Archive for the ‘Graphic novel’ Category

The Color of Heaven‘ is the third and final part of Kim Dong Hwa’s Colors trilogy.

This part continues the story of Ehwa and her mother as we follow the happenings in their lives. We also follow their love stories which follow different paths and move in different ways. There is yearning, longing, heartbreak, lots of mother-daughter conversations, allusions to images and metaphors from classical poetry, descriptions of flowers and nature and how they are metaphors to happenings in a person’s life according to Korean tradition and culture – all these and more are there in the book. There is one scene in the book that is different from the norm. Ehwa disappears one night from home and gets back the next morning. When her mother asks her where she was, Ehwa refuses to reply, but tells her mother that she would like to be punished. What happens after that for the next couple of pages in heartbreaking. I can’t tell you what happens though. You should read the book to find out. I really want to tell you how the book ended – happy or sad or open-ended – but it not for me to tell, it is for you to find out.

I loved ‘The Color of Heaven‘. It is a beautiful finale to this wonderful trilogy. I loved the whole trilogy – every part and every page. The blurb to the trilogy reads – “A sweeping trilogy of first love and second chances”. That is a perfect description of it. The whole story is lyrical, the artwork is brilliant, the depiction of traditional Korean culture is fascinating, the love stories are wonderful. But for me the best part of the book is the depiction of the relationship between Ehwa and mother. It is one of the most beautiful mother-daughter relationships that I have ever seen depicted in any book. Ehwa’s mother is one of the most beautiful mothers ever portrayed in fiction. She is one of my favourite characters ever. This trilogy is one of my favourite graphic novels, ever.

I am sharing a couple of scenes from the book. Pictures #1-2 form one scene and pictures #3-4 form a second scene.

Have you read ‘The Color of Heaven‘? What do you think about it?

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The Color of Water‘ is the second volume of Kim Dong Hwa’s Colors trilogy. The story continues from where it left off in ‘The Color of Earth‘. We follow the lives of Ehwa and her mother as little things keep happening in their everyday lives, interspersed with the occasional big thing. Ehwa keeps growing as a person and discovers new things about herself and the world. Her friend Bongsoon is her partner-in-crime in many of these adventures.

My favourite parts of the book are the ones in which Ehwa and her mother have long conversations. During these conversations, Ehwa asks questions to her mother and learns new things from her, sometimes they share things about their lives, and at other times they do things together. It is such a beautiful depiction of a mother-daughter relationship. Sometimes we forget that they are mother and daughter and we imagine that they are best friends, till Ehwa makes fun of her mother on something, and Ehwa’s mother responds, “Is that the way to talk to your mother?” That scene always makes me smile 😁

There are interesting depictions of traditional Korean culture in the book, some of it fascinating, and others that we find hard to accept if we read it with 21st century sensibilities. Many of the conversations in the story have allusions to images and metaphors from classical poetry, which are fascinating to read. ‘The Color of Water‘ ends in an interesting way, and I can’t wait to find to find out what happens to one of the characters in the third part.

I am sharing some of the pages from the book to give you a feel for its beauty. Pictures #1–3 form one scene.

Have you read ‘The Color of Water‘? What do you think about it?

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‘The Color of Earth’ by Kim Dong Hwa is the first volume of the trilogy, and is a manhwa – that is, the Korean version of the manga or the graphic novel.

The Color of Earth‘ is about a young widowed woman and her young daughter Ehwa. The story describes how young Ehwa experiences the beauty of the natural world as she grows up, while navigating the transformation that happens to her body, her emotions and her mind. The story is also about how Ehwa’s mother experiences loneliness and what happens when there is a possibility of discovering love again.

The book is beautiful, lyrical, poetic – if a graphic novel can be described as lyrical and poetic. The artwork is gorgeous, and as I am not an expert, I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it. In some places, the artwork is simple and straightforward with clean lines. In other places, it looks like pointillism – drawing a picture just with points. In other places there are intricate line drawings. The nature scenes and the rain scenes are incredibly beautiful. The book can be read just for its artwork. The relationship between Ehwa and her mother is a central part of the book and it is beautifully depicted. It is almost like reading about the Korean Lorelai and Rory. Ehwa’s mother is one of the most beautiful characters ever depicted in any graphic novel. The story also depicts traditional korean culture very intricately. I loved that aspect of the book. The book also has a beautiful, poetic introduction by the author and an essay at the end describing the book’s themes, by Hwang Min-Ho.

I loved ‘The Color of Earth‘. It is such a beautiful start to the trilogy. I can’t wait to read the second part now.

I am sharing some of the pages from the book so that you can experience the beauty of its artwork. The first three pictures are continuous and depict one scene, and so do the next two.

Have you read ‘The Color of Earth‘? What do you think about it?

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I have wanted to read ‘Jeremiah‘ ever since I discovered it, because it was written and illustrated by one of my favourite Belgian artists, Hermann. I finally got around to reading the first omnibus volume.

The volume I read had the first three comics in the series. The story is set in America, in a post-apocalyptical world, which has resulted probably because of a nuclear war. It looks like people are back in the nineteenth century. Jeremiah is a young man who lives in a village, who is noble, innocent and naive. He meets Kurdy, who is streetsmart and who is aware of the ways of the world. The stories follow the adventures of these two as they get entangled into one event after another. Hermann said in an interview that he worked on many Westerns before he created ‘Jeremiah’ and we can see that influence here, because the story is filled with lots of Western elements.

There is good news and bad news. The good news first. The main characters are interesting and well-developed. The dialogue is interesting and humorous. The places where the events of the story happen have been depicted so beautifully. And the most important thing, of course. The artwork. Hermann has a very distinctive style, and that is the reason I love his art. That distinctive style, the vintage Hermann artwork is unfurled in all its glory here. It is beautiful and exquisite. The colours are vivid and spectacular. It is a pleasure to look at every panel. I loved it.

Now the bad news. I found all the stories mostly middling. They started off well and were fascinating till around one-third of the way but after that they meandered away into some kind complexity which was hard to understand, because the story started with so much promise. In the first story, the villain was a cartoonish character which was disappointing. In the third story, I felt that the story didn’t fit into the spirit of the series and at some point the story became too complex for its own good. I liked the second story the best – it was like an old-fashioned Western.

I am hoping that the plot will improve as we venture deeper into the series. I have the second volume of this series too, and I hope to read it sometime soon.

I am sharing some pages of the book so that you can get a feel for its artwork.

Have you read the ‘Jeremiah‘ series? What do you think about it? Do you like Belgian comics?

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I read a little bit of ‘The Lost Dutchman’s Mine’ by Jean-Michel Charlier and Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud many years back. I remember liking it very much, but it was very long compared to the other comics I used to read – the typical comic that I read at that time was between 32 and 62 pages long, while this one was around 100 pages long – and so I got distracted halfway through and never got around to finishing it. I finally picked it up again today, and finished reading it in one sitting.

The Lost Dutchman’s Mine‘ is one of the famous stories in the Blueberry series. In this story Blueberry is temporarily stationed in a town in Arizona to help in upholding the law. His friend and assistant, the old man Jimmy, is his deputy. There is a brawl in the bar and two people are trying to kill each other. Blueberry stops the fight, and a rrests one of the people involved. The fight seems to be about a goldmine in the land of Apaches that this man has discovered. No one believes this man, but then one thing leads to another, strange men come to the town looking for this man, and before long, both the good guys and the bad are on their way to this mythical goldmine filled with secret treasure. What happens after that forms the rest of the story.

The Lost Dutchman’s Mine‘ is an old-fashioned Western. There is a small town, there is the desert, there is the mountain, there is a bar brawl, there are horse-riders-chasing scenes, there are Apaches, there is secret treasure – all the enjoyable elements of a classic Western are present. It is intricately plotted, the action moves at a beautiful pace, there are twists and turns and there is a surprising revelation at the end. The artwork by Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud is very interesting and unique and received a lot of acclaim when this book and the Blueberry series first came out, because of its realistic portrayal of the places and characters.

I enjoyed reading ‘The Lost Dutchman’s Mine‘. I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped to – I really loved the first part when I read it the first time years back but it didn’t have the same impact on me now – but I still enjoyed reading it. I am glad I finally read it and I got to finish the book. Jean ‘Mœbius’ Giraud’s artwork is an acquired taste – my favourite Belgian comic artists are William Vance and Hermann – but hopefully one day I’ll be able to appreciate it better.

I am sharing some of the pages of the book so that you can get a feel for the story and the artwork. If you want to read the book, you can find it here.

Have you read ‘The Lost Dutchman’s Mine‘? What do you think about it?

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I have wanted to read ‘Batchalo‘ by Michaël Le Galli and Arnaud Bétend, for a long time, and today I took it down from my bookshelf and read it in one breath.

In February 1939, a caravan of Tzigane gypsies (Hungarian gypsies) come and camp in the outskirts of a small village in Bohemia. They visit that village regularly to sell the beautiful stuff they make. But this time, a couple of children in the village go missing. The villagers suspect the tziganes. When the villages visit the tziganes to ask about it, they discover that the tziganes are closing camp and leaving. This leads to suspicions that the tziganes might have stolen their children. But after some questioning, the tziganes reveal that some of their own children who have been playing with the village children have gone missing too, and so they are going in search of the missing children. The village policeman, Josef, who is also the narrator of the story, joins them, because his own son is one of the missing children. What adventures befall the tziganes and Josef? Are they able to find the missing children? The answers to these are revealed in the rest of the story.

Batchalo‘ is a beautiful, poignant, heartbreaking story. It is an account of the life and the culture and the mythology of the gypsies – a community who don’t belong to any country, who have their own culture and beliefs, and who believe in freedom and living under the open sky – how the Nazis try suppressing them, and what happens in the aftermath. We see the events unfolding through the eyes of Josef, the policeman. Though I liked Josef, my favourite character was Silenka, the gypsy medicine woman and witch who takes Josef under her wing. She is strong, inspiring, fearless, and speaks her mind. The sepia-tinted artwork by Arnaud Bétend is exquisite and is a visual treat which sets a melancholic, atmospheric tone to the story. I read that it took him four years to complete the artwork featured in the book.

I loved ‘Batchalo‘. It is one of my favourite graphic novels. I want to read more about the European gypsy community and the Tzigane community now. I am sharing the first few pages of the book, so that you can get a feel for its artwork and atmospheric tone.

Have you read ‘Batchalo‘? What do you think about it?

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