Drawn & Quarterly. Aug. 2020. 372p. ISBN 9781770464001. pap. $29.95. Rated: Mature. graphic novels
In his first full-length, English-language comic, Korean cartoonist Ma explores the daily lives of middle-aged Korean moms as they work, date, eat, brawl, and stay up too late scrolling through social media. Taking inspiration from his own mother’s account of her and her friends’ mundane exploits, Ma paints an unflattering portrait of divorced janitor Soyeon and her circle of acquaintances. They are often jealous and petty, they obsess over extra fat and sweat profusely, they cheat and gossip, and they go back time and again to unworthy boyfriends. While most of the moms aren’t particularly likable, their foibles are relatable. When the characters show occasional glimpses of depth—such as when Soyeon and a friend attempt to unionize their fellow janitors—readers will root for them. Ma is a master of drawing faces, expressing subtle mood shifts and unspoken thoughts with a single, well-placed pen line. Even the secondary characters are distinct.
VERDICT Offering a unique account of contemporary Korea and the world from the perspective of women who might otherwise be overlooked, this is a fresh entry that would be a solid addition to any adult collection.
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