participate in Beast Wars. Mansbach’s story is entertaining enough, if too long. Brozman’s art is attractive, but the action lacks weight and fluidity.
Verdict An extremely gruesome and bleak tale that will surely entertain a subset of twentysomethings who still play that game who would win in a fight favored by nine-year-old boys.—John Piche, MLS, San Francisco

Tezuka, Osamu (text & illus.). Dororo. Vertical. 2012. 848p. ISBN 97781935654322. pap. $24.95. F/MANGA
Cursed in the womb by his warlord father, Hyakkimaru is born without 48 organs and abandoned by his parents. After being rescued and raised by a kindly doctor, he wanders the war-torn countryside of medieval Japan slaying demons with a set of weaponized prosthetics. Accompanied by the child thief Dororo, he witnesses countless scenes of suffering brought about by supernatural forces, the greed and cruelty of humanity, and the whims of fate itself. Manga and anime legend Tezuka’s (Astro Boy) unmistakable rounded art style may initially seem out of place alongside the grim subject matter, but the combination of dynamic action scenes and truly eerie monster designs will quickly draw in readers. Vertical’s original three-volume release of Dororo won the Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material‚ Japan in 2009 and is not significantly different in content from this omnibus edition.
A welcome second chance to pick up a manga classic in a more convenient and affordable format. Highly recommended for broad graphic novel collections and Tezuka fans.—Neil Derksen, St. Mary’s Cty. Lib., Charlotte

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox (blfox@mediasourceinc.com) is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"