Drawn & Quarterly. Nov. 2022. 636p. tr. from Korean by Janet Hong. ISBN 9781770466173. pap. $39.95. F
A trio of artists in their early to mid-forties strive for success in the arts in Ma’s hilarious, closely observed follow-up to his breakout hit-debut, Moms. After musician Chun Jongseop is denied songwriting credit and royalties for a hit song he helped develop, his friend Shin—a struggling novelist—encourages him to write a book detailing his misadventures in the music world and helps him establish the connections necessary to get it published. When the book becomes an enormously popular bestseller that propels Jongseop to fame and fortune, Shin and the third member of their group, a painter and part-time college lecturer named Kwak Kyeongsu, find themselves struggling with professional jealousy and more desperate than ever to garner the acclaim they believe their work deserves.
VERDICT Ma skewers his cast’s overblown sense of entitlement and lack of self-awareness with terrific deadpan wit. While subplots concerning the misuse of royalty payments owed to artists whose music is popular in karaoke bars and the inner workings of public arts foundations prove a bit dry, Ma’s perspective on the value of originality, the power of celebrity, and the debt one generation of artists owes to those that follow are truly thought-provoking.
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