REPOST: Brief looks at The Color Trilogy.

Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa strikes me as the Oscar-bait of manhwa; it is a prestige release. You release this to win awards and gain great praise from reviewers and comic experts but never get more than a handful of mainstream sales. It is a historical, slice-of-life comic about a young Korean girl named Ehwa and her journey towards womanhood. It depicts Ehwa discovering her first feelings for a boy which parallels her widowed mother finding a new love. It is quite frank about the physical development and emotional changes of growing up. Overall, I found in enjoyable if very sedate. The characters were engaging and I was slightly amused by their constant use of metaphor during conversation. It was a stark contrast to the very base matters that are often the point of discussion. The character designs are simple but effective and have a traditional ink drawing feel to them. The backgrounds alternate between being very ornate, especially with some of the full-page spreads, to totally nonexistent during conversations. Most people are going to be captivated immediately or quickly turned off by either the slice-of-life nature or the earthy tone of the book. Still it is a good read for people who want their comics to have the weight of more award-winning prose.

Color of Earth touts itself as a unique work and I would agree. It easily pushes itself with its matter-of-factness of learning about one’s sexuality but at the same time tends toward metaphor and innuendo in people’s conversations. As we follow Ehwa she often finds herself at a loss because of the way people phrase things. It goes to show that even though she has to learn these things, it can be hard to get people to give you a straight answer. And unfortunately that is what Ehwa really needs. But like everyone else in life, you learn about things eventually and get it all straight in your head, sort of. The mother and daughter relationship is at the forefront and the most interesting development in this book. As we go along they become more like confidants rather than parent and child. This seems to happen for a number of reasons, not the least of which is they don’t have any men in the house. The art is very classic feeling. It fits the time period of the book and makes it seem more like fine art than sequential at times. I’d say this series is worth checking out just based on having never read anything else like it. I can’t say it is a story I would normally read, but it is has a charm that requires me to finish reading it.

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Ongoing Investigations: Case #039

I just got the third hard cover special edition of Black Jack. It’s Black Jack therefore it is awesome. As with any episodic series you will have you ups and downs. Some stories are amazingly powerful or stunningly cool. Other are quickly forgettable or even downright uninteresting. I have yet to see a bad review of a Black Jack book and you won’t see one here. The real question is whether or not the limited edition is worth the additional eight dollars. They are but there is no reason to pay through the nose when they become rare. The hard covers are well designed and you get a little hard to find bonus story in each book. But the extras stories aren’t that amazing if you have to pay a lot more to get them. Black Jack as a whole is worth what ever you have to pay to get it but there is no need to get crazy. And unless you can’t get over Osamu Tezuka’s old school art style, there is no reason not to go out and read Black Jack.

I am slowly going through all that CMX has to offer by manga-ka Nari Kusakawa. I read the first book of Palette of 12 Secret Colors. It is about an island that houses the most beautiful birds in the world. Along with them they train wizards (called palettes) who use the birds’ bright colors to change ordinary things, like cloth and rocks, into precious treasures that are sought the world over. We follow Cello, a wizard in training, who is anything but ordinary. Her magic doesn’t work like anyone else so she has a hard time learning the basics (she is so bad she has been held back a year in school) but her unique abilities get her into some interesting situations. Cello is a great lead, she is positive, funny, and easy to love. Dr. Guell, who is obviously the love interest, is blunt but funny and caring, so much so you can’t help but root for these two to come together. It continues to show her ability to weave fantasy, romance, and a little comedy into a charming combination. This series is after Recipe for Gertrude and you can really see her art style becoming more refined. I am looking forward to getting the rest in the series.

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