Medium Archives
comic

Bittersweet Fu (富中作樂) is an illustration lover’s graphic novel. The meticulous hand of its author, Ko Sing, is visible in every page. Whether it’s the distinct character design for each and every background character, or the lovingly rendered interior with the fisheye-lens perspective, Ko’s illustrations draw you in and make you look twice before you turn the page. Composition, perspective and character expressions are all exaggerated to humorous ends. The drawings dominate, while the story serves merely as a backdrop.

Yet just because Bittersweet Fu is heavy on illustrations doesn’t mean it’s an accessible work for everyone. The …

The making and success of Scott Pilgrim are a sign that videogames really have infiltrated our popular consciousness. When captions such as “+9999 EXP” and “Level Up” are casually assigned to characters without explanation as punchlines, it presumes the audience understands the basic game framework of a hero gaining experience points through trials and subsequently leveling up their abilities when the accrued points hit a threshold. A mouthful to explain and, in the case of both Scott Pilgrim the comic and Scott Pilgrim the movie, a mouthful left unexplained for the unwitting members of the audience.

Originally produced as a …

It’s hard to believe that Exit Wounds is a work of fiction. Set in the city of Tel Aviv in 2002, the book revolves around an unidentified victim of a terrorist bombing. The story begins when Koby, the main character, is accosted by a stranger begging to know if the deceased victim was his father. Koby’s immediately placed in an awkward situation, because he’s currently estranged from his father. The plot continues to unravel as Koby is forced to deal with his relationship with his possibly-dead father, and as he discovers more about this mysterious stranger who’s tracked him down. …

Between 2001 and 2010, Brian Clevinger went from an amateur webcomic author to a professional comic book writer, sought after by  Marvel and DC. This nine year span also marks the life of 8-bit Theatre, a free, online serial that put his name on the map and propelled him into the comic book industry. As Clevinger himself admits during interviews, “8-bit Theatre gave me the platform, experience, and confidence to launch Atomic Robo years laterand Robo lead to the Marvel stuff.” But it would be wrong to belittle 8-bit Theatre as merely an online forum …

Flying pigs. Death-ray robots. Chinese-style vampires. Demons with tentacles. Welcome to the warped world of Ken Foo, an up-and-coming Singaporean comic artist. The artist’s artistic sensibility is a dizzy derivative of Japanese manga (think Excel Saga and Trigun), Stephen Chow-esque mo lei tau humor, and fetishism. Since 2005, Foo has created a respectable body of work, which range from short strips to full-length graphic novels.

Foo’s talent is on display here, where the hilarious “True Story of Ken Foo” is available for free. He also draws a weekly comic blog, a forum for his zany day-to-day musings. …

Almost twenty years after its publication, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (1992) is still the best reference point for a “serious” comic book or graphic novel. Written and illustrated by Art Spiegelman, Maus tells the story of Spiegelman’s father’s Holocaust experience and is framed by the artist’s interviews with his father in the present day. An unintended consequence of this narrative style is that some of the book’s best moments happen not in the past but in the present, and by the end Maus is as much “a survivor’s tale” as it is about a troubled father-son relationship. Because of the …

Released in 2010 in Spain both in Spanish and Catalan, this graphic novel is based on the experience of story writer Isabel Franc, an established LGBT fiction author, who had to deal with breast cancer in recent years. Illustrated by artist and award-winner Susana Martín, the book tells the story of Alicia and the process she goes to when she discovers she has breast cancer: tumor, surgery, chemo… and all the effects it has on her emotionally and on her day-to-day life.

Alicia’s upbeat personality allows her to turn the different new situations and hard decisions she comes across into …

The Taste of Chlorine (Le goût du chlore, 2008) bears a simple story: Young man goes to the pool. Meets a girl. Using this simple premise, illustrator and author Bastien Vivès tells a compelling story through a series of vivid, nuanced and strangely lifelike drawings. We find ourselves in the shoes of the young man when we see his hopes rise, when he manages to create a spark with his newfound friend. And we’re disappointed when the girl disappears the next day, even though we know very little about either character and have little reason to empathize.

His …

María and Me (María y Yo, 2007) is a graphic novel by Miguel Gallardo, an award-winning illustrator from Barcelona. In it he recounts his recent journey to the Canary Islands with his his niece María, who happens to be autistic. During the course of the trip, he points out various amusing details about how María sees things and about how people see María. For example, he pokes fun of the foreigners vacationing there, who tan themselves until they become “lobsters”, and says they’re much less “normal” than his niece. Through simple and humorous line drawings, the storytelling is …


Jimmy Liao makes some great adult picture books. He combines serious writing with playful illustrations in a way that’s reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s works (you know, the Where the Wild Things Are guy). They differ in that Liao’s writing style is more serious, and embodies a restrained emotion that speaks very well to East Asian audiences. Like Sendak though, Liao’s books can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Producing at least two to three books a year since 1998, Liao is extremely popular at home in Taiwan and increasingly so abroad. He’s hit the mainstream in Hong Kong and …

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