As you might guess, I read a lot. It gets tricky with graduate school, but still I manage. Anyways, this review is going to cover two graphic novels, Skim by Mariko and Jillian Tomaki and Kabuki: The Alchemy by David Mack.
Kimberly Cameron, referred to Skim throughout the graphic novel, is a Wiccan Catholic school girl trying to figure out her place. She tells the story of the most recent drama at her high school: the suicide of volleyball star John. Skim describes the drama casually, but the artwork and scenes that the reader observes from Skim’s perspective indicates that these matters touch her more strongly than she lets on in her words.
I enjoyed this story; I think I would have gotten a bit more out of it if I had been younger, as I am several years older than the protagonist. However, I appreciated the characterization of Skim, who gradually becomes more assertive and confident over the course of the novel. I liked that her transformation was not swift and complete, but rather more gradual, with the implication that she was still growing up. In that regard, the character felt very real to me and think that teenagers would really enjoy this story.
Kabuki: The Alchemy
Mack’s Kabuki: The Alchemy is another story of transformation. The protagonist Kabuki, who goes by several names over the course of the story, is a woman scarred by her past who is trying to start over. She is helped by Akemi, a mysterious individual looking to bring down the ghosts of Kabuki’s past and to upset the status quo. Part personal journey, part thriller, this story will pull you in.
I loved this graphic novel; the artwork is absolutely gorgeous. It does not follow the traditional panel set-up and encompasses different artwork styles to tell the story, using collages and water-color, among other things. The story has similar themes to Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, but the emphasis was placed more on the protagonist’s personal development rather than the conflict. I liked this different emphasis; it shows a different way of fighting and challenging the status quo. I think it does a good job of demonstrating the importance of the individual because you must first change yourself before you can have the effect that you want to have.