Mijeong, by Byun Byung-Jun, 2009, NBM, 240 pages, $19.95
This manhwa, or Korean comic book, is a collection of eight sad short stories set in gloomy cities about gloomy people. It's not a ton of fun, but it certainly is an interesting book.
Most of the stories involve young people stricken by violence of some kind, including suicide, murder, and sexual abuse. Several seem to blend together because they all evoke a similar mood, a kind of oppressive unhappiness. One story involves a group of children coldly plotting how to dispose of a body, for instance. Another brings some levity to the proceedings by including a jealous cat:
The black-and-white art is mostly scratchy, thin lines, although one story has some nice soft coloring. Byun Byung-Jun makes some interesting stylistic choices: his cityscapes appear detailed and yet indistinct at the same time, and many of the women depicted in the book have exaggerated, almost alien features (beyond the typical manga-style, I think):
Interestingly, the book includes a review at the back that is not entirely glowing. At one point the reviewer notes that the stories contain "a lack of plot twists that might captivate the reader . . . ." But the reviewer ends by stating that it "will be interesting to see in which direction the next work by Byun Byung Jun evolves . . . ."
I'd agree with that last statement. It's clear that Byun Byung-Jun is an artist with potential, he just needs to find something to say. I'll certainly be on the lookout for his next book.
READ MORE: Here is a seven-page preview and a fourteen-page preview.
BUY IT: From NBM here or from Amazon here: Mijeong
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