Cultural authenticity doesn’t make up for a disjointed story with an unclear audience.

READ REVIEW

SANPAKU

In 1990s Texas, 12-year-old Filipina-American Marcine embarks on a journey of salvation and self-discovery.

In the aftermath of loss, Marcine becomes obsessed with the teachings of George Ohsawa, founder of the macrobiotic diet. She feels compelled to save those doomed to unhappiness because they have sanpaku, a condition where the whites show around the iris, believed in Japanese superstition to bring bad luck. Bearing an undeniable resemblance to Marcie from “Peanuts,” she sports a black bob and glasses. In this hefty graphic novel, Gavino’s (Last Night's Reading, 2015) black-and-white illustrations tell Marcine’s story through vignettes at home, school, a local Asian grocery, and (in flashback) the Philippines. Coming-of-age elements such as friendship and self-discovery abound, with a quirky combination of ethics and faith, a sprinkling of lesbianism, and even a subplot that involves pop star Selena. Gavino realistically captures the impressionable spirit of a tween on the brink of adolescence, seeking to define her own belief system among hardcore Catholics such as her grandmother’s prayer group. Cultural notes, such as familiar Tagalog sayings (“Hay naku!”) and a love of Spam, are spot-on. Unfortunately, a convoluted plot makes this a murky read. A subplot about a scandal regarding the statue of a would-be Filipina saint with a “marble vagina” and reference to orgies is particularly confusing.

Cultural authenticity doesn’t make up for a disjointed story with an unclear audience. (Graphic novel. 12-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68415-210-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: BOOM! Studios

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Taking advantage of a very fast-growing fan base, this outing aims to expand Olatunji’s branded empire with a video...

KUNG FU HERO AND THE FORBIDDEN CITY

A COMEDYSHORTSGAMER GRAPHIC NOVEL

YouTube sensation ComedyShortsGamer takes his signature blend of hilarity and hijinks on an unbelievable journey into the fantastical Beijing underground with his brother/nemesis, KSI.

With over 9 million subscribers and 3 billion views on his YouTube channel, Olatunji has become an icon of sorts for his idiosyncratic mix of gamer culture, internet pranks, and viral challenges. First published in the U.K. in 2017, this graphic novel allows Olatunji to bring some of the more costly “crazy ideas that go on in [his] head” into print, embracing the adolescent ridiculousness that brought him and his brother international fame. The plot: In an effort to bring the family together—and get the boys away from video games—the Olatunjis take a family trip to Beijing, where one intricate Deji-led prank leads the Triad crime syndicate to believe he may have heroic kung-fu powers and pose a threat to their takeover of the Forbidden City. All this is further complicated with a stereotypical (if not just downright problematic) pseudo-Chinese mythological quest that has world-ending implications. These characters might as well have been stolen from bad gamer archetypes: the “smokin’ hot love interest,” the street punks and the crime boss with “bad ass haircuts,” and let’s not forget Shi—a beer-drinking, cigar-smoking, woman-ogling, “very inappropriate”–talking, animated Chinese lion dog statue. A clue to the tale’s end is noted in Deji’s introductory character bio: “It’s usually some freaky twist of fate that gets Deji out of sticky situations.” This whole ordeal seems nothing but a sticky situation.

Taking advantage of a very fast-growing fan base, this outing aims to expand Olatunji’s branded empire with a video game–inspired graphic fantasy but delivers nothing more than cheap prepubescent thrills. (Graphic fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4091-7428-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Trapeze/Hachette

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Maybe not for everyone, but expect this weird and fun homespun romp to inspire budding webcomics creators and the...

SPACE ACADEMY 123

Collected daily webcomics about an interstellar institution.

In a galaxy far, far away is Space Academy 123, where the newly graduated Donna Summer (not of disco fame) has been appointed principal, dashing her dreams of becoming a space chiropractor. At the academy, there is a delightfully assembled motley crew including a wry HAL-like computer named Grandfather Computer; a hotheaded, eye-patch–wearing girl named Ashley Forgiveness; a boy named Andrew who is riddled with anxiety; and a darkly droll story-hour–hating little girl named Shandy. Zacchilli (RAV: 2nd Collection, 2017, etc.) published one page of this comic per day to her Instagram account; they are compiled here to form a cohesive, albeit somewhat offbeat narrative of vignettes that should not be unfamiliar to those who follow webcomics. Zacchilli’s scratchy and wobbly black-and-white pen-and-pencil art is crudely wrought but appealing; the illustrations are simply rendered with everything hand-drawn, from the winding text bubbles to the shaky panel borders. While not boisterous and flashy, this oozes an indie DIY charm. Be sure to get this into the hands of those seeking webcomics and zines or those looking for something a bit less mainstream.

Maybe not for everyone, but expect this weird and fun homespun romp to inspire budding webcomics creators and the indie-curious. (Graphic science fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-927668-63-4

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Koyama Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more